Philosophy


RT @bhadragiriyar கருவின் வழி அறிந்து கருத்தைச் செலுத்தாமல் / அருவி விழிசொரிய அன்பு வைப்பது எக்காலம்?

Bhadragiriyar was a king who became a votary of Siva(God). He wrote two line snippets which are called “cribs”. The cribs about life are written in his penchant to reach god (tamil – meignana pulambalgal). His period of existence is not known but research points to the fact that he could have been a contemporary to pattinathaar.

I really loved this snippet. Ancient (Sangakaala(?)) tamil is so diferent from current (valakku) tamil. So my translation is questionable! Nevertheless, here is my take:

1) When will I stop researching origins and instead focus on practicing love?

Aren’t we lost in origins? It starts right from theological questioning on life, existence, re-birth etc. Why do I need to KNOW the answer to these questions? Isn’t it just enough if I live a life of love? The lower level of thinking on origin would be about birth origins – leading to racism, casteism, religious fanaticism. The lowest level could even be favoring one’s own kid over neighbor’s or brother’s! Why do I look for these origins? Do they mean anything?

I found a book on “Chanakya for corporate life” in a book store. Certainly the parables of Chanakya, bhadragiriyar etc are applicable in modern day corporate life as well. I would replace origins with “pre-conceived notions (about originator)” and love with “objectivity”. Shouldn’t a good leader stop having pre-conceived notions and focus on objectivity!

This crib has a beautiful “uruvagam” (metaphor) – Aruvi vizhi (waterfalls eye) – used in the context: love like a person who would cry (feel) for another being with tears falling like waterfalls.

I will tell you one more reason why I love the “cribs”. They don’t preach. For example if the above point was to be made by a thirukural or a bhagavat gita or a kuran or a bible, it would have just preached: “Don’t focus too much on life origins, but instead focus on practicing love!”. The cribs are written from the perspective of a flawed person – an incomplete human being! Every crib ends with “ekkalam”. In English translation, let’s say, every crib will start with “When will I”. They highlight human frailties – inability to come out of one thing to reach a stage where you know you should be! Gandhi said “Knowing ones own weakness is his biggest strength!”.

Going back to the snippet: Why do people research origins? I think human mind wants reasons, has a natural curiosity and for the lower levels has an interest in things closely related – the reason why facebook is such a huge hit! Any thoughts?

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Epilogue: if you liked this, you may want to follow “bhadragiriyar” in twitter. You owe a beer to my friend Arvindh Rajesh (which he doesn’t drink so u can treat me instead) who has written a bot to post a “crib” in twitter twice every week – tuesdays and thursdays!. You can help by posting translation or even writing “urai” in valakku thamizh. If you are in a real hurry to read all – go here: http://projectmadurai.org/pm_etexts/pdf/pm0074.pdf

In many of his cribs, bhadragiriyar talks about inability to control material desires. I don’t know if one needs to control them. I’ll say un-attachment over material things whether you enjoy them or not is important. But truly the guy is awesome – here’s to illustrate the beauty: His diplomatism might be lost in my translation “When will my thoughts be like that (single-minded thoughts) of a separated casanova who is searching for his previously intimate lover?” :-) To state in simple terms: “When will I search for Siva with single-minded obsession like how a seperated casonova would search for his previously intimate lover”. In tamil “koodip pirinthuvitta kombanaiyai kaanamal / thedith thavippavan pol sinthai vaippathu ekkalam?” Happy reading!

I liked what Kamal, a versatile film-star (legend), had to say to four budding, and very promising, directors in a TV show. He was saying “the more ethnic you become, the more global you get!” – I liked the way he thought about how a “world-class” movie should be made. To make a movie that will excite audience worldwide, you don’t need to go to exotic locations across the world, use latest technology etc. You just do a movie showing interesting characters that are soaked in taken culture. You normally do this right when you take your own culture. A fan loves to see Japan as it is and that goes to any other place. In his opinion, and I tend to agree, virumaandi, naan kadavul etc are world-class because they get more ethnic and hence world audience would want to have a peak! I have appreciated similar cultural portrayals in Memoirs of a Geisha, Troy, Aviator, Spanglish etc etc….

I thought this was interesting – don’t go elsewhere for glory, search within!

In a way this philosophy is good even for many other cases of identity building where one goes out of the board to differentiate without recognizing if you just be, you will be different! This goes to one as an individual (say professional), an organization in monopolistic competition (say restaurant), in children’s upbringing… almost everything I can think about!

Let me briefly explain the examples I took so as to illustrate the pattern. Individual – never try to be someone else to be noted. If you just be, you will be different. God never made any two men same! Restaurant – there is nothing better that explains ‘get more ethnic to get more global’ than a restaurant. The more authentic you get with food, ambience, experience the more global reach you will get! Upbringing – Don’t raise an American in India or an Indian in America – either will confuse the kids. Both are great cultures, just make your choice and teach core values – what I term as values are all single word adjectives (Honest, Open, Brave, Hard-working, Kind, Fun-loving…). My point about upbringing is that: don’t go broad across cultures rather go deep in one culture along with acceptance of other cultures.

Note: the beauty of getting more ethnic to get more global is based on the premise that people “want” and “like” multiplicity in – restaurants, cultures, people etc! So don’t loose it as a fanatic when you get more ethnic ;)

I welcome any thoughts on this – this topic roused interesting debates in my recent discussions with friends: best of both worlds is better? Spineless followers of west (or east)? Ethnicity is necessary but not sufficient condition? Get the hell out of your hole :) Etc etc….Pretty interesting stuff. Many valid observations but a man has to make his calls and I made mine :)

I was starting from Chennai to Madurai. It was going to take 8 hrs by train and I will reach by 8:30 PM. So my anni (bhabhi) gave me a box with lunch. Usually I am against carrying such stuff. But perhaps ageing (31) has changed me a little bit. I did not make any fuss and accepted the “tiffen box”. There was only one request – “don’t forget to bring it back” :) I have to give some background here. I have a notorious reputation of forgetting things (in fact it’s so common among my bros that all bhabhi’s gang up on this topic when we meet together). My brother came to rescue, “amaa thanga thatta koduthu vidura” (hmm… that is a golden plate or what). I promised myself that I will not forget and decided that I will be “double” careful. My bro gave me a tip, after eating put the box in your laptop bag!

When I reached railway station, I realized my e-ticket for AC chair car got cancelled as it did not move. I decided to take an unreserved ticket and travel with the crowd so that I did not have to wait longer to see my son and wife. In a way I did want to enjoy going in unreserved compartment. :) After 7 years in US one misses a few things I guess. I was lucky to get a seat. I was trapped in a seat with so much crowd standing that moving out of seat for say going to loo was out of question. The problem with unreserved compartment is that food or pantry services are not available when the train is in motion – partly because of the crowd and mainly because the unreserved compartment is cut off from the rest of the vestibules without a connecting path. So the personnel from pantry car can’t come to UR compartment. So the tiffen box was a boon – really! I felt hungry in between the journey and ate the delicious contents of the tiffen box. I had a good habit of thanking people then and there. So I called up my anni and conveyed how tasty the food was and how I would have had to stay hungry had I not carried it in unreserved compartment.

I stacked some more “Manapparai” murukku, a delicacy from the place I grew up (Manapparai) on the way, in the bag I carried for the tiffen box.   Because of incessant rains, I reached Madurai one and half hours late. I just had to get in the crowd and the next thing I found myself in the platform ;) Took an auto without wasting much time and was on my way to wify!

Half way thru a lightning struck! What the heck? I had forgotten to take the bag with tiffen box and manapparai murukku!!! I asked the auto to turn about and go back to station. It was not about the monetary value or anything just that when someone had been so kind I can’t be so careless. I was so ashamed that I spent about one hour searching, walking all the way to the end of the train to the unreserved compartment, asking people whom I should talk to for “lost and found” service(in Indian Railways unreserved compartment!!?? I just lost my sanity). My efforts turned futile. Not losing hope I went to the railways police station and gave a verbal complaint (!!! Come on) b4 leaving to my in-laws place. This time I did not want to take an auto instead took a public bus. I felt so bad that I wanted to deprive myself of any comforts!

I started lamenting to myself on my way. What the heck – I called her up thanking when the true thanking wud have been to bring back the box thoughtfully filled with other delicacies and then thanking in person. If only I had not forgotten! After two stops in the bus one thought came to my mind. Was calling her less important than not forgetting? Isn’t it a paradox that when reflecting on past we always want negatives to have been avoided and take the positives for granted??? Like in this case, I should have avoided the “forgetting”; calling her back was not a big deal against not forgetting. Let us for one minute think of the vice versa: Negatives would have happened and the positives doesn’t happen. Had I not called her on the way, I wouldn’t have had the face to show up and say “I forgot”! Since I called her in between that at least gives a true picture of me – that I am careless in some things and I am caring (show love/thanks) in other things. Wud our life be better if we don’t take our positives for granted and be over critical on our negatives??!!

பாரதியின் சுயசரிதையிலிருந்து ஒரு கவிதை என்னை இதை எழுத வைத்தது. இது வளையத்தில் எனது முதல் தமிழ் படைப்பு!

தகப்பர்கள் தினத்தை (இது சரியான தமிழாக்கமா? :) ) முன்னிட்டு என் மிக நெருங்கிய நன்பர்கள் சிலருக்கு இந்த லிங்க்கை அனுப்பி இருந்தேன்: http://in.yfittopostblog.com/2010/06/21/my-fathers-son/

இதை படித்த என் நன்பன் அர்விந் ராஜேஷ் பதிலுக்கு பாரதியின் சுய சரிதையில் தனது தந்தையின் பிரிவை பற்றி எழுதி இருந்ததையும், சுஜாதா பாரியின் மகளிரின் கையறு நிலை குறித்த “அற்றை திங்கள்…” பாடலை ஹைக்கூ எனக்குறிப்பிட்டதையும் மேற்காட்டி மின் அஞ்சல் எழுதி இருந்தான். பாரதியின் ஒவ்வொரு வரிக்கும் நான் ஒரு பதிவு எழுதலாம்!

மிகச்சமீப காலத்தில் ஒஷொ விவரித்த “agony” எனக்கும் வந்தது. லிங்க் கிடைக்காததால் படித்ததை விவரிக்கிறேன்: ஒரு குருட்டு நாடொடி இருக்கிறான். தினமும் நடக்க உதவியாக கைத்தடி ஒன்று வைத்து கொள்கிறான். ஒரு நாள் இரவு அவன் தூங்கும்போது கைத்தடி உருண்டு திண்ணையிலிருந்து விழுந்து விடுகிறது. அதே இடத்தில் ஒரு பாம்பு தடி போன்று நீண்ட நிலையில் பனிக்கால இரவில் விரைத்து விடுகிறது. காலையில் எழுந்தவன் பாம்பை தடியாக எடுத்துக்கொண்டு நடக்க ஆரம்பிக்கிறான். இதை பார்த்த வயொதிகர் ஒருவர் குருடனிடம் “நீ கொண்டிருப்பது தடி அல்ல பாம்பு” என்கிறார். தனக்கு பாதகம் செய்ய எண்ணுகிறாரோ என்றும் இயல்பால் தனக்குள்ள பிற குழப்பங்களாலும் தான் தடி என்றென்னும் பாம்பை தூக்கியெரிய மறுக்கிறான் குருடன். இறுதியில் பாம்பு கடித்து மடிகிறான். தன் பேச்சை கேட்காமல் குருடன் பாம்பை கைப்பிடித்து சென்றபோது வயோதிகருக்கு ஏற்படும் உணர்வை வேதனை என்கிறார். தனக்கும் பல சமயம் இது நடந்ததுண்டு என்கிறார்.

சில நாட்கள் முன்பு என் மிக நெருங்கிய உறவினர்கள் சிலருக்கு சொத்து பிரச்சினை. ஒவ்வொரு சராசரி இந்தியனும் சந்திப்பது – சாமானியரில் இருந்து அம்பானிகள் வரை ;). இதை எனது உறவினர் நால்வர் படித்தால் மூவர் “நம்ம பத்தி தான்யா எழுதிருக்கான்” என்றெண்ணும் அளவுக்கு common! ஆனால் இந்த சொத்து பிரச்சினை வரை கடந்து சென்று விட்டது. வயதான தந்தையிடம் மல்லுக்கு நிக்கும் மகனது வாரிசின் படிப்பு நின்று போய்விட்டது. மகன்காரரிடம் என்னால் முடிந்தமட்டும் பேசிப்பர்த்தேன். தந்தை தரப்பிலும் பேசினேன். விலலுக்கு இறைத்த நீராயிற்று. Futility of my endeavors was hitting me! வேதனை. எனக்குதான் சரியா பேச தெரியலையோ?

சுய சரிதையின் முடிவுரையில் பாரதி எழுதுகிறார்:

“போன தற்கு வருந்திலன் மெய்த்தவப்
புலமை யோனது வானத் தொளிருமோர்
மீனை நாடி வளைத்திடத் தூண்டிலை
வீச லொக்கு மெனலை மறக்கிலேன்”.

அவர் அன்னையை கூப்பிட்டு “ஆன தாவ தனைத்தையுஞ் செய்வதோர் அன்னையே” தீர்வு சொல்கிறார். இதை விடுவித்து ஆத்திகமாய் பார்த்தாலும் நாத்திகமாய் பார்த்தாலும், the point is: “எவ்வளவு தான் திடமான தூண்டில் போட்டாலும் வானத்து மீன் சிக்காது”. முன்னால் காதலி, வார்த்தை கேளாத குருடன் போன்ற எந்த வானத்து மீனினாலும் வேதனை வேண்டாம். ஏனெனில் “பண்டு போனதை எண்ணி யென்னாவது?
சிலதி னங்கள் இருந்து மறைவதில்
சிந்தை செய்தெவன் செத்திடு வானடா!”

நம்மில் பலர் பல விதமான வானத்து மீன்களுக்கு தூண்டில் வீசிக்கொண்டு இருக்கிறோம். கேளுங்கள்: “எனது “வானத்து மீன்(கள்)” எவை?”

Thanks to: RR (Rohit) for initiating yfittoblog; Arvindh for Bharathi kavithaigal; Bharathi!!!

As the excitement of learning new theories catches on, I feel the strongest challenge an MBA student faces is to remain defiant. Let me explain more. Within the first term at IIMA, I got emphatic answers for the question: “Why MBA?” Firstly, one learns concepts. For example I learnt quickly that higher fixed costs are risky for startups and one can convert fixed cost to variable cost through outsourcing; while evaluating options for investment, financing or any managerial decisions the best choice is to evaluate using ‘relevant’ cost of each option; Efficient ways exist to manage cash conversion cycle; Hero Honda and HUL have mastered negative working capital! Second, one learns the science aspect of management – how to use statistical models to derive meaningful insights from historical data, how to use decision models etc. Third, one gets the broad understanding of business. For example one is taught to use frameworks like ‘five forces’, ‘SWOT’, ‘five-Cs’, ‘four-Ps’, plethora of two-by-two matrices to understand a firm and its environment and then focus on solving a problem again using a plethora of tools.

But one must be vary of being dictated by theory. First reason, among the reasons for why one should be defiant, is that defiance is the only way for continuous improvement. I ‘wowed’ an article I read ( and thanks to Prof. Saral Mukherjee who delivered the punch message in his usual flamboyant style of delivery). Japanese were clearly the leaders in Quality with people like Taguchi spearheading implementation of classical quality concepts. In this context let’s look at this: When EOQ was the norm, Toyota went for smaller lot-sizes and JIT! Decoupling stocks made problems more visible at upstream (blocking) and downstream (starvation). Thus quality was under the scanner all the time. This helped in achieving higher quality and lower inventory costs. The point is: if one were to just go by classical theory one will never improve. Thus, remember, what is taught is not sacrosanct – question and hence improve to create cutting edge concepts/frameworks/tools.

I intend to write this as a series – that’s why the title says MBA traps -1!

At last, my dream to have a blog of my own comes to life!

Why the name – pebbles and parables? As I go through life, I learn many small things. I view them as pebbles of wisdom – ones that are glistened by the gliding stream of learning. In a way, the aged pebbles facilitate smoother water flow. In a way, another person could view it as just a stone. It cud even be a fun-toy, a beautiful piece of art or a weapon. While some of my pebbles may indeed be stones, there are certainly few things which you and me and the world, at large, acknowledge as ‘right’ and them I name as ‘parables’.

I intend to write brief snippets, just like parables, that cud be pebbles of wisdom, fun, anger or indeed just a stone.

by the way, the photo in the header was taken in bushkill falls, pa by me.