Thursday, May 27, 2010

Will India become a superpower?

I happened to watch this interesting talk a couple of weeks back, by Ramachandra Guha, given during his trip to Canada earlier this year. He discusses the ten hurdles on the path towards 'superpowerdom' and tell why he feels India will not and should not become a superpower. It gives quite an honest assessment of today's India.

I just found out that the text of the talk was published by the Outlook. Some of the comments (there are many!) are also worth reading.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I have been attending an Introduction to Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta class every week since November last year. We were a group of five or six being taught by a Scottish lady, Ganga ji. She had spent the last nine years in India and was, for a major part of the last few years, in Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s (Adi Shankaracarya’s lineage) ashram in Coimbatore. The time she spent in the US as a student of religion proved to be her calling to spend her life learning and spreading this wisdom.

The 18 classes we attended were to make us aware of ‘another’ way to think and act. Many of the things she said made so much sense and were very simple to understand. We had been too muddled up in mundane activities and thoughts, which did not leave us with time to think differently. One thing she said struck me more than the others. It was about choices. She said that all of us are in the position of a child in a huge toy shop. Imagine the child is asked to choose one toy from the large selection given to him. Think of his plight. She says that we spend each moment of our life just like this child in the toy shop – trying to make choices. This consumes all of our time and resources. Finally, after the choice is made when the child returns home, he starts wishing that he had bought something else. The excitement of the new toy fades away quickly. The whole set of classes were based on such simple stories and analogies that pointed to the ‘truth’ from many different angles. Until about the 15th or 16th class, not once had she mentioned of ‘concepts’ like God or Soul or anything difficult to assimilate for neophytes.

Sometime in April she told us that she is going back to India to attend a three year course at Swami ji’s ashram. She said that she is extremely lucky to have Swami ji himself teach, which he had not been doing for some time now.

I was telling this whole story about Ganga ji and my Vedanta classes to one of my friends here. I told him that Ganga ji is leaving, and added that ‘all good times must come to an end’. He replied saying that ‘just like good times come to an end, so must bad times’. And it really struck me very deep. He wholly replaced the pessimism with which I was seeing the whole issue into pure optimism.

Before leaving for India, Ganga ji gave us recordings of her classes of the next text she would have taught us if she had continued in Edinburgh. I was listening to one of her recordings last morning. She was speaking of Karma Phala (fruits of our Karma). She said that just like how the Indian Railways transport fruits with a large ‘PERISHABLE’ sticker on the boxes, so must these ‘fruits’ of our Karma be perishable. She said that that is exactly the reason why Karma Phala is called so. The fruits of our Karma do not last forever.

This thought resonated very deeply with what my friend had said a few days earlier. We might be surprised by the little flashes of brilliance emanating from the ones around us. Many a time, if we ‘see’ them, they can be valuable teachers.

* Any mistake in the interpretations/ meanings given here is purely my lack of understanding or my lack of ability in putting it forward well enough and can not be attributed to the 'matter' or the teacher (Ganga ji).