Saturday, September 30, 2017

SLGBTQIA or Human Being?

It was a normal, in fact a very beautiful conversation that I was having with Sanjana in the evening hours in the cafeteria of our office last week. We were talking on a variety of topics from spirituality, to awareness, our favorite word “intention”, humans, sex, gender, sexual orientations, marriages, society, biology, reproductive system, dynamics of childbirth, dynamics of attraction, aesthetics, designing, engineering, patents, innovation, research, the list can really go on and on. So, you can see there was a vast range of topics over which we were having discourses. In the middle of the discourses a very interesting thing emerged and our spontaneous reaction was , “Wow! That is one hell of an observation.”. Ecstatic as if we had made some kind of discovery, we had light in our eyes and hands high up in air in the posture of a High-Five!

This observation emerged when we were talking about “coming out of closets”, or “identifying as LGBTQIA”, or “labelling self as ABCXYZ”. Rationally speaking, I have never really believed in confining human or human behavior into boxes of labels. I believe with insane conviction that we are all on a path of self-discovery, that we are discovering ourselves moment after moment  (if we are not distracted by life’s worthless pursuits), that what I was a decade back is not what I am today and what I will be a decade later will be completely different from what I am today. The labelling business has never attracted me. The observation was that why there is no “S” in the LGBTQIA. Now, I bet you never thought that way right? We also never had. It just happened in the spur of the moment, going with the flow. And the most delightful thing? The observation  did make sense to us. When there is so much of traction about recognition of one’s uniqueness in almost every way today, there needs to be inclusivity also. When the whole battle is about identity, then why is “S” not there? Inherent in the battle of freedom of sexual orientation lies the very bias I believe is being fought against. At the first place, there is no need for identification, we all exist, unique in our own bodies and souls. Now, I am not trying to downplay the movement for equality, I support it, wholeheartedly but I also cannot help wondering the omission of the letter “S”. If everyone identifies with being something, all those “labels” need to be acknowledged - then we can really vouch for equality. Sexual orientation is a spectrum, I believe, just like gender or sex is and we have just been able to scratch the surface of all these diversities which are as natural as our existence on this planet Earth.

Most times people feel that when someone from the LGBTQIA community speaks, they are speaking as LGBTQIA and not as human beings. Labelling has, I feel a burden attached to it, a stamp that one has to conform in a particular way. Can’t we just accept everyone as they are? Then this need will vanish. We no longer will be talking about “coming out of closets”, or “came out” or, “are you from the community” type of questions and assertions. But I understand where this revolution is going. This is a journey to those times when these abbreviations will no longer be required, just like today the world is embracing female power and acknowledging their equal participation. Feminist movement has paved way to these days and LGBTQIA movement is paving way for the days when everyone will have the right to just breathe comfortably under the vast beautiful sky without worrying about “coming out”. The worry, of course, does not exist today, but it really depends on the individual.

Many people feel differently on this while some are extremely ignorant may be because they have not met or known people who are different from them or who are unique in their own ways. I feel I am ahead of my times. I condone the movement, but I also believe that there is no need to come out, ever heard a straight person coming out or saying,  “Hey fellas! I have discovered that I am straight”. Instead of creating a communities of specific types, we need to herald a community where all of us with any gender, sex, race, sexual orientation hang out together and create an archetype of “vasudhaivam kudumbakam” (the entire Earth is my family). Creating communities has a potential to create further divides in the society, further conflicts and wars. It is not the question of “you against me”, it has always been the question of “can you and me be, just be”. We need to create awareness and I believe the equality movement has been very successful, in ways unprecedented, in making the presence of sexual orientation diversity not only heard but respected with dignity.

I believe that the only places and interactions we need to “come out” are the ones that we forge in our personal lives, because that is where it matters the most. I have a dream, I dream of a world where we identify people not as SLGBTQIA but what these SLGBTQIAs stand for and how they are doing their bit to create a kinder world, a better world and a more empathetic world. And guess what? It begins with ME. It begins with YOU. In my life, I have taught myself to pay heed only to this fact when coming across someone, “How is this person using his/her talents and gifts to add value to his/her existence and the community in which he/she lives?”. That has kept my life simple, everything else I have discovered is a distraction that snatches our time, the time which could be invested in creating something productive. 

PS: Never underestimate the power of meaningful discussions!

Small is rooted in Big, Big is rooted in Small


All of us have dreams, goals and things which we so ardently aspire to achieve in our lives, things which we feel define our being which render us feeling that, “This is what I have been incarnated for in this lifetime”. I believe passion directly comes from that vision which we have for ourselves, the vision brings us back all time we seem to falter in our lives, the vision guides us, mentors us, it becomes our voice. Lao Tzu said, “The journey of 1000 steps begins with one first step”. Isn’t it funny that we pay attention to what we achieve after we have travelled those 1000 steps and in journey forget that 1000 steps consist of 1 step, repeated a thousand times? That something “big” is nothing but constructed from multiple “small” things, the genesis of “big victories” lies in “small achievements”, the “small things of today” will become “the big things of tomorrow”.

Well, this is my most recent lesson and observation from The School of Life. Everything that seemed “small” to me more than two years back are now the “big” things of my life and today I wonder if there is anything worth labelling as “small”. I no longer believe there is anything called as “small”, it is a journey, it is a part of that big journey. Let me put this into a context. Say there is a student A, she aspires for an Ivy League College. She applies for admission, confident that she will get an admission. Out of curiosity she also applies for an internship with an NGO, now that NGO stands nowhere in front of the college she has applied to. As fortune would have it, she gets admitted into the NGO and not into the college. The stroke that she played relating to NGO seems like a divine intervention in retrospect, two years have passed and she is still with the NGO. Everything that she aspired to learn, the NGO is teaching her. It is an interesting case. Two years down the line, she has learnt that there is no such thing as “small”. The NGO is a milestone in that Ivy League College journey.

This is a very brief anecdote to send across a message that we often forget. The message that we must celebrate victories on our path to glory, the seemingly “small” victories. Because when we take all of them, they make a huge difference. An overweight person loses weight workout after workout, a runner increases his endurance run after run, a bodybuilder increases the pounds he can bench-press session after session. Everyone starts somewhere, there is always a beginning point. But we often do not celebrate these milestones. I am not asking to bask in the glory of these victories and forget the Northern Star goal, all I intend to say is that we must learn to acknowledge when Universe answers in His ways, become more responsible with every milestone and more determined. So, do not get bogged down by the enormity of what you wish to achieve, understand that a step taken every single day is powerful, powerful than you can ever begin to imagine. Since you are in college, allow me to tell you that there is plenty of room for experimentation. Let these years be the most intense experimenting years of your lives. Life is all about experiments, the more the better.



I know you will relate to this, when it happens in your life and when it does you’ll also tread ahead in your life with the wisdom that, “There are no small steps, small achievements or small things”. Keep Dreaming!

Contributed to ABHISHAR in 2017.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

तस्वीरें

आज किसी ने आपकी तस्वीर देखने का जिक्र किया |  ज़िक्र सुबह हुआ था , उस ज़िक्र का ज़िक्र मानो जैसे मेरे ज़हन से गया ही नहीं है अभी तक  |  उस वक़्त मेरे पास आपकी कोई तस्वीर नहीं थी उन्हें दिखाने के लिए | उन्हें तो नहीं दिखा पाए पर ज़िक्र के बाद से आपकी तस्वीरें  देख कर हम हर उस वक़्त को याद कर रहे हैं, जिन्हे आपके साथ गुज़ारने के मौके हमें मिले  | तस्वीर , कितनी अजीब चीज़ है ना , लम्हों को मानो जैसे हमेशा के लिए कैद कर लेती है | आपको तो तस्वीरें खिचाना बिलकुल न पसंद था , पर देखो ना , आप नहीं तो आपकी तस्वीरें ही हमारी नज़रों के सामने हैं |

तस्वीरें , हम हमेशा खुश पलों की ही तस्वीरें खिचाते हैं ना , कहीं न कहीं हम उस वक़्त को हमेशा के लिए कैद कर लेने की चेष्टा करते हैं | वक़्त निकल जाता है , तस्वीरें रह जातीं हैं और रह जातीं हैं उन तस्वीरों से जुड़ी यादें , उनसे जुड़ी फरियादें और छोड़ जातीं हैं चेहरे पर हलकी सी मुस्कान और दिल में सुकून | काफी ख़ुशी हुई मुझे यह जानकर कि कुछ तस्वीरें आज भी मैंने संभाल के रखीं हैं या यूँ कहो गूगल ड्राइव की बदौलत वो तस्वीरें जिन्दा हैं - अच्छा है |


हर तस्वीर का एक किस्सा होता है, एक कहानी होती है , एक जस्बा होता है | मन ही मन मैं मुस्कुरा रहा था , तस्वीरों के साथ  बिताये वक़्त  का अनुस्मरण जो हो रहा था | दुखी नहीं था, दुःख तो मुझे होता ही नहीं है | खुश था, आपने अपनी ज़िन्दगी के कुछ पल बिताने का मेरे साथ विश्वाश जो किया था |  किसी के विश्वाश के लायक था , सिर्फ सोच के ही आँखें बंद कर एक शान्ति महसूस करता हूँ | ईश्वर ने जितना दिया , काफ़ी  है , काफ़ी था और काफ़ी रहेगा | न जाने क्यों काफी सारी  यादें सिमट आयीं आँखों में मेरी , जब मेरे दोस्त ने आपकी तस्वीर देखने की इच्छा व्यक्त की |
आँखों में चमक थी , सीने में दुआ थी और आगे मेरी मंज़िलें थीं |


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Worth lies within

He who bases his worth on people's whims and fancies,
Soon will learn that worth falls or rises with those opinions, 
He who bases his worth on his own self,
Will neither rejoice in fame nor become gloomy in failures,
For he knows, the value, his value, 
which lies in his eyes, no success can change, no failure can mitigate. 

People's idea of worth is like seasons, 
Changing all the time, fleeting and illusory, 
He who maps his worth to the yardstick of society,
Will soon realize, the truth of worth, 
"My worth lies in how look at myself,
not at how people do". 

The nature of people's sense of success is volatile, 
If East is the way today, 
It won't take much time for East to become West,
West to become North and North to become South. 
He who is owned by people,
Will learn soon to own his being and 
own what he stands for. 

If we all base our value on what "they say",
We'll never be able to live a life,
or a single day,
being joyful or gay. 

It is time to identify, 
And identify we must, 
to value the self independent of the opinions of people,
For today if they assess you while you rise, 
or canonize you in this ascent,
most are waiting for you to fall down,
many more are waiting for you to ebb.

A Karmayogi that you are, 
walk independent of path,
thorns or roses, 
walk and keep walking. 

Wisdom is knowing that worth lies within,
Liberation is what happens when
action is guided by that wisdom.

"Ordinary" Things Extraordinary Lessons

Yesterday I was waiting for someone during the lunch hours. The waiting happened for some good 20 minutes. Wary that there was a reason behind the delay and also in an attempt to ward off annoyance at having to wait beyond stipulated time, I directed my attention towards the flowers whose names I did not know (never also, cared to know), the grass which was different from the normal grass and some random leaves, plants with flowers which hardly anyone might pay heed to. I was watching them dancing to the tune of breeze in the afternoon, I was trying to look at the perfection in them remembering Wayne Dyer who never stops reminding people of the ubiquitous nature of perfection everywhere. From "anonymous" flowers to grass to trees, I tried to have a good look at everything around me and not just look but tried to understand them in ways I never have endeavored to. There was so much to learn from all of them. 

These flowers, they are not decorated at flower shops, they are not in demand as much as "roses" are, truth be told they are never in demand, people hardly look at them or admire the beauty that they naturally possess and for most they are as good as nonexistent; yet, the flowers bloom, shine in the sun, rejoice in breeze and nod in exhilaration in rains. The grass, who looks at it? Yet, it is home to millions of ants, insects whose names we do not know, it shields the little creatures of earth and provides home to them. The grass has never ceased to exist just because someone has not acknowledged its presence or paid gratitude to its being. True to its nature and independent of the good opinion of people, the grass relentlessly serves the creatures it is meant to. The trees, how often do we look at them and rejoice that they are the ones which give us the very thing that sustains us on earth? I saw them moving to and fro in the insane wind in the afternoon, their leaves were shining as if smiling at having received the opportunity to groove a little. Independent of the gratitude, acknowledgement or kindness from anyone, they continue to exist and exist with pride (which comes from the sense of purpose) and humility (which comes from having given the opportunity to serve). These things which seemed too ordinary to me to be paid any heed, seemed to be teaching extraordinary lessons during that time. 

These flowers, just because they are not sold in market place does not mean that they are not beautiful, meaningful or are devoid of their own unique identities. They are beautiful in their own ways. And then I asked myself, "Why is it that I have purchased a rose most of the times?", "Am I perpetuating some implicit bias?", "Would I want to purchase a rose from now on". These were few questions that came to my mind during that time. You should have looked at them, these flowers irrespective of anything knew how to rejoice, to send joy to the world with what they are and what they had. Resentment, there was no such thing with them, content  that they existed on this Earth, they knew that the appropriate response to the gift of life is service and gratitude. I never noticed them, never. Thereafter, I could no longer construe them as ordinary, unattractive, mundane or useless. Ignorance breeds judgement, I was learning.


I believe it is beautiful just to bloom, for no reason, but for a simple reason, if I may, that blooming becomes our being. Such that whoever looks at us, blooms as well, irrespective of time, irrespective of place or seasons. Blooming is an art, the flowers, grass and trees reminded of this truth that we are all here to serve. Acknowledgement of others has never mattered, never will, and never ought to : the blooming happens independent of the externalities, the blooming happens because that is all there is. The periphery cannot decide what comes from the centre of our core, the centre decides that and acts on it.

Here is to a truth then, there is no such thing as ordinary, the only thing that can be ordinary is our eyes :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maintaining dignity in relationships, even after they are over

Amidst the furore that Hrithik-Kangna relationship has created,  I am compelled to write about a very important theme - "Maintaining dignity in relationships, even after they are over". Although, I have never really  believed that there is something called as beginning or end when it comes to relationships for I feel that every association happens for a reason and that it reveals our own truths about our lives and that putting labels of "beginning", "end", "over" or "closure" is quintessentially missing out the bigger picture - the picture of transformation and revelations of our own souls. I respect both Kangna and Hrithik and this post is in no way written to belittle anything related to them, for I understand that exhibition of personal and private lives in public can be an acerbic experience and it has been for them. 

Coming back to the theme of this post, this post really is a reminder to self more than for anyone else. Anyone can be loving, affectionate, head-over-heels for their beloved when everything seems to be happening that stokes the ego of the lover, that does not cause any apparent disturbance in the apparent relationship, when, so to say, things are going as expected. The real measure of the love in relationship often gets tested when there are conflicts, separations or when things seem to fall apart - because that is when respect comes into picture. There can be no love without respect. Respect not only for that person but also for the moments that have been shared, moments which are the most intensely close ones in which the lover and beloved both bared their bodies and souls, moments which have reinforced in our souls that one moment of love is far more stronger than thousands moments of indifference, moments which will always bring smile to our faces even if we do not get to see those faces. This wisdom, so to say, has taken its own share of incubation period to become cemented in my psyche (I am no default-saint, Thank God!). It is unsettling to envisage the bitterness that often takes over when a relationship does not go as per the plan of one party. I believe all of us have gone through such kind of phases in which we felt hurt, heart-broken and felt a sudden urge to blame the person, cast aspersions towards them as our immediate reaction and blame them for everything. In such times of loss of mind, it is important to remind ourselves of the wonderful gift of the relationship itself and we can do this by being grateful. After all, we do not live in a hostile Universe, the Universe always aspires to provide us with that which is best for us. 

In moments when we harbor resent, it is imperative to remind ourselves that our perspective needs to change. How can something that so pleased us at one point of time, if turns out unexpectedly, take the sheen away from those treasured and divine moments of togetherness in which dreams were woven even if it was known that they won't see the light of the day? Anyone can love in calm moments, it takes a real loving heart to be able to shower love (which is nothing but acceptance) in seeming tumultuous times. I use "seeming" word at most places because that is what I feel everything is; it is our brain that gives meaning to situations, situations are just as they are. For example: Meeting someone we like might sometimes give us butterflies in stomach, while there might be situations when it might dread us. Our perceptions are mental projections, one observation that is actually helping me in living a much more sorted life. This Bollywood breakup reminds me of my own responsibilities and obligations that I must adhere to in times of seeming "fall out" in relationships. The beauty of the memories needs to be cherished and not exhumed in order to attack the person, because when that happens then what was shared also gets brutally wounded and the whole premise of love comes to gallows. 
 When we are weakest to launch attack on others, that is when there is all the more need for inner strength to manifest itself. It has to be deliberate, because anger and resent never really served anyone nor did solve any conflict. Things might hurt me ("hurt" is nothing but a misguided perception), but they do not have to make me into an animal, they do not have to make me become oblivious to the golden moments of solidarity which were shared once-upon-a-time. The only appropriate response to every relationship (by this I do not allude only to romantic ones or valentine-type, emotional sentimental ones. it can be any relationship) is GRATITUDE ! For every relationship brings to surface things that need to be healed and it renders us better humans, at least that is what the purpose is unless we are blinded by our egoist wants.

In moments when I get confused, I question myself  : "Am I insulting the Providence's blessing by thinking in this particular manner, blessing which might not be apparent today, but nevertheless I know it is very much present?". I believe there will be lesser crimes by "jilted" lovers if they felt grateful and realized that beautiful companionship shared for some time rendered them more human and more loving . Love is one of the most beautiful truths and realities of our existence, let us not mar the privilege to love one another, or having got the privilege to be vulnerable in love by indulging in futile and spineless resentments. When I see violence in the name of love, it deeply shakes me and makes me wonder, if that really was Love at the first place or just a vacuous claim of Love? We cannot change the world but we can be the change that we wish to seek in the world, let Love be our guide, Love which sustains us.

Keep Loving in the true sense of the word. 
God Bless. 
-A student of Love.

Technology and Purpose

A good conversation ? What is a good conversation? According to me, a good conversation is the one that leaves you with something to ponder upon long after it is over. It often involves some statement made in the conversation by the person with whom you are conversing such that it strikes you right in the middle of your forehead and you end up ruminating and cogitating on it. That pretty much captures the nuances of a good and productive conversation for me. Providence led to such a conversation recently and I have been awestruck by the profundity of the statement that the person with whom I was talking to made, so much so that in my friend circle also I have been discussing  the import of that statement. The statement you might be wondering, right? Well here it is:


At the outset, it might seem to you, "Yeah, isn't that obvious or a no-brainer". To me it did not, when I heard it, I felt as if I was a nail and the statement a hammer, it hit that precisely on my mind. I have been thinking a lot and trying to grasp the depth of this statement. It really is so true and yet so simply put that it garners all the more formidable nod from the inner side of my heart every time I recall the statement and deliberate over it. As someone who loves scientific research and has recently started to believe in the might of technology owing to experiences from visits to Gadchiroli (http://yeshodabhargava.blogspot.in/2016/06/my-visit-to-search-gadchiroli.html), I can connect strongly with this statement today. Technology, as Dr. V.M.Katoch had also mentioned (http://yeshodabhargava.blogspot.in/2017/08/world-health-congress-2017-reflections.html), must be leveraged for utility and not just be exploited out of fashion. Most times, we try to make complex designs feeling that it would appeal to whomsoever we are going to present the proposal or idea, however, little do we realize that it is not the technology but the purpose it is used for that decides the potency of this technology or the purpose that paves way for a particular technology. Needless to say, technology is an intrinsic part of our lives today, it has definitely made our lives easier and some where also been successful in hijacking our intelligence and made it convenient for us to lead a more sedentary and isolated social life. I say 'convenient' in a sarcastic sense of the word. I, however, do want to digress from the main objective of this post. 

Technology is a weapon which can be customised to suit various purposes, which means that it is the purpose for which technology is conceived that renders meaning to technology. The Problem Statement, if you will. The question then that poses to me is, "Am I really involving myself in uncovering problems whose solution may engender a purposeful activity, something which even if is unable to bridge the gap between rich and poor does not widen it?". The statement in many ways reminded me of my own responsibilities as someone who works in the software sector and who harbors intense interest in scientific research for masses. It reminds me that I need to deliberate more upon the "Why" , the "How" will take care of itself. The problem statement/purpose clearly has an upper hand. So, let us read more, discuss more and explore more about the problems around our lives and then jump up to the technological aspect, rather than trying to fit in an esoteric technology to solve some problem. "Often in Product Management", says my mentor in office, "what really is of utmost important is the Why, the What everything else comes later". Well, to me this statement echoes the same sentiment, but what really makes me swoon over it again and again is the depth of it, it manages to carve out extreme sense of meaning in the simplest choices of words. "Technology in itself is powerless, what gives it power is purpose". 

It reminds us that it is the mutual partnership between the two that can create a better world and create inclusive growth. After all what good is technology if it is only widening the chasms between the rich and poor? Interestingly, the Gadchiroli experience had cemented in my mind the strength of technology to create meaningful differences and changes in people's lives, before that I was just a graduate in Computer Science. It was tragic for me to note that on one hand while in cities we used super fast computers to do such data gathering jobs, in remote corners still very much is dependent upon the paper work. The penetration of technology in India is happening at a glacial pace, but the prospects are exciting. In many ways, there is a deluge of potential avenues in India where technology can come across as an ally.

The hunt then is and ought to be for, PURPOSE, PROBLEM STATEMENT !! 
Gratitude to the person for the "good conversation". 



My trip to Swasthya Swaraj : Computer Lessons

This is a post in continuation of my attempt to share lessons from my visit to Swasthya Swaraj Society. Swasthya Swaraj is a secular, not-...