Saturday, June 23, 2007

Response to "Are Brahmins Dalits of Today?"

The article link is below:

My comments:

For me this article or facts mentioned in it are not new. What is new is the statistics about the facts. It is a well known fact that when Ambedkar framed this constitution, he had mentioned that reservation was to be updated or changed once the so called "Dalits" would be brought into the main stream of the society. Unfortunately, Congress has been using Dalits as a vote bank and subsequently every other party. It is Congress which has to be blamed for its rampant usage. This is true esp with Indira Gandhi.

The real reservation has its purpose served only when economic conditions are taken into account. It is unfortunate that so many educated students are not able to make it to the top institutes just because they belong to upper caste while so many Dalits who are not educated, but still rich make it to elite institutions.

If one reads the impact of 50 years of Reservation that Karan Thapar once asked HRD Minister Arjun Singh (who started all this OBC Reservation), he mentions that not even 50% of SC/ST for whom reservation was implemented have been benefited. The reason - poor implementation. When such a system has not worked at all, why do it worse by including some more in it. This is a game being played by Congress (Sonia) who has lost Muslim votes, Hindu votes and only chunk of people who can bring majority to Congress is the OBC. So started pacifying them. It is only Congress which can cleverly play such politcal cards.

Some of my friends raised this point that economic criteria judgement is a herculaean task given the fact anybody can show he is rich or poor by faking documents. In our country, yes, it is possible and is a fact. If indeed economic criteria is impractical and caste is the only way to judge, injustice will continue to exist with one section of the society while other gets justice. Which means poor, upper caste guy continues to suffer against rich lower caste guy. The reservation must have its own limit. The sections of the society which have been to subjected to oppression must be given justice. Until the person completes his/her bachelor's degree, let reservation be a right to those Dalits who were oppressed for so many years and even now have no access to basic amenties and at the same time upper caste who are also economically weak.

Higher education like M.Tech(any degree beyond bachelors) must be given to those who are meritorious(now I am not telling/talking abt any caste..only skill set). In such a case, the fees must be such that poor people can afford(irrespective of caste). If the downtrodden sections of the society still have no access to such skill sets, the govt must take initiative to help them by giving free training. So, now, we can bring fair competition amongst everyone irrespective of caste. By helping those who are economically weak (irrespective of caste) gives the society a healthy competitive environment. Government should ask NGO's or private institutions to train such people and give them incentives.

Every caste and category..OBC,SC/ST must enjoy equal rights as that of others, but, merit must have its role. This way we can make weaker and lower class people get social freedom and a chance to reach new heights which only a few sections of the society continued to enjoy for centuries.

Reservation should not be continued on a rationale which believes that OBC/SC/ST should continue to rule for centuries because the Brahmins oppressed them for centuries.

The day is not far off when a citizen has to carry Caste Certificate and not any other document with him/her. Hotels, theatres will have reservation too. The first 10 seats for OBC, the second for SC/ST and only the last 5 rows for General Merit.

Restaurants will have the hoarding - "Please hurry 5 tables are left for OBC's, Merit people will have to wait" and Merit will not be allowed to occupy those vacant 5 tables.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Golden Gate Bridge

Hindu Rituals & significance

This was not composed by me

1. Why do we light a lamp?

In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the
Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day ¡V at dawn and
dusk ¡V and in a few it is maintained continuously (akhanda deepa). All
auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often
maintained right through the occasion.

Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. The Lord is the
"Knowledge Principle" (chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the
illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself.

Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge
is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be
accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the
greatest of all forms of wealth

Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the
traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee
in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick,
the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted
and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards.
Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher

Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:

Deepajyothi parabrahma

Deepa sarva tamopahaha

Deepena saadhyate saram

Sandhyaa deepo namostute

I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle
(the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which
all can be achieved in life.

2. Why do we have a prayer room?

Most Indian homes have a prayer room or altar. A lamp is lit and the Lord
worshipped each day. Other spiritual practices like japa (repetition of
the Lord's name), meditation, paaraayana (reading of the scriptures),
prayers, and devotional singing etc is also done here. Special worship is
done on auspicious occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and
the like. Each member of the family ¡V young or old ¡V communes with and
worships the Divine here.

The Lord is the entire creation. He is therefore the true owner of the
house we live in too. The prayer room is the Master room of the house. We
are the earthly occupants of His property. This notion rids us of false
pride and possessiveness.

The ideal attitude to take is to regard the Lord as the true owner of our
homes and us as caretakers of His home. But if that is rather difficult, we
could at least think of Him as a very welcome guest. Just as we would house
an important guest in the best comfort, so too we felicitate the Lord's
presence in our homes by having a prayer room or altar, which is, at all
times, kept clean and well-decorated.

Also the Lord is all pervading. To remind us that He resides in our homes
with us, we have prayer rooms. Without the grace of the Lord, no task can
be successfully or easily accomplished. We invoke His grace by communing
with Him in the prayer room each day and on special occasions.

Each room in a house is dedicated to a specific function like the bedroom
for resting, the drawing room to receive guests, the kitchen for cooking
etc. The furniture, decor and the atmosphere of each room are made
conducive to the purpose it serves. So too for the purpose of meditation,
worship and prayer, we should have a conducive atmosphere ¡V hence the need
for a prayer room.

Sacred thoughts and sound vibrations pervade the place and influence the
minds of those who spend time there. Spiritual thoughts and vibrations
accumulated through regular meditation, worship and chanting done there
pervade the prayer room. Even when we are tired or agitated, by just
sitting in the prayer room for a while, we feel calm, rejuvenated and
spiritually uplifted.

3. Why do we do namaste?

Indians greet each other with namaste. The two palms are placed together in
front of the chest and the head bows whilst saying the word namaste. This
greeting is for all ¡V people younger than us, of our own age, those older
than friends, even strangers and us.

There are five forms of formal traditional greeting enjoined in the
shaastras of which namaskaram is one. This is understood as prostration but
it actually refers to paying homage as we do today when we greet each other
with a namaste.

Namastecould be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or
an act of worship. However there is much more to it than meets the eye. In
Sanskrit namah + te = namaste. It means ¡V I bow to you ¡V my greetings,
salutations or prostration to you. Namaha can also be literally interpreted
as " na ma" (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or
reducing one's ego in the presence of another.

The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we
greet another, we do so with namaste, which means, "may our minds meet,"
indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of
the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility.

The spiritual meaning is even deeper. The life force, the divinity, the
Self or the Lord in me is the same in all. Recognizing this oneness with
the meeting of the palms, we salute with head bowed the Divinity in the
person we meet. That is why sometimes, we close our eyes as we do namaste
to a revered person or the Lord ¡V as if to look within. The gesture is
often accompanied by words like "Ram Ram", "Jai Shri Krishna", "Namo
Narayana", "Jai Siya Ram", "Om Shanti" etc ¡V indicating the recognition of
this divinity.

When we know this significance, our greeting does not remain just a
superficial gesture or word but paves the way for a deeper communion with
another in an atmosphere of love and respect.

4. Why do we prostrate before parents and elders?

Indians prostrate before their parents, elders, teachers and noble souls by
touching their feet. The elder in turn blesses us by placing his or her
hand on or over our heads. Prostration is done daily, when we meet elders
and particularly on important occasions like the beginning of a new task,
birthdays, festivals etc. In certain traditional circles, prostration is
accompanied by abhivaadana, which serves to introduce one-self, announce
one's family and social stature.

Man stands on his feet. Touching the feet in prostration is a sign of
respect for the age, maturity, nobility and divinity that our elders
personify. It symbolizes our recognition of their selfless love for us and
the sacrifices they have done for our welfare. It is a way of humbly
acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong
family ties, which has been one of India's enduring strengths.

The good wishes (Sankalpa ) and blessings (aashirvaada) of elders are
highly valued in India. We prostrate to seek them. Good thoughts create
positive vibrations. Good wishes springing from a heart full of love,
divinity and nobility have a tremendous strength. When we prostrate with
humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders
which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the
posture assumed whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables
the entire body to receive the energy thus received.

The different forms of showing respect are :

Pratuthana¡V rising to welcome a person.

Namaskaara¡V paying homage in the form of namaste (discussed separately in
this book).

Upasangrahan¡V touching the feet of elders or teachers.

Shaashtaanga¡V prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest,
forehead and arms touching the ground in front of the elder.

Pratyabivaadana ¡V returning a greeting.

Rules are prescribed in our scriptures as to who should prostrate to whom.
Wealth, family name, age, moral strength and spiritual knowledge in
ascending order of importance qualified men to receive respect. This is why
a king though the ruler of the land, would prostrate before a spiritual
master. Epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata have many stories
highlighting this aspect.

5. Why do we wear marks (tilak, pottu and the like) on the forehead?

The tilak or pottu invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others.
It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and colour vary according to
one's caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshipped.

In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or colour) ¡V Brahmana,
Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra ¡V applied marks differently. The brahmin
applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a
priestly or academic nature. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark
signifying valour as he belonged to warrior races. The vaishya wore a
yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a businessman
or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The sudra applied a black bhasma,
kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the
other three divisions.

Also Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of "U", Shiva
worshippers a tripundra (of the shape of "º ") of bhasma, Devi
worshippers a red dot of kumkum and so on).

The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory
and thinking. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The
tilak is applied with the prayer ¡V "May I remember the Lord. May this pious
feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds." Even
when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another
reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a
protection against wrong tendencies and forces.

The entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves ¡V the
forehead and the subtle spot between the eyebrows especially so. That is
why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak and pottu cools
the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. Sometimes the entire
forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma. Using plastic reusable "stick
bindis" is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of

6. Why do we not touch papers, books and people with the feet?

To Indians, knowledge is sacred and divine. So it must be given respect at
all times. Nowadays we separate subjects as sacred and secular. But in
ancient India every subject ¡V academic or spiritual ¡V was considered
divine and taught by the guru in the gurukula.

The custom of not stepping on educational tools is a frequent reminder of
the high position accorded to knowledge in Indian culture. From an early
age, this wisdom fosters in us a deep reverence for books and education.
This is also the reason why we worship books, vehicles and instruments once
a year on Saraswathi Pooja or Ayudha Pooja day, dedicated to the Goddess of
Learning. In fact, each day before starting our studies, we pray:

Saraswati namasthubhyam
Varade kaama roopini
Vidyaarambham karishyaami
Sidhirbhavatu me sadaa

O Goddess Saraswati, the giver of
Boons and fulfiller of wishes,
I prostrate to You before
starting my studies.
May you always fulfill me?

6a. To touch another with the feet is considered an act of misdemeanor. Why
is this so?

Man is regarded as the most beautiful, living breathing temple of the Lord!
Therefore touching another with the feet is akin to disrespecting the
divinity within him or her. This calls for an immediate apology, which is
offered with reverence and humility.

7. Why do we apply the holy ash?

The ash of any burnt object is not regarded as holy ash. Bhasma (the holy
ash) is the ash from the homa (sacrificial fire) where special wood along
with ghee and other herbs is offered as worship of the Lord. Or the deity
is worshipped by pouring ash as abhisheka and is then distributed as

Bhasma is generally applied on the forehead. Some apply it on certain parts
of the body like the upper arms, chest etc. Some ascetics rub it all over
the body. Many consume a pinch of it each time they receive it.

The word bhasma means, "that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord
is remembered". Bha implied bhartsanam ("to destroy") and sma implies
smaranam ("to remember"). The application of bhasma therefore signifies
destruction of the evil and remembrance of the divine. Bhasma is called
vibhuti (which means "glory") as it gives glory to one who applies it and
raksha (which means a source of protection) as it protects the wearer from
ill health and evil, by purifying him or her.

Homa (offering of oblations into the fire with sacred chants) signifies the
offering or surrender of the ego and egocentric desires into the flame of
knowledge or a noble and selfless cause. The consequent ash signifies the
purity of the mind, which results from such actions.
Also the fire of knowledge burns the oblation and wood signifying ignorance
and inertia respectively. The ash we apply indicates that we should burn
false identification with the body and become free of the limitations of
birth and death. This is not to be misconstrued as a morose reminder of
death but as a powerful pointer towards the fact that time and tide wait
for none.

Bhasma is specially associated with Lord Shiva who applies it all over His
body. Shiva devotes apply bhasma as a tripundra (the form of "ƒtƒßƒâƒÔƒÝƒ« ").
When applied with a red spot at the center, the mark symbolizes
Shiva-Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that creates the entire seen
and unseen universe).

Bhasma has medicinal value and is used in many ayurvedic medicines. It
absorbs excess moisture from the body and prevents colds and headaches. The
Upanishads say that the famous Mrityunjaya mantra should be chanted whilst
applying ash on the forehead.

Tryambakam yajaamahe
Sugandhim pushtivardhanam
Urvaa rukamiva bhandhanaan
Mrytyor muksheeyamaa amrutaat

"We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva who nourishes and spread fragrance in
our lives. May He free us from the shackles of sorrow, change and death ¡V
effortlessly, like the fall of a rip brinjal from its stem."

8.Why do offer food to the Lord before eating it?

Indians make an offering of food to the Lord and later partake of it as
prasaada ¡V a holy gift from the Lord. In our daily ritualistic worship
(pooja) too we offer naivedyam (food) to the Lord.

The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient. Man is a part, while the Lord is the
totality. All that we do is by His strength and knowledge alone. Hence what
we receive in life as a result of our actions is really His alone. We
acknowledge this through the act of offering food to Him. This is
exemplified by the Hindi words "tera tujko arpan"¡V I offer what is Yours
to You. Thereafter it is akin to His gift to us, graced by His divine

Knowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes.
The food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get
with others before consuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticise
the quality of the food we get. We eat it with cheerful acceptance (
prasaada buddhi).

Before we partake of our daily meals we first sprinkle water around the
plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the
side of the plate acknowledging the debt owed by us to the Divine forces (
devta runa) for their benign grace and protection, our ancestors (pitru
runa) for giving us their lineage and a family culture, the sages ( rishi
runa) as our religion and culture have been "realised", aintained and
handed down to us by them, our fellow beings ( manushya runa) who
constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do
and other living beings ( bhuta runa) for serving us selflessly.

Thereafter the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five
life-giving physiological functions, is offered the food. This is done with
the chant

praanaaya swaahaa,
apaanaaya swaahaa,
vyaanaaya swaahaa,
udaanaaya swaahaa,
samaanaaya swaahaa,
brahmane swaahaa

After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasaada ¡V blessed food.

9. Why do we fast?

Most devout Indians fast regularly or on special occasions like festivals.
On such days they do not eat at all, eat once or make do with fruits or a
special diet of simple food.

Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. Upa means "near" + vaasa means "to
stay". Upavaasa therefore means staying near (the Lord), meaning the
attainment of close mental proximity with the Lord. Then what has upavaasa
to do with food?

A lot of our time and energy is spent in procuring food items, preparing,
cooking, eating and digesting food. Certain food types make our minds dull
and agitated. Hence on certain days man decides to save time and conserve
his energy by eating either simple, light food or totally abstaining from
eating so that his mind becomes alert and pure. The mind, otherwise
pre-occupied by the thought of food, now entertains noble thoughts and
stays with the Lord. Since it is a self-imposed form of discipline it is
usually adhered to with joy.

Also every system needs a break and an overhaul to work at its best. Rest
and a change of diet during fasting is very good for the digestive system
and the entire body.

The more you indulge the senses, the more they make their demands. Fasting
helps us to cultivate control over our senses, sublimate our desires and
guide our minds to be poised and at peace.

Fasting should not make us weak, irritable or create an urge to indulge
later. This happens when there is no noble goal behind fasting.

The Bhagavad-Gita urges us to eat appropriately ¡V neither too less nor too
much ¡V yukta-aahaara and to eat simple, pure and healthy food (a saatvik
diet) even when not fasting.

10. Why do we do pradakshina (circumambulate)?

We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center,
source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our
lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of

Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the
center. This means that wherever or whoever we may be, we are equally close
to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.

11. Why is pradakshina done only in a clockwise manner?

??????????? The reason is not, as a person said, to avoid a traffic jam! As
we do pradakshina, the Lord is always on our right. In India the right
side symbolizes auspiciousness. So as we circumambulate the sanctum
sanctorum we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness,
with the Lord who is the indispensable source of help and strength, as our
guide ¡V the "right hand".

Indian scriptures enjoin ¡V matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo
bhava. May you consider your parents and teachers as you would the Lord.
With this in mind we also do pradakshina around our parents and divine

After the completion of traditional worship (pooja), we customarily do
pradakshina around ourselves. In this way we recognize and remember the
supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord
that we worship outside.

12. Why do we regard trees and plants as sacred?

The Lord, the life in us, pervades all living beings, be they plants or
animals. Hence, they are all regarded as sacred. Human life on earth
depends on plants and trees. They give us the vital factors that make life
possible on earth: food, oxygen, clothing, shelter, medicines etc.

Hence, in India, we are taught to regard trees and plants as sacred.
Indians scriptures tell us to plant ten trees if, for any reason, we have
to cut one. We are advised to use parts of trees and plants only as much as
is needed for food, fuel, shelter etc. we are also urged to apologies to a
plant or tree before cutting it to avoid incurring a specific sin named

Certain trees and plants like tulasi, peepal etc., which have tremendous
beneficial qualities, are worshipped till today. It is believed that divine
beings manifest as trees and plants, and many people worship them to
fulfill their desires or to please the Lord.

12. Why do we ring the bell in a temple?

Is it to wake up the Lord? But the Lord never sleeps. Is it to let the Lord
know we have come? He does not need to be told, as He is all knowing. Is it
a form of seeking permission to enter His precinct? It is a homecoming and
therefore entry needs no permission. The Lord welcomes us at all times.
Then why do we ring the bell?

The ringing of the bell produces what is regarded as an auspicious sound.
It produces the sound Om, the universal name of the Lord. There should be
auspiciousness within and without, to gain the vision of the Lord who is

Even while doing the ritualistic aarati, we ring the bell. It is sometimes
accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the conch and other musical
instruments. An added significance of ringing the bell, conch and other
instruments is that they help drowned any inauspicious or irrelevant noises
and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their
devotional ardour, concentration and inner peace.

As we start the daily ritualistic worship (pooja) we ring the bell,

Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam
gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam
Kurve ghantaaravam tatra
devataahvaahna lakshanam

I ring this bell indicating
the invocation of divinity,
So that virtuous and noble forces
enter (my home and heart);
and the demonic and evil forces
from within and without, depart.

13. Why do we worship the kalasha?

First of all what is a kalasha ? A brass, mud or copper pot is filled with
water. Mango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is
placed over it. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes
all around it in a intricate diamond-shaped pattern. The pot may be
decorated wit designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha.

When the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakumbha
representing the inert body which when filled with the divine life force
gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is.

A kalasha is placed with due rituals on all-important occasions like the
traditional house warming ( grihapravesa), wedding, daily worship etc. It
is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a
traditional manner while receiving holy personages. Why do we worship the
kalasha? Before the creation came into being, Lord Vishnu was reclining on
His snake-bed in the milky ocean. From His navel emerged a lotus from which
appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world.

The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the
entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the
potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and
the sentient beings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy
behind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation.

The thread represents the love that "binds" all in creation. The kalasha is
therefore considered auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the
holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the
deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for
all the rituals, including the abhisheka.

The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka ) of a temple is done in a grand manner
with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of
holy water on the top of the temple. When the asuras and devas churned the
milky ocean, the Lord appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one
with everlasting life.

Thus the kalasha also symbolizes immortality. Men of wisdom are full and
complete as they identify with the infinite Truth (poornatvam). They brim
with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. We greet them with a
purnakumbha ("full pot") acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of
respectful and reverential welcome, with a "full heart".

14. Why do we consider the lotus as special?

The lotus is the symbol of truth, auspiciousness and beauty ( satyam,
shivam, sundaram). The Lord is also that nature and therefore, His various
aspects are compared to a lotus (i.e. lotus-eyes, lotus feet, lotus hands,
the lotus of the heart etc.).

The lotus blooms with the rising sun and close at night. Similarly, our
minds open up and expand with the light of knowledge. The lotus grows even
in slushy areas. It remains beautiful and untainted despite its
surroundings, reminding us that we too can and should strive to remain pure
and beautiful within, under all circumstances.

The lotus leaf never gets wet even though it is always in water. It
symbolizes the man of wisdom ( gyaani) who remains ever joyous, unaffected
by the world of sorrow and change. This is revealed in a shloka from the

Brahmanyaadhaaya karmaani
Sangam tyaktvaa karoti yaha
Lipyate na sa paapena
Padma patram ivaambhasaa

He who does actions, offering them to Brahman (the Supreme), abandoning
attachment, is not tainted by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected
by the water on it.

From this, we learn that what is natural to the man of wisdom becomes a
discipline to be practiced by all saadhakas or spiritual seekers and
devotees. Our bodies have certain energy centers described in the Yoga
Shaastras as chakras.

Each one is associated with lotus that has a certain number of petals. For
example, a lotus with a thousand petals represents the Sahasra chakra at
the top of the head, which opens when the yogi attains Godhood or
Realisation. Also, the lotus posture ( padmaasana) is recommended when one
sits for meditation. A lotus emerged from the navel of Lord Vishnu. Lord
Brahma originated from it to create the world. Hence, the lotus symbolizes
the link between the creator and the supreme Cause.

??????????? It also symbolizes Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma. The
auspicious sign of the swastika is said to have evolved from the lotus.

15. Why do we worship tulasi?

In Sanskrit, tulanaa naasti athaiva tulasi - that which is incomparable
(in its qualities) is the tulasi.

For Indians it is one of the most sacred plants. In fact it is known to be
the only thing used in worship, which, once used, can be washed and reused
in pooja - as it is regarded so self-purifying.

As one story goes, Tulasi was the devoted wife of Shankhachuda, a celestial
being. She believed that Lord Krishna tricked her into sinning. So she
cursed Him to become a stone ( shaaligraama). Seeing her devotion and
adhered to righteousness, the Lord blessed her saying that she would become
the worshipped plant, tulasi that would adorn His head.

Also that all offerings would be incomplete without the tulasi leaf - hence
the worship of tulasi.

She also symbolises Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Those who
wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulasi.

Tulasiis married to the Lord with all pomp and show as in any wedding.

This is because according to another legend, the Lord blessed her to be His
consort. Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary
wealth. The scales did not balance till a single tulasi leaf was placed
along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion.

Thus the tulasi played the vital role of demonstrating to the world that
even a small object offered with devotion means more to the Lord than all
the wealth in the world.
The tulasi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various
ailments, including the common cold.

Yanmule sarvatirhaani
Yannagre sarvadevataa
Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha
Tulasi taam namaamyaham

I bow down to the tulasi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose
top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.

16. Why do we blow the conch?

When the conch is blown, the primordial sound of Om emanates. Om is an
auspicious sound that was chanted by the Lord before creating the world. It
represents the world and the Truth behind it.

As the story goes, the demon Shankhaasura defeated devas, the Vedas and
went to the bottom of the ocean. The devas appealed to Lord Vishnu for
help. He incarnated as Matsya Avataara - the "fish incarnation" and killed
Shankhaasura. The Lord blew the conch-shaped bone of his ear and head. The
Om sound emanated, from which emerged the Vedas.

All knowledge enshrined in the Vedas is an elaboration of Om . The conch
therefore is known as shankha after Shankaasua. The conch blown by the Lord
is called Paanchajanya. He carries it at all times in one of His four

It represents dharma or righteousness that is one of the four goals (
purushaarthas) of life. The sound of the conch is thus also the victory
call of good over evil.

Another well-known purpose of blowing the conch and the instruments, known
traditionally to produce auspicious sounds is to drown or mask negative
comments or noises that may disturb or upset the atmosphere or the minds of

Ancient India lived in her villages. Each village was presided over by a
primary temple and several small ones. During the aarati performed after
all-important poojas and on sacred occasions, the conch used to be blown.
Since villages were generally small, the sound of the conch would be heard
all over the village. People who could not make it to the temple were
reminded to stop whatever they were doing, at least for a few seconds, and
mentally bow to the Lord. The conch sound served to briefly elevate
people's minds to a prayerful attitude even in the middle of their busy
daily routine.

The conch is placed at the altar in temples and homes next to the Lord as a
symbol of Naada Brahma (Truth), the Vedas, Om, dharma, victory and
auspiciousness. It is often used to offer devotees thirtha (sanctified
water) to raise their minds to the highest Truth. It is worshipped with the
following verse.

Twam puraa saagarot pannaha
Vishnunaa vidhrutahakare
Devaischa poojitha sarvahi
Panchjanya namostu te

Salutations to Panchajanya
the conch born of the ocean
Held in the hand of Lord Vishnu
and worshipped by all devaas

17. Why do we say shaanti thrice?

Shaanti , meaning "peace", is a natural state of being. Disturbances are
created either by others or us. For example, peace already exists in a
place until someone makes noise.
Therefore, peace underlies all our agitations. When agitations end, peaceis naturally experienced since it was already there. Where there is peace,
there is happiness. Therefore, every one without exception desires peace in
his/her life.

However, peace within or without seems very hard to attain because it is
covered by our own agitations. A rare few manage to remain peaceful within
even in the midst of external agitation and troubles. To invoke peace, we
chant prayers. By chanting prayers, troubles end and peace is experienced
internally, irrespective of the external disturbances. All such prayers end
by chanting shaanti thrice.

It is believed that trivaram satyam - that which is said thrice comes
true. For emphasizing a point we repeat a thing thrice. In the court of law
also, one who takes the witness stands says, "I shall speak the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth".

We chant shaanti thrice to emphasise our intense desire for peace. All
obstacles, problems and sorrows originate from three sources.

Aadhidaivika : The unseen divine forces over which we have little or no
control like earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions etc.

Aadhibhautika : The known factors around us like accidents, human contacts,
pollution, crime etc.

Aadhyaatmika : We sincerely pray to the Lord that at least while we
undertake special tasks or even in our daily lives, there are no problems
or that, problems are minimised from the three sources written about above.

May peace alone prevail. Hence shaanti is chanted thrice.

It is chanted aloud the first time, addressing the unseen forces. It is
chanted softer the second time, directed to our immediate surroundings and
those around, and softest the last time as it is addressed to oneself.

18. Why do we offer a coconut?

In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. It is
also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new
vehicle, bridge, house etc. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst
performing homa. The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is
later distributed as prasaada.

The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the
top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being.
The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego. The juice
within, representing the inner tendencies ( vaasanas) is offered along with
the white kernel - the mind, to the Lord.

A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasaada ( a holy
gift). In the traditional abhishekha ritual done in all temples and many
homes, several materials are poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey,
tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash etc. Each material has a
specific significance of bestowing certain benefits on worshippers. Tender
coconut water is used in abhisheka rituals since it is believed to bestow
spiritual growth on the seeker.

The coconut also symbolises selfless service. Every part of the tree -the
trunk, leaves, fruit, coir etc. Is used in innumerable ways like thatches,
mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap etc. It takes in even salty water from the
earth and converts it into sweet nutritive water that is especially
beneficial to sick people. It is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic
medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems.

??????????? The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the
three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to
fulfill our desires.

19. Why do we chant Om?

Om is one of the most chanted sound symbols in India. It has a profound
effect on the body and mind of the one who chants and also on the
surroundings. Most mantras and vedic prayers start with Om.

All auspicious actions begin with Om. It is even used as a greeting - Om,
Hari Om etc. It is repeated as a mantra or meditated upon. Its form is
worshipped, contemplated upon or used as an auspicious sign.

Om is the universal name of the Lord. It is made up of the letters A
(phonetically as in "around"), U (phonetically as in "put") and M
(phonetically as in "mum"). The sound emerging from the vocal chords starts
from the base of the throat as "A". With the coming together of the lips,
"U" is formed and when the lips are closed, all sounds end in "M".

??????????? The three letters symbolize the three states (waking, dream and
deep sleep), the three deities (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva), the three Vedas
(Rig, Yajur and Sama) the three worlds (Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah) etc. The Lord
is all these and beyond.

The formless, attributeless Lord (Brahman) is represented by the silence
between two Om Chants. Om is also called pranava that means, "that (symbol
or sound) by which the Lord is praised". The entire essence of the Vedas is
enshrined in the word Om. It is said that the Lord started creating the
world after chanting Om and atha. Hence its sound is considered to create
an auspicious beginning for any task that we undertake. The Om chant should
have the resounding sound of a bell ( aaooommm).

Om is written in different ways in different places. The most common form
symbolizes Lord Ganesha's. The upper curve is the head; the lower large
one, the stomach; the side one, the trunk; and the semi-circular mark with
the dot, the sweetmeat ball (modaka) in Lord Ganesha's hand. Thus Om
symbolizes everything - the means and the goal of life, the world and the
Truth behind it, the material and the Sacred, all form and the Formless.

20. Why do we do aarati?

Towards the end of every ritualistic worship (pooja or bhajan) of the Lord
or to welcome an honored guest or saint, we perform the aarati. This is
always accompanied by the ringing of the bell and sometimes by singing,
playing of musical instruments and clapping.

It is one of the sixteen steps (shodasha upachaara) of the pooja ritual. It
is referred to as the lighted lamp in the right hand, which we wave in a
clockwise circling movement to light the entire form of the Lord.

Each part is revealed individually and also the entire form of the Lord. As
the light is waved we either do mental or loud chanting of prayers or
simply behold the beautiful form of the ??????? Lord, illumined by the
lamp. At the end of the aarati we place our hands over the flame and then
gently touch our eyes and the top of the head.

We have seen and participated in this ritual from our childhood. Let us
find out why we do the aarati?

Having worshipped the Lord of love - performing abhisheka, decorating the
image and offering fruits and delicacies, we see the beauty of the Lord in
all His glory. Our minds are focused on each limb of the Lord as the lamp
lights it up. It is akin to silent open-eyed meditation on His beauty. The
singing, clapping, ringing of the bell etc. denote the joy and
auspiciousness, which accompanies the vision of the Lord.

Aarati is often performed with camphor. This holds a telling spiritual
significance. Camphor when lit, burns itself out completely without leaving
a trace of it. It represents our inherent tendencies ( vaasanas). When lit
by the fire of knowledge which illumines the Lord (Truth), our vaasanas
thereafter burn themselves out completely, not leaving a trace of ego which
creates in us a sense of individuality that keeps us separate from the

Also while camphor burns to reveal the glory of Lord, it emits a pleasant
perfume even while it sacrifices itself. In our spiritual progress, even as
we serve the guru and society, we should willingly sacrifice ourselves and
all we have, to spread the "perfume" of love to all. We often wait a long
while to see the illumined Lord but when the aarati is actually performed,
our eyes close automatically as if to look within. This is to signify that
each of us is a temple of the Lord.

Just as the priest reveals the form of the Lord clearly with the aarati
flame, so too the guru reveals to us the divinity within each of us with
the help of the "flame" of knowledge (or the light of spiritual knowledge).
At the end of the aarati, we place our hands over the flame and then touch
our eyes and the top of the head. It means - may the light that illuminated
the Lord light up my vision; may my vision be divine and my thoughts noble
and beautiful.

The philosophical meaning of aarati extends further. The sun, moon, stars,
lightning and fire are the natural sources of light. The Lord is the source
of this wonderous phenomenon of the universe. It is due to Him alone that
all else exist and shine. As we light up the Lord with the flame of the
aarati, we turn our attention to the very source of all light, which
symbolizes knowledge and life.

Also the sun is the presiding deity of the intellect, the moon, that of the
mind, and fire, that of speech. The Lord is the supreme consciousness that
illuminates all of them. Without Him, the intellect cannot think, nor can
the mind feel nor the tongue speaks. The Lord is beyond the mind, intellect
and speech. How can this finite equipment illuminate the Lord? Therefore,
as we perform the aarati we chant;

Na tatra suryo bhaati na chandra taarakam
Nemaa vidyuto bhaanti kutoyamagnib
Tameva bhaantam anubhaati sarvam
Tasya bhasa sarvam idam vibhaati

He is there where the sun does not shine,
Nor the moon, stars and lightning.
then what to talk of this small flame (in my hand),
Everything (in the universe) shines only after the Lord,
And by His light alone are we all illumined

Dr.Rajkumar & Kannada Language

One of the first things that comes in my mind when I think of this legendary actor is his movie "Kaviratna Kalidasa". I used to wonder right from my school days - is there a way I can see Kannada in all its beauty. This was in my 8th Std. That was a tough time as I had shifted from ICSE to SSLC syllabus. I was given a choice to choose between Kannada and Hindi(like many others) as 1st Langugae. I deliberately chose Kannada because I felt I had many sources to help me if I faced a difficulty. This was my criteria. Then I happened to see Kaviratna Kalidasa. i was stunned at 2 things - One, Rajkumar's performace(no actor anywhere in the world can perform like him) and second, the beauty and purity of Kannada language.Just listen to the song Rajkumar sings for Goddess Kali. It is just thrilling and creates vibrations around you. That was the starting point for me to understand and appreciate the beauty of Kannada language. I began to study Kannada in SSLC syllabus(like any other perosn) and observed that Kannada literature is truly an ocean be it Pampa, Ranna, Purandaradas, Kanakadasa r Nisar Ahmed, Kuvempu .I was so happy that time that I took Kannada, because I had decided that I would understand this language right from its origin(Although I haven't been very successful so far). I began to look at Kannada not merely as a first Language, but as an adventure to explore the beauty of expression. I don't know how far have I succeeded.

The richness hidden in all kannada liertature works must be brought out so that the new generation born and brought up in Karnataka can appreciate a language that is far deeper in grammar and syntax than Hindi, Tamil or others. Perhaps Sanskrit's complete set of accent and pronunciation is very well visible in Kannada.

What worries me is the slang and vulgar Kannada being used in most of the Kannada films produced for over a decade now. If this shade is portrayed on Kan films, nobody will love it. The only tribute the film industry can pay is to live up to pure kannada and bring it on screen like it used to be in his films.

I admire Rajkumar for this special feature that all of his films had a social message that reached across all sections of kannnada society and that too with pure Kannada accent ,with no mistakes or mispronunications. It's time now that we also find other ways to explore the beauty of Kannada language.

Sirigannadam Gelge

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Good PJ's and Jokes

A for apple.

B for bada apple.

C for chota apple.

D for dusra apple.

E for ek aur apple.

F for fokat ka apple.

G for gol apple.

H for ho gaya na pet kharab khake itne apple.

************************************************** ********

The positive thinking poem.

Little birdy in the sky,

You look up and it shits in your eye.

You don't mind and you don't cry,

You just thank God that cows don't fly.


Sardar Apni Wife Ke Sath Coffee Shop Gaya, hot Coffee order Ki, Coffee
Atte Hi wife Se Bola Jaldi Jaldi pee. Wife Boli Kyu?

Sardar Bola Hot coffe Rs. 5 and Cold Coffee Rs. 10.00


Sardarji went to party and introduced his family to his friends.
I am Sardar and this is sardarney, this is my kid and this is my


Sardar 2 Salesman, I Need Pink curtains for my computer.
Salesman Sardarji Computer Doesnt Need Curtains.
Sardarji: Oye i have windows installed.


Nurse: Sardarji Mubarak Ho Aap Papa Ban Gaye!!
Sardar: Meri Wife Ko Mat Bolna Main Usse Surprise Dunga!!


Duniya mein bewafaon ki kami nahin hai.

Ab suraj ko hi dekh lo-

Aata hai Usha ke saath,

Rehta hai Kiran ke saath,

Aur jaata hai Sandhya ke saath!

Aur raat gujarta hai Nisha ke sath!

Indian Politicians - Nursery Rhymes

Laloo Bhai bihari
Went up the pahari
To fetch a bail for court order
Laloo fell down
And lost his crown
But Rabri reigned thereafter.
Laxman laxman
Yes pappa
Eating money
No pappa
Telling lies
No pappa
Open yr drawer
Ha ha ha
Samata party is falling down
Falling down
Falling down
Samata party is falling down
Falling down
Falling down
My fair jaitley (jaya)
Wha Wha Black Sheep
Have you pulled the wool?
Yes sir, Yes sir,
Three bags full.
One for my father,
One for my dame,
And one for the CBI
Crying in the lane.
Little Miss Bharti,
Did a Maha-arti,
So the BJP would always hold sway.
There came a big BSP With Mayavati its USP.
And frightened Miss Bharti away.
Little Lal Advani
Sat with his TV vahini
Taking his party's rai
He stuck out his thumb,
Hoping to pull out the plum,
And said, 'Can I have a slice of Vaj-pie?'
Batsman-bowler sat on the ball.
Batsman-bowler had a great fall,
All the bookies' cookies,
All the bribers' men,
Couldn't put Indian cricket together again.
Bankers and ministers
Sold for a penny
All the swindlers are so many
The envy's green
And the CBI red's
Nail them all, and get
Their head, head, head.

The thought I breathe every second

Make Problems in Life as light as a peacock feather through the heaviest
force in the universe called "DIVINITY"

I criticize God for so many things, I appreciate God for so many things...but God is beyond everything - U like him, U hate him, but U can't ignore him

The uniqueness of Antakshari Program of Zee TV

The 12 year old best entertainer of all TV Channels - Antakshari of Zee TV
has come to an end. There is a grand finale of the same on Sat 9th July

Just to brief u,

1. The program started on Oct 3rd 1993 with the name "Close Up Antakshari"

2. Many hostesses came up- Durga JAsraj, Renuka Shahane, Pallavi Joshi,
Ritcha, Shefali Chhaya, Rageshwari, Sagarika.

3. Annu KApoor continued to be the highlight of the program

4. Antakshari revolutionised the concept of pure Desi entertainment bringing
to the centrestage this simple game which people played in their leisure

5. The innnovative rounds like prelude, Dhun, Visual, Remix, Sing in 1 1/2
minute and many others were genuinely new ideas

6. Perhaps the only program totally Indian unlike KBC, Indian Idol etc (all
American inspired)

7. It is the only program that was shot across many countries. Their shows
were held in Dubai, Sharjah, London, New York, Pakistan.

8. The program brought Hindi old and new songs to the centrestage

9. The program was always aired on Friday at 8:00 p.m

There was only one schedule change in the last 3 years Friday 8:30 p.m.

10. Look at the number of people who came on this show. They were from wide
variety of fields- NAvy, Army, Air force, Postmen, Engineers, Doctors,
Firemen,Singers, Cricketers(Ganguly, Dravid, Salil Ankola, Harbhajan Singh),
Film And TV Actors, Disabled people

11. The first program to start the concept of Celebrity Specials

12.The only Indian Program to enter LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS.

13. Several channels tried to beat the popularity of Antakshari. Sachin
tried to do it, various regional channels tried. Everyone failed. Antakshari
is unbeatable


I am emotionally attached to this program and will continue to miss this
program. Anatakshari U ROCK!!!!!

And last!!! This is one program that can beat all EKTA KAPOOR's SERIALS. NOB


Response to CNN Article on India's condition

Here's the article and my response below:

Click here for article

It's an interesting article..It's not new to me..I have read such articles. The problem with our country is existence of dependency upon a higher/upper level even at the most local/decentralized level for everything. The lack of political will compounded with rampant corruption has made a mess. People are willing to give because ministers are ready to get bribed and ministers ask because there are people who give. The inherent nature of a citizen's mind to get a work done which he/she is aware cannot be done without money is the root cause. Poverty is not an isolated issue. It has to be solved amidst a whole lot of other things. When you create infrastructure, you bring in labour, money and progress. The infrastructure leads to industrialization and commercialization. This speedy process was done when BJP was in power and that's why the country had a very good direction. Lakshs of people were employed and got wages. There was a flow of money and investment.

Lack of responsibility and a lack of sense of accountability have made people in power play with everything. Half the middle class won't vote. They consider they have no choice. Rural people vote anyone who gives them money/shelter for a temporary period. When people can think of enjoying hill stations on the election day, u can understand the apathy of the intellectual society in our country. The literate never want to vote - who can drive out such power hungry hypocrats? The political leadership need to implement visions which have already been envisioned by experts, technicians, bureacrats and engineers(We already have files/reports that can take us 100 years ahead of America..No one wants to open and implement). With each one only surviving for power, the vista of the progress is doomed. Any democatic body has 2 eyes, even if one goes blind, the body is useless - 1)citizens 2)those who rule citizens...In India, both are blind. No one wants to open eyes and each one beleives the body is theirs. The brain is the will of the poltical leadership. The legs are the labor force which are alone doing work. we need to get all this right.

Howver, there are several cases of development that u get to see at Panchayat level - much more than urban level (The article doesn'r point such good points). The article bluntly forgets that and poverty cannot be eliminated will implicitly happen when explicitly infrastructure falls in place and more decentralization is placed at the bottom levels of governance. If we can't remove such ministers, then their dependency must be reduced. The increased dependency is like increasing quantity of poison on a patient. I am, and all of us as Indians must be happy that this dependency is slowly reducing because of competition and private players entry. We need to ensure it goes on fast enough. That's the only best way I see to get out of this complex dilapidated nature of our republic.

The Famous Reservation Debate with Arjun singh

Below is the main excerpts taken from Arjun Singh's (HRD Minsiter) candid interview with the one and only Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate aired on CNN-IBN News channel

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to the Devil's Advocate. As the debate over the reservations for the OBCs divides the country, we ask - What are the government's real intentions? That is the critical questions that I shall put today in an exclusive interview to the Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh.
Most of the people would accept that steps are necessary to help the OBCs gain greater access to higher education. The real question is - Why do you believe that reservations is the best way of doing this?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to say much more on this because these are decisions that are taken not by individuals alone. And in this case, the entire Parliament of this country - almost with rare anonymity - has decided to take this decision.
Karan Thapar: Except that Parliament is not infallible. In the Emergency, when it amended the Constitution, it was clearly wrong, it had to reverse its own amendments. So, the question arises - Why does Parliament believe that the reservation is the right way of helping the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Nobody is infallible. But Parliament is Supreme and atleast I, as a Member of Parliament, cannot but accept the supremacy of Parliament.
Karan Thapar: No doubt Parliament is supreme, but the constitutional amendment that gives you your authorities actually unenabling amendment, it is not a compulsory requirement. Secondly, the language of the amendment does not talk about reservations, the language talks about any provision by law for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes. So, you could have chosen anything other than reservations, why reservations?
Arjun Singh: Because as I said, that was the 'will and desire of the Parliament'.
Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development , believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.
Karan Thapar: The right way?
Arjun Singh: Also the right way.
Karan Thapar: In which case, lets ask a few basic questions; we are talking about the reservations for the OBCs in particular. Do you know what percentage of the Indian population is OBC? Mandal puts it at 52 per cent, the National Sample Survey Organisation at 32 per cent, the National Family and Health Survey at 29.8 per cent, which is the correct figure?
Arjun Singh: I think that should be decided by people who are more knowledgeable. But the point is that the OBCs form a fairly sizeable percentage of our population.
Karan Thapar: No doubt, but the reason why it is important to know 'what percentage' they form is that if you are going to have reservations for them, then you must know what percentage of the population they are, otherwise you don't know whether they are already adequately catered in higher educational institutions or not.
Arjun Singh: That is obvious - they are not.
Karan Thapar: Why is it obvious?
Arjun Singh: Obvious because it is something which we all see.
Karan Thapar: Except for the fact that the NSSO, which is a government appointed body, has actually in its research in 1999 - which is the most latest research shown - that 23.5 per cent of all university seats are already with the OBCs. And that is just 8.5 per cent less than what the NSSO believes is the OBC share of the population. So, for a difference of 8 per cent, would reservations be the right way of making up the difference?
Arjun Singh: I wouldn't like to go behind all this because, as I said, Parliament has taken a view and it has taken a decision, I am a servant of Parliament and I will only implement.
Karan Thapar: Absolutely, Parliament has taken a view, I grant it. But what people question is the simple fact - Is there a need for reservations? If you don't know what percentage of the country is OBC, and if furthermore, the NSSO is correct in pointing out that already 23.5 per cent of the college seats are with the OBC, then you don't have a case in terms of need.
Arjun Singh: College seats, I don't know.
Karan Thapar: According to the NSSO - which is a government appointed body - 23.5 per cent of the college seats are already with the OBCs.
Arjun Singh: What do you mean by college seats?
Karan Thapar: University seats, seats of higher education.
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know I have not come across that far.
Karan Thapar: So, when critics say to you that you don't have a case for reservation in terms of need, what do you say to them?
Arjun Singh: I have said what I had to say and the point is that that is not an issue for us to now debate.
Karan Thapar: You mean the chapter is now closed?
Arjun Singh: The decision has been taken.
Karan Thapar: Regardless of whether there is a need or not, the decision is taken and it is a closed chapter.
Arjun Singh: So far as I can see, it is a closed chapter and that is why I have to implement what all Parliament has said.
Karan Thapar: Minister, it is not just in terms of 'need' that your critics question the decision to have reservation for OBCs in higher education. More importantly, they question whether reservations themselves are efficacious and can work.
For example, a study done by the IITs themselves shows that 50 per cent of the IIT seats for the SCs and STs remain vacant and for the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent are the candidates, who even after six years fail to get their degrees. So, clearly, in their case, reservations are not working.
Arjun Singh: I would only say that on this issue, it would not be correct to go by all these figures that have been paraded.
Karan Thapar: You mean the IIT figures themselves could be dubious?
Arjun Singh: Not dubious, but I think that is not the last word.
Karan Thapar: All right, maybe the IIT may not be the last word, let me then quote to you the report of the Parliamentary Committee on the welfare for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes - that is a Parliamentary body.
It says that looking at the Delhi University, between 1995 and 2000, just half the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Castes level and just one-third of the seats for under-graduates at the Scheduled Tribes level were filled. All the others went empty, unfilled. So, again, even in Delhi University, reservations are not working.
Arjun Singh: If they are not working, it does not mean that for that reason we don't need them. There must be some other reason why they are not working and that can be certainly probed and examined. But to say that for this reason, 'no reservations need to be done' is not correct.
Karan Thapar: Fifty years after the reservations were made, statistics show, according to The Hindustan Times, that overall in India, only 16 per cent of the places in higher education are occupied by SCs and STs. The quota is 22.5 per cent, which means that only two-thirds of the quota is occupied. One third is going waste, it is being denied to other people.
Arjun Singh: As I said, the kind of figures that have been brought out, in my perception, do not reflect the realities. Realities are something much more and of course, there is an element of prejudice also.
Karan Thapar: But these are figures that come from a Parliamentary Committee. It can't be prejudiced; they are your own colleagues.
Arjun Singh: Parliamentary Committee has given the figures, but as to why this has not happened, that is a different matter.
Karan Thapar: I put it to you that you don't have a case for reservations in terms of need, you don't have a case for reservations in terms of their efficacy, why then, are you insisting on extending them to the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: I don't want to use that word, but I think that your argument is basically fallicious.
Karan Thapar: But it is based on all the facts available in the public domain.
Arjun Singh: Those are facts that need to be gone into with more care. What lies behind those facts, why this has not happened, that is also a fact.
Karan Thapar: Let's approach the issue of reservations differently in that case. Reservations mean that a lesser-qualified candidate gets preference over a more qualified candidate, solely because in this case, he or she happens to be an OBC. In other words, the upper castes are being penalised for being upper caste.
Arjun Singh: Nobody is being penalised and that is a factor that we are trying to address. I think that the prime Minister will be talking to all the political parties and will be putting forward a formula, which will see that nobody is being penalised.
Karan Thapar: I want very much to talk about that formula, but before we come to talk about how you are going to address concerns, let me point one other corollary - Reservations also gives preference and favour to caste over merit. Is that acceptable in a modern society?
Arjun Singh: I don't think the perceptions of modern society fit India entirely.
Karan Thapar: You mean India is not a modern society and therefore can't claim to be treated as one?
Arjun Singh: It is emerging as a modern society, but the parameters of a modern society do not apply to large sections of the people in this country.
Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you Jawaharlal Nehru, a man whom you personally admire enormously. On the 27th of June 1961 wrote to the Chief Ministers of the day as follows: I dislike any kind of reservations. If we go in for any kind of reservations on communal and caste basis, we will swamp the bright and able people and remain second rate or third rate. The moment we encourage the second rate, we are lost. And then he adds pointedly: This way lies not only folly, but also disaster. What do you say to Jawaharlal Nehru today?
Arjun Singh: Jawaharlal Nehru was a great man in his own right and not only me, but everyone in India accept his view.
Karan Thapar: But you are just about to ignore his advice.
Arjun Singh: No. Are you aware that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who introduced the first ammendment regarding OBCs?
Karan Thapar: Yes, and I am talking about Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, when clearly he had changed his position, he said - I dislike any kind of reservations.
Arjun Singh: I don't think one could take Panditji's position at any point of time and then overlook what he had himself initiated.
Karan Thapar: Am I then to understand that regardless of the case that is made against reservations in terms of need, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of efficacy, regardless of the case that has been made against reservations in terms of Jawaharlal Nehru, you remain committed to extending reservations to the OBCs.
Arjun Singh: I said because that is the will of Parliament. And I think that common decisions that are taken by Parliament have to be honoured.
Karan Thapar: Let me ask you a few basic questions - If reservations are going to happen for the OBCs in higher education, what percentage of reservations are we talking about?
Arjun Singh: No, that I can't say because that has yet to be decided.
Karan Thapar: Could it be less than 27 per cent?
Arjun Singh: I can't say anything on that, I have told you in the very beginning that at this point of time it is not possible for me to.
Karan Thapar: Quite right. If you can't say, then that also means that the figure has not been decided.
Arjun Singh: The figure will be decided, it has not been decided yet.
Karan Thapar: The figure has not been decided. So, therefore the figure could be 27, but it could be less than 27 too?
Arjun Singh: I don't want to speculate on that because as I said, that is decision, which will be taken by Parliament.
Karan Thapar: Whatever the figure, one thing is certain that when the reservations for OBCs happen, the total quantum of reservations will go up in percentage terms. Will you compensate by increasing the total number of seats in colleges, universities, IITs and IIMs, so that the other students don't feel deprived.
Arjun Singh: That is one of the suggestions that has been made and is being seriously considered.
Karan Thapar: Does it find favour with you as a Minister for Human Resource Development?
Arjun Singh: Whatever suggestion comes, we are committed to examine it.
Karan Thapar: You may be committed to examine it, but do you as minister believe that that is the right way forward?
Arjun Singh: That could be one of the ways, but not the only way.
Karan Thapar: What are the other ways?
Arjun Singh: I don't know. That is for the Prime Minister and the other ministers to decide.
Karan Thapar: One way forward would be to increase the total number of seats.
Arjun Singh: Yes, definitely.
Karan Thapar: But the problem is that as the Times of India points out, we are talking of an increase of perhaps as much as 53 per cent. Given the constraints you have in terms of faculty and infrastructure, won't that order of increase dilute the quality of education?
Arjun Singh: I would only make one humble request, don't go by The Times of India and The Hindustan Times about faculty and infrastructure, because they are trying to focus on an argument which they have made.
Karan Thapar: All right, I will not go by The Times of India, let me instead go by Sukhdev Thorat, the Chairman of the UGC. He points out that today, at higher education levels - that is all universities, IITs and IIMs - there is already a 1.2 lakh vacancy number. 40 per cent of these are in teaching staff, which the IIT faculty themselves point out that they have shortages of up to 30 per cent. Given those two constraint, can you increase the number of seats?
Arjun Singh: That can be addressed and that shortage can be taken care of.
Karan Thapar: But it can't be taken care of in one swoop, it will take several years to do it.
Arjun Singh: I don't know whether it can be taken care of straightway or in stages, that is a subject to be decided.
Karan Thapar: Let me ask you bluntly, if you were to agree to compensate for reservations for OBCs by increasing the number of seats, would that increase happen at one go, or would it be staggered over a period of two-three or four year old process.
Arjun Singh: As I told you, it is an issue that I cannot comment upon at this moment because that is under examination.
Karan Thapar: So, it may happen in one go and it may happen in a series of several years.
Arjun Singh: I can't speculate on that because that is not something on which I am free to speak on today.
Karan Thapar: Will the reservation for OBCs, whatever figure your Committee decides on, will it happen in one go, or will it slowly be introduced in stages?
Arjun Singh: That also I cannot say because as I told you, all these issues are under consideration.
Karan Thapar: Which means that everything that is of germane interest to the people concerned is at the moment 'under consideration' and the government is not able to give any satisfaction to the students who are deeply concerned.
Arjun Singh: That is not the point. The government knows what to do and it will do what is needed.
Karan Thapar: But if the government knows what to do, why won't you tell me what the government wants to do?
Arjun Singh: Because unless the decision is taken, I cannot tell you.
Karan Thapar: But you can share with me as the Minister what you are thinking.
Arjun Singh: No.
Karan Thapar: So, in other words, we are manitaining a veil of secrecy and the very people who are concerned...
Arjun Singh: I am not maintaining a veil of secrecy. I am only telling you what propriety allows me to tell you.
Karan Thapar: Propriety does not allow you to share with the people who are protesting on the streets what you are thinking?
Arjun Singh: I don't think that that can happen all the time.
Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.
Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don't want to go into that.
Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?
Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.
Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.
Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.
Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?
Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.
Karan Thapar: The CPM says that if the reservations for the OBCs are to happen, then what is called the creamy layer should be excluded. How do you react to that?
Arjun Singh: The creamy layer issue has already been taken care of by the Supreme Court.
Karan Thapar: That was vis -a-vis jobs in employment, what about at the university level, should they be excluded there as well because you are suggesting that the answer is yes?
Arjun Singh: That could be possible.
Karan Thapar: It could be possible that the creamy layer is excluded from reservations for OBCs in higher education?
Arjun Singh: It could be, but I don't know whether it would happen actually.
Karan Thapar: Many people say that if reservations for OBCs in higher education happen, then the children of beneficiaries should not be entitled to claim the same benefit.
Arjun Singh: Why?
Karan Thapar: So that there is always a shrinking base and the rate doesn't proliferate.
Arjun Singh: I don't think that that is a very logical way of looking at it.
Karan Thapar: Is that not acceptable to you?
Arjun Singh: No, it is not the logical way of looking at it.
Karan Thapar: So, with the possible exception of the creamy layer exclusion, reservation for OBCs in higher education will be almost identical to the existing reservations for SC/STs?
Arjun Singh: Except for the percentage.
Karan Thapar: Except for the percentage.
Arjun Singh: Yes.
Karan Thapar: So, in every other way, they will be identical.
Arjun Singh: Yes, in every other way.
Karan Thapar: Mr Arjun Singh, on the 5th of April when you first indicated that the Government was considering reservation for OBCs in higher education, was the Prime Minister in agreement that this was the right thing to do?
Arjun Singh: I think, there is a very motivated propaganda is on this issue. Providing reservation to OBCs was in the public domain right from December 2005, when Parliament passed the enabling resolution.
Karan Thapar: Quite true. But had the Prime Minister specifically agreed on or before 5th of April to the idea?
Arjun Singh: Well, I am telling you it was already there. A whole Act was made, the Constitution was amended and the Prime Minister was fully aware of what this is going to mean. Actually, he had a meeting in which OBC leaders were called to convince them that this would give them the desired advantage. And they should, therefore, support this resolution. And at that meeting, he himself talked to them. Now, how do you say that he was unaware?
Karan Thapar: But were you at all aware that the Prime Minister might be in agreement with what was about to happen but might not wish it disclosed publicly at that point of time? Were you aware of that?
Arjun Singh: It was already there in public domain, that's what I am trying to tell you.
Karan Thapar: Then answer this to me. Why are members of the PMO telling journalists that Prime Minister was not consulted and that you jumped the gun?
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know which member of the PMO you are talking about unless you name him.
Karan Thapar: Is there a conspiracy to make you the fall guy?
Arjun Singh: Well, I don't know whether there is one or there is not. But fall guys are not made in this way. And I am only doing what was manifestly clear to every one, was cleared by the party and the Prime Minister. There is no question of any personal agenda.
Karan Thapar: They say that, in fact, you brought up this issue to embarrass the Prime Minister.
Arjun Singh: Why should I embarrass the Prime Minister? I am with him. I am part of his team.
Karan Thapar: They say that you have a lingering, forgive the word, jealousy because Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh and not you as Prime Minister.
Arjun Singh: Well, that is canard which is below contempt. Only that person can say this who doesn't know what kind of respect and regard I hold for Sonia Gandhi. She is the leader. Whatever she decides is acceptable to me.
Karan Thapar: They also say that you brought this issue up because you felt that the Prime Minister had been eating into your portfolio. Part of it had gone to Renuka Chaudhury and, in fact, your new deputy minister Purandar Sridevi had taken over certain parts. This was your way of getting back.
Arjun Singh: No one was taking over any part. This is a decision which the Prime Minister makes as to who has to have what portfolio. And he asked Mrs Renuka Devi to take it and he cleared it with me first.
Karan Thapar: So there is no animus on your part?
Arjun Singh: Absolutely not.
Karan Thapar: They say that you did this because you resented the Prime Minister's popular image in the country, that this was your way of embroiling him in a dispute that will make him look not like a modern reformer but like an old-fashioned, family-hold politician instead.
Arjun Singh: Well, the Tammany Hall political stage is over> He is our Prime Minister and every decision he has taken is in the full consent with his Cabinet and I don't think there can be any blame on him.
Karan Thapar: One, then, last quick question. Do you think this is an issue, which is a sensitive issue, where everyone knew there would have been passions and emotions that would have aroused has been handled as effectively as it should have been?
Arjun Singh: Well, I have not done anything on it. I have not sort of what you call jumped the gun. If this is an issue, which is sensitive, everyone has to treat it that way.
Karan Thapar: But your conscience as HRD Minister is clear?
Arjun Singh: Absolutely clear.
Karan Thapar: There is nothing that you could have done to make it easier for the young students?
Arjun Singh: Well, I am prepared to do anything that can be done. And it is being attempted.
Karan Thapar: For seven weeks, they have been protesting in the hot sun. No minister has gone there to appease them, to alley their concerns, to express sympathy for them. Have politicians let the young people of India down?
Arjun Singh: Well, I myself called them. They all came in this very room.
Karan Thapar: But you are the only one.
Arjun Singh: You are accusing me only. No one else is being accused.
Karan Thapar: What about the Government of India? Has the Government of India failed to respond adequately?
Arjun Singh: From the Government of India also, the Defence Minister met them.
Karan Thapar: Only recently.
Arjun Singh: That is something because everyone was busy with the elections.
Karan Thapar: For seven weeks no one met them.
Arjun Singh: No, but we are very concerned. Certainly, all of us resent the kind of force that was used. I condemned it the very first day it happened.
Karan Thapar: All right, Mr Arjun Singh. We have reached the end of this interview. Thank you very much for speaking on the subject.