Book Signing Event at Lucknow on 25th October 2022

Signing copies of The Gymnast https://amzn.eu/d/37CzvW5 in Lucknow. Happy Diwali to all of you and your close ones.

Relevance of Shree Ganesh in the Modern Context by Vardhan Dharkar

Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi. We always see the idol of Shree Ganesh without really thinking about the significance of it. I thought it is high time for us to understand the significance of Shree Ganesh, what does it mean to us. The following article explains the significance of Shree Ganesh and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Significance of Shree Ganesh

Big Head

The big head represents intelligence. It is conveying a message that we need to develop and sharpen our intellect. To be happy in life we need to use our intellect more often so that we take correct decisions. It also tells us to think big. Think beyond self. Think for wellbeing of everyone. Think for long term happiness rather than short term pleasure.

Big Ears and Small Mouth

The big ears convey importance of listening. Listening is a fine art. Often most of us are very impatient when someone else is speaking. We tend to hear rather than listen to the point being made by the speaker. While the other person is speaking, we are preparing our counter arguments thereby not understanding and grasping the points made by the speaker. Most of the conflict will disappear if we start listening. The wise persons speak only when required to and only if they can add value to the discussion. The Mantra of life should be “Listen more and Speak less”

Small Eyes

The small eyes tell us to focus and concentrate. For achieving success and happiness in life, one needs to focus and concentrate.

Curved Trunk

The curved trunk tells us to be adaptable and flexible. The trunk can uproot a tree; it can also pick up a straw. It also tells us to be efficient in everything that we do.

Axe

Axe in the hand tells us to cut off the attachments and ego. Attachments and ego are root cause of all our unhappiness.

Rope

Rope tells us to tie up all the attachments preventing them from running free

Modak

Modak in Sanskrit means small part of bliss and it symbolises spiritual knowledge.Modak is a sweet reward for performing good karma by us. All our actions in life should be performed without any attachment and without expecting any fruit. We should leave the fruit to the Lord Ganesh. He will reward us and we have to accept his reward gracefully and happily.

Blessings

Lord Ganesh is always there to bless us and protect us.

Broken Tusk

The broken tusk gives us the message to retain everything that is good in life and discard anything and everything that is bad in life.

Large Belly

The large belly tells us to peacefully digest everything that comes our way; Life is full of good and bad things. We have to accept everything that comes our way, digest it and move forward in life.

Mouse

Mouse represents the desires in life. To be happy in life, we must keep them in control. Uncontrolled desires can cause havoc in life. In today’s world, we see many examples of lives being ruined due to unbridled desires. Life will be full of happiness if we ride desires rather than allowing desires to drive us.

Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrating the annual arrival of Shree Ganesh to earth from his celestial abode. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesh’s clay murtis (Idols) privately in homes and publicly on elaborate pandals. The murtis are worshipped and prayers offered to Shree Ganesh for a period of ten days starting from Ganesh Chaturthi and ending on Anant Chaturdashi. In homes the period may vary from one and half days to ten days. On the last day of the festival, the tradition of Visarjan (immersion) takes place. The murtis are taken in procession to nearby well, lake, river or sea and are immersed in water after performing the Pooja and prayers.

There is an interesting story behind the legend of Ganesh Visarjan. It is believed that Lord Ganesh returns to Mount Kailash to join his parents Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati on the last day of the festival. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also denotes the significance of the cycle of birth, life and death. Ganesh, known as the Lord of New Beginnings, is also worshipped as the remover of Obstacles. It is believed that when the idol of the Ganesh is taken out for Visarjan, it also takes away with it the various obstacles of the home and these obstacles are destroyed along with the Visarjan. Every year, people wait with great anticipation to celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

The festival is celebrated throughout India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa. it is also celebrated in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora worldwide such as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, U.K, United States and Europe.

The festival comes in the month of Bhadrapad. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls between August and September.

The public celebration was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Lokmanya Tilak) in Pune in the year 1893. Tilak recognised the potential of Shree Ganesh’s appeal to all sections of the society. He used the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi to mobilise the people against the British rule. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions were also held.

To summarise

Shree Ganesh is inspiring us to

  • Have big and sharp intellect
  • Think big
  • Listen more and speak less
  • Focus and concentrate
  • Be adaptable, flexible and efficient
  • Cut attachment and ego
  • Retain good and discard bad
  • Digest peacefully, both good and bad
  • Ride the desires instead of desires driving you
  • He will bless us and reward us

In short he is giving us Mantra to live a happy life

Wishing everyone a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

30th August 2022

Musings of a Pioneer: Each One Teach One

“The dreams that the young weave. They were not particularly well-off, had to give up studies and yet they had dreams of a better life for themselves as well as their yet unborn children. Those were the talks of young people very much in love with each other.” – Excerpt from The Gymnast, Book 1 of Street Performers Series.

This Sunday the young child whose studies I am financing came to see us with his father. The child is now in class 9. We sat talking for some time wanting to understand the areas that the child needed assistance in. I also told the father that I would be able to spare my earlier laptop in case the child would need it after a couple of years. It transpired that the parents had already enrolled the child in a local computer academy, and they had wanted a computer at home for the young boy to practice what he learnt in the academy.

The child’s father has studied till class 10, while the mother has gone to school till class 12. The parents are working hard for a dream that they want realised through their child. They are willing to toil hard for the dream. Much like the dreams that we saw for our children, or the dreams that everyone sees. Or the dreams that Chhaya and Budh saw for their yet unborn children in The Gymnast.

It is in our collective power to help the Chhayas, the Budhs, the Roshnis, the Deepas, the Pradeeps, in our society.

Each One Teach One.

Musings of a Pioneer: We Are… Because They Were

“It was sometime in early 1955 and Lallan had been recently married to Imarti. Their parents and even their grandparents had always worked on the fields of their respective zamindars. It seemed that all the families and their ancestors had been working on the fields of others for eternity.” – Excerpt from The Gymnast, Book 1 of Street Performers Series.

1955 – only a few years after independence. People were excited about the newfound freedom, but probably a little uncertain about what the future held for them and for their future generations. That led to the parents, particularly from the middle-classes, to be cautious about the career choices for their children. The only safe options were to study either engineering or medicine. Not wanting their children to go through the uncertain times that they had faced, they were happy with a government job.

But what about people like Lallan and Imarti! What kind of dreams would they have woven on the threshold of a marital life together? Would they even have dreams for the future? Would independence from a colonial power have meant anything to them? What about the countless millions from other countries who found themselves in similar situations in the years to come.

Every generation has dreams for a better life for the next generation. It strives and faces untold hardships to ensure that their children do not suffer the same fate. Roshni’s story in The Gymnast is not the story of the little girl born in 2011. It is also the story of her fore-parents. It is a tribute to the elders.

We are… Because they were.

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Musings of a Pioneer: Motivation for a Street Performer

“Once Roshni started feeling more comfortable in her new environment, she started insisting on her siblings to visit the neighbourhood. Deepa and Pradeep hesitated. They did not want to take undue risks. But on her persistence, they agreed to explore the immediate neighbourhood, provided Roshni held to their hands and did not run on the road.

The first thing that they noticed was an unusual school opposite the ground where they lived. The school was run on the pavement in the open under a tree. Roshni giggled when she saw children sitting on the ground facing their teacher who was writing something on the blackboard. They sat on the pavement and stared at the teacher and the other children.”

My Roshni at this time was 7 years old. She lived in a jhuggi with her family opposite the unique school.

It was time that I asked myself a few searching questions, before I proceeded any further.

Would Roshni too have dreams like other children her age from a relatively better background?
What would motivate her to work for those dreams?
Would she feel burdened by her environment and at some stage buckle under the weight feeling the futility of even dreaming?
Is it not our responsibility to provide a supportive ecosystem to all the children around us?

A friend once said that humiliation itself is a motivator. That may be true in many situations. But would it also hold true in poverty?

I was not certain.

The only thing that I was certain about was that everyone would have dreams. The dreams would start from childhood. These dreams of a better life would get passed down from generation to generation till it was almost built into the DNA.

Having resolved my dilemma, I started writing my story about this rustic family from east India. Roshni was fulfilling the dreams of all the earlier generations.

I consider myself blessed to bring their story to my readers through The Gymnast, Book 1 of Street Performers Series.

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