Sunday, August 28, 2011

Divine Grace and Blessings

Divine Grace (Anugraham) & “Elders” Blessings (Aashirvadham) are two values which my parents taught me early in life.

My mother was a very pious woman, who celebrated every religious occasion with reverence and great devotion, with appropriate Poojas performed at home. Whether it was a simple `Kardia Nonbu` or the more elaborate ` Varalakshmi Vratham`, she would spare no pain to make the occasion an opportunity to appease her chosen God / Goddess.

While her favourite Lord was Rama of the Ramayana fame, my father always claimed that Guruvayurappan – little Krishna of Guruvayur in Kerala, was his chosen deity whose name he kept invoking whenever he felt happy or depressed. Like millions in the world, both my parents also believed that whatever be their problem, the Lord will always provide a solution!

They also believed in openly expressing their respects to elders. Any elderly person visiting our home was showered with genuine hospitality and made to feel like a VIP. No one left the home without taking the simple meal my mother served, with lots of love! Invariably before the elders took leave, my parents would prostrate before them seeking their blessings! The visiting elders more than touched by the gesture, would be generous in their blessings. Whenever we went on a visit to South on holiday, my parents would make it a point to visit all the elders in the family seeking their blessings.

As for me Lord Balaji of the Tirupathi fame and Vinayaka the elephant God are my chosen deities. Like my parents, I also totally surrender to the Lord not only during hours of crisis but on a daily basis whenever I have the time and opportunity. I am no good at pooja rituals, which are performed by my wife who is proficient in them. My belief is expressed in the form of invoking the Lord`s name, as often as I can, silently.

Keeping elders happy and getting their blessings is also something which I have believed in all my life.
Though old age and physical problems are preventing me from prostrating before the elders I do not fail to touch the feet of the elders in the typical North Indian; `Pai Lagey`style, even now! I feel thrilled when they bless me from the bottom of their hearts! I can say with confidence that my bank balance of
Elders` blessings is always overflowing.

I believe that God’s grace and elders` blessings have played a major part in my leading a fulfilling life apart from my relentless pursuit of my dreams and goals. I have even named my home and company invoking the Divine Grace; ANUGRAH!

Coming to the younger generation, judging by the turnout of youngsters in places of worship and other spiritual get-togethers of modern day `Gurujis` of all shades, I feel that belief in God is certainly growing among the youth of the country.. Whether it is Rama, Krishna, Allah or Christ, every young man has his chosen deity or a `Guruji` whom he regularly invokes for moral support in his hours of trials and tribulations.

I also find the practice of paying respects to elders, by touching their feet is prevalent among all sections of North Indians, wherever they are located,, even today. You can see an ample display of this fine gesture among the younger generations at Railway stations, Airports, other public places and of course at family functions. It might look perfunctory to some but I always admire at the spontaneity with which the act is performed by North Indian youngsters, even in Chennai. Whereas in the South, particularly in Tamilnadu and among Tamilians, the concept of prostrating before elders, the traditional form of paying respects is slowly fading amongst the younger generation. It is especially difficult for the Vada Kalai Iyengars (a sect of Vaishnavites sporting the `U` Namam on the forehead) because they have to perform the act of prostrating- four times, each time they meet an elderly person!

It is quite a punishment, especially for the newly married couple at Weddings, when they are forced to go around the wedding hall prostrating before every elderly person in the crowd. Of course, a wise young man found a solution to this problem by requesting elders to assemble in groups so that he could perform a `one for all` ritual to get their blessings. Saving effort and time!! The idea is catching on even at homes where families get-together on occasions. The fact is today`s younger generation in the South has to be persuaded to pay respects to elders in the traditional way. It is also true that the stresses and strains of modern life have made them physically unfit to perform this arduous form of paying respect!

I suppose that the present day parents and grandparents should feel happy if their children or grandchildren or nephews and nieces express their love and respect in whatever form they choose- if at all they feel like expressing their respects!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who is Weird?

In life we come across all kinds of people, good & bad, tall & short, handsome & ugly, grumpy & friendly. The list can go on…but this article is about people who are known for their peculiar or weird habits – which set them apart from the rest!

The first person who comes to mind is my boss of 12 years in the advertising agency where I was working way back then! A very handsome man with an attractive moustache, which he would keep twirling whenever he was in deep thoughts working on a campaign or when he was in a serious discussion with his colleagues.

Since his marriage was on the rocks, living at home, facing his forever nagging wife had become a daily torture. To escape her, he decided to change his office timings. He would walk into the office only around 5 pm, have a brief meeting with his secretary to catch up on the day`s events and work the whole night in the office. He would return home around 8 am next morning by which time his wife would have already left for her office. After catching up on his sleep during the day he would return to the office in the evening. This became his routine.

He would dictate all his letters into a Dictaphone and leave it on his secretary’s table for typing the following day. People used to comment that he had virtually become an owl, active only in the night, probably also because his wife had the hobby of collecting miniatures owls in all forms!

While there was no problem for him with this arrangement it was hell for all his colleagues, who had to follow regular office hours! They could get appointments to meet the boss only after 8 pm. Branch Managers like me, on a visit to the Head Office, got our appointments with him only after midnight. This weird habit cost him both his wife and eventually his job!

My own father displayed certain peculiarities. He had an obsession for cleanliness – he would wash his hands, his dinner plate and the stainless steel tumbler which was exclusively reserved for him (nobody dare touch it even by mistake!) several times, even though they might have been already cleaned by my mother before he took any meal. He was a gregarious soul, very popular among friends and relatives outside the home, but once he entered the house he would turn into a ‘Rudra Moorthy’ (angry old man) who kept bawling at his wife and children for all that they did or did not do.

He also found a great companion in himself! Whenever alone, whether at home or on a walk; you would find him talking loudly to himself. The moment he became conscious of somebody approaching him, he would stop talking.

He was also well known in the colony where we lived, for his loud sneezing! Every time he sneezed “Haa… Choo!” the whole colony would reverberate with the sound. I know of visiting relatives, who could not locate our house – identifying the same on hearing his sneezing noise!

Another copywriter colleague of mine (in Chennai) was addicted to drinking, a bottle of `Hewlett Mixture’ daily. This tonic was supposed to be good for ulcers; which he had acquired handling a tension ridden advertising job and dealing with an equally demanding wife at home! A knowledgeable and erudite writer he was also well known for `beating about the bush’ in any discussion.

He would never come straight to a point. If someone asked him for direction to a place, his typical response would be, “you don’t take bus A, but take bus B. don’t get down at ‘C’ stop but get down at ‘D’. After getting down don’t take a left turn but a right turn. When you reach the end of that road, you will find ‘Y’ shop. Ignore it and look for ‘Z’ shop and take a left next to it and enter;…etc. etc`

By the time he finished, the person who had asked for directions would be so frustrated that he would be left wondering why he ever asked the question in the first place. He could be really exasperating!

It does take all kinds of people to make up this world. I wonder what peculiarities I have about which people talk behind my back!