As far back as I can remember I always wanted to play by the rules and win. But as a young corporate executive I was losing. So almost since I started my corporate career, about twenty five years ago, I wanted to develop a system which could make the good man win. Let me narrate five stories, which are like milestones, in this journey I have undertaken. The Girl And Her Drawing: The Crafty corporate games were too much for me to handle. I was bruised and beaten and of course not … [Read more...] about Economic Times – Corporate Dossier –5 Stories that have influenced Pavan Choudary
The Prime Minister of UK, this week stated, that UK would no longer offer AID to the Indian poor as it is the Indian rich who should help their poor bretheren (Sic). But the Indian rich don’t usually help their poor bretheren. They don’t even consider the poor their brethren. Instead they have so blinded the world with the vulgar display of their wealth that the so far generous Western world is also no longer willing to extend financial aid to India. It is saying that if your rich have so … [Read more...] about Is our glitter starving our poor?
One of the first residents of Gurgaon, Yudhishthira (of Mahabharata fame) was in a way a stray dog lover. As the Pandavas, post the war, set East towards the direction of the Himalayas, a stray dog follows Yudhisthira. On the way Draupadi and the younger brothers fall one by one but Yudhisthira trudges along with the mongrel in tow. At the door to the heaven, it is said, Lord Indra welcomes Yudhishthira but tries to deny the dog entry. Yudhishthira pleads the dog's case and says that he cannot … [Read more...] about Leash the Pets, Sterilize the Strays to Rid Gurgaon of Dog Menace
This paper carried news of the launch of a campaign to make the city Gurgaon a no-honking zone by an NGO - Earth Saviour's Foundation and the members of a major horn manufacturing company. They went a step too far and tied a dog onto a post at the busy Shankar Chowk and wrote a mighty offensive line with the cartoon of a dog on a poster – ‘Kutta bhi bina vajah nahin bhonkta. Horn nahi bajayen’. While the initiative is laudable, assuming and generalising that ‘Hum horn bina vajah bajate hain’ … [Read more...] about Other Side of Honking: How it helps us to survive
Dear Friends, Some of you have asked me about the sone ki chidiya-baaj (Veer) case. Since the matter is sub-judice I would not like to comment on it yet but pose before you a broader question. If someone who is more famous misappropriates something from us. Should we just bear it silently fearing that if we protest the famous personality (himself or through his team) will accuse us of trying to get cheap publicity? And through such an attack try to hurt our good will and credibility. … [Read more...] about Should fame give you a licence?
The other day I went to see a movie at a mall situated on the outskirts of Gurgaon. My aunt, 55 and my niece 22, came along. While we were waiting for the doors of the theatre to open, a middle aged man came up to me, introduced himself as Mr Gupta and complimented me for my show, Hum Aise Kyun Hain on DD. He went to bring his wife, his school going son and daughter to introduce them to me. I was happy to note that that my aunt and niece had already heard the acclaim but still drew them closer … [Read more...] about Talk on mobile, but keep the conversation to yourself
Earlier this year Ms.Kanthi Kanan founder of the Right to Walk Foundation filed a petition to the National Women’s Commission and the Andhra Pradesh State Human Rights Commission stating that Peeing in public is equivalent to stripping in public and it should be made a punishable offence. The Government has not yet acted on it. And wisely so. As it can't forbid people from peeing in public till it has provided public toilets. Civic infrastructure has to precede civic laws. And while planning … [Read more...] about Make Gurgaon the Champaran of cleanliness
Writing in his weekly Navjivan on Our Dirty Ways Gandhi said that those who spit on the streets have no consideration for others. Today- Many decades later- while the world has become cleaner, spitting continues unabated in our country. And we can't blame the government for this one. In fact the only lull in spitting in public came in India in the 1960's. When through posters and films- some governments to prevent the spread of TB- took up a mass education programme about the dangers of … [Read more...] about Spitting cuts across class in our city
Malls are helping us getting used to technology which we were unfamiliar with. First is the use of escalators. I particularly remember one of my aunts who was mortally scared of taking escalators. She feared that at the time of disembarking her saree would get caught in the moving steps of the escalator. With frequent practice- she is a Gurgaon resident- she is an expert now. I also remember that many years ago a tribal woman from Bastar who badly needed a job as house help had approached her. … [Read more...] about What we can learn from malls
I was happy to read today that so many prominent and well meaning Indians are supporting Kiran Bedi’s candidature for Chief Information Commissioner. Moreover they are asking the Government that if you appoint another person, please let us know how that person is more suitable. That is great. Acche log ghar se bahar nikal aayen hain. Milkar naare lagane lagey hain- ek acche insaan ke liye. Yeh nayi aur badi baat hai. (The good are ganging up together, in favour of the good. This is a new and … [Read more...] about Good Luck Kiran. Good Luck Good Ones. Good Luck India
It all started with Shashi Tharoor staying in a five star hotel and not his state Bhavan. In my view he was right to stay where he did. In my view it is not just a question of the State Bhavan not having a gym. For many politicians (particularly those who are exposed to the West) it is difficult to stay in the State Bhavans because of the poor hygiene standards. It is common to find bed sheets stained with semen and boot polish, the bath rooms are also often unhygienic. The crockery used, the … [Read more...] about Desh ko Sone ki Chidiya nahin, Sone Ka Baaj Banao.
Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot has asked the babus to stand up when the neta walks in, to return his calls, and to behave respectfully with him. That this directive has become necessary is a wholesome development. It means that the bureaucracy is challenging the politician’s authority. This is a healthy sign. (Simultaneously the society should challenge the bureaucrat’s authority as all authority in the society should be based on contribution. And by that measure his record in the last 62 years is … [Read more...] about Babus should stand- Politicians should stand
I am really encouraged by your responses. Thanks. I have also realized that I might have hurt some feelings when I went in to the historical origins of racism. So I am deleting that bit. The idea is to find meeting grounds. Not to point fingers but to shake hands. Not to answer racism with reverse racism but to expose how incongrous and unjust it is to judge a man by the colour of his skin. So how can racism be fought? There are very many well meaning people among the whites. Their … [Read more...] about How can racism be fought?
If fighting injustice is spiritual then knowing how the injustice came about is important. It is like taking the first step towards the shrine. Let us continue exploring the injustice of racism. Historically racism grew from war. When people who did not look like us attacked one the first seeds of hatred were sown. Many prophets and kings fanned this hatred between cultures as they felt xenophobia will make their people rally behind them more fiercely. Differences in culture and sense of … [Read more...] about Show Spirit, Become Spiritual
The biggest sin is discrimination. Doing it and tolerating it. I am appalled at what is happening in Australia and wish to put before the reader answers to: Why does racism still persist? Why are Indians being targeted again and again? In my view there are several reasons for this. 1. Political and historical reason : The Anglo saxon race still remembers that it ruled us once and some among them may consider themselves superior to us for this reason. Machiavelli has said that if you … [Read more...] about Lessons from our Sins
Hi. I am Pavan Choudary. I am a student of wisdom. This is my first blog entry and I write because I am pained by the attacks on Indian students in Australia. And I condemn them. And I am glad that Amitabh Bachhan and Aamir Khan have already come forward in their support. And I am glad how the media is giving this issue the importance it deserves. But Why does racism still persist? Why are Indians being targeted again and again? In my view there are several reasons for this. Political and … [Read more...] about Why The World Is Racist Towards Indians
From Buddha to Aristotle many have spoken about the importance of balance. This balance is the one which man acquires when he moves on the middle path. When he avoids extremes and follows the golden mean. Then for example, he is not a coward, nor is he rash -he is courageous. Similarly between pride and diffidence he chooses modesty, between miserliness and extravagance, liberality, between moroseness and buffoonery, good humor, between belligerence and flattery, friendship and so on. One … [Read more...] about Even saints require power, weapons
Two sharp insights from Confucius… Cut the handle of a new axe with an old axe and it will not be far from the old handle in appearance. Hence a gentleman asks of others no more than of himself, so long as they correct their mistakes. He who can practice tolerance and forbearance is not far from the way of the mean. He should do to others as he would have others do to him. Confucius highlights the challenge of walking the middle path (way of the mean) especially in the beginning. Cut the … [Read more...] about Confucian Prescription for Spiritual Evolution
Now comes a new lament. Indian players in the Indian premier league are being racially abused. And then Air France staff is accused of harassing Indians. So much of racial discrimination targetted against one community? What is it in us Indians which makes the world treat us so? I was invited as the chief guest to the IMA (Indian Medical Association) for their annual function. My introduction was in superlatives and I was given a lot of respect before being called to address the function. I … [Read more...] about Does our Spirituality make us Weak?
In the Mughal and British times- due to the oppressive tax regimes- when people met citizens of another city the first question was not how is life in your city but how is tax in your city? I have also begun to ask this question of other city dwellers. How is tax in your city? Why? Because of the newly imposed house tax. Am I scared of paying taxes? No. I pay my taxes. What I fear is interacting with the Government. Whenever I interact with the Government I feel I will enter a morally … [Read more...] about House that for a unique method of collecting taxes?
Even a priest needs to inspire some awe to command the faith of the faithful- Chanakya By priest, Chanakya means a virtuous man - a kind, honest, sincere, generous, loving man. If you wish to live like such a man your life would be saintly. If you wish to be like a saint, then you should have a weapon. What does a weapon mean? Weapon means either the ability to stand for your principles or your network of contacts and your good will or your ability to expose the other person’s misdeeds. This … [Read more...] about Spirituality of Truth and Strength
In the last piece I said how throwing shoes at one’s oppressors is a spiritual act. A reader has asked me he would like to go further and throw stones. Would that be more spiritual? Let me answer his question with a tale from Ramayana. Lakshaman and Sugreeva are deliberating on how to cross the sea and reach Lanka with their army. They thought it is best to begin with a prayer to the ocean-god and submitted their opinion to Rama. Rama accepted their counsel and started his fast and prayers … [Read more...] about What’s spiritual: shoes or stones?
A popular tale about Krishna goes as follows. Krishna is having dinner sitting in heaven. His wife Rukmani is serving him. On the Earth a devotee of Krishna is surrounded by some thugs who are moving menacingly towards him to rough him up. Krishna watches this and gets up to go to his aid. Rukmani is disappointed that her husband has to leave suddenly and tries to stop him but Krishna is determined to leave. Suddenly he sits down again and resumes dinner. Rukmani asks him, “What happened, My … [Read more...] about Are we becoming more Spiritual?
Mun mecca dil dwarika, kaya kaashi jaan, Das dware ka dehra, taamein joti pichaan (Kabir says that your mind is the Mecca and the heart is Dwarika (the door-way to self-realisation). A sacred and healthy body may be likened to Kashi – the holy place of worship. This ten door body of the human being is that temple where self realisation can be attained. In other words, one does not need to go on a pilgrimage to reach God, the human body is capable of achieving everything right here right … [Read more...] about Heart, Mind, Body and Love
Tere andar saanch jo, bahar naahi janaav, Jaanan hara jaani hai, antar gati ka bhav (Kabir condemns bragging even about the truth in your heart. Your truth is yours alone. The knowledgeable have the ability to sense the machinations of the human mind on their own and your true heart will be seen by them anyways.) Why do we brag about our spiritual realisations? Why do we want to tell others about our spiritual growth? There are two reasons for this. Either it is for one-up-man-ship: … [Read more...] about The true mark of self-realisation
Bhay se bhakti karen sab, bhay se puja hoye Bhay paras hai jeev ko, nirbhay hoye na koye (Kabir says that ‘fear’ (probably of the unknown) is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices. Fear works like the philosopher’s stone that causes people to tread on the right path). Kabir reaches the heart of the matter. He says, fear is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices. How was prayer or religion born? Imagine the … [Read more...] about Fear and Religion
Bhay bin Bhav na upaje, bhay bin hoye na preeti Jab Hirday se bhay gaya, miti sakal riti (Kabir says that without an element of fear, it is difficult to feel happiness or sorrow. Fear is important even to feel affection for the Guru. In the absence of fear, one loses reverence for his master and can easily abandon all ethical behaviour, resulting in a loss of his own identity). Every mother once in a while has to scare her child. Why? Does she not love her child? No. If there is one expression … [Read more...] about The Importance of Fear
Jab mein tha tab Guru Nahin, ab Guru hain main nahi Prem gali ati saankri ta mein do na samahi (Kabir says that when in a state of ego a disciple cannot connect to his Guru. And when he does achieve that connection with the Guru and absorbs true knowledge, ego vanishes. So narrow is the lane of love between the Guru and disciple that it has no room for ego.) Ego has its uses and Kabir knows about them. Ego is a defense mechanism. It helps you defend your interest. However, one should use ego as … [Read more...] about Guru-shishya link is based on love
Saint Kabir has been one of the most unique Indian poet – thinker. Kabir was a peak in spiritual consciousness. Let us explore his wisdom. Kabir is a man of candor. He has spoken extensively on the guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship. In the whole world, I doubt if anyone has written so extensively on the teacher-student relationship as Kabir has. Most of his writings have been polluted by compilers. They wax eloquent about the guru. In the following verse, which having read him … [Read more...] about Poor teachers have readymade answers
As the International Women’s day draws near I was asked by an activist what are your comments on domestic violence against women? Here is my view. Domestic violence by man against woman is not so much a gender issue as it is a power issue. An unbiased study of history will demonstrate that often when one group is powerful enough to control another group and profit from that domination, they will do so regardless of gender. Woman also when she has had power, for example in matriarchal societies, … [Read more...] about Domestic Violence and Equality of Women
When I first started flying abroad I realized that Indian airlines don’t serve liquor on the flights. When I asked some people in the aviation ministry why was that so they said, Indian passengers will get drunk and misbehave. Later on the ban was lifted- today even the government owned Indian (Air Lines) serves liquor. I have checked with several pilots and cabin crew, the instances of intoxicated misbehaviour are rare and the same as on other airlines (with other nationalities) and no one is … [Read more...] about Don’t Stifle Creativity, Allow Social Evolution
In the last two pieces I have discussed how relevant is the advise of Chanakya given 2500 years ago both for parents and children of today. This mega mind also exhorted the Indian society to shed its hypocrisy as it makes India weak, inefficient and non credible. He says that a physically weak person develops a friendly nature. That is when you are physically weak you pose to be friendly because that is the only behavioral option you have. You can't be aggressive when you are physically weak. … [Read more...] about Hospitalisation can spur enlightenment
I am impressed with the media’s role in the coverage of the Mumbai attacks and the elections in the four states. First the Mumbai attacks. The greatest contribution that the media made here is it highlighted the anger of the people. To the discerning eye it was visible that the anger was not against the terrorist attacks only- it was as much against a Government that sucks. The terror attacks proved like the last straw. The common man started taking out his bile. One Mumbaite spat, “The army … [Read more...] about Role of Media in Social Awakening
Receptivity means the willingness to receive. It determines your learning quotient (LQ). Learning is important to one’s evolution. Else even if you do increasingly well materially, your personality may get frozen in time. But there are several barriers to receptivity. Let us classify them as natural barriers and artificial barriers. The greatest natural barrier to receptivity is age and circumstance. As we grow older, particularly those of us who are doing well, start to believe we know all. … [Read more...] about The key barriers to learning process
In one of his experiments, B. F. Skinner, the famous Behavioural Psychologist, took a hungry rat and put him near the edge of a platform. On the floor below, he kept two boxes, identical looking boxes, both had food in them. The box on the Rat’s right, however, had also a trap door which would have prevented the rat from getting to the food as well as an electrical circuit which would provide a shock to the rat were he to jump in to it. The rat took some random jumps both in to the right and … [Read more...] about Conditioning that’s half-baked ruins us
Last week we spoke of Obama’s entry in to the White House. In this piece let us talk of his predecessor. How did he (Bush) fare as a world leader? Most dismissed him as a blubbering, arrogant leader who believed that what can’t be solved by force needs more force. Let us see how he handled the three big crises that he faced and come to our verdict. First 9-11. 9-11 shook and bled America. It required a strong counter response. Bush gave it to the world by launching a blitzkrieg against … [Read more...] about The importance of being inclusive
I was in Belgium as the Americans were casting their ballots. I could see that Europe was waiting like me- anxiously- for the outcome. Not only the blacks, many of the browns and the yellows too wanted Obama to win. Perhaps they did not care who beat the white candidate but just that the white candidate should be beaten. You need some such victories to erase the humiliation which the coloured races have suffered at the hands of the white. There was also some bile against Bush and it was rubbing … [Read more...] about A victory with a new meaning
In the last piece I spoke of why Indian players are so prone to racial abuse and how some Australian cricketers are still grabbing media mileage by keeping the “Monkeygate” issue alive. Gilchrist has accused Sachin of hiding the truth. Did Sachin lie? Let us first try to answer a more fundamental question: Is lying always bad? Let me excerpt a passage from my book, When You are Sinking Become a Submarine. “All lies are not bad. It is the purpose of the lie which ascertains whether it is … [Read more...] about Lies are not bad for a good cause
When Raj Thackeray tried to come to Bala Saheb Thackeray’s defence a few days back, the latter replied the next day saying, “Raj should not try to grab cheap publicity by taking up for me”. Shilpa Shetty also said the same recently when she saw some people getting publicity using her name. It seems Sachin Tendulkar is made of different material. Adam Gilchrist, a retired cricketer questioned his bonafides in his book, got media mileage first and then apologized to him and Sachin took it in … [Read more...] about Stop fawning over western guests
In the last pieces I spoke of how Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in three parts: Sila, morality; Samadhi, concentration; and panna, intuitive wisdom. In the last pieces I spoke of how Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in three parts: Sila, morality; Samadhi, concentration; and panna, intuitive wisdom. Having examined morality and concentration, let us now examine panna, intuitive wisdom. Intuitive wisdom as per Buddha means the ability to see the true nature of things- peeping in to the … [Read more...] about Free the mind with intuitive wisdom
In the last piece I spoke of how Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in three parts: Sila, morality; Samadhi, concentration; and panna, intuitive wisdom and how Sila is the bed rock of spiritual growth. Let us examine Samadhi, concentration now. It means fullness with which we observe phenomenon. In order to cultivate such concentration and see that it does not get uprooted we need to build five protections or nuggahitas. The first is Sila Nuggahita- It is morality’s protection against gross … [Read more...] about Overpower will with knowledge
In the last piece I spoke of how Character is born when self interest struggles with concern for the other. Let us go through this story from The Devil and Miss Prym to see how this struggle happens. Even though Ahab (the evil one) had begun to sharpen his knife the moment Savin ( the saint) set foot in his house, safe in the knowledge that the world was a reflection of himself. He was determined to challenge the saint and so he asked him: "If tonight, the most beautiful prostitute in the … [Read more...] about The clash between good and evil
In the last few pieces I have proposed that why the path of wisdom is a surer and more enriching path to spirituality. Let me now present what are the ways to develop this wisdom and how it can then take you to bliss (ananda). The first pillar of wisdom is virtue. And the foundation stone of this pillar is sincerity. One of the foremost votaries of sincerity, who was also perhaps its keenest student, was Confucius. Sincerity in the Confucian meaning has three fragments. The first and … [Read more...] about Sincerity is a path to attain godliness
In the last piece we discussed that the highest and most enriching path to spirituality is through the mind. This stands to reason. Because like happiness, spiritual bliss also is a state of mind. So it is no wonder if mind holds the key to spiritual experience. Let us try to understand this. The greatest of ancient scholars classified love in to three types. Agape- which is love that is independent of your liking or disliking. This is unconditional love e.g. the love that Jesus speaks of when … [Read more...] about Sharpen your mind to achieve success
In my last two pieces I discussed how an overemphasis on spirituality can dilute action and how the so called spiritual gurus, often unknowingly, take you on a make-believe ride and make you miss life. Misdirected religion and spirituality can engender another problem. It can tie you up in rituals and superstition. You lose the power of differentiating the eternal teachings (Sanatana Dharma) from the temporal recommendations (Yug Dharma). For example Geeta says that you should resist evil and … [Read more...] about Belief must stand the test of wisdom
Last week, I wrote about how too much focus on the sacred (spiritual) dilutes action. The blind pursuit of the spiritual also has other undesired effects. Let us see what these are. Alfred Hitchcock was once traveling by car with a friend. He suddenly pointed out of the car window and said, "That is the most frightening sight I have ever seen." His companion was surprised to see nothing more alarming than a priest in conversation with a little boy, his hand on the child's shoulder. "Run, little … [Read more...] about Chasing a Mirage Called Spirituality
One of the reasons why I was thrilled to receive the invitation to write for this column is its name, Sacred Bull. I love it. So in my first piece let me talk about two great men who in a somewhat similar style challenged the status of the sacred. The first was Confucius, who said, “To give one’s self earnestly to the duties due to men and while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, this may be called wisdom”. Why does Confucius suggest that we keep aloof from spiritual … [Read more...] about Put Social Welfare Above Spirituality