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April 18, 2017 / subramanyam

The Flame of Anahata :: My Take

Having read the book “The Divine Command”, I was waiting for the next book in “The Comeback Warrior” Trilogy. Well, Saranya has penned the second book and it is “The flame of Anahata”. I completed reading this book today and here is my review.

Here is the blurb of the book.

“They turned to see his tears of love wiping away her blood of agony…”

Diya throws Suraj’s proposal back in his face, leaving him broken-hearted. Why would she Anahatado so when she loved him desperately?

Suraj finds his Guruji unconscious beside a cave clutching the warrior Indrajith’s diary. His heart-rending love story then unfolds. Being trapped in a web of emotions, Indrajith endured the pain of his lost love, hurting himself and trampled Deepali’s hope for his adopted brother… Who was he?

Sealed for centuries and holding the Mann-Parivarthana astra, the cave is besieged by evil now. But all attempts to unlock it go futile. Faced with baffling hints, Suraj’s intelligence is sorely tested. What is the potent power required to break through that Paanch-Dost-Gupha?

THE FLAME OF ANAHATA!

Will the fire of love ever flicker in the hearts of Diya and Suraj?

Before I delve into the review, I would strongly recommend any reader to read the first book of the Trilogy “The Divine Command”  before picking this book up, it is not mandatory but reading the first book would give the reader the context of the story.

The book begins with Diya rejecting Suraj’s proposal; this comes as a shock to the readers as we see love blossoming between them in the previous book. Suraj is thrown off balance with the turn of events. However, his work ethic and sense of duty overpower the tribulations of his emotions. He sets out to the Himalayas along with his team to complete a work related project. What does he encounter there? What are the secrets of his past life? Why did Diya refuse the love of “The Comeback warrior”? Read the book to get all the answers.

The plot oscillates between the past life Suraj and the present one. The chapters on the past life of Suraj and AshurShashak are amazing. You just get absorbed into the book and its contents as you read these chapters. The author brings out friendship, love, romance, loyalty, royalty, kindness and many more emotions to life in these pages. These chapters are indeed excellent.

Saranya Umakanthan

The Author — Saranya Umakanthan

In the first book, we donot get to see the events and incidents that shaped the lives of protagonist and antagonist. Here we get to see the details of the lives of Indrajit (past life of Suraj) Asur Shasak, the antagonist and others. Good job by the author.

Coming to the pace of the book, I found it a little tough to dodge the first few pages but say after 5% of the book, the story really picked up and the book was unputdownable. The author uses simple English and that’s the icing on the cake. I also liked the concept of positive energy overpowering the negative energy and the importance of having a heart filled with love.

I donot have much to complain regarding the book. The concept of Anahata and the Anahata Chakra is introduced quite late in the book. I felt something that has got to do with the title could have been brought a little earlier.  I respect the author for the research that went into the book, the yantras and all the details regarding Anahata.  However, all this comes late.  For a significant amount of time, the reader would not know what Anahata is all about. Again, this is my personal opinion, and I might be wrong. The author might have done this to foster curiosity in the minds of the audience; I am just voicing out my opinion.

That was one minor issue in this fantastic book. I am waiting for the third and final part of the trilogy. Do pick “The flame of Anahata” when you have time. It is a nice and enjoyable read.

You can buy the book here.

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April 16, 2017 / subramanyam

The Five “Va’s”

Came across this fantastic Sanskrit Shloka recently. This Shloka gives us 5 important things that can make or break us when we speak to others.  They are in the order in which they are perceived.

వస్త్రేణ వపుషా వాచా విద్యయా వినయేనచ
వకార పంచభిర్విప్రో పూజితో నాత్ర సంశయః ||

Vastrena vapushaa vachaa vidyayaa vinayenacha

vakara panchabhirviprO pUjitO naatra samsayah  ||

Let us look at each of them in good detail now.

The first one is “Vastra” , Wearing a good dress is really important.  It is the first thing that the audience would observe, you dress needs to be clean, if possible well ironed and something that is in sync with the message you wish to deliver.  Again a distracting dress can be a liability.  Hence use this tool judiciously.  Don’t have an extravagant and appealing or an appalling dress.  Have a simple and decent one.  Remember that the dress is the first pull for the audience and a neat and distraction free dress can establish that basic connect for you.

The second one is “Vapusha”. Vapusha actually means appearance.  In this specific context I would like to call it as the way you use the dais.  Standing at one corner and delivering a speech might not be the best way to deliver a speech.  You ought to move across the stage.  As you own and walk across the dais, display elegance, your body needs to convey to the audience that you actually are enjoying experience and this makes them more receptive to you.

Then “Vacha”  or the voice.  The voice/tone of the speaker must be sweet and it should be something that the audience like and identify themselves with.  I am not saying that it must be a sing song voice or so.  All I am trying to say is that harshness in the voice might switch people off.  Should one speak harshly and in a domineering way we would obviously lose interest wouldn’t we?  A shrill voice, a fast paced speech and a queer pitch too kill a speech and would turn the audience off.  Hence maintaining a good tone, pace and pitch for the speech are extremely important.

The fourth and a very important one is “Vidya”.  Don’t take vidya as education in this case.  Take it to be knowledge.  Once the audience  realize that you are looking good and enjoying your stage time they would definitely look for the content you speak.   How well you speak depends on how learned you are, hence reading well an recollecting that content well are of primordial importance in your speech.  One needs to read well,  one needs to read fiction, non fiction and classics when one has time.  All this would help one handle any topic very easily.  Read more and read wide.

The last and most important one on the list dear friends is “Vinaya”.  As we all know Vinaya would mean humility.   Having good clothes, nice appearance and a good voice and a good education are all blessings we have in our lives and we ought to count them.   There are many people out there who donot have any of these.  Shouldn’t we be thankful to the Almighty and our parents who gave all these to us.  The greatest of the orators were humble souls to  begin with.  A Gandhi, A Mandela, A Swami Vivekananda or a Martin Luther King were all humble when they addressed the masses and we all know the impact they had on the people who heard to them. Let’s make humility our second nature and not restrict it to the speeches alone.  Forget the speeches this one quality can take us places.

Friends as I conclude I would like to repeat the five  Va’s  that are important for our speeches.  Vastra — the clothes we wear , Vapusha — our appearance , Vacha — our voice , Vidya — our education and Vinaya — the humility are all extremely important for our speech.  If erred in the first one  vastra, you can cover it up with the Vapusha , Vacha , Vidya and Vinaya , if got both Vastra and Vapusha wrong you can do some thing with the other three.  You can still handle it somehow even when you get your Vacha wrong, however, never err with last Vidya and Vinaya, that can be suicidal for your speech.

Have a fantastic week ahead.

 

April 8, 2017 / subramanyam

Disappointed Babu Garu..

In the cabinet expansion/reshuffle that happened early this month 4 MLA’s who won on the ticket of YSRCP have been made ministers in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This came as a rude jolt for me.

Here are a few areas in which I intend to question the move.

On Legal Grounds.

In India, you win an election based on a party symbol and not individually (unless you contest as an independent). Hence an MLA is bound by the anti-Defection where he/she cannot switch loyalties as per his/her whims and fancies. You need at least one-third of the legislature party to break out, and only then they can call themselves as a group and support another party of their choice.

Here we did not see 1/3rd of YSRCP defecting into TDP. YSRCP has also complained against the defecting MLAs. They are seeking disqualification for these MLA’s. In fact, MLA’s are not even supposed to vote against the party whip, then how can they become ministers when their own party is seeking their disqualification?

Moral Grounds

Wasn’t it the same TDP and the same Naidu who questioned such moves when they happened in Telangana? When you questioned such moves why are you doing the same? We were the victims of this and lost the entire Legislature party in Telangana. Now, why are we doing this and losing the high moral ground?

From a party member’s view point.
Dhulipala Narendra a five-time TDP MLA did not get the chance to get into the cabinet, so was the case for Payyavula Keshav who was the voice of the party for some good amount of time when the party was in opposition. Same is the case with Gorantla, Chintamaneni and many others. However, they all were ignored, and some people who just jumped in got the ministries. What message does this send? Why should anyone stay loyal to the party that overlooks loyalty for immediate political gains?

Conclusion
While I still believe that Shri Chandrababu Naidu is the best man to lead AP.   I just cannot imagine a Jagan or a YSRCP to take over AP.  As on date CBN is the best man to lead, he is doing many things right for the new state of Andhra Pradesh.  However, this is a real wrong move.  I am really disappointed at what has been done in the recent cabinet expansion. Hope TDP does its course correction soon.

April 7, 2017 / subramanyam

Jogendranath Mandal’s Resignation

Partition of India was probably the worst thing that has ever happened to the people of the subcontinent. The misguided zeal of few individuals ensured that the subcontinent is forever in a perpetual state of war.

While a good number of Muslims chose to stay back in India, an Indian Hindu Leader moved to Pakistan to make it his home. He was Jogendranath Mandal. A follower of Ambedkar, Jogendranath believed that Jinnah’s Pakistan would help the oppressed scheduled caste people of India.

However, he got fed up with the system quite early. The attacks on Hindus in general and the attacks on Dalits pained him. He left Pakistan in 1950 and returned to India and lived a life of a commoner.

His resignation letter is an interesting read, it speaks about the misguided zeal of the founding fathers of Pakistan. The way atrocities were committed on the Hindus, and the way the State gave its tacit support to these activities are well mentioned in the letter.

Do read the letter when you find some good time. Here is the link to his resignation letter.

http://bengalvoice.blogspot.in/2008/05/appendix-1-jogendra-nath-mandals.html

March 10, 2017 / subramanyam

Victory to Abhaya

During the times of the great Vijayanagara Empire, a new form of literature called Prabandha Sahityam came up. Here, the author would pick an event from the Hindu Puranas and then create a story that goes hand in hand with the original one. The plot that the writer chooses would dominate the book without taking away the sanctity or significance of the original story.

Abhaya is Smt.Sai Swaroopa Iyer’s attempt to revive this system and create a modern27973060 day Prabandha. Before I speak my thoughts out on this book, I want you to read the blurb.

A tale set in the times of Mahabharata. An assertive and idealistic Princess Abhaya meets the enigmatic Krishna Vaasudeva. A bereaved Dhatri, hounded by her own family is saved by Lord Bhauma. When subverted religion becomes a tool in the hands of power thirsty and strikes Bharatavarsha, the land of Aryas, Abhaya finds herself face to face with the impending doom.

“Can we combat the fear with faith? Can we keep our faith undeterred when the last traces of hope melt away? Can we receive blame and adulation, accept them and yet not give in to them?”

The book starts in the Eastern Hills of Bharathavarsha; a king from these lands is out for a regular temple visit and he and his Senapati save a woman (Dhatri) from what can be a modern day’s equivalent of honor killing. As Dhatri takes her time to recuperate, the author takes us to the western part of the nation where we see a small kingdom Anagha where a nervous King holds his firstborn “Abhaya” for the first time in his hands.

What does fate have in store for these women who come from the two ends of the Bharathavarsha? What are the troubles, travails and moments of triumph that await them? Are these troubles meant only for them or for all the women who stay between the ends of the nation? What is their approach towards life? Where does Sri Krishna come in all this?

While we get all the answers as we read the book, we also get to see what ails the land. Minds steeped in blind faith, unchallenged ideals of patriarchy, religious bigots killing the fundamental freedoms of the people, greedy men who cannot think beyond immediate gains and master manipulators who want to control the entire world.

As we embark our journey with Abhaya and join her in her fights on the ills around her, we also learn valuable lessons in leadership, governance, statecraft, ethics and the ways and means to overcome the moral dilemma that plagues a lot of good brains. We see our assumptions challenged and beliefs shattered, we see a new version of the protagonist and ourselves as we move ahead. To me, these learnings are indeed the USP of the book.

What did Like?

1. The characters, to begin with, awesome is a small word to describe the way the characters have been depicted. I loved the way the author showed different shades of the feminine spirit.
Abhaya — The princess, Dhatri — the practitioner, Subhadra — the diplomat, Kadambari — the troubled lady, Shyeni — the woman with a free spirit, Mrinalini — the loyal assistant, Atulyaprabha — the selfless one and KanakaPraba — a woman who was a little timid. Amazing women from different walks of life but with a single aim, betterment of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of them.

2. It is not about women alone, we have some amazing men too, Dharmasena’s wisdom, Mura’s love for family, Vikram’s love for his mother, Vinateya’s love for Krishna and finally Sri Krishna for everything He is. The way the author sketched each of these characters was fantabulous.

3. The conversations. You can’t but fall in love with them. Particularly the ones

saiswaroopa

The Author Smt. Sai Swaroopa Ji

between Abhaya and Lord Sri Krishna. Every sentence here means a lot. You come across some fantastic learnings of life. Add to this the soliloquies of Abhaya, and you know you are reading a masterpiece. Trust my words, dear friends; you would end up highlighting many of the lines.

4. The layers of meaning, a keen observer would see layers of meaning in the book. The book is not speaking about the past alone; the author intelligently claims that her brain is set in 2000 BC. No, she is pretty much talking about things happening around us. Do read and re-read; you would realize what she is talking about. One can only commend the author for what she has done.

5. The pace of the story and message. The book challenges our assumptions and forces us to think differently. The book is not a romantic escapade or an action packed thriller. while keeps us at the edge of our seats anticipating as to what happens next, it gives us a message on our own Dharma.

Conclusion
It is a must read.   For,  as Lord Sri Krishna says to Abhaya,

“It is easy to rebel and call for a revolution. What is difficult is to inspire evolution. That happens with transforming thought, not condemning people, That happens by challenging their thought and not by provoking their egos.”

Abhaya inspires evolution.  Do read it.

You can buy the book here.

March 9, 2017 / subramanyam

Support RoyMathew

Media grills people when mistakes are made.  We see them going over the top when governments / people make mistakes.  However, shouldn’t the media take ownership when the mistake is committed from the media.

Please spare 3 mins for Roy Mathew , the soldier who was forced to commit a suicide due to a mistake done by one a media organization.

March 2, 2017 / subramanyam

Open-Eyed Indeed

“Instead of trying to focus on those aspects of life that can’t be controlled, if we learn to focus on aspects that can be controlled, we will in effect influence our actions rather than influencing the results of our actions.” These lines on page 130 of the book have given a new perspective to me. Let me tell you the reason.

I am a Horoscope freak, every Sunday I read the weekly predictions in Eenadu (a Telugu Newspaper with large circulation ) very religiously, I follow the suggestions mentioned there and will look forward to the rest of the week. I do not know when I started doing this; somehow this habit is there with me for the last 7+ years. The irony, I never go back and check if the week has been the way it was predicted. When the next week starts, the cycle repeats.

However, in his book Open Eyed Meditations, Sri Shubha Vilas Das devoted a small chapter for these Horoscope Horrors and came up with a nice analogy from Mahabharatha. Here too, Sahadeva knew that the war was imminent; however, he could do little about it. I loved the analogy and point Shri Shubha Vilas ji drove home. Before I get into the full review of the book. Here is the synopsis.

Open-eyed Meditations is a beautiful compilation of thoughts wherein each meditation takes you open_eyed-meditationson a journey to the past, bringing a secret herb to heal a problem of the present.

A true distillation of ancient wisdom tips for modern lives, this unique self-help book uses the wisdom of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to solve your everyday problems.

Beyond the storyline, something deeper is waiting to be discovered from these ancient texts. This book is an attempt to uncover the hidden layer of wealth that is cleverly packaged within the commonly known storylines.

Hindu Puranas and Itihaasas are a treasure trove of good things. However, most of us know about them as mere stories. Subha Vilas ji in his book tried to bring out pearls of Wisdom that would solve the day to problems of most of us. He takes one modern day problem at a time, for example Taking Right decisions, Over Analysing a situation, the longing to take revenge, too much of anxiety for future, etc. This book has 64 such topics which cover a wide spectrum of issues.

The author tries to describe the problem, then comes up with a solution and in the process reinforces his point of view by picking an anecdote either from Ramayana or from Mahabharatha. He does all this in 3-4 pages. I really loved the approach of the author.

The language is simple; the author uses simple English to drive home his profound points. Then the length of the chapters is optimal. You don’t find any chapter that is too lengthy. So a user can pick the book, finish reading a chapter in say less that 5-10 mins and then go back to his/her work. Kudos to Subha Vilas ji for making it that easy. However, the reader needs to ruminate on the chapter to make the most of it :-). Mere reading of the book that too only once and leaving the book later might not be of great use.

Of late I started staying away from the Self Help books, the reason, I felt that they all say the same thing beyond a point. However, this book is indeed different. You would get to see the great Indian Epics from a completely different perspective. You might end up seeing the troubles and travails of life with a different lens. That way the book would be of great help to everyone. Hence I recommend one and all to read and re-read  the book.  For my part I am going to re-read the books and a few chapters again.

Now, going back to the topice of Horoscopes, will I stop reading Horoscopes? I donot know.  I resolved to stay from them going forward. I donno if I would succeed in it. If I succeed I will be indebted to Subha Vilas ji for planting the seed in my brain.

Do read the book, it would indeed be of great value. Happy reading .

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