We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dance and learning

How could dance be used as a means to learn important social issues? This was a question raised in my mind on the occasion of my visit to a good friend of mine who is an awesome dancer and dance instructor. Is dance instructor and choreographer same? I am not sure, so avoiding the term.

Dancing or any form of art is an expression of freedom to express emotions. People dance to celebrate, to socialize, to perform. Could dance be used in another form to teach relevant social issues? A human being can possess six intelligence, out of which sense of dance in musical term is one. While I got to witness the training session where my friend trained his students I went through several questions. I would classify them as follows.

1. Dance and its history.
2. Dance and its training
3. Dance and its improvisations (Research in dance)
4. Dance and its social impact
5. Technology and dance.

Dance and its history.
What is the origin of dance and its timeline?
Why do people dance?
What are different types of dances that are performed in different cultures?
What is the contribution of India towards dance?

Dance and its training

How does training of different dances compare for example Salsa vs Bharatnatyam?
What is the difficulty level of learning each?
How can a trainer use cognitive psychology related material for more effective training?
How does dancing compare with playing an instrument? For example say learning to play guitar vs learning to dance?
Can anybody dance? What role does physical parameters like weight, height, bone density etc play in a dancers skills?
Do there exist specific tools to assist learn dance movements faster? Like can a device like foot massager be used to help feet move in a more better manner by providing supportive moves? Or could such a device be manufactured which would be trained to give your body parts synchronize movements in a given specific manner to train your muscles movements?
What role could technology play in making learning fast? Could youtube vidoes have an alternative in terms of learning steps? Could there exist better means to remember steps?

Dance and its improvements

How are new dance steps invented? For example how has dance transformed itself in time?
How much combination of different dance items could be made to propose a fusion or such genre of dance? What is the threshold?
What kid of formal research gets done in the universities which offer "Fine and performing Arts" degrees? Are there conferences to judge the quality of research?

Dance and its social impact.

Could dance be used as a means to teach socially relevant lessons to masses?
Girls love dancing. Girls play an important role in any family as the same girl goes on to become a wife and a mother. But mostly girls tend to avoid serious topics like politics and socially relevant subjects and are a lot ignorant about these issues.
Could dance be used like street plays to portray such messages in an effective manner?
How would a dance on a topic like environment friendliness look and feel like?

Technology and dance

What are the different changes in dance due to technology. For example electric guitar sounds and arouses different feelings than acoustic guitar. How it has influenced dance?
What role does technology like Video sharing plays in spread of dance culture?
Can small children be made to learn dance in an effective manner by using a virtual trainer, for example a video of trainer instead of a live trainer?
Can dance moves be improved by using devices which assist you in learning faster, for example say you strap a motion restriction device to your legs and hands, neck or whatever body part that moves. You configure this device for restrictive movements and the device provides you a feedback like your hand turned 10 degree more than your configured movement. Training your brain with the help of a device.
What other scope does exist to train your mind using cognitive psychology techniques, for effective fast training for your body parts?

I guess there are too many open questions here which could be easily thought upon for coming up with a better and improvised style. Learning is so much fun, if you could apply to set patterns of asking questions to different types of learning. Dance is just one of that.

Children and speeches

Today is India's Republic day.


How many of you know what a republic day is my first question. Does it signify anything in the lives of the Indians is my next question.

In millions of school across India, millions of speeches are made, by students, teachers, politicians saying lots of things. How many of these speakers understand what they are speaking?

Next to my building is a primary school, where a local politician made some speech. He mentioned something like "Our leaders fought for things so that our lives could be better" blah blah. My simple question is, why torture children with so much of nonsense? Are these children able to understand even a single thing that is being mentioned in there? Yes, some of them may be. But if only some of them are able to understand it, what is the meaning of wasting everybody's time by indulging in activities which are going to end up in nothing concrete coming out of it.

So next question is, what could be an alternate way of making children understand the importance of freedom struggle, the importance of a free India, the importance of taking motivation from such acts etc. Games. Games are a great way to learn things in a playful ways. Games could be arranged to make learning such acts in a natural and attractive way. Learning should be fun. Drama's is another way. Basically any form of Art and power of expression could act as a powerful medium to convey the message. Speeches get boring. They become a memorized version of some teachers view points, wherein students do not have maturity to understand the complexities of the content. Why make their life complex when you can make it simple.

Now one most important question. Why it is not being done? Because nobody gives a damn about it. Our politicians are busy in looting this country. Our parents are busy in thinking about how to earn more money to support a better lifestyle and our teachers are happy that they are not being supervised for not doing their job and still getting salary. I feel pity about millions of poor children, who under such hypocrisy suffocate. Adults kill the curiosity in children much before they could leave their childhood. These are implicit killers, unlike the girl child killers who are so rampant in India. A latest report estimates about 8million girl children are aborted in India every year.

So whats the option. Technology is the option. In coming decade we will see lot of proliferation of technology enabled learning for children, wherein they will be able to exploit different aspects of their childhood in a more better manner.

In my lifetime, I would like to be woken up in an India wherein a poorest kid would be attending school, and be understanding what it means to be born in a free India. Is it possible? I pray, to make this possible. I pray, Indians get brains to invest their money in the right thing, which are their children. Else this country which has already gone to dogs, will see no return from its misery.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nirman - Search for restless youths

I was lucky to meet Priyadarshan Sahastrabuddhe, a volunteer at Nirman, a NGO started by Dr. Abhay and Dr. Rani Bang for addressing the problems in present society.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Intelligence and exposure

Are intelligence and exposure complementary terms in defining and making a student? Is intelligence inborn or can it be built by sufficient exposure? These are some of the questions that needs to be addressed and thought upon highly by any educationalist who has responsibility to teach, mentor and guide.

The problems with most of the Indian colleges is that they fail to understand that exposure is immensely important in making educational activities interesting. With exposure arrives interest, and the curiosity. These two are the the most essential part of any learning based activity, since it keeps students hooked to the learning environment.

Intelligence and exposure go hand in hand. Exposure provides different dimensions to raise intellectual question asking capacity, observational skills and ability to analyze situations from a critical point of view.

This is where most of the Indian institutes fail, since for providing exposure to students, teachers must be highly exposed to good teaching habits, good ethical practices to indulge in innovative research and ability to guide students. A teachers role is to provide a vision to students in terms of how the current teachings fit in a larger perspective of things, from academia, industry, society or any other perspective. And for being able to tell students all these things, a teacher has to have that much knowledge himself and sadly most of them do not have it, unless they are a PhD, which officially gives you an authority to teach.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Beautiful Qutoes from Swami Vivekananda....

Swami Vivekananda, (1863-1902)

We believe that every being is divine, is God. Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance; the difference between soul and soul is owing to the difference in density of these layers of clouds.

For links to some information about Swami Vivekananda, please visit



First, believe in the world—that there is meaning behind everything.

Don't look back—forward, infinite energy, infinite enthusiasm, infinite daring, and infinite patience—then alone can great deeds be accomplished.

This is the first lesson to learn: be determined not to curse anything outside, not to lay the blame upon anyone outside, but stand up, lay the blame on yourself. You will find that is always true. Get hold of yourself.

Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.

This life is a hard fact; work your way through it boldly, though it may be adamantine; no matter, the soul is stronger.

This I have seen in life—those who are overcautious about themselves fall into dangers at every step; those who are afraid of losing honor and respect, get only disgrace; and those who are always afraid of loss, always lose.

“Face the brutes.” That is a lesson for all life—face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them.

Those who work at a thing heart and soul not only achieve success in it but through their absorption in that they also realize the supreme truth—Brahman. Those who work at a thing with their whole heart receive help from God.

I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything they really deserve.

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you free.

Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in the world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear.

Why are people so afraid? The answer is that they have made themselves helpless and dependent on others. We are so lazy, we do not want to do anything ourselves. We want a Personal God, a Savior or a Prophet to do everything for us.

As long as we believe ourselves to be even the least different from God, fear remains with us; but when we know ourselves to be the One, fear goes; of what can we be afraid?

There is one thing to be remembered: that the assertion—I am God—cannot be made with regard to the sense-world.

All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us.

First get rid of the delusion “I am the body”, then only will we want real knowledge.

What the world wants is character. The world is in need of those whose life is one burning love, selfless. That love will make every word tell like a thunderbolt.

God is merciful to those whom He sees struggling heart and soul for realization. But remain idle, without any struggle, and you will see that His grace will never come.

We have to go back to philosophy to treat things as they are. We are suffering from our own karma. It is not the fault of God. What we do is our own fault, nothing else. Why should God be blamed?

Fill the brain with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work.

Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark.

Desire, ignorance, and inequality—this is the trinity of bondage.

We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful toward those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent. These attitudes will make the mind peaceful.

Every action that helps us manifest our divine nature more and more is good; every action that retards it is evil.

We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise.

Are great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience, and indomitable will must show.

Great work requires great and persistent effort for a long time. … Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles.

Even the greatest fool can accomplish a task if it were after his or her heart. But the intelligent ones are those who can convert every work into one that suits their taste.

Those who grumble at the little thing that has fallen to their lot to do will grumble at everything. Always grumbling they will lead a miserable life…. But those who do their duty putting their shoulder to the wheel will see the light, and higher and higher duties will fall to their share.

Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power.

Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.

Watch people do their most common actions; these are indeed the things that will tell you the real character of a great person.

“Comfort” is no test of truth; on the contrary, truth is often far from being “comfortable”.

Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself.

We came to enjoy; we are being enjoyed. We came to rule; we are being ruled. We came to work; we are being worked. All the time, we find that. And this comes into every detail of our life.

We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough. You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free, ever blessed. Have faith enough and you will be free in a minute.

A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century.

Stand as a rock; you are indestructible. You are the Self (atman), the God of the universe.

Stand upon the Self, only then can we truly love the world. Take a very high stand; knowing our universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world.

"I am the thread that runs through all these pearls," and each pearl is a religion or even a sect thereof. Such are the different pearls, and God is the thread that runs through all of them; most people, however, are entirely unconscious of it.

Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourselves. Therefore, make your own future.

It is the patient building of character, the intense struggle to realize the truth, which alone will tell in the future of humanity.

If there is one word that you find coming out like a bomb from the Upanishads, bursting like a bombshell upon masses of ignorance, it is the word “fearlessness.”

Be a hero. Always say, “I have no fear.” Tell this to everyone—“Have no fear.”

The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration.

Work and worship are necessary to take away the veil, to lift off the bondage and illusion.

The powers of the mind should be concentrated and the mind turned back upon itself; as the darkest places reveal their secrets before the penetrating rays of the sun, so will the concentrated mind penetrate its own innermost secrets.

It is the cheerful mind that is persevering. It is the strong mind that hews its way through a thousand difficulties.

The mind is but the subtle part of the body. You must retain great strength in your mind and words.

All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind.

Knowledge can only be got in one way, the way of experience; there is no other way to know.

However we may receive blows, and however knocked about we may be, the Soul is there and is never injured. We are that Infinite.

Perfection is always infinite. We are the Infinite already. You and I, and all beings, are trying to manifest that infinity.

Blows are what awaken us and help to break the dream. They show us the insufficiency of this world and make us long to escape, to have freedom.

So long as there is desire or want, it is a sure sign that there is imperfection. A perfect, free being cannot have any desire.

The more you think of yourself as shining immortal spirit, the more eager you will be to be absolutely free of matter, body, and senses. This is the intense desire to be free.

The Self when it appears behind the universe is called God. The same Self when it appears behind this little universe—the body—is the soul.

As body, mind, or soul, you are a dream; you really are Being, Consciousness, Bliss (satchidananda). You are the God of this universe.

The essence of Vedanta is that there is but one Being and that every soul is that Being in full, not a part of that Being.

As soon as I think that I am a little body, I want to preserve it, to protect it, to keep it nice, at the expense of other bodies; then you and I become separate.

Truth does not pay homage to any society, ancient or modern. Society has to pay homage to Truth or die.

If superstition enters, the brain is gone.

Superstition is our great enemy, but bigotry is worse.

A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean, carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we may at times float aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss.

God is self-evident, impersonal, omniscient, the Knower and the Master of nature, the Lord of all. He is behind all worship and it is being done according to Him, whether we know it or not.

As soon as you know the voice and understand what it is, the whole scene changes. The same world which was the ghastly battlefield of maya is now changed into something good and beautiful.

Delusion will vanish as the light becomes more and more effulgent, load after load of ignorance will vanish, and then will come a time when all else has disappeared and the sun alone shines.

Come out into the broad light of day, come out from the little narrow paths, for how can the infinite soul rest content to live and die in small ruts?

Come out into the universe of Light. Everything in the universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love. If you every felt you wanted to do that, you have felt God.

This is no world. It is God Himself. In delusion we call it world.

Understanding human nature is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing it can we know God. It is also a fact that the knowledge of God is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing God can we understand human nature.

This is the great lesson that we are here to learn through myriads of births and heavens and hells—that there is nothing to be asked for, desired for, beyond one’s spiritual Self (atman).

Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through selfless work.

Strength is the sign of vigor, the sign of life, the sign of hope, the sign of health, and the sign of everything that is good. As long as the body lives, there must be strength in the body, strength in the mind, strength in the hand.

Impurity is a mere superimposition under which your real nature has become hidden. But the real you is already perfect, already strong.

If you want to have life, you have to die every moment for it. Life and death are only different expressions of the same thing looked at from different standpoints; they are the falling and the rising of the same wave, and the two form one whole.

Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.

Religion as a science, as a study, is the greatest and healthiest exercise that the human mind can have.

The varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage us to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making a successful appeal to the divine instinct in all of us.

Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business.

Look upon every man, woman, and everyone as God. You cannot help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord Himself, if you have the privilege.

Are you unselfish? That is the question. If you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into a single church or temple.

Nature, body, mind go to death, not we. We neither go nor come. The man Vivekananda is in nature, is born and dies; but the Self we see as Vivekananda is never born and never dies. It is the eternal and unchangeable Reality.

The less passion there is, the better we work. The calmer we are the better for us and the more the amount of work we can do. When we let loose our feelings, we waste so much energy, shatter our nerves, disturb our minds, and accomplish very little work.

Knowledge can only be got in one way, the way of experience; there is no other way to know.

There is no help for you outside of yourself; you are the creator of the universe. Like the silkworm you have built a cocoon around yourself…. Burst your own cocoon and come out aw the beautiful butterfly, as the free soul. Then alone you will see Truth.

Have you got the will to surmount mountain-high obstructions? If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and, above all, love.

Our first duty is not to hate ourselves, because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. Those who have no faith in themselves can never have faith in God.

Every individual is a center for the manifestation of a certain force. This force has been stored up as the resultant of our previous works, and each one of us is born with this force at our back.

Why are people so afraid? The answer is that they have made themselves helpless and dependent on others. We are so lazy, we do not want to do anything ourselves. We want a Personal God, a Savior or a Prophet to do everything for us.

I fervently wish no misery ever came near anyone; yet it is that alone that gives us an insight into the depths of our lives, does it not? In our moments of anguish, gates barred forever seem to open and let in many a flood of light.

Religion has no business to formulate social laws and insist on the difference between beings, because its aim and end is to obliterate all such fictions and monstrosities.

Is there any sex-distinction in the Atman (Self)? Out with the differentiation between man and woman—all is Atman! Give up the identification with the body, and stand up!

He whom the sages have been seeking in all these places is in our own hearts; the voice that you heard was right, says Vedanta, but the direction you gave to the voice was wrong.

The essential thing in religion is making the heart pure; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, but only the pure in heart can see the King. While we think of the world, it is only the world for us; but let us come to it with the feeling that the world is God, and we shall have God.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reading History ...

I have been reading a lot of books and articles related to historical figures lately. I have read books on Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Vivekanand, Ambedkar, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gandhiji, Karl Marx etc..

All these historical figures give a different perspective of looking at different problems that the current society faces. Most of these reading were made so that I could understand how these different figures thought, their decision making abilities, their ways of thinking.

I get too many questions daily and such readings help as they keep me motivated that yes, I am thinking on the correct path and my questions are valid and soon there would be answers to the questions that I have in my mind. Its a big relief.

One good observation about history books is, many of these books are written by ardent followers and many times tend to get biased towards the figure. A good books should question the person from different angle and be able to portray him in as much rational manner as possible.

History is important. It gives us lot of teachings and revisiting it some times in between could solve lot of unsolved questions that occur to many people in daily life. Point is how to find the correct context to look for. Its a tough question, but soon with enough practice people get used to the exercise and could get the correct directions.