Thursday, April 11, 2024

Navratri - culture and science behind it

The term "Navratri" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "Nav" (meaning nine) and "Ratri" (meaning night), symbolizing a celebration of the divine feminine power in nine forms, also known as the avatars of Goddess Durga - the ultimate feminine power. The festival occurs twice a year, during the transitional seasons of spring and fall, aligning with the equinoxes recognized by various cultures worldwide.

The first day of spring Navratri marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, known as Varsha Pratipada, with various regional names across India. The festival is observed through fasting and the consumption of only specific fruits and Saatvik (pure and wholesome) foods. The nine forms of the divine goddess represent distinct aspects of her divine nature:

  1. Shailaputri: Known as the "Mother of Nature," she embodies purity and innocence.
  2. Brahmacharini: Bestows success and victory upon her devotees.
  3. Chandraghanta: Represents courage and strength, promoting justice and righteousness.
  4. Kushmanda: Brings energy and light to the world.
  5. Skandamata: The mother of Kartikeya, a deity associated with yoga and spiritual advancement, also known as the “god of war.”
  6. Katyayani: A fierce form of Durga, she dispels darkness and evil, bringing peace to her devotees.
  7. Kalaratri: Known for her menacing form, she provides fearlessness and favorable outcomes.
  8. Mahagauri: Symbolizes tranquility and serenity, alleviating the suffering of her devotees.
  9. Siddhidatri: Grants happiness and wisdom while instilling devotion in the hearts of her followers.

Navratri serves as both a cultural and scientific milestone, marking natural and astronomical events embedded in tradition. Observed for thousands of years, the festival recognizes the impact of weather changes on our biological rhythms, including sleep-wake cycles, during the period.

As the seasons change, our immunity tends to weaken. Exposure to extreme temperatures can impact the immune system's strength. Studies suggest that seasonal changes influence the composition of our blood, fat, and immune cells.

During Navratri, practitioners engage in intermittent fasting (upvas) for nine days and consume satvik foods known for their purity and wholesomeness. These foods aid in cleansing the body and providing rest for the digestive system.

Experts recommend fasting during Navratri for its detoxifying benefits, as it aligns with scientific principles. The practice involves giving the digestive system a break by eating lightly or fasting occasionally throughout the week. This fasting process allows the intestines to cleanse and strengthens their lining.


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Relevance of Lord Ram in today’s world

The relevance of Lord Ram and his principles and teachings in today's world is profound and multifaceted. Lord Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hindu mythology, epitomizes righteousness, virtue, and adherence to dharma (duty or moral law). His life story, as narrated in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, offers timeless lessons that continue to inspire and guide people across the world.

Moral and Ethical Integrity

One of the most significant teachings of Lord Ram is the importance of moral and ethical integrity. In an age where ethical boundaries are frequently challenged and blurred, Lord Ram's unwavering commitment to truth and righteousness serves as a guiding light. His decision to undergo a 14-year exile, honoring his father's promise, exemplifies supreme sacrifice and adherence to one's word, principles that are invaluable in both personal and professional spheres today.

Duty and Responsibility

Lord Ram's life is a testament to the fulfillment of duties and responsibilities, regardless of the personal costs. His respect for relationships, be it as a son, a brother, a husband, or a ruler, underscores the significance of duty above personal desires and ambitions. In the contemporary context, this principle encourages individuals to uphold their responsibilities towards their families, communities, and nations with dedication and integrity.

Leadership and Governance

As a ruler, Lord Ram's governance was marked by fairness, prosperity, and welfare for all, epitomizing the ideal king. His leadership style is a blueprint for modern leaders, emphasizing the importance of benevolence, justice, and the well-being of subjects. In today's world, where leadership often comes under scrutiny, Ram's model of leadership inspires leaders to be empathetic, just, and service-oriented.

Compassion and Forgiveness

Lord Ram's interactions with even the lowliest of creatures and his enemies highlight his compassion and capacity for forgiveness. His treatment of Shabari, a devotee from a tribal background, and his readiness to forgive even those who wronged him, like Ravana's brother Vibhishana, teach the value of empathy, inclusiveness, and forgiveness in a divided world.

Balancing Personal and Professional Life

Lord Ram's life also illustrates the balance between personal commitments and professional duties. Despite his personal trials, including the separation from his wife, Sita, he never let his personal sorrow interfere with his kingly duties. This balance is particularly relevant today, as individuals strive to manage personal challenges while fulfilling their professional roles.


In essence, Lord Ram and his teachings are incredibly relevant in today's complex and fast-paced world. His life encourages individuals to adhere to the path of righteousness, fulfill their duties, lead with compassion and integrity, and maintain a balance between personal and professional life. As humanity grapples with ethical dilemmas, social injustices, and leadership crises, Lord Ram's principles offer a beacon of hope and a roadmap to a more ethical, responsible, and compassionate society.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Ayodhya Ram Temple: Echoes of Past Wounds and Seeds of New Hope in the Hindu Psyche

The inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, a monument etched upon a land scarred by the chisels of conflict, reverberates with poignant resonance within the soul of India's Hindu populace. It is a narrative spun from the threads of ancient trauma, colonial scars, and an unyielding yearning for cultural resurgence. To grasp its profound impact, we must first delve into the festering wounds that whisper within the collective Hindu memory.

The centuries of Muslim invasions in India are etched like indelible brushstrokes upon the Hindu canvas. Tales of desecrated temples, forced conversions, and subjugation under foreign rule remain potent sagas, passed down through generations like treasured heirlooms. The Babri Masjid, which once stood on the contested Ayodhya soil, became a potent symbol of this historical suffering, a stark reminder of the perceived erasure of sacred Hindu space.

British colonialism, with its penchant for divide-and-conquer, further stoked these smoldering anxieties. While initially exploiting existing fissures, the British later attempted to forge a singular "Indian" identity, often perceived by Hindus as a dilutive cocktail that threatened to drown their unique cultural heritage. The marginalization of Hindu traditions and the privileging of Western values fueled a potent sense of cultural oppression, a yearning for self-determination that resonated like a whispered prayer.

The Babri Masjid's demolition in 1992 became a tragic flashpoint, a stark eruption of the molten emotions simmering beneath the surface. While it sparked communal violence that marred the nation's fabric, it also ignited a powerful Hindu nationalist movement, fueled by the desire to reclaim lost glory and assert a distinct Hindu identity.

The protracted legal battle and the eventual construction of the Ram Mandir resonated on multiple levels for the Hindu community. For many, it was a vindication, a reclamation of stolen history, a testament to their unwavering resilience. The Ayodhya verdict was seen as a triumph of faith, a hard-won victory in a long-fought resistance against perceived historical injustices.

The temple's inauguration, then, signifies a closure of sorts, a balm applied to a deep wound. Yet, it is not without its complexities. The unresolved grievances of Muslim communities and the potential for renewed Hindu-Muslim tensions cast long shadows over the celebrations.

Moreover, the temple's association with Hindu nationalism raises disquieting concerns about the potential marginalization of other religious and cultural groups within India's vibrant tapestry. The narrative of "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu nation) can breed exclusiveness, a dangerous echo chamber that threatens to undermine the nation's secular fabric.

The true impact of the Ram Mandir on the Hindu psyche will unfold in the years to come. Will it be a bridge to reconciliation and inclusivity, or will it exacerbate existing divisions? Will it empower the Hindu community or fuel further marginalization? The answers lie in the choices made by Hindus themselves, in how they choose to interpret and embody the meaning of this sacred space.

The Ram Mandir stands as a powerful symbol, not only of historical grievances but also of the potential for healing and unity. It is a stark reminder of the importance of acknowledging the past while forging a future that embraces diversity and inclusivity. Ultimately, the Hindu community's ability to reconcile these diverse strands within its own psyche will determine the temple's true legacy in the tapestry of Indian identity.

This revised essay aims to present a balanced perspective on the complex issue of the Ram Mandir, employing precise and evocative language to engage the reader. The inclusion of a thesaurus has enriched the vocabulary, while carefully chosen imagery adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative. By acknowledging the pain of the past while emphasizing the potential for renewal, the essay strives to leave readers with a sense of cautious hope for the future of India's diverse and vibrant society.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Impact of AI on Canadian Economy - a short essay

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing industries around the world, and Canada is no exception. As a country known for its progressive approach to technology and innovation, Canada is uniquely positioned to harness the benefits of AI, while also facing significant challenges. This essay examines the potential implications of AI on the Canadian economy, focusing on job losses, productivity improvements, economic growth opportunities, and the sectors most exposed to disruption.

Job Losses and the Skills Gap
One of the most pressing concerns about AI is its potential to automate jobs. In Canada, sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and transportation could see significant job losses due to automation. A study by the Brookfield Institute estimated that 42% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being affected by automation. This transformation could lead to a skills gap, where the workforce lacks the necessary skills to transition into new roles created by AI. To mitigate this, Canada needs to invest in retraining programs and education systems that emphasize skills compatible with an AI-driven economy, such as data analysis, machine learning, and critical thinking.

Productivity Improvements
Conversely, AI has the potential to dramatically improve productivity. In sectors like healthcare, AI can help in diagnosing diseases more accurately and quickly, leading to better patient outcomes and more efficient use of resources. In the IT sector, AI-driven tools can optimize network management and data analysis, leading to increased efficiency. These improvements could boost Canada's GDP significantly, as higher productivity leads to increased economic output.

Economic Growth Opportunities
AI presents substantial economic growth opportunities for Canada. The country's strong AI research community, particularly in cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton, attracts global talent and investment. This can lead to the development of new industries and the expansion of existing ones. For instance, the application of AI in natural resource management could revolutionize sectors like forestry and mining, which are significant contributors to Canada’s economy. Furthermore, Canada’s commitment to ethical AI and data privacy could position it as a leader in responsible AI development, attracting companies and researchers who value these principles.

Sectors Most Exposed to Disruption
While AI presents opportunities, it also poses disruption risks, particularly in sectors slow to adapt. Retail, transportation, and customer service are highly susceptible to AI and automation. For instance, e-commerce platforms using AI for personalized shopping experiences could disrupt traditional retail stores. Similarly, autonomous vehicles could significantly impact transportation and logistics sectors. Financial services are also at risk, with AI capable of automating tasks like loan underwriting and risk assessment.

Mitigating the Negative Impacts
To mitigate the negative impacts, Canada needs a strategic approach. This includes investing in AI research and development to stay at the forefront of innovation, implementing policies that support workers displaced by AI, and fostering a culture of lifelong learning. Additionally, ethical considerations and AI governance should be prioritized to ensure the benefits of AI are distributed equitably across society.

The advent of AI presents a transformative moment for the Canadian economy. While it brings the promise of increased productivity and new economic opportunities, it also poses significant challenges, particularly in job displacement and sectoral disruption. Canada's response to these challenges should be multifaceted, involving investment in education and skills training, research and development, and ethical governance of AI technologies. By doing so, Canada can not only mitigate the risks associated with AI but also position itself as a global leader in the AI-driven economy of the future.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dopamine secretion linked to addiction

Is it fair to link dopamine secretion to addiction ?

Dopamine is generally released in our brain when we are happy, satisfied, content, loved and similar positive events happen to us or around us.

Recent reports/ media coverage seem to constantly indicate that whatever item (cigerette, alcohol, drugs, smartphone, incoming messages/emails, social media attention received) makes us happy, or triggers a positive event in our brain, its equivalent to addiction.

Recently, I was listening to some podcast, where a renowned speaker used the analogy of instant messaging. He linked receiving a response to an instant message with additiction, because both trigger dopamine secration in our brain.

Things that make us happy, don't necessarily fall into the category of addiction.  addiction is a different beast, needs to be seen as such and handled as such.  If we generalize the problem of addition to a simple hormone secretion we are doing a disservice to many a things that simply give us joy and have no link to addiction.

Think of it this way, going to park makes me happy. I tend to go to a park or a green area as much as I can, and every time I am around trees / greenery, it makes me very happy.

Another example, I live a few thousand kilometres away from my immediate family members.  Every time I send / receive a message to one of them, I feel joyous, happy, elated (read - secretion of dopamine), does that mean I am addicted to "messaging them" ?

or does this mean that I am addicted to "going to park/greens" ~

I disagree, and would surely not want to be called an addict based on this theory.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rudhashtak - Sanskrit / Hindi - Devnagari script

नमामीशमीशान निर्वाणरूपं विभुं व्यापकं ब्रह्मवेदस्वरूपम I निजं निर्गुणं निर्विकल्पं निरीहं चिदाकाशमाकाशवासं भजेअहम II निराकारमोंकारमूलं तुरीयं गिरा घ्य़ान गोतीतमीशं गिरीशम I करालं महाकाल कालं कृपालं गुणागार संसारपारं नतोअहम II तुश्हाराद्रि संकाश गौरं गभीरं मनोभूत कोटिप्रभा श्री शरीरम I स्फुरन्मौलि कल्लोलिनी चारु गङ्गा लसद्भालबालेन्दु कण्ठे भुजङ्गा II चलत्कुण्डलं भ्रूसुनेत्रं विशालं प्रसन्नाननं नीलकण्ठं दयालम I मृगाधीशचर्माम्बरं मुण्डमालं प्रियं शंकरं सर्वनाथं भजामि II प्रचण्डं प्रकृश्ह्टं प्रगल्भं परेशं अखण्डं अजं भानुकोटिप्रकाशम I त्रयः शूल निर्मूलनं शूलपाणिं भजे.अहं भवानीपतिं भावगम्यम II कलातीत कल्याण कल्पान्तकारी सदा सज्जनानन्ददाता पुरारी I चिदानन्द संदोह मोहापहारी प्रसीद प्रसीद प्रभो मन्मथारी II न यावत उमानाथ पादारविन्दं भजन्तीह लोके परे वा नराणाम I न तावत सुखं शान्ति सन्तापनाशं प्रसीद प्रभो सर्वभूताधिवासम II न जानामि योगं जपं नैव पूजां नतो.अहं सदा सर्वदा शम्भु तुभ्यम I जरा जन्म दुःखौघ तातप्यमानं प्रभो पाहि आपन्नमामीश शम्भो II रुद्राश्ह्टकमिदं प्रोक्तं विप्रेण हरतोश्हये I ये पठन्ति नरा भक्त्या तेश्हां शम्भुः प्रसीदति II