Chintan


Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Conversely, there is the law of “nishkama karma” it says that for every action in which there is no embedded expectation, there is a reaction that is far greater than the action. This comes from a source other than that which is being acted upon. Newton’s third law can be experimentally proved while the law of “nishkama karma” can be proven experientially. Check out things through experience. It is a very powerful mechanism for validating the truth. Do put in ten percent of your time and money on something from which you don’t expect anything and watch the beautiful result....

Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of the finest human beings I have ever met. He was a great musician – we all know that. But he used music to transcend it. “Yeh to ek ibadat hai (This is just a prayer)”, he would say. He was on a different level, and it showed on his face – almost childlike and smiling. At namaaz time, he would request all guests to leave. He was one of the most beautiful examples of our composite heritage. Sitting with him in his small barsati room in Varanasi, he once told me that he was playing the shehnai on the banks of the Ganges one day when the Goddess Ganga rose out of the waters and blessed him for the lovely note that he had played....

One often wonders why our ancestors called the world an illusion when in fact it seems so real! Watching a close relative with her newly acquired daughter suddenly provided me with an answer. The mind keeps on flitting when actually we want it to be fixed as expressed in a Beatles song “To keep my mind from wandering”… This is an extremely difficult task and even after many years of medita¬tion, great people have failed in this endeavor.
Hence nature has worked out many little illusions that we can easily focus upon and thereby temporarily be in a state of bliss. When people get married, their immediate focus is on physical pleasures; when the newness of that dies down,...

Today the young person has got a lot of freedom to explore. With the internet, the mobile phone and the television the youth is being exposed to the best and the worst at a very early age. In previous generations, social and familial structures had created some norms based on the experience which had to be adhered to. But with globalization, all rules have broken down and the inexperienced teenager (or even sometimes the small child) is left to find her own way. There are many pitfalls to this availability of information and many unfortunate experiences which can be avoided if we have a wise guide who has traversed almost the same path as we are currently on. We call such a person a 'Guru'....
A young person today is much more aware than someone a few decades ago. This could be due to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and the technological revolution. However, time is required for information to become knowledge. A greater time lag is needed for it to transform into wisdom. Once a direction becomes clear through knowledge, a lot of hard work is required to acquire wisdom. The process also needs patience, a certain degree of faith and an open mind, all of which are at a premium today. Consequently, a bright and hard¬working young person is likely to fall into the trap of ‘I know it all’. This forecloses the possibility of progress.Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar would say, “Hum bacche ko chaalis saal takstage par nahin aane dete the, ¬kahin wo bhul na jaye wo kis liye gaa rahahai” (“We did not allow the disciple to go onstage till he was 40 years old, lest he forgot why he was singing”)....
As a child, my parents took me to many ashrams. I have fond memories of watching The Mother playing tennis at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, of the smell of freshly baked brown bread and of witnessing the table football game there. I remember the serenity of the Shahenshahi Ashram in Rajpur, the beautiful bhajans of the Swamiji and the gushing waterfall not very far away. The Shivananda Ashram in Rishikesh was very special. Swami Chidananda had an all-pervading glow in his eyes. He would attract people without speaking a word.
As I grew up, I visited ashrams in different parts of the world all by myself. I went to the retreat of Swami Muktananda in the Catskill mountains in New York, stayed at a monastery in France where the monks meditated with Gregorian chants, practiced dhrupad at the ashram of Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar in Kolkata and Ustad Fariduddin Dagar at Panvel,...

Swami Vivekananda once asked Swami Ramakrishna how he could also see God. Swami Ramakrishna replied that experience (anubhav) was one of the greatest aspects of life. It is through this that one can have a glimpse of the Almighty. He went on to say that Swami Vivekananda had read too much and that came in his way not allowing him to experience the truth. This day and age is particularly designed for ‘experience’. Faith has fallen to an all-time low and can only be revived in an individual by his or her own personal experience. And the experience has to be of the bad as much as it has to be of the good. The road to heaven lies through hell; hence one should not hesitate to experience the worst,...

When Ustad Asad Ali Khan passed away a few years ago, it suddenly struck me that future generations would not possibly hear the Rudra Veena played in the majestic ‘Khandarvani’ style, that he had mastered. A legacy passed down through many generations has only one doubtful inheritor. When the tiger was getting extinct the dwindling numbers were carefully recorded & great efforts were & are being made to make sure that our children and their progeny do not miss out on this beautifully evolved animal. However, a treasure chest of our heritage has just disappeared and very little attention is being paid to this fact. It may be argued that Darwin’s theory of evolution would necessitate the birth of new forms emerging from the old....

An era has ended with the passing away of Ustad Rahim Fahimmuddin Dagar. Artistes of his times like Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur , Smt. Gangubai Hangal, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Pt. Ram Chatur Mallicik, Ustad Nasir Aminuddin Dagar, Ustad Asad Ali  Khan & other’s used music to transcend the form. They had reached a stage when they had very few desires left. I remember visiting Pt. Ram Chatur Mallk’s residence in Darbhanga, Ustad Bismillah Khan’s barsati room in Varanasi & Smt. Gangubai Hangal’s little house in Dharwad. The common factor was the simplicity and bare minimum of creature comforts with which they seemed perfectly satisfied. Despite having very little,...
To My Dear Student
When I go to teach a class today there are, largely speaking, two types of responses which I get. The first one is when there is no response, where the student has already decided that Mathematics is not for her & she has switched off. The second is where the question is asked before my sentence is over and a complete answer is expected.
When I was doing my PhD at Columbia University in New York, one of the top Statisticians in the world, Prof. David Siegmund was taking my class on Probability. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to understand what he was teaching. After about a month, I went to his chamber & told him about my predicament....