Saturday, March 31, 2018

May God bless Australian ex vice-captain David Warner and help him recover; In public statement to cricket fans, Warner sincerely apologizes for betrayal of their trust and hopes to earn their respect again; He takes full responsibility for his part

Warner apologises but leaves out the detail, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-j-vLU8XtU, around 11 mins by cricket.com.au dated 30th March 2018.

Given below is the transcript of David Warner's statement which starts from the beginning of above video. I have not provided the Q & A transcript.

[Australian ex vice-captain David Warner:] First of all I'd like to thank you all for coming this morning.

To the fans and the lovers of the game who have supported and inspired me on my journey as a cricketer, I want to sincerely apologise for betraying your trust in me. I have let you down badly. I hope in time I can find a way to repay you for all you've given me and possibly earn your respect again.

To my teammates and support staff, I apologise for my actions and I take full responsibility for my part in what happened on day three in the Newlands Test. To Cricket Australia, I apologise for my actions and the effect it has had on our game under your care and control. I want you to know that I fully support your review into the culture of the Australian cricket team. To South Africa - the players, administrators and fans - I apologise unreservedly for my part in this and I am sorry. I brought the game into disrepute on your soil. South Africa is a fine cricketing nation and deserves better from its guests and deserves better from me.

To all Australians, whether you're a cricket fan or not, I apologise for my actions. I'm sorry for the impact those actions have had on our country's reputation. I can honestly say I have only ever wanted to bring glory to my country through playing cricket. In striving to do so, I have made a decision which has had the opposite effect and it's one that I'll regret for as long as I live. I do realise that I'm responsible for my own actions and the consequences that that brings. It's heartbreaking to know that I will not be taking the field with my teammates that I love and respect and that I have let down. Right now it is hard to know what comes next but first and foremost, [David Warner becomes very emotional and struggles to speak] is the wellbeing of my family.

In the back of my mind, I suppose there is a tiny ray of hope that I may one day be given the privilege of playing for my country again but I'm resigned to the fact that that may never happen (again). But in the coming weeks and months, I'm going to look at how this has happened and who I am as a man. To be honest, I am not sure right now how I will do this. I will seek out advice and expertise to help me make serious changes. I want to apologise to my family. Especially my wife and daughters. Your love means more than anything to me, I know I would not be anything without you. I'm very sorry for putting you through this and I promise you that I'll never put you in this position again.

Before I take questions, I want to again say thank you, I take full responsibility for my part in what happened and I am deeply sorry for the consequences of what I was involved in. I failed in my responsibilities as vice-captain of the Australian cricket team.

--- end statement of Australian ex vice-captain David Warner ---

Ravi: Like in the case of Australian ex captain Steve Smith's similar media interaction (here's my post on it: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2018/03/may-god-bless-australian-captain-steve.html), I am deeply touched by the suffering that Mr. David Warner is going through now. I think it is genuine suffering as he seems to have realized the consequences of his actions as part of the team leadership (vice-captain).

Mr. Warner has done the absolutely right thing by accepting responsibility for his role in the ball-tampering cheating that took place and which was allegedly suggested by him. In this conference, Mr. Warner did not touch upon whether he made that suggestion even when questioned about it. He was asked "Did you orchestrate this scandal? Was it your idea?" Mr. Warner responded: "As I said, I'm here to take full responsibility for the part that I played in this. It's extremely regrettable, I'm very sorry. I really just want to move on from this." [Ref: https://www.cricket.com.au/news/david-warner-press-conference-transcript-steve-smith-cameron-bancroft-ball-tampering/2018-03-31.]

My view is that we should not dig further. Both Smith and Warner have profusely apologized, understood the grave consequences of their actions which have brought disrepute to the game at the top international level and tarnished Australian cricket and Australian sport, and seem to have accepted the 12 month suspension punishment given (as they have not suggested an appeal). They and their families (and perhaps friends too) are going through excruciating agony now. I think the cricketing fraternity (players, administrators, commentators, writers, sponsors and fans) should now give all three persons - Smith, Warner and Bancroft - the emotional space to recover from this crisis in their lives.

I repeat what I wrote in my post about Steve Smith media interaction: We all make mistakes. I certainly have made more than my fair share of mistakes in life, and may still trip up in future. The important thing is to recognize that the mistake was made, apologize to those who have been hurt by the mistake, seek forgiveness, and then move on with life with a determination to avoid repeating that mistake.
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Warner has not explicitly asked for forgiveness but there is no doubt whatsoever that he is repenting for the grave error he made. He has also clearly accepted that he made a grave error and has apologized profusely for it.

Therefore, in my considered opinion, David Warner now deserves full support from the cricket community worldwide to help him recover. I earnestly pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on David Warner and his family and friends who have been impacted by this matter, and help them recover from it.

[I thank cricket.com.au (and David Warner) and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above transcript-snippet from their video on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Friday, March 30, 2018

Was Dire Straits' 1980s hit song - 'Money for nothing and your chicks for free' - an inappropriate lifestyle promotion statement/song? A conversation on it

Last updated on 31st March 2018

Note: Readers who prefer not to read about rock song lyrics which refer to ladies as 'chicks', may please skip reading rest of this post.

Extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_for_Nothing_(song) :

"Money for Nothing" is a single by British rock band Dire Straits, taken from their 1985 studio album Brothers in Arms. The song's lyrics are written from the point of view of two working-class men watching music videos and commenting on what they see. The song features a guest appearance by Sting singing background vocals, providing both the signature falsetto introduction and backing chorus of "I want my MTV." The groundbreaking video was the first to be aired on MTV Europe when the network launched on 1 August 1987.

It was Dire Straits' most commercially successful single, peaking at number 1 for three weeks in the United States, number 1 for three weeks on the US Top Rock Tracks chart and number 4 in the band's native UK. "Money for Nothing" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1986 at the 28th Annual Grammy Awards and the video won Video of the Year at the 3rd MTV Video Music Awards.

...

Mark Knopfler described the writing of the song in a 1984 interview with critic Bill Flanagan:

"The lead character in "Money for Nothing" is a guy who works in the hardware department in a television/​custom kitchen/​refrigerator/​microwave appliance store. He's singing the song. I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real...."

In 2000, Knopfler appeared on Parkinson on BBC One and explained again where the lyrics originated. According to Knopfler, he was in New York and stopped by an appliance store. At the back of the store, they had a wall of TVs which were all tuned to MTV. Knopfler said there was a man working there dressed in a baseball cap, work boots, and a checkered shirt delivering boxes who was standing next to him watching. As they were standing there watching MTV, Knopfler remembers the man coming up with lines such as "what are those, Hawaiian noises?...that ain't workin'," etc. Knopfler asked for a pen to write some of these lines down and then eventually put those words to music.[citation needed] The first-person narrating character in the lyrics refers to a musician "banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee" and a woman "stickin' in the camera, man we could have some fun". He describes a singer as "that little faggot with the earring and the make-up", and bemoans that these artists get "money for nothing and chicks for free".

Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx claimed that the song was about his band’s outrageous lifestyle. In an interview, he related an apocryphal story that the members of Dire Straits were in a store that sold televisions, and a row of TVs were all playing Mötley Crüe videos.

--- end extracts ---

Here are the lyrics of the song: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/direstraits/moneyfornothing.html.

The key line in the song in the context of this post is "Money for nothin' and your chicks for free".

Given below is a recent conversation I had with Himy Misra on Facebook (Himy was OK with public sharing):

Himy put up a post with these contents:
thats the
way you do it.
[Post had the following link:
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTP2RUD_cL0, around 5 mins. published by DireStraitsVEVO on 23rd Feb. 2010, over 62 million views.]
---

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: This was a big, big hit among my software techies group in the second half of the 1980s, with most of us having spent significant time in the USA then.

"Money for nothing and your chicks for free" - the title line was a big lifestyle statement/philosophy in itself!
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Of course, it was a misleading statement and an inappropriate lifestyle promotion.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: The song was an in-demand one for any booze and/or shake-a-leg (I wouldn't call it dance) parties we had (mostly only the guys shaking-a-leg) then, both in the USA and in Mumbai.
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Himy Misra wrote: baba said not to eat meat, not to booze and not to smoke cigis. so i gave up all three in 1994 i think. baba is a tough taskmaster.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: I too quit meat and booze maybe around 1991-1992 as my digestive system health had nosedived impacting my life quite significantly. Took me longer to get rid of cigarettes. I was able to do that fully only around 1992-93, if I recall correctly. I think I had got rid of these habits almost fully, if not fully, before I came/was brought to Baba's fold perhaps around 1993-94.
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Himy Misra wrote: yes yes same for me ravi. i was at dharmakshetra and His message came to give up all three on one birthday.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Interesting!
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Himy Misra, I think our exchange being put up on my FB and blog posts may help some youngsters. May I share your post and comments on a public FB post and blog post on this?
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Himy Misra wrote: please feel free to share anything you want to Ravi.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Will do. Thanks.
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Himy Misra wrote: you know Ravi maybe the youngsters ought to take me as an example of how NOT to be.
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Ravi S. Iyer Himy, yes, that's what I meant - from the examples of both of us. How we went astray in our youth and got caught up in habits of smoking and drinking (occasionally). And how I (and perhaps you too) who did not eat meat (and had not smoked tobacco or drank alcohol) till I first went to Belgium when I was around 23 years of age, got into meat-eating.

And then how we got out of our habits some years later (in my case in the early 30s).

Stories of people giving up their earlier habits and changing are positive, and give hope to youngsters who may be currently caught up in the habits that you and I were caught up in. It is in that context that I am thinking of sharing our experiences.

And the Dire Straits 'Money for nothing and your chicks for free' lifestyle statement, in my case at least, played a small contributory role along with other things that I saw in the West in my twenties, that egged me to hold a view that such lifestyle statements are not wrong and that's what some in the West do. I think these did play a role in me holding on to those habits of smoking and drinking (occasionally) as not a bad thing to do (and helped me ignore the health warnings on cigarette packs).

Eventually I paid a price in terms of physical health due to these habits. Reality kicked in and forced me to come to the realization that the medical fraternity's health warnings on the cigarette packs were the truthful and wise words, and not lifestyle statements on the lines of 'Money for nothing and your chicks for free'!
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Himy Misra wrote (slightly edited): yes Baba is very kind and picks up folks gone astray. actually let me just clarify 'money for nothing and chiks for free' is just an observation by Mark Knofler of how the working class people, such as the type who shift furniture, tend to view rock stars. they think that playing a guitar amounts to nothing and they wish they had also learnt to play the guitar so they too could be rich and attract beautiful women. its Knofler being humble. He isnt really wanting us to adopt that lifestyle. just to be fair to Knofler who is an amazing artist. see his interview. he is a very beautiful, sensitive person and i think Andrew made me aware of this youtube. so appreciation to him. academic pressure pushed me into this stuff as a kind of coping strategy and not Knofler at least in my case:

[Mark Knopfler - Tracker – A Track by Track], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpNV5ECePg8
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Will see the youtube video later. Thanks for sharing.

I would not be surprised at all to know that the songwriter is a nice guy and does not really endorse the message in the song as a lifestyle promotion statement.

However, some foolish people (including me then in my twenties), did get that sort of view on listening to the song. I mean, I did not know the background of the song but went by the words in the song! And they were simple to understand :-). Money for nothing and the chicks for free :-). Not Alice in Wonderland but Desi guy in Wonderland perhaps :-).

And other songs in MTV during those days - 2nd half of the 80s - were as challenging to digest as this one, for a Desi guy like me (which perhaps was the case for many other Desis too). I mean, the hit Indian language film songs at that time had much more healthier lifestyle statements, even the romantic and the flashy ones.

The other big hit songs on MTV in those days, of this type were Material Girl by Madonna (release in 1985) and Bad by Michael Jackson (released in 1987). Their 'messages' were as challenging as the 'Money for nothing and the chicks for free' message, though I now understand Bad to be a mixed message one, where MJ is attempting to reform the bad gang types. But in those days when I heard it, the key line was, "I am bad"! :-). And the video was gangster stuff.

Fortunately we also had car radio with lovely FM stations like Boston/Massachusetts Easy Listening which gave guys like me exposure to Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley (Buffalo Soldier), Otis Redding (Sitting on the dock of the bay), and other much more meaningful lyrics contemporary singers. Note that in Bombay itself I had had some exposure to oldies like Beatles, Abba and through my elder sister, Cliff Richard etc.

But that's not what you got on MTV in the second half of the 1980s! At home on the telly it was MTV for songs (which I would get even in my 15 month stint in Belgium in 1985-86) and that was dominated by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Dire Straits etc. as they were hitting the top of the charts!
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: And I do think that I got a wrong impression about USA through MTV. It was too freaky. But I thought that to be a reflection of some reality in the USA.

Today, I think MTV represents only a portion of the listening and video watching public in the USA, even if that portion may be a significant amount.

And I also think that perhaps most of this listening public is able to not take the words of some of these freaky songs as any kind of message at all. But I am not sure about that.

In the past few years, I saw some USA rap stuff (if I got the name correctly) of the real freaky kind on youtube (sitting in Puttaparthi, India). I do hope that such stuff is not viewed as a lifestyle message by its listeners/viewers. Note that I am not saying that about all rap stuff as I believe there is fair amount of good message rap too. But there is some real freaky rap stuff out there!
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Himy Misra wrote: many IITians land up in the US thinking that chiks are waiting for them with garlands to welcome them. i think they had some wrong ideas. you heard some good music. its good to get out of the head and into the heart. these days i actually just hum bhajans. what i am posting here is my past coz am feeling a bit nostalgic these days for the good old days. i am just getting it out of my system.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Oh! I liked the music. I lacked the maturity then to focus on the music and not pay much attention to the lyrics of songs like these.

I am considering sharing such info. as I wanted to capture a rather frank memoir through these posts.

This is the journey of life that many travel on. It is in one's youth that one is vulnerable to misunderstanding some things based on superficial understanding. For me, that was the case with some parts of the Western world, especially the USA, as seen through glasses like that of MTV.

Even today, I like the energy of the music in these songs including that of Madonna and Michael Jackson. But I am wise enough now to filter out the lyrics of some of these songs as unimportant.

I should also say that some of these songs have a powerful message which I appreciated then and appreciate today too. I think 'Papa don't preach' of Madonna is one of such songs. The song boldly captures the reality that some young girls get into, and the song and video shows a positive way of it being handled.
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Himy Misra wrote: Madonna and MJ havent heard much. when we are young there was no one to guide. anyway, all the sai aunties tell me it would have been better if i had had a less wild time but what to do. its all karma. me like stuff like Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, Eagles, basically its now called classic rock. but now what really gives me peace are baba bhajans.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Noted your response Himy Misra. Just finished watching the Mark Knopfler video. It was very interesting. Thanks for sharing it.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Having walked down the Dire Straits memory path I revived my memories of two popular songs of it (from the same album as 'Money for nothing' - Brothers in Arms - if I am not mistaken) by listening to them again after at least a few years, I think. These songs had no issues of any misunderstanding of their lyrics :-), then and now. I enjoyed these songs then and now :-).

Walk of life - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd9TlGDZGkI
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: So far away - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIHMPc6ZCuI
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C Andrew Barker wrote (and was OK with public sharing): Interesting thread between you guys. Cool to see the 80's US music scene through desi eyes. IMO pop music started going downhill (and continues to do so) in the 80's from the heights of the English bands of the 60's and 70's. Mark Knopfler was a bit of an outlier as he is infinitely more musically gifted than his 80's peers. It is hilarious to construe any connection between when happened on MTV and normal American life, though it is easy to see how a naive newcomer might make that mistake.
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Himy Misra wrote: hollywood and MTV make American life look very enticing to desis thats true Andrew.
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Himy Misra wrote: but i got lots of family living there so i know the strong work ethic that runs America. i got no illusions now which i might have had as a college going desi guy.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): For me as a young early twenties fellow, first Western European life in Brussels, Belgium - around 15 months in 1985-86 - followed, after some time, with a couple of USA stints perhaps in 1987-1989 (I turned 25 in 1987) for a total of around 19 months living mainly in Nashua, New Hampshire but also Chelmsford, Massachusetts for some time, and assignment-working (as a consultant/contractor from my Mumbai company) in Lowell, Massachusetts at Wang Labs Headquarters there, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Laboratories, had a very great impact on me. These places in the West were extraordinary material successes as compared to my life in Dombivli (residence; working-class town close to Mumbai from where one could commute using jam-packed rush hour suburban trains to Mumbai) and Mumbai (work place) then. I mean, I was just floored by the comfortable lifestyle I and all my software industry (techie) colleagues from India had while I was in Brussels and more so while I was in the USA, in the above stints.

Yes, I could see some flaws of the West too. And I was into spiritual philosophy then itself (some rather immature understanding, but still some understanding, of Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads). And I did see the mechanical aspects of Western city/urban life. But all that melted into the background when I compared my life in Dombivli & Mumbai then with my comfy lifestyle in Brussels and North-East USA.

And so there was this great admiration in me for what I ***myself saw and experienced*** of the great material achievements of the Western world over a nearly 3 year period then in Belgium and the USA. I felt that India had a lot to learn from the West in this regard.

And so when I did see MTV and all those song-videos which were at or close to the top of the charts, I saw it as a feature of contemporary Western civilization. The energy of those songs were breath-taking as compared to what I had heard in Hindi film songs then. And so I think it was a little natural for me to get somewhat caught up in thinking that maybe these aspects of Western world as portrayed by song-videos played on MTV did reflect, I repeat reflect, some reality of the contemporary Western world which was way, way ahead of Indian world then, in material well being of its people.

Work hard, party hard (using MTV type songs) - that's the way to do it! Maybe that's the message I got then from these Western pop hit songs in my young and impressionable twenties. And in the international software techie world then, I think that was the lifestyle of quite a few. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the lifestyle of many young software techies in Bangalore, India today!
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: The (former) Wang Labs three towers office in Lowell, Massachusetts where I was privileged to consult/work in the second half of the 1980s: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Cross_Point_Towers%3B_northeast_side%3B_Lowell%2C_MA%3B_2011-09-11.JPG
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: C Andrew Barker, May I share your above comment on my free FB post and blog post (mentioned in earlier comments above)?
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C Andrew Barker wrote: Sure Ravi, though it wasn't any deep thoughts, just some idle musings.
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--- end conversation exchange between Himy Misra and me on Facebook with some additional input from C. Andrew Barker ---

Note that Himy Misra lives in Mumbai/Bombay and had studied engineering in IIT Bombay, if I recall correctly. C. Andrew Barker is based in the USA (as per his public Facebook profile info.).

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Learning opportunity from Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft's error in not questioning and rejecting unethical instruction of his senior to do ball tampering; Also applies especially to people in ashram systems with motto: Speak the truth; Follow ethics

More details on the ball tampering matter. It was NOT sticky tape but sandpaper!

And Australian vice-captain, David Warner, demonstrated how it should be done to Cameron Bancroft.

The article below also has the "full statement from Cricket Australia, the charges against the players and penalties imposed for ball-tampering".

CA says sandpaper was used to tamper, not sticky tape as Bancroft claimed, http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22940383/cricket-australia-says-sandpaper-was-used-tamper-not-sticky-tape-cameron-bancroft-claimed, 28th March 2018.

Ravi: Great job by Cricket Australia in sharing these details publicly. That's the way to go. I think this investigation can become the gold standard for how such cheating matters at top international cricket level, are investigated and reported to the public by associated country's cricket board/organization.
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A small extract from the article given below:
"Among Bancroft's biggest regrets is that he did not question the suggestion from his opening partner Warner that he attempt to rough up the ball with sandpaper, having never before been involved with ball tampering at any level of the game."

'I've given up my spot for free' - Bancroft, http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22950474/given-my-spot-free-cameron-bancroft.

Ravi: I think the big lesson for juniors, not only in cricket, but in other walks of life, is that untruthful and unethical (Asathya-Adharma) instructions from seniors should be ***rejected***, if one wants to preserve one's integrity. Blindly following the senior's unethical instructions may provide for temporary gain, but it compromises one's integrity.

Bancroft comprised his integrity by not questioning and rejecting David Warner's ***mad*** instruction to him to tamper the ball with sandpaper.

And what a price Bancroft has had to pay! Besides having his name go down in cricketing history as the key operative doing the ball-tampering cheating, he lost the place in the Australian cricket team that he would have worked so hard to earn! And he lost the money that goes with it, at least for the next nine months (unless he appeals and the decision is changed).

What a tragic outcome this could be, even from a financial perspective for the young cricketer, Bancroft!

Moral of the story for all juniors - Don't follow untruthful and unethical (Asathya-Adharma) instructions of your bosses, if you want to preserve your integrity and earn a good name for yourselves. And this has to be followed more particularly in ashram systems which claim loudly and proudly to follow truth and ethics (Sathyam Vada Dharmam Chara). Juniors in such systems should NOT ***fall prey*** to any Asathya-Adharma (untruthful and unethical) crook senior person who gives ball tampering like unethical instructions to them. Better to refuse to follow such instructions and protect one's Sathya-Dharma (truth and ethics) integrity even if one has to pay a heavy price like losing one's job or free service post in the ashram system - like what I did. I quit my free service post rather than follow unethical instructions of administrators. Sorry about mentioning that but I felt it appropriate to mention so readers know that I am not preaching something that I did not practice myself.

[I thank espncricinfo.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above small extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Thursday, March 29, 2018

May God bless Australian captain Steve Smith and help him recover; In public statement to all cricket fans, Steve Smith accepts responsibility as captain for ball-tampering decision mistake, says sorry and seeks forgiveness

Smith breaks down during emotional press conference, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmLBrhiZxLU, 4 min. 45 secs, published by cricket.com.au on 29th March 2018.

I have given below a transcript of the initial part of the video which is his full statement before he takes questions:

[Australian cricket captain, Steve Smith:] Good evening! Thanks for coming. [Appreciate it.]

To all of my teammates, to fans of cricket all over the world, and to all Australians, very disappointed and angry: I am sorry.

What happened in Cape Town [South Africa] has already been laid out by Cricket Australia. Tonight, I want to make clear that as captain of the Australian cricket team, I take full responsibility. I made a serious error of judgement and I now understand the consequences. It was a failure of leadership - my leadership. [Smith is visibly struggling to speak as he is overcome by emotion.]

I will do everything I can to make up for my mistake and the damage its caused. If any good comes of this, (if it) can be a lesson to others then I hope I can be a force for change.

I know I will regret this for the rest of my life. I am absolutely gutted. I hope in time, I can earn back respect and forgiveness.

I have been so privileged and honoured to represent my country and captain the Australian cricket team. Cricket is the greatest game in the world. It's been my life. And I hope it can be again.

I am sorry and I am absolutely devastated.

--- end Australian cricket captain Steve Smith's statement transcript ---

Ravi: I am deeply touched by the suffering that Mr. Steve Smith is going through now. I think it is genuine suffering as he seems to have realized the consequences of his actions as leader of the team. He has done the absolutely right thing by accepting responsibilty as the captain of the team for the ball-tampering cheating that took place with his agreement and perhaps even direction. He has not tried to shift blame to anybody else who may have made the suggestion (the name of the vice-captain, David Warner, is mentioned in the press reports in this regard but that is not confirmed).

It was his job as captain to NOT ONLY have rejected the suggestion (if that's how it happened) but also pull up whoever made the suggestion. The captain not only shows the way for ethical behaviour but has to call out unethical behaviour among his teammates and tell them sternly to correct themselves or else!

After accepting responsibility for his grave leadership ethical lapse, he humbly hopes to earn back respect and forgiveness from the cricket following community. He also talks about the possibility of being a force for change to prevent such matters from happening (in top-level professional international cricket games).

We all make mistakes. I certainly have made more than my fair share of mistakes in life, and may still trip up in future. The important thing is to recognize that the mistake was made, apologize to those who have been hurt by the mistake, seek forgiveness, and then move on with life with a determination to avoid repeating that mistake.

Steve Smith has done all that now, except for the moving on with life part which lies in the future. He has apologized to all cricket fans in the world!

Therefore, in my considered opinion, Steve Smith now deserves full support from the cricket community worldwide to help him recover. I earnestly pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on Steve Smith and his family and friends who have been impacted by this matter, and help them recover from it.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, must be thanked, IMHO, by all cricket fans worldwide (including me, though I don't get so much time nowadays to watch cricket), for having taken this matter up with the seriousness it deserves, and ensured that the right decisions were taken to penalize the guilty in a manner that has been visible not only to Australian fans but also to cricket (and perhaps other sports) fans from other parts of the world who are interested in this matter (like me, an Indian citizen living in India).
==================================

Contents of my Facebook post (slightly edited) about an earlier development in this matter, are given below:

Ball-tampering row: Cricket Australia bans Steve Smith, David Warner for 12 months, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/australia-in-south-africa/ball-tampering-row-cricket-australia-bans-steve-smith-david-warner-for-12-months/articleshow/63505254.cms, updated 28th March 2018.

A small extract from above article:
"Four days on from the damning ball-tampering controversy which erupted in front of a global audience in Cape Town, Cricket Australia (CA) has banned Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner for 12 months and handed a nine-month ban to Cameron Bancroft."

Ravi: Seems like a good decision to me. The players have the option to appeal the decision.

Kudos to Cricket Australia for quick and significant action.

[I thank cricket.com.au (and Steve Smith) and indiatimes.com, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above transcript-snippet and small extract from their video/website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

One of my favourite English pop songs - Stevie Wonder singing: I just called to say I love you

I have heard this song so many times since I heard it first in the second half of the 1980s, either when I was living in Belgium or when I was living in the USA. I think I never tire of listening to and enjoying this song. Thank you so much Stevie Wonder for the great joy you have given me with this song.

The official video: Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOU3bnuU0k, 4 min. 24 secs, published on 13th Dec. 2009, has over 100 million views.

About Stevie Wonder from his wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevie_Wonder

Stevland Hardaway Morris (né Judkins; born May 13, 1950), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he is considered to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown's Tamla label at the age of 11, and he continued performing and recording for Motown into the 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.

--- end wiki extract ---

From the song's wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Just_Called_to_Say_I_Love_You :

"I Just Called to Say I Love You" is a ballad written, produced, and performed by Stevie Wonder. It remains Wonder's best-selling single to date, having topped a record 19 charts.

The song was the lead single from the 1984 soundtrack album The Woman in Red, along with two other songs by Wonder, and scored number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks from October 13 to October 27, 1984. It also became his tenth number-one on the R&B chart, and his fourth on the adult contemporary chart; it spent three weeks atop both charts, and for the same weeks as on the Hot 100.

--- end wiki extract ---

Same song sung live in Japan, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYZKS8XUMuo, 5 min. 25 secs.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Dedication of Jains in Mumbai and Dombivli to their religion and its teachings of peace, harmony and non-violence are impressive

Mumbai and Dombivli (in Maharashtra state of India) where I lived, studied and worked (studied and worked only in Mumbai even when I was living in Dombivli), for most of the first four decades of my life, had quite a few Jains, and a few Jain temples as well! I also had a few Jain colleagues when I was working in the software industry!

Whatever I saw of the Jain community's dedication to their religion was impressive!

And then there were these extraordinary stories of young girls doing extraordinary fasts lasting for many days. One such case was in the same building as my aunt's flat in Sion area of Bombay/Mumbai in the 1980s.

I used to go for lunch quite regularly to my aunt's (mother's sister's) apartment flat-home when I was studying in Ruia College at Matunga (from around mid 1978 to mid 1983 doing junior college science studies followed by B.Sc. Physics) and perhaps even when I was doing my M.Sc. (Physics with Electronics specialization) at Khalsa college (Sion-Matunga area) for six months or so before I dropped out.

The building name, if I recall correctly, was Mahavir Kutir. At that time I did not dwell upon the name. But now as I recall it, of course the name indicates that the owner would most probably be a follower of Bhagwan Mahavir, one of the tirthankaras (great spiritual leaders would be a rough English translation, I guess) of the Jain religion.

So there were Jain families living in the building where my aunt was living. In the case of one Jain family in this building, one girl went on some extraordinary fast for many days - I think they don't even take water. It was the big talk of the building and perhaps area!

At that time, I don't recall exactly how I viewed it. On the one hand, there was the tremendous reverence for asceticism that was ingrained in almost every Indian, no matter what his religion, and that certainly was ingrained in me too. So, for sure, a part of me would have marvelled at a young Jain girl in Mumbai taking up such rigorous ascetic kind of discipline, even if it was temporary. Another part of me, which surely would have come from the Bombay/Mumbai materialistic world exposure, would have wondered whether she was doing the right thing in not enjoying the world at such a young age!

And then there would be talk about how some lady Jains leave their family to become sannyasinis (celibate nuns). And how they would pluck the hair from their head one hair at a time, as part of that process! That seemed too much for me then, as a young adult in Mumbai (I was turned 18 in 1980; so I was in my late teens and early twenties then).

Today, in my mid-fifties, with a lot more reading & video-viewing exposure and significant real-life exposure to spiritual life, ashram systems as well as religions, I have great reverence for the rigorous asceticism that is displayed by some Jains even today in this materialistic world of ours. For me at least, Jain ascetics display the highest level of ****real practice**** of asceticism in India today, which is a great source of inspiration for those who want to give up worldly life and focus on an ascetic life.

These Jain ascetics demonstrate that absolute or near-absolute mastery over the senses can be achieved even today in this very materialistic, early 21st century, world of ours.

Regarding Jain families, I have never ever heard of or seen a Jain family person (quite a few Jain families are into business and I recall quite a few Jain owned shops in Dombivli) get into violent and abusive language let alone indulge in violence! Now Mumbai and Dombivli have their fair share of violence with Mumbai having even gang wars with guys from rival gangs (and sometimes extortion targets who refuse to pay up) being killed by gunfire (pistol type guns usually NOT assault rifles). So it is I think an extraordinary tribute to Jain religion as practiced in the 20th and 21st century in and around Mumbai, that they have such a great record of peace, harmony and non-violence.

It seems to me that Jainism is far more active in India today than Buddhism. A software industry colleague of mine had shared some aspects of Jain religious history with me including telling me that Bhagawan Mahavir was not the founder of Jainism (which is what I had thought earlier) but a later tirthankara from many such Jain tirthankaras. He was right!

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavira :

Mahavira (/məˌhɑːˈvɪərə/; IAST: Bhagavān Mahāvīra), also known as Vardhamāna, was the twenty-fourth Tirthankara (ford-maker) of Jainism. In the Jain tradition, it is believed that Mahavira was born in the early part of the 6th century BC into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India. At the age of thirty, abandoning all worldly possessions, he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening and became an ascetic. For the next twelve and a half years, Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe austerities, after which he is believed to have attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience). He preached for thirty years, and is believed by Jains to have died in the 6th century BC. Scholars such as Karl Potter consider his biographical details as uncertain, with some suggesting he lived in the 5th century BC contemporaneously with the Buddha. Mahavira died at the age of 72 in Pawapuri (now Bihar), and his remains were cremated. According to the Jain tradition, Mahavira had 14,000 muni (male ascetics), 36,000 aryika (nuns), 159,000 sravakas (laymen), and 318,000 sravikas (laywomen) as his followers. Some of the royal followers included Srenika (popularly known as Bimbisara) of Magadha, Kunika of Anga (Ajatashatru), and Chetaka of Videha.

After he gained Kevala Jnana, Mahavira taught that the observance of the vows ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity), and aparigraha (non-attachment) is necessary for spiritual liberation. Mahavira taught that the doctrine of non-injury must cover all living beings, and causing injury to any being in any form creates bad karma which affects one's rebirth and future well-being and suffering. According to Mahatma Gandhi, Mahāvīra was the greatest authority on Ahimsa. He gave the principle of Anekantavada (many-sided reality), Syadvada and Nayavada. Mahavira taught that the soul is permanent and eternal with respect to dravya (substance) and impermanent with respect to paryaya (modes that originate and vanish). The teachings of Mahavira were compiled by Gautama Swami (his chief disciple) and were called Jain Agamas. These texts were transmitted through oral tradition by Jain monks, but are believed to have been largely lost by about the 1st century when they were first written down. The surviving versions of the Agamas taught by Mahavira are some of the foundational texts of Jainism.

Mahavira is usually depicted in a sitting or standing meditative posture with the symbol of a lion beneath him. The earliest iconography for Mahavira is from archaeological sites in the north Indian city of Mathura. These are variously dated from the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD. The day he was born is celebrated as Mahavir Janma-kalyanak (popularly known as Mahavir Jayanti), and the day of his liberation is celebrated by Jains as Diwali. In 1973, which was the 2,500th anniversary of the Nirvana (or Moksha) of Mahavira, monks of the various sects of Jainism assembled to resolve their differences and arrive at some commons points of agreement about the history and philosophy of Jainism.

--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: A joyful, peaceful, harmonious and non-violent (except violence used in self-defense - that's my - Ravi's - exception) Mahavir Jayanti to all.

This Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Facebook video (in Hindi) on occasion of Mahavir Jayanti, https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi/videos/10160275305570165/, dated 29th March 2018, is around 30 seconds long.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Choosing to forego some (good) money in favour of more time to pursue one's non-commercial interests - conversation with old software techie friend; My Dombivli to Andheri, Mumbai challenging train commute in mid 1980s

Last updated on 28th March 2018

Given below is an exchange on Facebook that I had with Rajendra S. Chittar, an old software industry colleague and friend. Chittar and I both started our software development career in the same company, Datamatics Ltd. in Bombay/Mumbai, joining as trainee programmers. I joined Datamatics in March 1984 if I recall correctly. Chittar was from one batch senior to me and so would have joined sometime in second half of 1983.

Chittar recently shared a 5 year old Facebook post (shared with friends, not public share) of his which was about 'Experiencing a "State of Wonder"' where he talks about life after withdrawing from full-time employment over the past couple of years (as of 2013 to which, I guess, we need to add 5 more years now). He does commercial work for only 2 days a week which gives him time to explore his many varied non-commercial interests and which keeps him busy during his non-work days but free of stress and "in a state of inner calm and serenity". Chittar lives in a big city in India and is married with two children.

The comments exchange was made starting around 21st Match 2018 and is given below (Chittar was OK with public sharing of it):

Ravi S. Iyer wrote (slightly edited): "Leisure time" is the term I have heard in Puttaparthi from foreigners who have enough money to live in Puttaparthi without having to worry about earning money for a living. Some of them are on full-time "leisure time", with many choosing to contribute to some social cause which earns them support from locals in Puttaparthi and surrounding areas of this essentially very poor rain-shadow district in Andhra Pradesh.

So looks like you, Chittar, are now having lots of "leisure time" where you can choose what you spend your time on. Very happy that you have been able to enjoy this. I guess, like in my case, in your case too, thanks have to to given to international software industry which allowed us to lead such lives.

I will never forget my humble roots, including trainee programmer at Datamatics on salary of Rs. 800 per month, half of which would be held back to be given after the training bond period of 3 years. Traveling from Dombivli via crowded suburban trains to Dadar, switching railway lines, and then from Dadar to Andheri on Western Railway line, and then Datamatics company bus, to get to office (in SEEPZ zone, Andheri (E), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEEPZ), and similarly on the way back home!

[Update on 27th March 2018: The time taken for my commute in those days was typically between 1 hr 45 mins and 2 hrs each way! I guess I would have typically started from home (on Ayre Road, Dombivli (E)) at around 7:25 AM or so. Walk from home to Dombivli railway station platform would be around 10 minutes. Relatively inexpensive share-Auto ride would speed that to 5 minutes and which I think I would take if I got out of home around 7:30 AM. I don't think the suburban local time duration for such commutes have changed much from 1984 to now in 2018. Here's the current Central Railway Main Line Up Timetable:
http://www.cr.indianrailways.gov.in/cris/uploads/files/1394620654939-PTT%20UP%20ML.pdf. The 07:38 at Dombivli fast train (originating from Ambernath like it used to even in 1984 if I recall correctly though its Dombivli time may have changed by a few minutes) is scheduled to reach Dadar at 08:18, a scheduled journey time of 40 minutes. The local trains then, which I think is the case even now, had inexpensive second class and significantly more expensive first class compartments. I had no option during my low stipend trainee period than to travel Second Class. The Second Class compartments of these fast trains during this peak time would usually have some space while arriving at Dombivli and get jam packed there. Getting into these peak time fast trains at Dombivli required one to rush in along with many others on the platform, as few seconds later there would be no room for additional person(s) to get in!

The fast walk from Dadar Central Railway station platform to Dadar Western Railway station platform through the crowded but usually fast moving crowd on the foot overbridge would take 5 to 10 minutes.

Dadar to Andheri on Western Line by fast train would be around 15 minutes. This was against the rush and so the fast trains would be relatively empty. So this was an enjoyable ride as compared to the jampacked ride on Central Railway in the rush direction! It seemed, sometimes at least, to be almost a sort-of reward enjoyable train commute for having endured the earlier jam packed train commute :-).
http://www.wr.indianrailways.gov.in/uploads/files/1518427344380-DN%20wef%201.1.18%20.pdf shows the 8:40 AM fast from Dadar arriving at Andheri at 8:55 AM.

Then the quick walk on the foot overbridge to get out of Andheri railway station on the East side, and then walk towards the place the company bus would halt, keeping an eye out on the road whether it has already started, in which case we could flag it down and jump in. This total walk till the location where the company bus would be waiting would be 5 to 10 minutes. The company bus ride from Andheri Stn. to Datamatics company office in SEEPZ would be around 15 to 20 minutes if I recall correctly. The office start time was 9.30 AM, if I recall correctly, with the company bus scheduled to reach 5 to 10 minutes before start time.

Sometimes one would miss the bus, in which case share-auto would be available from just outside Andheri Stn (E) to SEEPZ which was not too expensive.

Suburban train delays and road traffic jams were not uncommon which would make the duration longer, sometimes significantly longer.

The return journey from Company office to home would be similar during my trainee days on those days when I did not stay beyond regular work hours. It was not uncommon for me to stay back in office beyond regular work hours even during trainee days. The regular office work day in Datamatics SEEPZ ended at 5.30 PM, if I recall correctly.

Later, as my stipend/salary became better, I explored other options of commuting like local train from Dombivli to Kanjur Marg (slow train journey of 37 minutes as per local train schedule; less crowded and easier to get in; also I travelled First Class which was less crowded and with more comfortable seats). Then Auto or Share-Auto from Kanjur Marg to SEEPZ which would take 40 to 45 minutes typically, if I recall correctly. This cost significantly more, especially if I hired an Auto on my own. The journey was quite comfortable, especially if I was hiring it alone (the seating is for 3 people and so I could be very comfortably seated). The total time for commute from home to company/client office in SEEPZ (most of my software industry career in Mumbai days was for software companies in SEEPZ) did not get reduced drastically from the previous case mentioned above as it took around 1 hr. 45 mins one way. But the degree of comfort while travelling was much, much higher.

Another thing to mention is that there was an option of taking a round-about route municipal (BEST) bus service from Kanjur Marg to SEEPZ. It took around 50 mins to an hour, if I recall correctly. I had tried it a few times but I think I preferred the first commute option mentioned above, to this option. end-Update.]
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Rajendra S Chittar wrote (slightly edited): Ravi S. Iyer I share those same roots :-) 800 mein life jeena [living life on Rs. 800]. It was cutting it too close mostly but fun!
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Rajendra S Chittar wrote: But I guess I was a bit more lucky as I stayed in Andheri so the stress of travel was out.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: And, in the interests of accuracy, 800 was the stipend/salary for the first six months, if I recall correctly, with these six months being, according to Datamatics view, training period, including on-the-job training. After six months, the stipend increased, and similarly increased every six months, if I recall correctly, till the bond period of three years were over.
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Rajendra S Chittar wrote (slightly edited): I do not recall the stipend increase before 3 years - my memory issue. All I remember is the blast of increase at the end of 3 years (I was in Lowell, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell,_Massachusetts, then) and my mom checked the passbook and informed me. :-)
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Yes, after the bond period of 3 years was over, now we were free to take up another job with a competitor. So Datamatics had to pay us good salaries or else we would have jumped ship! That saw us get into proper Indian software techie salaries of those days (late 1980s)!
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Rajendra S Chittar wrote: This decision has not been easy at all. I have had to forego a lot and pay a hefty price. But in the end I have evolved from being just another rat in the race. And that is bliss.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote: In my case, it was a choice to lead a simple lower middle class life as a spiritual aspirant in rural / semi-urban India that enabled me to retire early from commercial work (in Sept. 2002). I should also say that I have been single (unmarried) so far.

Today I can say that it was one of the best decisions of my life. That is not to say that there are no challenges. But I was able to pursue my interests to my heart's satisfaction. That makes it one of the best decisions of my life.
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On my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2116379428578623, associated with this blog post, there was this exchange:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote: Rajendra S Chittar, I have put up the post above. Do have a look and tell me if I got anything wrong. Thanks.
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Rajendra S Chittar wrote: No issues! I have now been completely retired since June 2014 and since then I have been far more busy and have absolutely no time for working and-or earning ;-)
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My old software industry friend and colleague, Chandu Patel, who is now based in the USA wrote over email (and was OK with public sharing; slightly edited):

Good recall of the history, Ravi!  Pretty nostalgic! :-) I too remember my days of commute between Virar to Andheri from late 80's to mid-90's! It was also quite challenging, but not so as compared to commute that involves train change at Dadar!  Life was tough in Mumbai, but memories of those days still give me pleasure!

Thanks Ravi for sharing your experience!
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I (Ravi) wrote back (slightly edited):

Thanks Chandu. I should also mention that overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my Datamatics days which was 3 years under training bond followed by an additional 3 year or so period (totally from March 1984 to around May 1990 if I recall correctly). In this around 6 year period, I spent around 3 years abroad in USA and Europe on assignments, perhaps around 6 months in Datamatics Embassy Center, Nariman Point, Mumbai office dealing with India related software development work and the remaining 2 years 6 months or so in Datamatics, SEEPZ, Mumbai office (the software development services export out of India office of Datamatics). While working in Datamatics, Mumbai offices both at SEEPZ and at Nariman Point, the rush-hour commute for me, from Dombivili to office and back, was a challenge though, especially in the initial period perhaps of a year or so, when I used to travel in the very crowded Second Class railway compartments. I should also say that the non-rush-hour local train commute/travel, which would happen every once in a while, was quite enjoyable, especially when I was traveling First Class.
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Sathya Sai tattwa (teachings/philosophy) attracts relatively few; Bhajans attract many; Miracles attract huge numbers

Given below are some views of mine expressed to somebody in private (slightly edited), which I felt I could share publicly.

Miracles are what attracts most people in Sathya Sai orgn. Sathya Sai tattwa (teachings/philosophy) attracts relatively few, but more evolved spiritual people.

Further, music and bhajans (devotional songs) attract many more people than study circle where Swami (Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) teachings are studied and discussed. I was part of study circle in my Dombivli Sathya Sai samithi in Maharashtra in the 90s and early 2000s. We used to get around ten people to attend study circle (some days lesser; some days a little more).

Bhajans would have around 100 people. Ten times!!!

This is a fact of life in Sathya Sai movement and it was so even when Swami was in physical form. That is why Swami himself said, if I recall correctly, that the great Adi Shankara taught Bhaja Govindam as the masses could follow that and enjoy the song!!!! It seems that most people were not so interested in Adi Shankara's Vedanta commentary, Brahma Sutra commentary, Bhagavad Gita commentary etc. Of course, the pundits, especially of the religious philosophy and beliefs schools that Adi Shankara seriously challenged would have studied these commentaries of Adi Shankara. But they would be small number of people as compared to the masses.

It seems to me that these are the ***facts of life*** not only in our times but in all times when our Hindu religion flourished.

N. Kasturi honestly talking about fear of being reprimanded publicly by Sathya Sai; Though I was never physically close to Sathya Sai I too had that fear

A recent Facebook post titled, "Prof Kasturi and Governor’s Birthday", https://www.facebook.com/IncyRose1504/posts/10214506780638799, dated 25th March 2018 by Saithra Leilani described an incident involving the state Governor's (Karnataka Governor, I presume) private secretary asking Shri N. Kasturi to pass a message to Bhagavan. The message was that the Governor was seeking permission from Bhagavan for the Governor visiting the Whitefield ashram the next day as it was the Governor's birthday and he wanted to offer his homage to Swami (Bhagavan) on that day. The article describes Kasturi waiting for the opportunity to ask Swami in private, and Swami's furious response when he did ask Swami about it.

I wrote the following comment on the above Facebook post:

Wonderful post, Saithra Leilani. Thanks for sharing!

The most interesting part of this post for me was this part: "I went inside the bungalow, and waited for Swami being alone. Because, if Swami reprimands me, there should be no witness of my discomfort!"

The strong impression I have is that Sri Kasturi was a truth-teller - telling the truth as he perceived it - and therefore his chronicling of the Sathya Sai Avatar in the Sathyam Shivam Sundaram volumes that he authored and his other book(s) like Loving God, have, for me at least, the ring of a truth-teller (truth as he perceived it).

From these accounts (including above post) of Prof. Kasturi and others, we know how challenging a task it was to be in close physical proximity to Bhagavan. It was a great gift of Grace and at the same time it required great skill to do the work assigned directly by physical form Bhagavan in His physical proximity.

I love the part above where Kasturi says that he waited till Swami was alone to ask about the matter so that if Swami does reprimand him, it (hopefully) would remain a private reprimand, at that time. This has such a ring of truth to it!

Once I experienced that Bhagavan, in physical form, would know everything that was in my mind when He looked at me during  Darshan (or elsewhere outside Sai Kulwant Hall), and that he would also know everything I had done during that period, outside His physical presence, the biggest fear that I had, was of Bhagavan reprimanding me in public for some big mistake of mine! That would have been an excruciatingly embarrassing experience.

To be really honest, it was one of the reasons that after an initial period of sitting in the teachers block or the verandah during Darshan in Sai Kulwant Hall, I chose to sit in the Old Students block. I knew that given my many human flaws, I could not match up to the very demanding standards of Bhagavan for people who got physically close to Him. So the Old Students block was ideal for me and it also helped me quickly exit Sai Kulwant Hall without disturbing many people, whenever my health issues created discomfort.

Of course, even in the Old Students block, I would be blessed by His eyes falling on me, every once in a few days. So fear of angering Bhagavan by some big slips in my behaviour outside His physical presence, was still there. But I felt a little protected from being reprimanded publicly by Bhagavan as I was not physically close to Him.

BTW Saithra, is it possible for you to provide a reference for the account you have given in your post?
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Saithra Leilani responded giving this book's pic as the reference: "Sathya Sai Baba God in Action", Talks by Kasturi" Edited and Compiled by H.M. Shivaram.
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I (Ravi) thanked Saithra Leilani for the reference.
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Australian cricketer caught doing ball tampering & then hiding item used to tamper, inside the front part of his pants! Melbourne, Australia based Muddenahalli Group Fake ID fellows should change their ways to avoid having a similar public shame fate

Last updated on 27th March 2018

The comments below are in the context of this Facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/vr.ganti.1/videos/10212006732468293/ which is around 1 min. 45 seconds long.

My God! How can somebody be so foolish as to slip that yellow piece of whatever he had, from his pocket to inside the front part of his pants on the open cricket ground! What did he think? That nobody would have caught it?

Terribly sad to see - not only the ball tampering stuff, but this guy's clownish attempt to cover it up.

I wonder what the Muddenahalli Group Facebook Fake ID fellows based in Melbourne, Australia would be thinking about it. Maybe they know that one day they too will be caught in the act and will have to face being shamed publicly like their countryman in this video.

I would like to add that I think the wiseguy types in Muddenahalli group, namely the Facebook Fake ID fellows who attack people like me who are exposing cheap imitator and FALSE BELIEF so called communicator, Madhusudan Rao Naidu, should take a step back, earnestly pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi (and NOT pray to cheap imitator Madhusudan Rao Naidu) and contemplate on what is the Sathya-Dharma path for them to follow now.

I think if they do a sincere effort in this matter they will be prompted by Bhagavan within their own hearts to stop the Asathya-Adharma activities they are indulging in, by using fake Facebook IDs and almost-hidden Blogger profiles, to pour vitriol over people critical of Muddenahalli group's Madhusudan Rao Naidu and Narasimhamurthy.

They should follow this inner-prompting (and NOT any instructions of the cheap imitator Madhusudan Rao Naidu). That will be good for them.

It is their choice. If their choice is to continue to do cowardly and conspiratorial attacks on social media hiding behind fake IDs or almost-hidden IDs, then they will surely have to face the negative karmic consequences.

And there is honour in losing a fight by fighting honourably. What honour is there even in winning a fight by hiding behind Facebook fake IDs and almost-hidden Blogger IDs? Such fighting is done by cowards. Let them put aside their cowardice and engage in an open debate using their real-life IDs so that they can be held accountable for their words.

Would Sathya Sai ever be happy if some of His students fought like cowards using Facebook Fake IDs and almost-hidden Blogger IDs? Is that the type of so-called "heroism" that Bhagavan sought to instill in His students?

Of course not! Jai Sai Ram!
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Steve Smith steps down as Australia captain after ball tampering incident, http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/steve-smith-steps-down-australia-captain-ball-tampering-5110773/, 25th March 2018

Ravi: I support this decision of Cricket Australia. Once ball tampering has been accepted by the captain then he has to be relieved of the captaincy. The spirit and fairness of the game is bigger than any individual's brilliance. Of course, Smith should be given the opportunity to redeem himself over time in the game, especially as he chose bravely to acknowledge the truth rather than try to defend himself by lying or staying silent.
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Another video on the same matter from an Australian TV news channel: https://www.facebook.com/9News/videos/1870064683041360/, around 2 mins video, 25th March 2018, of 9 News Australia
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Very encouraging to see how Australian PM Turnbull and Cricket Australia chief Sutherland upheld integrity in the game and clearly stated how disappointed they were with Australian cricket team's ball tampering cheating

We all make mistakes. Even top sporting heroes do. What I really appreciated from the top people in Australia charged with upholding integrity in such matters like the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Cricket Australia chief Sutherland, is that they did not try to do any cover-up. They made their utter disappointment and even a feeling of shame though they did not use that word, with the Australian cricket team's behaviour, very clear in the video interviews given below.

I fully support and am very encouraged by these remarks of Australian PM Turnbull and CA chief Sutherland. I wish Cricket Australia all the very best in their efforts to ensure that this lapse in integrity by the Australian cricket team is fully investigated, the results of the investigation are shared with the cricket world at large (not Australia alone), and steps are put in place to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

Prime Minister Slams Australia’s Cheating Cricketers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkNjVXcTln0, 4 min 14 secs. by ESPN UK, published on 25th March 2018.

Sutherland: It's a sad day for Australian cricket, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpPPMouoyLk, 9 min. 37 secs by cricket.com.au, published on 24th March 2018.

Here's a pic of the South African cameraman hero, Oscar, who caught the ball tampering on tape: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-sports/capturing-the-moment/article23351249.ece, 26th March 2018. Congratulations to Oscar for a great job in helping to expose cheating in test cricket.

I think it is becoming clear that the junior Aussie cricketer who did the actual ball tampering was instructed to do so by Australian captain Steve Smith and other team leaders. The blame rests mainly on the Australian captain, Steve Smith, for the shame that he has brought to Australia and the game of cricket. He should deeply atone for his act, especially the damage he has done to the career of the junior teammate who would have felt great pressure to follow orders to do the ball tampering.

If there is an Australian cricket team culture of win at all costs, including cheating, then Cricket Australia and the Australian govt. (as the shame impacts the country as a whole - that's how big the game of cricket is in countries like Australia and India) must ensure that such culture is sternly corrected.

It is vital to play cricket at the highest levels where one represents one's country, in a fair way than to win at all costs. It is OK to lose a cricket game or a series, even by very big margins, even at those high international test cricket levels.
----

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's words from the first video above:

We all (woke) up this morning shocked and bitterly disappointed by the news from South Africa. It seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating. After all, our cricketers are role models and cricket is synonymous with fair play. How can our team be engaged in cheating like this?
...
But I have to say that (for) the whole nation who (which) holds those who wear the Baggy Green up on a pedestal, about as high as you can get in Australia - certainly higher than any politician, that's for sure - this is a shocking disappointment.

It’s wrong, and I look forward to Cricket Australia taking decisive action soon.

...

I think (in) the disappointment I have expressed, I speak for all Australians saying how shocked and disappointed we all are. It honestly seems beyond belief and I have to say, knowing a number of the players, including the captain, quite out of character. But it's been admitted.

--- end words of Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull ---

Australian captain Steve Smith says in the first video above:

The leadership group knew about it. We spoke about it at lunch. And ah I am not proud of what's happened. Ah you know, it's not within the spirit of the game. My integrity, the team's integrity, the leadership group's integrity coming into question and rightfully so. Um it's not on. It's certainly not on and it won't happen again. I can promise you that under my leadership.

[In response to an inaudible question:] It was the leadership group. I am not naming names. But the leadership group ... talked about and Bangers? (moving his head to indicate his teammate sitting next to him, Cameron Bancroft, who did the actual act of ball tampering) was around at the time and we spoke about it and thought it was a possible way to get advantage. Obviously it didn't work. The umpires didn't see it changed the way the ball was behaving or how it looked or anything like that. Poor choice. And .. deeply regrettable, I guess, our actions.

[In response to an inaudible question:]
No, the coaches weren't involved. It was purely the players and the leadership group that came up with this and, as I said, it's not on, and I can promise you it won't happen again.

[In response to an inaudible question:]
No, I (won't) be considering stepping down. I still think I am the right person for the job. Obviously today, it was a big mistake on my behalf and on the leadership group's behalf as well. But I take responsibility as the captain. I need to take control of the ship (but), you know, this is certainly something that I am not proud of. It's something that I can (hope) learn from and come back strong from. As I said I am embarrassed to be sitting here and talking about this. We are in the middle of such a great series and for something like this to sort of overshadow the great cricket that's being played, and not have a single cricket question in here. You know, that's not what I am about and not what the team's about and, you know, we will move past this. Its a big error in judgement. But we will learn from that and move past it.
---- end words of Australian captain Steve Smith ---

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia CEO says in the second video above:

I just wanted to say at the outset that I was extremely disappointed and shocked to hear the news and read the news this morning, after the events in Cape Town yesterday, and from a Cricket Australia perspective we regard this as an extremely serious issue.
...
Australian cricket fans want to be proud of their cricket team - they want to be proud of the Australian cricket team, and I think this morning I (they?) have every reason to wake up and not be proud of the team. It's a very sad day for Australian cricket.

One of the unique things about the game of cricket is that its to be played not only within the laws of the game but in the spirit of the game.

And activities on the field yesterday in Cape Town (are) neither within the laws of the game or within the spirit of the game. And for us at Cricket Australia its extemely disappointing. But more importantly, for Australian cricket fans, its extremely disappointing as well.

Cameron Bancroft was charged under the ICC's Code of Conduct and he accepted that charge and penalty that came with it and after the game, he and Steve Smith spoke about that matter. Unfortunately that's not the end of it and can't be the end of it. We have a responsibility to take this further and to understand more about the issue. And we will over the next couple of days get a deep understanding of what happened and why. And to that end, I have asked our head of integrity, Ian Roy, to travel to South Africa today. Pat Howard, head of team performance, will also go with him and they will be on the ground in South Africa tomorrow. And Ian's brief will be to get (all) the relevant information that we need to address this matter and to understand it better.

I understand that is not necessarily the fullness of response that everyone is looking for right now but you will appreciate that there is an element of process that needs to be undertaken here and you will understand that by (appointing?) our head of integrity to this project, it is being dealt with as a matter of urgency and seriousness. It will be dealt with promptly. We will work very hard over the next couple of days to get to the bottom to it, to understand the picture, to understand the detail, and to be making further comment on that in due course.

Again I just want to repeat two things. One is we are extremely disappointed and shocked at what we woke up to this morning. And secondly we are dealing with this issue with the utmost urgency and seriousness.

---- end words of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland ---

---------------------
CNN too put up an article on the matter: Australia cricket captain to sit out Test over ball-tampering scandal, https://edition.cnn.com/2018/03/25/sport/cricket-australia-ball-tampering-intl/index.html, 26th March 2018

The article has a link to this youtube video capturing the incident: Cameron Bancroft caught changing condition of ball - 3rd Test - Day 3 - Australia vs South Africa, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yChk9LEclw, 2 min, by SPNSportsIndia, published on 24th March 2018.
----------------------

In Hindi - Kapil Dev the great medium-fast bowler and ex captain of India explains how ball tampering is done using sticky yellow tape with sand stuck to it.

Live Ball Tempering with Kapil Dev | ICC Banned Steve Smith From 1 Test Match | CricNEWS 25/03/2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAU0gusQEoI, around 10 mins.
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Australian media rightly call out Australian cricket team's cheating behaviour as a matter of SHAME

While the Australian Prime Minister and Cricket Australia chief did not use the 'shame' word, Australian media said it loudly! This pic shows headlines of a few newspapers, which I presume are Australian: http://www.observerbd.com/2018/03/26/1522093314.jpg.

I tried to locate a couple of important articles in Australian print media that use the shame word prominently. Here's what I got:

1) Steve Smith’s shame: Captain and Warner step down, ICC acts, [May be blocked by Paywall] https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/cricket/smiths-shame-captain-and-warner-step-down/news-story/f400aee4eb49cbc9aa00c4583aa6a399, 26th March 2018

2) For a proud sporting nation, this is a shameful episode, Editorial, https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/for-a-proud-sporting-nation-this-is-a-shameful-episode-20180325-p4z65f.html, 25th March 2018.

The above article also has a reference to India: "When as tourists we travel to countries like India and Sri Lanka, cricket fans know the names of Australian Test batsmen as readily as their own stars."

And I completely support these statements of the Sydney Morning Herald Editorial board: "The decision to tamper with the ball was bad enough. But by selecting the newest member of the team forward to carry out their dirty work, Smith and the unnamed group demonstrated a moral failure that fails every possible leadership test."

The article concludes, "For a nation so proud of its sporting prowess, this is a shameful episode. It is no overstatement to describe this as one of the darkest days in Australian sport."
-----

Astonishing Admission of Cheating Rocks Australian Cricket, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/sports/cricket/australia-cricket-scandal.html, 26th March 2018

The article explains how big the status of an Australian cricket team captain is in Australian society: "It is commonly said in Australia that the captain of the national cricket team is the second most important job in the land. The role goes beyond sports; it bequeaths a certain moral authority, too."
----

Adam Gilchrist, great ex wicketkeeper batsman of Australia, on the ball tampering matter

Adam Gilchrist is a great former wicketkeeper batsman of Australia. I like the guy :-). He played hard and has sometimes been a real thorn in India's side when India was playing Australia, but, as far as I know, he played fair. When he talks on sports shows, he comes across as a decent bloke. Here's a video of him being asked about this ball tampering incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9E7zpVxrPY, 13 min. 06 secs.

Gilchrist is asked right at the beginning of the video about how he felt about this matter. Gilchrist replies, "Ah .. Look I was stunned. That was my first reaction. I pick up the phone like a lot of people do in the morning. I just couldn't believe what I saw. That then followed with the emotion of - feeling of embarrassment. But that was overridden by sadness. Ah and its still, still really emotional thing to be - even to believe that I am talking about this. It is unbelievable. But watching the snippets there and being here today, walking around, the comments from everyone - what it's reminded me is just what cricket means to Australians and where it fits in our society and it's part of (the) fabric of the nation. And it means so much. And yet we are now the laughing stock of, not just the cricketing world, but the sporting world."
----

ABC Grandstand commentator Jim Maxwell's emotional response to ball-tampering disgrace, http://www.sportingnews.com/au/cricket/news/abc-grandstand-commentator-jim-maxwells-emotional-response-to-ball-tampering-disgrace/1nj66fyupfc091fbu75bufuv32 - Has a short audio, around 1 min., of veteran Australian sports commentator getting emotional about the matter.
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The greatest Australian cricketer, Donald Bradman, on integrity

Given below is an extract from the greatest Australian cricketer, Donald Bradman's wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bradman :

On 10 December 1985, Bradman was the first of 120 inaugural inductees into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He spoke of his philosophy for considering the stature of athletes:

"When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his or her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness."

--- end wiki extract ---

The article: Nine to show interview with The Don, http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/99671.html, dated 26th February 2001, is about a TV program tribute to be paid to Donald Bradman who died a day earlier. That tribute would include parts of the last recorded media interview given by Bradman in 1996 to Roy Martin. The article states that Don Bradman told Roy Martin that he would like to be remembered as a man of integrity.

Ravi: That's the value Donald Bradman, the greatest Australian cricketer, gave to integrity! Let's hope that Australian cricket does whatever is needed to re-inculcate such values in its Test cricketing team and the team's captain.

I think this message should also go out to all other top cricketing teams in the world, including India. Integrity is the biggest thing in cricket. Victory comes next. Victory at the expense of integrity is simply 'not cricket'.
----

[I thank smh.com.au, nytimes.com and wikipedia, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above small extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Canadian and/or American white Qawwali singer Tahir Faridi and his group sing Meera bhajan Tum Bin Mori Kaun Khabar Le & Lagi Lagan Man Ke Mohan qawwali

First some background on Sufi Tahir Faridi Qawwal and the Sufi devotional music group he leads, Fanna-Fi-Allah. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanna-Fi-Allah :

Fanna-Fi-Allah (Urdu: فنا فی الله‎) is a Canadian-American group which plays Qawwali, a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia. It consists of seven members. Group leader Tahir Faridi Qawwal (formerly Geoffrey Lyons), originally from Nova Scotia, has studied music from some of the greatest qawwali masters in Pakistan and India over many years. Aminah Chishti is the student of Ustad Dildar Hussain (who played with the legend Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for more than 17 years) and is the first female tabla player to be initiated into the lineage of Qawwali. The group are ambassadors of sufi qawwali music in the west.
--- end wiki extract ---

Ravi: It gives me great joy to see these Canadian and/or American citizens, some being white origin, and some perhaps having Indian or Pakistani (South Asian) origin, perform Sufi devotional music with a lot of heart and lot of skill. They sing in Hindi!!! Including Tahir Faridi (formerly Geoffery Lyons)!!! I loved it.

I wish this group Fanna-Fi-Allah all the very best and thank them for the joy they have given me and others.

Here's Tahir Faridi and a white lady singing Tum bin mori kaun khabar le (Meera bhajan): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieT2jamTPYk, 7 min. 55 secs, published by Fanna-Fi-Allah on 11th Oct. 2010.
----

Here's info. on Dargah Mehrauli Sharif from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutbuddin_Bakhtiar_Kaki

Qutb ul Aqtab Hazrat Khwaja Sayyid Muhammad Bakhtiyar AlHussaini Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (born 1173-died 1235) was a Muslim Sufi mystic, saint and scholar of the Chishti Order from Delhi, in what is now India. He was the disciple and the spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chishti as head of the Chishti order, and the person to whom the Qutb Minar, Delhi is dedicated. Before him the Chishti order in India was confined to Ajmer and Nagaur. He played a major role in establishing the order securely in Delhi. His dargah located adjacent to Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli, and the oldest dargah in Delhi, is also the venue of his annual Urs festivities. The Urs was held in high regard by many rulers of Delhi like Qutbuddin Aibak, Iltutmish who built a nearby stepwell, Gandhak ki Baoli for him, Sher Shah Suri who built a grand gateway, Bahadur Shah I who built the Moti Masjid mosque nearby and Farrukhsiyar who added a marble screen and a mosque.

His most famous disciple and spiritual successor was Fariduddin Ganjshakar, who in turn became the spiritual master of Delhi's noted Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, who himself was the spiritual master of Amir Khusrau and Nasiruddin Chirag-e-Delhi.

Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki had much influence on Sufism in India. As he continued and developed the traditional ideas of universal brotherhood and charity within the Chisti order, a new dimension of Islam started opening up in India which had hitherto not been present. He forms an important part of the Sufi movement which attracted many people to Islam in India in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. People of every religions like Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, etc. visiting every week at Dargah.
--- end wiki extract ---

Here's Tahir Faridi and two other white gentlemen from his group singing along with what seems to me to be locals of the Mehrauli Dargah Sharif in Delhi, in the simple and plain setting of what seems to be an outer courtyard of the Mehrauli Dargah: Lagi Lagan Man Ke Mohan Qawwali at Dargah Mehroli Sharif by Tahir Faridi & Party, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHiLYgHDSDU, 16 min. 28 secs, published by Fanna-Fi-Allah on 3rd April 2015. Even though the setting is simple and plain, it struck me as being devotionally powerful. For me the devotional emotion/feeling (bhava) is as important as the music and vocal quality of song. The youtube video description says that the qawwali was composed by Ustad Hafiz Miandad Khan.

This seems to be the same song but done in a posh and musically well equipped setup: Laggi Lagan by Tahir Faridi Qawwal & Party India on Saregama Sufi, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdQfD8FZBlU, 10 min 46 secs.

Gayiye Ganapati Jag Vandan & Tum Bin Mori Kaun Khabar Le songs by Ustad Ahmed Hussain and Ustad Mohammad Hussain

I love, very much love, Hindustani, ghazal and qawwali vocal devotional songs whether the worship is of Hindu tradition or of Islam tradition. Such songs cast a spell on me!

I had heard and thoroughly enjoyed Gayiye Ganapati Jag Vandan song audio over the past few years. Today I got to see a video rendering of it! What an awesome treasure house youtube has become!

Ganpati Vandana Ahmad Hussain_Mohammad Hussain, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdl4TwnIt-Y, 11 min 6 secs (the song gets over after around 10 mins after which there is audio silence for most of the remainder of the video).
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I love this song which seems to be a Meera bhajan: Only audio with still pic (audio quality is not all that great in some parts; listeners should please tolerate it) : Tum bin mori kaun khabar le govardhan giridhari, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfWz_05929o, 5 min 39 secs

About the singers from their wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_and_Mohammed_Hussain :

Ahmed Hussain and Mohammed Hussain are ghazal singers from Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan state in India. Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain are two brothers who sing classical ghazals. Born in Rajasthan as sons of the famous ghazal and thumri singer Ustad Afzal Hussain, the duo touches genres like Indian classical music and bhajan as well as ghazal. They started their singing career in 1958 as classical and thumri artists. Their first album Guldasta was released in 1980 and was successful. Since then they have released about 50 albums.

--- end extract ---

Ravi: Truly blessed is the land of Bharat (India) to have such talented singers from the Islamic tradition like the Ustads Ahmed and Mohammad Hussain, even today in this early 21st century, singing songs in praise of God in the Hindu tradition, and giving joy to Hindus like me as well as people of other faiths.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Telugu Hindu devotional songs of popular culture type that I got exposed to roughly between 2006 and 2010 in outside ashram Puttaparthi

Over the past few days I shared some of the Telugu pop film songs that I got exposed to roughly between 2006 and 2010 in outside ashram Puttaparthi. In the same period though, I got exposed to far more Telugu Hindu devotional songs of the popular culture variety which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Over the next few days I would like to share some of those Telugu Hindu devotional popular culture songs.

Here is one such popular culture Telugu devotional song, which seems to be a composition of the great Telugu saint, Annamayya from the movie Annammaya, Adivo Alladivo Annamayya Song [Full Song] I Telugu Movie Annamayya, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taqau1lKDHs, 3 min. 51 secs.
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Telugu Devotional song: Annamayya Songs - Nigama Nigamantha - Akkineni Nagarjuna, Ramya Krishnan, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amZkvV3V7O4, around 4 mins
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Vinnapalu Vinavle Annamayya Full Song I Telugu Movie Annamayya, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35CqE2CNQBI, around 4 mins.
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Note: I plan to add more material on this post over the next few days.

Can our soul get polluted by selfishness? Does Seva remove pollution from our soul?

Note that this post is based on a recent comment of mine on Facebook.

The English word, soul, in some contexts tends to mean more than Atma and includes feelings and emotions of the mind. So let me use the Sanskrit word, Atma, to avoid that confusion. My view is that the Atma is changeless and eternal. So it simply cannot be polluted at all.

I understand Atma to be the awareness, the eternal witness part of our being.

Regarding pollution, I think it is the body-mind complex that tends to get impacted (polluted) by strong attractions and strong repulsions (raga-dvesha), which keeps us trapped in the bhrama (illusion) that our identity is the changing and impermanent mind-body. This bhrama (illusion) holds us back from clearly experiencing (seeing) that our true identity is the changeless awareness (Atma) in us, and that the mind with its raga-dvesha (attraction and repulsion) in the world emerges from that unchanging awareness (Atma) and creates an illusory waking-dream reality.

What I think Nishkama (without desire/selfless) Seva (service) done in an attitude of worship of God, does is that it reduces the strength of attractions and repulsions in us, makes us less attached to our own body-mind complex, and perhaps makes us more peaceful in the mind. This would eventually contribute to us experiencing the ever-peaceful, unchanging, eternal and divine Awareness (Atma) within us, which Hindu scripture teaches us is (part of) the same Awareness that is in all creation. In fact, Hindu theology tells us that Awareness is the only reality and that creation is an illusory projection (Maya) by/of that Divine Awareness.

That then is my humble understanding of the matter. Jai Sai Ram!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Two somewhat recent NYT articles about Trappist monastery/abbey in Belgium and in USA

1) An Unholy Fight Over a Saintly Beer, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/world/europe/monks-beer-supermarket.html, 15th March 2018

Interesting! The concerned Trappist monastery in Belgium says that they brew and sell beer (limited quantity at reasonable price, it seems) as a means of bread-winning (to sustain themselves)!

The Dutch supermarket guys changed all that and so they don't like it.

2) The World Is Changing. This Trappist Abbey Isn’t. Can It Last?, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/us/trappist-monks-mepkin-abbey.html, 17th March 2018

Very interesting article about Trappist monks in the USA and how in one particular Trappist monk institution they are facing a crisis of dwindling membership and so are experimenting with new options like inviting people to be a Trappist monk for a month or a year!

A small extract from the article:
The abbey’s new affiliate program will offer two new short-term monastic options for people of any, or no, faith traditions: a monthlong monastic institute, open to men and women, and a yearlong residency. And in a departure from its otherwise passive approach, Mepkin created an ad campaign — albeit a small and highly targeted one — to publicize the program. (It featured copy that read: “BE A MONK. FOR A MONTH. FOR A YEAR.”)
--- end extract ---

Ravi: In case some USA resident ever wanted to try Trappist monk lifestyle for a month :-), they may find the above offer interesting. They invite people of no faith traditions too!

Serenity and communing with nature for a month with silence and inward life being the focus! Not a bad idea!

I am so happy to note that such short-term options from faith based (Catholic) monastery(ies) in the USA are made available to those of no faith as well. It enables people who simply want to explore that option for a short period of time, without any commitments beyond that, to do so.

A far cry from an attitude that publicly preaches and looks down upon people with no faith (or other faith than theirs) as people destined for hell fire!

So I am really happy to read about this South Carolina Trappist monastery and its low-key outreach to those of other faiths and no faith. And the pics of the place given in the article are so peaceful and beautiful to see!

[I thank nytimes.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above small extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]