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Archive for July, 2019

The 29th of July, 1030 AD is an important day in the history of Norway. For, on that day, the well-organised farmer’s community in the Stiklestad, located in an area known as Verdal, saw itself threatened by an invading army, as the exiled King Olav Harldsson came from the East to claim back his kingdom. The area became the battlefield which marked the transition of the country from paganism to Christianity.

The Stiklestad National Cultural Centre at the location is a national hub institution with special responsibility for disseminating knowledge about Olav the Holy, the Battle of Stiklestad and the history associated with the events on the side.

The folk museum at Stiklestad consists of over 30 buildings, most of which are from the 17th and 19th centuries. The museum also has close to 30,000 objects and photos, some of which are in the buildings, but most are stored in a magazine.

Around the 29th of July each year, quite a few cultural activities get planned, including stage adaptations of the battle, often with audience being invited to participate.

The Tronder’s Right of Resistance

The oldest law in Trondelag that one becomes familiar with, Frostatingsloven, contains three chapters. These can be summed up as follows:

  • No man shall commit an act of violence…
  • But if the King should do this, you shall go after him and kill him…
  • But if he escapes, then he shall never return to the land.

An exhibition at the Centre presents a glimpse of everyday life in the heathen Viking age, when different regions practised diverse customs and traditions for religious succour. It also presents scenes from the battle and the changes the Christian medieval age brought with it – a uniform religion across the entire country.

Central to battle scene at the exhibition is the slaying of Olav. The blood from his three legendary wounds is later said to have created miracles. A year after the battle, Olav was made a saint of the Catholic Church. Thus, the battle became a turning point of the Norwegian history.

 

An interesting exhibit I discovered was a diagram which depicts the origin of several languages globally.

The effort to showcase the country’s rich history is indeed praiseworthy. Active dissemination of the same is even more laudable.

 

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/a-walk-around-the-city-of-trondheim-in-norway-part-1-of-2)

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Fans of P G Wodehouse often twiddle their fingers trying to figure out if his works need to be adapted for showcasing on different artistic platforms.

Plumtopia has this unique piece which argues that there is indeed a strong case in favour of adpatations.

 

Plumtopia

My recent post on the Centenary of the P.G. Wodehouse novel Piccadilly Jim, prompted some discussion about Wodehouse adaptations.

Some people think it impossible and ought not be attempted. I disagree. What the world needs is more and better Wodehouse adaptations.

While it’s true that some of the linguistic joys of Wodehouse’s prose cannot be translated to the screen, his complex plots and fabulous characters absolutely can. But they must be handled sympathetically, by scriptwriters, directors, and cast members who appreciate the material they’re working with — and want to produce it faithfully.

For a thorough criticism of the various Wodehouse adaptations, I direct you to a piece entitled Spats, by Shadowplay.

Spats | shadowplay

Happy viewing!

HP

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ashokbhatia

Why do we hold leadership to be something which is fascinating? Perhaps we do so because of the inherent complexity it represents.

One, it is the outcome of a delicate chemistry between an individual and his/her environment. All individuals have personality traits. Some of these come to the fore under some special circumstances. Take away those circumstances, and the trait may continue to remain dormant for a long time.

It follows that there is as much probability at work here as, say, in the tossing of a coin or in a game of chance. In the realm of human resources, we see examples of dullards becoming heroes in a given situation. In case of brands and organizations, we come across several cases where some which were ‘nothing’, when assiduously worked upon and when the market conditions were right, evolved into ‘everything’ and started enjoying commendable market equity.

Two, experts have…

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ashokbhatia

A friend suggested visiting the National Gallery in Oslo. Having had the opportunity of admiring the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso and others in the last few years, I was naturally curious as to what Norwegian artists had come up with in the past. The visit turned out to be a truly instructive one. I realized the depth and range of work done by painters as well as sculptors and marvelled at the passion and artistic fervour of the artists concerned.IMG_1716

Founded in 1837, the National Gallery houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures. In its permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum presents older art, with principal emphasis on art from Norway.IMG_1652

Highlights from the collection are shown in the permanent exhibition “The Dance of Life – The Collection from Antiquity to 1945”.IMG_1664

The exhibition presents a chronological overview of more than 300 Norwegian…

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Call of the Vedas

lifeworkintegration-525x219

Me, my work, my life. Off balance. What is wrong?   

Today, my work and life are not in balance. I spend long hours at work to eke out a pay check, to fulfill career ambition or just to make more money. Then I spend considerable time in commuting to and from work. I return home physically and mentally exhausted. I microwave the frozen left overs from the fridge, nibble on the meal as I check my iPhone for emails, text messages and missed calls. Work place conflicts, project dead-lines, job security fears – all these weigh in my mind as  I mechanically play with my three year old son for a few minutes, then move over, open up my laptop and immerse myself in work to meet project dead-lines, to please my boss or just to hang on to the job I have. After a short, inadequate and fitful sleep, I wake up…

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ashokbhatia

In our lives, you played the role of a dynamic and bustling airport,
From which we soared in life´s azure skies, enjoying our flights of high import;
Some took to exploring various corners of our Mother Earth,
Of diplomats, businessmen and bankers amongst us there is no dearth.

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Some flew literally high while others specialized in foretelling weather,
Some rose to positions of eminence in industries as diverse as IT and leather;
The allure of entrepreneurship and private sector careers proved irresistible to some,
Many found academics, social entrepreneurship and public services less worrisome.

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Probability theories taught us to manage uncertainty at life´s myriad stations,
Laws of motion led us to motivate people and have positive interpersonal relations;
Differential calculus taught us to analyze situations without tears,
Integral exhorted us to take an overall strategic view in all spheres.

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Structure of elementary particles made us discover forces of spirituality in…

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ashokbhatia

Here is a limerick by Ms. Sukanya Lakshmi Narayan, an ardent fan of P G Wodehouse. It is based on a true incident, which she has beautifully captured in a typical Wodehousian manner. A fitting tribute, indeed.

PGWodehouse

Our friend, a thorough and jolly gentleman
On Wodehousian principles his life ran,
Raised by overbearing aunts and grandmas
A La Dahlias and Agathas
Even though nary a one was a gentleman.

The devoted son sent his mother
To the park with the nurse and chauffeur
The nurse got drunk
The chauffeur did the bunk
And the nurse socked the master a shiner.

The sinister saga didn’t end there
There was more mystery and dare
To cut a long story short
The master decided to take a shot
And investigate the matter threadbare.

The hunt began for the missing driver
Anyone and everyone was promised a fiver
He was finally found
After much…

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ashokbhatia

In quite a few escapades of Bertie Wooster and his bosom pals, we come across headmistresses and headmasters who remind us of our own days at school. Many of us might not have ever won a prize for Scripture Knowledge, but the mere mention of a brightly authoritative gaze touches the darker realms of our individual scholastic experiences. Invariably, it is not only about the stern look and the stiff upper lip. It is also about our dread of public speaking – and of juicy canes in the soft spots.

The tyranny of these strict disciplinarians does not remain confined to childhood days alone. It often pops up years later when their understudies have grown into adulthood. Even a chance encounter leaves Bertie shaking like an aspen and fearing yet another admonition at the hands of the lion-tamers.

The Female Lion-tamer

Take the case of Miss Mapleton in Jeeves and…

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In its concluding chapter, Bhagavad Gita goes on to extol the virtue of surrender to a higher power. It does not specifically state that it is useful only when a CEO is facing a monumental challenge in her career or life. However, it is my belief that an attitude laced with liberal doses of surrender, duly backed by the personality attributes listed in the previous chapter, becomes the most crucial enabling factor which facilitates successful handling of such challenges.

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत |
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् || 18.62||

Surrender exclusively unto Him with your whole being, O Bharat. By His grace, you will attain perfect peace and the eternal abode.

Much like a Senior Vice President who gets promoted as a CEO after the seniors notice a potential in her to shoulder a higher responsibility, coupled with a match between the value system of the incumbent and that of the business, and a deep sense of loyalty (read surrender) to the organization, Lord Krishna also stipulates the condition under which His grace would help a person to attain perfect peace – exclusive surrender. A conscious realization that it is not one’s own efforts alone which get success in life, and that it is one’s destiny also which plays a crucial role, helps one to surrender in such a manner. 

There are no free lunches in life, as the wise men say!

Challenges and evolution

Each of the demeaning experiences faced by yours truly and shared in the previous part led to some inner growth. A public rebuke made me learn the value of sensing dangerous turbulence on the flight path in advance, and punching the eject button in the cockpit before things spun out of control. Likewise, the kidnapping incident taught me the importance of having some acquaintance with the law and order and regulatory agencies in the country. As an additional perk, each incident revealed the true friends and foes of those around me at the time. An enriching string of experiences, one would say in retrospect.

When a pink slip gets dished out, one finds an opportunity of reassessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and act on them. A fall from grace eventually ends up increasing the depth of one’s inner reservoirs of patience, equipoise and fortitude.

When Kunti seeks challenges as a boon!

In one of the post-war episodes narrated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, when Krishna is about to depart for his kingdom of Dwarka, Uttara, the bereaved wife of Abhimanyu and the daughter-in-law of Arjuna, comes running to seek His protection for the son in her womb who has been killed by a mighty weapon unleashed by Ashwatthama. Krishna then brings the child back to life, at which time Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas and an aunt of Krishna, prays thus:

विषान्महाग्नेः पुरुषाददर्शनाद्  असत्सभाया वनवासकृच्छ्रतः ।
मृधे मृधेऽनेकमहारथास्त्रतो  द्रौण्यस्त्रतश्चास्म हरेऽभिरक्षिताः ॥ 1.8.24

My dear Krishna, you have protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Asshwatthama.

विपदः सन्तु ताः शश्वत् तत्र तत्र जगद्‍गुरो ।
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्याद् अपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥ 1.8.25

I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer repeated births and deaths.

Apprehending that she and her children would subsequently be missing being in touch with someone of the stature of Krishna, Kunti seeks a blessing from Him – that her family is always surrounded by some trouble or the other. The Lord is obviously surprised and bemused at someone seeking a negative blessing!

Of Challenges, Deprivation and Humiliation

Shri Ram Chandra Maharaj, affectionately referred to as Lalaji Maharaj by his followers the world over, was the original Master of the spiritual organization which is spear-heading the practice of Heartfulness Meditation globally these days. He has stated in one of his messages that there are three factors in one’s life which lead to spiritual evolution: Illat (Challenges), Quillat (Deprivation) and Zillat (Deprivation).

What is really implied here is that one needs to learn to accept challenges – major or minor – in the spirit of ‘illat’, ‘quillat’ and ‘zillat’. In other words, to have a little less money than necessary; to have a little less than good health; and to always have critics around one. Those who are on the path to an inward growth would do well to receive such brickbats and rocks as fragrant bouquets which life bestows on one.

The real examples quoted earlier in this context aptly justify this sobering thought.

Negatives support us better!

Swami Vivekananda, in his notes on Karma-Yoga, has the following to say:

‘Good and evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out their inner fire more than praise.’

Perhaps, if Mahatma Gandhi had not been kicked out of a train for traveling first class at Pietermaritzburg in 1893 in South Africa, the history of Indian continent might have been quite different!

The argument here is not that one should willingly court challenges and negativity in life. It is merely to state a basic truth in life – that challenges have an upside too.

The rhinoceroses of challenges

Challenges come in all sizes, hues and degrees of seriousness. Each challenge faced by one in life eventually results in speeding up one’s progress on the tricky path of evolution. One gains maturity and experience. One learns to be grateful when one is feeling unduly elated, and graceful when feeling totally down. One learns to be more careful and patient.

Challenges are blessings which bring about changes which uplift and enrich one. Our Guardian Angels would never desert us. Instead, they plan their furloughs in such a way that while they are having a rollicking time on a distant planet, one gets precisely the kind of challenges which enable us to become more humane, more pragmatic and more professional in our dealings with people and with situations.

One’s fight with mighty challenges in career and life could be decisively won by using the firepower of the tools in one’s arsenal – A relentless drive to keep upgrading one’s knowledge base and skill-sets, and to have faith in a higher power. An attitude of surrender enables one to march on in life, with one’s chin up, a smile adorning one’s visage, and a steely resolve to make the approaching rhinoceroses-like challenges to wilt and retreat into their own comfort zones.

(Sources:

The Spider’s Web, Vol. 3, Chapter “Attitude”, by Shri P Rajagopalachari;

Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Action, Chapter “Karma In Its Effect on Character”, Swami Vivekananda, ISBN 81-85301-89-1

Illustrations courtesy www)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/when-life-hurls-big-rocks-at-one)

 

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