Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thanjavur Big Temple

Tamil Nadu is a land chock-a-block with temples, big and small. I am not exaggerating when I say that it will take one's full life time to attempt to check out most of them. Famous temples are of course Madurai Meenakshi temple, Srirangam Ranganatha temple, Rameshwaram, Chidambaram. The most important one on the heritage front is the Big Temple of Thanjavur. Incidentally this year, 2010, marks the thousand years anniversary of its completion. Temple is also called Brihadisvara temple. It is a veritable architectural masterpiece built by Rajaraja I, the illustrious Chola emperor (985-1014). As The Hindu in its edit puts it "The high point of design is the vimana (tower over sanctum). This unusually tall vimana was a structural innovation of the first rank....on top of good design, the choice of granite contributed to its endurance. About 50,000 cubic meters of granite were utilized to build this complex..the abundant and richly detailed inscriptions found on the temple walls make it a treasure-house of historical information....Rajarajesvaram's (as the temple was known during the Chola period) contribution to the history of dance is no less important: it is the only temple to have 81 of the 108 karanas or dance postures carved on its walls."

Hoping to make a visit sometime this year.

You can learn more about the temple at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Circle of Ethics

I came across this passage and thought it would be worth sharing.

In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 150 years ago we did not include blacks. So African human beings could be captured, shipped to America, and sold. In Australia white settlers regarded Aborigines as a pest and hunted them down, much as kangaroos are hunted down today. Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter, and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics. -Peter Singer, philosopher, professor of bioethics

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chennai Book Fair 2010

33rd Chennai Book Fair

So far I have visited the book fair thrice. It was nice to see huge crowd thronging the venue. More than 450 stalls were there. I managed to check out most of the Tamizh publishers' stalls. Here is a list of few books I purchased :

1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

2. Nehru: A Contemporary´s Estimate by Walter Crocker.

3. பிரசாதம் - சுந்தர ராமசாமி.

4. அழைப்பு - சுந்தர ராமசாமி.

5. பள்ளிகொண்டபுரம் - நீலபத்மநாபன்.

6. என்பிலதனை வெயில் காயும் - நாஞ்சில் நாடன்.

7. ரப்பர் - ஜெயமோகன்.

8. மீன்காரதெரு - கீரனூர் ஜாகிர் ராஜா

9. துருக்கி தொப்பி -கீரனூர் ஜாகிர் ராஜா

10. அலகிலா விளையாட்டு - பா. ராகவன்

11. கர்நாடக சங்கீதம் - ஓர் எளிய அறிமுகம் · மகாதேவன் ரமேஷ்

Friday, January 1, 2010

Lessons from Humble Pencil

From Paulo Coelho's “Like a Flowing River: Thoughts and Reflections”

A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter.

At one point, he asked: “Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?”

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson: “I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special. “But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen”

“That depends on how you at look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.

“First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.

“Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

“Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps us to keep us on the road to justice.

“Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.

“Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.”

Wishing all bloggers a very happy and successful 2010.