Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Good Doctor from Palestine

The Hindu featured an article on Palestinian doctor who lost his three daughtes due to Israeli tank shelling and yet who talks peaace. Here is the link:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guns and America

An engrossing and perceptive article by Ed Pilkington in The Guardian on gun culture in USA carried by The Hindu. Here is the link.

"Ponniyin Selvan" on Celluloid

The Hindu dated January 12, 2011, carried an news item about ace director Mani Ratnam planning to convert Kalki's magnum opus into a movie. Though we have come across earlier attempts, let us hope Mani's idea comes to fruition. More on Ponniyin Selvan here

Here is the news item.

After making several films with contemporary themes but with elements of history or mythology, director Mani Ratnam is now set to embark on an ambitious venture of converting Kalki's epic novel ‘Ponniyin Selvan' into a film.

Sources involved in the project said it would be a big-budget film requiring over Rs. 200 crore and Kalanidhi Maran's Sun Pictures is likely to be the producer although the agreement is yet to be finalised.

Mr. Mani Ratnam is planning a full-fledged adaptation of the novel, instead of culling out a few episodes from the narrative. Industry sources say the director has roped in noted Tamil writer Jayamohan to pen the dialogues for the film.

Ponniyin Selvan, a fictionalised account of Chola King Raja Raja I, was serialised in the Tamil weekly ‘Kalki' by celebrated writer R. Krishnamurthy.

Later, the novel was published in five volumes.

A highly popular novel known for its colourful characters such as Vanthiyathevan, Alwarkadiyan, Pazhuvettaraiyar brothers and Nandini, the story has captivated generations of readers for the last six decades.

Though the title Ponniyin Selvan is a reference to the Chola prince Arulmozhi Varman who was later known as Raja Raja I, the novel depicts a cross-section of medieval Tamil society spread over Thondai Mandalam in the north, Chola Mandalam in the Cauvery delta region and Pandi Mandalam in the south, besides one impressive volume set in Sri Lanka.

Making the film has been the dream of many a director, even actor Kamal Haasan, as bringing to life the rich tapestry of characters, episodes and locales from 10th century presents a huge challenge. The events dealt with in the story are set in the years 940-970 AD, just before the heyday of the later Cholas. Its characters included ambitious kings, brave warriors, enigmatic women, wily spies and committed political assassins.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lord' Compassion

The Hindu on January 12, 2011, in its religion column featured an article I wish to share. It talks about Lord Vishnu's boundless love for his devotees. Let me quote the article in full.

The Lord is bound by the love of His devotees. Just as an elephant is controlled by a mahout who uses a small stick to prod the animal, so does our bhakti enslave the Lord.

Our bhakti is akin to the mahout's instrument. An example of how He is tied up by our bhakti is seen in the Krishna avatara, in which Yasoda ties Him up to the pounding stone. But in reality, does she indeed tie Him up? Is it possible for us to tie up the Lord, without His willingness? In Yasoda's case, He was tied up because of her love for Him. Our love is the rope that binds Him. He allows Yasoda to tie Him up; He allows us to tie Him up with our love, said Kidambi Narayanan.

When Yasoda tries to tie Him up, she finds that the rope she has with her is always two feet short. Krishna therefore shrinks His body, so that she can tie Him up.

The Lord who measured the three worlds becomes smaller, because of Yasoda's love. Why is the rope short by two feet? Here, there is a philosophical meaning to be read into the episode. There are two things we need to approach the Lord. One is gnana and the other is anushtana, the observance of prescribed practices.

We all have pride. Unless we give up our pride, we cannot have gnana. If we realise that He is everything, He becomes a slave to us. In the Krishna avatara, He humbled Himself to become Arjuna's charioteer. He even bathed the horses! When His childhood friend Sudhama comes visiting, He seats His friend on a throne and asks His consort Rukmini to wash his feet. He remarks that the water, having touched Sudhama's feet, has become pure. He is happiest in the presence of His devotees. He says He gladly takes any name His devotees choose to give Him.

At the end of the Kurukshetra war, when Yudhistra approaches Him and asks Him what He has been doing, Krishna replies that He has been worshipping.

Surprised, Yudhistra asks Him who He has been worshipping, and Krishna replies that He has been worshipping the best of His bhaktas — Bhishma. Thus the Lord, the Supreme One, worships His devotees!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

34th Chennai Book Fair

I visited the 34th Chennai Book Fair held at St. George Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, opposite to Pachaiyappa's College on January 8, 9 and 10.

Here are some of the books I purchased