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By Vishnu Makhijani
It might seem a mythological tale but in reality is about the search for knowledge, liberation, enlightenment, consciousness and the questions on absolute realities of life.
“Janaka and Ashtavakra” is the story of the ancient King Janaka (Sita’s father) who becomes obsessed in his quest for spiritual liberation. It explores his turbulent life, an impending war in his kingdom, and the treachery and intrigue within the secretive world of his palace. When the whole world believes a calamity is imminent, Janaka upholds his conviction and deep-rooted faith that there’s a connection between what is inside and outside a person, and realizes that war is not a solution.
Hence, he goes deep within himself with his guru Ashtavakra, unravelling a new world – and eventually a new reality unfolds for the kingdom and the palace.
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“At first glance, it may seem like a mythological story, but it’s an instrument to introduce subjects about the search for knowledge, liberation, enlightenment, consciousness and the questions on absolute realities of life,” the author, Ashraf Karayath, told IANS in an email interview.
“Janaka is a true spiritual seeker, who has always asked existential questions. He is king who understood the follies and meaninglessness of the luxuries which surrounded him, and was also a saint who always sought the right path to be liberated, to be enlightened. Although the story is set a few thousand years ago in India, it throws light on the modern reader’s questions about existence, and one can easily relate himself to the king and his struggles,” Karayath added.
To this extent, “Janaka and Ashtavakra” is a compelling story that sheds light on a reader’s own existential questions, leading oneself to relate to the king and his struggles – and even has a message in these coronavirus times.
“When the whole world is gripped by fear and uncertainty, people lose their expectations and faith, and they will have anxiety, stress and fear. These are all negative emotions and they will impact our mental health very badly, which in turn, will affect our immune system.
“This is the time where we all need to calibrate ourselves to the strength of our inner wellbeing, which is dominant and inherent in us Spirituality is nothing but untapping those innate strengths. We need to have faith in a universal, timeless principle, such as ‘Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution’. Every adversity carries with it an equivalent benefit or truth,” Karayath explained.
The seeds of the book grew out of the knowledge he gained in the hustle and bustle of Dubai’s business world, said the author, who was born in the rural hamlet of Nadapuram in Kerala and moved to Abu Dhabi in the early 1990s after finishing his MA in English Literature.
“As part of my professional and business life, I had many opportunities to study management studies, self-help theories, and principle-centered leadership which we applied in our day-to-day business. I realized that it’s not the hard work that determines a person’s success, but it’s the inspired action that comes from within, when a person identifies his innate strength and vision. Although most of the management theories are deal with quick-fix approaches, some of them were deep, where one can connect truly to his inner vision.
“This is where I have realized that one can connect to his dominant inner being, which a person can unravel only if he goes within himself, and this is where spirituality becomes relevant. It’s actually about how we can cope up with our day-to-day situation, how we can find more meaning in what we are doing. Good artists, scientists, businessmen are highly spiritual, as they have realized their potential consciously or unconsciously, hence they pursue. It is the confidence that is driving them to achieve what they want to achieve,” Karayath explained.
That led him to explore literature and mythology and he had the opportunity to read many books, attend various self-development and spiritual programs. In that path, he found the wisdom contained in Ashtavakra’s Gita “interesting and shockingly revealing” and led him to question “how we can balance our life both with the existential and spiritual questions, and lead our business life”.
“Existentialism was a favourite subject of mine, but what I found in Ashtavakra‘s lessons were more advanced and revealing than what (Jean Paul) Sartre or other thinkers told during the beginning of the 20th century. I was always intrigued about the influence of subjectivity in our life, and how a world evolves out of our consciousness. When I found the profound message of Ashtavakra Gita, an idea was born in my mind to write about it,” the author said.
What’s next on the cards?
“My next project is about the concept and mystery of death and the Kathonipashad (considered one of the primary Upanishad’s) will have some influence on this,” Karayath concluded. (IANS)
The Mysore kingdom became a popular tourist destination after India became an independent country. The Wodeyar dynasty who succeeded Tipu Sultan are still royalty, but they do not rule the state. Their heritage and culture have become what Karnataka is famous for.
Among the many things that Mysore offers to the state of Karnataka, the Mysore Peta is one. In north India, various cultures have their own headgears. They wear their traditional outfits on the days of festivities and ceremonies. Likewise, in the south, especially in Karnataka, the Mysore Peta is worn.
Made of the traditional Mysore silk, the Peta is usually a white turban decorated with a gold silk thread. It is worn by the Maharaja of Mysore during Dasara, or any other public appearance. This tradition has been preserved and is used all over the state by prominent leaders.
Politicians who want to appease older, more experienced politicians, offer a peta as a sign of honour. International guests are welcomed into the city with a peta and silk shawl. In universities, the peta is worn as a replacement to the black caps, as a sign of graduation and scholarship.
Even today, in the court of Mysore, petas are worn and given out as tokens of honour. The peta of the king varies from the ones a courtier wears, and even among them, there is a difference according to status. Petas are made by a particular family and passed down from generation to generation.
Keywords: Mysore kingdom, peta, silk, Wodeyar
Renowned feminist activist, author, and a face of the women's rights movement in India, Kamla Bhasin, passed away today morning at the age of 74.
The news of the same was shared by activist Kavita Srivastava on Twitter. The tweet said, "Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women's movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief."
Bhasin, since the 1970s, has been an advocate of women's movement not just in India but other South Asian countries as well. In fact, in 2002, she founded a feminist network named as 'Sangat', which only motive was to work with underprivileged women from rural and tribal communities, often by using non-literary tools like plays, songs, and art.
Having a Master's degree in literature, Bhasin has written many books on gender theory and feminism, and interestingly, many of them have been translated into more than 30 languages. Another quick fact revolving around Bhasin is that the chant of 'Azadi', which is often heard at protests and rallies, was first popularised by her as feminist slogan against patriarchy.
Bhasin was awarded with the "Laadli Life Time Achievement Award" in the year 2017 for her commendable work.
Keywords: Kamla Bhasin, Feminism, India, Patriarchy, Literature, Feminist, Women, Rights
The 76th United Nations General Assembly session opened discussion on 14th September. The high-level General debate began on 21st September and it will continue till 27th September. The agenda of this year's UNGA session is 'Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations'. Only 109 heads of state and government will attend the session in person and approximately 60 other speakers will address the debate via pre-recorded video statements due to the ongoing pandemic.
PM Narendra Modi is the first world leader who has been scheduled to address the General Assembly. He landed in New York at 6:00 AM (IST). "Landed in New York City. Will be addressing the UNGA at 6:30 PM (IST) on the 25th," he tweeted. He was received at the airport by India's permanent representative to the UN ambassador Mr. T S Tirumurti and ambassador of India to the USA Mr. Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
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Before leaving for US PM Modi said, "I will be visiting the USA from 22-25 September 2021 at the invitation of His Excellency President Joe Biden of the United States of America. During my visit, I will review the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with President Biden and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest".
During his 5-day visit to the US PM Modi held his first bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden in the oval office of the white house. It was their first in-person meet-up after meeting on virtual mode on three different occasions. He also held a meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris joined by the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga. He held one on one meeting with the CEOs of some top companies like Qualcomm, Adobe, First Solar, General Atomics, and Blackstone. PM Modi participated in the Quad Summit held on Friday, in which the fight against Covid, climate change counterterrorism, along free and open Indo-Pacific, were the key concerns of the discussion. He also took part in Covid-19 Global Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden. Pakistan's role in terrorism was also heavily discussed
PM held a meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris joined by the Prime Minister of Australia and Japan. Twitter
Today, 25th September 2021 PM Narendra Modi will address the 76th UNGA session at 6:30 PM (IST) which will be live-streamed on various social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. PM Modi will talk about issues concerning pressing global challenges which will include the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change, and other important issues. It was in 2019 when PM Modi addressed the UN General Assembly physically as the pandemic went global in 2020, the 75th UNGA was held online where the speakers pre-recorded their speeches. In 2021, the option to pre-record statements has been kept open for the world leaders as the pandemic is worsening in some countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fly back to India after addressing the United Nations General Assembly.