Archive for the ‘women’ Category

Ancient Wit and Wisdom

July 22, 2009

LAUGH and LEARN
HUMOR WISDOM ENJOYMENT AND EDUCATION

By

VIKRAM KARVE

Everyone loves stories.

So whenever I want to drive home my point or communicate a message, I like to tell a story rather than pontificate.

Everyone loves to laugh.

Yes, storytelling is certainly more enjoyable if you add a dash of humour than laborious dogmatic pontificating or moral lectures.

Laughing and Learning go together.

Enjoyable learning is more effective as wit and humour are excellent vehicles for transmission of views and values besides the important fact that you do not bore, annoy, or hurt egos.

I am, therefore, always in search of such stories, tales, and parables, which impart wisdom and produce spiritual growth, and there is plenty of ancient wit and wisdom enshrined in teaching stories flourishing all around both oriental and occidental which have stood the test of time through the ages.

Teaching Stories are not mere jokes.

Teaching Stories relate events that are funny, foolish, bemusing, and sometimes even apparently stupid. But they usually have deeper meanings.

A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways.

At first you may just have a good laugh but as you think about it the significance becomes more and more profound.

Each story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.

An example of the concept of teaching stories is embodied in the tales of the inimitable Mulla Nasrudin narrated by Sufis to illustrate aspects of human behaviour which are relevant to both our personal and professional lives.

Last week I told someone this Mulla Nasrudin Story:

Mulla Nasrudin’s donkey died and he went into deep mourning weeping inconsolably. A friend seeing Nasrudin crying bitterly consoled, “What’s wrong with you – you didn’t weep and mourn so much even when your first wife died.”

“When my wife died all of you promised to find a younger and more beautiful wife for me – and indeed you did. However, nobody has promised to replace my donkey.”

And I’m sure you have heard this one:

One night, Nasrudin was on his hands and knees searching for his key in a well-lit area in the centre of the street. Some of his neighbours came to see why Nasrudin was on his hands and knees.

“What are you looking for, Nasrudin?” enquired one of his neighbours.

“My door key,” Nasrudin replied.

The helpful neighbours dropped to their hands and knees and joined Nasrudin in his search for the lost key.

After a long unsuccessful search, one of the neighbours asked: “We’ve looked everywhere. Are you sure you dropped it here?”

Nasrudin answers: “Of course I didn’t drop it here; I dropped it outside my door.”

“Then, why are you looking for it here?”

“Because there is much more light here,” responded Nasrudin.


When one reads or hears several Nasrudin tales, they can have a compelling effect. You can reflect, introspect or take them with a pinch of salt – the choice is yours.

You may ask the storyteller: “You relate stories, but do not tell us how to understand them” – to which he will reply: “How would you like it if the shopkeeper from whom you bought a banana ate it before your eyes, leaving you only the skin?”

One of the great bonuses in learning through humour is that even as you have a good time and doubt that you have learned anything, the lessons penetrate subtly, and stay with you, to come alive when the need arises. 

A few years ago, while walking home one evening, I stopped for a browse at Mumbai’s famous Strand Book Fair, held every January, at SNDT University’s Sunderbai Hall near Churchgate.

I saw a book – Tales of the Dervishes – and began browsing, and became so engrossed in the Sufi teaching stories that I lost all sense of time, and before I realized it, the clock struck eight and it was time to close.

Seeing the crowd, and in a hurry to get home, I decided to come the next day to buy the book, but when I did come the next day the one and only copy of this book which I liked so much had been sold out.

Since then I had been hunting for this rare elusive book and I was truly delighted to find a copy at Landmark Bookstore on Moledina Road in Pune Camp a few months ago.

Dear Reader, permit me to tell you a bit about this wonderful book, a truly delightfully illuminating assortment of Sufi Teaching Stories.

Title: Tales of the Dervishes

Author: Idries Shah (1967)

Arkana Penguin (1993)

ISBN 0-14-019358-8

The author has collated a very meaningful selection of Sufi Teaching Stories ranging from the 7th century to the 20th century and has given chronological references to sources which comprise Sufi Masters, classics and manuscripts.

I am sure you may be familiar with a few of these classic tales of wisdom, or versions of them, like The Three Fishes, How to Catch Monkeys, and The Blind Ones and the Matter of the Elephant, but there are so many unique gems of wit and wisdom.

I recommend that you must read each teaching story thrice.

Yes, thrice!

Read the story once. It may entertain you; maybe produce a laugh, like a joke.

Read the story the second time. Reflect on it. Apply it to your life. That will give you a taste of self-discovery.

Read the story again, for the third time, after you have reflected on it. Carry the story around in your mind all day and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain. This will give you a feel for the mystical and you will develop the art of tasting and feeling the inner meaning of such stories to the point that they transform you.

I’ll not tell you more about the droll, witty, entertaining yet tremendously meaningful and enlightening tales in this book – that you must read yourself – but I will end this piece by narrating my favourite Mulla Nasrudin teaching story:

On his way from Persia to India, Mulla Nasrudin saw a man selling a small long green fruit which he had never seen before.  Curious, he asked the vendor:  “What is this lovely fruit?”

“Chillies. Fresh Green Chillies,” said the Vendor.

Mulla Nasrudin gave the vendor a gold coin and the Vendor was so overjoyed that he gave Nasrudin the full basket of green Chillies.

Mulla Nasrudin sat down under a tree and started to munch the Chillies and   within a few seconds, his mouth was burning. Tears streamed down his cheeks, his nose watered copiously and there was fire his throat.

But, utterly nonchalant, Nasrudin went on eating the chillies and his condition began to get worse and worse.

Seeing his pitiable condition, a passerby asked, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you stop eating those hot Chillies?”

“May be there is one that is sweet, “Nasrudin answered. “I keep waiting for the sweet one!” Nasrudin said and he kept on eating the fiery Chillies.

On his way back, the passerby saw that Mulla Nasrudin’s condition had become even more terrible, but he kept on eating, and the basket of Chillies was almost empty.

“Stop at once or you will die.  There are no sweet Chillies!” the passerby shouted at Nasrudin.

“I cannot stop until I have finished the whole basketful,” Nasrudin said, croaking in agony, “I have paid for the full basket   I am not eating Chillies anymore.  I am eating my money”.

Dear Reader – Read this story once more, close your eyes, think about it and let the story perambulate in your mind, reflect on it, and apply it to your life.

Don’t we cling on to things, people and places that we know we should let go and move on, at first hoping to find ‘sweet one’ and even when we discover that there is no ‘sweet chilli’ we still continue to shackle and bind ourselves to material things, memories and persons who we know are painful, harmful and detrimental just to ‘get our money’s worth’ when we should ‘let go’ and move on in life and liberate ourselves.

Hey, there I go pontificating again.

It’s time for you, Dear Reader, to read The Tales of the Dervishes and it is high time you enlightened me with a Teaching Story.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this review.

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My Food Adventures

December 9, 2008

APPETITE FOR A STROLL 

[Foodie Adventures, Simple Recipes, Musings on The Art of Eating and Vikram Karve’s Authentic Guide to Value For Money Food in Mumbai and Pune]


By


VIKRAM KARVE

Please click the link and read the review of Appetite for a Stroll titled Food for Soul in the Indian Express [Pune] Sunday 7th September 2008 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/358363.html

expressonline book review

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Food-for-soul/358363/#

 

If you want to get a copy of the book just click the links below:

 

http://www.indiaplaza.in/finalpage.aspx?storename=books&sku=9788190690096&ct=2

 

http://books.sulekha.com/book/appetite-for-a-stroll/default.htm

 

 

I am sure you will enjoy reading the book.

Happy Reading and Happy Eating

 

 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve

VIKRAM KARVE

Swami Rama Selected Poems

March 20, 2008

Book Review Swami Rama: Selected PoemsAn Insight on Life EnlightenedCompiled & Translated by Shakuntala BodasPublished New Delhi 2007   My indefatigable aunt Shakuntala Bodas, an ardent and committed devotee of Swami Rama, has authored a number of books in English, Hindi and Marathi on Swami Rama, his life and his teachings. My favorite is Swami Rama : Selected Poems – An Insight on Life Enlightened compiled & translated by Shakuntala Bodas. Pessimism or disappointment is living deathSo please do not allow it entrance into your mindKeep your body, mind, and energy filledWith enthusiasm, coupled with peace and balanced mind. This is an excerpt from the poem titled The Secret of a Happy Life.   Poetry, breathtaking in its simplicity, expressing clear thoughts and delivering precise message – that is the beauty of the poems in this compilation.  The book has a large number of simple evocative poems; each one will touch your soul in some way or the other. The sincere devotion, earnest zeal and erudition of the author are evident in the free-hand translations, and as one absorbs the delightful poems, one does experience a sense of sublime joy. At the beginning of the book, Shakuntala Bodas explains the background, reasons for writing this book, and recounts the life story of Swami Rama. Her effortless, attractive writing style makes this book a delight to read. Dear Reader, doesn’t matter whether you are spiritually inclined or not, get a copy of this book, carry it with you, open a page at random, read a poem, and you will feel inspired and spiritually elated.    [Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve] http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve vikramkarve@hotmail.com vikramkarve@sify.com  

A Delightful Book for Dog Lovers – Marley & Me – Book Review

December 11, 2007

Click the link or read the review posted below the link

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/12/marley-amp-me-life-and-love-with-the-world-s-worst.htm

BOOK REVIEW  MARLEY & MELife and Love with the World’s Worst Dog By John Grogan [Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2006]ISBN 0 340 92209 5  

[Reviewed by Vikram Karve]

  The essence of this book is encapsulated in the ruminations of the author after he buried his beloved dog Marley: “Was it possible for a dog – any dog, but especially a nutty, wildly uncontrollable one like ours – to point humans to the things that really mattered in life? I believed it was. Loyalty. Courage. Devotion. Simplicity. Joy. And the things that did not matter, too. A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him…A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not.”  We have a dog – a Doberman called Sherry. We have given her our hearts and she has given us her unconditional loyalty, devotion and love. She never demands much. A walk in the morning, a walk in the evening, a bit of playing, a meal, a bit of baby talk and cuddly love, and she fills our moments with her natural spontaneous exuberant devotion, warm affection, zeal and joy. It’s true – in order to understand the art of living completely one must keep a dog at least once in one’s lifetime.  In this wonderful book the author describes his thirteen-year “love affair” with his Labrador retriever Marley, who enlivened the life of a young married couple, shared their moments of happiness and grief, and ensured there was never a dull moment in their family life. Marley certainly wasn’t the “perfect adorable model dog” – in fact, the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog” who won their hearts with his faithful devotion and wholehearted love.  The first person narrative lends an air of authenticity and intimacy to the story. The friendly, simple writing style makes this book an easy read foe all ages. In the preface, he describes his delightful childhood days with his dog Shaun who was his faithful companion from when the author was ten years old for fourteen years till the author completed his college education and moved on to work. Shaun was a perfect dog who set the standard by which the author would judge all other dogs to come. Having set such a high benchmark, it’s no wonder the author calls Marley the “world’s worst dog”!  I will not delve on Marley’s story. You and deprive you of the pleasure of discovering it yourself. If you are a dog lover and have been a dog owner you will chuckle in your mind’s eye as you read about the naughty antics of Marley and recall similar frolics by your very own dog. If you have never kept a dog and are thinking of doing so then you’ll get an idea of what to expect! Marley’s life story makes one thing evident – once a dog comes into your home, he will soon win the hearts of your entire family and friends and change the way you look at life forever.  

Narrating the trials and tribulations owing to Marley’s sometimes exasperating behavior, interspersed with the story of his own family life including the spats with his wife due to Marley, the moments of happiness and pain the shared with Marley, and the hilarious episodes like the one when Marley was kicked out of the dog-training obedience classes, John Morgan writes in racy style which will keep you engrossed – once you start reading you will laugh, you will cry, at times a flood of emotion will engulf you; but you will remain captivated – the book is “unputdownable”.

  

Just like it happened to the author, the pressures of work may separate my darling dog Sherry and me for the first time since she came into our lives one and a half years ago. She has become such an inseparable part of my life. I dread to think of what is going to happen. Can I live without Sherry? Where will Sherry live? I wonder if there are any boarding kennels or dog-sitters here in India, especially at Pune. How will my dear Sherry cope without me? And what will I do without her? Sherry and me, we both will be heart-broken. I pray to God that something will work out for the better and Sherry and I will always be together. Dear Friends, do pray for us.

  

I loved reading “Marley and Me” and commend this superb book. If you are a dog lover you will enjoy every moment of this enthralling tale. Even if you are not a dog lover you will love this mirthful, moving story of Marley and his family. At times, tears may well up in your eyes. This delightful memoir reminds us that like Marley, we must all live our life to its fullest and, most importantly, we must learn to love people unconditionally, like dogs do. Read this heartwarming book, give it to your children and you’ll be surprised how much a dog can change your life for the better and how much we humans can learn from dogs.

   Reviewed by Vikram Waman KarvePuneIndia  http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve http://www.ryze.com/go/karve vikramkarve@hotmail.com vikramkarve@sify.com             

Baramati

December 3, 2007

BARAMATI

By

VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE

Baramati. My birthplace. Baramati – half a decade ago, the then dusty mofussil town in the back of beyond, where I was born on the 12th of September in 1956, which has now metamorphosed into a vibrant oasis of agriculture, education and industry.

We visited Baramati on Saturday, the 1st of December 2007 – a visit so memorable, so delightful, so enlightening, and so nostalgic that I must tell you about it.

It all started on the spur of the moment, when my 75-year-old mother, who is suffering from an advanced stage of Age Related Macular Degeneration [ARMD] of both her retinas and is fast losing what little remains of her eyesight, suggested we visit Baramati, so that we could see the memories of her childhood. I too was keen to see my birthplace, where I was born and spent some of my earlier holidays, evoking in me nostalgic memories of the fun and frolic, the hurda parties at my grandfather’s farm, and was especially keen to see the much-praised state-of-the-art campus of Vidya Pratishthan and its modern College of Engineering at Vidyanagari about which I had heard so much.

We started off from Pune in the morning at eight thirty in our dependable Santro, picking up an ex-Baramatikar Bipin Pole, who had so readily agreed to accompany and guide us along, hit Shankershet road, crossed Hadapsar, and turned right and sped towards Baramati via the Saswad, Jejuri, Morgaon route. It’s a smooth drive, and soon we were negotiating our way up the Dive Ghat, glancing at the once brimming with water, now dry, Mastani Lake or Talav, down below to our left, crossed Saswad [where we would stop on our way back to meet my uncle], and soon could see the majestic Jejuri Temple atop the peak straight ahead. Crossing Jejuri, a pleasant drive, and soon we saw the famous Ashtavinayak Morgaon Ganesh Temple [where we would all pray and pay our obeisance].

At Morgaon we turned left on our final leg towards Baramati, leaving the Indian Seamless Metal Tubes factory to our right and as we crossed Medad Fort to our left we started to get a feel of the transformation seeing the excellent quality broad roads. As we approached the town I experienced a sense of déjà vu [I was visiting Baramati for the first time since the early nineteen sixties – after almost forty five years] as we approached Dr. Atul Pole’s dispensary opposite the then Shyam Talkies [now replaced by the modern and elegant Vidya Pratishtan Office Complex but the road is still known as Cinema Road]. It was almost noon; we’d covered the little over 100 kilometers distance in three hours.

Dr. Atul Pole [son of the illustrious “Pole Doctor”] and his charming wife were waiting for us with delicious upma and refreshing piping hot tea, and after refreshing ourselves we were off towards Vidyanagari, the campus of Vidya Pratishthan. Turning right on Bhigwan Road, past the canal, and the once narrow gauge [I remember traveling by the Daund – Baramati Toy Train] railway station adorned with its commemorative little steam engine as a remembrance of its heritage, we drove smoothly on the broad top quality road past the elegant court building and swanky well laid out colonies and soon reached Vidyanagari. It’s a pleasure to drive on the smooth spacious traffic-free roads – the roads here are certainly better that the roads in Pune.

The moment you reach Vidyanagari you feel as if you have entered another world. Vidyanagari’s truly impressive pristine, lush green, verdant campus, echoing with elevating silence, engenders within you that unique sense of tranquility and academic ambiance which is a sine qua non of a genuine learning environment. The museum is truly inspiring and exquisite – you’ve got to see it to visualize how dazzling and awe-inspiring it is. I was overwhelmed with a wonderful feeling as we strolled leisurely through the scenic soothing green campus.

Outside it had the old-world charm of the beautiful serene university milieu of yesteryear; inside the facilities and infrastructure were most modernistic high-tech state-of-the-art. A lovely symbiosis of nature and technology indeed!

In the good old days premier residential engineering colleges like Roorkee, BENCO and even the earlier IITs were located in self-contained campuses far away from the hustle-bustle and distractions of city life in order to facilitate holistic learning – the Vidya Pratishthan’s College of Engineering at Vidyanagari has similar favorable environs and academic atmosphere conducive to peaceful undisturbed learning and all round development.

We walk past students in their smart college T-shirts, admiring the rambling playgrounds, the superb well-stocked library, the neat hostels and faculty quarters and the impressive VIIT building and reach the magnificent College of Engineering building where we enjoy a fruitful interaction with a most pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic senior faculty member Prakash Gogte who tells us all about his premier institution. As we leave, I wonder whether someday I’ll be back in Baramati to be a part of this wonderful institution.

We now drive around the new parts of Baramati and arrive at the Maalya Varchi Devi temple and offer prayers. Then we drive back into the old part of Baramati, past the erstwhile Siddhaye hospital where I was born, down Station Road to my grandfather’s ancient majestic house which still stands strong. [My grandfather came to Baramati in the early 1920’s and his address was simple – KN Gokhale, BA. LL.B., Pleader, Station Road, Baramati].

Tears of nostalgia well up in my mother’s eyes as she goes around the ancient house – her childhood home. A school classmate and some acquaintances come to meet her and they are all so happy reminiscing and exchanging notes about their friends and families. Seeing the joy on my mother’s face I am glad we came to Baramati.

We see the important places nearby –the Siddheshwar temple, Bhuikot Fort [the earlier location of the court where my grandfather worked] and drive on the banks of the Karha river. It’s late afternoon now, and my mother has to be back home before dark owing to her vision deterioration, so we head back for Pune.

I’m glad we visited Baramati. Truly admirable breathtaking development and a marvelous transformation from the fleeting memories of the once dusty little mofussil town I had in my mind. I’m going to visit Baramati and rediscover more of my roots again and again – maybe next time by train via Daund. I hope they start convenient fast trains from Pune so that Baramati is as easily accessible by rail as it is by road.

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2007

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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PUNE Queen of the Deccan

October 7, 2007

Pune is the most happening city in Western India.

 Are you from Pune, a true blue Punekar? Or do you want to know more about Pune and its glorious heritage, history and past?

 I recently came across a very informative book on Pune – why don’t you click the link below and read about it

 http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/10/pune-queen-of-the-deccan.htm

And do send me your comments

Vikram Karve

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

Lin Yutang – The Importance of Living

August 10, 2007

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING

 

 

 

Book Review of THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING by LIN YUTANG

 

[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]

 

by

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is one book you will never find in my bookcase – you will always find it by my bedside near my pillow. At night, just before I sleep, I open the book to any random page, and read till I drift off to blissful idyllic sleep.

 

 

 

The name of this book, which has had a profound effect on me, maybe even subconsciously shaped my philosophy of life, is called: The Importance of Living written in 1937 by the Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang.

 

 

 

But first, let me tell you a story, maybe apocryphal, about a scholar who had thoroughly studied the Bhagavad Gita for many years, considered himself an expert, traveled far and wide delivering discourses on the teachings of the Gita and was widely acknowledged as an authority on the subject. His ultimate desire was to deliver a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita at Benares, which was the sanctum sanctorum of learning. So he went to Benares, and impressed by the scholar’s erudition and fame the king invited him to deliver a discourse on the Gita in his court. All the wise men of Benares assembled to hear the Scholar, but just as he began to speak the king interrupted him and told him to read the Bhagavad Gita one more time in the evening and deliver his discourse the next day. The Scholar was furious but he had no choice but to comply with the king’s wishes.

 

 

 

As he read the Gita in the evening, he realized some new meanings and updated his speech accordingly. Next day the same thing happened – the moment the scholar began to speak the king interrupted him and told him to read the Gita once more and then come and give his lecture. And again as the Scholar read the Gita he comprehended some new wisdom – something he hadn’t perceived before. So he incorporated his new findings and proceeded to deliver his talk.

 

 

 

Again the same thing happened – the king interrupted him and told him to read the Gita once more before he gave his discourse. And again the scholar discovered some new wisdom in the Gita. This cycle went on for days till the scholar realized how ignorant he was and how much more there was to learn form the Gita that he gave up the idea of delivering the discourse and decided to devote himself completely to the study of the Bhagavad Gita.

 

 

 

And the one morning, when the scholar was deeply immersed in his study, the king went to the scholar’s house, sat before him with folded hands and requested the scholar to enlighten him about the teachings of the Gita.

 

 

 

It’s the same with any great book. Every time you read it, something new emerges, and you realize you have so much more to learn from it. I have read The Importance of Living innumerable times, again and again, with renewed pleasure, and every time I read it I imbibe a different flavor, and grasp new wisdom, which delves on all aspects of the art of living, and I have realized that there is more significance and value in Lin Yutang’s magnum opus than I am capable of appreciating. So let me not be as presumptuous as to attempt to evaluate this classic treatise – I’ll just try to gently pilot you along in random vignettes to give you a flavor of this delightful philosophical gem.

 

 

 

Let’s open this delightful book to a few random pages, read some lines to give you glimpse into the wisdom on the art of living contained in this masterpiece. In the section on Leisure and Friendship are these words: “Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what the people of the world take leisurely”. Reflect on this, let these words perambulate in your mind for some time. There is nothing that man enjoys more than leisure. The highest value of time is when you are doing what you love and want to do. During leisure you are free to choose what you want to do and enjoy doing. So leisure enables you realize the highest value of your time!

 

 

 

Tell me, why do you work? Is it for job satisfaction? Or is it to earn money so that you can enjoy satisfaction off the job? In fact, most of us work for our leisure, because there is nothing we enjoy more than leisure. Elaborating on a theory of leisure the book says: “Time is useful because it is not being used. Leisure is like unoccupied floor space in a room…it is that unoccupied space which makes a room habitable, as it is our leisure hours which make life endurable”. Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.

 

 

 

Enunciating the distinction between Buddhism and Taoism: “The goal of the Buddhist is that he shall not want anything, while the goal of the Taoist is that he shall not be wanted at all”, the author describes the tremendous advantages of obscurity, deduces that only he who is not wanted by the public can be a carefree individual, and only he who is a carefree individual can be a happy human being and concludes with a philosophy: “Nothing matter to a man who says nothing matters”.

 

 

 

“How are we to live? How shall we enjoy life, and who can best enjoy life?” The feast of life is before us; the only question is what appetite we have for it. The appetite is the thing, and not the feast. The book has fourteen chapters on various facets of the importance and enjoyment of living and once you start reading it is unputdownable. The Importance of Loafing, The Enjoyment of the Home, Nature, Travel, Culture, The Art of Thinking, Eating, Reading, Writing – the range and variety of topics covered indeed make fascinating reading.

 

 

 

The best way to read this book is to browse whatever appeals to you, randomly, in an unstructured and haphazard manner. Think of yourself as a traveler in the philosophical or spiritual domain. The essence of travel is to have no destination. A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to; a perfect traveler does not know where he came from!

 

 

 

Are you the ambitious competitive go-getter obsessed with an overpowering desire for achieving quick success – craving for power, wealth, fame, and the status and money-oriented aspects of life? Do you value material possessions more than peace of mind? Is external achievement more important than inner tranquility? Then don’t read this book now, as you may be too “busy” in the competitive rat race and don’t have any time to “waste” on anything that doesn’t give you something tangible in return. Read The Importance of Living after you’ve burned out, had a heart attack or nervous breakdown – when you’ll have plenty of time and, perhaps, the inclination to reflect, contemplate and delve upon the more intangible philosophical aspects of life.

 

 

 

But if you are happy where you are and content with what you have, place living above thinking, and are interested in savoring the feast of life and its joys, then this witty philosophical treatise on the art of living in its entirety is the book for you. The Importance of Living presents an uncomplicated approach to living life to its fullest in today’s rapidly changing, fast paced, competitive, ambition dominated, money and status oriented, commercialized world, enabling each one of us to enjoy inner peace and happiness.

 

   

 

Sometimes, it is a great pity to read a good book too early in life. The first impression is the one that counts. Young people should be careful in their reading, as old people in eating their food. They should not eat too much. They should chew it well. Like you should eat gourmet food only when you are ready for it, you should read a good book only when you are ready for it. Mature wisdom cannot be appreciated until one becomes mature.

 

 

 

But The Importance of Living is a book for all ages. Of 1937 vintage, an ancestor and precursor of modern “self-help” books, it is a delightful philosophical treatise, which advocates a humorous and vagabond attitude towards life and deals with a variety of topics encompassing the art of living. Is such a philosophy of life relevant today? Read the book, try out and practice whatever appeals to you in your daily life, experiment, enjoy yourself, elevate your plane of living, and maybe your entire way of life may change forever.

 

 

 

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

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FOOD

June 29, 2007

 FOOD   

Food is a basic necessity of man, not just a mere necessity but a desire, and, probably, there is no greater love than the love of food.

 

 

I am an avid Foodie, and not only do I love and relish eating good food, but I am fond of all aspects of food – reading, writing, watching about food. So when I chanced upon an appetizing anthology, of writings on Food, in my library I was indeed enticed. Dear Reader, and Fellow Foodie, let me tell you about it.

 

 

Title: FOOD  An Oxford Anthology

Edited by: BRIGID ALLEN

Published by: Oxford University Press (1994)

ISBN 0-19-212327-0

 

 

The brief introduction elucidates that “The chief objects of this anthology are to satisfy curiosity (about what and how people ate, what they felt about food, how they celebrated with it, and how it varied from country to country and region to region), and to provide both pleasure and literary reflection.” The anthology comprises pieces of prose and poetry which explore attitudes, emotional and social resonances connected with food.

 

 

The anthology comprises six parts titled – People, Foodstuffs and Cooking, Eating at Home and Abroad, Lavishness, Austerity, and Food and Emotions – and each past contains a number of interesting sections on a variety of topics ranging from Food and Character, Eating Habits, Recipes, Parties and Ceremonial Food to explorations between Food and various emotions like Dreams, fantasy, Distress, Happiness, Sensuality, Love, and Sex.

 

 

“Food is a profound subject and one, incidentally, about which no writer lies,” writes Iris Murdoch (p 20) in the featured extract of The Sea, The Sea, in the chapter on Eating Habits, and continues, “I wonder whence I derived my felicitous gastronomic intelligence.”  Appetizing descriptions of food experienced by travelers all over the world, including on board ships, are featured in the section on Eating at Home and Abroad. The pieces on India (reminiscent of the Raj including pieces by VS Naipaul and EM Forster) make entertaining reading as do the recipes in poetry form.

 

 

The meat of the book is the section titled “Lavishness” comprising writings on Ceremonial Food, Parties, Greed, Excess – and lest you get carried away and indulge yourself too much there immediately follows the chapter on “Austerity” which extols the virtues of Simple Food, Diets and Dieting and goes on to kill your appetite with nauseating stomach-churning prose and poems on Unpleasant Food.

 

 

I enjoyed the chapter on Food and Emotions. Here is a poem on Food and Happiness “TO A POOR OLD WOMAN” (p 388):

 munching a plum onthe street a paper bagof them in her hand They taste good to herThey taste goodto her. They taste

good to her.

  

And what can I say on the concluding section of the anthology titled “Food, Sensuality, Love, and Sex”? Well, Dear Reader, why don’t you read it for yourself?

 

 

The dust jacket, with a decorative illustration of a vegetable market on the cover, introduces the Editor, Brigid Allen, as a cookery writer and historian educated at Oxford and London Universities and indeed she has compiled an appetizing, droll and enjoyable collection of writing on Food. A good book on food – nourishing reading for foodies and bibliophiles alike.

    VIKRAM KARVE  

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Maharshi Karve

June 14, 2007

MAHARSHI KARVE BOOKS ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES

 By

 VIKRAM KARVE

 I have before me three books on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve:

 (i) His autobiography titled ‘Looking Back’ published in 1936.

 (ii) Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar published in 1958 by Popular Prakashan Bombay (Mumbai)

 (iii) Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years published on 18 April 1963 ( His 106th birth anniversary) by Hingne Stree Shiksan Samstha Poona (Pune)

Allow me to tell you, Dear Reader, a bit about these books which describe the life and times of Maharshi Karve and tell us about the monumental pioneering work of one of the foremost social and educational reformers of India. It would be apt to start with his autobiography – Looking Back, and let Maharshi Karve describe his life and work from his own point of view in his simple yet fascinating style. I am placing below a Book Review of his autobiography (which I had reviewed a few months ago) for your perusal:

 Book Review of The Autobiography of Maharshi Karve: “Looking Back” by Dhondo Keshav Karve (1936)

 Dear Reader, you must be wondering why I am reviewing an autobiography written in 1936. Well, till recently I stayed on Maharshi Karve Road in Mumbai. I share the same surname as the author. Also, I happen to be the great grandson of Maharshi Karve. But, beyond that, compared to him I am a nobody – not even a pygmy. Maharshi Karve clearly knew his goal, persisted ceaselessly throughout his life with missionary zeal and transformed the destiny of the Indian Woman. The first university for women in India – The SNDT University and educational institutions for women covering the entire spectrum ranging from pre-primary schools to post-graduate, engineering, vocational and professional colleges bear eloquent testimony to his indomitable spirit, untiring perseverance and determined efforts. In his preface, Frederick J Gould, renowned rationalist and lecturer on Ethics, writes that “the narrative is a parable of his career” – a most apt description of the autobiography. The author tells his life-story in a simple straightforward manner, with remarkable candour and humility; resulting in a narrative which is friendly, interesting and readable. Autobiographies are sometimes voluminous tomes, but this a small book, 200 pages, and a very easy comfortable enjoyable read that makes it almost unputdownable. Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve writes a crisp, flowing narrative of his life, interspersed with his views and anecdotes, in simple, straightforward style which facilitates the reader to visualize through the author’s eyes the places, period, people and events pertaining to his life and times and the trials and tribulations he faced and struggled to conquer. Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve was born on 18th of April 1858. In the first few chapters he writes about Murud, his native place in Konkan, Maharashtra, his ancestry and his early life– the description is so vivid that you can clearly “see” through the author’s eye. His struggle to appear in the public service examination (walking 110 miles in torrential rain and difficult terrain to Satara), and his shattering disappointment at not being allowed to appear because “he looked too young”, make poignant reading. “Many undreamt of things have happened in my life and given a different turn to my career” he writes, and then goes on to describe his high school and, later, college education at The Wilson College Bombay (Mumbai) narrating various incidents that convinced him of the role of destiny and serendipity in shaping his life and career as a teacher and then Professor of Mathematics. He married at the age of fourteen but began his marital life at the age of twenty! This was the custom of those days. Let’s read the author’s own words on his domestic life: “… I was married at the age of fourteen and my wife was then eight. Her family lived very near to ours and we knew each other very well and had often played together. However after marriage we had to forget our old relation as playmates and to behave as strangers, often looking toward each other but never standing together to exchange words…. We had to communicate with each other through my sister…… My marital life began under the parental roof at Murud when I was twenty…” Their domestic bliss was short lived as his wife died after a few years leaving behind a son… “Thus ended the first part of my domestic life”… he concludes in crisp witty style. An incident highlighting the plight of a widow left an indelible impression on him and germinated in him the idea of widow remarriage. He married Godubai, who was widowed when she was only eight years old, was a sister of his friend Mr. Joshi, and now twenty three was studying at Pandita Ramabai’s Sharada Sadan as its first widow student. Let’s read in the author’s own words how he asked for her hand in marriage to her father – “I told him…..I had made up my mind to marry a widow. He sat silent for a minute and then hinted that there was no need to go in search of such a bride”. He describes in detail the ostracism he faced from some orthodox quarters and systematically enunciates his life work – his organization of the Widow Marriage Association, Hindu Widows Home, Mahila Vidyalaya, Nishkama Karma Math, and other institutions, culminating in the birth of the first Indian Women’s University (SNDTUniversity). The trials and tribulations he faced in his life-work of emancipation of education of women (widows in particular) and how he overcame them by his persistent steadfast endeavours and indomitable spirit makes illuminating reading and underlines the fact that Dr. DK Karve was no arm-chair social reformer but a person devoted to achieve his dreams on the ground in reality. These chapters form the meat of the book and make compelling reading. His dedication and meticulousness is evident in the appendices where he has given datewise details of his engagements and subscriptions down to the paisa for his educational institutions from various places he visited around the world to propagate their cause. He then describes his world tour, at the ripe age of 71, to meet eminent educationists to propagate the cause of the Women’s University, his later domestic life and ends with a few of his views and ideas for posterity. At the end of the book, concluding his autobiography, he writes: “Here ends the story of my life. I hope this simple story will serve some useful purpose”. He wrote this in 1936. He lived on till the 9th of November 1962, achieving so much more on the way, was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters ( D.Litt.) by the famous and prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1942 followed by Universities of Poona in 1951, SNDT in 1955, and Bombay(LL.D.) in 1957. Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve received the Padma Vibhushan in 1955 and the India’s highest honour the “Bharat Ratna” in 1958, a fitting tribute on his centenary at the age of 100. It is an engrossing and illuminating autobiography, written in simple witty readable storytelling style, and it clearly brings out the mammoth contribution of Maharshi Karve and the trials and tribulations he faced..

Epilogue

I (the reviewer) was born in 1956, and have fleeting memories of Maharshi Karve, during our visits to Hingne Stree Sikshan Samstha in 1961-62, as a small boy of 5 or 6 can. My mother tells me that I featured in a Films Division documentary on him during his centenary celebrations in 1958 (I must have been barely two, maybe one and a half years old) and there is a photograph of him and his great grand children in which I feature. It is from some old timers and other people and mainly from books that I learn of his pioneering work in transforming the destiny of the Indian Woman and I thought I should share this. I have written this book review with the hope that some of us, particularly the students and alumni of SNDTUniversity, Cummins College of Engineering for Women, SOFT, Karve Institute of Social Sciences and other educational institutions who owe their very genesis and existence to Maharshi Karve, read about his stellar pioneering work and draw inspiration from his autobiography.

 Book Reviews of two books on Maharshi Karve

 As I have mentioned earlier, two other good books pertaining to the life of Maharshi Karve which I have read are: Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar, Popular Prakashan (1958) And Maharshi Karve – His 105 years, Hingne Stree Shikshan Samstha (1963).

The biography ‘Maharshi Karve by Ganesh L. Chandavarkar’ was commissioned and published by the Dr. DK Karve Centenary Celebrations Committee on 18th April 1958 the birth-centenary of Dr. DK Karve (Thousands attended the main function on 18th April 1958 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai which was addressed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister). The author, GL Chandavarkar, then Principal of Ram Mohan English school, has extensively researched the life of Dr. DK Karve, by personal interaction with the great man himself, reminiscences of his Professors, colleagues and students, and his two writings Looking back and Atma-Vritta. The author acknowledges with humility: “This is the story of the life of a simple man who has risen to greatness without being aware of it in the least. It is being told by one who can make no claim to being a writer” and then lucidly narrates the story of Maharshi Karve’s life in four parts comprising twenty four chapters in simple narrative style. Part I, comprising eight chapters, covers the early life of Dhondo Keshav Karve, from his birth to the defining moment in his life – his remarriage to Godubai who was widowed at the age of eight, within three months of her marriage, even before she knew what it was to be a wife. The first chapter vividly depicts the life and culture of Murud and Konkan in a brilliantly picturesque manner and is a fascinating read. The narrative then moves in a systematic manner encompassing the salient aspects of Maharshi Karve’s life till his birth centenary in 1958. The biographer comprehensively cover Maharshi Karve’s marital and work life, but does not throw much light on his relationships with his four illustrious sons, who were well-known in their own respective fields of work. The author avoids pontification and writes in friendly storytelling style which makes the book very interesting and readable, making it suitable for the young and old alike. I feel an epilogue covering the remaining years of his life would make the biography more complete. There is a reference index at the end and I found this book to be quite a definitive biography which could serve as a source for knowledge and inspiration to readers interested in the life and work of Maharshi Karve. The 233 page book was published by Popular Book Depot Mumbai in 1958 and I picked up a copy priced at rupees forty at the International Book Service at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune a few years ago.

Maharshi Karve – His 105 Years, published on his 106th birth anniversary, is a pictorial album depicting the life and activities of Maharshi Karve. In today’s parlance it may be called a ‘coffee table’ book, but it is a memorable reference book of lasting souvenir value which is a must for every library. The chronologically arranged sketches, photographs and captions tell Maharshi Karve’s life-story in a seamless manner. There are photographs of historical, heritage and sentimental value highlighting important milestones in his life and work. (If you want to see my picture, turn to page 98 and have a look at the small boy holding Maharshi Karve’s hands and looking at the camera. I may have been just one and a half years old then and barely able to stand!). This book is indeed a ‘collector’s item’ and was priced at a princely sum of rupees ten at the time of publication. If you wish to learn more about Maharshi Karve and draw inspiration from his life and work, do read these three books. And please do let me know if you come across literature on Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve.

 VIKRAM WAMAN KARVE

 Pune

 India

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BIBLIOTHERAPY

April 26, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOTHERAPY 

By 

VIKRAM KARVE 

 

 

 

(Book Review of THE LADIES ORACLE by CORNELIUS AGRIPPA) 

 

 

Whenever I’m in a blue mood, I browse through my bookshelves and pick up a book.
Reading is the greatest of all joys, and the moment I start reading a book I enter a different world, and this change of environment has a positive psychological effect, and lo and behold, my spirits are uplifted. Those who do not have the habit of reading remain imprisoned in their moods and immediate surroundings.
 

I’ve just picked up a delightful little book called “The Ladies Oracle” by Cornelius Agrippa from my bookcase. Let me tell you about it.  

Whenever I buy a book, I write down the date and place of purchase on its first page. I have duly recorded that I bought The Ladies Oracle on 14 February 1989 on the pavement bookstalls opposite the CTO at Fort in
Bombay as it was then known. I don’t remember what prompted me to buy The Ladies Oracle – maybe to present it to my darling wife, or maybe because there was no “The Man’s Oracle” in the pavement bookstall. But that’s not important now, so more about the book.
 

Let’s get down to using this delightful oracle. First choose a question from the ninety five listed in the book from pages (v) to (viii) numbered 5 to 100 (I wonder where the first five questions are?). 

I select question number 35: – Shall I always enjoy good health? 

Now I turn to page (i), close my eyes and put my finger on the table of signs. (I have placed my finger on the sign representing a single square). 

 Now I consult the table starting from page ten, follow the line marked by the number of the question (35th  line) till I arrive at the column which has the chosen sign over it, and this figure gives me the number of the page (74) where by looking at the sign traced by my finger I find my answer: – You will always have joy, health and prosperity! 

Fantastic! I’m feeling good already. 

Now the next question, number 15: –   How many lovers shall I have? 

I go through the procedure and the Oracle gives me the answer: – A great many, but those that have so many generally choose the worst. 

Hey, I’ve to be careful! 

The next question, number 91: – What opinion has the world of me?  

The Oracle answers: – You are thought to have had more than one adventure. 

Oh, dear! Have I? 

Shall I be happy in love? The oracle says: – You will find more pain than pleasure. 

Pretty bleak – better I steer clear of falling in love! 

Will my reputation be always good?It will always be as you make it! 

Must take care to build up a good reputation! 

Shall I go many long voyages?You will do well not to voyage farther than round your own room! 

Great! That puts an end to all my travel plans! All I’m going to do is go round and round in my room! What a gloomy answer! And I thought browsing books was supposed to lift my spirits! Okay, just one last question, and the answer better be something good, or else no more ‘bibliotherapy’ for me!  

I select question number 74: – What is the person that I am thinking about doing at this moment? and the Oracle answers: – She regrets not being with you! 

Wow! Bibliotheraphy really works. I feel thrilled, jubilant, ecstatic, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven and right on top of the world as I rush off to surprise my beloved sweetheart. And just imagine, I thought she never even thought about me! 

Long live The Ladies Oracle! 

Oh, yes. The Ladies Oracle is a delightful little book you can consult from time to time on matters of love and life, believe me you’ll enjoy it. It may be called The “Ladies” Oracle, but I feel that even men can consult it with satisfying results.  

Dear Reader, why don’t you try it out? It is a delightfully entertaining reading, guaranteed to lift your spirits. I always carry this oracle in my pocket to enliven my moments of waiting. 

Get a copy, and do let us know what questions you asked the Oracle and what answers you got!  

 

 

VIKRAM KARVE 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com