Posts Tagged ‘school’

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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EMC for Product Designers – Book Review

December 9, 2008

A Comprehensive Reference Book for IT, Electronic, Telecom and Electrical Engineering and Design Professionals

 

 

Title: EMC for Product Designers

Author: Tim Williams

Elsevier [Fourth Edition, 2007] 498 pages

ISBN – 13: 978-0-75-068170-4

ISBN – 10: 0-750-68170-5

 

 

 

Most of us consider a number of factors, exoteric and esoteric, while designing [or selecting] our homes and in the configuration of the numerous modern technological devices and domestic appliances, most of them electrical and electronic, therein.

 

Recently I saw a programme on TV where a Vastu Shastra expert was advising viewers not only regarding the various aspects of designing and building living environments that are in harmony with the physical and metaphysical forces but also specifying optimal locations and layouts for various electrical and electronic appliances and devices in both residential homes and workplaces.

 

I listened with intriguing interest as he gave precise directions and specified exact locations for positioning of Televisions, Computers, Communication Devices, Microwave Ovens, Music systems and other appliances, and fascinated by the congruence between principles and aspects of Vastu and Electromagnetic Compatibility [EMC] and wondered whether the expert in reality was actually an EMC Design Engineer in addition to being a Vastu Shastra Specialist.

 

When you design or select or configure your house or office I am sure you consider various aesthetic, architectural, financial, utilitarian, geographical, interior and exterior design and other practical aspects, maybe even incorporate the principles of Vastu Shastra and Feng Shui, but do you give even a fleeting thought to EMC?

 

In today’s world with the increasing use of electrical, communication, electronic and information technologies we are under continual exposure to Electromagnetic Field [ EMFs ], both inside and outside our homes, in our workplaces and even in the open wherever we go, radiating from radiating from electricity power lines, household wiring, microwave ovens, computers, monitors, televisions, communication devices, cellular phones, electrical, electronic and IT appliances.

 

“Electro-pollution” is an increasingly serious form of Environment Pollution and merits serious consideration, as much as, if not more than, other well-known forms of pollution.

 

Electro-pollution seems to be omnipresent. Apart from hazards to our health, Electromagnetic Interference [EMI] is detrimental to the proper functioning of most electrical, electronic, IT, ITES, communication and technology-based systems and may cause malfunctions and even potentially disastrous and fatal accidents.

 

The book being reviewed – EMC for Product Designers by Tim Williams – is one of the most comprehensive reference books I have read on the subject of the Design Management aspects of Electromagnetic Interference and Electromagnetic Compatibility [EMI / EMC].

 

The book comprises sixteen chapters arranged in three parts [Legislation and Standards, Testing and Design] the author lucidly covers most micro and macro aspects of EMC Management in meticulous detail.

 

The logical sequence of topics, clear diagrams, tables and illustrations facilitate easy understanding of this complicated subject.

 

The Design Checklist, interesting Case Studies and useful mathematical formulae in the appendices and the extensive bibliography add value to this reference book.

 

Whilst the earlier chapters provide an excellent understanding of the EMC Standards and the basic theoretical principles of EMI / EMC, the “meat” of the book lies in the chapters on Systems EMC and EMC Management which encapsulate all relevant facets of EMC in a holistic manner.

 

I wish the author had included a detailed chapter on Electromagnetic Health Hazards and mitigation techniques. This most vital topic concerning all of us humans seems to have not been accorded the due importance it deserves and I hope the author presents a more holistic and systemic view of EMC and includes a comprehensive chapter on pertinent aspects of Bio-electromagnetics, Thermal and Athermal EMR Hazards and their mitigation in the next edition.

 

I commend this book – it is an excellent reference book for Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and IT Engineers and Managers, Designers, Students, practising professionals in the field and, with the increasing awareness and compliance requirements of EMC Standards worldwide, this book will prove a valuable addition to the shelnves of engineering and technical libraries.

 

 

 

[EMC for Product Designers – Book Review by VIKRAM KARVE]

 

 

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Symbiosis Biography of an Idea

November 24, 2007

 

Book Review  Symbiosis: Biography of an IdeaBy Dr. S.B. Mujumdar[Macmillan India 2007]ISBN: 9780230633681  

Symbiosis is a landmark institution of Pune. That’s why when I saw this book while browsing at the Crossword Bookstore I instantly picked it up and started reading it. As I read, I found the book so engrossing that I could put it down only after I had finished reading the whole book. And then I was overwhelmed with a flood of admiration for the author, Dr. SB Mujumdar, the visionary architect of this hallowed educational institution.

  

Who better than a botanist can sow seeds, even if they be the seeds of a dream or an idea? The author vividly narrates the transformation of the dream called Symbiosis from germination to realization beyond even his expectations. Today there is a Symbiosis institution in almost every part of Pune imparting top quality education from the kindergarten to postgraduate or maybe even doctorate. The trials and tribulations the founder faced in acquiring its first piece of land make fascinating reading.

  

The author clearly enunciates his inspiration to start Symbiosis, and substantiates its raison d’etre by a number of real life stories of foreign students who studied in Pune. I was particularly moved by the experiences of the Indian-origin student from Fiji who was yearning to be identified with his roots.

  

The “Biography” – from the genesis to the starting of the Management course which accorded impetus to the expansion and broadening of horizons of Symbiosis culminating in a multi-institutional international university is portrayed in lucid style and makes interesting reading. I clearly remember, in the eighties, Symbiosis management students had earned a name as being a cut above the rest.

  

Symbiosis has been the harbinger in new concepts in education – whether it is specialized programmes for defence personnel, distance education, novel and innovative programmes like Telecom Management, and state-of-the-art campuses designed for holistic development like the one in the IT Park in Hinjewadi.

  

Lucidly written, interspersed with interesting anecdotes, makes this book a happy illuminating read. I commend this book – I am sure it will inspire and interest you.

  

Symbiosis: Biography of an Idea is an important contribution to literature on education and the history of the city of Pune. It is must reading for students and academicians and a valuable addition to the shelves of libraries.

   

[Reviewed by Vikram Waman Karve]

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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