January 2021

Dear Friends,

Ramana Maharshi (30 December 1879 – 14 April 1950) was born as Venkataraman Iyer, in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, India. In 1895, an attraction to the sacred hill Arunachala and the 63 Nayanmars was aroused in him, and in 1896, at the age of 16, he had a "death-experience" where he became aware of a "current" or "force" which he recognized as his true "I" or "self", and which he later identified with "the personal God, or Iswara", that is, Shiva. Six weeks later he left his uncle's home in Madurai, and journeyed to the holy mountain Arunachala, in Tiruvannamalai, where he took on the role of a sannyasin.

He attracted devotees that regarded him as an avatar and came to him for darshan. In later years an ashram grew up around him, where visitors received ‘spiritual instructions’ by sitting silently in his company asking questions. Since the 1930s, his teachings have been popularized in the West, resulting in his worldwide recognition as an enlightened being.

December 2020

Dear Friends,

Guru Nanak (15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539) was the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik - full-moon day i.e. October–November.

Nanak is said to have travelled far and wide across Asia teaching people the message of ik omkar ('one God'), who dwells in every one of his creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. With this concept, he would set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.

Nanak's words are registered in the form of 974 poetic hymns, or shabda, in the holy text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib (jap, 'to recite'; ji and sahib are suffixes signifying respect); the Asa di Var ('ballad of hope'); and the Sidh Gohst ('discussion with the Siddhas'). It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Nanak's sanctity, divinity, and religious authority had descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them. In this issue, we have given some of his quotable quotes.

November 2020

Dear Friends,

J.R.D. Tata (29 July 1904 – 29 November 1993) was Indian aviator, entrepreneur and chairman of Tata Group.

Born into the Tata family of India, he was the son of noted businessman Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and his wife Suzanne Brière. His mother was the first woman in India to drive a car and, in 1929, he became the first licensed pilot in India. He is also best known for being the founder of several industries under the Tata Group, including Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Salt, Voltas and Air India. In 1983, he was awarded the French Legion of Honour and in 1955 and 1992, he received two of India's highest civilian awards the Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna. These honours were bestowed on him for his contributions to Indian industry.

He was the trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust from its inception in 1932 for over half a century. Under his guidance, this Trust established Asia's first cancer hospital, the Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer, Research and Treatment, in Bombay in 1941. He also founded the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, 1936), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR, 1945), and the National Center for Performing Arts. In this issue, we have given some of his quotable quotes.

October 2020

Dear Friends,

Nani Palkhivala (16.1. 1920 to 11.12.2002) is known as the "the conscience-keeper of the nation". He became famous because of Kesavananda Bharati case. When a Special Bench of 13 Judges of Supreme Court was constituted to reconsider the correctness of the dictum of law laid down regarding the basic structure in Kesavananda Bharati case, Palkhivala’s impassioned address made the Chief Justice to dissolve the Bench.

Palkhivala's post-Budget speeches in Bombay since 1958 has drawn national attention and the audience during his later addresses rose to about a lakh. All those speeches were delivered extempore. He was the finest intellectual and jurist of the country and received innumerable awards and honorary doctorates from several countries. His two famous books are “We the people” and “We the nation”.

In September 1977, Palkhivala was appointed Ambassador of India to the United States of America, which assignment he held until July 1979.

September 2020

Dear Friends,

Anandamayi Ma (née Nirmala Sundari; 30 April 1896 – 27 August 1982) was a Bengali Saint, described by Sivananda Saraswati (of the Divine Life Society) as "the most perfect flower the Indian soil has produced. This name was given to her by her devotees in the 1920s to describe her perpetual state of divine joy.

Anandamayi was born on 30 April 1896 to the orthodox Vaishnavite Brahmin couple in the village of Kheora, Tipperah District (now Brahmanbaria District), in present-day Bangladesh. Her father was a Vaishnavite singer known for his intense devotion. Though the family lived in poverty. Nirmala attended village schools for a few years. Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her mother worried about her daughter's mental development because of her constantly indifferent and happy demeanor.

August 2020

Dear Friends,

Sri Aurobindo (born Aurobindo Ghose; 15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950) was a philosopher, yogi, guru, poet, and nationalist.

Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King's College, Cambridge, England. After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the Maharaja of the Princely state of Baroda and became increasingly involved in nationalist politics in the Indian National Congress and the nascent revolutionary movement in Bengal with the Anushilan Samiti. He was arrested in the aftermath of a number of bomb outrages linked to his organization in a public trial where he faced charges of treason for Alipore Conspiracy. However Aurobindo could only be convicted and imprisoned for writing articles against British rule in India. He was released when no evidence could be provided, following the murder of a prosecution witness, Narendranath Goswami during the trial. During his stay in the jail, he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry, leaving politics for spiritual work.

July 2020

Dear Friends,

'His Masters Voice' (HMV) had once published a pamphlet giving the history of gramophone record.

Gramophone was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in the 19th century.

Edison, who had invented many other gadgets like electric light and the motion picture camera, had become a legend even in his own time.

When he invented the gramophone record, which could record human voice for posterity, he wanted to record the voice of an eminent scholar on his first piece.

For that he chose Prof. Max Muller of England (a German by ethnicity), another great personality of the 19th century.

He wrote to Max Muller saying,

“I want to meet you and record your voice. When should I come?”

Max Muller who had great respect for Edison asked him to come on a suitable time when most of the scholars of the Europe would be gathering in England.

Accordingly, Edison took a ship and went to England. He was introduced to the audience. All cheered Edison’s presence.

June 2020

I was preparing to speak at a conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.

If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?”  I asked him.
He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.
Do you think apple juice could come out of it?
No!” he laughed.
What about grapefruit juice?
What would come out of it?
Orange juice, of course.”
Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?
He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.
Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.
I nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.