Archive for April, 2010

Beowulf

Posted: April 18, 2010 in Books
Tags: ,

“Each of us will come to the end of this life
On earth; he who can earn it should fight
For the glory of his name; fame after death
Is the noblest of goals”

As a student of English Literature, one is often taught that the history of this genre begins with the epic poem Beowulf, believed to be written by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet between the 8th and early 11th century.

I finally completed reading the poem this evening this evening, and was left with some thoughts…

1.  Beowulf is clearly one of those pieces that was meant to be recited and not read. The sense of rhythm and movement in the lines is amazing.

2. Stunning visual imagery.

3. It is literature. But it is also a historical document that speaks of the customs, traditions and legends of another age. But as with all epic poetry, the boundaries between myth and fact are often blurred.

4. The poem has an inherent respect for the circle of life.

5. It is an analysis of the meaning of heroism and life itself.

6. It is also a reflection on growing old and passing through to the other world. I would go to the extent of saying that this is one of the most poignant and moving accounts that I have read about the loss of youth.

In the final analysis, definitely worth a read – both as literature and the beginning of literature.

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Amongst the things that I’ve always wanted to do in this lifetime was watch a cricket match live in the stadium. That happened this weekend when the Royal Challengers Bangalore took on the Mumbai Indians as part of an IPL match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. But the match will be unforgettable in more ways than one. For the first time in the history of Indian cricket (I think!), two low intensity bombs went off outside the venue minutes before the match was scheduled to begin. Four bombs were recovered later. One was diffused on the day of the match. The other three were recovered a day later.

The day will always stand out in my mind for the resolve that the game would go on. The match was about an hour behind schedule, but both the Indian and international players remained committed to seeing the match through. And the great hero of Indian cricket Sachin Tendulkar didn’t even move his kids out of the stadium!

The Bangalore audience was brilliant too. They did not panic. They did not create a stampede. Even as rumours floated through the stadium, they kept their cool. They waited patiently through that one long hour, and when the match finally began, they cheered in the way that only an Indian audience can cheer for their cricketing heroes.

It’s true. If you like your cricket with analysis, the best place for you is in front of your television set. But if you like your cricket with the madness of the atmosphere of Indian cricket, the best place for you is the stadium.

But on this day, the exuberance also met the resilience that is India. Together, the cricketers and the audience made sure that on this day at least the terrorists did not win.

There was also a unique expression of that inexplicable bond of ‘Indianess’ that joins us. In a stadium packed with Royal Challenger Bangalore supporters, the cricketer who still got loudest cheers was Sachin Tendulkar… Guess there are some things that go beyond ‘city’ loyalty… And I realized this evening that Sachin was one of them!

Proud to be Bangalorean!

Proud to be Indian!

Narcissus and Goldmund

Posted: April 4, 2010 in Life and Living

I completed reading “Narcissus and Goldmund” by Hermann Hesse last week. It’s almost five years after Usha first gifted me the book. But I guess I just haven’t had time to complete it in the many years that lay between.

But this time, I’d prefer not to do a typical review of this book. Instead, I would like to acknowledge for a moment this book’s impact on me.

The book is the story of Narcissus and Goldmund, who both spend their early years in the pursuit of learning in a monastery. The book chronicles their path through life, even as one follows the path of the the mind and the other the path of the heart.

As I thought about it, I realized that Hesse does have a point. Each of us do have particular aspects that govern our personalities and the way we connect with the universe. Yet I do think that there’s more to it than the two aspects that Hesse talks about – heart and mind. For me, there are actually four aspects – spirit, mind, heart and body.

When I figured that out I realized…

1. As a child, I was always one governed by the spirit and then the heart. The mind was largely ignored.
2. But later in life, particularly after High School, I came for different reasons to believe that the mind was everything. I worked to strengthen my mind, subjugating my spirit to my mind. I did not realize that it is a privilege to be one governed by the spirit and that I was fortunate to recognize its voice. Instead I tried to be one who always spoke with my mind, placing no value on the voice of the spirit.

As I completed reading the book, I suddenly realized that there was nothing wrong with the way that I was then. There is also an undeniable difference in the voice of the spirit, the heart, the mind and the body. None is better. But all are different, and there is also an undeniable difference in the motivations that will guide you.

So from today I will return to being one lead by the spirit, understanding that I am one who can hear and answer to the voice of the spirit. I will also turn too to the voice of the heart, the mind and the body. But all of these will be subjugated to the influence of the spirit. Not because that is the way I necessarily want it, but because that is the way I am 🙂