Sunday, 26 October 2014

LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM THE RAMAYANA

Dassera has come and gone and Diwali is fast approaching. In other words, Ravana has been slain, Sita has been rescued, and Lord Ram, Sita and other friends are coming back to Ayodhya. So, has the story ended and our lesson been learnt? Far from it.

The Ramayana is much more than a saga of the triumph of good over evil. It is a compendium of life lessons. It attempts to showcase the characteristics of an ideal human being – Purushottam.

What lessons do we learn from the Ramayana then? Here are some of them:-


  1. Have a set of principles, and do not compromise on them. The pursuit of materialism (Artha) and pleasures (Kama) should not be at the cost of righteousness (Dharma). Moksha can be achieved only through Dharma. This is where Ravana erred.
  2. Karma is a bitch. Even if you momentarily get hold of something through devious means, sooner or later Karma will get back at you.
  3. Beware of dubious attractions. Sita’s obsession with the golden deer, which was actually the demon Maricha in disguise, ultimately left her unprotected and paved the way for her abduction by Ravana.
  4. Vicious counseling can get you into trouble. Kaikeyi’s maid Mandara brain-washed her into demanding that Dashrath send Rama into exile so that her son Bharat could become King. Eventually, this is what led her to lose her husband, and her son’s loyalty.
  5. Arrogance kills. No matter how much you achieve in life, if you are arrogant while you’re at the top, you will fall one day, and that fall will be really bad. Ravana was a great scholar, who had the intelligence of 10 men. His devotion was so great that Lord Shiva granted him blessings, boons and great power. However, his arrogance and belief that he could get away with anything ultimately led to his downfall.
  6. Learn from your mistakes, and redeem yourself when you get the opportunity. Ravana committed a sin when he abducted Sita, but his greater sin lay in arrogantly refusing to budge when Hanuman asked him to redeem himself.
  7. Sometimes, heroes need a little help from friends to win their battles. Lord Rama had support from Lakshmana, Hanuman, the Vanar Sena, Jatayu, and many others. Without these friends, there might have been no Dassera and no Diwali.
  8. Always play by the rules. Lord Rama fought his war against Ravana without any deceit. He played by the rules, and in the process won the respect of not just his friends, but also of his enemies. In fact, when Ravana was breathing his last, he stated that he was privileged to meet a man like Rama while he was still alive.
  9. Failure to trust your loved ones can make you lose them. The Ramayana did not really have a happy ending for Lord Rama. Lack of trust made him put Sita through a loyalty test, out of which she emerged unscathed, but he lost her forever in the bargain.
  10. No one is infallible. Let’s make no mistake. The villain of Ramayana is not Ravana. In fact, Ravana was a very learned man, and was known as a just ruler in Lanka. His tapasya towards Lord Shiva earned him great power. The real villain in the Ramayana was Ravana’s refusal to accept his mistake and his arrogance. He let his power get to his head and ultimately this led to his downfall. On the other hand, Lord Rama let society’s skepticism towards Sita’s loyalty shake his own trust, and he had to lose his devoted wife. The bottom line is that everyone is capable of making a mistake, and this is a fact we should all be aware of. 
Just like happiness is a journey and not a destination, Dassera and Diwali are not events marking the happy ending of a beautiful story. The cycle of life goes on. Evil will don a new face and rise again and again. Likewise, goodness must keep rising to triumph over evil. Burning Ravana’s effigy during Dassera is only a symbolic gesture depicting the triumph of good over evil, but the fact is that evil never dies, and good forces should always be on their toes to rise to the occasion. The war is still on, it was never over in the first place.

Here’s wishing all of you many happy Dasseras and Diwalis.

Cheers
CRD

Monday, 13 October 2014

WASSUP? WORDUP MUMBAI!

INDIBLOGGER organised their biggest and perhaps their most resourceful/educational blogger meet on September 20, 2014. Organised in collaboration with BIGROCK, and (as the name of the event suggests) promoting Wordpress, the meet was slated to be a big event. The tag line LISTEN-LEARN-EXPRESS was absolutely apt for a bloggers meet, coz that's what bloggers do! 

The all-day meet, which was exclusively for invited blogger attendees (makes me feel like a VIP), was held at the Blue Frog, Lower Parel. Although it was initially supposed to start at around 11, the IndiBlogger changed plans and decided to begin earlier, at 9 am, probably because of the long list of speakers. They did well to personally call up the invitees and inform them about the change in plans. I tried my best to show up on time, but those who are parents to toddlers will understand how easily your plans can go kaput sometimes. Since I had never been to the Blue Frog before, it took me some time to find the place. The event was to begin with a live Rock music performance by the IndiBlogger team, and it's a shame that I missed it.


On reaching the venue, I was welcomed with a nice-looking backpack, in which the IndiBlogger-BigRock team had packed in a flier with the agenda for the day, a BIGROCK flier informing us about free wordpress hosting and a .ME domain that they were offering to all attendees (along with a code to enable the same) and a music speaker. I must point out that the speaker is unique and awesome (in that it can amplify music being played on your phone by merely placing the phone on top of the sensor), and I use it everyday. The free wordpress hosting offer and .me domain are also impressive. However, I wish they had packed in a pen and a notepad as well, since some of the attendees were really keen on taking down notes and tips being shared by the speakers.

Also part of the welcome kit was a nice-looking badge that bore my name and my blog URL. What took me by surprise though (shock is more apt, actually) is the word BLOGGERATTI written at the bottom of the badge, since that happens to be the name of a 7-year old blogging community that I own, previously on Orkut and now on Facebook.

By the time I had reached, Vinit Goenka, co-convenor of the BJP's IT cell was half-way through his key note address. He shared with us the fact that the BJP's victory in the general elections had a big contribution (apart from the Congress' failures) from social media marketing. I can vouch for that - the number of anti-Congress and pro-Modi Whatsapp and FB viral shares before the elections was overwhelming (and irritating after a point too). Thankfully, he did not get too political, and shared tips on care to be taken before posting anything on the net.

Next up, Amit Agarwal, a famous tech-blogger, columnist, and the chief curator of the IndiBloggers.org directory shared his tips on how to blog, dos and donts in blogging, how to declutter your blog, and the benefits of having a wordpress.org based blog. The plethora of blogging tools and apps that he shared with the listeners was really useful. I began missing a pen and notepad at this point. Thankfully my blogpal Swati had a pen; alas, the agenda flier had only 1 blank side. What he said still rings a bell - 'No matter how elaborate your blog looks and feels, at the end of the day content is king.'



Anshul Tiwari from YouthKiAwaaz.com was next in line, to talk about blog promotion. He shared with us his personal tryst and struggles with keeping his passion for blogging alive - his story of making it big in spite of lack of support from family touched many a heart. He shared with us his website's journey from a humble struggling-for-survival news blog to a popular mouthpiece for the youth, all because of relentless promotion activities. The stories he told must have surely been sources of inspiration for many who want to dream big - irrespective of whether they are bloggers or not. He too dwelt on the importance of content.



Next up was web-designer Sunit Singh of ClearTrip fame. The soft-spoken graduate from the JJ School of Art, and an IIT-Mumbai alumnus has previously worked with Burrp and Yahoo. He was interviewed by video blogger, filmmaker and anchor Lakshmi Rebecca. Lakshmi's story is inspirational by itself - in spite of the fact that video blogging and filmmaking is an expensive hobby, she pursued it with passion, went through years of losses and financial strain, and today manages to make films that garner millions of views. She is well-known for her online talk show 'Chai with Lakshmi' and a series on Youtube known as 'India Ahead.' 



Varun Krishnan, editor-in-chief of FoneArena was next on the agenda, to speak on blog monetization. He spoke about how he started a small website offering information on phones while he was still studying, simply because he wanted to offer a useful resource to peers, and how he eventually saw a business opportunity, and made it a reality. He made it known that if your website has useful content, and therefore a lot of traffic, there is a huge opportunity in terms of sponsors and ad revenue.

C.S.Krishna of 'The Unreal Times' (URT) fame came up next to talk about the legal angle surrounding information that is posted on the net. He talked about how URT was born out of sheer journalistic boredom and how it continued due to positive response. He told us about the popularity of the satire genre, and how things go viral. He also revealed that satire can sometimes be a risky business, what with the sword called the IT Act hanging over our heads and the threat of defamation cases always lurking. He claimed that he had been lucky not to have too many problems, mostly because most of the people he had targeted were good sports. He also said that these weren't 'achhe din' for URT, now that the Modi Government is in power and hasn't given them any fodder. Raised eyebrows, anyone? ;)

Post-lunch, Harsh Agarwal, a passionate blogger who manages ShoutMeLoud.com spoe about SEO services. The topic was too technical for a tech-dummy like yours faithfully, so I'll conveniently excuse myself on dwelling too much on this session.

Self-made fashion blogger, model and actor Scherezade Shroff was up next, talking about her fashion blog. As was prophetically declared by fellow-blogger BlogWati, I honestly don't remember too much of what she said. Blame it on the glowing bright face in the dark ambience (read jaw-dropping looks). On a serious note, what struck me most about her talk was her policy of not writing excellent reviews about a product simply because she had gotten a sponsorship, and not writing about a product that you haven't used at all. She dwelt on the important of loyalty and honesty towards your readers and followers, and that definitely struck a chord. Back to a less serious note, many of us were shaken out of our post-lunch sleepy stupor. 



Snigdha Manchanda was next, talking about story writing and creative writing. From the moment she started speaking, it sounded like she was narrating a story. Her choice of words, her tone, her sentence framing, the pauses she took - everyone was all ears for her. Her voice - and everyone will agree with me here - was such that even if she had to go up on stage and simply recite a nursery rhyme, no one would have complained. Another interesting thing about her and her blogs is that she is fascinated with tea and various kinds of tea. She showed us an interesting thing about most stories, in that they have a predictable structure. She showed us how to construct a perfect story. Since I love writing short stories, this was perhaps my most favourite topic of the day.



A stand-up comedian, Bhavish Ailani, cracked us up with his punch lines and jokes. Although he has a long way to go, this was probably a good platform to groom his talent and get better.

Managing Director and founder of IndiBlogger, Renie Ravin spoke about the the community and the blogging philosophy on which it firmly stands. It was nice to see him face to face. Maybe if I was a little less of a reserved fellow, I might have liked to go an interact with him personally. For now, maybe I'll just go check his blog.

The event ended with a head-banging session, to the tune of Avenged Sevenfold's 'This Means War'. Sounded a bit like Metallica at first, but glad I got the words. Its now in my playlist.

On our way out, we were given T-Shirts as souvenirs. Strongly aware of my girth's prowess and reach, I asked for a XXL t-shirt. I realised it was tight only when I reached home.

MUST . LOSE . LARD

I hope IndiBlogger gets us more involved in the designing of T-Shirts in the future, or at least invites contributions in terms of inputs or ideas. Many of us would be glad to contribute creatively. It would also be a nice idea to see your members getting involved in the organising of the event, at least in certain areas.

A good event, with good topics, and good speakers.

Hopefully will be even better next time.

Eagerly waiting for the next one.

Images courtesy: IndiBlogger 

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