Every year, the married Hindu women in the southern states of India undertake the Varalakshmi Vratam. It is a pooja (a prayer ritual) to honour and worship goddess Varalakshmi, the granter of boons (Varam). Varalakshmi Vratam falls on the Second Friday or the Friday before Poornima (full moon day) in the month of Śravaṇā, also called Śawan in Hindi and Aadi in Tamil, corresponding to the Gregorian months of July–August.
Last Friday, my wife on invitation attended the Varalakshmi Vratam celebration at three houses of our Hindu neighbours.
This brings to my mind an apocryphal yarn about Chanakya and his advice to Chitragupta, the Hindu god who keeps complete records of actions of all human beings on earth and decides whether to send them to heaven or to hell after their mortal death.
Chanakya, traditionally identified as Kauṭilya or Vishnu Gupta was a teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor to Chandragupta, the first Mauryan emperor. He authored the Arthashastra, the ancient Indian political treatise.
In Hinduism, the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction cum transformation are personified as a triad of deities, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively.
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi noticed that every woman in the course of the Vratam prayed to the goddess to grant her the boon of getting married to her present husband in the next seven incarnations.
Chitragupta also heard the men pray for a new wife in each and every future incarnation!
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi were perturbed.
So, they approached the four-faced Brahma, the creator deity, for advice.
Brahma: “The wish of these women are laudable! So, what is the problem? “
Chitragupta: “Lord, every woman wants her present husband to be reborn and marry only her in her next seven incarnations, but all men want a new wife in each and every future incarnation!”
Brahma: “Yes. It is a real dilemma indeed!”
Chitragupta: “Lord, what are we to do?”
Brahma thought for a while and said: “Go to Earth and seek the advice of Chanakya, the wise man.”
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi appeared before Chanakya. After relating the problem they asked the scholar for a solution.
Chanakya smiled at them and said: “This is not a problem at all. Tell those silly women that if they want their present husband to be theirs for the next seven incarnations then they will have to accept their current mother-in-law too to be theirs for the next seven incarnations!”
I received the following story titled “Funny side of Swami Vivekananda” through WhatsApp.
When Swami Vivekanand was studying law at the University College, London, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Vivekananda came along with his tray and sat next to the professor.
The professor said, “Mr. Vivekanand, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”
Vivekanandji looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge.
The next day in class he posed the following question: “Mr. Vivekanand, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with money, which one would you take ?”
Without hesitating, Vivekanandji responded, “The one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters , smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”
Swami Vivekanand shrugged and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”
Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Swami Vivekanand’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Swami Vivekanand.
Vivekanandji took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.
A few minutes later, Swami Vivekanand got up, went to the professor and told him in a dignified polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
Moral: Don’t mess with intelligent people.
When I read this anecdote I smelled a rat.
Though Swami Vivekananda visited England twice, he never studied in London.
First of all, Narendranath Datta took the name “Swami Vivekananda” on Christmas Eve of 1886, when he and eight other disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took formal monastic vows and decided to live their lives as their master lived.
Then I checked the timeline of important events in the life of Swami Vivekananda.
Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta), after passing the Matriculation Entrance examination in 1879, joined Presidency College in January 1880. He was the only student to receive first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination.
In 1881, he passed the FA examination (equivalent to the current Higher Secondary, Class XII) from the General Assembly’s Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College).
One day, Professor William Hastie explaining the word “trance” to his students suggested that they should visit Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. In November 1881, Vivekananda met Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for the first time in Calcutta, at the residences of Surendranath Mitra.
In January 1884, Vivekananda passed Bachelor of Arts examination from the General Assembly’s Institution with philosophy and logic as subjects.
Vivekananda’s father died on February 25, 1884, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa became his spiritual focus.
So, we find that Narendranath Datta never studied in London.
I remember coming across earlier the same turn of events mentioned above in an anonymous anecdote with M. K. Gandhi as the vanquisher of Professor Peters.
Here is the anonymous anecdote using Gandhi as the superstar published under the title “Did Gandhi trump Professor Peters in a number of interactions?” in the Skeptics Stack Exchange, a question and answer site for scientific skepticism.
When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, there was a professor, whose last name was Peters, who felt animosity for Gandhi, and because Gandhi never lowered his head towards him, their “arguments” were very common.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor, in his arrogance, said, “Mr Gandhi: you do not understand… a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat,” to which Gandhi replies, “You do not worry professor, I’ll fly away, ” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, green of rage, decides to take revenge on the next test, but Gandhi responds brilliantly to all questions. Then, Mr. Peters asked him the following question, “Mr Gandhi, if you are walking down the street and find a package, and within it there is a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money; which one will you take?”
Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “the one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters, smiling, said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?”
“Each one takes what one doesn’t have,” responded Gandhi indifferently.
Mr. Peters, already hysteric, writes on the exam sheet the word “idiot” and gives it to Gandhi. Gandhi takes the exam sheet and sits down. A few minutes later, Gandhi goes to the professor and says, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
I came across a comment that said: “Story is about Mr. Jinnah. Someone has switched the mainstay to Gandhi“.
So, if you are computer savvy, you can copy the above anecdote to notepad. Then press Ctrl-H.
In the resulting dialog box enter against “Find what:” Gandhi and against “Replace with:” Abdul Kalam. Next press button. In the blink of an eye, all instances of “Gandhi” will be transformed into “Abdul Kalam” and you would have created a new anecdote for Abdul Kalam.
Post the anecdote you created about Abdul Kalam on Facebook. Instantly you will get thousands of likes, and hundreds of witless idiots will blindly copy your post and propagate it on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media creating a new episode in the life of APJ Abdul Kalam.
A young man lived with his wife, his four-year-old son and his frail elderly father – a widower with blurry eyes, trembling hands, and faltering steps.
The family would eat together at the dining table. The elderly person’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult for him. Often, food fell off his spoon and dropped on the floor, and as he clutched his glass of milk with unsteady hands, milk spilled on the tablecloth and his lap.
The daughter-in-law irritated with the mess he created bawled out. “I have had enough of his spilling food and milk on the table and the floor. You must do something about your father,” she told her husband.
So, the son set a small table at the corner of the dining room. Since the elderly man had broken a number of ceramic dishes, the daughter-in-law served his food in wooden bowls.
The four-year-old boy watched his grandfather eat alone silently at the little table while he and his parents ate at the grand dining table. Sometimes he saw tears rolling down his grandfather’s cheeks whenever his parents admonished him for dropping his spoon, spilling food, milk, or water.
One evening, before supper, the father noticed his little son playing with wood scraps and strings.
“What are you making, son?” he asked.
“Oh, Dad, I’m making two little wooden bowls,” the boy replied.
“For you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”
The boy’s parents were speechless.
The four-year-old smiled sweetly at his parents and went back to work. He did not see the tears that streamed down their cheeks.
That evening, the boy smiled as his father and mother led the venerable parent back to the grand dining table.
Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan (September 9, 1976 – June 8, 2004), a Muslim was an American citizen of Pakistani Decent. He was born in the United Arab Emirates, to Ghazala and Khizr Khan, of Pakistani heritage. The Khan family moved to the United States when Humayun was two years old, and he was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland.
As a young boy, Humayun Khan read extensively about Thomas Jefferson. In high school, he taught disabled children to swim. In 1996, he graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, and then joined the University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA). He joined the university’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Humayun Khan joined the United States Army Ordnance Corps and had planned on becoming a military lawyer. In the Army, Khan achieved the rank of captain.
On June 8, 2004, three to four months into his tour of duty in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, while inspecting a guard post near Baqubah, Captain Khan saw a suspicious taxicab approaching fast. After ordering his subordinates to move away from the vehicle he ran forward and was killed when the car loaded with improvised explosives blew up before it could reach the gates of the nearby mess hall where hundreds of soldiers were having breakfast. The blast also killed the two occupants of the vehicle and two Iraqi bystanders.
Captain Khan was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 15, 2004.
Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, the first UVA graduate to die in combat since the Vietnam War was honored by two university ceremonies. He was also posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
In December 2015, Hillary Clinton, a presidential candidate in the 2016 United States presidential election, spoke about Khan’s service, describing him as one of fourteen Muslim Americans who had died in the service of the United States since the September 11 attacks.
On July 28, 2016, Captain Humayun Khan’s parents appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. His 66-year-old father, Khizr Khan, an immigration lawyer from Charlottesville, Virginia, addressed the gathering. He began his 7-minute speech saying, “Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”
He spoke of his dead son and rebuked Donald J. Trump the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2016 election. He said Trump “sacrificed nothing and no one”.
Donald Trump retaliated by criticizing the appearance of the parents of Captain Humayun Khan at the Democratic Convention and suggested that Khan’s mother may not have been allowed to speak.
On July 31, 2016, Ghazala Khan, mother of Captain Khan expressed her thoughts and said she had been too overcome by emotion at the convention to speak at the podium, “Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America…“
The attacks from the Republican presidential nominee on the parents of a soldier who died defending America have put new pressure on the leaders of the Republican Party, commonly referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP) decide whether they will continue to stand by him. Some of the party’s leaders in the House and the Senate have distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks, and many other Republican figures are forcefully attacking their nominee.
Mr. Donald Trump’s son
Donald John “Don” Trump Jr (born December 31, 1977) is an American businessman. He is the first child of Donald J. Trump and the Czech model Ivana Trump. He currently works along with his sister Ivanka Trump and brother Eric Trump in the position of Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization.
There is nothing valorous to say about this eldest son of Trump, except that he along with his younger brother Eric Trump is a trophy hunter.
The above picture says a lot about him! Yes, that is an elephant’s tail.
A spokeswoman for PETA told the Daily News: “If the young Trumps are looking for a thrill, perhaps they should consider skydiving, bungee jumping, or even following in their anti-hunting father’s footsteps and taking down competing businesses—not wild animals,”
“Like all animals, elephants, buffalo, and crocodiles deserve better than to be killed and hacked apart for two young millionaires’ grisly photo opportunity. If the Trumps want to help villagers, they have plenty of resources at their disposal.”
Despite the negative comments, the Trumps, however, are standing their ground.
Donald Trump Jr responded to a flurry of anger messages that spurned him on Twitter: “I’m a hunter, for that, I make no apologies,” he wrote. “I can assure you it was not wasteful… The villagers were so happy for the meat which they don’t often get to eat.“
And Donald Trump Sr told TMZ, the celebrity news website, “My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it.“
The following verses 5 to 15 from Chapter 3 in the book of “1 Kings” in the Old Testament, shows how Solomon obtained the three gifts from God: a listening heart, riches, and universal fame to rule over his subjects.
In Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said: “Whatever you ask I shall give you.”
“You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne.
Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment forthis vast people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request. So God said to him:
“Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right.
I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.
In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days.
And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Solomon awoke; it was a dream!
He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants.
Note: I have used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) version of the Holy Bible.
In 1974, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan, a well-known artiste of Radio Ceylon, in charge of producing a radio program sponsored by the People’s Bank, saw a 30-minute comedy play staged by S. Ramdas at D. S. Senanayake College in Colombo.
Enthralled by the play, Sillaiyoor Selvarajan requested Ramdas to lengthen the play for broadcasting as a serial over the radio. Young Ramadas readily agreed and wrote the script and dialogues for the radio comedy “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” (Hilarious Antics of Clowns) with the message of national unity. Ramdas took hints from the Indian Tamil film “Bharatha Vilas” directed by A. C. Trilokchander starring Sivaji Ganesan and K.R. Vijaya, which emphasised national unity among families hailing from different Indian ethnic groups living in separate portions in a mansion named “Bharatha Vilas“.
Instead of bludgeoning directly into the ethnic amity, and unity in diversity among families belonging to different ethnicities and religions living in separate portions under one roof in a large house, he presented humorously the peaceful coexistence of those people .
Radio Ceylon broadcasted the play continuously for 90 weeks, sponsored by the People’s Bank.
Ramdas, a Brahmin in real life cast himself as “Marikkar”, a Colombo Muslim with the proper enunciation of a Colombo Muslim.
B. H. Abdul Hameed, a Muslim in real life, took on the role a Brahmin named “Iyer”.
K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), another Muslim acted as “Thanikasalam” the villain.
T. Rajagopal took the role of a gentleman of Jaffna origin named “Appukutty”, and S. Selvasekaran took on the role of a Sinhalese named “Upali”.
The play became immensely popular. I too became an enthusiastic fan and listened to the play every Sunday at 4 pm.
In early 1976, Malkar Mohamed, who listened to this weekly radio drama decided to produce it as a film. Ramdas readily agreed when Mohamed expressed his desire.
Ramdas enthusiastically penned the story and dialogues for the film titled “Komaligal” (“The Clowns”).
S. Ramanathan, an experienced personality in the Sinhala film industry consented to direct it under the banner of Amarjothy Movies.
The original actors of the radio play “Koamaaligalin Kummaalam” – S. Ramdas, B. H. Abdul Hameed, K. A. Jawahir (alias Abu Naanaa), T. Rajagopal and S. Selvasekaran – took on their respective roles in the film. Sillaiyoor Selvarajan and his wife Kamalini Selvarajan acted as lovers in the film.
The film “Komaligal” produced in 45 days and screened on November 22, 1976, at 6 theatres, became a box office hit and ran successfully, better than any other previous Sri Lankan Tamil movie.
Here is a video clip of the song Ennadi Sithi Beebee written and sung by Ramdas in the dialect of Colombo Muslims. This song became an instant hit even though he mimicked “Ennadi Raakkammaa“, a popular song of that period, sung by T. M. Soundararajan in the Indian Tamil film ‘Pattikkaada Pattanamaa’.
Sathyavaageeswara Iyer Ramdas alias “Marikkar” Ramdas born on May 5, 1947, in Sivagangai, in Tamil Nadu, India passed away on July 13, 2016, at the residence of his daughter Priya in Besant Nagar, Chennai. Though Ramdas is no more with us, the memories of “Marikkar” Ramdas will forever live in the hearts and minds of his numerous fans in Sri Lanka, India, and all over the world.
Two years ago, at 5.30 pm on Saturday, June 28, 2014, one of the twin eleven storied apartment blocks under construction situated on Kundrathur road near Porur junction, Moulivakkam in the suburb of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, collapsed due to heavy monsoon rains, killing 61 people including children. The rescuers saved 27 people trapped under the wrecked building. The hospitals admitted more than 50 injured people.
Most victims were construction workers, who were reportedly in the building to collect their wages.
This incident exemplifies the dark side of the real estate and construction business wherein ambitious entrepreneurs consider amassing money the prime function of their operations and do not care for the safety of the lives of their customers.
Three years before this disaster, M. Manoharan (60), a native of Madurai, worked as a clerk with the Indian Bank in Madurai. He opted for voluntary retirement in 2011 and became a and graduated to a full-time ‘well-known’ real estate dealer within a short time with the support of a DMK panjandrum he launched Prime Sristi Housing Pvt Ltd.
Head quartered in Madurai Prime Sristi Housing Pvt Ltd’s promoters have nearly two decades of extensive Real Estate Development experience. We at Prime Sristi believe our buildings should stand apart and should reflect engineering marvel . It is our intention that the quality of our products and services should result in complete Customer Trust.
In 2014, the Prime Sristi Housing Ltd., promoted the ‘Trust Heights’, a residential project. It had two 11-storey buildings under construction named ‘The Faith’ and ‘The Belief’ on the Kundrathur Main Road at Moulivakkam, the catchment area for the nearby Porur lake and Adyar river,
According to the initial assessment made by the Public Works Department, the soil does not support heavy construction and permission is not easily granted for the the construction of high-rise buildings in the area. But none of the authorities raised any objection when construction started.
‘The Faith‘ had four apartments of two BHK on each floor, and ‘The Belief‘ has four apartments of three BHK on each floor, priced at ₹5250 per square foot.
Due to the heavy rains, ‘The Faith’ collapsed on an adjoining building. Though deemed the most serious construction-disaster Chennai has ever witnessed, the builder and the authorities blamed “natural causes”.
On Sunday, June 29, 2014, the city police arrested Manoharan, Managing Director of the Sirsti Housing Private Ltd., his son Muthu Kamatchi, M. Balagurusamy, S. Venkatasubramaniam, structural engineer, R. Duraisingam, K. Karthik, S. Sankar Ramakrishnan, and Vijay Bargotra, consultant architect.
A release signed by the registrar of the Council of Architecture, New Delhi, stated that Vijay Bargotra, the prime architect of the 11-storey buildings, cannot function as an architect in India since he had not registered with them.
If you have been on Facebook for the last three or four days, you would have probably seen an almost serious looking post or one of its many garbled variations shared as someone’s Facebook status.
Here is a screen grab of one of the versions:
Various versions of this status have popped up on since 2012, which are just elaborate hoaxes that have plagued the social-network site for years, and you too might have seen them on your FB pages from time to time.
Do you think copying and posting such a short note that seems to contain complicated and official legalese will protect the privacy and confidentiality of your Facebook account from that moment onwards and privatize the photos and videos you post?
In reality, posting such status on your Facebook page will not change any privacy rules.
If you think that posting such a status on your Facebook page is the right thing to do, then why are you still posting photos and other items on Facebook under your banner? Would it not be better to deactivate your account?
Remember that social media is not the place for “private and confidential” information. If you do not give permission to use your pictures, etc., how would Facebook show them to your friends?
Facebook addressed the rumours years ago in a fact-checking blog post about the change related to ownership of users’ information or content they post to the site.
Copyright Meme Spreading on Facebook
There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.
Today, I received a copy of a clipping of the poem titled “Human Anatomy” from my dear niece Fiona Devotta Vazirani.
I remember having first read this humoristic poem in the mid-1990s. Since then it had appeared in many newspapers and clippings – sometimes with long titles such as “Let’s call it, unsolved mysteries of anatomy” and at times without any title at all.
The author was William Rossa Cole.
Here is that poem appearing under the title “Foolish Questions” (adapted) from “Oh, Such Foolishness” (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978) as found in Kids Pick the Funniest Poems, edited by Bruce Lansky (Meadowbrook Press, 1991).
by William Cole
Where can a man buy a cap for his knee? Or a key for the lock of his hair?
And can his eyes be called a school? I would think”there are pupils there!
What jewels are found in the crown of his head, And who walks on the bridge of his nose?
Can he use, in building the roof of his mouth, the nails on the ends of his toes?
Can the crook of his elbow be sent to jail? If it can, well, then, what did it do?
And how does he sharpen his shoulder blades? I’ll be hanged if I know – do you?
Can he sit in the shade of the palm of his hand, and beat time with the drum in his ear?
Can the calf of his leg eat the corn on his toe?
There’s somethin’ pretty strange around here!
William Rossa Cole, an American editor, anthologist, columnist, author, and writer of light verse was born on November 20, 1919, to William Harrison Cole and Margaret O’Donovan-Rossa of Staten Island, New York. He was the grandson of the Irish national hero, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.
William Cole served in the infantry in Europe in World War II, rising to sergeant and receiving the Purple Heart. After military service, he entered the publishing industry. He served as publicity director at Alfred A. Knopf, publicity director and editor at Simon & Schuster, and publisher of William Cole Books at Viking Press. He was a columnist for The Saturday Review, a vice president of PEN American Center and a member of the governing board of the Poetry Society of America and the executive board of Poets and Writers.
William Cole wrote children’s books and light verse. His whimsical poetry appeared often in Light Quarterly and was widely anthologized, He was an author, co-author, editor, and co-editor, of about 75 books of which 50 were anthologies. The American Library Association were honoured three of his books:
In 1958, “I Went to the Animal Fair: A Book of Animal Poems” which was on the List of Notable Children’s Books of 1940–1959.
In 1964, “Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls: Poems“.
In 1965, “The Birds and Beasts Were There: Animal Poems” .
His marriage to Peggy Bennett in 1947 and his marriage to Galen Williams in 1967 both ended in divorce.
William Cole died on August 2, 2000, in his Manhattan home, aged 80.
Seamus Heaney, Member of the Royal Irish Academy and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 memorialized William Cole in a poem.