Category Archives: Food for Thought

I Am the Good Shepherd…


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

i-am-the-good-shepherd

John, Chapter 10: 1-5

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

i-am-the-good-shepherd-2

John, Chapter 10: 11-14

I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.d

This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, …

Note: I have used the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Bible – John, Chapter 10

.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

.

Advertisements

Donald Trump, the “Walking Eagle”


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

donald-trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the current nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States in 2016 had thought of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter any of those races. In 1988, Trump was considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush but lost out to Vice President Dan Quayle.

Trump, who wants to be the next president of the United States has voiced whatever caustic thoughts he has. To him, the Mexicans were “rapists” and “anchor babies“, he has used adjectives such as “bimbo” and “fat pig” to describe women. For months he has preoccupied himself with mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, by calling her “the Indian” and “Pocahontas“, and insisted that she was a racist for having listed her heritage while on the faculty of Harvard Law School.

I was surprised when I was told that Donald Trump was invited to address a major gathering of the American Indian Nation. At the meeting, he spoke about his plans for increasing every Native American’s standard of living. Although Trump was vague about his plans, he spoke eloquently about helping his “Red sisters and brothers“.

Walking Eagle
Walking Eagle

When he concluded his speech, the Chiefs of the American Indian Tribes presented him with a plaque inscribed with his new Indian name, “Walking Eagle” which a proud Trump accepted pompously.

After he left the venue, a reporter asked the group of chiefs how they came to select the new name for Trump. They explained that “Walking Eagle” is the name given to a bird so full of shit it can no longerfly.

 .

RELATED ARTICLES

.

How Does One Become a Saint in the Catholic Church?


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Catholic Saints

.

In the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodoxy, or Anglican Church, Canonization is the act by which a person who has died is declared a saint. After that, their name is included in the canon – a list of recognized saints.

During the first millennium of the Church’s life, the first people honoured as saints were the martyrs whose deaths were considered to affirm the truth of their faith in Christ. Originally, only the names of martyrs along with that of the Virgin Mary appeared in the Roman Rite’s honoured as saints were the martyrs whose deaths were considered to affirm the truth of their faith in Christ. Originally, only the names of martyrs along with that of the Virgin Mary appeared in the Roman Rite’s Canon of the Mass and since 1962, that of Saint Joseph was included.

Next, in the absence of a centralized canonization process, the local Church recognized holy men and women who demonstrated great virtue during their lifetime without any formal process or investigations into their personal life or any miracles attributed to their intercession.

Later on, different processes and procedures for canonization were developed such as those used today in Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. In both Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches, the act of canonization is governed by the Holy See and a person is declared a saint at the conclusion of a long process that requires substantial proof of their worthiness to be recognized as a saint by their exemplary and holy way of living on this earth.

.

Devil’s advocate and God’s advocate 

In 1587, during the reign of Pope Sixtus V, the office of the Devil’s advocate (Latin: Advocatus Diaboli) also known as the Promoter of Faith, was established. This canon lawyer appointed by the Church authorities argued against the canonization of a candidate by taking a skeptical view of the candidate’s character, uncovering any character flaws or misrepresentation of evidence such as fraudulent miracles attributed to the candidate, etc.

The Devil’s advocate opposed God’s advocate (Latin: Advocatus  Dei) also known as the Promoter of the Cause, whose task was to make the argument in favour of canonization.favour of canonization.favour of canonization.favour of canonization.

Pope Paul VI beatified a total of 38 individuals during his pontificate and canonized 84 saints in 21 causes.

The work of simplification of canonization initiated by Pope Paul VI continued with Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister of January 25, 1983, and the implementation of the norms issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on February 7, 1983, at the diocesan level.

Contrary to popular belief, the reforms did not eliminate the office of the Promoter of the Faith popularly known as the Devil’s advocate, whose duty was to question the material presented in favour of canonization. John Paul II reduced the number of miracles required for sainthood from three to two, one for the first stage — beatification — and one more for canonization. The reforms were intended to make the process less adversarial.

In November 2012 Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Carmello Pellegrino to the office of Promoter of the Faith.

This reform by Pope John Paul II changed the canonization process considerably, helping John Paul II to usher in an unprecedented number of elevations: nearly 500 individuals were canonized and over 1,300 were beatified during his tenure as Pope as compared to only 98 canonizations by all his 20th-century predecessors.

In cases of controversy, the Vatican may still seek to informally solicit the testimony of critics of a candidate for canonization.

Candidates go through the following steps on their way to being declared saints.

Servant of God“: The process leading to canonization begins at the diocesan level. Responding to a petition by members of the faithful, a bishop with jurisdiction, usually the bishop of the place where the candidate died or is buried, gives permission to open an investigation into the virtues of the individual.  This investigation usually opens no sooner than five years after the death of the person being investigated.

Venerable/Heroic in Virtue“: After gathering sufficient information, the congregation will recommend to the pope to proclaim that the Servant of God exhibited the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, to a heroic degree. From this point, the one said to be “heroic in virtue” is referred to by the title “Venerable”.

A Venerable has as yet no feast day and no churches may be built in his or her honour. Prayer cards and other materials may be printed to encourage the faithful to pray for a miracle wrought by the venerable’s intercession as a sign of God’s will that the person can be canonized.

Blessed“: Beatification is a statement by the church that it is “worthy of belief” that the person is in heaven, having come to salvation. This step depends on whether the Venerable is a “martyr” or a “confessor”.

For a martyr, the Pope has only to make a declaration or a certification that the venerable met death voluntarily as a witness for the faith and/or in an act of heroic charity for others.

All non-martyrs are “confessors” as they “confessed” or bore witness to their faith by the manner they lived their lives. To be named “Blessed” (abbreviated “Bl.”) or, in Latin, Beatus or Beata a miracle has to tale place as a sign that God performed the miracle in response to the venerable’s intercession. Today, these miracles are mostly miraculous cures, as these are the easiest to establish based on the Catholic Church’s requirements for a “miracle”.

A feast day will be designated, but its observance is normally restricted to the Blessed’s home diocese, to certain locations associated with the blessed and/or to the churches or houses of the blessed’s religious order, if they belonged to one. Parishes may not normally be named in honour of a Blessed.

Saint“: Canonization is a statement by the church that the person enjoys the Beatific Vision. To be canonized a saint, an additional miracle after granting beatification must have been performed through the blessed’s intercession.

The saint (contracted “St” or “S.”) is assigned a feast day which may be celebrated anywhere within the Catholic Church, although it may or may not appear on the general calendar or local calendars as an obligatory feast. Parish churches may be built in the saint’s honour, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honour the saint.honour, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honour the saint.honour, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honour the saint.honour, and the faithful may freely and without restriction celebrate and honour the saint.

Add this anywhere

Chanakya’s advice to Chitragupta!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja (Source: blog.buzzintown.com)
Varalakshmi Vratham Pooja (Source: blog.buzzintown.com)

.

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.

.

Chankaya (Source: religion.bhaskar.com)
Chanakya (Source: religion.bhaskar.com)

.

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!”

.

RELATED ARTICLES

.

 

Taking Care of an Aging Parent


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

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.

“Bowls?”

“Yes.”

“What for?”

“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.

.

Add this anywhere

King Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-15)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

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.

.

Dream of Soloman by Luca Giordano (Madrid, circa 1693)
Dream of Soloman by Luca Giordano (Madrid, circa 1693)

.

In Gibeon, the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.

God said: “Whatever you ask I shall give you.”

Solomon answered:

“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 for this 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.

“Marikkar” Ramdas of Komaligal (Clowns)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Sathyavaageeswara Iyer “Marikkar” Ramdas
Sathyavaageeswara Iyer “Marikkar” RamdasM

.

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.

.

B. H. Abdul Hameed and S. Ramdas in a still from the film 'Komaligal' (1976)
B. H. Abdul Hameed and S. Ramdas in a still from the film ‘Komaligal’ (1976)

.

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.

D. B. S. Jeyaraj, a former journalist of the Tamil daily newspaper “Virakesari” has written an excellent tribute titled ‘“Marikkar” Ramdas: The Brahmin who transformed Into a Muslimwherein he writes about “Marikkar” Ramdas and describes in detail the history and making of the film “Komaligal“.

RELATED ARTICLES

.

 

Two Years Have Passed since “The Faith” Collapsed in 2014.


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

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.

.

The 2014 Moulivakkam building collapse (Source: architexturez.net)
The 2014 Moulivakkam building collapse (Source: architexturez.net)

.

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.

The website of Prime Sristi Housing Pvt Ltd.,  blatantly states:

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.

.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

.

Stop Sharing That Meaningless Copyright Status on Facebook


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

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:

Permission for FB

.
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?

When you agree to Facebook’s terms of use, you give Facebook a non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post. You do not need to declare anything about copyright issues since the law already protects you. Hence, any privacy declaration on your part is worthless and does not mean anything.

On November 26, 2012, Max Read published an article titled “That Facebook Copyright Thing Is Meaningless and You Should Stop Sharing It” wherein he dissects this status post line by line and counters them with excellent explanations.

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

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.

.

RELATED ARTICLES

What Happened to the Three Monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi?


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Almost 68 years have elapsed since the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi. By the way, have you ever wondered what happened to his three famous monkeys?

.

The 3 Monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi (Source: daililol.com)
The 3 Monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi (Source: daililol.com)

.

Well, the three died in due course, but I gleaned more about their posterity:

The offsprings of the monkey that closed its eyes became judges, lawyers, policemen, and priests.

The progeny of the monkey that closed its ears became politicians, heads of governments, government officials and their lackeys.

Finally, the descendants of the third monkey that closed its mouth proliferated beyond expectation and are now the voting public