Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Who is Rudra? - Part 3

The Macedonians and Greeks came with Alexander the Great to the Hindu Kush range. They were mesmerized by the land of the gods, snow-covered, forested mountains higher than Olympus. The sun rising and setting among the glistening peaks painted a breathtaking picture. They were enchanter by the stories of the magical kingdoms of the air; of the heavens; of Vishnu and Shiva; of cities in the sky inhabited by sky demons. They were fascinated by the story of Surya, the sun god, who galloped across the sky each day in his golden chariot, pulled by the seven horses, while down below in the dark bowels of the earth were giant serpents, red-eyed, flesh-eating demons and other creatures of the underworld.

It was at this time that the people of Bharat were looking inwards, while the Macedonians aggressively explored outwards and wanted to conquer the world. The kingdoms of Bharat were threatened by the aggressive Macedonians. No king or kingdom was free from the aggressor’s attack. Fragmented kingdoms, disunity and distrust among the rulers made these kingdoms an easy target for the Macedonians.

During this period, several events are shrouded in mystery—what brought Alexander to India? How did he die at such a young age? What were the origins of Chandragupta Maurya? How did a young lad of humble origins take on a mighty king? How did a poor Brahmin pundit help a poor young man rise to power from nowhere? What extraordinary powers did Chandragupta possess that made him so successful? Who were his key generals? Who won wars for him? The questions are endless.

There are several seemingly unconnected dots, as the history of this time is shrouded in deep mystery. ‘Rudra’ effortlessly unlocks the ancient secrets and aligns the unconnected dots. Mystery unraveled; secrets decoded…

In the second avatar (Janam Two) as ‘Rudra’ during the tumultuous times of Alexander and Chanakya, he offers stunning clues and revelations. His decrypting skills leave a trail that answers several mysteries in our rich history.

At last, Rudra, heading the Nine Unknown Men Army (NUM), has arrived to decode the secrets to save humanity from cataclysm and extinction.

How Rudra could do all these? To know grab your copy of ‘The Indus Challenge’ available on all leading book stores and Ecommerce sites. http://bit.ly/2hykzFm.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Who is Rudra? - Part 2


3000 BC...

For Illustrative Purpose Only
The heroes who saved the planet from cyber terrorists could not avoid succumbing to this physical terrorism. Why? Why? This is what Shiv’s (NASA Scientist) unconscious mind questioned.

His mind was filled with the chorus of a great army crying out the name, “Sagar, Sagar, Sagar….” He was lying on the battlefield, a wounded solider covered with deep cuts. It was a bloodbath all around.

He was holding back his last breath, waiting for his beloved wife and newly born son. It was the battle between the Kauravas and Pandavas, in the land situated between the two rivers, the Sarasvati and Drishadvati, the land where Manu wrote his Manu-smriti and the land where the Rig and Sama Vedas were compiled.

His calm mind resisted the image. “This battleground is not the land of my birth or my beloved kingdom. This is not the place where I spent my joyful childhood. This is not the beautiful place where I come from. I need to find the place of my birth.”

His comatose mind continued to wander further into the past. Having identified the city of his birth, he stumbled onto his colorful life as “Sagar”, the great warrior of the kingdom of Krishna in 3083 BC!

Sagar, in his first karmic avatar, was given the “Shudra varna” tag but was patronized by a Brahmin guru. He was given the status of a Shudra by society but the status of a strategic warrior by his leader, Abhimanyu. He grew up with three Brahmin friends (the sons of his Guruji), the Kshatriya leader Abhimanyu and another friend, a Vaishya. A close bond developed between them in the gurukul. The three sons of his Guruji were also blessed with mystic powers.

All the Pancha bhoodas—earth, water, sky, air and fire—danced to the tunes of the three boys who had been born as triplets to his Guruji. Only when the three were together would the Pancha bhoodas obey them. They were warned of a threat to their lives at the age of fifteen. As they grew older, they joined Abhimanyu’s ‘Yuva Warrior Team’.

Sagar was the chief strategist of the Yuva army, marshalling resources for his leader Abhimanyu. During the Kuru war, on Yuva Sena, the fateful day of the chakravyuha, Sagar had been advised by his Guruji that he should not send his three gifted sons to the field. According to their horoscopes, their lives were under threat.

But fate took the decision away from him.

A nine-layer chakravyuha had been formed by Guru Drona. All of Duryodana’s greatest warriors were in the inner circle, while the outer circle was protected by the mighty Drona. The Pandava warrior Arjuna, the only one who knew how to cleave the chakravyuha, had been dragged off to a different field. Now the onus of breaking the chakravyuha fell to the young Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son. He knew how to break the chakravyuha; he did not know how to exit it.

The Yuva Sena headed by Abhimanyu volunteered to enter the chakravyuha, assigning the seniors the task of ensuring that the breach remained open to allow for a clear line of retreat. A contingency plan was made.

The three Brahmin boys’ powers would be used to create an underground tunnel through each tier, so that the soldiers would be able to retreat in case anything went wrong. A portion of the army could also use the tunnels so that they could be shielded from arrows while moving ahead and defending the broken edges of the tier. Also, even if the tiers were closed due to any reason, the mouths of the tunnels would provide a ready exit for Abhimanyu.

But Sagar could not accompany them as he got the news of the birth of his son at that time. He left the group even though he promised to his Brahmin guru that he will protect his sons.

In the war that followed, the three boys were split and they could not execute their tactical plan as the Pancha bhoodas will listen to them only when they were together.

Abhimanyu and the three boys died in the Chakravyuha. Sagar had to earn the wrath and the curse of his Brahmin guru.

“You will be highly competent on land, sea and air matters in each of the three births. You can win a war but you cannot avail the fruits of it. Let these nine births forever remind you that you killed my sons in the nine-tier chakravyuha. Each of the nine circles will represent one birth for you. This is my curse”.

A new journey was about to begin for the soul of Sagar. The Indus Challenge: Janam Two. The hero of ‘The Indus Challenge’, Rudra, was born in 330 BC with a new karmic agenda. Would he be able to break the shackles of destiny and overcome the curse…? To read place your order online at http://bit.ly/2hykzFm.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Who is Rudra? - Part 1

2008 AD...

A terrorist group attacks the world by planting viruses into global computer systems from a satellite orbiting the earth. This act of cyber terrorism disrupts air traffic systems, interferes with the control system for water and electricity, blocks commercial communication, crashes various network systems, gains access to secret military information and defaces websites. In light of this cyber-attack, the world is facing a chaotic situation.

Shiv, a young, celebrated NASA scientist destroys the group’s moves and saves the earth from cyber-attacks. To honor Shiv’s extraordinary performance, a felicitation function was held at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai on the fateful day of 26th November 2008. Shiv, the cyber warrior, becomes a victim of a physical terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal. His mind flashes with several images while he lies in a coma in the ICU of a leading Hospital in Mumbai. The images of war, weapons and weeping widows swamp his mind. Are these flashes from his previous births?

To know more read "The Indus Challenge", a historical fiction. Place your order at 
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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Fasting for the Body and Soul!!

For Illustrative Purpose Only
ON October 3, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discovery of mechanisms for autophagy. The word auto means self and phagein means to eat, essentially self-eating.

The human body is made up of billions of cells. And each cell has certain components including the nuclei, various organelles, proteins and cell membranes and walls. Over time the overall cell might be good but certain components of it may not work at hundred percent. Just like in a car, sometimes the batteries fail or the tires wear out. In such times you service the car and replace the battery or change the tires. Similarly at a cellular level the body identifies such broken audience or cell components and actually does its own servicing.

For a car it’s a mechanic, but for your body it is a highly specialized organelle containing enzymes that degrades proteins called as a lysosome. This lysosome will actually convert the dead components into cell waste and send it for recycling. The cell makes a new component with the nutrients supplied to it by the blood.

It’s a beautiful system, whatever is old and useless is removed and a chance is given for the new to grow and regenerate. It seems that some how your own body treats those components which are no longer working fine. But that is what life is. A philosophical outlook towards autophagy may be the best outlook. Autophagy actually ensures that you have a healthy and essentially a younger body at cellular level without redundant components. It is the body’s healing touch for itself.

Now we come to a question, What kicks off autophagy? Research shows that it is a hormone called glucagon. When the level of glucagon goes up in the body the body starts to kick off the autoclean cycle. Autophagy is activated and cell damage is repaired. What is the key driver of glucagon production? It is nutrient deprivation. In simple terms, fasting!! Depriving your body of essential nutrients actually can ensure that autophagy can take place. The best way to do it is intermittent fasting. Fasting actually has the dual effect of autophagy and of stimulating the growth hormone. You are not only getting rid of the old parts but also ensuring the body makes some new ones! There cannot be a better deal than this.

The beneficial effects of fasting was surely a part of the ancient knowledge, that not only Indians but all civilizations understood it in some form or the other. All religions have got fasting as a feature of the religious beliefs and tenants. Islam has the month of Ramadan in which the devout are encouraged to fast from dawn to dusk. Christianity also has fasting days and days of renunciation. Fasts are kept on certain days like on the birthdays of saints and feasts happen after the midnight mass. Fasts in these religions are not only an obligation. It is also regarded as a means of getting closer to god and being more spiritual.

The most abundant use of fasting would be in Hindu traditions. In earlier times fasts are common, people used to pick a day of the week and fast. Additionally, there were fasts on various religious occasions. Every 11th day of the lunar calendar was also considered to be a good day for fasting. Fasting in Sanskrit is called upavaasa. Upa means “near” and vaasa means “to stay”. Upavaasa therefore means staying near (the Lord), meaning the attainment of close mental proximity with the Lord. The theory as per ancient texts being that deprivation of the nutrients has a beneficial effect on digestion as well as gives more time for contemplation of God.

Unfortunately, all fasts in modern days have left their ancient roots and have become mere rituals. From the eating heaps of food that is permitted during fasting like sago and fruits, to the meat and oil laden feats at sunset and midnight after the days fasts. All religions, have lost the spiritual component at a certain level.

Perhaps it is instructive to read this verse from the Bhagwat Gita, one of the key religious texts of Hinduism.

नात्यश्नतस्तुयोगोऽस्तिनचैकान्तमनश्नत: |
नचातिस्वप्नशीलस्यजाग्रतोनैवचार्जुन ||

The meaning is “O Arjuna, the science of uniting ones consciousness with that of the supreme consciousness is not for one who eats too much or for one who eats too little or for one who sleeps too little or one who sleeps too much.

Moderation is the key. What this years Nobel prize has done is that it has shine a light on the benefits of fasting and re-validated the ancient wisdom of the ages.

Sadly, the most ancient wisdom of the Indian subcontinent, may be lost to us forever. The ancient secret sciences that were hidden from humanity for its own benefit may have many good things along with destructive ones. To know more about the secret sciences, Why they may have been lost? Why do ancient temples still hold such a collective sway in the conscience of the people? Why the times of Chandragupta  Maurya and Chanakya may have been our last shot at knowing the ancient sciences? read “The Indus Challenge”, a historical fiction coming soon to bookstores near you and available  for pre-order on Amazon.in.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Hunt for the Rosetta Stone of the Indus Valley!!

 For Illustrative Purpose Only
THE ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian and the Indus Valley civilization are considered to be the oldest of organized civilizations. Due to its massive monuments and a comparatively long reign the Egyptian civilization continues to leave on the face of the earth its traces in some of the most recognizable forms. The pyramids and the massive burial chambers and the wealth of artifacts discovered enshrined the civilization into the collective minds of humanity.

The Indus Valley civilization on the other hand was discovered purely by accident. It was during the laying of a railway line during the British times that perfectly fired bricks in huge quantities were discovered and reported. These were perfect as ballast for the railway tracks. An ancient historical site became a quarry for bricks!! Only when some intrepid archaeologists in the 1870s went and discovered some seals with various symbols did the interest in the civilization peak.

This interest was partly due to the excitement in the archaeological circles because the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were being confidently translated only in the last few decades. The key to this translation was a stone edict in three different languages which was rediscovered by a soldier who was a part of Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt. This stone with some other fragments turned out to be the key for translating the Egyptian hieroglyphs. During the Anglo-French wars, the stone was taken to England where it continues to be displayed in the British Museum almost continuously since 1802. It is the most visited artifact in the British Museum. The wonder and awe that the translated hieroglyphs generated in the general public and in the archaeological circles was beyond comparison. A lost civilization was speaking to the modern world. Those were the golden days of Egyptology.

In this charged climate, when another ancient language was discovered the interest among archaeologists was very high and the race to decipher the script was on. This enthusiasm met harsh reality. The Indus Valley civilization did not have enclosed sealed spaces such as the tombs of kings which yielded the bulk of the Egyptian artifacts. The civilization was a functioning efficient city made out of mostly mud and bricks. Utility and efficiency were the guidelines for the city and they will devoid of major architectural landmarks.  Most of the finer things in the cities would have long ago crumbled and would have been converted to dust. Most of the writings and the scripts discovered were only on various seals. These proved to be too little for any serious research.

Also, the language in question turned out to be very arcane and in the absence of a Rosetta Stone, a key or a clue that connected the ancient to the modern, the search for meanings of the ancient script turned out to be a frustrating endeavor. As of date, we do not have any means of deciphering what the ancient seals and symbols mean.

Between 400 and as many as 600 distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals, small tablets, ceramic pots and more than a dozen other materials, including a "signboard" that apparently once hung over the gate of the inner citadel of the Indus city of Dholavira. Experts are currently at a loss as to how to progress in this matter.

What can be safely said is that this ancient language would have had some knowledge of it being passed down generation to generation. Computer models have opined that the script supported a phonetic spoken language. The language is expected to be Dravidian in nature. The presence of the many Dravidian languages not only in the southern India but also in Pakistan in the form of Brahui language does give credence to this theory.

Somewhere during the last 5000 years, either the language was lost naturally or some cataclysmic event could have led to all evidences of the translation of the language being lost. Students of ancient Indian sciences point out that the knowledge of the ancient sciences would have been coded in such an arcane language. It would have ensured that only a select few will have access thus ensuring secrecy and avoiding misuse.

What sciences would ancient India be proficient in? Why somebody like Alexander would come all the way to India? How the arcane knowledge of the Indus script turns out to be a major obstacle in the hunt for the sciences? How does Rudra, the right-hand man of Chandragupta Maurya and a disciple of Chanakya surmounts the odds and deciphers this script. To know more, read “The Indus Challenge”, a historical fiction coming soon to bookstores near you and available for pre-order on Amazon.in.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Slice of Chidambaram in Hawaai!!

For Illustrative Purpose Only
WE have seen in an earlier blog the importance of Chidambaram as a pivotal place in Shiva worship. The temple has the rarest form of Shiva that in the form of space or nothingness. The Nataraja form of Shiva, the one performing the divine cosmic dance is very much a symbol of Chidambaram. This symbol is also ruling the hearts and minds of the devotees’ seven seas away on an Island that is more famous of having a good time!!

The Kadavul Hindu Temple on the island of Kauai is famous as a Hindu Monastery. The complex is 363 acres was formed in 1973. The centerpiece is a massive Shiva temple constructed in the Sri Lanka style. The presiding deity is Shiva in the form of Nataraja. The Shiva statue is guarded by his faithful ride the Nandi who is present in the full glory in a statue that weighs 16 tons. The monastery also boasts a 700-pound, 3-foot-tall, naturally formed crystal Sivalingam (among the largest known sphatika svayambhu lingams in the world). This is proposed to be the main deity of a new temple being constructed in the temple complex. This new temple called as the Iraivan temple will be hand carved in white granite and it will be carved by the artisans from India. The temple also has a rare collection of the Siva's 108 tandava dance poses in 16-inch-tall bronze icons covered with gold leaf and an elaborate silver trident (trishula), symbol of God Siva's three fundamental powers of desire, action and wisdom.

What makes the temple extra special is that the temple has a team of 21 resident monastics who are devoted to the service of lord Shiva. They meet in the early hours of the morning before sunrise for the poojas and other rituals. The monks rotate in three-hour vigils round-the-clock during which time they worship, meditate, chant, practice Sanskrit and perform personal spiritual disciplines. This sadhana has been maintained in unbroken continuity since the temple was established in 1973, adding to the temple's profound power which changes the lives of many a visitor, much like the ancient temples of South India. Till date in excess of 127,000 vigils have been performed.

The temple compounds have a guided tour done for free and the all visitors are encouraged to understand the basic tenets of Hinduism and also take a walk around the grounds. The temple compounds include the actual temple, gardens with a huge banyan tree, the flag mast and temple water tanks. An added attraction is the Rudraksha plantation. The rudrakshas are actually berries and they are blue in color before they ripen, fall down and dry out to become the berries that we are more familiar with. For hindus, an archana or a pooja can be done by those who are interested.

This exotic slice of Hinduism and India is still a work in progress and the parts of the temple are being constantly expanded and added. All work on the temple is done by hand. Perhaps we need to be more aware of our own heritage and the vast areas where the art, architecture and spirituality of ancient India has had a foothold and has inspired generation. From, the tempels of Angkor Wat in Cambodia to the Kadavul hindu temple in Kauai Island, Hawai.

Such temples were always centers for learning and were pillars of ancient scientific discovery and practice. The vedas and puranas of yore give tantalizing hints of these accomplishments and refer to advanced sciences. The quest of this knowledge has over millennia has brought to India scholars, monks and conquerors in equal numbers. Perhaps the last hint of the use of this knowledge were in the times of Chanakya and Emperor Chandragupta. A tumultuous time when Rudra, a man from humble origins rose to prominence as the right hand man of Chandragupta. Rudra, a man who was betrayed and who had to fight to prove his mettle. The temples and the mysterious clues from the carvings in such temples enabled Rudra and his men to commence the great search for brahmastra & amrit the pinnacles of the ancient shastras. Join this breathtaking hunt with Rudra and be a part of the battle he fought in the forthcoming book “The Indus Challenge”. Coming to bookstores and available for preorder on Amazon soon!!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Water Wars!!!

For Illustrative Purpose Only
WATER is essential for life. This simple statement has been ingrained in our minds as part of the formal education process. Every child reads this and knows this. What is often ignored is the scarcity of this resource. As the world population exploded from a relatively modest 1.6 Billion people in 1900 to about 7.2 Billion today. We live on a planet that has finite resources and perhaps the most underappreciated resource has been fresh water.

With the population expected to stabilize around 10 Billion mark we will see an increasing demand for fresh water. The future wars are not expected to be oil, religion or land but for water. As with all natural resources the scramble will start when governments realize that they are not able to provide water to its citizens and populations rise up in revolt.

We in India have been treated to this scenario very closely over the last few days with the agitations in Bangaluru and Tamil Nadu taking a violent turn. Karnataka says that it cannot release the waters of Cauvery from its dams as it will face a severe drinking water shortage while farmers in Tamil Nadu have been vocal that if the water is not been released, they will face crop failure and ruin. The matter has reached the Supreme Court and even after the verdict has been delivered, the protests continue. These actions undermine the constitution and judicial supremacy. Also, a judicially settled matter presented out of context has been converted into emotive affair and has caused mayhem. In fact it needs to be pointed out that international laws exist for the sharing of waters between upper riparian states (Karnataka) and lower riparian states (Tamil Nadu).

Water disputed are not new to the subcontinent. We have has interstate disputed between Karnataka and Tamilnadu, Andhra and Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerela etc. From a country perspective also, we have had disputes between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan have an ironclad agreement called the Indus Water treaty between them, but still the disputes continue. In Pakistan, the newest weapon of generating mass anger against India is by accusing India of water terrorism. Pakistan has been going to courts of arbitration and facing defeats fir various issues linked to the water sharing between the two nations. A milder problem also exists between Bangladesh and India. Teesta waters have been a thorny issues with the PM of Bangladesh scoring a point on Mamta Banerjee the CM of West Bengal. When the West Bengal CM asked for more exports of the hilsa fish from Bangladesh, the PM was tactful enough to point out that fish need water and if the Teesta waters are shared better, we can have more fish.

But, the question remains that barring the issue of population growth, what has caused such severe drought conditions and water scarcity? Let us take the example of India for this. We have had massive Industrialization with poor pollution control norms being set and the enforcement has been worse. Dams serve the triple purpose of water storage, hydel power generation and flood control. But poor land acquisition policies, unfulfilled promises of resettlement of affected villages and massive corruption in construction have ensured that big dams are now a political impossibility to push. Massive urbanization has caused severe stress in pockets of the country. The urban consumer also uses more water per capita than his rural counterpart. The convenience of having water on tap cultivates wasteful habits. The cropping pattern has also contributed to the stress in the agri sector. As farmers turned to cash crops the water availability and crop selection equation collapsed. Instead of millets which were the staple for our ancestor we are increasingly becoming rice and wheat eaters which consume about 4-5 times more water per acre than millets. We have become addicted to sugar and sugarcane which consumed almost 8-10 times water per acre than millets. Now we here rose farming being promoted in draught areas. Rose plants consume 17 times more water than millets. Such non sustainable agriculture practices have contributed to the water shortage.

The need of the hour is to conserve water. Rainwater harvesting and storage is essential. Check dams to ensure the water is percolated to the underground tables need to be promoted. Small and localized water storage schemes need to be invested in rather than big ticket dams. Drip and sprinkle irrigation have to be promoted. More importantly, we have to ensure that pollution is checked and controls enforced strictly. Desilting of existing waterways and ponds is easy win for augmenting storage capacity. The river banks need be strengthened with afforestation and shoring up to prevent more mud and silt to accumulate in the water. The national river integration program can also be a massive help.

It would be instructive to note that the decline of water due to climatic change and river channel changes are considered the chief reasons for the decline of the Indus valley civilization. The store house of knowledge that was developed during those times was frittered away. Such was the fame of the rich knowledge and scientific accomplishments of the civilization that Alexander the Great crossed the whole of Europe and Central Asia to come to the India by crossing the Indus river. The wars that were fought shaped the destiny of the subcontinent over the next two millenniums. To know more about the secrets of this ancient civilization which included Amrit and the Bramhastra, the forthcoming historical novel “The Indus Challenge” is a must read.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Who is the Winner? Pokémon Go or Harry Potter!!!

For Illustrative Purpose Only
THE last month has been an eventful one for nostalgia fuelled phenomenon. We have had Pokémon Go which launched on August 6th. If you have internet then you must have heard of Pokémon Go. It was all across the social media and news websites not to mention being extensively covered by TV media as well. The second big event was the launch of the new Harry Potter book ‘Harry Potter and the cursed Child’.  It’s actually the script of the Broadway play which was released in book form.

There are striking similarities along many lines. Both Pokémon Go and Harry potter come with a devoted fan base. Pokémon was a part of the videogame culture of the 90th and the TV series was also well received. The spinoffs into trump cards were also very successful. The franchise had a healthy dose of nostalgia associated with it. The game was well designed and very well received. To say it was a success was an understatement.

On the other hand Harry Potter books are hailed as the single biggest factor in the revival of book reading among the younger generation.  At a time when cartoons and TV series were at its peak and children were glued to cable TV and internet screes and Gameboys. The book series was exceptionally successful in cultivating and nurturing a loyal fan base. The series had seven books published over ten years from 1997 to 2007 and its conclusion was an epic event. They were subsequently converted into movies and these were very successful as well.

Let us go into some news bites. For the launch of the Harry Potter and the cursed child, there were midnight release countdowns. Bookstores and the publisher held midnight release parties. Customers came in droves and lines stretched around the block for getting your hands on a copy. More than two Million copies were sold worldwide. For the Broadway play, the tickets are sold out for the next few months. Tickets for the play are being resold for close to a thousand pounds online.

Pokémon Go on the other hand did not do a lot of publicity or spent much in marketing. The game was released like any other app gets listed with just some press briefs and small events. But the buzz online was phenomenal. The game topped the charts and broke the record for the most downloaded app. The engagement of the players and time spent on the game was phenomenal.

A definite trend began to emerge. The hoopla and sales of the book tapered quite considerably a month post release. Pokémon Go on the other hand continues to go strong. This is an excellent example of how the way we engage with the world and those around us has changed with technology. The ubiquitous smart phone was never a part of our lives before and this crucial difference is the key of Pokémon Go’s success. By making something that was engaging and fun accessible in the palm of your hand, Pokémon Go has been able to be a continuing part of the player’s life at every instant. Potter on the other hand is a book and once the reading is over, the engagement ceases.

There is a lesson here. You may bank on nostalgia and brand equity of the franchise for getting you off the starting block. But to be truly engaged, any franchise will need to be delivered in format that leverages the single biggest competition to the attention span of the consumer, the smart phone.

At its core, the Potter book is a mystery. A search for the culprit and the unveiling of a mystery is the core. Pokémon on the other hand uses one of the most base instincts of the human mind, that of a hunter gatherer to create a thrill of a hunt by following clues. 

This engaging mix of mystery and an epic hunt that requires decoding of clues forms a crucial part of the upcoming book “The Indus Challenge”. In the ancient land of India during the times of Alexander and Chandragupta Maurya, an ancient seal is uncovered. And thus starts the epic hunt for unveiling the mystery so powerful that it can change the shape of the world. To join this epic hunt from the icy heights of Mount Kailash to the silent seas of Rameshwar, you need to grab a copy soon. “The Indus Challenge” releasing soon!!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Pokémon - Everyone loves a good Hunt!!

For Illustrative Purpose Only
MAN was once a nomadic animal. His existence was that of a hunter and gatherer. Just like a predator he would be on the hunt and stalk prey and kill. This hunting continued even when he became domesticated and had farmed animals and agriculture. Now, it was more a way showing bravery. Even though hunting for trophy or for subsistence has gone down it has not been eliminated. Most people simply do not have the tools to hunt. This base instinct of being a hunter, a person on the scent of a prey has combined with mobile gaming technology to give us the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go!

Pokémon is short for “Pocket Monster”. Originally a concept that originated in Japan as a game for the Gameboy videogame consoles in the early 90’s. The basic theme is insect collection, which the founder was fond of. The general theme was to collect all the Pokémon’s in a certain area to complete your collection. The next stage was to train the powerful Pokémon’s to fight and have virtual battles with other players Pokémon’s to win the league. The base concept thus is of collecting, training and battling.

Pokémon Go enmeshes this concept in the real world situation. The creatures appear or spawn in the real world at real locations and are visible on the phone screens of the player’s phones. You can capture these by using pokeballs, virtual balls with the power to capture the Pokémon’s. These are available at certain public places. The Pokémon’s themselves are themed with water based Pokémon’s found near water bodies and wild ones spawning randomly at any place. You have designated public places such as the Central Park New York or India Gate in Delhi which are Pokémon gyms. Here you train your Pokémon’s and fight other players. For some Pokémon’s, you get eggs and to hatch them you have to walk a certain number of kilometers. This was a perfect recipe for a hit. The game has smashed all records for player engagement and it is quickly shaping up to be a cultural phenomenon.

There have been various incidents that highlight the good and the bad of the phenomenon. Criminals have used odd locations where players chase the Pokémon’s to rob players. People have stopped on busy highways to catch rare Pokémon’s causing accidents. A girl discovered a floating dead body in the river while catching Pokémon. There have also been complaints from cemeteries and homes that players have trespassed to catch the virtual monsters. But along with this there is whole lot of good happening. Americans have discovered metric system, since as per the game in order to hatch eggs to get rare Pokémon’s they have to walk a number of kilometers (Google search for kilometers to miles have shot up in the USA)!! Small historic towns have got increased traffic that is helping the economy as players flood to catch the rare Pokémon and spend on food and supplies in the local stores. Introverted gamers are coming out of the sofas and computer screen and walking around the real world and are swapping stories of their catches with absolute strangers and making friends. More people are discovering the hidden gems that their own city holds.

Additionally, there have been organized Poke hunts in various cities including in India. There was tremendous support with more than a thousand turning up for the hunts in Delhi. Tour companies in Italy are planning Poke hunts with a senior player as a guide. Tourists can hunt the Pokémon’s while going around the hotspots in buses. People have put in ads online to safely drive players for a fee while they hunt Pokémon’s. This whole ecosystem has been completely user generated and is unprecedented for any game in history.

But what is it that attracts the players. My guess is that the game at a certain level caters to the base instinct that exists in all of us. That is of a hunter gatherer. A seeker, who gets a hint, a clue, and wants to follow it. Call it hunting or call it treasure hunt, once you are on the scent you cannot stop. And everyone loves a good hunt!!

In the forthcoming book “The Indus Challenge”, an ancient seal with symbols from the Indus Valley civilization is found by Alexander the Great.  Thus starts a hunt for the ancient secret sciences of India. The hunt that involved everyone from Alexander and his Generals to  Chanakya, Chandragupta and Rudra his trusted lieutenant, the protagonist.  It was epic in scale spanning from the icy heights of Mount Kailash to the silent seas of Rameshwaram. To know more, you have to grab a copy of the book “The Indus Challenge”. To hit the bookstands soon!!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Olympics during Alexander’s Time

For Illustrative Purpose Only
WITH the modern Olympic Games out in full swing at Rio, it may be a good time to understand better the fascinating history behind these games. The Olympic Games in the modern context represent unity of purpose between the different nations and the pinnacle of achievement by the human body and mind. The modern games are held every four years and drawn their inspiration from games held at Olympia in ancient Greece. Hence the name: Olympics. But the modern Olympics are a far cry from the games that were held during the time of Alexander.

The ancient games were held in the honor of Zeus, the Greek god. The start of the games predated Alexander by almost three centuries, the first game being generally considered to be held in 776 BC. The nature of the games were vastly different than today’s. Firstly, it was more of a religious celebration as well as an athletic one. Also, the events were quite limited and mostly consisted of running races, chariot races, discus throw, jumping and running with armor. In later years, boxing, wrestling and other combined athletic events were added .There were no team events at all.  Interestingly, one of the most anticipated events in these games was a running race of about 190 meters signifying the length of the feet of the mythical Hercules. The race was called at the “stadion” race and always drew enormous crowds. This race is the origin of the word ‘stadium’.

Only free men who spoke Greek were allowed to compete in the games. The rule was quite strictly enforced. The Macedonian king Alexander I (494-454 BC) who predated Alexander the Great was not allowed to compete as a Macedonian. He had to prove his Greek ancestry and only then was he allowed to participate in the games. He was one of the rare Royals to have taken part in the games. The Roman emperor Nero who competed in the chariot race in 67 AD was thrown from his chariot but was declared a winner!! The logic being that he would have won if he had completed the race!!

All participants had to take an oath in front of Zeus that they had practiced at least for 10 months for the sport that they were competing in. Another interesting aspect of the ancient games was that all the athletes competed fully nude!!  This tradition of athletic nudity was called “gymnos” and modern gymnastics and gymnasiums owe their origins to this tradition. Since the contestants were in the nude, married woman were not allowed to be spectators at the games. And this was an offence punishable by death!!

The winners were given olive branches and olive branch crowns. The city State and the villages where they came from further give prizes and money to the champions. Poets would write poems and songs in their honor. Their athletic body would be used by painters and sculptors as models of human physique.

The Olympic Games were also an economic tool. The congregation of all the rich people of all the various city states proved to be a fertile ground for traders of all sorts of luxuries. It was also an excellent place for painters and sculptors to sell their services and get commissions. The whole city would transform to become one huge culturally rich diverse and beautiful city.

Another aspect of the games was the political stability and truce declared during the games. Various city states in ancient Greece would keep the wars on hold and let the games be played. This allowed the various athletes, kings and traders to travel beyond the borders of their own city states safely and without fear of being robbed or captured.

The games also provided a fertile ground to announce all sorts of political alliances. From wedding announcements to treaties between kingdoms to long-term truces, the games were as much a tool of foreign policy as it was for athletic achievement.

Alexander the great was a great fan of the games but could never compete in one. There is no historical evidence of him attending the games personally. But, he understood the importance of such athletic contests in keeping up spirit of his troops.  In his entire conquest towards the east from Macedonia he had organized various games at different locations for his army. Alexander the Great, was also a suave politician.  His conquests were always announced at the games keeping the wider Greek Empire aware about this fierce king. At the Olympic  games held in the year before his death. Alexander announced that all  people exiled from the various cities in Greece by the local chieftains would be allowed back in. As Emperor he would ensure their return. This was a masterstroke. It ensured that in every city he had a good number of personal supporters of his Empire. In some city states this decision created a minor civil unrest with the local chieftain feeling threatened but in the end Alexander’s hold on power was strengthened.

In ancient India such athletic games were held from time to time. One of the most famous examples is that of the games held among the Kauravas and Pandavas held at Hastinapur. It was these games that cemented the chasm between the two families and made Karna a bedrock of the Kaurava camp. 

Continuing in that tradition, even Chandragupta Maurya encouraged games as a way of expressing battle readiness. It was in one such competition, that adversity fell like a lightning on to Rudra pitching his whole life into turmoil. What was this adversity, who is Rudra, does he overcome this adversity? To know more you need to grab a copy of the upcoming book “The Indus Challenge”. Soon to hit the bookstores….

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kabali Rajini: The Tsunami that Shook the World

The Rajini Effect

The Kabali Rajini effect shook the world - the chanting of “Rajini Rajini” were heard far and wide and across both sides of the Atlantic.

Records tumbled, the cash registers of the theaters kept ringing and the lines never abated! The egos of some fellow artists were shattered! Divisive forces were dismayed and the united fandom enjoyed the Kabali Rajini! When it’s “Rajini” the force is always of unifying!! Cost creed colour position nothing mattered! People from all walks of life left in one direction: To see Kabali Rajini on the first day of release! Newspapers from New York to New Zealand profiled Rajini. Massive celebrations were seen at the theaters that were showing Kabali and this was from San Francisco to Shanghai and from Pennsylvania to Perth.

Even business schools have now have plans to introduce a case study: “The Kabali wave that shook the world – Path breaking lessons in Promotion Strategy”. People always forget one thing it is not the story of the superiority of the film that led to this tsunami. It is the “Brand Rajini” that did the trick.

How widespread was this effect?
Board meetings were cancelled, offices were closed and volunteers from across the spectrum of society came down to celebrate on the day of the release. A festival mood was created spontaneously by the sheer force of the enthusiasm of the fans. It was not an assembled crowd; it was not the crowd that was given money or packets of food to assemble. It was a wholly voluntary crowd that spent its own money.

People mistake it as the rush of the masses that eulogized their ideal hero MGR/NTR in olden days. But now it is not the addicts, neither are they the fan club members only. It is people from all walks of life right from a member of the Board of Directors to a person who carries the broom in the company. Even age is not a factor, be it 8 or 80, Rajini fans are visible.

For me personally, I generally go for select movies only after reading reviews or watch those that have been recommended by friends. But I went for the first day show for Kabali bringing with me a team of 50 associates! We all watch the movie together in Dubai. Even at the theaters the crowd was an eclectic mix of high flyers to common workers. People who are generally very dignified and who would never shout at public places were surprisingly seen shouting “Rajini, Rajini” and cheering along the actor. This is a first-hand experience and no newspaper report. I experienced it myself!
The greatness of the man can be gauged by his humility. At an award function, he remarked “I, Rajini, a bus conductor am standing in front of this illustrious audience to receive an award today. This by itself makes me believe – ‘Miracles do happen’

At the top of the Mount Everest of success, Rajini still keeps his head firmly on the shoulders - the embodiment of humility even at the pinnacle of his achievement! That is Brand Rajini!!
He was never mesmerized by the aesthetics - the ego that sits in the mind. That humility of Rajni creates automatically an effect on the minds of people. His fans are not just fans, they are his well-wishers. That’s why Rajini’s success is their success.

It is not just the obsessed film buffs, but enlightened minds that come to support Rajini. That even erases the negative effect of mixed reviews. Who cares for these reviews? People care for “Rajini” and by the time the film review sinks in the minds of the people, whopping numbers 400 Crores - 500 Crores have already been collected!

But why didn’t this Rajini effect work on all his films? Many people ask this question. I believe the answer is as follows:

The well-wishers of Rajini support him in all his movies as long as it aligns with his age. Some of the heroics that he did in his 30s, if he does now, the well-wishers will not volunteer. Maybe the hard-core fans can cheer. But the success of the film cannot be left only to the hard-core fans. Hence fan films of Rajni do not do well, while those targeted towards the well-wishers will always be roaring successes.

He is not just a Man of his Fan Masses – But Rajini is a Man of People’s Mind. Courage in crisis, calmness in success - Thy Name is Rajini!

A Rajini like hero - “Rudra”, a humble man who learns the secrets of Bramhastra and has mysterious powers over the earth lives and walks in the era of Alexander, Chandragupta and Chanakya. When charges of scheming against his sovereign, his king were framed against him - how does he save his kingdom from plunging into chaos? This and much more in the upcoming thriller- “The Indus Challenge”. Soon to hit the stands!!

Friday, 15 July 2016


IF love, compassion and brotherhood is what the world is aiming for, then the last month has been
especially bad. We have had a huge number of incidents.

- We had two massive suicide bombers killing in excess of 200 in Iraq.
- We had police brutality on full display in the shooting of two black men in the US. Both incidents have video evidence. In fact one was live streamed on Facebook.
- An equally irrational reaction was the killing of five police officers by a sniper who had come out to control a protest against these killings.
- We had suicide bombers blow up at one of the most sacred sites in Saudi Arabia.
- There was also a good amount of racial abuse hurled at foreign looking workers in UK in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
- We had a massive hostage killing spree in Bangladesh were about 22 people were hacked to death.
- The senseless violence of a terrorist in Kashmir is still simmering.

What all of these are? These are simply attacks where the motivation can be racial, religious, class conflict, personality flaw or simply a political struggle.

In today’s information age, where audio and visuals from conflict zones and scenes of tragedy can be broadcast within seconds, the reactions to such incidences are also extreme. In the olden times, there used to be a cooling-off period. A good amount of mature reflection happened between such tragedies happening in the news spreading to large groups. This, was a natural dampener. Today’s Internet is also very reactive. You can give your comment, leave a tweet or post your own reactions in seconds. And this is where outrage takes over reason, spontaneity takes over maturity and preaching takes over reflection.

Perhaps the single largest contributor to inertia for change in the modern times is the excessive preaching of what is right and what is wrong. And this preaching is mostly done by people who have no apparent connection to the incident in question. No group of people, religion or political class appreciates an external group telling them what to do. It’s not in human nature. The most successful reformations have come when things have been changed by people from within.

Perhaps the best way to handle this hate filled environment is not to be reactive and not adopt “a holier than thou” approach. Be sensitive to the unique characteristics of every problem and above all acceptance in moderation in all interactions of your daily life.