Sunday 25 January 2015


2015-04  Paul Gallico:  The Small Miracle - Never Take No for an Answer

Pepino is a ten year old orphan in the Italian town of Assisi. His only "legacy" is Violetta, a docile donkey with a Mona Lisa smile. They make a living together by transporting goods for people. But one day Violetta falls very ill, and ceases to smile. 

Pepino is desperate. He wishes to take Violetta to the crypt of St. Francis, in the lower church of the Basilica, and pray to him. But the supervisor, and the bishop do not look kindly upon the idea. How far up the hierarchy can Pepino go to save his dearest friend? 

The small miracle is that Pepino fights the might of the Catholic Church to meet the Pope, to let Violetta into the crypt where St Francis of Assissi is laid to rest. This is one of Paul Gallico's sweetest, most delicate tales, more poignant than, even the The Snow Goose.  



Sunday 18 January 2015


2015-03    Paul Gallico: The Snow Goose - A Story of Dunkirk

Paul Gallico [1897-1976]
Paul William Gallico [1897-1976] was an American novelist, short story and sports writer. Many of his works were adapted for motion pictures. 
He is perhaps best remembered for the mini epics, The Snow Goose [1940] and The Small Miracle [1950], written in simple, lyrical prose and for the novel The Poseidon Adventure [1969] primarily through the 1972 film adaptation.


Philip Rhayader lives alone in an abandoned lighthouse on the desolate Great Marsh of Essex. One afternoon, a hauntingly beautiful child, Fritha, visits Rhayader, bringing with her an injured snow goose. 

At first Fritha is scared of Rhayader, with his sinister hump and crooked hand, but he is gentle and kind and Fritha begins to visit regularly. When the snow goose departs for home, Rhayader is left alone again. 

The following winter, the snow goose and Fritha return to the lighthouse. Time passes and one year Fritha is frightened to discover her feelings for Rhayader. But this is 1940 and Rhayader is setting sail for Dunkirk to help the soldiers trapped on the beaches. Fritha never sees Rhayader again. But the story of the saviour with the snow goose passes from soldier to soldier and into legend...

When you finish reading The Snow Goose you are left with conflicting emotions. You are uplifted, but the tragic events that have just unfolded also leaves you with a tear in your eye. The story of the man whose physical deformities prevent others from seeing the beauty within is as old as time but the way in which Gallico weaves it together with the maturing life of a young girl, the migration of a Canadian snow goose and the evacuation at Dunkirk make it unique. 

"The Snow Goose is beautifully poetic; set prior to and during the Second World War. It is written in simple, lyrical prose. The ending, a tribute to the indomitable human spirit, is unforgettable and the illustrations are perfect in the way they portray the remoteness and raw beauty of the Great Marsh."


Sunday 11 January 2015


2015-02  "Threefold Tapas" -  "Saatvic, Raajasa and Taamasa Tapah"
                  based on "Guna" [Character] 

We saw in the previous post, austerities of the body, speech and mind:

Austerity of the body consists in worship of the gods, the good, the elders and the wise; purity, honesty, continence, and nonviolence. [17.14] 

Austerity of speech consists in speaking words which do wound, which are true, pleasant and beneficial, and studying the scriptures. [17.15] 

Austerity of the mind consists in calmness, gentleness, silence, self-restraint and inner purity. [17.16] 

This classification is based on "karanams": "Kayika, Vankmaya and Manasa Tapah". Now, we see another based on "gunas" as "Saatvic, Raajasa and Taamasa Tapah".


1] This three-fold austerity of the body, speech and mind 
[त् त्रिविधं तपः  thath thrividham tapah]
2] when practiced 
[तप्तं  thaptham] 
3] by devout , steadfast persons 
[युक्तैः नरैः   yukthaihi naraihi] 
4] with supreme faith 
[परया श्रद्धया  parayaa shraddhayaa
5] without longing for any reward 
[अफला काङ्क्षिभिः  apalaa kaankshibhihi]  
is said to be wholly saattvic in nature 
[सात्विकं परीचक्षते  saathvikam pareechakshate].

When these austerities of the body, speech and mind, are practiced without attachment to the results, and in a spirit of supreme faith, by devout persons, the sages call this practice saattvic. [17.17]

श्रद्धया परया तप्तं तपः तत्  त्रिविधं नरैः |
अफलाकाङ्क्षिभिः युक्तैः सात्विकं परीचक्षते  ||    17.17

[shraddhaya paraya taptam tapah tathu trividham naraihi
aphalakankshibihi yuktaihi saativkam parichakshate.]


The penance which is performed  
[यत् तपः क्रियते   yath tapah kriyathE] 

in order to gain  respect, honour and worship
[सत्कार मान पूजार्थं   sathkaara maana poojaartham]

and certainly with pride
[च एव दम्भेन  cha yeva dambhena cha]

[इह  iha]

is said to be
[प्रोक्तं   proktam]

Raajasa in nature
[राजसं   raajasam]

flickering and temporary [not stable and not permanent]
[चलं अध्रुवम्   chalam adruvam]

Austerities practiced in order to gain respect, honor, or admiration, and with pride, here, are called Raajasa; they are neither stable nor permanent. [17.18]

सत्कार मान पूजार्थं तपो दम्भेन चैव यत्  |

क्रियते तदिह् प्रोक्तं राजसं चलं अध्रुवम्  ||   17.18

satkara maana poojartham tapo dambhena chaiva  yatu
kriyate tadiha proktam raajasam chalam adruvam ||


The penance which is performed 

[यत्  तपः क्रियते] yath tapah kriyathe

through perversity

[मूढ ग्राहेण  moodha graahena]

with self-torture

[आत्मनो पीडया  aathmana peedhaya]

or for harming another

[वा परस्य उत्सादनार्थं  vaa parasya] 

that has been declared to be Taamasa

[तत् उदाहृतम् तामसं  thath udaahrudam taamasam]

Austerities practiced out of perversity, with self-torture, or for the purpose of ruining another, are declared to be taamasa in nature. [17.19]

मूढ ग्राहेण आत्मनो यत्  पीडया क्रियते तपः |
परस्योत्सादनार्थं वा तत् तामसं उदाहृतम्   ||  17.19

mudha grAhena Atmano yat peedaya kriyate tapah
parasyot saadanaarthaM vaa  tat taamasaM  udaa hrutam.


Sunday 4 January 2015


2015-01 BG17: "Threefold Tapas"- Austerity of Body, Speech and Mind
                            based on "Karana" [Organs]

In Chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks about 1] Sraddha 2] Aahara 3] Yagna 4] Tapas and 5] Dhaana, each of which may be Saatvic, Rajasic or Taamasic. One should cultivate Saatvic and reject Rajasic and Taamasic.  Here we take for discussion Tapas of Saatvic nature.

"Tapas" means Austerity. Austerity is being morally strict. Austerity is threefold - of the body, speech and mind. The definitions of these are given in Gita Slokas 17.14, 17.15 and 17.16 respectively. We shall study these three in this post and the wholly "Saatvic Tapas" [17.17] in the next.

Austerity of the Body [BG 17.14]:

What is austerity of the body? 
Austerity of the body consists in --

1] Worship of the Gods, the twice-born, the gurus and the wise
    [देव द्विज गुरु प्राज्ञ पूजनं  dEva dvija guru prAgna pUjanam]
2] External Cleanliness
    [शौचं shaucham]
3] Straight-forwardness or Honesty
    [आर्जवम् Arjavam]
4] Continence or Restraint in physical life and
    [ब्रह्मचर्यं brahmacharyam  cha]
5] Nonviolence [not harming people, animals or nature].
    [अहिंसा ahimsa]
देव द्विज गुरु प्राज्ञ पूजनं शौचं आर्जवम्  |
ब्रह्मचर्यं अहिंसा च शारीरं तप उच्यते  ||      17.14

Austerity of the Speech [BG 17.15]:

What is austerity of the speech? 
Austerity of the speech consists in --

1] Speech which does not offend anyone
    [अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं  anudvegakaram vAkyam]
2] which is truthful
    [सत्यं sathyam]
3] which is pleasant
    [प्रियं priyam]       
4] which is beneficial
    [हितं hitham]
5] Regular study of Scriptures and repeated Nama Japa.
    [स्वाध्याय भ्यसनं व च svAdhyAya  abhyasanam Eva cha ] 

अनुद्वेगकरं वाक्यं सत्यं प्रियं हितं च यत्  |
स्वाध्याय भ्यसनं च व वाङ्ग्मयं तप उच्यते ||  17.15             

Austerity of the Mind [BG 17.16]:

What is austerity of the mind? 
Austerity of the mind consists in --

1] Serenity of the mind
     [मनः प्रसादः manah prasAdah]
2] Gentleness
     [सौम्यत्वं saumyatvam]
3] Silence with the mind active in thinking
     [मौनं maunam]
4] Self-control and
     [आत्म विनिग्रहः Atma vinigrahah] 
5] Purity of heart
     [भाव म्शुद्धि bhAva samshuddhih]

मनः प्रसादः सौम्यत्वं मौनं आत्म विनिग्रहः |
भाव म्शुद्धिरिति येततु तपो मानसं उच्यते ||   17.16