Sunday, November 14, 2010


HMV had once published a pamphlet giving the history of gramophone record. Gramophone was invented by Thomas Alva Edison in the 19th century. Edison, who had invented many other gadgets like electric light and the motion picture camera, had become a legend even in his own time.
When He invented the gramophone record, which could record human voice for posterity, he wanted to record the voice of an eminent scholar on his first piece. For that he chose Prof. Max Muller of England ,another great personality of the 19th century. He wrote to Max Muller saying, "I want to meet you and record your voice. When should I come?" Max Muller who had great respect for Edison asked him to come on a suitable time when most of the scholars of the Europe would be gathering in England .
Accordingly Edison took a ship and went to England . He was introduced to the audience. All cheered Edison 's presence. Later at the request of Edison Max Muller came on the stage and spoke in front of the instrument. Then Edison went back to his laboratory and by afternoon came back with a disc. He played the gramophone disc from his instrument. The audience was thrilled to hear the voice of Max Muller from the instrument.They were glad that voices of great persons like Max Muller could be stored for the benefit of posterity.
After several rounds of applause and congratulations to Thomas Alwa Edison, Max Muller came to the stage and addressed the scholars and asked them, "You heard my original voice in the morning. Then you heard the same voice coming out from this instrument in the afternoon. Do you understand what I said in the morning or what you heard in the afternoon?".
The audience fell silent because they could not understand the language in which Max Muller had spoken.It was `Greek and Latin' to them as they say. But had it been Greek or Latin, they would have definitely understood because they were from various parts of Europe . It was in a language which the European scholars had never heard. Max Muller then explained what he had spoken.He said that the language he spoke was Sanskrit and it was the first sloka of Rig Veda, which says "Agni Meele Purohitam" . This was the first recorded public version on the gramophone plate.
Why did Max Muller choose this? Addressing the audience he said, "Vedas are the oldest text of the human race. And Agni Meele Purohitam is the first verse of Rig Veda. In the most primordial time when the people of Europe were jumping like Chimpanzees, from tree to tree and branch to branch, when they did not know how to cover their bodies, but with fig leaves, did not know agriculture and lived by hunting and lived in caves, at that remote past,
Indians had attained high civilization and they gave to the world universal philosophies in the form of the Vedas

Friday, October 15, 2010

இவர்களும் இந்தியர்கள்தான் !!

What TATA did to 26/11 Mumbai victims?



The Tata Gesture

All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casuals were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed.
Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed
The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav- Bha ji” vendor and the pan shop owners.
During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent by money order.
A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help.
The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided.
Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility.
Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required.
Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected.
The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks.
Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do.
In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees.
Whatg is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6 months.
A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her.
New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost their carts.
Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror.
This was the most trying period in the life of the organisation. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible.
The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs [One lakh rupees tranlates to approx 2200 US $ ] in addition to the following benefits:
a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents;
b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world.
c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life.
d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount.
e. Counselor for life for each person

B. Epilogue
How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

The organisation is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

It has to do with the DNA of the organisation, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organization has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there.

He created several institutions which later became icons of progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres.

When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

The whole approach was that the organisation would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rikshaw Puller Analysed Sanskrit Sloka

One of Bangalore’s coldest seasons…
The cosmopolitan city was not only in the grip of ferocious chill but also going through a bout of Kannadiga Fanatic fever. The religious, cultural and entertainment centers of Tamilians were their focused target. A Series of Musical Discourse by a Tamil Harikatha exponent drawing tumultuously huge crowds at the heart of the city glared the fanatics’ eyes. The Ancient cultural Association which organized the discourse series was given an ultimatum to stop the program or face violence. The organizers rushed to the Legend and pleaded for advice. The Legend was calm and cool. He requested the organizers to wither the threat and assured that discourse would continue uninterrupted..
The day’s discourse started on time. A group of hooligans with deadly weapons descended at the front gate. They could distinctly hear the sole stirring Harikatha that permeated the ambience. The speech was in English mixed with lilting songs in Kannada, and Telugu interspersed with vibrant rendering of slokas in Sanskrit. Not a word of Tamil……!
The clueless fanatics did not retreat but mingled with the audience quietly and got soaked themselves in the waves of the Legend’s inimitable oratorical ocean. As waves do, they kept coming day after day, in the process, unmindful of the fact that from the next day there was liberal mix of Tamil too in the discourse.
The self believing Legend who possessed such a depth of knowledge and repertoire was none other than Brahmasri T.S.Balakrishna Sastrigal. Yours sincerely is fortunate to be his younger son.
A Senior Executive of State Bank of India, my illustrious father started learning the wide spectrum of fundamentals required for performing Harikatha at the very tender age of 8 under the guidance of his father, himself a doyen in Puranic Upanyasakams known as Brahmasri Sambamoorthi Ganapaadigal. The enlightening package included Vedas, Puranas, Sastras, Carnatic Music, and Multiple Languages like Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kanada and English.
True to the width of his perceptions, the range of his audience also varied – from the elite of Music Academy to the mass of Royapuram, and Choolai, from the Asthikaas of Mumbai and Delhi to the village folks of interior Thirunelveli and Thanjavur, from the Asian Indians of United States of America to the strangers to Tamil in interior Kerala and Andhra.
A day of discourse in one of his formatting years……at Choolai, a typically down to earth ambience……My father was returning back in his regular Rickshaw after a much appreciated performance of Sundarakaandam in Ramayana. The Rickshaw puller casually remarked “Unga Appaaru ungulukku sariya paadam sollikodikkalayaanga? (Did your father not teach you fully?). He reasoned too.
At the point when Raavana comes to Ashoka Vana to coerce Seetha… Seetha plucks a tiny grass, places it in her front and starts speaking to it as though it was Raavana, not looking at him through out the address. The relevant Sloka in Sundara Kaandam of Valmiki Ramayanaa “Thrina mantratha Hruthakruthvaa” was recited by the Rickshaw puller. He continued to opine “your father used to give several interpretations to this Sloka but you gave only a few interpretations”.
Do we realize the value base in those days?
An opportunity to perform discourses in USA came to Brahmasri Sastrigal. But he went to Kanchi Paramacharyaal for advice, (His Holiness was his revered Guru and to whom my father was a pet performer. Paramacharyaal used to engage him in several intriguing conversations and arguments on various finer elements of Sanaadhana Dharma and Carnatic Music) His Holiness countered Brahmasri Sastrigal’s enquiry with a question “Have you performed in all rural areas of Tamil Nadu?” My father was searching for words since he was not endowed with so much of time to perform in all villages due to his Official commitments. He quietly came back, took voluntary retirement from his employers and went about performing in every nook and corner of not only Tamil Nadu but also entire South.
After years of this happening, the offer to perform in USA recurred and this time Paramacharyaal did not have any hesitation in granting permission.
Blessings of Gurus came unabated to Brahmasri Sastrigal because of his own respect for all concepts of Hindu Dharma. He was blessed fondly by Sringeri Mahaa Sannidhaanam, Baghwan Satya Sai Baba and Sri-La-Sri Pandrimalai Swamigal to mention a few greats. My eldest sister (Late) Padma was a devotee of Satya Sai Baba. Baba came to Chennai and was giving a discourse in “Sundaram: near our residence. My father drove the car and dropped Padma at “Sundaram” and was waiting in Parking Bay incognito for her to return,. Baghwan Baba’s speech was flowing in the air and Brahmasri Sastrigal was taken deep in to it.. Baghwan completed the session and Sastrigal was anxious to receive his daughter back when a passing car stopped by his side in dark. The car glass went down and it was indeed Baghwan Baba who said “Sastrigaaru,.. naaku thelusu meeru ikkada unnarani” ( Sastrigaaru, I know you are here). Quickly getting down from the steering wheel, Sastrigal bowed his Pranams to Baba on the road, Baba fondly accepted and His car sped away.
His sense of humor apart from his own soul strength was in to play in his very last days spent in Dialysis ( CAPD) for kidney failure He used to convert dialysis sessions in to Harikatha sessions, the only listener being one of my associates Aravind or Parthiban, trained themselves to do CAPD. Both the preacher and audience enjoyed those sessions and looked forward to the next dialysis session. I could not but ask him “Appa, you were used to performing before thousands and thousands of Bhaktas. How can you deliver a discourse to one person? He said. “When Sri Krishna delivered Srimad Bagavath Geetha the audience consisted of only one person – Parthiban / Arjuna”
If I am ever born again, I pray to God to give me the birth as “son of my Father”