Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

The Quantum World

October 3, 2018

The Quantum World

New Scientist Instant Expert Series, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017

 

I was first introduced to Quantum Mechanics in 1960s. I did not have any future opportunity to get more familiar with the subject. My interest in this subject was revived recently by two factors:
a) I happen to read a book, titled ‘Biology of belief’ – by Bruce H Lipton, where the author invokes Quantum theory for explaining some of the biological behaviour of cells in our body,
b) I was intrigued by an experience of a Quantum Maths professor of Yale University had with Poojya Sri Kanchi Paramacharya, as reported in the following link.
(https://m.facebook.com/JagadguruSriMahaPeriyava/posts/1652739764815897)
Paramacharya apparently quoted a verse from rig veda, which explains the difference between Positive and Negative approaches to Quantum Theory! (Can someone get the exact text of this verse?)
I started reading this book – The Quantum World (New Scientist Instant Expert Series, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2017) for getting more insight into the processes of Quantum Mechanics. It is still not black and white, like Newtonian Mechanics. It is still sort of grey, with lot of holes in between.
This quantum revolution was started by a German physicist Max Planck in 1900, when he was researching black body radiation. He was led to believe, by his mathematical calculations, that the energy from blackbody was not radiated continuously, but in discrete little packages, which he called as ‘Quanta’. This seed for Quantum mechanics sprouted further by the efforts of Albert Einstein. He was researching photoelectric effect, when he found that, electrons were released from metal by the light of certain frequencies, regardless of its intensity. He proposed in his paper in 1905, that light energy also is made up of stream of little ‘atoms’, he called as ‘photons’. This was supported by the research of Niels Bohr of Denmark. He proposed that in the atoms, electrons are orbiting around the nucleus in several discrete orbits and when they jump between two orbits, light is emitted in discrete packets known as ‘photons’. This was later proved by calculation of energy difference between the two orbits and comparing the same with the energy of the photon emitted. Random nature of wave/packet of light, was further demonstrated by the behaviour of light when it hits the boundary of another medium, like glass. Randomly some photons of light get reflected and some of them get through. It was left to French physicist Louis De Broglie to come out with a revolutionary idea. Building on Einstein’s photon equations, he proposed in 1923, that electron ‘particles’ also behave as ‘waves’, just as, ‘waves’ behave like photon ‘particles’. Soon it was proved to be true, when electrons from helium atom were beamed through a grating (slits), it created interference pattern on the other side, just like waves of light or water. At this point in history, Wave-Particle duality became an accepted reality and Quantum Theory got firmly established.
“The pioneers of Quantum Mechanics were not entirely comfortable with the weirdness they discovered”. Niels Bohr himself was quoted as saying “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it”. As late as in 1958, he is further quoted as saying to another quantum scientist, “we are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is, whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct”
I am not sure whether I have understood ‘enough’ to be ‘sufficiently’ shocked!!! However I found the following narrations very interesting, which I want to share with my readers.
1. This is about how a chlorophyll molecule of a plant leaf behaves as a receptor of energy and transports the same to an action centre where this energy is converted into food and nutrition. Herein we can see how the energy in the form of EM waves in the visible spectrum is converted into a particle which again splits into innumerable number of waves and travels with speeds close to light to the actions centre with minimum loss of energy. The process is described in the book as below:
“The first step in photosynthesis is the capture of a photon of light by an electron of a magnesium atom, of a molecule of chlorophyll pigment. The extra energy causes the electron to vibrate forming a particle called ‘exciton’.”  This should travel to a reaction centre where this light energy will be transformed into chemical energy, thus forming flowers and vegetables. This travel should be fast with least resistance, through the forest of Chlorophyll molecules, in a way that the energy loss is minimal. “Yet measurements show that the exciton transport has the highest efficiency close to 100%”. Further experiments showed that exciton was not taking one particular route; … “it was taking all possible routes to the reaction centre as quantum waves. This was the first direct evidence that, at its heart, photosynthesis is a quantum mechanical process.”
2. Second one is about a bird species of Robin which flies thousands of miles down south to escape harsh winters of northern hemisphere. Its two eyes, when hit with sun’s rays converts them into an electrical dipole of –ve and +ve charges. This bird uses this dipole interaction with earth’s magnetic axis as a compass and gets the direction of forward return flight correctly.
“In 2000 Thorsten Ritz of the University of California came up with the idea that it might depend on a peculiar feature of quantum entanglement. When two entangled particles are electrically charged, they can detect the angle between them, and the earth’s magnetic field. As a test and verification of this theory, this quantum compass was found to get disturbed by high frequency radio waves, as expected.”
Nowadays, we hear many reports, of birds losing their ways, because of their navigation system getting disturbed by radiations from cell phone towers.
3. Third one is about teleporting of matter from one place to another at the speed of light. There are experiments attempted with partial success in which smaller molecules of a matter was converted to waves of energy and recd afar with the speed of light with subsequent re-assembly into matter again.
“Enzymes are the engines of life. They are incredible catalysts that can speed up chemical reactions by a factor of 10²º.” (i.e) 30 billion times the speed of light. “Enzymes gain their huge chemical acceleration by manipulating the quantum mechanical nature of matter, employing a process called quantum tunnelling. This is where a particle can travel through a seemingly impenetrable barrier using its wave properties, essentially dematerialising from one point in space, and materialising in another, without visiting any of the in-between places.”
When I was going through the book, I felt the subject of Quantum Theory is more Metaphysics than Physics. I am sure I am not alone in feeling thus.
Max Planck, the founder of quantum theory, was deeply religious and in 1937 he wrote: ‘Both religion and science need for their activities, the belief in God.’
De Broglie feels ‘Quantum Theory is incomplete; we are lacking some hidden properties and, if we knew them, it would make sense of everything.’
Quantum Theory works well with small particles. Once things get larger they lose their quantum properties. This process is called De-coherence. From this point, Newton’s classical mechanics come into effect. When things get even larger to the level of universe then Einstein’s gravitational principle and his Theory of Relativity takes over.
Interference pattern were observed even with molecules composed of hundreds of atoms, but as they get more massive, this quantum property of superposition get short lived. Is this due to gravitational force taking over?
Quantum Theory rules the atomic scale; Theory of Relativity rules across the cosmos. If physicists can meld both the above theories together, we may hope for the evolution of a ‘Theory of Everything’ that will show how whole universe works at fundamental level.
Till such time several theories are being put forth which is quite intimidating as seen below.
What happened before ‘Big Bang’? Some cosmologists suggest that our universe rose from the ashes of an earlier cosmos which collapsed in a ‘Big Crunch’. For Hindus it may sound like a Pralaya kala or end of a Yuga.
Another take on the implications of quantum mechanics talks of Many-Worlds, into which the universe splits each time you make a measurement of a quantum particle. Our universe itself could be a part of a multitude of universes, some of them arising out of exponential expansion of space-time. The many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics also involves the existence countless universes, parallel to our own, and interacting to generate quantum phenomena.

 

I will end this blog by quoting the following form the book:
“Put simply our concepts Reality, Relativity, Causality, Free-will, Space and Time, all of them cannot be right at the same time. But which ones are wrong?”
“Obtaining a solid theoretical foundation for quantum theory has eluded scientists for more than century. But the above six principles might be all it takes to make sense of it – and lead us to a Theory of Everything.”
Does a ‘Theory of Everything’ already exist in our Hindu Vedas? But even if it exists, who can read it, understand and interpret? Longer it takes less is the possibility.

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Carnatic/Hindu Music

September 6, 2018

I have a Tamil book on Carnatic music bequeathed by my grandfather. This book was published in 1910, more than 100 years ago. The title of this Tamil book on Carnatic music is, yes, ‘Hindu Sangeetham’. So I am well within my rights to give the same title to my blog also. Most of my readers may be aware of the recent controversy of yet another attempt, by Christian Missionaries of India, to appropriate this essential Hindu culture of Carnatic music into their system with an obvious attempt at incentivised conversion. When I first heard of this controversy I did not believe Christian Missionaries will risk doing this. In all good intention I wrote to some of these Christian organisations a general appeal to reassure the Carnatic Music community of their respect for Hindus and their culture. But when I realised their true intentions, I wrote another appeal to some of the Carnatic Artists I happen to know, to resist these measures from Christian Missionaries. The above two appeals are given at the end of this blog. Subsequently, Sri T M Krishna, an artist whom I like and respect a lot, turned the whole issue upside down, perhaps, to serve his socio-political ideology. I started following TMK on his twitter handle.  I interacted with all in the conversation and I learnt there are several aspects to this controversy. But most of my tweets were not answered by T M Krishna. I am listing my reactions and my comments on major issues below, quoting my tweets wherever needed.

  1. What is wrong if we sing compositions on gods and icons of other Religions?

Nothing wrong at all, if such compositions are sung during the natural course of a concert. I have heard many singers do it and enjoyed the musical and other aspects of such compositions, including the melody, rhythm and emotion. But it should not lead to a situation where there is an obligation on every singer to do at least a few such compositions in every concert or otherwise he will be branded as manuvadi, brahminical or a sanghi, the usual attributes given to secular Hindu artists.

  1. T M Krishna promised to sing and release one song on Allah or Jesus every week. Why not?

If he is doing it on his own I appreciate his initiative, but why only at this point of time and why such a regularity of one song every week?

(I tweeted) I am afraid it will become obligatory on other artists to sing one such song in every concert (as otherwise the concert will be called communal?) which is not good for Music.  I do not think, TMK is doing it for evangelical purposes.

Sri. KVN used to sing Vedanayakam Pillai’s Krithis on Karthar very regularly in concerts, not for evangelical purpose, neither for obtaining the support of Christians.

If Carnatic Art music had not been secular in content, how come Kanimozhi(DMK) is able to enjoy these concerts on a regular basis?

No, I don’t think singing one or two compositions in concerts on other non-Hindu icons (like Buddha, Mahavir, Guru Gobind, Allah, Jesus, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Abdul Kalam or our Nation) is wrong.

My Tweet: 90% of Indian Christians are converted Hindus – may not mind & may even be proud to sing and listen to melodious songs on Hindu Gods.

  1. Then why this hue and cry, when Aruns/Arunas sing krithis on Jesus?

My Tweet: Hue and cry is not about singing Christian Carnatic songs. Done 100 years back. But why an event of only Christian songs, and who sings & why. It depends on who is arranging and why? You saw OS Arun wearing the cross while singing? Will TMK do it and back to Thirumann for Vishnu!!

Is it secular to do it? It was obvious that here is an attempt to propagate Christianity through Carnatic music, than to propagate Carnatic music through Christianity. This is simply a cultural appropriation.

  1. How do you say this is a cultural appropriation?

You may all be aware of Churches celebrating their religious festivals with all types of Hindu customs, like Dwjasthamba, Abhisheka, Archana, Procession and Rathotsavam. If it had stopped with that may be Hindus would not have objected. But now they have Yesu Suprabhatm, Christhu Bhujangam, Jesus Sashti Kavacham and Mary Ashototram. And I hear they also have Yesu Rudram, Yesu Suktham, Yesu Upanishad etc. Tomorrow they may pay Rs 100,000 (from the funds of Christian missionaries abroad) to any Brahmasri Rama Subramania Ganapadigal (with full support of T M Krishna) and ask him to recite these mantras (and play them) at Churches. Is this not cultural appropriation and propaganda?

My Tweet: What is done is not to promote music thru’ Christ but to promote Christ thru’ music. Let them first accept it. TMK et al shouldn’t support this.

  1. Haven’t the brahmins appropriated this music from lower castes?

My tweet: “Dravidian movement alienated Carnatic Music from other communities. Want to unfollow everything brahmins follow. M.K. himself was of music caste”. This remained as one of the top tweets in @TMKrishna handle for almost a week with 1500 viewers. 

All carnatic musicians respect Thevarams as the first ever scripted musical pieces available in the whole world. Tamil Panns are the precursors for many modern day ragas. They are aware of silappdikaram and its documentation and grammar of performing arts of those times including Music. Even with all these historical facts, the Dravidian movement disowned their own music. Though late Sri M Karunanidhi, the doyen of Dravidian Movement is himself from a musical community of Isai Vellalars, he was tragically instrumental in alienating other non-brahmin communities from this music and calling Brahmins as non-dravidians. Brahmins continued to invest their quality time, efforts and resources to keep this tradition of music alive. As more and more Isai Vellalars and Oduvars have dropped out of learning and practicing their musical tradition, Brahmins took up the job of preserving it. Even today many conservative Brahmin families do not allow their talented and trained girl children to perform concerts in public. As performers from traditional music communities dropped out, these talented Brahmin youngsters were reluctantly permitted to perform. Oduvar tradition in Hindu Temple was discouraged by the same Dravidian rulers. When Archakas are getting paltry sums as compensation, how will Oduvars get anything reasonable?

Brahmins did not appropriate carnatic music. It was abandoned by other communities; Brahmins are investing their time, efforts and resources keeping the tradition alive. Even today it is the Brahmins who are mainly saving our music traditions and fighting the appropriation by a foreign Christian culture.

And it is not easy. Aruna Sayeeram struggled for 30 years before she became a front line performing artist at the age of 50. She is now 70 as she gains the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi from Music Academy. Brinda Manickavasagam, a non-brahmin was very lucky to come into prominence early in her life. Of course she richly deserves her place with her rich and effortless singing. Once you gain a place among celebrities, still you have to struggle to retain your rankings. They earn paltry sums, compared to film music singers under A R Rehman or Ilaya Raja.

My Tweet: other communities allowed the Brahmins to dominate in what’s essentially their art. Now they avoid it saying it is brahminical. What a pity!

  1. Why Titles and recognition are given only to Brahmin artists?

When others have disowned this music, what else do you expect? Till 10 years back a lot of non Brahmin artists received many awards. Tamil Isai Sangam is now finding it difficult to find non-brahmin Tamil artists for awards. I heard the organisers of Thirugnana Sambandhar Vizha In Mylapore lamenting that they have no way than to take the cooperation of Brahmin community to find artists and audience for this festival. Othuvar community has been bankrupted and impoverished by successive Dravidian governments’ anti-Hindu policy. Where are Madurai Somu’s, Namagiripettais, Pazhani Subramania Pillais, T M Thygarajans?

  1. Why Tamil songs are not given prominence in concerts?

This art was founded and developed by Dravidians. Purnadaradasa, the Bhishma Pitamaha of Carnatic Music, a non-brahmin, is from Karnataka region of Dravida Nadu. Almost all his compositions are in Kannada.  St Thygaraja was a Telugu composer from Tamil Nadu. Swati Tirunal was from Kerala and mainly composed in Sanskrit. Muthiah Bhagavatar is a Tamil Composer from Mysore Durbar. Tamil Moovar are Tamil Composers of Pre-Trinity period (Mutthu Thandavar, Marimuttha Pillai, Arunachala Kavirayar). We all know about Papanasam Sivan a 100% Tamil composer of Mylapore. All musicians from Dravida Nadu, i.e., Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are learning compositions of all Dravidian languages including Tamil. Only then they can perform all over South India and India, including cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Hyderabad, not counting Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. They select compositions according to the mix of the expected audience, their own mood and choice. Do you know that Tamil Brahmins recite Kanda Sashti Kavacham more often than Vedas, Abirami Andhadi more often than Lalita Sahasranamam? I hope other communities will not disown these great works also like they have done with their music.

  1. Are not the Brahmins biggest manuvadis and communalist and deserve all the mud being thrown on them?

Please be aware that MANU is not a Brahmin and neither Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar was a Brahmin. In those days Brahmins were a respected community and hence they got the prominence. Atrocities being committed on dalits, now and in the last century, were not only by Brahmins, and neither had they the sanction of Manu Smrithi. Presently all the atrocities on Dalits are by other upper caste non-brahmins, and habitual Brahmin-haters know it. They are diverting this blame to Brahmins for political reasons and thereby degrading both the Dalits and the Brahmins . And who are these singers performing for Christians? Almost all of them are Brahmins and you call them communalists. I appeal to all Hindus, especially dalits to care for Brahmins who are safeguarding Hinduism and its cultural traditions from decay, appropriation and possible extinction. As writer Jeyamohan says “Brahmins are small in number and hence they are defenceless. They are surrounded by a social behaviour in which, insulting them is considered a social duty.”

  1. Why do you think Carnatic music is in the domain of Hindu Culture

Make no mistake. Carnatic Music is Hindu Music. It is not like Hindustani music which was influenced by Mughal invaders and it has no lyrical importance. Rik Veda is montonic on ‘sa’. Yajur Veda is 3-toned Ni-Sa-Ri and Sama Veda is 5-toned Da-Ni-Sa-Ri-Ga. Ma-Pa were introduced later as 4/3 & 3/2 ratios for consonance with Sa of both octaves. All music system of the world followed the same. Carnatic Music is the original Hindu/Indian music which is the mother music for all other music. We still have 22-sruthi system as described in 4th-century-BC scripts of Bharata Muni and Tamil epic Silapadikaram. Others have diluted this to a 12-sruti (equi-tempered) System. Being secular does not mean forgetting our culture.

Again, Chanda Sastra of ancient Hindus have developed prosody and meters for recitations; such as, Anushtup Chanda for Sahasranama, Gaythri Chanda for gayathri mantra, and a complicated chanda for Bhujangam. Christians have composed recitations using these chandas, Yesu Sahasranama, Jesus Gaythri, Christ Bhujangam.

I have a question for the so-called secularists – if the music being of Hindu origin stops you from enjoying the same, what kind of a secularist you are? – If the music being followed heavily by Brahmins stops you from following it, what kind of caste-free attitude you have?

My Tweet: Carnatic Music had originated from Hindu thought and remained that way. Hinduism was not forcibly introduced as being done now by Christians

  1. But Carnatic music still remains Elitist. Why?

What do you mean by elitist?

Do you think it is only for the rich? Annual income of 90% of followers of carnatic music will be much less than Rs 8 Lacs, the official limit for creamy layer among BCs of our society accepted by all the Social-Justice Activists

Do you think it is only for people living in bungalows in posh localities? 90% of listeners live in 1 or 2 bedroom apartment blocks in typical middle class areas

Do you think it is only for car owners? 90% of listeners come to the concerts by share Autos, Buses or two wheelers.

Do you think these concerts cost a lot of money? Minimum Tickets are less than Rs 100 and many of the concerts are free. Compare this with a concert by SP Balasubramanian or AR Rehman where the minimum ticket is Rs 500 to Rs 1000.

Do you think the Carnatic Artist are Elites? They are all from middle income group

Do you think Music teachers are elites? Most of them are well trained musicians who unfortunately failed to make it to the top of the popularity chart, either because of lack of sponsors or due to family responsibilities.

Then why is this, ‘Elitist’ impression?  What irks these so-called social-justicians, is the fact that 90% of the carnatic music listeners and organisers are Brahmins. Carnatic music practitioners and followers know very well that this music cannot become as popular as folk music, pop music or film music. Most of the artists are so highly talented they could have easily shifted to any of the above formats where their chances of success could have been higher. But they chose to remain as carnatic artists basically to save this Dravidian traditional music for the future generations.

The fact is there are countless opportunities for anybody to learn and practice carnatic music. If you are against any brahmin teacher there are many non-brahmin experts available in all cities. There are carnatic music department available in Anna University teaching many students. There is a dedicated Govt Karnatik Music College in Chennai. Kalakshetra is a secular organisation involved in training students in dance and music. Social-justicians, like TMK and others, may campaign for and sponsor non-brahmin and non-hindu students, so that they throng these courses in big numbers.

The following were my initial reactions in this controversy

My appeal to all the people involved in this controversy

I have heard Sri KVN singing in his regular concerts, to predominantly Hindu audiences, excellent Krithis of Vidwan Vedanayakam Pillai on “Karthar”, the Jesus. I have also seen many Christians attending Carnatic vocal concerts, where songs predominantly on Hindu gods were sung. We have seen many Christian artists singing and playing in Carnatic music concerts, including Sri Jesudas, Sri Jose (on Viola) and Sri Higgins Bhagavatar. But then, where is the problem?

None of the above secular rasikas and artists were concerned or interested in religious propaganda conversion. They were truly secular in that they practiced their religion without minding   the religion practiced by their listeners. But the situation has changed a bit in the last 20 years, since a dominant political party of India and the government fell in the hands of a catholic foreigner. Though she became a ‘secular’ Indian, it has not stopped the political back biters in pandering to (apparently) please her, by encouraging conversions and promoting Catholics to prominence. It even encouraged some people to Hindu-bashing to attract the attention of the so called secularists. This has led to expected reaction from Hindus, some of them even violent. The present regime, which is trying to check such tendencies, is not very successful. On the contrary the Hindu elements have started over reacting. The opposition is trying to exploit this situation by further encouraging Christians and other minorities with their appeasement policies. This is resulting in religious polarization, caused by whom, l leave it to your guess and opinion.

Now let us come to this Yesuvin Sangama Sangeetham: Here is a need to unite our Tamil and Dravidian community. (Dravidam = Tamil+ Telugu + Kannada + Malayalam + others).

  1. Let the Yesu program organisers announce publicly: “We have great respect for Hindus and their music composers. We are not for propaganda or conversion. This is just our efforts to promote Carnatic music among all communities”
  2. Let them say “The selected artists are allowed to sing songs of all religions Hindus, Buddhist, Chiristians and Islam”
  3. Let them openly declare that any artist not convinced about this, may withdraw without any financial or contractual constraints.

If organisers are adamant in refusing to do the above, then, they share the blame in polarizing Tamil/Darvidian communities.

Hope good senses prevail on both sides.

My appeal to all the Carnatic Artists

இசை என்பது பல வகையானது. நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை, சேர்ந்திசை, நாடக/நாட்டிய இசை, இறைஇசை, படை இசை என்று பல விதங்கள். எல்லாமே இசை தான். எல்லாவற்றிற்கும், ராகம், இசைவு, தாளம், பாடல், மேலும் உணர்வுகள் தான் அடிப்படை. இருப்பினும், இசைகள் வேறுபடுவது இவற்றில் எதற்கு அதிக முக்கியத்வம் தருவது என்பதில் தான். மாதிரிக்கு சேர்ந்திசையில் இசைவுக்கும், இறை இசையில் பாடல் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும், படை இசையில் தாளம் மற்றும் உணர்வுக்கும் முக்கியத்வம். நுண்ணிசையில், ராகத்தோடு இவை எல்லாவற்றுக்குமே முக்கியத்வம் உண்டு.

நுண்ணிசை, மெல்லிசை இரண்டுமே மத சார்பற்றவை. அனைத்து மதத்தினரும் கேட்டு ரசிக்கலாம், இசைக்கலாம். இறை இசை அப்படி அல்ல. அந்த அந்த மதத்தினர் தான் முழுமையாக ஈடுபட்டு ரசிக்கமுடியும். இசைப்போரும் அந்த மதத்தை சேர்ந்தவராகவோ அல்லது பெரிதும் மதிப்பவராக இருக்கவேண்டும்.

இறை இசையை நுண்ணிசை போல பாடலாம். ஆனால் நுண்ணிசையை முழுவதும் இறை இசையாகவே மாற்றிவிடக்கூடாது. அப்படி இல்லாமல் இருப்பதால்தான் கனிமொழி போன்ற நாஸ்திகர்களும் கர்நாடக நுண்ணிசையை ரசிக்கிறார்கள். அவர் நிச்சியமாக இறை இசையை விரும்பமாட்டார். (அவர் ஏன் இந்த கிறித்தவ இறை இசை நிகழ்ச்சியை ஆதரித்தார் என்று தெரியவில்லை).

நமது திராவிட கர்நாடக இசை ராகங்களை இந்த எல்லா இசை வடிவங்களுக்கும் பயன்படுத்துகிறார்கள். இனிமை கருதி சற்றே இலக்கணம் மீறியும் இசைக்கிறார்கள். நுண்ணிசையாளர்கள் அதைச் செய்ய தயங்குவார்கள். பல தேச பக்தி பாடல்கள், ராகங்களில் மெட்டமைத்து பாடப்படுகின்றன. ஒரு பாகிஸ்தானிய தேச பக்தி பாடலை இந்திய கலைஞர்கள் பாடுவதை நாம் ஒத்துகொள்வோமா?

ஆனால் ஒரு இந்து மதத்தை சேர்ந்த ஒரு கலைஞர் மற்ற மத பாடல்களை பாடுவதை நாம் ஏற்றுகொள்கிறோம், அது ஒன்றிரண்டாக இருக்கும்வரை. அதுவே ஒரு மதப்பிரச்சாரமாக, பல பாடல்களை பாடுவதற்கு, அவர்கள் ஒரு கிறித்தவ கலைஞரை பாடவைத்தால் இன்னும் கூட உணர்சசி பூர்வமாக பாடுவார்கள் அல்லவா? முன் காலங்களில் திருமதி ஜிக்கி அவர்கள் பாடிய “எல்லாம் ஏசுவே”, “எனை ஆளும் மேரி மாதா” போன்ற பாடல்களை இன்னும் அனைவராலும் ரசிக்கமுடிகிறது. இல்லையா?

இன்று என்ன நடந்திருக்கிறது? பெயர் பெற்ற நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களை வைத்து அவர்களை இயேசு இறை இசையை பாடவைத்திருக்கிறர்கள். அவர்கள் இறை இசை பாடகர்களே அல்ல. பணத்திற்காகவும் நட்பிற்காகவுமே பாடியிருப்பார்கள். இதைச் சிலுவை அணிந்து வீடியோ காட்சிகளாக வேறு. இது முழுக்க முழுக்க அவர்களின் ஜனரஞ்சகத்தை (popularity) மதப் பிரச்சாரத்திற்கு பயன் படுத்தியதாகத்தான் தோன்றுகிறது. இந்த மறைமுக நோக்கம் நமது நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களுக்கு தெரியவில்லையா, என்ன?

நுண்ணிசை கலைஞர்களே, உங்களுக்கு பெயரும் புகழும் யாரால் வந்தது என்பதை மறக்கலாமா? சிந்தியுங்கள்.

Gid’s Gift of Carnatic Music

Finally here are just a few words for Carnatic Music Artists, Organisers and listeners. Do not allow these aberrations to affect your enthusiasm for our Dravidian Carnatic Music. It is a great tradition. By following this tradition of music you will never become a fundamentalist, or Manuvadi or a Sanghi. These are all epithets used by political activists and they are not social activists as they claim to be. Sqaure-up your shoulders, keep your head high and be proud that you are bestowed by God, with this precious gift of Carnatic Music. You may even wear a T-shirt with words printed boldly “Rasika of Carnatic Music”.

“Entharo Mahanubhavulu Antariki Vandanamu”

(Many are the great souls, to all of them our salutations)

Tamil – Class: 5 / Teaching Tamil Through English

April 9, 2018

Class-5

Generally people ask a question, “Why should we learn Tamil?”  In my younger days I asked a similar question, “Why should I learn Sanskrit?” But I was forced to learn Sanskrit, being born as a Brahmin. In my native state of Tamil Nadu, India, Sanskrit is looked up on as a sign of Brahmanism and hence there was not much encouragement. Even in Schools, facility for learning this language was very minimal and insufficient. Hence I had to drop the option of learning this language at some stage. But now I regret I have not learnt a language which contains most of ancient Indian knowledge of Science, Philosophy and Religion. Tamil is also an equally ancient Indian language with a rich treasure of Literature, Science and Cultural History. It is a source of one of the ancient medical practice called Sidda System of Medicines, totally encoded in verses of mystical poetry. With the knowledge of Tamil as a classical language decaying all over, now it needs a learned interpreter to understand and use this system safely. In my younger days in my village, I have heard these verses being recited by our family Native-Physician (Nattu Marutthuvar – நாட்டு மருத்துவர்).  Luckily the present Indian Government is encouraging the knowledge of native Sciences and Technologies, and hence, facilities for study and practice of this system are taken up seriously.

When you know Tamil as a spoken language, it is only a small step to learn the same to read, write and teach the youngsters the great language of Tamil.

We have seen in the earlier 4 classes in this series, the Alphabets, pronunciations, a few words and a brief history of Tamil Language. Now let us proceed to CLASS – 5.

Let us now make a few simple sentence

1. Un(nudaiya) peyar enna? – En peyar Tara

உன்(னுடைய) பெயர் என்ன? – என்(னுடைய) பெயர் தாரா.

What is your Name? – My Name is Tara

2. Idhu yaar? – Idhu en(nudaiya) appa

இது யார்? – இது என்(னுடைய) அப்பா.

Who is this? – This is my father

3. Un amma engey? – En amma veetil irukkiraar

உன் அம்மா எங்கே? – என் அம்மா வீட்டில் இருக்கிறார்.

Where is your mother? – My mother is at home

4. IvaL un thangaiya? – Illai, IvaL en Akka, Mili.

இவள் உன் தங்கையா? – இல்லை, இவள் என் அக்கா, மிலி.

Is she your younger sister? – No, she is my elder sister, Mili.

(Peyar– பெயர்- Name,  Appa- அப்பா-Father,

Amma– அம்மா- Mother, Veedu – வீடு – Home,

Thangai – தங்கை – younger sister, Akka – அக்கா – elder sister,

Illai – இல்லை – No)

 

Now let us learn a few famous poetic expressions in Tamil

Name of the poet is also given.

  • OnRe Kulam, Ourvane Devan – Tirumular

ஒன்றே குலம், ஒருவனே தேவன். – திருமூலர்

(There exists) Only one Community and only one God

  • Annalum NOkkinAn avaLum NOkkinAL – Kavi Chakravarthi Kambar

அண்ணலும் நோக்கினான், அவளும் நோக்கினாள்.

– கவிச்சக்கரவர்த்தி கம்பர்

He glanced at her, and, She returned the glance

  • Chinnan chiru KiLiye, KannammA, Selva Kalanjiyame! –

– Maha Kavi Subramania Bharathiyar

சின்னஞ்சிறு கிளியே, கண்ணம்மா, செல்வக் களஞ்சியமே

– மஹா கவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி

Oh pretty little Parrot, Kannamma (Darling)!

Oh the store house of my prosperity!

  • Tamizhukkum amudhenRu pe(y)r – Kavignar Bhrathi Dasan

தமிழுக்கும் அமுது என்று பேர் – கவிஞர் பாரதிதாசன்

Nectar is also the name for Tamil Language (of same sweetness)

  • KuRai Onrum Illai MaRai Murthy Kanna, MuRai onRum illai Govinda – Rajaji

குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை, மறை மூர்த்தி கண்ணா

முறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை, கோவிந்தா – ராஜாஜி

No Wants at all Krishna, the lord of all scriptures

 (and, no) not even one complaint, Govinda! (the God)

  • KAlangaliL avaL vasantham, Kalaigalile aval Oviyam –

– Kaviarasu Kannadasan

காலங்களில் அவள் வசந்தம், கலைகளிலே அவள் ஓவியம்

                                                     – கவியரசு கண்ணதாசன்

Among seasons, she is (like) Spring;

Among arts she is (like a) Painting.

  • Kannukku Mai Azhagu, Kavithaikku Poi azhagu –

Kavignar Vairamuthu

கண்ணுக்கு மை அழகு, கவிதைக்கு பொய் அழகு

கவிஞர் வைரமுத்து

Eye shades – beauty to the eye(s);

Lie adds beauty to the poetry.

 

Let us learn a few typical phrases in Tamil

கிட்டத்தட்ட – Kitta-tthatta – Approximately

ஏறத்தாழ     –  ERa-ththAzha – More or less

குத்துமதிப்பாக – kutthu mathippAga – as a rough estimate

சுமாரா – sumAra – fairly (close to)

Now a few words with twin syllables:

பளபள – paLa paLa – Shining

சிலுசிலு – Silu Silu – Very Cold

விடுவிடு – vidu vidu – double fast

வழுவழு – vazhu vazhu – Slippery

Just before closing this lesson, let me give you some sentences using a few of the above words:

1. அவனுடைய சம்பளம்  கிட்டத்தட்ட மாதம் ரூபாய் நூறாயிரம்.

Avanudaiya sambaLam kitta thatta mAdham rupai noorAiyiram

His salary will be approximately Rs 100,000 per month

2. அவனுடைய எடை சுமாரா எண்பது கிலோ இருக்கும்

Avanudaiya edai sumArA eNpathu kilo irukkum

His weight may be fairly close to Eighty Kgs

3. சிலுசிலு என்று காற்று வீசுகிறது.

silu silu endru KAtru veesukirathu

Very cold wind is blowing

4. பார்த்து, தரை வழுவழுப்பாக இருக்கிறது

pArthtu, tharai vazhu vazhuppaga irukkirathu

Look out, The floor is slippery.

We come to the end of Lesson 5. In lesson 6 we will try a paragraph of Tamil Text. We will also learn some more useful words.

 

 

Indian Educational Reforms

March 30, 2018

In two recent issues of Times of India dated early March 2018, two reports caught my concern about the need for Educational Reforms in India, which I had already suggested as a citizen’s feedback to Modi Govt. way back in June 2014.

1.    The first news report is an interview with Romesh Wadhwani, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who has worked for over a decade on promoting entrepreneurship and skilling in India through the Wadhwani Foundation. To quote him, “there’s a huge amount of work to be done in terms of job creation and job fulfilment. They are linked. The absence of skilled labour translates into the failure of companies to create jobs, because they can’t find skilled labour. So, they don’t invest in a new factory. I think supply creates its own demand if it is sufficiently skilled.”

He further says “If you think of skilling needs, they would fall into three buckets”. They are:

a. The base of the skilling pyramid; employability skills: which will include; the ability to communicate, some level of digital literacy, some level of project management, awareness of customer focus, self-directing and supervising one or two other people.

b. Sector and Domain skills; Provided by formal and informal training provided by Govt and private institutions on different industrial sectors and domains like, carpentry, masonry, Electricals, foundry, fabrication etc.

c. Last mile skilling; These are the skills required for a specific industrial and business process of the employer. This should be provided by the employer himself.

2.    The second news report by Times of India was from Tamil Nadu. As per the report there were 2 million applicants for the exam conducted across the state on February 11 by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), seeking to fill 9,500 posts of typists, Village Administrative officers (VAO) and stenographers. Out of this 2 million applicants, there were 992 PhD holders, 23 thousand MPhil holders, 250 thousand post-graduates, while the qualification required was only a Class X pass.

The clamour for Govt. job is understandable with its large scope for inefficiency, non-accountability and corruption, associated with enormous benefits of salary and pension; but why would they get educated so much for a routine job which requires only class X pass. The main reason is, despite their education, the skill levels of most of them are so poor, they are not employable in any other industrial or business sectors. It is such an enormous waste of our educational infrastructure. Eventually, this educational system does not even produce teachers with acceptable levels of teaching skills, which contributes to further decay of educational infrastructure and skill levels of our youngsters.

Though all these facts are known to our Human Resource managers of Govt., Private and other Educational institutions, they hardly did anything about this, especially in the last 25 years. When the present BJP Govt. under our PM Modi took over in 2014, I had a sent to PM’s office a note, giving 10 areas where the new administration should concentrate. One of those areas was “Educational Reforms”.

I am extracting below from my write-up, dated June 2014 as a part of my blog.

https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/suggestions-for-indian-govt-led-by-shri-modi/

I wrote:

Basically, there are four purposes of formal education: a) Literacy, b) Jobs, c) Professional Skills and d) Knowledge and Research. Let us see them in detail:

a) Literacy: It generally means ‘knowing to read and write’. But in the present days, it means more, like computer literacy, literacy with numbers, etc. One should have basic knowledge to deal with one’s own life as independently as possible. Everyone should have basic knowledge of banking, finance, health and hygiene and such other things. The syllabus should also include, Citizenship Training, Physical Training (Yoga), and Moral Science. This basic education should be achieved within the elementary/secondary school stage. This education is a must for all and we should aim for 100% ‘literacy’ in this sense. Hence such elementary/secondary schooling should be mass-based and should be very in-expensive, if not totally free, with incentives like mid-day meals etc.

b) Education for Jobs: The existing system of education introduced by British rulers serves this very well. At the end of this education, students are ready for taking up jobs, mainly clerical. They fill the need for support staff in any organization. With on-the-job training, some of them are able to rise further in their carrier. But still, depending on the type of business of the organization, their lack of professional skills sometimes lead to lack of passion in the process. Still we need these people, lots of them, in any organization. These are generally people who complete their high schools or preliminary college education. Many high schools will be required in every small towns and districts. Even night schools for self employed pupils will be necessary. If the school education is done purposefully, college education may not always be necessary for these kind of jobs. For those who have the initiative for learning more and improving their carrier, part-time college education should also be made available

c) Professional Skills: Professional skills may be imported at different stages as listed below:

  • Those who have completed the ‘Literacy’ level education may branch off to skilled trades depending on their aptitude and family tradition. For example a jeweler’s son, if he wants to inherit his family trade, he may take up training on jewelry. Same thing with carpentry etc. But the training on these trades should be more formalized than just being hereditary. There should be authorized tradesman-ship certification, to enable them to commence their trade in any place. This is not to establish caste-based trades. On the contrary this kind of training and education will break this caste based trade systems, as anyone interested can take up this trade after proper training and certification. Can you think of a caste based electricians? Have you seen anybody asking for a certified mason or a plumber? Even if we look for some certified carpenter can we get one? No is the answer for all. Authorized Industrial Training Institutes established in every municipal area can offer such certified short-term courses. We can involve experienced traditional tradesmen also in this teaching process to teach some of their traditional skills. These certificate holders will fill the basic needs of many house-holders and other small business groups. Such training institutes should be establishes in every taluk either by local govt.’s or by authorized private parties.
  • Those who have completed high school may branch off to professional diploma courses in advanced areas such as fabrication, forging and foundries, assembly of machines, manufacturing of spare parts in different areas of engineering. 3-year Diploma courses as existing in the present day Polytechnic Institutes would very well fill this need. These students will also have opportunities open for higher professional education and training. Such polytechnics should be established in every district in several specialized areas.
  • Those who have completed high school with merit and wants to go for higher education may opt for professional degree courses. In these courses proper scientific, engineering, commercial or administrative education will be offered with some specialization in the final years of this 4-year course. On completion of this professional degree course, the student should be able to join any major scientific engineering, commercial or public service establishments and assist them in all their professional activities with minimum training. After some experience they may even establish themselves, on their own, in their chosen professio

d) Education for Knowledge and research: Very few of the students have the ability and aptitude for higher learning and research. Instead of taking up higher courses just as a routine (or just as an alternative, till one finds a job), only students with an academic bent of mind should take up higher degrees such as Masters and Doctorates. Here again, some students may branch off to academics after some experience in the industry. Herein, the learning and research is important, than equipping yourself for a job. In addition to above formal education streams, the corporate employers should have facilities for deputing some of their employees for targeted courses and educational workshops conducted by professional institutes. Corporate companies can be considered for tax-breaks for the expenses incurred by them for these purposes.

The teachers and educationalists among my readers may please reflect on these issues, discuss with their compatriots and make every effort to improve the situation in education and skilling. Only such action will improve overall employment situation in India. After all even making and selling pakodas would require some skills.

 

Tamil – Class: 4 / Teaching Tamil Through English

February 11, 2018

 

Tamil – Class: 4

e have learnt inthe previous three classes, :almost all the alphabets of Tamil Language and also a number of simple Tamil words. We should next aim to make a few simple sentences. To do this we should learn a few more important words and their usages.

Let us know the pronouns in Tamil:

 

Pronouns1.jpg

pronouns2.jpg

Let us also learn some  Questions in Tamil and typical answers for them.

 

Question 1.jpg

Questions 2.jpg

 

 

 

In the next Class-5, we will make a few sentences with the words and usages we have learnt so far.

In the meantime one may get familiar with all those words and usages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battery Stations for Electric Cars (Innovative Idea – 1)

January 29, 2018

Battery Stations for Electric Cars

Most of us are innovative in our own way and in our own fields of interest. But only a few of us have time enough to crystallize such ideas into workable models. And still very few of us have the wherewithal to develop these innovative ideas into products or into patents to be developed by others. So, it is natural I have some ideas innovative enough to present in a few blogs to follow. I won’t know whether they are good enough to deserve patents. But, even if so, I make it clear here, these ideas will remain free of any patent rights and hence any developer may use these idea or modify them in any way to evolve a product useful to the humanity. However if somebody finds it economically viable only to produce under a patent, then they can apply for a patent, but only with my express permission and agreement. My first Innovative Idea is about Electric cars which are being developed by car manufacturers. I am sure some of these ideas could have occurred to, many of the engineers involved in this project in different companies. But here it is all in one place for them to think about.

We are in the era of electric cars. When electricity was invented by Edison and Tesla, their initial application was for electric traction. But for personal transport the petroleum is still ruling as the most convenient fuel and source of energy for more than a century. Electric traction is preferred only for public transport on fixed routes and for minor applications like golf carts etc. The reasons are obvious:

  • The electrical energy can be stored and transported only in the form of batteries.
  • Larger the amount of energy, larger is the size and weight of the batteries, and hence, the problem of transporting the battery itself.
  • The range of travel possible by a single unit of battery is limited as of now, to a maximum of about two hundred miles.
  • The charging of these batteries to full capacity always takes a minimum of about an hour, and many times even more.
  • As the battery gets used up with many discharges and charges, its capacity to store energy gets reduced, thereby reducing the range of travel gradually.
  • As the battery gets older it takes even longer to get fully charged, if at all.
  • Older batteries will finally need to be replaced.

As of now, all the electric car manufacturers spend their efforts in finding ways of:

a) reducing the battery size and weight,

b) increasing its capacity, and

c) decreasing its charging time.

These efforts delay introduction of newer models of electric cars and also makes the cars more expensive. Instead we should introduce more numbers of initial models of these cars and incentivize buyers to go in for such cars in large numbers. The benefits to users, the society and the world in general are fairly obvious. But then how do we solve the problems of electric cars as cited earlier.

We can bring electric cars to greater use only with the following facilities:

  1. Batteries for cars should be treated as a source of energy very much like gas or petrol. Hence like gas stations or petrol bunks, we should provide Battery Stations on roads and highways where we can change the discharged battery, with another fully charged battery for a price. The price may be fixed based on the energy stored and battery brand of both the new and exchanged batteries. We have to design battery tariffs accordingly
  2. The design of the battery compartment in the cars must be in such a way that used batteries can be easily jettisoned in a road-side Battery Station and the fully charged battery can be picked up and docked automatically, (very much like in a gas station or petrol bunk).
  3. Cars may be provided with a reserve battery of smaller size and limited range of a few miles. This will also be a part of safety feature, to cater for main battery failure. Alternately cars may even be provided with duplicate batteries, of suitable capacity and size.
  4. The first ever battery for the new car may be provided against a deposit, just like gas cylinders for domestics fuel.

Even in the near future if manufacturers come out with Electric cars with bigger and better batteries with ranges of 400 miles or more, the problems of aging and charging of the battery will still continue. Hence it may eventually be better for general public, to go with the now-available technology in a big way, with the help of the wayside Battery Stations suggested as above. In places like India, the auto-rikshas may be electrified straightaway thereby reducing the pollution levels to a great extent.

Please check my future blogs for more such innovative ideas.

 

 

Thirukkural – 292

December 3, 2017

Chapter – 30 / Vaaymai/ Verse – 2

பொய்ம்மையும் வாய்மை யிடத்தே – புரைதீர்ந்த

நன்மை பயக்கும் எனின்.

Poymmaiyum vaaymai idatthE – purai theerndha

Nanmai payakkum enin

 

Poymmai(yum) – (Even) a lie

Vaaymai – Oral Integrity or communicative integrity

Purai – harm, crime

Purai Theerndha – Harmless, without criminal intent

Nanmai – Good, comfort, help

Payakkum – Yield, achieve

Nanmai Payakkum enin – If it yields good result of comfort or help.

Even a lie will be acceptable as vocal integrity, if it yields, but without any criminal intent, good result of comfort or help.

This whole chapter No.30 of ten verses speak about ‘Vaaymai’ as a virtue. Saint Tiruvalluvar defines Vaaymai in the first verse of the chapter as ‘any communication which does not bring harm to anyone’.

‘Vaaymai’ does not have a good translation in English. You may roughly call it as vocal (or communicative) integrity.

This Chapter talks about Truthfulness only in the last verse where the saint says ‘Vaaymai’ is better than ‘Meimmai’. He says there is no better truthfulness than communicative integrity.

He talks about Vaaymai in two more verses where he states vaaymai is the best form of penance and charity and it keeps your mind bright and without guilt. At the same time he extols the virtues of ‘Poyyamai’ or being against falsehood, in five verses. He does not at all approve any type of falsehood.

We may compare this with a famous Sanskrit verse of Saint Adi Sankara: “Satyam bruyat priyam bruyat.  Na bruyat satyam apriyam. Priyam cha nanrutam bruyat. Esha dharmah sanatanah.”  Truth is always spoken with kindness. Truth is never spoken in a harsh way. Even with kindness falsehood is not to be spoken. This is the eternal path of virtue.

Here also the saint give preference to Vaaymai than Meimmai, i.e., Communicative integrity than truthfulness.  After all, Tamil Nadu Government’s emblem saying வாய்மையே வெல்லும் (Vaaymai alone triumphs) is right, instead of the usual (Satymeva Jayate) Truth alone triumphs. We may rank these virues as: Poyyamai is the best, Vaaimai is the next and Meimmai is the last.

There is a proverb in Tamil which says “Unnmai Sudum” (உண்மை சுடும்​), Bear Truth Hurts. As per both Adi Sankara and Tiruvalluvar, we should not tell this truth which hurts. (i.e.) if you are unable to tell it in a way it does not hurt. In such a situation where the ‘Truth Hurts’, It is better to tell a lie, provided it does not have any criminal intent. Hence the Titukkural says,

Even a lie is better than the truth if it yields

Haven to a disturbed situation

Bye till the next Tirukkural.

 

Tamil – Class: 3 / Teaching Tamil Through English

November 9, 2017

Class – 3

In class-1 we learnt Tamil Alphabets with their pronunciations. We learnt about basic vowels(6), extended vowels(6), consonants(18), and symbols for modifying these consonants. In class-2, we learnt a few words with their meanings. We also learnt about so called ‘northern alphbets’ to help us write and pronounce correctly, words from other languages. In this class-3, let us learn about some special features of Tamil phonetics.

First, let us see a few words where the hard consonants appear in there different vocal forms.

காரம் – KaaRaM – Spicy; ராகம் – RaaGaM – Melody, மேகம் – MEHum/MEGaM – Cloud. (Ka being used in three different vocal forms: Ka, Ga, Ha)

தங்கம் – ThaNGaM – Gold (here a soft consonant is explicitly used to soften ‘Ka’ to ‘Ga’)

சக்கை – ChaKKai – Remains of a fruit after Juice is extracted. Ka is doubled for harder accent.

சித்தி – ChiTThi – Mother’s younger sister, மோசம் – MoSaM – bad, பச்சை – PaChChai – Green, மஞ்சள் – MaNJaL –Yellow (here Cha is used in different vocal forms. Soft consonant again used in the last word, Tha is doubled for harder accent in the first word)

‘Ta, Tha, Pa, Rra’  (ட, த, ப, ற​)   also have different vocal forms as below

ட :  டீ – Tea – Tea, பாடு – PADu – Sing, பாட்டு – PATTu – Song, நண்டு – NaNDu – Crab

த : தங்கை – ThaNGai – Younger Sister, பாதி – PAdhi – Half, கத்தி – Katthi – Knife, பந்து – PaNDhu – Ball :

ப :  படம் – PaDaM – Picture, சுபம் – SuBaM – All well, கப்பல் – KaPPaL – Ship,  கம்பி – KaMBi – Metal Rod

ற : பறி – PaRri – Grab, வெற்றி – VeTRri – Victory, பன்றி – PaNDRri – Pig

It may be puzzling for some, to know which vocals to use. However in most of the cases meaning do not change even if we use a different vocal form. The words will be understood properly in its context.

There are some letters which even some Tamils do not pronounce correctly. They are La, (r)La and Zha; (i.e) ல, ள and ழ. Let us learn a few words involving these letters:

La (ல) is pronounced with the tip of the tongue just behind the upper teeth. (r)La (ள) is done with the tip of the tongue slightly behind in upper cavity. Zha (ழ) is done with the tip of the tongue still behind, deep in the upper cavity. The following words show their use. Sound bytes are included to help you pronounce them properly.

வலி, வளி, வழி – VaLi, Va(r)Li, VaZhi – Ache/Pain, Air(Atmosphere), Path

தலை, தளை, தழை – ThaLai, Tha(r)Lai, ThaZhai – Head, impediment/Bond, vegetation

பல்லி, பள்ளி, பழி – PaLLi, Pa(r)LLi, PaZhi – Lizard, School, Blame/revenge

வலம், வளம், பழம் – VaLaM, Va(r)LaM, PaZhaM – Right side, prosperity, Fruit

Ancient Tamil Literature

Tamil is one of the classical Languages of the world, along with Sanskrit. Tamil literary history is very ancient and rich. There were distinctly three periods of development of Tamil literature usually called as Sangam periods. Sangam means Academy and there were three Sangams. The last Sangam was from 400BC to 400AD and called as Kadai Sangam (கடைச்சங்கம், or the Last Academy). The literature of this period, known as Sangam Literature, are the only ones available from these ancient periods. The works of earlier two Sangams are many centuries older and now only known as just names. The literary history of Tamil records them as ‘lost in tsunami’. Sangam literatures, and even some ancient Sanskrit works, record a massive tsunami much before 400BC which destroyed a very big landscape known as Kumari Kandam (Continent of Kumari), also known as Lemuria. All the works of earlier two academies were lost forever as per this historical account. However modern history could not find much evidence of this tsunami and the Lost Land. The (3rd) Sangam literature is grouped into three parts – பத்துப்பாட்டு (Ten Anthologies), எட்டுத்தொகை (Eight Collections) and பதினெண்கீழ்கணக்கு (Eighteen Poetic Works).

Tirukkural (திருக்குறள்), by a saint poet Tiruvalluvar is one of the works in the last group of eighteen and is widely translated in almost all major languages of the world. I am giving below the first couplet of this great work consisting 1330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of ten each

அகர முதல எழுத்தெல்லாம் – ஆதி

பகவன் முதற்றே உலகு

Akara Mudala ezhutthellam – Aadhi

Bhagavan Mudatre’ Ulagu

Meaning:

‘A’ is the start of all alphabets (of all languages) – (Just as)

GOD is the Origin of the world (of this whole Universe)

You may like to listen the audio of this verse given below:

 

Here is a Tamil proverb which states the importance of ‘Letters and Numbers’.

எண்ணும் எழுத்தும் கண் எனத் தகும்.

Ennum Ezhutthum Kann ena Thahum.

Meaning:

Numbers and Letters are rendered as the eyes (for obtaining knowledge)

 

With this thought let us conclude our Tamil class – 3


 

Toilets for Multitude

October 24, 2017

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

L V Nagarajan

On 2nd Oct 2017, Gandhi Jayanthi (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi), I saw the Hindi Movie ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’. It is about ‘Open Defecation’ prevalent in India and about the public and private efforts to eradicate the same. While the movie is mainly telling the story form ladies’ point of view – about their privacy, hygiene and safety, the social aspects are also discussed.

This movie reminded me about an incident and the subsequent interaction I had when I was a 10-year old boy in my village, Sholavandan, near Madurai (India). It was summer vacation time for the schools when several of my cousins visit us and spend the vacations with us. One of my city cousins (no name please) visiting us, elder to me by 5 years, called me one morning to accompany him for a walk. I went along happily with him. We went along the railway line a distance of about 500 meters near a small canal and a bridge. I understood his purpose when he asked me to take care of his wrist watch and purse. After he finished ‘it’ and when we were walking back home. I asked him ‘Why here? We have a toilet at home’. The answer he gave me opened my eyes of conscience. He said, ‘Rajoo, the toilet in our house is an open type dry lavatory which is not very hygienic. Also, I don’t like manual scavenging’.

Yes. Here is a problem. Why many of us want others to clean our toilets, even the modern sanitary ones? Why public toilets are so unclean? Even now don’t we avoid using a public toilet unless it is an emergency? Whenever we stay in a hotel, first thing we inspect are the toilets, whether they are clean and hygienic. Don’t we?

The multitude of people in India cannot afford space for their own toilets. Hence the need arises for common toilets and public toilets. People who do not want to clean their own toilets, how will they ever keep common and public toilets clean? In addition, will these common facilities like flush-out and water closet be kept well maintained, in working condition? This is the area where we have to impart training to our people on basic hygiene and co-operation in handling such common facilities.

Even sanitary toilets require two septic tanks which should be alternately emptied and cleaned at least once in five years. How often have you seen it done? (almost never). Eventually, it gets choked up and blocked and soon becomes unusable and becomes a major health hazard. These are all special problems of a densely populated country like ours.

As shown in the above movie, at least for the male population in many thousands of villages in India, ‘Field Defecation’ seems to be a very practical solution. We may perhaps think of finding ways and means of making this practice, private and hygienic. In my school days there used to be a class known as ‘Citizenship Training’. In one of those books, I remember to have seen a design of a mobile toilet perfectly suited for our population. It was somewhat similar to what is given in the following link. http://akvopedia.org/wiki/Dry_Toilet.

It consists of a pit over which a pedestal or a squatting slab is provided. A pile of sand or saw dust or dry earth nearby can be used to pour into the pit after every use. A second pit may be used over which the whole facility as above will be moved to enable hygienic emptying and cleaning of the first pit. A batch of such toilets can be made mobile and moved over different pits, specially prepared in the fields away from the village. Similar common toilets (or home toilets), within the village precincts, may be used by seniors, ladies and children. They can also be used by others, during unfair weather conditions and during nightly periods. This precludes the need for mechanised scavenging for periodically cleaning the pits. There are many designs available for producing bio-fuel just as gobar-gas plants. Such initiatives, of using appropriate technologies, must be encouraged to be undertaken by municipalities and gram panchayats, instead of forcing down a uniform policy and design by state and central governments.

Jai Ho to Swacch Bharat

 Victory to Clean India

_________________________________________________________

 

Teaching Tamil through English

September 8, 2017

Many parents of Tamil origin may not have learnt Tamil as a language anytime in their life. Some of them may regret it now and may want to learn Tamil, at least as a language of conversation and understanding. They may also want to teach their children Tamil, as they are not learning the same in their schools. Once children learn basic Tamil, they, depending on their interest, may pick-up deeper knowledge of Tamil on their own at a later stage in life. Unfortunately, not much work is done on such teaching of Tamil, and the regular pedagogy kills even their initial interest and more often than not, they discontinue learning and teaching Tamil. I have two lovely granddaughters (Mili and Tara) who have also started learning Tamil recently in California. I am sure the Tamil classes there is adequately interesting and enthusing for them to continue. With my small experience of teaching Tamil to my daughter and son in early 80’s, I thought of putting together my way of teaching Tamil in a series of blogs, which could be useful to Tamil loving parents in the US and elsewhere. Let me start straight away.

Class – 1

It is always said that Tamil Alphabet has 247+ characters. Any learner who hears this, immediately loses interest to some extent.  In its actual sense, Tamil language has only 26+ characters. Of course it has a dozen more symbols (and a few special characters for writing words from Sanskrit and other foreign languages). Let us first have a look at all these characters.

Five Basic Vowels: The following are the basic vowels in Tamil. Their pronunciation is also given right below.

A as in ‘Avatar’ I as in ‘In’ U as in ‘pUt’ E as in ‘End’

O as in ‘One’

 

Two Composite Vowels: There are two composite vowels as below:

Ai as in ‘Aisle’

Ou as in ‘Out’

The first one above is a combination of: அ  and  இ   =    ஐ

Second one above is a combination of:   அ  and   உ = ஔ

 

Five Extended Vowels: The five basic vowels as above have their extended versions with slightly elongated pronunciation as compared to

A as in ‘Avatar’ – I as in ‘In’ –   U as in ‘pUt’ –  E as in ‘End’ –   O as in ‘One’

(As below)

Au as in ‘Aunt’ Ea as in ‘Easy’ Oo as in ‘Ooze’ A as in ‘Area’

Ow as in ‘Own’

                   

Special Character:

ஃ     —    Akh

This is a special character grouped along with vowels to add a specific accent to a few consonants. We will list it here but learn about it later.

 

Eighteen Consonants: There are eighteen consonants in Tamil. They are as below:

Ka

Ga

Cha

Sa

Ta

Da

Tha

Dha

Pa

Ba

Rra

Tra

The above six are called Hard consonants. However same letters are used for softer pronunciations also as shown.

 

Nga Gnya Rn as in ‘BoRn’ Na Ma

Na

The above six letters are known as Soft consonants. The two ‘Na’s are used in different contexts. They are also used to soften the corresponding hard consonants shown earlier. We will learn about them later.

 

Ya Ra La Va Zha

Rl as in Pearl

The above six letters are known as Medium consonants. The letter ‘Zha’ is very special for Tamil language and its pronunciation presents some difficulty even for some Tamils. La (ல) is pronounced with the tip of the tongue just behind the upper teeth. Rla (ள) is done with the tip of the tongue slightly behind in upper cavity. Zha (ழ) is done with the tip of the tongue still behind.

 

Symbols: The following table shows the symbols used to add the vowels to the above consonants. A few typical consonants are shown with symbols added.

Basic Vowels:

Symbols

_

ி 3 types  ெ

 ொ

Consonants with symbol added:

கி கு கெ

கொ

Ka

Ki Ku Ke

Ko

சி சு செ சொ
தி து தெ

தொ

 

Composite Vowels:

Symbols:

Consonants:

கை

கௌ க்
kai kau

k

as in ‘Park’

சை

சௌ ச்
தை தௌ

த்

 

Extended Vowels

Symbols

 ா

 ீ 3 types  ே

Consonants

கா

கீ கூ கே கோ
kaa kee koo kay

koe

சா

சீ சூ சே சோ
தா தீ தூ தே

தோ

The letters with a dot above them are known as ‘Otru’ – that is, it sounds without any vowel, like, ‘ch’ and ‘th’.

 

There are a few more special characters and symbols which we can learn later.

The complete list of alphabets as per the above scheme is given in

http://tamilcube.com/learn-tamil/tamil-alphabets-chart.aspx

This is enough for class-1. In Class -2 we will learn a few words using some of these alphabets

Bye for now.