Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bhairavi, Kalyani, Quaker Oats and Kingfisher

What have Bhairavi, Kalyani and Quaker oats to do with Kingfisher, one may ask. Was Quaker Oats being served as breakfast on a Kingfisher Airline flight (when it was indeed flying) with Bhairavi and Kalyani ragas played on the in-flight music system?  Most unlikely.  But they are indeed connected......

"Kingfisher brand" was mortgaged as collateral to the group of bankers that funded the airline, as security for huge loans aggregating to Rupees 6,300 crores, which have now swelled to over Rupees 7,000 crores with application of interest.  It is said that Bhairavi and Kalyani ragas were mortgaged by legendary musician "Bhairavi Venkatasubbaiah" as security for 1000 gold coins he borrowed, in the 18th century.   Thus, mortgage of intangibles is not at all new and Kingfisher was not the first to start this novel trend. This is in vogue since many centuries in India.  Not only Bhairavi and Kalyani , even Todi and Shankarabharanam have also been mortgaged from time to time.  Lenders believed the borrowers and confidently gave loans on the security of the ragas.  There are also stories of poets mortgaging some letters (say Ka or Pa) to raise loans.  Once these letters (alphabets) are mortgaged, the poet could not use them in his literary works till the loans were paid and the letters were redeemed! There are many similarities between these transactions of mortgage of ragas, letters and Kingfisher brand.  However, there is one major difference between mortgage of ragas and Kingfisher brand.

Bhairavi Venkatasubbaiah, known as Venkanna in his younger days, was very fond of learning music and did everything possible in his command to pursue his passion.  He lost his first Guru (Teacher) due to a misunderstanding and even followed a drunkard with all his eccentricities, for learning finer points of music from him.  He left his old mother and led the life of a nomad to master the art.  As a budding artiste he fell in love with a dancer-girl by name Chandra and lived with her. Since he needed money for being permitted to live with her by her mother, and taking care of other expenses, he borrowed 1000 gold coins from a money lender. Money lender wanted security for the loan and Venkanna had no security to offer. Venkanna suggested pledge of his two favorite ragas, Bhairavi and Kalyani, as security and assured the lender that he would not sing those two ragas till the loan was repaid in full.  A mortgage deed was drawn accordingly and loan of 1000 gold coins was disbursed.

Venkanna's uncle (mother's brother) comes to know of this transaction.  He visits Venkanna's house and enquires from Chandra about Venkanna's music practice. She confirms that Venkanna did practice singing regularly.  When specifically asked about singing of Bhairavi and Kalyani ragas, she realizes that Venkanna was not singing these two ragas during his practice sessions.  His uncle then gives her the mortgage document, obtained by him by repaying the loan to the money lender. When the girl starts the evening practice session with Bhairavi, Venkanna falls silent. She shows him the redeemed document and extracts a promise from him to pursue his musical path without a break.

With hard work and dedication he becomes a famous artiste and occupies the place of "Asthana Vidwan" in the royal court of King Madakari Nayaka, ruler of Chitradurga.  He masters Bhairavi and in due course of time becomes known as Bhairavi Venkatasubbaiah. He becomes arrogant and moves away from others in the music world. He learns from his mistakes and towards the end of his life, he stops singing for others.  When he was forced to sing before Hider Ali, who conquered Chitradurga after several attempts, he is said to have cut off his tongue. A musical Kannada film by name "Hamsa Geete" made in 1975 based on this theme was an award winner and brought many laurels for the actor Anant Nag, elder brother of Shankar Nag of "Malgudi Days" fame.

There are similar anecdotes of pledging ragas as collateral for loans.  One Todi Sitaramayya, an Asthana Vidwan of King Sarfojee (1798-1832) of Thanjavur was known for his singing of Todi raga. Once he sang Todi raga for 8 days in a row to bring about all its different aspects.  He needed money and unable to find any tangible security, he pledged Todi raga with another Vidwan.  When the King asked Sitaramayya to sing Todi, he declined.  Having come to know of the mortgage, the King got the loan repaid and then Sitaramayya could sing Todi again.

Around the same time, another Vidwan Narasayya pledged Raga Shankarabharanam with one Ramabhadra Moopanar for 80 sovereigns of gold. One Appuraya, a senior official of East India Company called Narasayya to sing on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter.  When requested, Narasayya could not sing Shankarabharanam as the mortgage was still subsisting.  Appuraya sent for Ramabhadra Moopanar who came running with the document, waived the loan in full and requested Narasayya to resume singing of Shankarabharanam!

John Stuart, Chairman of the Quaker Company was of the view that brands and trademark were far more valuable than land or brick and mortar assets. He is reported to have said once, "If this business were split, I would give you the land, brick and mortar, and I would take the brands and trade marks, and I would fare better than you".  He truly believed in unlocking value from intangibles in a business proposition. John Stuart indeed  knew the value of brands as he started his working life by sweeping floors in his father's mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When his father Robert Stuart and his partner Henry Parsons Crowell got control of "American Cereal Company", they changed the name of the company as "Quaker Oats Company", to take advantage of Quaker brand built by Crowell. It was the first marketer to register a trademark for a cereal.  Though the brand has changed many hands over the years, Quaker is a popular brand even today.

Brand is a special intangible asset that could be the most valuable asset in some businesses.  Brand value of Coca Cola, Apple and IBM are today valued at about 80 billion US dollars each.  Brand evaluation is a complex concept that includes Brand vision, Organizational culture, Brand objectives, Brand essence, internal implementation and brand resourcing.  Among the collaterals offered by the Kingfisher Airlines to its lenders are tangible assets like a building in Mumbai, a villa in Goa and two helicopters.  To increase comfort level of bankers, Kingfisher brand was offered as a collateral. Audit firm Grant Thomton India was drafted to value the brand.  Valuation was arrived at 4,100 crore rupees in 2010, but now has come down to 2,500 crores.

Kingfisher brand was offered and accepted as collateral.  Now that the loans have turned bad, bankers want to encash the security.  United Breweries Limited now says that the "Kingfisher" brand is its registered trade mark under trademark classes pertaining to alcoholic beverages and that it is not hypothecated or mortgaged to any lender whatsoever.  Now a subtle distinction is being made between "Kingfisher Airline" brand and "Kingfisher" brand of UBL. Bankers feel that the Airline part of the brand is quite valueless, but the beer brand holds value.

We have seen the similarities in these cases; it is one of mortgaging intangibles. What is the difference between them?  In the case of ragas or letters, it was not the property of the person offering the security.  There was no dispute as to who owned the security or which part of it.  The only understanding was that the borrower would not be able to use the raga or letter till the loan was repaid; there was no restriction on others as he could not bind them.  It was not even a kind of security that could be encashed when necessity arose.  The true security was the word of the borrower; its value was infinite. There were others who were ready to repay the loan on behalf of the borrower and redeem the security!  Lenders got the money back and their objective was fulfilled. They were not constrained to fight for the very title of the security, as is happening with the Kingfisher case.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shantaram, Milton and Eye check-up

Fitness and health check-up have become novelty today.  Periodical health check-ups are recommended and followed meticulously.  Check-ups do not guarantee good health for the future, but certainly provide mental relief.  Mental relief, if the results of the tests are satisfactory.  Of course, more tension and worry if the results are not as per expectations.  There are many advantages of health check-ups.  It is ensuring good health of the doctors and health-care industry.  It is also providing hospitals and drug manufacturers with wonderful growth opportunities, besides giving employment to thousands of support staff.  As for the patients, they can pride themselves about the number of tablets and capsules they consume each day.  Patients can also have their breakfast, lunch and supper regularly, since prescribed medication should either precede or follow in take of food. Their days are never dull and swallowing the tablets as per the given time schedule keeps them totally occupied.  They always have something to look forward to; the next tablet, syrup, capsule or ointment.  Ensuring that all the tablets required for the next two weeks are available at home makes them remain physically and mentally busy.  It also keeps the other members of the family on their toes; if the patient does not take a tablet for headache, it often becomes their headache.  If the patient at home is an elderly person, their patience is tested as well and teaches them many advantages of being patient.  Patience is a difficult trait to teach or develop, we all know.

We are all given one body by the nature or creator.  Hence one place for check-up should be fine. We may so believe, but it is not that simple.   Health care industry tells us that the body may be one, but it consists of many parts.  As each part of the body specializes in some important function, there should be as many specialists to take care of them.  It is quite natural that all specialists cannot be brought under a single roof.  If they are so assembled, it threatens the very concept of specialization. We are, therefore, advised to meet specialists at different centers so that special care is taken of all the parts of the body.  For some parts of the body, there are many specialists as the parts and specialists perform and monitor diverse functions.  Eye is one such organ and naturally requires special care. Bacterial, fungal or viral infections, age, cataract and diabetes add additional dimensions to eye care and eye check-up may result from any of these issues.

Visit to any specialist is a time consuming errand.  Eye check-up is not so.  It is a day consuming mission.  If you go to a temple, you can see the main deity only after visiting three or four other deities. Likewise, you can see the main eye specialist only after you go through three or four rooms presided by the junior doctors.  The receptionist prepares your profile and then passes on the profile along with you to the first junior doctor.  He or she checks the external eye and makes noting on the file.  Then you move to the next junior doctor (senior among the juniors) who checks eye sight and the power of your present spectacles. Then a nurse pours some drops into the eyes and asks you to keep the eyes closed for sometime.  She does not allow you to dream uninterruptedly; she keeps repeating the eye drops till the specialist is free to see you.  This way waiting is made painless; there is no feeling of prolonged waiting as you are actually undergoing the process of being prepared for the specialized scrutiny.  You are advised that the eye has to dilate for the specialist's eye to have a clear view of your eye.  On line dictionary defines "Dilation" as the act of expanding or the condition of being expanded; the widening or stretching of an opening or a hollow structure in the body.

When sitting in a multi-speciality eye clinic with drops in the eye, the mind naturally remembered V Shantaram and John Milton. Why V Shantaram? Why John Milton?

Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre, popularly known as V Shantaram, is a well known film personality.  He devoted his life to acting, making and directing movies in Hindi and Marathi. His entire life spanning 88 years were spent in dreaming about art and presenting those fantastic dreams to art lovers in the form of movies. His movies had many different themes of social relevance and fine arts.  Story, music, dance and sculpture were seamlessly blended and captured in his movies with delightful effects.  He dreamt big and his films had huge and colorful sets, even if the sets were used only for shooting a single scene appearing on the screen for two or three minutes.  He was a strict disciplinarian and brooked no disruption to his schedule of work.  It is said that he replaced his daughter Rajshri with Mumtaz in one of the films since Rajshri did not report for shooting on time. That was one of the triggers for a highly successful career for Mumtaz later on. He is also said to have firmly told Jeetendra, film's hero, that Mumtaz cannot be changed as the heroine in the film "Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti". 

"Do Aankhe Barah Haath", produced in 1957 is one of the most popular and famous movies of its times.  The film is based on prison reforms and the necessity of providing opportunity for reformation to the most hardened criminals too. Shantaram himself played the lead role in the movie. While shooting one of the scenes in the movie, known as the bull-fight scene, he was badly injured in the eye.  His eyes were treated and bandaged for several months and doctors feared that he may never regain eyesight. A person who enjoyed full eyesight for  56 years was now blind for many months. Shantaram's artistic mind worked overtime during that period and he experienced a riot of colors in his dreams. Treatment was successful and he regained eyesight.  He was able to see and resumed his film making with the next film "Navrang", meaning "Nine Colors", released in 1959. 

The film "Navrang" opens with a song "Rang De De" (meaning "Give us colors") with a black and white shot of closed doors on the screen.  After the titles end with the name of Shantaram as Producer and Director, the doors open and Shantaram himself appears with his eyes covered with dark glasses, as shown in the picture above.  He tells the audience about the suffering he had due to temporary blindness and how he imagined a colorful world in those days.  He mentions that he now shows that imaginary colorful world as "Navrang".  The film (its color poster is given alongside) has the theme of a dreaming poet-patriot and his wife in the backdrop of freedom movement.  It is a fine blend of poetry, music and dance with huge sets and is an example of film making with passion. Among the many films made by V Shantaram, Navrang holds its own pride of place.  It is a film conceived by a temporary blind person who had sight of the normal eye and the vision of a great film maker.

John Milton (1608-1674) is considered as "one of the greatest English authors" and was an important supporter of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth.  He was a fierce defender of free speech and freedom of press.  His life was an inseparable part of the political upheaval in England's 17th century events.  His major works came after he progressively lost eyesight and became blind.  He lost his eyesight in 1651-52 at age 43.  He married Elizabeth (third wife) who was 31 years younger to him, in 1662 and dictated 20 to 30 verses each night to her.  His "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise regained" were thus written.   One of the popular jokes is that he wrote "Paradise Lost" when he married and "Paradise Regained" when he got divorced!

Milton's famous sonnet "On his blindness" is a remarkable reflection of his own talents and spiritual pursuits.  It is said to bear reference to the "Parables of Talents" in the Gospel of Mathew.  Milton blossomed as a poet after he lost his eyesight.

It is true of many other artistes as well, especially in music.  Loss of eyesight probably sharpens their talent to identify the many nuances of sound, its effects and variations.

On the lighter side, both Milton and Shantaram had three wives.  Milton's third wife Elizabeth was his support for bringing out his literary works and talents.  Shantaram's third wife Sandhya brought out Shantaram's dreams on the screen as lead artiste in many of his movies, "Do Ankhe Barah Haath" and "Navrang" included. 

It was just and proper to remember Shantaram and Milton, while sitting for dilation with closed eyes in the multi-speciality eye hospital! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


The term "Pacific Northwest" is used with reference to the geographical region between the Pacific Ocean in the west and Rocky Mountains on the east.  Oregon and Washington states of the United States of America and British Columbia province of Canada form the core geographical areas of the region.  Sometimes even Alaska and the northern mountainous regions of California are also included in this term.  The area has bountiful natural beauty with the Pacific Ocean on the one side and the coastal mountains, Cascade Range, Olympic Mountains, Columbia Mountains and the Rocky mountain range on the other.  The Mount Rainier National Park with the 14,410 feet high Mount Rainier in the Washington Cascades is one among the many tourist attractions in the area. Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), Seattle (Washington state) and Portland (Oregon state) are the major cities in the Pacific Northwest. Water bodies, hills and rich vegetation have made the area attractive to visitors. Many man made monuments and attractions have enhanced tourist interest in the region.

Columbia river is the largest river that runs through this region.  It takes birth in the Rocky Mountains in Canada and joins the Pacific Ocean near Portland.  It is said that after Mississippi, more water flows through this river in the entire country.  The 2000 kilometer long river has many hydroelectric generating stations and is the largest source of power in North America.  The river has cut a deep and wide gorge around the rim of the Columbia plateau and created many beautiful tourist spots.  There are more than 90 waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.  Multnomah falls is the biggest among them and attracts a number of tourists all round the year.

MULTNOMAH FALLS is about 30 miles east of the city of Portland in Oregon State and along the historic Columbia River Highway that runs parallel to the Inter-state Highway 84.  It can be reached by a half-hour drive from Portland.  It is on the Multnomah Creek and the two-drop cascade is 620 feet high.  The first falls is 542 feet high and the second is about 78 feet. The picture given alongside gives a beautiful view of the waterfalls.  Melting snow in the hills and frequent rains in the higher hilly regions makes the falls an yearlong attraction.  A bridge known as the “Benson Bridge” is near the second drop.  Hiking trails lead the tourists all the way to the top of the falls.

Waterfall spray makes the entire area cold and slippery.  Proper protective dress is required to go near the falls and enjoy the majestic beauty of the waterfall.  There is a hotel, restaurant and gift shop at the foot of the falls.

Our visit to the falls was in January 2014.  It was raining throughout on the day of the visit and we were not confident of having a proper view of the falls. Just as we reached the parking lot and parked the car near the falls, the rain stopped and bright light provided a wonderful view of the falls.  A photograph taken with my host is given here.  We enjoyed the sight for about 20 minutes and returned to our car.  As soon as we reached the Columbia River Highway, it started raining heavily.  May be, Multnomah Falls had an important appointment with us!         

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One story; many lessons

One hundred young boys and girls (or men and women) were waiting for the chief guest to address them. All in their early twenties, they had assembled in the hall looking forward to a bright career in a premier bank of the country.  One of the General Managers of the bank had arrived from the bank's head office to welcome them to the bank's family. He inaugurated their training program and covered various issues of interest to the future bankers during his inaugural address.  He guided them through his inaugural speech, encouraged them to follow the path of hard work and dedication, cautioned them about the possible pitfalls and assured them of all support of the bank in their positive endeavors.  He concluded his speech with a story.  The true story he recalled was an indicator to the abundant opportunities they get to help other members of the society, during their journey in the bank.

The story he mentioned was about two young students of Stanford University in the year 1892.  One of the students was an orphan and was continuing his studies with lot of difficulties.  They had no money to pay their fees to the college.  The two students came up with an idea to arrange a musical concert in their campus.  They thought that the funds raised by sale of tickets would pay off the artiste and the surplus would meet their fee and other expenses.  Ignacy J Paderewski was a famous pianist at that time and was traveling in the United States.  The artiste's fee for the concert was fixed at 2,000 US Dollars.  Concert was a great success but to their horror the students found that they could raise only 1,600 US Dollars.  They went to Paderewski and gave him cash of 1,600 US Dollars and a check for 400 US Dollars.  They told him that the check would not be paid now, but they would ensure its payment in due course.  Paderewski did not agree to this suggestion.  He tore up the check and returned the cash.  "Deduct your expenses for the concert, pay your fee and study well", he told them.  In effect, the concert was a free exercise and paved the way for their fee payment.

Paderewski was a great pianist as well as a great human being.  He later evolved into a composer, politician and spokesperson for Polish Independence.  World War One (1914-1918) resulted in heavy destruction of life and property in Europe.  More than 16 million people, including about 7 million civilians, were killed.  Poland was one of the worst affected areas and was severely ravaged.  During the year 1919, Paderewski was appointed as the Prime Minister of Poland and he also doubled up as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.   He had a major problem on hand.  The war had destroyed all infrastructure and he had more than 1.5 million hungry people to feed with absolutely no money or other resources.  He decided to approach the "US Food and Relief Administration" for help.  The administration had certain problems but they were overcome.  Thousands of tons of food grains were shipped to Poland and the menace of hunger was contained.  Hundreds of kitchen were established to feed children, expectant mothers and the general public.  Shipments of condensed milk, wheat and flour continued to arrive till the crisis was averted.

Once the major problem was solved, Paderewski waned to personally thank the head of "US Food and Relief Administration".  He crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the United States.  He met the Chairman of the USFRA and thanked him for the support.  "You need not thank me Mr. Prime Minister.  I learnt the lesson of helping others from you.  You might have forgotten me.  I am one of the students you helped at Stanford 27 years ago!" said the Chairman of USFRA.  His name was Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover was a Engineer by profession and after his stint in USFRA, he became the Commerce Secretary during 1921-28.  He was elected as the 31st President of the United States and served during 1929-33.  There is a blog post titled "Magnificent Hoover Dam" wherein I have mentioned about our visit to the dam in 2005 and the contributions of Herbert Hoover for construction of this dam.  It can be read by CLICKING HERE.  Herbert Hoover made many remarkable contributions during his tenure as Commerce Secretary as well as President.  The headquarters of the United States Department of Commerce building in Washington DC is named as "Herbert Hoover Building".

Paderewski made his first piano concert in Vienna in 1887.  His concerts in Paris (1889) and London (1990) made him extremely popular.  he represented Poland in Paris Peace Conference in 1919, after the first World War.  He also served as the Chief of the National Council of Poland between 1939 and 1941.  He is said to have been very witty and disciplined.  He would stop his performance if someone among the audience talked during his concert and say "I am sorry to interrupt your conversation.  I will resume after you are finished".  It is said that once he was introduced to a polo player and mentioned that they were both masters in their respective fields, though very different.  He replied that there was not much of a difference.  He said, "You are a dear soul who plays Polo.  I am a poor pole who plays solo"!

There could be many lessons from this true story.  I found these:
  • Help someone in need, if you can.
  • Do not look to only material benefits in life.  There is more to life than material things.
  • Do not forget favors received.
  • Do not forget to thank those who helped in the past.
  • Repay your debt to the society.
  • Of course, any help rendered must not deprive some other deserving person.
There may be other lessons too.  They can be added and the list can be enlarged. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Life's "Stop Loss" limits

When a soldier ventures into the battlefield to fight the enemy, at the command of his General, he hopes to win.  He knows he and his comrades may lose as well.  He is also aware that he may even die.  He has no luxury of settling for anything less. He cannot think of reducing his loss.  At stake is the ultimate sacrifice; laying down his life on the orders of his superiors. He cannot hope to cut his loss, come out of the battlefield and live for another day.  The General or his political masters are placed better.  They have the option of negotiating with the enemy, settle for something less and cut the losses. 

Dealers and traders operating in various markets are taught to use "Stop-Loss" or "Stop-Limit" orders.  These limits and instructions are to be meticulously followed to prevent the disastrous effects of steep fall or rise in markets, depending on the type of positions they hold while trading. A trader who does not follow such stipulated rules and enters into unauthorized trades is called a "rogue trader".  The story of Nick Leeson who made a loss of 1.3 billion dollars and brought down the Bearings Bank in 1995 is well known.  That another trader Jerome Kerviel made five times more losses (6.9 billion dollars) for his bank during 2006-08 and overtook him is also history.  Some of these episodes are shrouded in mystery as there are allegations that the concerned superiors turn a blind eye as long as the dealers violate the rules and make profit, but pillory them when losses occur. Nevertheless, sticking to rules like allocated prudential limits and following stop-loss boundaries is a sacred requirement for traders in various markets.

Is cutting losses or stop-loss concept applicable only to traders in the markets or does it have any relevance to real life?  Should we use the concept of "Stop-loss" in our lives or live like a rouge traders?  These questions beg for an answer.  For us in India, "stop-loss" is not at all a new concept. Ancient Indian wisdom has answered this question in the affirmative.  The references for using stop-loss limits are there for thousands of years.  One old saying goes thus:

सर्वनाशे समुत्पन्ने अर्धं त्यजति पण्डितः|  अर्धेन कुरुते कार्यं सर्वनाशं सुदुःसहः ||

Sarvanaashe samutpanne ardham tyajati panditah,
Ardhena kurute kaaryam, sarvanaasham suduhsahah.

"When confronted with a situation where probability of total loss stares at him, the wise man voluntarily surrenders one-half to save the other half. He then manages life with the saved half; it is impossible to bear total loss", is its summary. Many kings and rulers followed this meticulously and saved total washout.  Save whatever you can in a desperate situation and then build on on the remaining part of wealth or asset, is the essence of this saying.

A quote from "Hitopadesha"'s "Mitralabha" mentions:

त्यजेदेकं कुलस्यार्थे ग्रामस्यार्थे कुलं त्यजेत् |  ग्रामं जनपदस्यार्थे आत्मार्थे पृथिवीं त्यजेत्||

Tyajet ekam kulasyaarthe gramasyarthe kulam tyajet, gramam janapadasyaarthe aatmaarthe pruthiveem tyajet!

"One member of the family may be sacrificed for saving a family.  To save a village, an entire family can be sacrificed.  A village itself may be sacrificed to save a state or country.  But to protect oneself, the whole world may be sacrificed". 

Self preservation is the most important lesson even when using stop-loss concept and giving up other valuables.  What is the use of protecting anything if the protector himself is destroyed?  Save yourself even at the cost of everything else, says this well known verse.

There is a wonderful story that demonstrates the truth of this saying.  Once there was an argument between a king and his minister.  "A mother does anything for its offsprings", said the king.   "That is not true.  Even the mother believes in self-preservation", said the minister.  The king challenged the minister to prove it.  The minister got a monkey with its two infants captured and caged.  They were brought before the king.  The minister asked the cage to be kept in a tub and water to be slowly poured into the tub.  As the water reached up to the head level of the infants, the mother monkey lifted them and placed them on its head.  The king was elated and shouted that he was right.  As the water level kept on increasing and reached the nose of the mother monkey, she dropped the baby monkeys and stood on them to save itself.

Stop-loss limit is not just for traders.  It is for us in real life as well. As and when confronted with heavy losses, in any facet of life, we have to salvage whatever we can.  And then build upon what is salvaged and remains with us.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

These six, burn us alive

India's greatest contribution to the world and mathematics is said to be "Zero". That is one way of putting things; there have been many a contributions of India to the world, in diverse fields. But the concept of zero and decimal system are indeed very important contributions. One speciality of zero is that it is also used as a symbol in many languages. Just as a zero makes a very big difference in mathematics, it also makes a big difference in the languages in which it is used. The most common example often given for this are the words "Chita" and "Chinta". Chita (pyre) burns a dead body whereas Chinta (worries) burn a living person. Chita finishes its work by burning once and is done. Chinta keeps burning day after day and the process of burning the person continues until Chita finally takes over. The difference between Chita and Chinta is again that zero.

There are certain worries that make the very journey of life a big burden and unbearable. These stare at us each day of of the life; it is impossible to forget them. They have an uncanny ability to pop up at the most unwanted times and remind us of their existence. They cannot be solved easily and they appear perennial in their haunting capacities. One may be bestowed with bountiful pleasures, but these worries swallow the cumulative pleasant effect of all those pleasures.

The first of such worries is living in an unwanted place. Godforsaken place. Kugraamavaasa. Living in a place without basic amenities. No communication and conveniences. No like minded people or companions. No social life or facilities to pursue one's favorite pastime. These were the type of places to which an unwanted civil servant was being transferred when he earns the displeasure of his authorities. He continues in service but also continues to suffer each day of his living there. Burning the person alive on each day of stay there. The only relief is of dreaming of the day when one gets out of such place.

Second one is of serving a bad boss. Kujanasya seva. A boss who is an expert in finding faults, but does not believe in guiding or providing solutions. If something is done, he asks why it was done. If the same thing is not done, he asks why it was not done!  If something is done in one way, he asks why it was not done the other way. If it is done the other way, he questions why it was not done the earlier way. Burning alive each day of the life.

The third of such troubles is bad food.  Kubhojanam. The food is ready and kept before you. You are hungry too. But the quality of the food is pretty bad or it is an item you detest. If you try to eat it, it does not pass through the gullet. If you want to leave it and get up, hunger does not allow the option. Either way you suffer. If this repeats day after day, it is a never ending problem.

The fourth of such worries is a volatile spouse. Krodhamukhi patni (or pati). It is difficult to live without the spouse. It is even more difficult to live with such a spouse! One does not know when the volcano erupts. Or what ignites the volcano. Living under such fear for ever. Until divorce do us part. Of course, such a solution was not available in the past.

Fifth of such worries is living with children who are neither useful nor can be dismissed. Moorkhascha Putraha. All the duties of a parent are to be discharged in bringing up such children. But there is no use from them. Even if one assumes that bringing up them is a duty to be discharged without desire of returns, the duty never ends. They are a life long problem and a constant source of burning the parents alive. They can neither be got rid of.  Living with them is a problem personified. 

The sixth has undergone change with times. It was said to be a widowed daughter. Vidhava kanya. This was true a few decades earlier. But providing good education and skills to the girl child has reduced this problem a lot. Whatever be the case, staring at the life of a son or daughter without a spouse is considered a big problem of parents. Opinions differ, but some still believe this is a source of lifetime worry that burns alive.

The troubles of first have been tempered now due to better communication facilities. The third is moderated by availability of a multiple restaurants in some places. The fourth is solved to some extent by divorce laws. Fifth and sixth are probably less intense now. But the worry of serving a bad boss continues for some even today.

This subhashita summarises the above six beautifully:

कुग्रमवासः कुजनस्य सेवा कुभोजनं क्रोधमुखिच पत्नी 
मूर्खाश्च पुत्रः विधवा च कन्या दहन्ति चैतानि जनं विनाग्निम् 

Kugrama vasaha kujanasya seva kubhojanam krodhamukhicha patni
Moorkhascha putrah vidhavaacha kanya dahanti chaitani janam vinaagnim 

All these were very relevant when this was written. Today some have changed partially or fully depending on how one looks at them. Parts of them are true even today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blessed are those.......

The head of the family has an important meeting or function to attend that day.  He is up early, finishes all the daily chores quickly and gets ready to catch the earliest mode of conveyance to reach the venue of the meeting or function. A carefully chosen set of all white dress is kept ready for wearing on the occasion. He is all dressed up and ready to go. Something tugs him from behind.  He turns around to find a pretty little face smiling at him. His grandchild is pulling his dress and looking up at him. The child was playing around in the house and its entire body is dirty. So are the hands. The dirt has now firmly been transferred to his all white dress and makes a striking impact at first sight. There is no way now for him to go out in that dress. He has to either change the dress or answer everyone who sees him as to why the dress is dirty. He is in a quandary.

He shouts at the grandmother or mother of the child. The admonition is all the more severe if the grandmother is nearby. "You are so careless. See, what your grandson (or granddaughter, as the case may be) has done. My dress is all dirty. How can I go out now in this dress?  I have no time to search for an alternate set and change over. You are causing unnecessary problems for me. You are always like this." Shouting is reserved only for the grandmother or mother. The child is not to be scolded. He picks up the child and embraces it unmindful of adding further dirt on his now half-dirty dress. The urgency of the meeting or function is temporarily forgotten and he continues to play with the child for some more time. Other things can wait but not the moments to be spent with the child. 

His departure is delayed further and plans for the day are disrupted.


The door bell rings. Head of the family is busy with some important task. He frowns and hurries to the door to open it. He finds someone elderly and dignified standing at the door. His expression changes immediately.  He prostrates at the feet of the guest and brings him in by holding his hand. The guest is seated now. He calls all the other members of the family. Mere mention of the name of the guest changes their expressions and all of them pay their fullest respects to the guest. He is treated as a messenger of the god they believe in.  When the guest is finally ready to leave, the head of the family says with folded hands, "Our long time wish is fulfilled today. We are extremely thankful for your visit. We are fortunate to have your "Paada-dhooli" (dust on the feet, meaning your visit) in our house. We are indeed blessed today!"


Kavikulaguru Kaalidasa has no hesitation to say that the first one above, with the dirty dress, is indeed the blessed one! The second one is blessed too, but the bounty received by the first one is no less than the other. This is a scene from his celebrated work, Abhignana Shaakuntalam: 

King Dushyanta has gone to the heavens to support and assist the King of Gods, Indra, in fighting his enemies. After the victory in the war with a substantial contribution by King Dushyanta, Indra has instructed his charioteer Maatali to take Dushyanta in Indra's personal chariot back to his kingdom on earth. On the path of the journey, they pass through Sage Maareecha's ashram. They stop to pay respects to the revered couple. While entering the ashram, King Dushyanta sights a young boy fearlessly playing with a lion cub. 

They boy forcefully opens the mouth of the cub and tells the cub, "Yawn and open your mouth widely. I want to count the number of teeth in your mouth". His mother's friends forbid him from forcing the cub. They exclaim that the name "Sarvadamana", meaning tamer of everyone, is justified for the boy. They offer him an alternate toy, a peacock. He is not interested in it and does not let go the lion cub. (King Dushyanta does not know that the boy Sarvadamana is his own son and Shakuntala is the mother. He does not also know that they boy will, in due course, become famous as Bharata chakravarthy and our land will be known as "Bharata", getting its name due to him). Dushyanta exclaims:

आलक्ष्य दन्तमुकुलान् अनिमित्त हासैः  अव्यक्त वर्ण रमणीय वचः प्रवृत्तीन् |
    अङ्काश्रय प्रणयिनस्तनयान् वहन्तॊ धन्यास्तदङ्ग रजसा मलिनी भवन्ति ||  

Aaalakshya dantamukulaaan animitta haasai
             Avyakta varna ramaneeya vachahpravrutteen,
Ankashrayapranayinah tanayaaan vahanto 
             Dhanyaastadanga rajasa malinee bhavanti

"Children smile for no reason.  When they so smile, their pearl like teeth peer through the mouth. When they talk, the words may not make meaning and yet we understand them. When you hold them, the dress gets spoiled due to the dust present all over their body. But the ones who have such muddied (dirtied) dress are the real blessed ones!" 


There is a big difference between the blessings brought in by the two (the child and the elderly guest) in the two instances discussed above. In the second instance, the elderly guest has dust only on his feet as he walks erect. The head of the family receiving him, therefore, says that they are blessed by his "Paada-dhooli".  But the first one is even better. His grandchild is playing on the ground and its whole body is covered with dust. Hence Kaalidasa uses the term "Anga-rajas" as against "Paada-rajas". This is the subtle difference the Mahaakavi makes in his interpretation.

There is another important dimension between the blessings brought in by the two discussed above. The elder one has attained the position and the capacity to offer blessings due to leading a long, dignified and pious life devoted to serving others. The child does not bless us nor understands even the meaning of "blessing". But it is in itself a package of blessing sent from above!  It is truly blessing personified. This is not just a blessing; it is a symbol of continuity of life, its eternal charm and unending pleasures. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This year, he will sing

After "Coach, Teacher and Mentor", I recalled an instance of a mentee remembering the eminent role played by his mentor, in the post titled "Do you have a coat, Ramappa?". Another instance of a well-known personality paying his tribute to an equally well-known mentor comes to my mind.  The first one was as old as 25 years ago.  The present one was more recent; it happened in 2011.

Bangalore's Fort High School, located behind the famous Tippu Sultan's Palace, is a landmark well known to music lovers.  Chamarajpet's Sree Rama Seva Mandali conducts annual "Ramanavami" music concerts here.  The music festival held during the months of April-May attracts thousands of classical music lovers. This place has been a launching pad for the careers of many distinguished artistes. Almost every top artiste of both Carnatic and Hindustani streams have performed here at one time or the other.  Some senior artistes are regular performers every year and their concerts are eagerly looked forward to by connoisseurs of music in Bangalore.

S V Narayanaswamy Rao was taking keen interest in organising religious and cultural functions since his younger days and this led to his starting Sree Rama Seva Mandali in the year 1939.  He joined HAL and worked there for sometime, but organizing the music festival posed problems for him as he had to take off for long periods every year.  He left HAL and did some other jobs too for sometime.  He finally decided to devote his entire life for music and the annual music festival became his life's mission. Unmindful of the personal difficulties and hardships, he worked hard for making this annual music festival to be an event to remember and celebrate every year.  His friendship with veteran violinist T Chowdiah helped him to meet and persuade senior artistes to perform here, in the early years.  Later on, performing at this festival became an honour to all senior artistes.  He was successful in holding the event for 60 years, till his death in the year 2000.  The festival is continued in his memory even now by Sree Rama Seva Mandali.  To honor his commitment to music, Sree Rama Seva Mandali has instituted an annual "S V Narayanaswamy Rao memorial national award", conferred on identified artistes with distinguished service to music.  The award is given away every year during the Ramanavami music festival. 
S V Narayanaswamy Rao used to visit Madras (Chennai) every year during the months of December-January, to attend Marghazi Maha Utsavam concerts there. His visits served dual purposes; attending the concerts and enjoying the music was one and meeting the artistes and book their calendar for the forthcoming Ramanavami festival was the other.  In the year 1973, he went there as usual and met the master of yesteryears, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, at his place of stay. He requested Bhagavatar to come to Bangalore and perform during the next Ramanavami festival.  Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar did not answer the request, but took Narayanaswamy Rao to another lodging place and knocked on the door of  a room. The door was opened by a bright young man and he reverentially invited the duo inside the room.  After being seated inside the room, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar turned to Narayanaswamy Rao and told him, "This year, he will sing at the Ramanavami Festival in Bangalore instead of me.  Give him your advance and book him right now".  Narayanaswamy Rao knew the master very well to discuss or argue further. He took out money from his pocket and handed over to the young man standing before them and requested for a date for the concert.  The advance amount was Twenty Rupees!  The young man accepted his Guru's order reverentially and agreed to perform on the suggested date.  The concert was a resounding success.  Thirty eight years later, on the same stage, he was awarded the prestigious S V Narayanaswamy memorial National Award for Music.

Shri Kattassery Joseph Jesudas had his initial training from his father Augustine Joseph.  After learning music from other sources, he joined the Sree Swati Thirunal Music College, Thiruvananthapuram, and was trained under its Principal Shemmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.  He turned to Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar for advanced learning and derived deeper insights into music from him.  Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar is said to be an expert in spotting talent and encouraging them to grow and flower into great musicians.  Some of the most renowned names in Carnatic music today were mentored by him.  The list includes T V Gopalakrishnan, P Leela, M S Gopalakrishnan, T N Krishnan, Palghat Mani Iyer and L Subramanian, besides K J Jesudas.

K J Jesudas was presented with the S V Narayanaswamy Rao Memorial national Award for music on sunday, 10th April 2011, at Bangalore.  The then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri B S Yeddiyurappa presented the award. While accepting the award, Jesudas narrated the above incident and described how his mentor transferred a date for his own concert to his young disciple and supported his journey in music.

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar had organised a special concert on 10th January 1973, on the occasion of 33rd birthday of Jesudas.  He presented a "Tambura", sponsored by T V Gopalakrishnan, to his protege and advised him to devote more time to classical music.  The Mentor and Mentee jointly sang at the concert that followed the birthday celebrations.  At the beginning of the concert, he advised the audience not to ask for film music.  "I will ask him to sing some film songs at the end as per your wish", he declared.  The mentor passed away the very next year, but his legacy is carried by his disciples even today.

A statue of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, known as "Chembai Swamy" and sponsored by Jesudas, has been unveiled next to the Bhagavatar's house in Chembai gramam, near Palakkad in Kerala.

In the concert that followed the award presentation ceremony at Bangalore, Jesudas recalled many learning experiences he had with his mentor.  Towards the end of the concert, someone shouted "Harivarasanam".  Harivarasanam or Hariharasutashtakam in the praise of Lord Ayyappan, is sung by Jesudas in all his concerts as the penultimate item, before Mangalam.  His devotion to Lord Ayyappan and Lord Guruvayoorappan is legendary.  "That will be the last item.  I want to sing some more today. Do you want or not?" asked Jesudas.  Naturally the audience wanted more.  He continued for another half an hour before presenting "Harivarasanam" and concluding the concert.  His tribute to his mentor that day and the concert itself will linger in the minds of the audience present there, for a long time to come.        

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do you have a coat, Ramappa?

After the previous deliberation on "Coach, Teacher and Mentor", the mind naturally thinks of the mentors of the past and their successful proteges.  To be an outstanding mentor is not a easy achievement.  One of the challenges for the mentor is that the mentee's actions and behavior reflect on his own personality.  By promoting the cause of an unworthy mentee, the mentor damages his own reputation and standing.  We all know of some outstanding pairs of mentor-mentee in our generation, and in diverse fields.  This is the episode of remembering one such highly respected pair.  It is all the more authentic as I had the privilege of hearing the same from a grateful mentee himself.

"Karnataka Lekhakara Sangha" is a forum of poets and writers, dedicated to literary activities and encouraging budding writers.  It is active in Bangalore and Karnataka for the past five decades.  It conducts various programs from time to time and arranges seminars and conventions to commemorate different events of cultural and literary importance.  Prof A R Krishnashastry (ARK) is a well-known name in Kannada Literature. He is one of the prominent personalities who ushered in the "Navodaya" movement, which is considered as a watershed in the history of Kannada language and its growth.  He was born in the year 1890 and Karnataka Lekhakara Sangha decided to celebrate his birth centenary in 1990. The celebration started with a function at Ambale, his birth place.  The grand finale was planned in Bangalore after 12 months.  In the intervening 11 months, eleven functions were conducted in different centers of Karnataka.  Mysore was chosen as the venue of one such functions as Prof ARK taught at Mysore University for a considerable period of time.  As an office-bearer of the Sangha and being stationed in Mysore at that time, I was given the responsibility of organizing the function at Mysore.

Prof K Venkataramappa was a student of ARK and worked along with him in the Mysore University later on.  He was 84 years old at that time and lived in a house near Geetha Road in Mysore.  I went to his house to invite him to be the lead speaker at the function.  He was very happy to accept our invitation despite his advanced age.  Thinking of his age, I mentioned to him that the venue of the function was near his house.  "He was my Teacher and Mentor.  I am very glad to know that his birth centenary is being celebrated by your Sangha.  Where the function will be held does not matter.  I would come even if it was in a far away place.  I will not miss an opportunity to remember him and pay my tributes during his birth centenary.  I will certainly be there", he said.  As promised he arrived at the venue and delivered one of the finest talks in Kannada that I have ever heard.  I remember his speech, though it was 25 years ago...........

Venkataramappa had just finished his MA examinations and results were expected in a week.  He received a message that he should meet Prof ARK.  Venkataramappa went and met him in his chambers.  "Your results are expected next week.  You would have certainly done well in the examinations.  I know what the result will be.  What do you plan for the future?"

"I will look for job, Sir"

"A lecturer's vacancy is coming up here.  File an application in the office tomorrow and meet me after submission"

"But the results have not yet come"

"Does not matter.  Make a mention of it in the application.  Results will be out by the time they process the applications"

Venkataramappa filed the application and met the Guru to inform him about compliance.

"Good. Do you have a coat, Ramappa?  You need one for the interview"

Ramappa hesitated.  ARK took out an envelope from his coat pocket.

"Take this envelope and go to my tailor Durgoji Rao's shop in the evening.  He will stitch a coat for you in three days"

Ramappa had to do as he was instructed.  That was the extent of reverence he had for his Guru. Results were out in a few days and Venkataramappa had passed with distinction.  He attended the interview and was selected for the lecturer's job.  ARK's student Venkataramappa was now his colleague.

A few months later.......

Venkataramappa was sitting and relaxing in the staff room having just returned from a class.  He got a message that he should meet Prof ARK in his chambers.  He went immediately and stood before him.  A distinguished gentleman was sitting before ARK.  Venkataramappa would not sit before the Guru unless he was asked to.

"Sit down, Ramappa.  Meet the Secretary of Madikeri's Kannada Sangha.  He wants a good speaker for their main function this year.  The function is slated for next Monday"

"Are you going, Sir?"

"Not me.  I want you to be the lead speaker this time.  Please accept their invitation"

Ramappa hesitated.  "I am also coming with you.  I will preside over the function, but you will be the main speaker".  Venkataramappa agreed.

Mentor and Mentee started by the morning bus from Mysore to Madikeri on Monday morning.  ARK was sitting near the window and Venkataramappa was next to him. After an hour's journey, the bus stopped in Hunsur bus stand.

"Ramappa, there is some dirty smell coming from this side"

"Dirty smell?  I am only getting the smell of sambar"

"Is it so?  Can you read what is written on that board?"

"Bus Stand Hotel, Sir"

"That is the place from which the sambar smell is coming.  Don't you like Idli-sambar?"

"I like it very much, Sir"

"Then get down and hurry up.  Unless you get down, I cannot.  Let us eat and get back before the driver starts the bus"

They had their idli-sambar.  Venkataramappa's speech at the function was highly appreciated by the gathering.  The Mentor was full of praise for the Mentee in the Presidential speech.  Prof. K Venkataramappa never looked back.  He authored many books and mentored another generation of students.

Prof A R Krishnashastry was a Mentor for many others.  Kuvempu (K V Puttappa), T N Srikantaiah, G P Rajarathnam, M V Seetharamaiah and Dr K Krishna Murthy are big names in Kannada Literature, even today. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coach, Teacher and Mentor

The word "Mentor" is often used in present day situations. The words "Coach" and "Teacher" are also used in similar contexts. Are they synonyms or is there any difference between these three words?

To understand the origin of the word "Mentor", we have to turn to Greek mythology. "Epics of Gilgamesh", "Iliad and Odyssey" and our own "Ramayana" and "Mahabharata" are reckoned among the oldest epics in the history of mankind. Homer's "Iliad and Odyssey" has the evergreen story of Helen and the Trojan War. Helen of Troy is considered as the most beautiful woman ever born in reality or fiction.  "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships? And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a sweet kiss.....", says Christopher Marlowe in his poem titled "The face that launch'd a thousand ships". Odysseus, King of Ithaca was one of the men who wanted to marry this beautiful girl. When Helen's mother Queen Leda's husband (not father because Greek God Zeus is considered as her father)  and King of Sparta, Tyndareus decides that it is time for Helen to marry, Odysseus convinces him to make all the innumerable suitors to take a oath to accept the choice of Helen and support her husband when the need arises in future. Helen chose the prince of Mycenae, Menelaus. They lived happily for sometime and Menelaus even became King of Sparta. On the advice of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, Prince of Troy Paris comes to Sparta and sees Helen. On a day when Menelaus is away in Crete, Paris takes Helen to Troy. Some versions say she was kidnapped and some others say she was seduced by the charms of Paris and went willingly. When Menelaus returned and found that his wife was gone, he sought the assistance of the former suitors of Helen to wage a war on Troy, as per their previous agreement. Having been the one to suggest such an arrangement, Odysseus was in the forefront of those who went to Troy to bring back Helen.

When Odysseus left for the Trojan war, his son Telemachus was an infant.  Odysseus did not return for twenty years and Telemachus grew up into a young man in the meantime. Telemachus went in search of his father and met his father's friend by name "Mentor". It is said that Greek Goddess Athena took the appearance of Mentor and guided young Telemachus at different times to search his father. Father and son duo return to Ithaca and ensure the defeat of the many suitors who had camped in their house seeking the hand of Penelope, Odysseus's wife and Telemachus's mother. Since Mentor encouraged Telemachus to stand up to all the suitors of his mother and find his father, the word "Mentor" has come to stay to denote a "wise and trusted counselor who imparts wisdom and share knowledge to solve personal problems".

The origin of the word "Coach" is said to come from Hungary. Hungarian city of Kocs is credited with being the first place to make carriages which are used to carry people from one place to another. In those days coaches were drawn by horses and were used as one of the earliest means of transport. The word coach is used even today in railway and other transports. "Sleeper coach" and "Luxury coach" are examples of such usage. In air transport also "Coach Class" is used by many airlines to denote "Economy class". This aspect of carrying people from place to place was later used to identify a person who could carry a less able student to pass an examination or a course, and was called a "Coach". In our childhood, coaching classes were a popular name for according special training to students who have failed in an examination to appear and get through a supplementary examination later on. This term is now used extensively in the field of sports. The word now denotes anyone who acts as a person to guide the youngsters in his charge to achieve excellence in their chosen fields or disciplines. Nowadays there are even teams of coaches and assistants to attend to the various requirements of the activity called coaching.  As defined by Cummings and Worley, "Coaching is a development process whereby an individual meets his wards on a regular basis to clarify goals, deal with potential stumbling blocks and improve their performance".

The word "Teacher" has its origin in the word "Teach".  "Teach" takes its form from "Index finger" and indicates to "show or point out" or "give instruction". On-line dictionary defines a teacher as one who teaches or instructs, as a profession. A teacher usually teaches in a public place where a number of students come to learn. If the teaching is done privately or at home, a person imparting education thus is called as a "Tutor" (man) or "Governess" (woman). A teacher of a higher rank doing the same job in a place of advanced learning like a University is called a "Professor". He is a person who professes (lays a claim to) as an expert in a particular field.

In the background of the above, the three words can be said to have the following characteristics and differences:

  • Coaching is an intervention that is highly personal and usually involves a one-to-one relationship between the coach and those coached. Teaching is a general activity of instructing or imparting education in a public place where a number of students enroll themselves. Teachers follow structured learning and process is based on a course curriculum. Mentoring is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a lesser experienced or lesser knowledgeable person.
  • The relationships are called Coach and Coachee or more commonly client, Teacher and Student and Mentor and Protege or Mentee respectively.
  • A coach often has the freedom to choose his clients whereas a teacher instructs a class entrusted to him and does not enjoy this freedom. In mentoring, the relationship between mentor and mentee is more sensitive and is usually between two persons in the same organization or profession.
  • Coaching and Teaching can be at elementary levels whereas Mentoring generally happens at a higher plane.
  • Coaching and Teaching are formal processes whereas Mentoring is more of an informal process.
  • Coaching and Teaching can be professional activities whereas Mentoring is more voluntary in nature. Coach and Teacher are paid a remuneration for their efforts whereas there may not be such payment in Mentoring.
  • Coaches have technical expertise while teachers have professional qualifications. Mentors are chosen on the basis of their experience and skills and are paired with a less experienced colleague in the organization or profession. Peer mentoring is often an informal activity and revolves around hand-holding in crucial phases of development.
The above characteristics are general in nature and cover the broad contours of the three activities. There can be many instances wherein a coach or a teacher may emerge as a mentor for a few of their wards or students. One such example is of the famous combination of Ramakant Achrekar and Sachin Tendulkar. Achrekar has been a coach for many but Tendulkar considers him as more than a coach, a mentor.

In Mahabharata, Krishna was a mentor for Arjuna. Shakuni was Duryodhana's mentor. Results are there for all to see. Among the famous Mentors and Mentees are Chanakya and Chandragupta, Aristotle and Alexander the great, Bobby Charlton and David Beckham, and more recently Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane.

To be a Mentor is not a matter of pride; it is a rare privilege and distinction. It is far-removed from arrogance; humbleness is its hallmark. To act as a Mentor is a wonderful opportunity to repay a small part of the investment made by the society in one's own development over the years.