Sunday, June 26, 2005

ISKCON: Spirituality vs. Lavishness?

I visited the grand ISKCON temple here in Bangalore yesterday. Its the largest in India and truly grand with gold plated sculptures, and marvellous architecture. It must have taken a huge investment for sure. But then, ISKCON is about spirituality and renouncing desires for material pleasure or Mayaa. Is it contradicting for a cult popularizing this philosophy to have such a grand temple built? Do the followers or chanters need such a lavishly built building to chant? Is it a marketing gimmick to attract more visitors (who can then turn into followers)? These questions have been really bothering me since then.
Official website,, states that the 7 missions of ISKCON. I found 2 interesting:
  1. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krishna.
  2. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.

To achieve (1), ISKCON temples have been built. But, (2) is a little confusing. Is is only relating to personal life, and not applicable to temples? Afterall, grandness in architecture is not a natural way of life. Followers will be leading a simple life, but remembering/chanting god rhymes in a lavish environment! Lavishness at all possible levels should be avoided according to ISKCON philosophy. Then, why do the followers need such huge temples to chant and pray? Is a simple temple, with spiritual environment, not good enough? Aren't these temples built as a marketing tool? Afcourse, there is no harm in marketing your way of life or philosophy, but marketing should not shake up your own philisophical foundations. Wouldn't it be better if the money invested had been used for educational or social purposes?

I have in touch with few ISCKON followers. Debating them is quite a tedious task as they derive their thought process from Vedas and other scriptures. I can think of one possible explanation from their side: "Followers are not affected by the lavishness of temples. They have insulated themselves from materialistic pleasures." Accepted. But then why need lavishness at all?

I have not been following ISKCON philisophy. Some of my inferences may not be complete, looking for an informed explanation....

Saturday, June 25, 2005

New Journey Begins @IIMB

Blogging after a long time, and for the first time from IIMB. Reached here yesterday and have been haunting around the campus for the last two days with 2 IITK juniors. Just went to MG Road and ISCKON temple today.
First, about the city. What's best about Bangalore is its damn cool weather. Having returned from home (Rajasthan) where sun is scorching at around 46 C, really enjoyed the cool winds at 25 odd degrees. Apart from that my first impressions about the city: Bangalore was never meant to handle so many people! Too much crowd, traffic, really destroys the beauty and calm of this city. Infrastructure is certainly being pushed to limits. BMC has given a beautiful caption for Blore: "The city of Gardens, lakes, empowerment, knowledge."- which suitably captures the importance of this city.
Will write more about Bangalore later. Afterall, I have 2 more years to go here (and probably more because of job).
Next, about IIMB campus. No surprises, especially after coming from IITK. Lush green, pretty small one though, with 24 hour canteens, a CCD (known to be the worst in Bangalore), library, CC and not to forget, our hostel. Things are pretty close by, which is a big respite from 1 km journey to Department in IITK. My batchmates haven't started coming in large numbers. Met a couple of seniors over here. Can't really comment on the aura, people, etc. just now.
Finally, no one really knows IIMB here!! A big change from Kanpur, where you can get away from any damn thing in public in the name of IIT :)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Movie Review: 'D'

Another RGV flick! I had been waiting for a while for 'D' after following its promos and publicity. Finally I got a ticket for it after several failed attempts, and that too right in the first row. Watching 'D' from row 'A' didn't defuse my spirits though. What certainly disappointed me was the movie itself.
RGV has been accused of being obsessed with underworld. But, to his credit, he has been the torch bearer for the new wave in Bollywood, which promotes experimentation and deplores chopras-johars-barjatiyas typo movie making. Among his underworld based movies, "Satya", "Company" and "Ab tak Chhappan" have been successes. 'D' is unofficially supposed to be the prequel to "Company".
The strongest point of the movie is its cast. Deshu (Randeep Hudda) is a Dubai-returned mechanic, who is astonished to see gnagster killings in his uncle's house. Deshu refuses to recognize the killers who belong to the Bhai, Maangli.He approaches Hashim Bhai (Goga Kapur), the rival Bhai and proves his mantle by killing Maangli in his own den. "Mein kismat nahin maantaa" is Deshu's philosophy.
His rise in the gang is envied by Hashim's two sons, Mukarram (Sushant Singh) and Shabbir (Yashpal Sharma). However, Deshu gets a trusted aide in the form of Raghav (Chunkey Pandey). As the enemity increases within the gang, Deshu and Raghav are transferred to Gujarat.
Love angle is given by an actress, Bhakti Bhatnagar and Raghav's wife (Isha Koppikar).
Mukarram and Shabbir try to disrupt Deshu's success by killing Raghav and his wife. All efforts for a peace fail and rest is climax.
The high point in the movie has been the performance of Randeep. With his beard, goggles (which resemble those worn by Dawood !!), cool style of slowwwly smoking a cigarette, and tight-lipped dialogue delivery, he has been able to make his presence felt as a brooding, cunning, hard hitting and ambitious gangster. Chunkey Pandey has made a good come back. Sushant Singh has been grossly under utilized. No need of even mentioning the roles of female artists in gangster movies (unless it is based on Monica Bedi herself :)).
Debutant director (Vishram Sawant) has come up with a confused khichdi of Company and Satya. He hasn't been able to come out of the shadow of RGV, and hence, completely lost touch of the soul of any movie, the script. First half is ok, second half drags and sucks. The style of slowly muting dialogues in a scene merging it with loud background music was used many times. Its excessive use resulted in too much predictability and loss of effect. Music director needs to learn some music before giving unbearable pain to audiences' ears.
RGV factory has produced off the track films. RGV, beware, you might just be creating a track of your own for your movies. It will kill your creativity!!
Finally, one thing to learn from the movie- "Don't drink to be successful" !

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Finally, Graduated from IITK

May 31, 2005 was a big day- the 37th Convocation of IIT Kanpur. The degree of Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering was conferred upon me. We have always heard about the grandness of IITK Convocation and the thrill associated with it. Well, our expectations were met to a greater extent. Dr. Kasturirangan, former Chief of ISRO, was the Chief Guest for the function.

There are few exciting things regarding any convocation. First one is afcourse, the Convocation dress, or chogga, as we call it :) It was a lifetime opportunity to wear it and we made the best out of it by having extended photo sessions. Thrill is at its peak when academic senate enters the audi in the background score of "Chariots of Fire". Till last year, the whole batch used to enter the hall this way, which looked quite dramatic and sensual. Somehow, this practice was not followed this year. Getting the degree formally wasn't a dramatic event though, just a 10 second affair, with the HOD calling out the name, bowing to the Chief Guest, shaking hands with the Director, and then quietly walking away. Lucky ones had a soft applause too. Not an appealing exercise :(

The Chief Guest's address wasn't enterprising, with most of us enjoying a nice nap. BOG Chairman Prof. CNR Rao made a very important point- "If you want to become successful in life, become famous". I will remember that....

The reference to a recent DataQuest Survey which rated IITK as no. 1 in India was not befitting to the occassion. Cheap publicity stunt!!

The conclusion of the ceremony left all of us, with our parents, open in the blazing sun with only cold drinks to "chill" out. We didn't complain though. Pics from every possible angle, in the same old chikkat poses :) Many hugs, chats, emotional talks, blah, blah....

An unforgettable event.....