Monday, August 15, 2011

Notes on Plato's "The Republic"- Part 1

Book-I:
In Book I Socrates has the dialectic discussion with Thrasymachus, on the subject of Justice. While Socrates keeps to his notions that Justice is beneficial and Injustice will eventually be damaging, Thrasymachus on the other hand argues that at the end, the Unjust wins and the Just loses.

Examining some of the important ones from the dialogue:

*Thrasymachus (Thr): "First of all, in private contracts: wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you will find that, when the partnership is dissolved, the unjust man has always more and the just less. Secondly, in their dealings with the State: when there is an income-tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same."

--Note 1: Although Socrates with all his ideals and morality proves perhaps in the later parts of the argument that Unjust will eventually lose and the Just wins, this arguing statement above from Thrasymachus holds a lot of truth to it, atleast in imperfect societies. And most of the contemporary events in India, and elsewhere in the world seem to prove Thrasymachus' point of view above. Consider the case of scandals surrounding the 2G, Commonwealth Games etc and how there is scapegoating
done, often hiding some of the high profile culprits who are in safe havens of power. Also, throughout his argument Thrasymachus notes that the unjust are usually more powerful and superior because they can cheat, and claim that they are just. It does have a ring of truth to it in the non-Socratic real world for sure.

*Thr: "..But when a man besides taking away the money of the citizens has made slaves of them, then, instead of these names of reproach, he is termed happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but by all who hear of his having achieved the consummation of injustice"

--Note 2: It is not too transparent, but we have seen in our times, that often people considered to be of great stature and highly influential have been found out to be fraudulent and cheating people. For example, the recent closure of the News of the World run by Rupert Murdoch is a well-known event, for years the number 1 news agency in the world had had its share of praise and earned wealth by cheating the people. As the dialogue continues, Thrasymachus further mentions that "mankind censures injustice for fear of being victimized, not because they shrink from committing it". In deed, the people of integrity, honesty and values is a limited lot.


In a rather incomplete discussion, Socrates does make Thrasymachus agree that his argument is ill-begotten and unproved.
However, making it a continuation to Book-II this is how he concludes the discussion:

Soc: "For I know not what justice is, and therefore I am not likey to know whether it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is happy or unhappy."

This note is a precursor to further dialogues in the succeeding Books and paves way to building an imaginary State, "the Republic" which will eventually define the justice system along with other aspects like administration, education, military etc.

So, until the notes from next Book, adios!

Reference: The Republic by Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett

Sunday, July 31, 2011

?????

Narrow confines all around,
Suffocation in every breath.
Freedom is only in thoughts
Or perhaps remained as a dream:
A dream that was unfulfilled.

I look into my own vision
In hope of the glimpses of those images;
I hear myself crying aloud
Those voices that I cannot listen;
I search for that perfect spot
To settle down and call it home!

My travels in thought and deed,
Seem incomplete,
Unfinished;
Yet I return to the same place
Over and Over
And Over again!

Sums up I am
Winning the battles I did not fight
But I am
Losing the war I wanted to win!

--May 24, 2011.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gems of Tyagaraja- 2

హెచ్చరికగా రారా హే రామచంద్ర
హెచ్చరికగా రారా హే సుగుణ సాంద్ర

పచ్చ విల్తునికన్న1 పాలిత సురేంద్ర (హెచ్చరిక)

1. కనక మయమౌ మకుట కాంతి మెరయగను
ఘనమైన 2కుండల యుగంబులు కదలగను
ఘనమైన నూపుర యుగంబు ఘల్లనను
సనకాదులెల్ల కని సంతసిల్లగను (హెచ్చరిక)

2. ఆణి ముత్యాల సరులల్లలాడగను
వాణి పతీంద్రులిరు వరుస పొగడగను
మాణిక్య సోపానమందు మెల్లగను
వీణ పల్కుల వినుచు వేడ్క చెల్లగను (హెచ్చరిక)

3. నిను జూడ వచ్చు భగిని కరంబు చిలుక
మనసు రంజిల్ల నీ మహిమలను పలుక
మిను వాసులెల్ల విరులను చాల జిలుక
ఘన త్యాగరాజు కనుగొన ముద్దు గులుక (హెచ్చరిక)

Translation (Courtesy: http://sahityam.net/wiki/Heccharikaga_Rara)

O Lord Ramachandra! Deign to come cautiously; O Lord brimming with virtues! Deign to come cautiously.
O Father of Cupid! O Protector of Lord of celestials!
1. As the splendour of the golden diadem is radiated, as the pair of beautiful ear-rings sway, as the pair of beautiful anklets jingle, and as the sages Sanaka and all others exult beholding You, O Lord Ramachandra! Deign to come cautiously.
2. As the rows of necklaces of perfect shaped pearls sway (on Your chest), as Brahma – the Consort of Sarasvati – and Indra extol You on both sides, O Lord Ramachandra! Deign to come cautiously and slowly on the steps of precious stones, as the spectacle goes on, hearing the notes of music on lute.
3. As the parrot in the hand of Parvathi – Your sister - who comes to see You – speaks of Your mights to the exultation of the minds of the devotees, as all the celestials – dwelling in heaven - shower plenty of flowers, O Lord Ramachandra! Deign to come cautiously so that this blessed Thyagaraja may behold You as Your charm oozes.

The below is my own verse, inspired by the song and the devotion of Sri Tyagaraja:


How long shall I live in vain?
How long this torturing pain?
While I wait for Thou my Lord,
How long till I see Thou again?

Come now, let me not fall,
Come now, please heed my call,
Do not Thou love me, my Lord?
Come now, please crush this wall.

I fear that in blindness I cannot see,
I fear I will lose my vision of Thee,
Shower on me Thy blessings my Lord,
I fear this world will transform me!

Before its too late for me to realize,
Before I cannot handle any surprise,
Warn me, as Thou arrive, my Lord,
Before my each virtue turns into a vice!


Warn me, as Thou arrive my Lord,
Warn me, as Thy descent begins,
Warn me, when Thine will is to hold me,
Warn me, as Thou arrive my Lord.

For I cannot miss this chance,
To end my ever-longing penance,
And shed my tears and wash your feet,
When my wish-fulfills when we two meet!


-Siddartha Pamulaparty
Nov 08, 2009.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Science, Religion and Philosophy-- An Essay

Religion is not accepted by the science. But not all religions accept the science. Science is but Knowledge. A knowledge that is proven by experiment. However, there are various aspects of science that have empirical proof or abstract theorems. The question then, is what is the relationship between the science and religion, if there is any historically or contemporarily?

There is one common thread, though: the birth of ideas in the minds of human beings. In science, there are several theories and axioms which took birth in the minds of the noble or ignoble humans and either they were proved in later experimentation or were accepted by commonsensical deduction. Modern physics especially, the branches of quantum theories or string theories are but ideas waiting to be proven or accepted. Religion also had its roots in human mind. Dogmas and doctrines, practices are all born out of human intellect: ideas mundane or of great intellect.

Religion thrives and survives on one basic principle: faith. In fact, we often see the faith as a synonym of religion. Faith is a feeling, similar to a belief. What concrete foundation it has is a different matter. Faith is in fact a manifestation of human ideas. If humans were not able to think and form opinions, there would neither be religion, nor science.

Talking of faith, when the faith forms in the obvious in the nature, it becomes the least sensitive part of the religion. For instance, importance of the natural elements like earth, air, water and fire are almost common in most religions. The most sensitive issues that differ between the religions of the world are mostly the convictions which are not natural; not so obvious; the unknown and the unseen and hard to comprehend.

Blind faith is what makes the religions non-scientific. If there was a custom or tradition in a religion that has a proper reasoning or rational behind it, it cannot be considered as a blind faith.
Here also comes the aspect of logic.

With logic, we have one more product of human intellect: the philosophy.

Most of the Western world considers Aristotle as THE Philosopher. However, historically this is not true. Philosophy existed ever since the first of the human species evolved, with a psyche that could make the species "think". There were innumerous civilizations across the world, some of which have lost their stories in eternity and very few have still sustained. There were philosophers in the Greece before Aristotle, even before Socrates or should we say even in the times of Homer or before? India, the country that was the center of interest during the ancient and medieval times for its rich tradition of heritage, has a unique history of philosophy too.

What is the basis of philosophy? Like faith is to the religion, the belief is the crux of philosophy. Philosophy is but a conviction of things and processes around a person. Like religion and science, philosophy also has the natural course of "actions" being performed based on the belief one has.

While there are behavioral traits that draw a line of difference between religion and philosophy, there is also a binding force: the transformation of faith into belief, with reason or without.

Philosophy, religion and science, have all made so much of progress, that the fundamental thoughts have transformed from Individual level to collective level. Hence, today we see many communities- of religious, philosophical and even scientific nature.

The complexity of human thoughts and ideas has influenced, if not originated, the amalgamation of these three different products of intellect. Today, there may be scientific communities with an inclination to a religion and more frequently a philosophy. There are philosophical communities that have some part of their ideas derived on established scientific facts and more frequently, of ideas derived from historical religions.

However, religion embracing scientific facts and/or philosophical propositions that have not existed long before is not witnessed. Perhaps, because religion is the oldest of the these three.

Well, there may be some newly born religions which are based on philosophies and very rarely also on some aspect of science. This yet again proves that religion has its birth in human mind.

What is divinity? Does an entity called God exist? These questions are more of philosophical nature. Religion is formed based on these questions already answered and opinionated. Science does not care to dig into these. And in trying to find an answer for this, innumerate philosophies
have been born. Most of which could be bent over to one or more religions.

So, in a way, philosophy is some where between the two extremes of religion and science.

Human race is not only responsible for the existence of these ideas, but also the sufferers of the consequences of the ideas, as and when they have advanced.

As the faith in the religion has grown so strong that common sense or reasoning has no impact or even consideration, there have been many ill-effects on the human lives. From times immemorial, each religion had its own misgivings. But again, it has to be remembered that the ideas were human, the thoughts were human, the actions were also human, towards or against the human lives.

Advancement in science has its own consequences of human terror. Wars, often aided with military science, have always done damage than good. There are good examples too, like in the fields of medicine, or civilian engineering which has provided almost every aspect of this century's living ways and comforts are products of science. However, there are bad examples, and weapons of mass destruction is just one of them.

Philosophy, although appears not too extreme, depending on the will of the individuals who apply these philosophical thoughts into action, there have been casualties before. Dictators across the world, and supreme leaders, have often with their philosophies have destroyed human lives.

The business of the world today survives more based on what is different than what is common between the peoples. Different people have different needs and different capabilities. If there is absolutely no difference between individuals or countries, nothing would be exchanged.
As long as this exists, the difference, the flow of the activities in the world would be natural.

But, if we wake up in a world, where the populations and individuals have all common interests, all common needs, all common capabilities, imagine if there would be any productivity? No. The key to the world we live in today, is based on the variation of human thoughts, ideas and their subsequent needs.

If there were no religion nor philosophy, but only science, lives of people would be totally mechanical. Men and women would turn into robots.

Religion and philosophy are in a way inseparable. Hence, it is not only difficult but also silly to imagine a world with either one of them without the other.
The relationship between the two lies in the basic fundamental synonymous relationship between faith and conviction.

Ideas, thoughts will still remain the common ground of these three interesting aspects of the human civilizations.





-Siddartha Pamulaparty
August 29,2009.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lost Letters - III

To: My teacher, Prof. M. Ravinder Rao on January 4, 2005!

Dear Sir,

Firstly, I wish you would find a very happy new year in 2005. I am quite delighted to have received a mail from you.
I remember on an occasion (of Teachers' day festival) you told us that a Teacher will be happy when the student first Understands, then Believes and finally Acts accordingly of what the Teacher has taught him.(forgive me if i missed out something).
I think of that very often.
Well, sir, I haven't been in touch with my Teachers at our KITS college,during the past year when i graduated. i take the whole blame on myself for not doing so. Each and every thing I learnt and experienced during my B.Tech, I shall cherish all my life.

At the beginning of this new year, let me make a resolution that I shall not just keep my memories of the beautiful past and my own experiences with the world as I see it to myself....
I shall share them with my Teachers and fellow-students of my college.

Kindly convey my Warmest Wishes to all my Teachers.
(Please forgive, although I would like to personally meet everyone, the time doesn't permit so).


Thank You and Regards,
Siddartha P.
(Roll No 99301, BTech Mech Engg 1999-2003, KITS Wgl).

Lost Letters - II

To: Education@Walden.Org, 09 July, 2004.
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am an ardent admirer of Thoreau and am an avid reader of his influential essays. I cannot tell in words the kind of motivation I derive from studying Thoreau. I have a few collections of Thoreau's essays, including Walden, Civil Disobedience and Life Without Principle.
I seem to have natural ideas similar to what Thoreau seemed to elucidate in his writings. I am to admit that he is the most influential factor in my life.
I would like to do a comprehensive study on life, thoughts, philosophy and literary contributions by Thoreau.
So, I write to you to know of any way of getting this done. I know of the fact that to undestand Thoreau, the best way is to read his own works.
I am reading Thoreau, but I consider that I have only limited access to his profound collection of thoughts.
Kindly advice me, how to begin a comprehensive study of Thoreau as a philosopher rather than a naturalist. My primary interest in Thoreau is of his philosophical musings.

Thanking You In Anticipation,
Pamulaparty Siddartha
Warangal-506002
A.P., India.

Email:Siddhu_pamu@yahoo.com

Lost Letters - I

Dear XXXXXXXX,
Without knowing what's in your mind, I am attempting to communicate to you my feelings, suddenly without having to take into consideration what you might feel.
I must admit that I do not know how to act. I consider myself the biggest fool on earth.
So, I have like others, different states of mind at different points of time. I feel that my status of mind wobbles a lot, more often than what could keep me sane. That is why, I always doubt my sanity.
Don't go into details or jump to conclusions without thinking for yourself.
I know I sound stupid. But I am stupid.
Now, my state of mind is close to being crazy. I have made some terrible mistakes and regret about them. Deeply regret them. So, as Thoreau said: "to deeply regret is to live afresh'. so i am trying to live afresh.
I have many friends but still I am a man of solitude. I love solitude. Of late, for the sake of my love of solitude, I have been hiding too many of my thoughts inside my head, which got into my subconscious.
Now that I am a little retrospective, that subconscious thoughts are troubling me a lot.
So, I thought for a change, I 'll modify my attitude to feel better.
Our system or atleast that system which I know, has taught us to dream but forget. Dream only to that extent in which you have no part to play. Reality is very different, they say.
But many times, there were many sources of inspiration which told that you have to follow your dreams and that is the way to fulfill your destiny. It is, here, apt to refer to "The Alchemist" by Paulo Cohelo, which you ought to read. Yes, it is an important book for everyone to read. In case you can't find the book, I will for the time being give you the sentence which forms the basic theme of the book: "When you desire something, all of the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." This, I find close to what I think is the only law on which the Universe and all its constituents operate, indefinitely.
Also Thoreau said: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live what you have imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the Universe become simpler". I believe in all that Thoreau had said. Is'nt it after all what we want: simplification?
Many people think they know what they are supposed to seek in life. I wonder.
I used to believe, everything will turn up the way it should and gave no importance to the efforts I personally exercised. I am disappointed as many learned people still say that you are not going to change the world.
I also had believed in some point of time in the past that my destiny is predecided and I am just going to blindly play the game.
Most part of my life, almost always, maybe even now, I thought and with a slight doubt believed that I am special. I am not like others. May be every next person feels the same. So eventually, I end up being a normal ordinary usual person.
So, even if I think I am unique, psychologically I end up being the same other person.
I have read many books, and I had many theories going on in my mind. I accepted all that I thought was wise in each of them. You realize or not, every thing and every being is associated with some kind of philosophy or the other.
I, at many times thought, I was about to discover some fundamental, basic fact, which was so obvious as to be neglected. I thought I am just about to find the most intimate secretly kept Truth about the Universe. But I always stopped at some point and never carried the same thought again.
I still, however, think that my core purpose in life is to discover that Truth. Am sure I will discover it. Not only me, you and all others will discover it. The difference among all, however, will be, whether you accept and love it or fear and avoid it.

I will choose to accept it. and that too, in all good humour.

Good bye forever.
Siddartha.

(Written: September 09, 2004, Never Delivered!)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Peace of Mind

A little something I wrote about 6 years back on a little piece of paper, which I stumbled upon searching for something else:

Once upon a time, there was a young boy called Sreekumar. Sreekumar got a doubt one day that the reason for his happiness might be lack of "Peace of Mind". So, he went to the market place and asked the shop-keepers for a little "Peace of Mind". But the shop-keepers sadly said "We are already out of stock and we have no suppliers now!". Not willing to let it go, he went to his teacher and asked for the same. The teacher felt really sorry for the boy and tried to console him. But, even the teacher failed to give him what he wanted.

Then, Sreekumar asked his parents, friends, neighbors, but in vain. He became so restless that he began pestering even the strangers for some Peace of Mind, each one of them said: " I myself, do not have it! How can I give you?"

Sreekumar began to travel to far-away places, impatiently, in search of it. He went to strange cities, fiery forests, dangerous landscapes, crossed many miles, swaw many seas, climbed many mountains: yet no fruitful results.

One day, in a village, he met a fine young woman and was attracted to her. He asked her if she knew where he could find the Peace of Mind. The young lady teasingly said she knew it, but wouldn't tell him. He began begging her and arguing with her. Finally she said, Peace of Mind is not a thing to "ask for", but to "Give to others", annoyed with him. She also said asked him to leave her alone, and go meditate in solitude, perhaps in contemplation he may stumble upon it.

Taking the advice, he went on to river-side, and sat beneath a tree, still anxious of the thing he was in search for. He felt tired and began feeling sleepy. He slowly fell asleep. In his dreams, he heard the voice of the young lady again: "You are losing all that you have gained so far, by worrying about lacking peace of mind. Stay calm, and feel the freedom, be happy, do not worry, then you will realize that there is eternal peace in your own head." Sreekumar then realized that he was the only one who could answer his own quest. He never asked about peace of mind again after that day.

He said to himself often:
"It is not the actual "Suffering" which is the cause of unhappiness; it is the "willingness to suffer" that causes unhappiness. The laws of nature and the Universe are so simple and straight: they say "you want it, you got it!".
"Anything that CAUSES FEAR is not worth CARING for; Anything that DEMANDS CARE is not worth LOVING; Anything that EXPECTS LOVE, is not worth LIVING for.
"One who realizes this and lives accordingly is the Ideal Happy Man. Ideal does not mean that never is possible, it only means that Rarely is seen."

For a person to attain PEACE OF MIND, the only possible way is to DECIDE TO BE HAPPY . That essentially means, STOP WILLING TO SUFFER.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wisdom of Thoreau again....

I read an essay "Slavery in Massachusetts", which was in fact an address Thoreau delivered at the Anti-Slavery Convention at Framingham, MA, on July 4, 1854. It was also printed in the LIBERATOR for July 21, 1854.

This is another example of the great man Thoreau, who during the times human slaves in America was not against the law, yet, had advocated on the true spirit of humankind on liberty and freedom.

Here a few wise quotes and remarks from this address I wanted to record here in my blog, most of which are still very relevant today, here in America, so also in India and wherever there is injustice in one form or the other towards any individual :

1. Nowadays, men wear a fool's-cap, and call it a liberty-cap.

2. I wish my countrymen to consider, that whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can ever commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual without having to pay the penalty for it. A government which deliberately enacts injustice, and persists in it, will at length even become the laughing-stock of the world.

3. I would much rather trust to the sentiment of the people. In their vote you would get something of value, at least, however small; but in the other case*, only the trammeled judgement of an individual, of no significance, be it which way it might.

[* This is in the context of a case where a Judge (I guess jury system was not formed by that time, which needs to be cross-checked), on deciding a charge on an individual case on Slavery].

4. The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free. They are the lovers of law and order who observe the law when the government breaks it.

5. I am more and more convinced that, with reference to any public question, it is more important to know what the country* thinks of it than what the city thinks. The city does not think much.

[Country, here, as in villages. This is yet another example, how Thoreau influenced Gandhi, to quote the Gram Swarajya. In that way, Thoreau had influenced to my own country, India, to be free today to some extent.]

6. Let us, the inhabitants of the country, cultivate self-respect. Let us not send to the city for aught more essential than our broadcloths and groceries; or, if we read the opinions of the city, let us entertain opinions of our own.

7. The editor is a preacher whom you voluntarily support. *
[* This comes in the context when Thoreau criticizes the large-scale print media, almost every criticism holds very good to the present day media].

8. No matter how valuable law may be to protect your property, even to keep soul and body together, if it do not keep you and humanity together.

9. Will mankind never learn that policy is not morality; - that it never secures any moral right, but considers merely what is expedient?

10. What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity, - who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority.

11. The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls, - the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber to the street every morning.

12. Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant. The judge still sits grinding at his organ, but it yields no music, and we hear only the sound of the handle. He believes that all the music resides in the handle, and the crowd toss him their coppers the same as before.

13. Art is as long as ever, but life is more interrupted and less available for a man's proper pursuits.

With the last quote on Art vs Life, I end this post here.