Tag Archives: Service

18 Steps to Emancipation! | Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

20 Jan

18 Steps to Emancipation! ~ Swamy’s first SabarimalA yAtrA experience (Jan 2017)

Step 1 ~ End or Beginning!

The seemingly never ending march – one delicate step at a time – on the concrete pavement, came to an abrupt end in front of the 18 steep steps, adorned in glowing Gold. Looking at the fellow yAtris, Swamy also broke the coconut on his hand by throwing it against the black granite wall, beside the steps. The wiry thin sexagenarian veteran who was beside him signaled that it’s time to climb the steps. As Swamy bowed before and touched the first step with reverence, the body shook involuntarily and joy drops (aka tears of joy) started flowing. The journey to SabarimalA – Swamy’s first in his 46 years of existence in this lifetime – was about to conclude, with a few more steps, which still appeared incredulous. It’s over. Done. With the same surgically repaired knee that ascended KailAsh, Velliangiri (KailAsh of the South) and circumambulated the holy hill of ThiruvaNNAmalai. Hard to believe but absolutely certain.

Swamy climbed the 18 steps in a daze and was ushered towards the Lord, who as AbhishEgapriyan (one who loves being bathed or showered with various sacred offerings, such as Ghee, rose water, sandal, viboothi, flowers, etc), was showering his Grace nonstop during the Mandalam (40-42 days) period, on the millions of devotees from all over the world, who throng his hill shrine, after adhering to a strict vratham (sAdhanA that’s unique for the Lord) and climbing a long winding, strenuous forest route, up and down 4 different hills, to get a glimpse of the Lord for a few fleeting moments. Year after year.

As Swamy stood in front of Lord Dharma SAsthA (aka AyyappA / MaNikaNdA), there was no sense of elation. Nor was there any sense of accomplishment. The mind simply went blank and it was as if he stood in an empty void, facing the magnificent one, sitting in the unique HarivarAsanam (apparently one of the toughest AsanAs in Hatha Yoga), showing the Abhaya hasthA (one of the blessing mudrAs known as Chin MudrA) on his right arm and pointing to his lotus feet with his left (indicating surrender of the individual self / personality / identity / ego). No prayers came forth. No chants either. And in that fleeting moment, before being pushed by the police personnel (whose incredible effort ensures every single yAtri gets the darshan of the Lord without fail), Swamy noticed something different.


The Lord of the SabarimalA (literally, hill of Sabari), who is always seen as a child / teenager in pretty much all the pictures, appeared to Swamy as an elder, that too with a beard! Thinking that it must be an illusion caused by the fatigue induced by the strenuous climb up the hills, Swamy tightly closed and opened his eyes and looked at the Lord again. No, it wasn’t an illusion. He indeed had a beard. At least that’s how he was offering darshan to Swamy in that moment. He would eventually know about that form a few hours later.


With his sexagenarian partner showing the way with ease, Swamy simply went through the motion of circumambulating the few smaller shrines near or around the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Hariharasudhan (son of Hari aka MahAVishNu and HarA aka Lord ShivA) and descended to the resting place known as Viri. Upon seeing his yAtrA Guru there (another veteran of several decades, who was the leader of a smaller group of 7 or 8 yAtris that Swamy trekked with, which was one of the 5 or 6 groups that made the yAtrA together), he bowed & touched his feet, hugged him and cried uncontrollably. Collecting himself within a few moments, he sat on the wooden platform there and the mind that has just come out of the void, started w(p)ondering if this was the “End or Beginning!


to be climbed till the 18th


~Swamy (@PrakashSwamy)

18 Steps to Emancipation! is a blog series on Swamy’s first yAtrA to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Dharma SAsthA at SabarimalA in 2017, as a Kanni SwAmy (first timer or rookie) of the ABASS Kolkatta, a traditional yAtrA group of SabarimalA veterans, who perform the annual yAtrA via the longer (& needless to say, harder) route known as Peruvazhi or Periya PAdhai. 

You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyRay / SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including the 180 & counting #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles. You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

Be joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

Serve-ice!

12 Sep

Been forced to do some infrastructure (plumbing + associated civil) work in a residential property, due to the the quality (or the lack of) materials used by the builder a long time ago. One by one, the same activity is being taken up in each of the 400+ apartments in the residential community. Such activities are painful in two ways – cost & time. While the inevitable expense is obviously unplanned, the time taken – at least a week or two – throws day-to-day living, especially for those who live in these apartments, into a tizzy (in 2 bedroom houses, 1 of them would be rendered useless, for example).

While the core activity of breaking the walls, removing the old GI pipes (which are corroded & blocked with calcium deposited from salty ground water), replacing them with PVC pipes, plastering the broken walls & fixing tiles, and replacing any other devices / appliances that are broken or about to break / fail (like taps, commodes, etc), is being done by the maintenance crew in the community itself, we consciously chose to use our own service providers for a few associated fixes. The difference between the two is significant.

The former – service provider within the residential community – offers the service as a package (not based on tasks or time but as a fixed price deal – Rs.xxxxx per bathroom & so on). Property owners don’t have much of a choice, including the replacement tiles fixed by them, which could be quite jarring – especially if you’ve spent a substantial time, effort & amount in hand-picking tiles / designs when the property was constructed. This is no different from a multitude of service providers, whose focus is to sell what they have – products, services, etc – that may meet the imminent needs but not necessarily offer what the customer really wants. These are akin to use-and-throw items that we typically use at the time of an imminent need but may not recall or recommend when a similar or different need arises in future.

The latter are the people with specific skills (carpentry, painting, civil or electrical work, et al) who offer their skills for any kind of need and just charge for the quantum of specialised service offered. These are artisans (not run-of-the-mill fixers) who you seek out time and again and usually offer their service for a generation or two in several families. These are people we trust, consult, discuss ideas with, accept recommendations & let them go about their work knowing fully well they know better about what needs to be done and how. These are the specialists one doesn’t hesitate to recommend to others as well.

One must bargain hard with the former as they’re happy to fleece you, because you’re just one of their many customers. And keep an eye on the progress (& damages, which are collateral). These are providers who serve-ice customers.

Once must pay a bit more than demanded for the latter as they’re keen to satisfy you, because you’re just their only customer, when they work for you. You also save time as there’s no need to oversee what they do. These are solution providers who truly serve customers!

¬@PrakashSwamy

Value of Values!

8 Sep

​Value of Values! ~ Swamystery Nano Blog #3

One of the most abused words in the long, never-ending corridors of corporate concrete (& steel & glass) jungles is Value.☝️

Every Ram, Durga & Hari (howzatt for the BAUHumbug Tom, Dick & Harry, eh 😁) will use it as 3rd bullet of every slide or 4th sentence of every conversation, especially in meetings where the corner cozy room suit types are sitting around, pretending to listen seriously when they’re actually forced to contain a parade of yawns. 😩

If you’re genuinely interested in creating (& offering) true value to your customers, the most important thing to do is not to dig around in the ruins of Mohanjo Daro to find something resembling it but to put yourself in the customers’ Skechers GoWalk 3 & contemplate what would be truly valuable for you (ahem.. them), if you choose to buy a product or avail a service from them (umm.. you). 

The outcome of such contemplation can make you (& the suit types) very uncomfortable, because what you thought of as great value may just be brushed away as a mere exotic (read ‘useless’) feature or unwanted attribute by the customer. Adding to your woes, what they truly value as true value, may require a complete redesign (& build & test) of your product or service, if at all it has to be of any value. Yikes, so much for creating Value! 

Well, before you throw that value-filled (but obviously not so valuable) deck away and storm out of the conference room (to the coffee shop, where else – it’s still work hours, after all),  there’s a unique (& often ignored) thing found deep within the jargon jungle, which can help you like a ‘Udukkai izhandhavan kaipOla’* (like your hands, when your pants slip 😕). It’s called Values.👌

If your Values (i.e. your business entity’s / service organisation’s) are right (driven by purpose), unwavering (what you commit to is what you do, no matter what) & intact (remain the same despite any & all pressure to change it to favour someone), then you’ll always be delivering only Value to the customer, because there’s no other agenda – hidden or otherwise. Simple as that.

If not, your colorful PowerPoint (or Keynote or GSlides) deck will lie among the Harappan ruins, i.e. bullshit stockpile of millions of such decks, docs & sheets, which were once thought to be valuable (only by their creator, obviously) but were exposed to be nothing but the Emperor’s new clothes! 

~Swamy

* Thirukkural 788

உடுக்கை இழந்தவன் கைபோல ஆங்கே 

இடுக்கண் களைவதாம் நட்பு. 

True friendship is removing the distress (of a friend) swiftly like a hand that rushes to hold the pants (clothing) when it slips (falls off). 

The Sheep, Sheepdog & Shepherd!

13 Aug

Sheep5Sheep are cute beings, with fluffy coat, marble eyes and a near monosyllable bleat. Mammals that are born, grown, fed, led, reared and sheared in a farm by another 2-legged mammal, which not only raises them to make a living but also eventually kills and consumes them.

Happy to be with their herd during their entire short lifespan of 10-12 years and content with what nature offers them – grass to graze, for example – and offer far more in return, namely milk, wool, manure and meat. Despite spending most of their lifetime in the open, roaming freely to graze, they appear to be completely ignorant of something their herders crave, fight and willing to die for – freedom.

Sheep1Sheepdogs are the guardians of sheep that keep the flock together. Alone in the herd, with the unenviable job of herding and protecting the flock, daily, in varying weather, they live their entire lifespan – only slightly longer than the sheep they herd, about 12-14 years – in the same farm as sheep, but fully aware that they are different.

Extremely loyal to their master, they are devoted to their assigned responsibility, despite the known fact that their master may never reciprocate their absolute loyalty and unconditional love, the same way they do.

Sheep8Shepherds are the masters – at least to the sheep and sheepdog. Though they may’ve their own masters – farm owners, businessmen who make and sell cheese, wool and meat for profit, et al – as far as the sheep and sheepdog are concerned, they’re the lords of the lawns.

One of a kind human beings who spend most of their nomadic lifetime in solitude in vast open spaces offered for free by Mother Nature, monotonously watching over a herd for most part of their waking time.

Sheep12At least one shepherd is renowned for expanding his herd to include the human kind, eventually spawning a new religion over two millennia ago, with millions of followers spread worldwide till date. Another, much younger, shepherd was immortalized in a magical fable by a goatee (no pun intended) toting author whose book continues to inspire millions.

Sri_Krishnas_CowIn Bharat, of course, we do have a cowherd who is revered, celebrated and worshiped as a God, whose Life is filled with miracles, mirth, mischief, myth, mellifluous music and mystic love. His treatise, given in the middle of a battleground, at the start of the mother of all wars, to his warrior friend and disciple – aptly named ‘Song of the Divine’ – is still considered and reverently followed as the definitive gospel of Life.Sheep14

All three – the sheep, sheepdog & shepherd – are always together yet alone all the time.

They are connected forever yet separated by nature, physiology, needs, attitude and lifestyle.

They live together for a lifetime yet are so apart in their thoughts and actions at all times.

Sheep13Imagine a farm with all three for a moment. An idyllic landscape painted in vivid shades of green, blue and brown, bathed in warm rays from the sun and dotted with sheep in white, brown and black.

The sheep are grazing or lazing and occasionally bleating. The sheepdog is focused and attentive, totally alert yet absolutely silent. The shepherd is resting under the cool shade of a huge tree standing tall and firm on that grassy knoll that has observed many generations of sheep, sheepdogs and shepherds, silently.

Sheep18Any and all of the sheep’s actions are essential but limited, and always monitored. They’re free to do what they can within the clearly defined limits. They’re constantly aware of the danger of straying away from the herd and are comforted by the fact that they’re safe with their herd, safeguarded by the ever watchful sheepdog and of course, the shepherd. And they obviously don’t seem to have any qualms about doing repetitive things, along with fellow sheep in the flock, day in and day out, on and on, until the end of their lifespan – naturally or by necessity.

Sheep17The sheepdog does what’s necessary and can be pretty meticulous and ruthless about it. It’s obviously the master of the sheep, answerable only to its master, the shepherd. Whether it is kind towards the sheep it protects or scorns at their herd mindset is a secret known only to itself. Despite being a completely different being, different from both the sheep and shepherd, it is absolutely committed to its assigned task and unquestionably loyal to its master. Though it’s free and fully capable of running away from the repetitive boredom of herding anytime, it willingly suppresses its natural instinct and spends the lifetime in service and servitude.

Sheep9The shepherd, as the only being in the flock with ability to think, imagine, observe, analyze, contemplate, comprehend, deduce and express, has infinite possibilities in Life like any of his kind, but chooses to spend a long lifetime in doing something so limited and repetitive, yet with a specific purpose. Most of his nomadic Life is spent with beings of a different kind that are thought to have at least one sense less than his own kind. And he too doesn’t seem to be bothered too much about a monochromatic Life, amidst the most colorful landscape, filled with curious beings doing their own things.

Sheep10Do the sheep, sheepdog, shepherd and farm appear and sound familiar?

Is a home or workplace so different from a farm?

Is a family or team so different from a herd of sheep?

Is a sibling or supervisor so different from a sheepdog?

Is a family elder or leader so different from a shepherd?

Is our Life – the way we know and live it – any different from that of the sheep, sheepdog or shepherd?

Sheep19Are you happy and content with being one of the three, living your Life alone among the herd, confined within set limitations, doing repetitive things throughout the Life and herded by others who decide what and how you will do?

Have you ever pondered about how such a monochromatic Life’s limitations can easily be overcome but is probably never done during this lifetime, due to reasons known only to you?

Has that additional sense endowed to you – the only known species on this planet – been ever tapped to wonder if it is time to at least start comprehending about Life beyond the repetitive, defined, monochromatic and known?

Sheep21So, what are you, dear reader – the sheep, sheepdog or shepherd?

Or, are you someone willing to step beyond the known into the realm of the unknown, to know and live Life, the way it is!

.

Love + Gratitude > @PrakashSwamy
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
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