Happy Birthday Vishnu – Threshold of Jordan Year

For the uninitiated, Jordan year is the year of being 23 years old (especially in the USA). Basket Superhero Michael Jordan wore number 23 for the Chicago Bulls and hence the reference.

It helps to do what I just did (to start with some Tidbit like the paragraph above) when one is lost for word to begin writing and looking for that creative juices to flow to start the opening lines about someone about whom anyone has so much to write.

It may be passe to keep repeating that time just flew away, but it remains a fact. When we held him for the first time on a chilly January morning in Bengaluru, India, 23 winters ago – we were excited no doubt, but never knew he would turn out to be such an amazing young man, a hero, fending for himself, all alone, far away, across Seven seas, one who keeps us excited every moment (on tenterhooks and on our feet sometimes). Whole lot of things is now ticked off his “Life’s To-do” bucket list. While on this amazing journey, he has made us all very proud presenting us with pleasant surprises galore (sometimes shockingly pleasant, like his scores in 10th or 12th Grade), today you have arrived at the threshold of an important phase of your life (not the kind that Amma keeps telling during your examination of every grade in School). And yes while you hit that milestone and as has become the norm – another pleasant surprise awaited us. Thank you Vishnu, you made us all very proud and soared to cloud nine with this one.

Congratulations on adding yet another feather in your cap and another stripe on the shoulders of every member of the family and a reason for celebration. Contrary to what you keep saying, it is not just another day in the University. This is no mean achievement. It was indeed such a Cloud-Nice moment was when Di spotted this on the University Portal

The Eureka Moment when Di Spotted this on University Website
Proud (is an understatement) to see you here on the 55-foot display in the CSU Hearth Lounge created for Boasting Exceptional StudentTalent.

Lest the significance not be lost on all of us (including you), I am reproducing the background of what this achievement means (in the University’s words)
Centennial Student Union crafted the means for Boasting Exceptional Student Talent among those evolving leaders. Each semester since then, the BEST Board display in the CSU Hearth Lounge spotlights eight students selected for campus student leadership and CSU student staff excellence.
The faces and words of these BEST students exemplify both active and quiet leadership that enhances campus life at Minnesota State Mankato.
This site is dedicated to the continuing BEST Board tradition. It recognizes those students who, each semester, graced the BEST Board and welcomed visitors to the CSU. Each became the face of leadership and the example of personal reward that comes from accepting the challenge.
As the tradition continues so does exemplary leadership for other students to emulate”

It is not that everyday, anyone gets to be there. You have made us all very Proud and your Jordan Birthday become even more special for us

As you head towards the home run in this phase of your Education – as always a heartfelt wishes to you and a sincere prayer to the Divine to bless you in abundance ensuring success in your chosen path.

While most would end up dishing out unwarranted advises when you turn 23, I envy the maturity you show at every step and any advice is misplaced one. You know what is to be done better than most of us and I only repeat what I said when you turned 21
“It is reassuring that you are also past advises that we can give. You grew up, learnt many lessons the hard way and any advice to you would be almost redundant. It is a happy feeling for any parent or elder sisters, to get wise counsel from the apple of their eyes who grew right from baby in cradle to a handsome 23 year old, gym going, sports loving lad”

No advice to the one who has a great head on his shoulder and stands shoulder to shoulder with his Dad.
Happy Birthday Dude!

Happy Birthday Vishnu (Ashrit), Young Handsome Man, We have tremendous faith in your abilities and you will make it big. May the year ahead bring you great news, oodles of opportunities, meaningful friendships, and a great network to help you achieve big things in life. We pray you continue to be the Gentle, every Helpful and Great Human Being. Keep exploring, stay curious, and enjoy the journey ahead.

Let me tell you, it is not easy to bid goodbye when you go back after every holiday. I am sure it is equally bad for you too. Notwithstanding technological advances that helps us be in touch unlike our days, nothing like having you around in flesh and blood. It is a huge consolation having that shoulder around us

Tough moment after previous Holiday. Miss you Dear One
Happy Birthday Mama – I am missing you

Open Door to Heaven – Vaikunta Ekadashi

मङ्गलम् भगवान विष्णुः, मङ्गलम् गरुणध्वजः।
मङ्गलम् पुण्डरी काक्षः, मङ्गलाय तनो हरिः

Vaikunta Ekadashi, Shri Guru Raghavendra Matha, Hulumavu, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru

Every Ekadashi that appears twice every month is significant but the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the Waxing Phase of the Moon (Shukla Paksha) in the Margashira (December-January) which is observed as Vaikunta Ekadashi (Vaikunta is the abode of Bhagawan Vishnu) is considered a special one. It is believed that the portals of Vaikunta is left open for sincere devotees of Bhagawan Vishnu.

Significance of the word Vaikunta is relevant here. Kunta means “Inability or Incapability” Vikunta means something that can never slip in the course of life, which means liberated. Thus Vaikunta is where all incapabilities are overcome.

Vaikunta Dwara Open
Hare Shrinivasa – Shri Venkateshwara in Guru Raghavendra Matha, Hulimavu

It is on this day that the Amrita or the Divine Nectar that grants immortality to the consumer emerged after Ksheera Sagara Manthana (Churning of the Ocean of Milk) on this day. Devotees who leave their bodies on this day thus directly get liberated from the cycles of life and death and attain Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Vishnu and attain Moksha. It is also observed as Bheeshma Ekadashi in some parts of India since it is on this day that Bheeshma Pitamaha revealed the Vishnu Sahasranama (You can listen to the rendition of MS Subbulakshmi Amma here. Personally it is one the the best renditions by any human being) to the Pandavas while dying on the bed of arrows awaiting his passage which he attains on this day. (Though there are conflicting versions on when it happened). Bheeshma revealed it in the presence of Bhagawan Krishna, who is an Avatar of Vishnu.

Some other legends associated with this Auspicious day

An asura (Demon), Murasura, who had a boon from Brahma was terrorising the Devas and Humankind assuming his invincibility. Devas then approached Vishnu, who fought against the asura in a battle, but was unable to defeat him. He retired to cave called Simhavati near Badarikashrama, where he was pursued by Murasura. On a day when Vishnu was sleeping Murasura thought of overpowering Vishnu and kill him and take His position in the Devaloka. Unfortunately for the asura, Vishnu summoned Haimavati (Yogamaya) a goddess created from His divine energy, who appeared and killed Murasura. Pleased with this, Yogamaya was blessed by Vishnu and named Her ‘Ekadashi’, declared that she would be capable of erasing the sins and provide succour to devoted people on earth. This is the legend behind observing all the rituals associated with Ekadashi and Vaikunta Ekadashi is no different insofar as Ekadashi observance goes.

Another legend associated with day – Ambarisha, King of Ayodhya who regularly observed Upavasa or Fasting on Ekadashi and who observes three days of fasting for Vaikunta Ekadashi was about to break his fast, when the Rishi Durvasa appeared at his palace. He received the Rishi with utmost honour, and offered him a anna prasada befitting Rishi’s stature. Rishi told that he will return after his ritual ablutionsand even after a long wait he did not return. Just as the period of observing fasts, it is important also to strictly observe the auspicious moment for breaking one’s fast. As that moment was fast approaching Ambarisha was in a fix. His Upavasa will not bear fruits if he did not break his fast before the day was over. But he did not want to disrespect the Rishi by eating before Rishi Durvasa returned. In Hindu traditions it is considered disrespectful to eat any meal before the Atithi (Guest) – even worse when it is someone far more respected and revered. Ambarisha decides to sip some water which broke the fast and assumed that it won’t be considered disrespectful by Rishi. Rishi Durvasa, famous for his Temper, was enraged when he came to know that Ambarish broke his fast by consuming water and fact that he had not eaten even a morsel of rice did not calm down the furious Rishi. He pulled a tuft of hair from his head, and flung it at the king. Ardent devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu that Ambarisha was, had to flee to save his life. Vishnu then released Sudarshana Chakra to destroy the tuft of hair and went after the Rishi. Durvasa began fleeing and sought protection of Brahma and Shiva, but was refused any respite. Finally, Durvasa sought refuge from Vishnu himself, who says that his protection lay in the hands of Devotees and none else. Rishi Durvasa sought forgiveness from Ambarisha, and was saved on Vaikunta Ekadashi

Rituals to be performed on this day
1) Wake up before Brahmi Muhurta and have a ritualistic bath
2) Visit any temple of Bhagawan Vishnu (or His Avatars)
3) Pass through/beneath the Vaikunta Dwara
4) Chant Hare Krishna Mantras
5) Listen to Vaikunta Ekadashi Katha
6) Observe Fast during the entire day (Check with the Panchanga for the start and end times)
– Milk and fruits (without seeds) can be taken on for Vaikunta Ekadasi fast.
– We need to observe a strict fast and indulge in prayers of Vishnu.
– Chant or recite Vishnu mantra for desired results.
-Rice and other grains like cereals, wheat, vegetables and fruits with seeds are avoided on Vaikunta Ekadashi.
-Participate in yagnas and rituals organized to honor Vishnu.
-Visit temples dedicated to Vishnu.
-Avoid vegetables, such as cauliflower, eggplant, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables.
-Spices, salts should also be avoided.
-Curd or yogurt, buttermilk, coffee and tea are avoided.

7) Break the fast as per the scheduled Parana muhurta (See note below)

Ekadashi Parana should be done after sunrise on the next day of Ekadashi fast. To bear fruits of Ekadashi Upavasa, perform Parana (breaking the fast) within Dwadashi Tithi, ensuring that it is not done during Hari Vasara. Hari Vasara is believed to be the first quarter part of Dwadashi Tithi. Hence it make it ideal to break your fast during Pratahkala (morning) so that the Hari Vasara would have got over. Never break the Vaikunta Ekadasi vrat during Madhyahna (Noon). If for any reason breaking the fast during Pratahkala is not possible, do it after Madhyahna.

Vaikunta Dwara
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, in Chickpet Bengaluru This entry into the inner Praakara for Pradakshine is opened only on VaikuntaEkadashi

Another Vaikunta Dwara
Shri Guru Raghavendra Matha, Hulumavu, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru

Baggage of the Old (past) – Good or Bad?

Some lessons from 34 years in the industry – experiential learnings that I thought would be worth sharing. Not sure who I should credit this pictorial story, but with due credits to the original author I am taking the liberty to share it and Copyright owners can get it touch with me for suitable remedial measures, if required

I have been fortunate to have been working in Development function almost all the time (and even when I had Business/Sales development function, I ensured training and development and R&D was my additional responsibility. For the simple reasons that I would be forced to be abreast of the developments in the Technological world and benefits of working with young minds (fresh with no prejudices or judgements) who invariably drive us to an “out of the box” thinking. No doubt it is challenging when every decision are questioned in a manner unthinkable for old-timers (Not all, but most of them in my experience in about 7 huge multinationals that I worked in)

A Harvard research (I think it was in 2015 or so) in a survey of around 10,000 companies revealed that more than 70% of the organisation considered Older Age a Competitive Disadvantage. This agreed with another research of American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) whose findings that age based discimination (Over 2/3 of samples between 45-75 years Old) is indeed prevalent in the industry.

With an aging demographics, it is indeed a challenge since elderly folks will clearly outnumber the young workforce. Most importantly, there is another school of thought – Older professionals bring their expertise and why to let precious skill that took many years to acquire go waste. On the flipside, that is a job that another youngster rightfully should have been entitled to. Remember King Charles III waiting for 73 years to be crowned the King – Pitfalls of Longeivity.

And in any case, going by my experience, I have seen most of us wanting to continue working much past their retired life. As Stephen Hawking said : “Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Organisations, when hiring an elderly resource, assume that we bring wisdom to the table by virtue of being old and experienced.

The Big Question – Is a business looking for someone Wise or someone Careful?

One obvious drawback is the “idea” Baggage we bring in to the workplace. By and large, all progressive ideas that is seemingly risky (even those considered worth taking) is spiked at source. Younger workforce, raring to go would obviously find it discouraging. Do the elderly workforce bring in Congnitive diversity? In practice, I find it is a myth, though statistics shows a mix of age groups in the workforce. The ideas and perceptions of the elderly will invariably swamp suggestions of youngsters and they get pushed towards implementation. This is a dangerous situation for any enterprise when the world is borderless, and technology is changing every second. We cannot solve the the problems of today’s business with solutions that worked in our prime times.

Ideally the elderly resources should be in self-actualising mode – guiding the young leaders on a path that lets them sprint but don’t trip and just in case they do, just spread the net so that the fall is arrested. Instead what I found is that each one of us attempt to become a part of the same rat-race chasing Fancy Job Titles, Personal Career Growth, Bigger money and Greater Power, frustrating the younger Thinkers and Doers, but also many times, frustrating themselves. The rats who are anyway in the race will never know if the cat is chasing them or part of the race. It is good for us to avoid this confusing situation for the younger ones, who are the future of the enterprise.

Can you Spot the Cat among the rats in this race?

Another serious area of challenge is total resistance to Change. There is almost total unwillingness to adopt modern technologies and adapt to the changing work styles. Less flexible with their preconceived notions about the way things are (or the way it should be), the rigidity more often paralyses the growth of the enterprise.

More often than not, it is a myth that elderly workforce don’t get into workplace politics or show more responsible attitude towards work (as a Harvard Business review piece suggests). The Old Boy club is so well entrenched and have a great affinity to each other. We gang up much easily when our ego is bruised or when our inability to adapt becomes obvious. What we don’t realise is that not only it harms the organisation, but in the end takes us down too.

The Old Boy Club – It still exists and is thriving – though it has no place in the modern world
PC: https://vocal.media/

It is important to realise that agility both physically and mentally is no longer there. It is not those days when we could afford to let some slips happen and recover. Every slip today sets the organization irrecoverably back, considering cut-throat competition, who are waiting to sort us out.

Don’t disturb the applecart is our oft repeated advise. Why do we have to do it that way, is a question that would find a stock answer “We don’t know – that’s how things are done around here” Can there be a more dangerous phrase we can hear in workplace? This thinking is far worse than the possibility of best competition that would clean us out. We will do it the same way since this is how we have always done it this way.

Not naming the organisation, but even in the face of steady decline YoY or even MoM in the numbers (Per capita) the consolation peddled was that the absolute numbers have risen (disregarding the expenditure that has proportionately risen). Until it was too late, the reason why the numbers kept dropping was never realised, because we always did that in the past and it worked, losing sight of the customer who was becoming wiser by the day? Customers don’t live in the past, they live not just in the present, but also look much ahead into the future. If there is no value add, they subtract you from the equation and go to someone else. Unless there is innovation (nothing to do with your past or breaking away from the past) which by nature is resisted by the Old-timers, it is a cinch that competition will sort us out. The worst part is that every organisation would have fantastic young Leaders who are the future – if only there is a small shift in the mindset of the older leaders, if only there is a realisation that these youngsters are the future of the organisation, not us who are just the railings for them to seek support, if at all they need it. Instead of getting into the turf protection essays, nurturing a coterie running personal errands, using them to circle to shield ourselves to make reality beyond the shield invisible, but does a world of good to remember reality exist. Any incompetent shield will sooner or later fizzle out & will sort us out. No one can live on past glories because the world is dynamic – what is good in the morning, may be obsolete, and even a threat, by lunch time. Ideas or business methods have very short shelf life. Let the mindset also be aligned to that shelf life.

Let us respect the Biological norms. We are in the evening of our lives (Flourescent lamp or incadescent lamp times) and let us be catalyst for brigher luminaries (LED luminaires). They are the light of the future and make some allowance for them to trip. Didn’t we trip then? The newer generation are far better informed and careful than what we were (or what we are). Is there a guarantee that our decisions will not boomerang?

I recall this Tweet that was not in this context but applicable here too. It was to drive home a point to someone that number of followers on Social Media is not a privilege but a responsibility

It is our single most important responsibility to be factual, backed by data. Good to remember that this generation give a tinker’s damn to opinions not backed by data. By the way, I say it is our responsibility because someone who trusts our wisdom may quote our opinions as gospel truth and if it was just an opinion pulled out of the hat and not based on data, not only they lose their face among those where our opinion was quoted as fact, we lose our credibility too. Bluffing and getting away assuming that by the time fact check is done it will be forgotten, is a thing of past. Today the truth can be discovered with a click of a button. Therefore, it serves everyone including ourselves well if we stick to Facts, instead of bluffing our way to win some arguments.

If you cannot back it with Data, keep your opinion Packed

To sign off, in these IT and Tech world, dominated by young, enthusiastic and highly capable bunch of qualified professionals, “grey hairs” may be respected but may not be valued. It is the “Grey Cells” that matters. And it helps us to act our age instead of acting a sulking or jilted lover especially in workplace. If we have not adapted or incapable of adapting, bidding a goodbye is the best for everyone around.

“Its not how old you are, its how you are old.” ― Jules Renard

Let us age gracefully, age responsibly instead of just growing old. It is not our chair that should give us a value, but we who should make the chair valuable. How we are to the world, without that Chair is true reflection of one’s worth. Increase that, instead of bank balance or position.