Saturday, March 22, 2014

12 Monkeys




A dark, almost depressing movie. 

But Brad and Bruce (and Bruce's twice-flashed behind) kept making me want to see what happens next. 

Top notch acting by Bruce Willis. One is intially attracted to Brad Pitt's potrayal of a lunatic, of a "mentally divergent" person, but later start to notice Bruce's genius through his subtlely, which gradually turns into almost psychotic, deranged behavior. The scenes in which Bruce Willis expresses his excitement and amazement at the radio, the sunlight, the water, the wind, makes us realize how much we take things for granted when they are conveniently and abundantly available to us, and how we begin to understand their true value only when we lose them or when we don't have them. I've always been a nature lover, but this movie has surely brought in new perspective and admiration for the nature around me. Thanks to the buddy who recommended this gem!






Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Demon called "Process"



Look familiar? Read on!

Processes are meant to save time and effort, not burden the team/individual. Unfortunately, a large number of people in the IT industry are lead to disbelieve this fact and no one ever bothers to dispel their myth.

The main reason why team members shy away from processes is because they do not have clear awareness of the benefits; that the processes are imposed on them without explaining to them how they can empower them when approached with the right attitude and when used correctly. A number of times teams do not realize it is their responsibility to follow a process and due to their lack of knowledge they may end up developing a lack of desire to participate.

Many times the team leader is also responsible for this continued lack of awareness/lack of interest. Processes are expected to be followed like laws without allowing anyone the time or opportunity to question. Only if this curiousity was welcomed (or if the desire to escape was constructively addressed) and teams were given the chance to be heard and a few minutes spent on explaining, I'm sure a lot of teams would be willing to oblige.

Of course, there are several ramblings prevelant which are enforced under the garb of "process." For both teams and leaders, it is their responsibility as well as right to question, introspect, and offer options and alternatives, if they really seem to be a burden than a boon. If they can spare themselves time for a smoke, humor, or grumbling about how much they hate their process, definitely they would have the time and energy to expend on some sincere introspection.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Shani Amavasya & Shanidev: An Astro Standpoint



Shani Amavasya --> Shani = Lord Saturn/Planet Saturn; Amavasya = New Moon day. Understandably, from even a mathematical perspective, Shani Amavasya is not that common since not every new moon day falls on a Saturday, so even in that sense, the day gains some kind of importance. Usually, Shani Amavasya occurs two or three times in a year.

This day is significant for several reasons. Firstly, the importance of Shaneshchari Amavasya lies in the fact that out of the rays of the Sun God "Surya," the main rays are called 'Ama'. It is from the main rays of Sun God called 'Ama' that the Sun God gives brightness to the three worlds. In this 'Ama' day, especially, God Moon stays. Therefore, it is called Shani Amavasya. This Amavasya is known to give good fruits to all religions. In 'Shradhya Karma', this carries a lot of importance. [See http://www.shanidev.com/Shani-amavasya.html]

It is interesting to note that several communities (including many sects of Hinduism) consider Amavasya as an inauspicious day, and given the perennial fear towards Shani (punisher/the cruel one/the ugly one), a Shani Amavasya is assumed to be even more inauspicious. On the contrary, Vedic astrology considers Shani Amavasya to be a very auspicious day in that:

- Amavasya or New Moon day is the first day of the Lunar Waning phase, or on a subtle level, the last day before the night is completely dark and one will start to see light (in the form of the visible moon in the sky). Some beliefs also say that a person born on an Amavasya is a reincarnation - born to finish off some unfinished business, to complete unfullied wishes from the past life (no reason for calling this inauspicious)! Thus this day ought to be considered auspicious.

- Shani means Lord Saturn in astrology.
 *Considered by many, many people around the world to bring bad fortune, feared by countless because of what it does in a person's horoscope, not liked by most because of its ugly appearance, dark complexion (Shani is the son of Surya - the Sun God and Chhaya - shadow), the fact that Shani is said to walk with a limp, and lastly, the dreaded "Sade Sati," "7.5 year cycle of Saturn" attributed to him. It is important to understand clearly what Shani truly signifies before jumping to such atrocious (and for me, heart breaking conclusions) about this wonderful God.

*First things first: The planet Saturn. Look at it. It is so beautiful! No other planet has seventeen rings around it. How can then Shani be ugly?

*Shani in Astrology signifies hard work, discipline, righteousness, patience, and slow pace.

*Shani is called the "judge;" the dispenser of justice. (Given that we are living in Kali Yug and injustice, hate, and all kinds of negativity is rampant, why one would fear justice, is beyond understanding - unless of course you're a bad, bad person.)

*Every thousand years, we are said to be living in some "age," the age being denoted by an astrological sign, its ruling planet, and its generic qualities. Currently we are living in the age of Aquarious or the Kumbha sign, therefore this is the age of communication, advancements in science and technology (think Moon/Mars colonies, artificial intelligence et al), intellect, spirituality, and individualism. And because Aquarius is ruled by Shani (Uranus per modern astrology), the influence of Shani is dominant. So there's no escape any way.

*Shani itself is one of the slowest moving of all planets - it takes 30 years to complete moving through all 12 signs in the horoscope [Astronomy: Think Saturn taking 30 years to revolve around the Sun]. Therefore, whatever it does, reward or reprimand, will be slow (and hence steady, and lasting). Heard of the story of 
the hare and the tortoise? We all know who won!

*A horoscope will always show all planets in it, so practically speaking, there is nothing like "being under the influence of Saturn." Whether we like it is not, we are all under the influence of Saturn to a smaller or greater throughout our lives. (Shani says, "You can run, you can hide but you can't escape my love/wrath!")

*The position of Shani in the horoscope, its degree in that position, whether it is Margi [Direct] or Vakri [Retrograde], aspect of other planets on it, its position in the person's Navamsa, combination/opposition/trine of Shani with the other planets, and finally the "Dasha" or period - all play a role in deciding how Shani will influence the person's life. It is also interesting to note that Dashas can be broken down into sub dashas, sub-sub dashas, and so on until one reaches the duration of one breath. Like it or not, Shani will influence us at least a thousand times every day - and we can't stop breathing, can we?! (Pranayama anyone!)

*Once every 30 years, all people go through what is called Sade Sati in their lives, and Sade Sati happens roughly two or three times in one life span averaging 75 years. (Sade Sati: http://anamikas.hubpages.com/hub/Saturn-in-Horoscope-Remedies-Shani-Mantras) Sade Sati simply means that Shani, or Saturn, is paying close attention to the individual's day to day actions and reactions. On the other hand, some people have Shani more dominant in their horoscope. 

*To put in laymans' terms, when the influence of Shani in a person's life intensifies in whichever way, all that happens is this: If you are a good kid and you study/do your duties sincerely, serve your elders, be kind to the less fortunate, are honest, truthful, and righteous, and not think negative, evil thoughts, Shani will reward you with happiness and success. But if you are a bad kid, exploit the inncoent, laugh at anothers' misfortune, make someone suffer for no fault of theirs, lie, steal, kill, Shani will make you pay for it. So he's a nice guy, really. The degree of justice served (the word punishment is just too negative) depends on the degrees of ill committed. (See http://www.shanidev.com/god-Shani-as-Judge.html)

*Shani is said to ride a crow (just like Ganpati rides a mouse). No one likes the crow. It is black and ugly, feasts on dead flesh and garbage. The way I like to look at this, it looks like Shani is trying to tell that each one born in this world has a purpose and so deserves compassion and importance. And we all studied about dignity of labor in school, and left it there. Time for some revision I guess.

*Again, from another astrological standpoint, Shani is said to be the only planet in the horoscope who gives the individual, fruits based on actions of his current life. No messing around with past life. Some other planets like Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury, tend to dispense fruits based on the individual's past life actions. This is a tough concept to digest for those who are not familiar with or who don't agree with the idea of the soul travelling through diferent bodies/different births/incarnations, but try to just assume this as a fact for a moment, and "why people sometimes suffer for no fault of theirs," "why some seemlingly undeserving people get all the good things in life" shall start to make complete sense.

Now combine the importance of the Amavasya with that of Shani, and this brings light to the fact that Shani Amavasya is an auspicious event.

Some nice to know stuff:
- This is a very good day to start special prayers for those under the good or not-so-good influence of Sade Sati or just for those who have a slightly dominant Shani in their horoscope. Difficulties are known to reduce through increased patience, ability to work harder, and a disciplined focus.

- This day is great to pacify Pitra dosh by remembering ancestors and performing rituals in their memory according to whatever customs one follows (remember the crow and it being the scavenger?).

- An excellent day to perform rituals for Kaal Sarp Dosh for those who believe.

- For those who are still conscious of Shani's bad effects, they have a way out too. Praying to Lord Hanuman provides similar effects as praying to Shani. Mythology statues that this is because Lord Hanuman said to bless his devotees with protection from Shani's so-called "evil eye."

- Astrology again: From 15th May 2012 to 2nd Nov 2014, Shani resides in the sign Libra; the sign in which Shani is said to be exhalted, or have the most positive power. Symbolically, Libra is represented by the scales of justice. Among many other reasons, this is a big reason why (India in particular) so many scams, crimes, are being exposed, people are being subjected to capital punishment, and so many political and social unheavals are going on with extreme intensity. (Mars has been playing a critical role too but then we'll digress.)

Hope this dispels some myths, and there is a fresh outlook on Shani, and everything associated with Shani. The bottom line is that, Shani equates to the ultimate good. Whatever happened, happened for good, whatever is happening, is happening for good, whatever will happen, will happen for good...




Note: I'm an ameteur and not an authority on Astrology, and some times rely heavily on my inner power (Ajna chakra, anyone?). This article looks its title and at astrology from a more subtle and derivative perspective. The views are based purely on this amateur level of study and experiences and observations of self and others. so any conflicting opinions should be taken with a grain of salt and considered for intellectual conversations only.