Friday, April 24, 2015

An Introduction to the Forms

Plato's Theory of Forms is rightly considered one of the great philosophical theories of all time. Within a single theory, Plato managed to answer, or at least consider, diverse questions in ontology, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. The idea of the Forms are referenced or alluded to in much of Plato's initial work but eventually becomes the centerpiece of his philosophy from the Republic onwards. Though there are numerous articles online that explain the Forms, I could not find anything that was simple enough to be understood without knowing philosophical jargon. In this article, I will try to touch upon the broad highlights of this theory without resorting to any complicated jargon. Irrespective of its applicability to modern life, the Theory of Forms represents a fascinating step forward for human thought and deserves to be known and appreciated by all.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reflections on a relationship

The shelf above my dressing table is home to a picture of Lord Balaji from a 2012 calendar, a small plastic Krishna, a miniature bronze Lakshmi and a framed portrait of my father. Each morning after a shower, I would stop in front of this shrine and close my eyes for a few moments. Some years back, I would mentally voice my hopes for the day - 'do well in the upcoming exam', 'help me kick this cough', or 'let that girl like me a little!'. Nowadays, I hardly have the time to call out His name a few times. This morning, as I was beginning this 10 second tryst with my faith, I noticed a smudge on my father's picture. I picked it up, wiped away the dirt and found myself gazing at the man. Ever since I can remember, people have told me that I look like him. I rarely agreed then. And yet, each year as my face hardens into age, I see more of my father in the mirror. I know that in twenty years, I will be just like the image in this frame. Hopefully, a bit thinner.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Monsoon

When the monsoon rains hit Kerala on the western shore of the country with a rambunctious outburst, the whole country - rulers and the ruled - heaves a sigh of collective relief. With over a billion mouths to feed, the monsoons are no joking matter. During my years in Kolkata, I have witnessed, first-hand, the immeasurable force of these rains. Hours and hours of relentless downpour, interspersed with periods of quiet in which the Earth itself seems to come alive in new life. I have loved the monsoon for its visual beauty and hated it for exposing India's crumbling infrastructures. A decade later, I sit now amidst swirling polar winds, as far away, geographically and culturally possible from the monsoons and yet I find myself anticipating them with a glassy taste at the pit of my throat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The question of religion in India

This past week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered possibly his greatest speech since assuming office. Surprisingly, he was not sharing the dais with President Obama or the Wolverine; he was not even speaking to a audience of business tycoons or crazed NRIs. This speech featured at an event to mark the elevation to sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia of Kerala. In it, the Prime Minister outlined his government's iron-clad commitment to the fundamental right of religious freedom, calling upon diverse inspirations for secularism ranging from the Rig Veda to Swami Vivekananda. As PM Modi's speeches go, this one was pretty mundane - it did not announce any massive projects, breakthrough deals or revolutionary ideas, however in my opinion, this speech marks an important milestone for his government - he has finally broken his silence on the growing winds of religious intolerance that are swirling around India.