At those critical junctures the question is not…

At those critical junctures, the question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living. Would you trade your ability–or your mother’s–to talk for a few extra months of mute life? The expansion of your visual blind spot in exchange for the small possibility of a fatal brain hemorrhage? Your right hand’s function to stop seizures? How much neurological suffering would you let your child endure before saying that death is preferable? Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient, and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?

―Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Live a good life If there are Gods…

Live a good life. If there are Gods and they are just, then they will not care about how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are Gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no Gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will love on in the memories of your loved ones.

-Marcus Aurelius

How does something immoral when done privately become…

How does something immoral when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi and Maoist urges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.

-Walter E. Williams

Lyrics : Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali

படம் : முத்து (1995)
இசை : A.R. ரஹ்மான்
பாடியவர் : S.P. பாலசுப்ரமணியம்
பாடல்வரிகள் : வைரமுத்து

ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே
ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ
ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹே
ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ ஹோ

ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

பூமியை வெல்ல ஆயுதம் எதற்கு
பூப்பறிக்க கோடரி எதற்கு
பொன்னோ பொருளோ போர்க்களம் எதற்கு
ஆசை துறந்தால் அகிலம் உனக்கு

ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

ஹேய்…. சைய்ய சைய்யார சைய்யார சைய்யா
ஹா ஹே ஹே ஹே ஹேய்
சைய்ய சைய்யார சைய்யார சைய்யா
சைய்ய சைய்யார சைய்யார சைய்யா
சைய்ய சைய்யார சைய்யார சைய்யா
சைய்ய சைய்யார சைய்யார சைய்யா

மண்ணின் மீது மனிதனுக்காசை
மனிதன் மீது மண்ணுக்காசை
மண்ணின் மீது மனிதனுக்காசை
மனிதன் மீது மண்ணுக்காசை

மண் தான் கடைசியில் ஜெயிக்கிறது
இதை மனம் தான் உணர மறுக்கிறது

கையில் கொஞ்சம் காசு இருந்தால்
நீ தான் அதற்கு எஜமானன்
கழுத்து வரைக்கும் காசு இருந்தால்
அது தான் உனக்கு எஜமானன்

வாழ்வின் அர்த்தம் புரிந்துவிடு
வாழ்க்கையை வாரிக் குடித்துவிடு

ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

வானம் உனக்கு பூமியும் உனக்கு
வரப்புகளோடு சண்டைகள் எதற்கு
வானம் உனக்கு பூமியும் உனக்கு
வரப்புகளோடு சண்டைகள் எதற்கு

வாழச் சொல்லுது இயற்கையடா
வாழ்வில் துன்பம் செயற்கையடா

பறவைகள் என்னைப் பார்க்கும் போது
நலமா நலமா என்கிறது
மொட்டுக்கள் மெல்லத் திறக்கும் போது
முத்து முத்து என்கிறதே

இனிமை இனிமேல் போகாது
அட முதுமை எனக்கு வாராது

ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

ஆங்… ஒருவன் ஒருவன் முதலாளி
உலகில் மற்றவன் தொழிலாளி
விதியை நினைப்பவன் ஏமாளி
அதை வென்று முடிப்பவன் அறிவாளி

பூமியை வெல்ல ஆயுதம் எதற்கு
பூப்பறிக்க கோடரி எதற்கு
பொன்னோ பொருளோ போர்க்களம் எதற்கு
ஆசை துறந்தால் அகிலம் உனக்கு

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?

Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” July 5, 1852; Rochester, NY

Use of force for liberation

It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

Ronald Reagan, 40th anniversary of D-day

Yaksha Prashna

Reproduced from

Yaksha Prasna
(Questions of Yaksha)
Translated by

(During the time when the Pandavas were living in the forest, a deer took away the stick used to make fire from the sage’s home in the forest in its antlers. The saint tried to recover it but could not. He then requested the Pandavas (sons of Pandu) to trace the deer by its hoof marks and recover it. The Pandavas followed the hoof marks of the deer throughout the day and reached deep in the forest. Dharma Puthra the eldest of the Pandavas became very tired and wanted to drink some water before carrying on the chase any further. Sahadeva the youngest brother volunteered to bring the water. He spotted a lake near by. The lake was bare of any living beings except a crane. When Sahadeva tried to drink water from the lake, the crane spoke to him, “Oh Sahadeva, the water of this lake is poisonous, if you drink it without answering my questions.” Sahadeva did not bother and drank the water from the lake and died. After some time Nakula came in search. And was surprised at seeing the dead Sahadeva. He too decided to drink water and was warned by the crane and he too died on drinking the water. The same thing happened to Arjuna and Bheema. Seeing that all his four brothers are missing, Dharma Puthra came in search. Since he was very thirsty, he too tried to drink the water from the lake. But when the crane warned him, he decided to answer the questions of the crane. Before asking questions, the crane revealed himself as a Yaksha. All the questions asked by the Yaksha were answered by Dharma Puthra to the Yaksha’s satisfaction. Then the Yaksha gave a boon to Dharma Puthra to bring back alive one of his dead brothers. Dharma wanted, Nakula to be made alive. The surprised Yaksha asked him, “Oh king, why did you choose Nakula, when you could have chosen Bheema and Arjuna?” Dharma Puthra replied, “I am alive and so my mother Kunthi has one son. I wanted my other mother Madhri also to have a son alive,”
The Yaksha was very much pleased and gave life back to all the Pandavas. Given below are the pointed questions asked by the Yaksha and the pithy and very direct replies given by Dharma Puthra. These are a store house of knowledge and termed as “Yaksha Prasna (Questions of Yaksha)”. I have not been able to get the Sanskrit originals for doing the translation but depended on a Tamil book called “Yaksha Prasna compiled by Sri.P.N.Parsuraman and published by General Publications, Madras (2001).
This is the first time the translation of the entire Yaksha Prasna “is being uploaded in the web.)

1. Who makes the Sun rise?

The Brahmam (the formless, all pervading God) makes the sun rise.

2. Who travel on both sides of the Sun?

Devas travel on both sides of the Sun.

(Sun travels in the sky, frequented by celestial beings called Devas.)

3. Who makes the Sun to set?

Dharma makes the Sun to set.

4.Where does the Sun establish himself?

Sun establishes himself in truth.

5.How does a man become expert in reciting Vedas?

He becomes an expert in reciting by learning it.

6. How does a man become great?

Man becomes great by Tapas (austerities).

7. How does a man become secure?

Man becomes secure by courage.

8.How does a man becomes wise?

He becomes wise by living with learned wise men.

9.What is godliness to Brahmanas?

Learning of Vedas is Godliness to the Brahmanas (people with knowledge as vocation)

10. What is the duty of Brahmanas?

Tapas( Austerity) is the duty of Brahmanas.

11. What is the human side of Brahmanas?

Pride and selfishness is the human side of Brahmanas.

12. What is sinful action for the Brahmanas?

Finding fault with others is the sinful action to Brahmanas.

13. What is godliness to Kshathriyas?

Weapons are the Godliness to Kshatriyas (Fighters and defenders)

14. What is he Dharma for Kshatriyas?

Carrying out Yagna (fire sacrifices) is the Dharma of Kshatriyas.

15. What is the human side of Kshatriyas?

Fear is the human side of Kshatriyas.

16. What is sinful action to Kshatriyas?

Not giving protection to those who seek it from them is sin for Kshatriyas.

17. Which is the Sama Veda for fire sacrifices?

Soul is the Sama Veda of fire sacrifices.

18. Which is the most important Rik Vedic chant for fire sacrifice?

Mind is the most important Rik for fire sacrifice.

19. How do you propose to make a fire sacrifice?

Rik Veda is the one which proposes the fire sacrifice.

20. What does Fire sacrifice obey always?

It always obeys the tenets of Rik Veda.

21. What is the best for farmers?

Rain is the best for farmers.

22 What is the best for those who sow seeds?

Quality seed is the best for them.

23. What wealth is the best for those who want to live stable lives?

Growing cows is the best that gives stable wealth.

24. What is the best for those who give birth?

Son is the best for those who give birth.

25. Which strong, rich and clever man is considered as not breathing, even if he breaths?

The one who does not look after Gods, guests, servants, ancestors and his own self is considered as not breathing , even if he breaths.

26. Which is heavier than earth?

Mother is heavier than earth.

27. Which is taller than the sky?

Father is taller than the sky.

28. Which is faster than wind?

Mind is faster than wind.

29. Which is more in number than grasses?

Worries outnumber grasses.

30. Which does not close its eyes even while sleeping?

Fish does not close its eyes while sleeping.

31. What does not move even after birth?

Eggs do not move even after birth.

32. What does not have a heart?

A stone does not have a heart.

33. What grows further with speed?

The river grows further with speed.

34. Who is the friend, for one goes abroad?

Education is the only friend of people who grow abroad.

35. Who keeps company to the one who stays with in his house?

Only his wife keeps company to such a person.

36. Who is the friend for the sick person?

Doctor is the friend of the sick person.

37. Who is the friend of the one who is going to die?

Charity is the only friend to such a person.

38. Who is the welcome guest to all?

Fire is the welcome guest to all.

39. What is the good deed which is stable?

That deed which leads to salvation is the stable good deed.

40. What is nectar?

Milk of the cow called “Somam”, is the nectar.

41. How is the entire world?

The entire world is filled with air.

42. Who travels alone?

Sun travels alone.

43. Who takes birth again and again?

The moon takes birth again and again.

44. What is the antidote for mist?

Fire is the antidote for mist.

45. Which is the vessel that can contain everything?

Earth is the vessel which can contain everything.

46. Where does “Dharma ( just action” normally reside?

“Just action” resides mainly in cleverness.

47. Where does “fame” normally reside?

“Fame” resides mainly in charity.

48. Where does “heaven” normally reside?

“Heaven” normally resides in truth.

49. Where does “pleasure” normally reside?

“Pleasure” normally resides in good conduct.

50. What is the soul for man?

Son (athmaja-born out of soul) is the soul for man.

51. Who is the companion made by God?

Wife is the companion made by God.

52. What aids man in “making a living”?

Rain helps man in making a living.

53. What is the place where man ultimately reaches?

“Charity” is the place where man ultimately reaches.

54. Which is the best giver of wealth?

“Tireless effort” is the best giver of wealth.

55. What is the best among things?

The knowledge that we get from learned is the best thing.

56. What is the best among “blessings”?

“Life without sickness” is the best among blessings.

57. What is the best among” pleasures”?

“Contentment” is the best among pleasures

58. Which is the best among “ Dharma (just actions) ”?

Non violence is the best among “just actions”.

59. Which action always gives good results?

The fire sacrifice done by three fires (Vedas) always gives results.

60. By controlling which man will never be sad?

By controlling the mind man will never become sad.

61. Friendship with whom lasts for ever?

Friendship with godly persons will last for ever.

62. By leaving which will man never become sad?

By leaving anger man will never become sad.

63. By leaving which will man become rich?

By leaving out desires, man becomes rich.

64. By leaving which, man will be able to lead a happy life?

By leaving out miserliness, man would be able to lead a happy life.

65. Why should we give to Brahmins?

It is to do “just action”.

66. Why should we give to dancers and actors?

It is for attaining fame.

67. Why should we give it to servants?

It is for making them obey you.

68. Why should we give to the king?

It is to avoid fear.

69. By which is the world covered?

World is covered by ignorance.

70. What is the world?

The soul is the world.

71. Why does not the world shine?

World does not shine because of bad behaviour.

72. Why do friends go away?

When they get nothing from you, they go away.

73. Why does not man reach heaven?

Man does not reach heaven due to attachment.

74 .When does man live like the ‘dead”?

When he is poor he lives like the “dead”.

75. When does a country does not have life?

When it does not have good rulers, it does not have life.

76. Which ritual to please manes does not have any result?

When it is done without Vedic pundits, it does not give results.

77. When does a fire sacrifice not yield results?

When adequate compensation is not given, it does not have results.

78. What is the way?

The way of Godly men is the only way.

79 What is water?

Sky is water

80. What is food?

Food is beings

81. What is poison?

Begging from others is poison.

82. What is the proper time to carry death anniversary?

When you see a learned Brahmin, it is the proper time.

(At this stage Dharma Puthra asks the Yaksha, “What do you think?”. Instead of answering Yaksha continues with his questions.)

83. What is the grammar for austerity?

Standing in one’s own Dharma (prescribed just action) is austerity.

84. What is “Dhama”?

“Dhama” is controlling the mind.

85. What is the “best patience”?

Bearing pleasures, sorrow, becoming great, being downgraded with equanimity is the “best patience”.

86. What is Jnana?

Jnana (wisdom?) is knowing the real truth.

87. What is “Sama”?

Being peaceful within mind is “Sama”.

88. What is the “best mercy”?

Wishing for pleasures for all is the “best mercy”.

89. What is righteousness?

Having the same attitude towards everybody is righteousness.

90. Who is the enemy who cannot be defeated by man?

Anger is the enemy that cannot be defeated by man.

91. Which is the disease that has no end?

Avarice is the disease that has no end.

92. Who is considered as a holy man?

He who loves all and does good for all, is considered as a holy man.

93. Who is considered as “not holy”?

He who does not have mercy is considered as “not holy.”

94. Which is considered as insensibility?

Not understanding Dharma (just action?) is considered as insensibility.

95. What is honour?

The pride in oneself is called honour.

96. What is laziness?

Not doing Dharma (just action?) is laziness.

97. What is sorrow?

Ignorance is sorrow.

98. What is considered as stability by holy men and sages?

Steadfastly following one’s own Dharma is defined as “stability” by them.

99. What is courage?

Controlling the five senses is “courage”.

100. What is a good bath?

Cleaning the mind of the accumulated dirt is the good bath.

101. What is the best charity one can do?

Saving life of others is the greatest charity one can do.

102. Who is fit to be considered as a scholar?

He who knows Dharma (just action)) can be considered as a scholar.

103. Who can be considered as an atheist?

He who does not believe in other worlds is an atheist.

104. Who is considered as an arrogant fool?

An atheist can be considered as an arrogant fool.

105. What is passion?

That which leads to birth and death is called “passion”.

106. Which is considered as “unhealthy competition.”?

Unnecessary turmoil of the mind is “unhealthy competition.”

107. What is pride?

Ignorance is pride.

108. What is snobbishness?

Telling others that “I am the only follower of Dharma” is snobbishness.

109. What is considered as the special God called luck?

The result of charity done by oneself is considered as “the special God called luck.”

110. What is considered as the bad habit of carrying tales?

Enjoying telling news about others is this bad character.

111. When will the contradictory notions of wealth, passion and Dharma come together?

When your wife and dharma agree with each other, then these concepts come together.

112. Which man will reach the indestructible hell? Please reply me quickly.

Indestructible hell is continuously being born and dying in this world again and again. Some of the causes are:-

a. Tempting a poor Brahmin with charity of wealth and not giving it.

b. Telling lies in the practice of Vedic rituals.

c. Not enjoying our own wealth and not using to help others also.

113. Tell me after careful thought how Brahmanism is born .Is it through birth, character, learning Vedas or knowledge of sciences?

Birth, learning of Vedas and knowledge of science are not necessary aspects of Brahmanism. It is due to one’s own character. One with good character never becomes bad and one with bad character is always considered as bad. He who is interested in rituals and who also has full control over his senses is the real Brahmin.

114. What does one who tells sweet words get?

He becomes friends for everybody.

115. What does one who does planned actions get?

He attains success.

116. What does one who has many friends get?

He lives happily.

117. What does one who is attached to Dharma get?

He attains salvation

118. Who attains happiness?

He, who does not take loan, does not go to a foreign country for living and one who can cook and eat at least green leaves, is the one who attains happiness.

119. What is surprise?

. The fact that people thinking themselves as stable and permanent, in spite of seeing several deaths daily is surprising.

120. What is the path?

There is contradiction in teaching of Vedas as well as the teaching of several great sages. Apart from this the path of Dharma as explained by the learned is difficult to understand.

121. What is the event that happens daily?

The earth is a very big cooking vessel. Sky is the lid to this vessel. The cook called Time puts all movable and immovable things in to this vessel. He takes the firewood of night and day and lights them up with Sun. He stirs it with ladles called seasons and months and this happens daily.

122. Who is called “purusha (man)” among those who are living and with all his desires fulfilled?

Good deeds done with no interests in the fruits or with interests in its fruits, make one’s name spread in heaven and earth. Till his fame lasts, he is called “Purusha”

123. Who pervades in everything?

He who considers desire and hatred, pleasure and pain, what is coming and what is being lost etc with equanimity is called “Brahma Jnani (knower of Brahman)” and he is the one who pervades in everything.

In medio stat virtus : Virtue stands in the middle

In medio stat virtus : Virtue stands in the middle.

Virtue is in the moderate, not the extreme position. – Horace

Voltaire said : The better is the enemy of the good.

Variant translations:
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
The best is the enemy of the good.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle defined a virtue as a balance point between a deficiency and an excess of a trait. The point of greatest virtue lies not in the exact middle, but at a golden mean sometimes closer to one extreme than the other.

For example:
* Generosity lies in between miserliness and extravagance.
* Courage lies in between cowardice and foolhardiness.
* Confidence lies in between self-deprecation and vanity.

Virtue, by definition, is a characteristic that promotes individual and collective well being. A vice, on the other hand, does not promote well being. What is surprising to me is that a virtue stands between two vices.

Now, this is something to think about. The present day paradigm is being the best. We all are told that we have to be the best at what we do. And we even strive for it.

We give up things just to be the best in what we do. We encourage children to be first in class. In fact our lives are so competitive that we call it a rat race. We drive ourselves hard and get burnt out.

No wonder this puts things out of perspective. We feel miserable when we cant be the best. We don’t forgive our own mistakes.

Pushing to extreme cant be a balanced way of life, even if the extreme is perfection. Being the best may be good for business, but it may not be good for the spirit.


Arriving at a middle position is sometimes equated to striking a balance or working a compromise. These can be powerful approaches to mitigate situations that are otherwise held in extremes.


In the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism, the term “Middle Way” was used in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta [Sanskrit: Dharma-chakra-pravartana Sūtra; English: Sutra to set in motion of the wheel of the dharma], which the Buddhist tradition regards to be the first teaching that the Buddha delivered after his awakening. In this sutta, the Buddha describes the Noble Eightfold Path as the middle way of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification:

Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. There is an addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is an addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.
Avoiding both these extremes, the Perfect One has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana.

And what is that Middle Path realized by the Tathagata? It is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.