Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi

Can’t believe I haven’t written about Vaisakhi before – its one of the most important events in Sikh history. Also known as Baisakhi, this is a harvest festival that marks the beginning of a new year as per the local calendar. More important, for Sikhism it also marks the birth of the Khalsa – the pure. In 1699, the Tenth Guru converted Sikhism which so far was just a way of life, into a more disciplined religion with rules and a code of conduct – with a democratic way of functioning.

Like every year, Vaisakhi is being celebrated by large gatherings in the Sikh temples (gurdwara). I want to encourage people to get baptized: the Guru will guide you – it’s not as difficult to follow as it seems initially. For those who have been baptized but do not follow the code of conduct on a daily basis, this is what I suggest: start with a shorter regimen, and build it at your pace. Japuji Sahib in the mornings, and Benti Chaupai in the evenings to begin with for example.

Today the religious world is divided: different religions, each disfavouring the other; various sects etc. If people understood the distinction between Prem (love) and Moh (attachment) there would be less fighting between the various groups.

  1. Moh is temporary, Prem is permanent. Moh is what a father feels for a son – if the son disobeys the father the weak thread of Moh breaks.
  2. Also, Moh is about saying “God belongs to me“. If the God belongs to me, someone else needs to invent a different God for himself. Prem is about saying “I belong to the God“. It is about giving up oneself.

Prem is like a fish in water – Only death can separate them. Indeed, Guru Tegh Bahadur wants us to love God like a fish in water:

ਗੁਨ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗਾਇਓ ਨਹੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਅਕਾਰਥ ਕੀਨੁ ॥
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਲ ਕਉ ਮੀਨੁ ॥੧॥
If we do not sing the praises of the Lord, we are wasting our life in vain. Says Nanak, meditate on God, like the way, the fish loves water.

A worshiper goes one step further beautifully talking about Moh and Prem:

ਜਉ ਹਮ ਬਾਂਧੇ ਮੋਹ ਫਾਸ ਹਮ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਬਧਨਿ ਤੁਮ ਬਾਧੇ ॥
You (God) sent me to this world, and bound me with attachment to treasures and people. I have, in return, bound you with the bonds of love.
ਅਪਨੇ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੋ ਜਤਨੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਹਮ ਛੂਟੇ ਤੁਮ ਆਰਾਧੇ ॥੧॥
I have broken free from the binds of attachment by meditating on You. How shall you liberate yourself now from the binds of my Love?

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The Arrow of Time

Being the fan of Stephen Hawking that I am, it’s quite surprising that I have not devoted even a single blogpost to his works. Let me do that today, with the adding of a new category to this blog: Science & Technology.

One of the most interesting of his thoughts is about the arrow of time. We take ‘time’ for granted as a fixed entity universal for everyone. However, as Theory of Relativity tells us: time is personal. Everyone carries his own clock, and they may not necessarily agree. Now, the problem is, how do we define time? I will let the master speak in his own words:

The increase of disorder or entropy with time is one example of what is called an arrow of time, something that distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time. There are at least three different arrows of time. First, there is the thermodynamic arrow of time, the direction of time in which disorder or entropy increases. Then, there is the psychological arrow of time. This is the direction in which we feel time passes, the direction in which we remember the past but not the future. Finally, there is the cosmological arrow of time. This is the direction of time in which the universe is expanding rather than contracting.

He goes on to explain why all three arrows point in the same direction, and why its impossible for intelligent beings such as us to exist in conditions where the three arrows do not point in the same direction.

Read more here, or better: buy the book as I have.

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From Floppy to Flash drives

Its amazing to see how fast the cyber world is changing. In 1995, when I took up computer science as a subject, we used PCs (without a harddisk) and 5.25 inch floppies. There was only one PC-XT in our lab – those that came with a harddisk. There was no LAN, no battery backup. I saw those things for the first time when I joined college. There we used mostly XTs and ATs, with one 386 and we got a 486 later. Today we have flash drives and one who hasn’t used a floppy cannot realise what a boon flash is: reliable, high speed, high capacity. With floppies we had to keep the same material in two floppies at any given time since a single floppy was too risky: could fail any time. There would even be times when both would fail – leaving you without an option.

Without power backup, I got the habit of saving frequently. I still have this habit although we have reliable power backups now. It still happens rarely though – that we are not able to save – say because a remote connection stopped suddenly – and if it does happen, I am always smiling! The others are almost always crying.

The web has also changed a lot. When I built my website in around 2000 we didn’t have:

  • Social networking bookmarks (Digg, Reddit)
  • Pingbacks in blogging
  • YouTube (although, I still don’t use it that much) and video sharing
  • The use of XML was limited
  • RSS feeds
  • Podcasting
  • globally recognized avatars – especially MonsterIds

There have been a lot of interesting public supported projects:

Update 18th March 2009: It seems I left out AJAX – a framework that allows part of a web page to reload, without having to reload the entire page. Web programming isnt the same again after AJAX.

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