That was Wonderful

I was surrounded by darkness. I couldn’t see a thing.   “Where am I?”, I could feel someone near me, but who was it? A small light was beaming miles away. Suddenly someone caught my hand and said, “Ankur, can you see it?” Oh!! That was a relief, it was Ankitha, my twin sister.

We both walked fast to reach it.Just one step and then one more. I stretched my hand to touch the light, Ankitha was still holding my hand tightly. “No!!!”, we both yelled.

Suddenly there was light all over. I turned my head to see Ankitha who was staring at the meadow with her jaw dropping. Suddenly she noticed feathers below her feet.   Ankitha picked it up to examine it. We wondered about its texture and colour. We followed the trial in silence.  Suddenly a lovely cry of a bird startled us. “Wow!!”, it was a bird with majestic blue eyes, long golden red feathers and it gave out a musical cry. “It is a PHOENIX”, she whispered in surprise. It was sitting on a rock. “I am Fawkes, I have been told that the first human to enter this magical world will be the only one who can help me”, she said.

“But what should we do?”,Ankitha asked. “I had a  magical feather with me, that made me special. I lost it and I am getting old. You have to complete your task of getting it. Take right and remember it must be done by sunset”, it said with a twinkle in it’s eyes.

Without another word we took right and Ankitha lead the way. I raised my eyes to see a black door. We ran to the door and pushed it. “Are you nuts Ankur!! Turn left”, she said. There was another door. Putting my head down, I looked at her. She had a scroll of parchment. She read it out aloud,“One will lead you to Heaven and One to Hell. Solve me if you can and that will lead the way. I am so fragile that you can break me by saying my name. And I can help you win the game”

Abinaya-Agastyaa-Shofia

“This is not gonna work!! I am off, that Fawkes is a freak. She must be kidding,” I said. “Ssh! be silent. Ahh!! that is it, it’s SILENCE”, Ankitha said jumping up and down. The door opened and it was dark. A suit of armour was standing on the other side. As I went near it, it took out it’s sword, facing me. “Oh!! My God, am I to fight him?” And there was another sword which came out of thin air. I caught it and the fight began. He swung his sword towards me, but missed me by inches. Far away Ankitha covered her mouth with her hand. The next moment the sword cut me deep in my hand making me bleed. Horror struck me. I just raised my sword and pierced it through his chest. He fell down with a ‘clunk’. It was over, and the door he guarded was open.

We went through the door and to our surprise we saw the feather, but it was about 50 miles away and was floating in mid-air. “How are we to get it ?” she said. And suddenly it struck me, “Maintain Silence”, I said. And the feather slowly settled on my out stretched hand. The next moment we were near Fawkes. “Oh!! Thank you so much dears”, she said. She flew and sat on my hand, got the feather and something like a pearl of tear touched my hand. I winced but the wound in my hand was gone. “You have got to go home, if not now, then you can never”. And with a goodbye, I just opened my eyes to see my house and Ankitha sleeping on her bed.

“That was wonderful!!!”

Story by Y.Abinaya, P.Agastyaa, M.Shofia, Class XI,

Mahatma School, Madurai,

Published in Ankur Katha 2013

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The Tallest Tower

Everybody is running towards the ten-acre large playground at the heart of the town.  All educational institutions and business establishments have also declared the day off so that everyone can witness the event.  The event actually started a week ago but no one was able to witness what was going on inside because of the huge 100 feet screens erected around the ground blocking the visibility to passers-by.  This has been the talk of the town since two weeks when the screens were first raised.

Rishi is the organiser and invited all the schools and college students as special invitees for the event.  Ankur and Ankita are busy running around overseeing the arrangements.

At 10 am, the scheduled time the screens were dropped down.  The whole ground was filled with students, their parents and other curious audience from the town and around.

One could see a huge tower made of sticks running about 100 feet high.  By the side of that lay a huge brick tower 110 feet high.  There were two more empty sites next to these, probably allocated for two more towers.  In front of these huge towers was a podium from where Rishi started addressing the audience.

“Dear friends, I know you are all curious about the happening here?  One huge tower made of bricks and one made of sticks are to my right.  The place towards my left is allocated for two more towers to be built in front of you.  Let me introduce you the background. What started as a casual conversation between me, Ankur and our respected Mayor a couple of months ago about who is more powerful, humans or animals or inanimate objects has culminated into this wonderful event.

It was decided to conduct a competition and we summoned the best architects to build the tallest towers made of sticks and bricks.  The effort started a week ago and the result lies in front of you towards my right.  These towers are completed.  The brick tower is higher of the two.

More interesting part of the event will unveil in front of your eyes. We have also requested the best dog trainer and gymnast trainer to train dogs and men to form a dog tower and human tower respectively.  They have one hour to complete the task.”

Rishi turned towards the dog trainer and the gymnast trainer and asked, “Friends are you ready?”

The excitement was obvious in their faces as they nodded.

Rishi turned towards the Mayor and requested, “Sir, may I please request you to start the timer inaugurating the second part of the competition.”

Mayor then switched on the high digital timer with a remote, inaugurating the competition.  Whistles blew.  From behind came running a huge chain of dogs and trained gymnasts.

5…10…15…30…45…50…55.  As the time passed the size of the tower started growing higher and higher.

It was surprising to see dogs scaling up the backs of their friends in such an organized manner.  Everyone was awestruck and was in full of admiration of the dog trainer for the wonderful work he has put in.

It was 58 minutes.  The dog tower was 98 feet high.  The human tower is now 135 feet high and still going strong and fast.

human tower1

59 minutes and Ooops… the human tower collapsed. Huge casualty.  All the people above the third level of the structure came down with a thud.  There was absolute silence for a second.  People were shocked.  The doctors and ambulance were rushed immediately to attend to the injured.

Mayor ordered an enquiry. The human tower trainer was surprised at the sudden turn of events. Each gymnast in the human tower is an expert. He believed that the feat though difficult did not deserve this kind of ending given the ability of each participant in the structure. The enquiry report pointed to one gymnast in the third level of the human tower.

Ankur is in conversation with Rishi at his backyard. “I agree with you Rishi that humans are the most capable and strong species on this world but their biggest strength is also their weakness. No doubt they are also the weakest species”.

Ankita flew in just then and was surprised by the statement. “Why do you think so Ankur?”

“As I was flying around helping the victims of last week’s crash, I observed a glee joy in the face of the culprit. I was taken aback and silently followed him. I was surprised as he shared this as his success with his friends. This guy at the third level of the human tower was slighted by the guy at the second level from the top during the practice session.  He wanted to teach him a lesson.  He also had a score to be settled with the trainer. He used his expertise for hurting and causing injury to his fellow team mates.” explained Ankur

There was silence for a couple of minutes.

Rishi broke the silence. “The power of sticks, bricks and dogs were all guided by humans.  It was possible because of their capability.  No other creature could have done this feat.  Humans are no doubt ablest and strongest creatures on this planet.  Humans have the freedom of choice and the power of Will.  They are bestowed with intelligence and creative ability.  They can use it either in a creative and constructive manner as they had exhibited in other towers or for destructive purposes affecting harmony and peace as seen in the human tower.”

“The best of talents, skills and human capabilities are of use, only when applied in a constructive, harmonious and all-inclusive manner”, Rishi concluded.

The Argumentative Couple

Ankur and Rishi are on a walk by the lake side. There is greenery all around. It is absolutely silent and calm except for the chirping of birds and the soothing sound of gentle breeze.

Both had actually set out for a stroll to chat on some interesting topic. But the weather was so engrossing they had not opened the mouth.  They are enjoying the weather to the fullest.

Screeeeeeech! 

A motor bike stopped suddenly on the road.  The guy riding the bike parked it and walked towards the bench swiftly. From the expression on his face one could observe he was very angry.

Ankur’s eyes fell on the girl on the bench equally agitated.  She was restless.  The mood of the duo is contrary to the surroundings.  As soon as the guy approached the girl he lifted his hands as if to slap her.  But the girl acted faster.

For a moment there was silence.  The guy was shocked.  Within seconds, the area was echoing with the arguments of the two.  They were both shouting at the top of their voices.  Probably, someone standing on the top of the mountain beside the lake, could clearly hear their argument.

Rishi was also observing this.  Suddenly, a smile emerged on his face.

When Ankur turned around to see Rishi’s response, he was surprised.  He could not understand why Rishi is amused. As if reading Ankur’s mind, Rishi started explaining.

“Can you observe Ankur, how both of them are telling the same thing and neither are able to understand that”

Ankur listened to their argument closely and concurred with Rishi. He could not understand why are they arguing, when both are of the same opinion.

He asked Rishi “why is this happening?  At the first instance, I don’t see any reason for them to shout so loudly in such a calm atmosphere.  Probably if they start speaking with each other calmly they will understand better”

“You are right Ankur.  They are not even two feet apart from each other.  Even a whisper can be clear to each other in such a calm atmosphere.  But the problem is  – physically they are very close to each other; their thoughts are also matching, but mentally and psychologically they are separated far wide.”

Rishi continued… “Contrary to what we generally believe, it is the un-manifest and not so obvious thoughts and emotions that drive our day.  If these two people become aware of their emotions and psychological distance, they will be able to interact in a pleasant tone and realise that their opinions don’t differ.”

Ankur responded in agreement.  He further added “I believe, even if they had different opinions, they could come to an understanding if they speak to each other calmly and reduce the psychic and emotional distance between them”

“You are right Ankur” agreed Rishi.

“I suggest Rishi, you should go and speak to them so that they stop their fight.  You should help them.”

“Unsolicited help or advice won’t work Ankur.  Now that they have vented out their anger, within a few minutes you will see that they would calm down and start talking to each other normally”

As they were conversing on these lines, they had moved past the boy and girl to the other end of the lake.  After about half an hour on their way back , Ankur observed the couple – now calm and talking to each other in a normal tone.

Ankur was once more convinced of Rishi’s wisdom.

A determined Nachiketas…

Ankur picks up a twig and places it on the branch of a tree.  There is a breeze and the twig falls down.  He and his friend Kala, the crow were trying to place the twigs on top of the tree to make a nest. It has been three hours since they have started this effort but could not place even one twig on the branch.

“Ankur, see this! see this!” exclaimed Kala.

He had been finally able to place the twig in the right position so that it does not fall.  They quickly started gathering more twigs and started giving the nest a shape.  Finally, by the dusk they were able to complete building the nest.

nest

Rishi had been silently observing this all through the day.  He was amazed by the effort taken by these two little birds to build a nest.

He congratulates the friends…  “Ankur and Kala, Congratulations. You both have done a wonderful job.”

They both smiled in acknowledgment.

“Where is Ankita?  She is not to be seen.  Why did you not call her for help?” asked Rishi.

“She is off to a picnic along with her friends” replied Ankur.

“Oh! I See. Why you did not join her?” asked Rishi.

“I stayed back to help my friend, Kala build the nest.  She wanted to start her family soon.”

“Wow!  This is wonderful.  You remind me of Nachiketas” Rishi expressed happily.

“Nachiketas?  Who is this?”, Ankur enquired.

“He is a small little boy. The hero of Kathopanishad”

“Whaw!  So, he is a young hero.  I would like to know his story” Ankur expressed interest. Rishi started narrating the story.

“Nachiketas is the son of Vajrashravas, a great sage.  Once he performed a great yagna. At the end of the yagna, as is customary, he invites the poor and needy and starts giving away his cows and other wealth. Little Nachiketas was observing all this with great enthusiasm.  He observed that his father is giving away only old clothes, unusable things, old and dry cows retaining with him all the new and healthy ones.  Nachiketas was worried.

nachiketa2

He felt this type of donation would only invite worry and misery to his father.  He somehow mustered courage to question his father. He went and asked him “Whom would you give me away to?”

His father laughed, kissed his son on the forehead, hugged and said “You are my dearest son.  Whom would I give you away to?  You would be always with me.  You don’t worry” said Vajrashravas.

“But father, you are supposed to give away all your possessions.  I am also your possession.  So you need to give me away” Nachiketas insisted.

“Oh! stop this nonsense Nachiketas.  I am not going to give you to anyone” shouted Vajrashravas.

“But father, if you do not give me away how will you get the benefit of performing this Yagna” Nachiketas doesn’t relent.

Vajrashravas was tried with all activities related to Yagna.  He could not be patient with Nachiketas anymore.  He shouts “I would give you away to death and now get away from here”

nachiketa1

Nachiketas is happy that his father has taken the right path by choosing to give him away – his best possession, even though it means pain for Nachiketas.  He was glad that his father had taken the right path instead of a pleasurable one.  He wanted to follow the path of his father – the path of right and proceeds to Yamaloka.”

“This act of yours Ankur, reminded me of Nachiketas. You did not make a choice that is easy and pleasurable – to go with your sister on a holiday, but decided to stay back to help your friend and put in a long day of tiresome work to build the nest.  I admire your perseverance and your friend’s too”

“Thank you Rishi.  But what happens to Nachiketas after that?  Does he reach Yamaloka?  What happens over there” Ankur’s questions won’t stop.

Rishi smiles.  “I know you won’t let go, just like Nachiketas”

He continues with the story… “Nachiketas proceeds to yamaloka. At the entrance of yamaloka he comes to know that Lord Yama has gone out and would take time to be back.  Nachiketas waits near the gate for three days and three nights till Lord Yama arrives. On his arrival, Lord Yama enquires about Nachiketas and was surprised to note the strong will of the little boy.

He felt bad that a small little boy had to wait at his door steps for three days and nights.  After serving him well, he asks Nachiketas to ask for three boons which he would grant in lieu of the three days he had to wait at the gate.

Nachiketa first asks for happiness and wellbeing of his father.  Yama grants him the same.

yama-nachiketa

He then enquires about the fire rituals to be practiced to attain swarga (heaven) and be happy over there. Yama notices that the child is not asking anything for himself.  He is impressed. He then grants to him the second boon by answering Nachiketas’ doubts.

As the third boon, Nachiketas seeks to know about the secret of, ‘what happens after death’. Yama is taken for a shock. He is surprised at the inquisitiveness of such a young child. Wanting to test his determination, Yama says, “Death is a mystery even to the Gods and so cannot explain the same to you. You may ask for any other boon.”

He offers him a very long life, lots of wealth, pleasures, power, etc.  But Nachiketas is intelligent.  He knows that, all these had no value when compared to the knowledge he had sought. As a last attempt, Yama tries offering him the boon to live as long as he wants and the power to rule the entire world.

But Nachiketas insists to know what happens after death.  Convinced of the determination of the young boy to stick to the right path and not get distracted by anything that is less interesting, Yama finally shares the secret to Nachiketas.

Ankur exclaims, “Oh! So twice Nachiketa makes the right choice and on both occasions he sticks to the right decision. What perseverance!  But Rishi, my decision to stay back and help my friend is such a small thing compared to what Nachiketas has done. I think it is inappropriate to compare me with Nachiketas.

Rishi smiles again.  “I agree with you.  I said, you reminded me of Nachiketas.  To make right choices in smaller aspects of life and showing perseverance to follow through the choice, is the first step to develop determination and perseverance, like Nachiketas.

“Whaw! we started loving Nachiketas. Thanks for sharing the story Rishi. We shall strive to emulate him… Ankita should have been back by now from the picnic. Need to catch up with her. Bye! Rishi.”

P.S: Ankur acknowledges and thanks the artists of the images and the internet for making them available on-line…

What Should I Do?

A severe storm lashed for the past 4 days.  As I woke up in the morning I was glad that I could see the sunrays.

In the past 4 days, I had seen incessant rains, gale winds. It was chaos all over. I flew over to Rishi’s drawing-room. He was getting the latest update from the TV on the situation around…

It was unusual calm… calmness after the storm as it is said.

It was as though the nature has become tired and is now taking rest.

Storm

Huge gigantic trees got uprooted and lay all over. As the camera zoomed, I could see the blades of grass slowly standing up recovering from the severe storm. I was surprised.

GrassInStorm2

A chain of thoughts started in my mind… the storm-within started ?!?!?

I asked Rishi “Should I explore the depths and conquer the heights like a tall tree or should I stay firm to the ground and even be able to conquer the storm.  What should I do?

There was a gentle smile on His face. He answered.

Ankur…

“If you are a tree… explore the depths and conquer the heights.

If you are a blade of grass conquer the storm and stay firm on the ground.

Know yourself, Be yourself”

I suddenly remembered the Story of Vanamahotsav Competition…

I smiled…

The Guru-Sishya Story

Ankur: “Hi Rishi. I understand that you have been looking for me”.

Rishi :  “Hi Ankur. What are you doing on 12th July?”

Ankur :  “I am not doing anything specific.  What is so special about that day?”

Rishi : “We are celebrating Guru Purnima on that day”.  I am honouring all the reputed teachers in the city on that day. I thought you could help me out in making the arrangements.”

Ankur : “I have been wondering about this Rishi.  When the whole country celebrates teachers’ day on September 5th, you are always in a hurry to celebrate this a couple of months earlier. Why hurry? Relax…”

Rishi :  (Laughs loudly) “Why do you think September 5th is celebrated as Teachers’ Day?”

Ankur :  “It is the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, our former President, who was a great teacher. We celebrate this day as Teachers’ Day in his honour.”

Sarvepalli

Rishi :  “No doubt… Dr Radhakrishnan was a great teacher.  But are you aware that “Teachers’ Day” has been celebrated for thousands of years on full moon day of the lunar month of Ashadh as Guru Purnima; Grand festivities are made on that day and teachers honoured.”

Ankur :  “Wow!  This is interesting.  I never knew that. Why have we been celebrating Teachers’ Day on this particular day?”

Rishi :  “Ankur.  I always appreciate this inquisitiveness in you.  This day is celebrated in honour of Sage Veda Vyasa, our badharayana who is considered as our first Guru.”

veda-vyasa

Ankur : “Is there any specific reason he is considered as the first Guru?”

Rishi : “Actually I need to explain to you two things in answer to this question.  First, our ancient seers had developed immense capabilities beyond their normal senses and were able to come in contact with the universal laws.  For millennia, they passed on these laws to their students orally.  As times passed, capability of humans to grasp the entire knowledge started diminishing.  At this juncture, Sage Veda Vyasa compiled all this knowledge into different sections and simplified them through many stories and historical events so that they are easily available and within the reach of common man.  In this way he made available a huge amount of wisdom to the common man and hence he is considered as the first Guru.”

Ankur : Oh!  This is a very interesting story.  So do you mean to say that he had written a book?  If so, what is the name of the book?  I would like to read that.”

Rishi :  “Sage Vyasa had been a great author.  He wrote lots of books (on palm leaves) in different formats for people with different personality types.  The Four Vedas, several Upanishads, 18 Puranas, Brahmasutras, etc., all together amounts to more than million verses… This is his contribution.”

Ankur :  “Oh!  That is too much.  One would not be able to complete a fraction of that in his life time.  So how is one going to benefit from this?”

Rishi :  “You must remember that he is a master teacher – the prime Guru.  He identified different sets of Gurus and made them each expert in one set of books.  Those teachers in turn passed on the parts of knowledge in which they specialized to their disciples.  In this way the entire wisdom was preserved and handed over across generations for thousands of years.”

gurukul

Ankur :  “To collate and compile all this information requires several TBs of space. Once we put that in cloud anyone can easily access it. This can be an interesting project to compile our wisdom.”

Rishi :  (Laughs again) Now I need to explain to you the other part called the Guru-Sishya parampara or Guru-Sishya tradition.  You may read volumes of information but it will not make sense to you if you don’t understand the inner meaning and its relevance to you.  In Guru-Sishya tradition, the Guru transfers not just the information but also the experience in a way that is appropriate to the student and thus actually it is the experiential knowledge which is transferred from a Guru to his discipline and not bookish knowledge.  It is for this reason that Indian culture and civilization is the longest and the only civilization whose date of origin could not be determined even now.  The computers may go, the papers may go, the palm leaves may vanish, but the wisdom in the form of experiences is there in man and that is transferred to the upcoming generations. As long as man exists this knowledge will remain…”

Ankur :  “Now I understand the greatness of our culture and the importance of Guru-Sishya parampara.  Hey!  Another truth strikes me.  Today there is a lot of buzz happening around experiential learning and activity based learning.  I thought this is a very innovative way for teaching discovered by the west.  But now I realize that is the essence of original Indian educational system.  I love this great country and feel grateful to all the great Gurus for keeping this civilization and culture alive.”

Guru-and-disciple

Rishi : “So what is your plan for next Saturday?”

Ankur : “Of course, I will be with you the whole day.  You are my Guru anyway.  It is my duty to offer my services to you on that day.  Can I invite Ankita also?”

Rishi :  “You are most welcome”

The Journey of a Wave

The first rays of sun are pushing aside the clouds and popping out to say Hello to the ocean.  The birds are chirping around.  There is a gentle breeze from the sea.

Ankur and Rishi are at the beach enjoying the awesome treat to all the senses.

At the Beach

Rishi asks “Ankur, do you want to listen to what the waves are speaking?”

Ankur is excited. “I would love to”

Rishi gently waves his hand over Ankur; Ankur starts hearing the voice of the waves.

A tiny wave which is just born is excited. It shouts “ Hey! It is so exciting.  I am growing bigger and bigger. It is so nice to watch the sea from here. The higher I am growing more wonderful is the scenery and Wow! This tingling sensation of the sun’s rays. I love this experience.”

The wave turns around and looks at the bigger wave in front of it.  It is disappointed.  It wonders, “if only I could grow that tall, that big, it would be fantastic.  The lucky one has grown so tall and majestic. I need to become like that as well.”

Soon the little wave forgets the tingling senses of the sun’s rays and the majestic scenery behind it.  It starts running behind the big wave trying to become taller than that.  It is now anxious and restless to reach the heights of the bigger wave.  The more it rises, the bigger wave in front of it rises higher.  It suddenly starts getting jealous of the bigger wave and wishes that the wave falls down so that it can be the most majestic and tallest of the waves.

waves

Its prayers are answered.  The big wave reaches the shore and Splash! it gets grounded.  The smaller wave is now very happy.  It is the tallest wave and is still growing higher and higher.  There are so many waves behind it which are much smaller.

It now starts enjoying the majestic beauty of the ocean from the greatest heights.  It now started wondering… “if only I had been able to enjoy my entire journey? the sun has also moved higher!?! Oh! The tingling sensation is no more”  With these thoughts in the mind, the tiny wave now the tallest wave in the sea turns around and alas it starts to fall down and in a fraction, Splash! it comes down touching the shore.

As it came down touching the shore, the wave wondered… “how short-lived the height of success is! It would have been good had I enjoyed the journey to the fullest, instead of getting jealous and agitated all along!”

Ankur turns towards Rishi.  “Now I understand why you are always so calm and composed.  Thanks for the wonderful experience Rishi.”

Rishi Smiles. 🙂

Ankur Katha 2013 – Book Release – Story in Images

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Ankur Katha 2014 – Write a Story this Summer

Hi Friends,

Ankur is back this summer with your summer pal…

Ankur_Katha_2014_Logo_Unit

 

Ankur Katha 2014 was inaugurated by His Excellency on 19th April 2014.

CLICK to know more about the story writing opportunity this summer… exclusively for school children…

Katha2014_Themes

His Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu launches Ankur’s 2014 events

His Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu Dr K Rosaiah ji launches three events of Ankur in 2014…

  • Children Yoga Festival 2014 in association with Satyananda Yoga Education Charitable Trust
  • Ankur Katha 2014 and
  • Jiva Vigyan

…on 19th April 2014 at Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai.

CYF 2014 Inauguration

CYF, Jiva Vigyan and Ankur Katha 2014 Inaugurated by his Excellency Dr K Rosaiah

 

 

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