Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Power of One

This VERITAS was written on Monday, March 27, 2000


Today’s VERITAS is a tribute to the patience and perseverance of one man whose hard work paved the way for Physics . If he had not done what he did we would have been atleast a 100 years behind( what we are now ) in Physics and Astronomy . And the wow thing is that he himself
never did it for that end in mind . He was just doing his daily work .

       Tycho Brahe( 1546-1601) was a Dutch Astronomer. We wont go much into the details of his personal life. Tycho was a very influential man and was very close to the Danish king Fredrich . The king gave him an island .

       Tycho became the owner of an island called Hven ( near Copenhagen ). He built 2 observatories there . His observatories contained costly
equipment that Tycho Brahe built himself . From these observatories Tycho studied stars for more than 20 years . He observed the positions
and motions of stars , moon and planets every night without fail . He would note down all the data with extreme accuracy . His instuments
were very precise too . No one before him had ever studied the heavens with so much accuracy . And he did all that with his naked eye . The
telescope had not been invented yet !! He singlehandedly established the observational basis of astronomy .

       Tycho almost made a observational factory on that island . He employed a huge number of people to help him . The instruments were made
there . He also had a printing press to print books about his observations .

       His obrevations were studied by Kepler and he found a pattern and he formulated his 3 laws of Planatary motion . Keplers 3 laws were used by Newton to make this Theory of Gravitation . Tycho’s observations were also used by Halley to discover his comet . He made an observation of Supernova in 1572 . His observation’s were used by modern astronomers to form a theory about how stars die .

       The greatest thing about him was that if you look at his works you would find observations of every star for every night for those 22 years . And these positions will be extramely accurate . And it makes you admire his dedication to his work . Did this guy ever go to late night parties !!! he probably never slept at night for those 22 years . And this dude didnt even have a telescope !!

His observations are still used today by modern astronomers .

       The works of Tycho have been compiled in  15 volumes under the title “Tychonis Brahe Opera Omnia”

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Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Which Bahadur Shah

This veritas was written on Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A few weeks back I was surprised when a friend while talking about Bahadur Shah Zafar commented on him being the son of Aurengzeb. And when I asked a lot of people about who the son of Aurangzeb was, most said Bahadur Shah Zafar! This is a very common mistake. And the aim of this VERITAS is to make sure that VERITAS readers do not make this mistake. The mistake is obvious- Aurangzeb died in 1707. And we all know that Bahadur Shah Zafar participated in the mutiny of 1857. How could Aurangzeb’s son last so long? So Bahadur Shah Zafar is NOT Aurangzeb’s son! But then how can so many people make the same mistake? This mistake is common because Aurangzeb’s son was Bahadur Shah( and not Bahadur Shah Zafar) who ruled from 1707 to 1712.

       In today’s VERITAS we will read about these two Bahadur Shahs. But for the people who have no knowledge of Mughal History a little recap: Mughal rule started in India in 1526. The first Mughal King, Babur was a descendent of Timur and Genghis Khan. From 1556 to 1707 Mughals were the most powerful and important power in India. At the height of the Mughal empire the whole of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Afghanistan were under its control. Akbar was the greatest of all Mughals. His reign ( 1556 to 1605) is considered to be the finest years in Mughal History. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ruled from 1658 to 1707. Under him the Mughal empire had the most territory under its control. However his policy of religious intolerance was the root of the decline of the Mughal Empire after his death in 1707.

       Aurangzeb’s son Bahadur Shah( also known as Bahadur Shah I or Shah Alam I) became the emperor in 1707. He was different from his father- he was a moderate and was tolerant of other religions. In fact he was quite friendly with the last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh helped him become the emperor by providing him military support against his brothers. Bahadur Shah tried to improve relations with the Marathas also. However he had inherited a crumbling kingdom and his own lack of leadership skills did not help much. He died in 1712 at the age of 69 without being able to curb the decline of what was once a great kingdom.

Bahadur Shah


       And Bahadur Shah Zafar( also known as Bahadur Shah II) was the last Mughal emperor.  He became the emperor in 1838. But at this time the emperor was nothing more than the city of Delhi. India had three big forces around this time: The Sikh empire in Punjab, Kashmir and parts of Afghanistan, the Maratha empire and the British Empire. Hundreds of Kings had fragmented the rest of India. In 1803 the British East India Company had offered protection to the then Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II. So after 1803 the Mughal Emperors were mere puppets of the British. Bahadur Shah Zafar also had no real powers. He got a pension from the British and could maintain some token forces in Delhi.


Bahadur Shah Zafar


       In 1857 the Indians rebelled against the British. This was the first united revolt by the Indians against British rule. Most Indian kings considered Bahadur Shah Zafar and the Mughal empire as the one unifying force that could push the British out. Of course, it was a temporary arrangement- the kings would decide what to do after the British were made to leave India. However this did not happen. The revolt was crushed.  Bahadur Shah Zafar fled for his life- he knew that he would have to pay a heavy price for being the symbolic leader of the revolt.
But he was captured and his sons killed, and their severed heads presented to him.

       Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862.

       Bahadur Shah Zafar could not bring back the glorious days of the Mughal Empire – he was powerless against the British Imperial power. However there is one thing that he excelled in: Poetry. He is regarded as a very good Urdu poet. Also, in his court great poets like Mirza Ghalib and Zauk used to recite their

       Here are a few shers from a ghazal written by Bahadur Shah Zafar:

       lagta nahin hai ji mera ujare dayaar mein
       kis ki bani hai aalam-e-naa-payedar mein?

       ( I find no happiness in this desolate land
         but who has ever found peace in this world of change and death?)

       keh do in hasaratoon se kahin aaur ja basein
       itni jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daag-daar mein

       ( Tell these desires to go somewhere else
         There is no space left for them in this torn heart)

       umar-e-daraz maang kar laye thay chaar din
       do arzoo mein kat gaye do intezar mein

       ( After much prayer, I was granted a life of four days,
          but two of them were spent in pining and other two in waiting)

       kitana hai bad-naseeb “Zafar” dafan ke liye
       do gaz zameen bhi na mili ku-e-yaar mein

       ( “zafar” is so unfortunate, that for his burial
          there was not even two yards of space in the land of the beloved)



 Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
 Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
 Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
 Correct old time and regulate the Sun;

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Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

The Milgram experiment and human cruelty

This Veritas was wriiten on Wednesday, May 20, 2009


In today’s VERITAS we shall study two social psychology experiments. When I first read about these experiments I was pretty shocked and amazed at the same time. These experiments show us how easy it is for people to be cruel and break boundaries of their own ethical structures.

In 1961 Stanley Milgram devised an experiment to answer the question: “could it be that the people who engaged in torturing others during the holocaust were just following orders”. He wanted to know if orders from an authority figure could override one’s own moral standards. Can ordinary people leading normal lives become agents of cruelty if they are directed to do acts of cruelty by an authority?

So let’s look at the Milgram experiment: there are three players: an experimenter, a teacher and a learner. The teacher does not know that the experimenter and the learner are just role playing. He thinks that this is a serious experiment and that the learner is a subject of the experiment. But actually only the teacher is the subject and is unaware of the full details of the experiment. The learner sits in one room and the teacher and the experimenter sit together in another room. The teacher can hear the learner and the learner can hear the teacher. The teacher is told that he will ask the learner several questions related to a subject. If the learner answers wrong then the teacher will give an electric shock to the learner. The teacher is told that the electric shocks will increase by 15 V everytime the shock switch is pressed. So the teacher thinks that he will give shocks of an increasing severity for every wrong answer. The teacher is told that he can give a maximum of 450 V shock 4 times and after that the experiment will be stopped. The role of the experimenter was to prod the teacher to continue the experiment and not stop.

So the teacher would ask a question and if the answer is wrong will give a shock. The learner sitting in another room will scream in pain and the teacher will ask the next question. If the teacher seemed reluctant to continue the experimenter will encourage him to go ahead and even tell him that he ( the teacher) will not be held responsible for the pain or even the death of the learner. The teacher will go ahead with the questions and give increasing amounts of electric shock. The learner will cry louder and even bang the wall to stop the experiment. The teachers were not told that they could stop the experiment but in reality if a teacher really wanted to stop the experiment even after receiving repeated requests and orders by the experimenter, it would be stopped. The teachers thought that they were giving real shocks and the cries of pain from the other room were real but in reality there was no shocks and the cries of pain were enacted. The role of the experimenter was to keep pushing the teacher to ask questions and give shocks.

Now, it may seem to us that very few subjects(“teachers”) would give the maximum shock. We seem to think that most teachers will stop after a few shocks because their hearts will melt on hearing the painful cries of the learners. But this was not what Milgram actually observed. He did the first experiment with 40 different subjects(“teachers”).  You would be surprised to know that 26 of them actually gave 450 V of electric shock to the learners. But we must note that some of these 26 were reluctant to go to this level but they went on and on after being encouraged or ordered by the experimenter. Only one of the 40 teachers stopped and absolutely refused to go on with the shocks before the 300 V level! Note that all these subjects(“teachers”) were regular people like us.

Milgram has tried this experiment several times and has always got similar results. There are several ways of explaining this experiment: some scientists think that in situations in which we have little expertise or power we tend to follow the leader or authority even if it means letting go of our beliefs or even morals. Some other scientists think that this experiment contains the essence of obedience: people carry out the wishes of an authority as mere instruments and do not consider themselves morally responsible for their actions.

Milgram has done several variations of the experiment and found the following:

1) Women fare no better than men and are equally likely to give maximum shocks but they tend to feel more stressed while doing it.

2) If the experimenter( the authority that tells the teacher to go on) is remote and speaks to the teacher  through a telephone the compliance decreases. But 21 % teachers still gave the maximum shock.

3) If the teacher could also see another teacher do the experiment and comply fully then the percentage of compliance increased to nearly 90%. So if we see someone else do something we seem to be less reluctant to do it even if it goes against our morals.

In my opinion this is a very powerful experiment. It shows us the limits of our morals in such a direct and unclothed fashion that it shocks us. It seems that being social creatures our compliance to authority is stronger than our conscience. This explains why armies consisting of people just like us seem so willing to rape, plunder and murder when told to do so by their leaders. We may be individuals in what we feel but when it comes to action we seem to follow the leader or the crowd.

You should also read about the Stanford prison experiment. This is another role playing experiment that will make you very uneasy. It shows how when some people are told that they are policemen and others told that they are prisoners will after some days actually start acting like their roles. The policemen actually became cruel and the prisoners actually became depressed even though everyone knew that this is just a game. It shows how power can make people use it in the most cruel fashion and others to accept it and become victims.




Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;

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Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Evolution and Humans

This post was written on Friday, March 06, 2009


We all know about Darwin’s theory of natural selection and how it affects the evolution of species. According to Darwin’s theory, individuals better adapted to the environment produce more offspring. This causes their traits to pass on. The individuals that have traits that are less suitable for the environment produce less offspring and these traits decrease over generations and finally die. It is thus the survival of the fittest( or best adapted).

Does evolution apply to us humans? Are we still evolving according to the laws of natural selection? Do we still select the fittest amongst ourselves and not let the less pass on their genes? These are the questions that we will try to answer in this VERITAS. And these are not easy
questions- we are the only animals that know what evolution is and this knowledge adds an interesting dimension to these questions. Can we use this knowledge to evolve according to a plan?

Humans have not stopped evolving. We know that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa  about 200,000 years ago. They spread across the world about 50,000 years ago and replaced the existing humanoid populations in Europe and Asia. About 15,000 years ago, during the last ice age, as the ice sheets expanded and the sea levels fell, they crossed over to the Americas through the Bering Strait land bridge.
So we all come from a common origin- we all started with the same genes. But as we can see, people in different parts of the world look different, have different colors, have different heights, are prone to infections from different diseases. This is because of natural selection.

Let’s take some examples of how environment has shaped human evolution. People living in places that have less sunlight have fair skin. This is because fair skin absorbs ultraviolet radiation better compared to darker skin. This helps people living in sunlight deprived regions get adequate vitamin D.
So though we all have a common ancestor, people living in different parts of the world  have different skin colors to suit their own environment. Take another example: lots of people in east Asia cannot digest milk in adulthood. This is because they lack a digestive enzyme responsible for lactose digestion. But most people in Europe have this enzyme and thus milk, cheese etc are a regular part of their diet.Thus we see that culture of what we eat and what animals we keep has also influenced evolution. One last example: some populations in Africa are resistant to malaria. Since mosquitoes are found in plenty in Africa, this resistance offered survival and therefore reproductive advantages causing the evolution
of the whole population to have this resistance.

So we are evolving. Local environments challenge us and the genes that are best suited for these environments pass on to future generations. But there is nothing uniquely human in patterns of evolution that I have just described. Different sets of animals when placed in different environments will evolve differently. So if we were to separate Asia, Africa, America and Europe from each other for 20,000 years we may all
evolve into different species- each perfect in its own environment but completely different from the other and unable to reproduce with the other species. The reason why Humans are still one species is because we travel and we marry people from different parts of the world. If we are to remain one species it is important that we realize that racial groups should not have barriers for inter-marriage and reproduction.
We have to mix with each other and have inter-race children if we are to prevent a speciazation of different human populations.

Natural selection is cruel. Individuals not well adapted to the environment die or are unable to produce offspring. That is how it happens in animals and that it how it happened for humans. But we are now a more civilized species. We care for everyone. Medical science has given almost everyone the chance to enjoy a long life and be able to reproduce. Now, this also means that harmful genes do net get weeded out by evolution. And that is not good for the human population as a whole.

Also, in some cases people carrying less useful genes tend to have more offspring. Intelligence is a classic example of this. People with a high IQ tend to study more, marry late and have less offspring. People with lesser IQ study less, marry early and tend to have more children. Would this cause the average human intelligence to decrease over generations?

Thus we face a dilemma: We have evolved into a civilized society in which we care for everyone. Thus our social fabric does not let the cruel hands of natural selection weed out the bad/less useful genes. But we do value certain characteristics like intelligence and good health and want them to  improve over time. How do we achieve this goal without letting natural selection take control?

The answer lies in Genetic Engineering. Using genetic engineering we can let everyone have children but without the bad genes. With genetic engineering we can evolve into more developed species without letting natural selection take control. With genetic engineering we can become more intelligent over generations without having to ask our high IQ friends to produce more kids than their neighbors.

In my opinion genetic engineering can help us achieve the aim of evolution without natural selection. But it has to be done very carefully and in a manner that is fair to everyone and also ethical. And it has to be done after sound research into the effects and side-effects of modifying each gene.

Our future is not in the hands of natural selection but in the hands of modern science which would exercise selection over genes and not over people.


Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;

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Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fibonacci series in nature


Today I will tell you about a concept of mathematics and then apply it to biology, music, history, poetry, literature.
In fact, I will show you the world with this one concept.

Lets take a series of numbers:

1, 1 , 2 , 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…….

Each number is just the sum of previous 2 numbers. So we start with 1 and 1. Add to make 2. Then we add
the 2 to the one before it and get 3. 5 is got by adding 3 and 2. And it goes on and on forever. You can check
that 89 is formed by adding 55 and 34. Of course we can add 89 and 55 to find the next number in the sequence.
So every number is the sum of its immediately 2 previous numbers.

This series is known as the Fibonacci series after a person named Leonardo of Pisa, also known as
Fibonacci, who studied it in detail in 1202 AD. The numbers in this series are called Fibonacci numbers. So 89
is a Fibonacci number but 85 is not.

Fibonacci numbers had always been known to Indian mathematicians. Pingala in 200 BC had used this number
sequence in describing the metrical structure of Sanskrit poetry. All of Sanskrit poetry is based on Fibonacci numbers!

Virgil used the Fibonacci sequence to structure his epic poem Aeneid.

There are studies that state that Beethoven and Mozart used this series of numbers while composing their music.

Now, lets examine the beauty of different kinds of flowers using the Fibonacci number sequence.
A sunflower is beautiful isn’t it? Now lets take a look at its mathematical beauty. If you look into the seeds at the
centre of the flower, you will see them arranged in a tightly packet spiral. The number of spirals is a Fibonacci
number. So you can have 34 spirals inside the sunflower but not 35 or 33. 34 is a Fibonacci number as we have
seen above!

How many petals does a buttercup have : 5 ( it is a Fibonacci number).
How many does a marigold have? 13( Fibonacci number).
How many does an aster have? 21 ( Fibonacci no!).
How many does a daisy have ? 34, 55 or 89 ( ALL FIBONACCI NUMBERS!)

The petals of all flowers follow the Fibonacci number sequence! The number of leaves on a plant in each turn as
you go from bottom to top follow the Fibonacci sequence! Pine cones have a Fibonacci number of spirals and “petals”
at every set of “winding”. Same is true for pineapples!


Leonardo Da Vinci knew about this. He suggested that plants and flowers set themselves up in such a way so as
to preserve moisture. Leonardo Da Vinci used the Fibonacci number sequence in his painting: Mona Lisa and in
the study of the proportions of man, ” The Vetruvian man”.

A golden rectangle is the one whose sides are the ratios of any two consecutive Fibonacci numbers. Divide any
Fibonacci number by its previous and you get about 1.6. So a golden rectangle is one whose sides are of the
ratio 1.6. So a rectangle with the sides 34 and 21 is a golden rectangle because the sides are Fibonacci numbers.
A golden rectangle is most pleasing to the eye. So since time immemorial, artists have employed it in their art and
architects have employed it in their buildings.

Nature is a painter, a musician, a thinker, a philosopher and a great mathematician. Mathematics is Nature’s
attempts to create beauty in numbers. Nature is beautiful; Mathematics is beautiful. There is no other way!

Now let’s learn a very interesting thing about honeybees. I have two parents. You have two parents. All animals
have two parents. But a honeybee is different! It can have one or two parents! A queen bee lays down many
eggs. If an egg is fertilized by a male drone, it hatches to be a female. But if an egg remains unfertilized then
it hatches to be a male drone. So, a male bee only has a mummy! A female bee has a mummy and a daddy!
Females usually end up as worker bees but some( very few) are fed a special kind of jelly which makes them
queens- they fly away to form their own colonies.

Now lets take a male bee. How many parents does it have? 1: the queen female.
How many grand parents does it have : 2 ( the queen female has to have a father and a mother)
How many great grand parents does it have : 3 ( The father will have only a mother but the mother will have two parents)
How many great-great grand parents does it have : 5 ( two for the each of the great grand mothers. One for the great grand father)
How many great great great grand parents: 8 ( you can calculate this….. it is simple)
How many great-4 grand parents: 13
How many great-5 grand parents: 21
How many great-6 grand parents : 34
How many great -7 grand parents : 55
How many great-8 grand parents: 89


This is the Fibonacci series! So the number of ancestors of honey bees at each generation follows the Fibonacci series!
Isn’t this WOW! This is true for the female bee also!

Isn’t the mathematical structure of Nature beautiful?

Now let me tell you about limerick. A Limerick is a 5 line poem with the rhyming sequence: AABBA.
It is always a funny poem and has the following structure: The 1,2 and 5th lines are longer and the 3rd and 4 th
lines are shorter. They are shorter by a metrical foot. The 1,2 and 5 lines should have 9 syllables and the 3rd and 4th
lines have 6 syllables. That is the structure. Here is an example:

This is Dixon Merrit’s famous limerick on pelicans. It has become so popular that it has been quoted several times
in scholarly books of Ornithology. Here it is:

        A wonderful bird is the pelican,
        His bill will hold more than his belican,
        He can take in his beak
        Enough food for a week
        But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

Inspired by this and in reference to our above discussion about Fibonacci numbers and bees, I have written a

The fibonacci number sequence,
is for the bees of consequence,
because the female bee,
has a daddy you see,
but the drone is due to his absence.


Go wonderous creature, mount where science guides
go measure earth, weigh air, state the tides,
instruct the planets in what orbs to run
correct old time, regulate the sun

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Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Japanese Tea Ceremony

This post was written on Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I spent the last week marinating myself in Japanese history, culture, cuisine and sake(rice wine). The most interesting part of my trip was when I got an opportunity to attend a tea ceremony at the Happo-en gardens in Tokyo. In Japan tea and the tea ceremony are almost symbols of the Japanese culture. In today’s VERITAS I will try to give a short description of the ceremony, its history and its relationship to the Japanese culture.

        Tea was introduced in Japan with the spread of Buddhism from China. During the rule of the Tang dynasty in China in the 8th Century a
poet named Lu Yu wrote a book- the “Chaking”(The holy scripture of tea). In this book he formulated ways and manners related to growing, making and drinking tea. His work was heavily influenced by the “Chan” school of Buddhism. The “Chan” school of Buddhism spread to Japan and became “Zen”. And with Zen the culture of tea was also introduced in Japan in the 12th Century when Yeisai-Zenji returned from his trip to China. By the 15th century the tea ceremony had been perfected and a book written about its intricate details: Cha-no-yu: The art of Tea. Some of the major influences on the tea ceremony were Ikkyu and Sen Rikyu.

        The tea ceremony is not just about making and drinking tea. it is something much bigger: it is related to flower decoration, the architecture of the tea house, the appreciation of paintings, the beauty of the kimono, the philosophy of Zen and the manners of the tea drinkers and the tea maker.

Tea House


Tea ceremonies are done in separate tea houses. The architecture of tea houses was specified by Jowo- a 15th century tea master. There is a tea room called Sukiya.



There is a room where utensils are arranged called Midsuya. The guests wait outside the tea house in a room called Machiai. They have to wait till they are summorned to the tea room. The path between the Machiai and the Sukiya is called the Roji. The Roji is usually a garden path. The Roji on which I walked was surrounded by cherry trees in full blossom- cherry blossoms are called Sakura in Japan. The seating in the tea room is Tatami( on the floor on special mats).



                        I looked beyond;
                        Flowers are not,
                        Nor tinted leaves.
                        On the sea beach
                        A solitary cottage stands
                        In the waning light,
                        Of an autumn eve.
                                        (Kakuzo Okakura- The book of Tea)

        The door of the tea house is very low. So everyone bows his head while entering- in the tea house the tea maker is supreme. All others-
from the Emperor to the poor worker have the same status while sitting in the tea room. In the tea room there is a small flower decoration and
a small painting. The flower decoration is placed on the Tokonama. Nothing else is placed near it. This is to allow the guests to appreciate the
flower arrangement without distraction. The guests first bow  to the flower and then to the host. After that they look at the painting and admire it.

        Apart from the flower arrangement and the small painting the tea room is quite bare. Also there is asymmetry in the tea room. The Zen
Buddhists believe that the mind should complete the symmetry- if art itself is symmetrical then the mind will not get a chance to exercise its imagination.

 The guests sit quietly as the host prepares tea. The guests are supposed to enjoy the atmosphere created by delightful sounds of the boiling water, the waterfall outside and the chirping of the birds. The host cleans the utensils in the order of the guests. Then tea is prepared. Every motion of the hand and every step of making the tea is a precscibed one. The tea maker has no room for changing any step. The steps prescribed in Cha-no-yo have to be perfectly followed. Tea masters are not rated accoring to innovation- they are rated as to how deep their knowledge of the Cha-no-yo is and how perfectly can they follow it.

        After the tea is prepared it is served to the guests and they receive the bowls with a bow. Drinking the tea is also a detailed affair.
The bowls have to be rotated clockwise 2-3 times before taking the first sip. Before the second sip the bowl is rotated anti-clockwise. And so on.

        I cannot describe the whole tea ceremony. It is a very complicated affair. I saw an english translation of the Cha-no-yu- it is about 600 pages long. The tea masters have to go through several years of practice and study before they can do tea ceremonies.


        One of the most beautiful things that happened during the tea ceremony was that when serving tea the host said the words- “Ichigo Ichi-e”.
These words are always said when the tea master gives the tea bowls to the guests. The words literally mean “Only one chance!”. So the tea master says that we have only one chance to enjoy this moment of harmony, togetherness and joy. This concept moved me- there was no talk of future aims and ambitions, deadlines and plans. There was just a realization that the present moment will never come again – let’s enjoy it now.

 After attending the tea ceremony I understood the Japanese culture a lot more. Their gentle manners, their decorations of nearly everything, their
pretty dresses, their delicate sets of food and chopsticks- the whole country and culture seems to be influenced by the way of the tea- Cha-no-yo. A few days back while discussing Japan’s immense industrialization after world war II, Dave Allen had told me that one reason for this huge advance is that Japanese take a process and then refine it to perfection. And it is these near perfect processes that have helped them create products that were far superior than those from other countries. While coming back from the tea ceremony I thought about this and it seemed to me that this desire for “perfect processes” has a link with the Tea Ceremony- Not everyone has to be innovative. Innovation is good but sometimes taking a process and making it perfect is even more important. I see this in the processes of the “Tea ceremony” and also in the
processes that have led the Japanese to create the Toyotas and the SOnys.

        Some of the information for this VERITAS has been taken from the book “The book of Tea” written by Kakuzo Okakura. You can borrow this book from me. The Wikipedia has some excellent information and pictures related to the tea ceremony.


  Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:                 
  Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:                 
  Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,                          
  Correct old time and regulate the Sun;