Blog.kamranloghman.com For a complete biography of Kamran Loghman go to www.kamranloghman.com
For a complete biography of Kamran Loghman go to www.kamranloghman.com
The Relationship of CEO and Board
Crucial to the success of any new CEO, is the way in which he or she establishes, defines and sustains his or her relationship with the board in the first 90 days of tenure. The CEO-board relationship is defined by roles that differ from, but depend on, each other. The CEO is in charge of developing and executing strategy while the board is responsible for approving and advising on it. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the CEO, with the board providing a broader perspective.
There are more checks and balances than ever for today’s CEOs and although the majority of US CEOs also chair the board, this is changing in the face of more stringent corporate governance regulations which have also seen a shift in power from CEO to board. Board members are now intimately involved with the business and less forgiving of below standard CEO performance so it is in the CEO’s interest to ensure a sound relationship with the board.
When new CEOs inherit a board, they need to determine quickly how to build a productive working relationship with that board – and who their business partners on that board are. Board culture can complicate matters, especially if it doesn’t match that of the company. There’s also the issue of group thinking where the thoughts of individual board members clash with group opinion, but tend to be stifled for the sake of consensus. This can result in a wall of silence between board and CEO with the board effectively shutting out the CEO. It is critical that board and CEO are on the same wavelength, but even so, many CEOs underestimate the importance of understanding the board’s interests and fail to develop and maintain the relationship necessary to determine the best strategy for the company.
Whether you are an internal or external hire, one-on-one listening and learning opens up communications, reveals insights about the company and business and highlights resources and potential problems. Individual board members can offer not only expertise but also private counsel and many CEOs rely on a confidant in their management team to act as a sounding board for new ideas. Conversations with confidants and individual board members give new CEOs the opportunity to subtly shift the board dynamics, so that it becomes their board rather than that of their predecessor. The questions you ask, how you ask them and the answers you give demonstrate that you intend to make your own mark.
You’ll have to prove to your board that they made the right choice. Business results will eventually speak for themselves but initially you’ll need to focus on establishing relationships and building credibility by developing a sound agenda, becoming familiar with the business, listening to and learning from the board, communicating, building a committed management team and maintaining a degree of humility.
Private equity, in finance, is an asset class consisting of equity securities in operating companies that are not publicly traded on a stock exchange. A private equity investment will generally be made by a private equity firm, a venture capital firm or an angel investor. Each of these categories of investor has its own set of goals, preferences and investment strategies; each however providing working capital to a target company to nurture expansion, new product development, or restructuring of the company’s operations, management, or ownership. Among the most common investment strategies in private equity are: leveraged buyouts, venture capital, growth capital, distressed investments and mezzanine capital. In a typical leveraged buyout transaction, a private equity firm buys majority control of an existing or mature firm. This is distinct from a venture capital or growth capital investment, in which the investors invest in young or emerging companies, and rarely obtain majority control. Private equity is also often grouped into a broader category called private capital, generally used to describe capital supporting any long-term, illiquid investment strategy.
Leveraged buyout, LBO or Buyout refers to a strategy of making equity investments as part of a transaction in which a company, business unit or business assets is acquired from the current shareholders typically with the use of financial leverage. The companies involved in these transactions are typically mature and generate operating cash flows. Leveraged buyouts involve a financial sponsor agreeing to an acquisition without itself committing all the capital required for the acquisition. To do this, the financial sponsor will raise acquisition debt which ultimately looks to the cash flows of the acquisition target to make interest and principal payments. Acquisition debt in an LBO is often non-recourse to the financial sponsor and has no claim on other investment managed by the financial sponsor. Therefore, an LBO transaction's financial structure is particularly attractive to a fund's limited partners, allowing them the benefits of leverage but greatly limiting the degree of recourse of that leverage. This kind of financing structure leverage benefits an LBO's financial sponsor in two ways: (1) the investor itself only needs to provide a fraction of the capital for the acquisition, and (2) the returns to the investor will be enhanced (as long as the return on assets exceeds the cost of the debt).
As a percentage of the purchase price for a leverage buyout target, the amount of debt used to finance a transaction varies according the financial condition and history of the acquisition target, market conditions, the willingness of lenders to extend credit as well as the interest costs and the ability of the company to cover those costs. Historically the debt portion of a LBO will range from 60%–90% of the purchase price, although during certain periods the debt ratio can be higher or lower than the historical averages.
Growth Capital refers to equity investments, most often minority investments, in relatively mature companies that are looking for capital to expand or restructure operations, enter new markets or finance a major acquisition without a change of control of the business. Companies that seek growth capital will often do so in order to finance a transformational event in their life cycle. These companies are likely to be more mature than venture capital funded companies, able to generate revenue and operating profits but unable to generate sufficient cash to fund major expansions, acquisitions or other investments. Because of this lack of scale these companies generally can find few alternative conduits to secure capital for growth, so access to growth equity can be critical to pursue necessary facility expansion, sales and marketing initiatives, equipment purchases, and new product development. The primary owner of the company may not be willing to take the financial risk alone. By selling part of the company to private equity, the owner can take out some value and share the risk of growth with partners. Capital can also be used to affect a restructuring of a company's balance sheet, particularly to reduce the amount of leverage or debt the company has on its balance sheet. A Private investment in public equity, or PIPEs, refers to a form of growth capital investment made into a publicly traded company. PIPE investments are typically made in the form of a convertible or preferred security that is unregistered for a certain period of time. The Registered Direct, or RD, is another common financing vehicle used for growth capital. A registered direct is similar to a PIPE but is instead sold as a registered security.
Mezzanine capital refers to subordinated debt or preferred equity securities that often represent the most junior portion of a company's capital structure that is senior to the company's common equity. This form of financing is often used by private equity investors to reduce the amount of equity capital required to finance a leveraged buyout or major expansion. Mezzanine capital, which is often used by smaller companies that are unable to access the high yield market, allows such companies to borrow additional capital beyond the levels that traditional lenders are willing to provide through bank loans. In compensation for the increased risk, mezzanine debt holders require a higher return for their investment than secured or other more senior lenders. Mezzanine securities are often structured with a current income coupon.
Venture capital is a broad subcategory of private equity that refers to equity investments made, typically in less mature companies, for the launch, early development, or expansion of a business. Venture investment is most often found in the application of new technology, new marketing concepts and new products that have yet to be proven. Venture capital is often sub-divided by the stage of development of the company ranging from early stage capital used for the launch of start-up companies to late stage and growth capital that is often used to fund expansion of existing business that are generating revenue but may not yet be profitable or generating cash flow to fund future growth.
Entrepreneurs often develop products and ideas that require substantial capital during the formative stages of their companies' life cycles. Many entrepreneurs do not have sufficient funds to finance projects themselves, and they must therefore seek outside financing. The venture capitalists need to deliver high returns to compensate for the risk of these investments makes venture funding an expensive capital source for companies. Being able to secure financing is critical to any business, whether it’s a startup seeking venture capital or a mid-sized firm that needs more cash to grow. Venture capital is most suitable for businesses with large up-front capital requirements which cannot be financed by cheaper alternatives such as debt. Although venture capital is often most closely associated with fast-growing technology and biotechnology fields, venture funding has been used for other more traditional businesses.
Distressed or Special Situations is a broad category referring to investments in equity or debt securities of financially stressed companies. The "distressed" category encompasses two broad sub-strategies including: "Distressed-to-Control" or "Loan-to-Own" strategies where the investor acquires debt securities in the hopes of emerging from a corporate restructuring in control of the company's equity; "Special Situations" or "Turnaround" strategies where an investor will provide debt and equity investments, often "rescue financing" to companies undergoing operational or financial challenges. In addition to these private equity strategies, hedge funds employ a variety of distressed investment strategies including the active trading of loans and bonds issued by distressed companies.
Secondary investments refer to investments made in existing private equity assets. These transactions can involve the sale of private equity fund interests or portfolios of direct investments in privately held companies through the purchase of these investments from existing institutional investors. By its nature, the private equity asset class is illiquid, intended to be a long-term investment for buy and hold investors. Secondary investments provide institutional investors with the ability to improve vintage diversification, particularly for investors that are new to the asset class. Secondaries also typically experience a different cash flow profile, diminishing the j-curve effect of investing in new private equity funds. Often investments in secondaries are made through third party fund vehicle, structured similar to a fund of funds although many large institutional investors have purchased private equity fund interests through secondary transactions Sellers of private equity fund investments sell not only the investments in the fund but also their remaining unfunded commitments to the funds.
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics. Most of the interest in this area is in fundamental fields, each of which cannot be described as a bound state of other fields. The current set of fundamental fields and their dynamics are summarized in a theory called the Standard Model, therefore particle physics is largely the study of the Standard Model's particle content and its possible extensions.
The Standard Model falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions because it does not incorporate the physics of dark energy nor of the full theory of gravitation as described by general relativity. The theory does not contain any viable dark matter particle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology. It also does not correctly account for neutrino oscillations and their non-zero masses. Nevertheless, the Standard Model is important to theoretical and experimental particle physicists alike. For theorists, the Standard Model is a paradigmatic example of a quantum field theory, which exhibits a wide range of physics including spontaneous symmetry breaking, anomalies, non-perturbative behavior, etc. It is used as a basis for building more exotic models that incorporate hypothetical particles, extra dimensions, and elaborate symmetries such as supersymmetry in an attempt to explain experimental results at variance with the Standard Model, such as the existence of dark matter and neutrino oscillations. In turn, experimenters have incorporated the Standard Model into simulators to help search for new physics beyond the Standard Model.
Quantum mechanics also known as quantum physics, or quantum theory is a branch of physics dealing with physical phenomena where the action is on the order of the Planck constant. Quantum mechanics departs from classical mechanics primarily at the quantum realm of atomic and subatomic length scales. It provides a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. In advanced topics of quantum mechanics, some of these behaviors are macroscopic and only emerge at extreme very low or very high energies or temperatures. The name quantum mechanics derives from the observation that some physical quantities can change only in discrete amounts (Latin quanta), and not in a continuous way. For example, the angular momentum of an electron bound to an atom or molecule is quantized. In the context of quantum mechanics, the wave–particle duality of energy and matter and the uncertainty principle provide a unified view of the behavior of photons, electrons, and other atomic-scale objects.
Atoms are the complex end-products of creation. Their basic constituents were created within the first seconds of the Big Bang. Several thousand years elapsed before these particles combined to make atoms. All forms of matter are built from these basic constituents. What is more, the quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons are believed to be elementary—in other words they do not consist of anything smaller. They are points of congealed energy, and they are what everything else in the Universe, from cottage cheese to quasars, is made of. Two hundred years elapsed before Newton's successors began to discover that atoms are neither solid, nor impenetrable, nor even indivisible. By 1932, physicists knew of three basic constituents of atoms—the electron, the proton, and the neutron. They had also come to appreciate that the electromagnetic force, which binds the electrically-charged constituents together, is carried by the photon—the particle of familiar, visible light. The photon plays a crucial role in atoms; it is in a sense the `mortar' that holds together the `bricks' in building the matter of the everyday world.
In human terms, electrons are the most important of all subatomic particles. Electrons in the outer reaches of atoms give structure to the Universe. They are the means by which atoms are bonded together to form molecules and, eventually, large aggregates of matter such as ourselves and everything around us. The achievements of modern chemistry and biochemistry, from the invention of plastics to the synthesis of new drugs and the manipulations of genetic engineering, are ultimately based on our detailed understanding of the behavior of electrons in atoms. Remove electrons from atoms, set them in motion, and you have an electric current: a stream of electrons flowing through a substance capable of conducting them, such as the copper of electric wiring. Electrons not only provide us with electricity, they are the basis of electronics—from televisions to microchips. Electronics, in fact, is defined as the applied science of the controlled motion of electrons.
Our senses perceive the visible light and warm rays from the Sun as a continuous stream of radiation. So it comes as no surprise to learn that light and heat (infrared), and all the other forms of electromagnetic radiation, can be described in terms of vibrating waves—oscillations of intertwined electric and magnetic fields. Yet the quantum theories of the 20th century have provided us with another view of light, as a staccato burst of particles of zero mass called photons. This is true all the way across the electromagnetic spectrum, from high-frequency (short-wavelength) gamma rays through to low-frequency (long-wavelength) radio waves. Frequency and wavelength describe waves of light, but photons are described in terms of their energy and momentum. Gamma rays consist of high-energy photons, radio waves of low-energy photons. Still more surprising is that photons are responsible for transmitting electromagnetic forces. The electric forces that hold atoms together are in effect `carried' by photons, which flit back and forth between the atom's electric charges. These photons within the atom are transitory entities, existing on timescales too fine for us to perceive with our slow, macroscopic senses. Physicists call them `virtual' photons.
It is resonance that enables an opera singer's voice to break a wine glass. The singer hits a note whose frequency exactly matches the natural frequency of the glass; the glass vibrates in response to the sound waves and shatters. Resonance also occurs at the atomic level, as when the sodium atoms in a street light absorb electrical energy and in turn radiate it as light. These resonant systems have the property of absorbing energy in the same characteristic way: if you plot the energy absorbed on a graph, it will rise smoothly to a peak as the frequency (or wavelength) changes and then fall again.
Neutrino is one of the most pervasive forms of matter in the Universe, yet it is also one of the most elusive. It has no electric charge, little or no mass, and it can travel as easily through the Earth as a bullet through a bank of fog. As you read this sentence, billions of neutrinos are hurtling through your eyeballs as fast as light, but unseen. Quantum scientists estimate that there are on average between 100 and 1000 neutrinos ' every cubic centimeter of space. The neutrinos have no direct effect on us, but scientists have come to believe that they play a crucial role in the processes that formed and continue to shape our Universe. They are regarded today as one of the truly elementary particles of matter. Matter is built from quarks and leptons, held together by fundamental forces, which in turn are mediated by particles known collectively as gauge bosons.
Neuroplasticity and Brain Imaging
Advanced brain imaging technologies have been used recently to investigate Neuroplasticity in relation to recovery and treatment of neurologic injury and disease. The contributors to this supplement present data and synthesize the extant literature on the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, optical imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and transcranial direct current stimulation to study remodeling of cortical representation of motor and cognitive abilities after stroke and other etiologies of neurologic impairment. In general, the collective findings of these studies support use-dependent Neuroplasticity as a mechanism of recovery and response to training. Brain imaging findings support the role of brain training effects on increased activation of brain regions ipsilateral to unilateral vascular lesions in facilitating recovery from stroke.
Neuroplasticity research has provided insights such as shifts over time in the relative contributions of brain regions ipsilateral and contralateral to the site of a unilateral hemispheric lesion in stroke. In contrast to the previously held concept that reorganization of function in homologous regions of the intact hemisphere facilitates recovery from stroke, we now appreciate that good functional outcome is associated with increasing participation of regions in the damaged hemisphere, including sites adjacent to the infarct. Use-dependent Neuroplasticity has also gained wide acceptance in animal models, brain imaging of patients, and studies of innovative therapies such as constraint-induced movement therapy that have a foundation in laboratory research. As presented in this supplement, investigators are using neuroimaging techniques to evaluate the effects of interventions on adaptive reorganization of function. This approach has enabled investigators to compare the effects of alternative approaches to motor rehabilitation on Neuroplasticity, and similar applications to training language and visual attention are in progress. Moreover, TMS and transcranial direct current stimulation have emerged as potential therapies delivered either in combination with behavioral training or in isolation, which could enhance use-dependent Neuroplasticity and inhibit suboptimal reliance on the intact hemisphere. Functional electric stimulation also appears to facilitate use-dependent Neuroplasticity in stroke patients with motor deficit. Relevant to the intervention studies described in the supplement is the change
Heroic Leadership Principles
The Way of the Ancient Warrior Sages
“When Calm, Prepare for the Storm. When Chaotic, Remain Tranquil.”
16th century Japanese Samurai 
The topic of leadership seems to be everywhere these days. Whether on television, radio, newspapers, the web or the next table at your local Starbucks, everyone is talking about it. More specifically, it is the absence of leadership in our elected officials that seems to be driving the conversation.
Many individuals have carried the distinction of being labeled a great leader. The most overlooked of these leaders are the warrior sages. Throughout history there have been great men and women who embodied superior leadership qualities. Many of them were powerful warriors who led their people to victory when their very freedom was at stake. Because these leaders used both wisdom and strength they were called warrior sages!
It’s important to note here that those using wisdom and strength to defeat an enemy (or fight for a cause) did not necessarily take up arms. True wisdom grants you the ability to assess the appropriate means of achieving success. In the case of 20th Century leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, non-violence was the path they chose. Had they taken up arms against their perceived enemies, they certainly would have met with defeat. To deny that they were great warriors endowed with strength and wisdom is to deny the tremendous courage, fortitude and passion with which they led their respective followers to victory. On the other hand, if arms weren’t taken up against a tyrant like Adolph Hitler, the allied forces would have met certain defeat during World War II.
Wisdom in leadership does not always dictate the same response for every situation. A wise leader remains free of conceptual restraints, and thus has all options at his or her disposal. Each and every situation is unique. Only wisdom can determine the correct action for any particular response. A wise leader never depends on cookie cutter solutions. Wise decisions are made according to circumstances, and require awareness and insight. This is the very essence of wisdom. In 500 B.C. Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general summarized it this way: “Those who win every battle do not exhibit the highest skill; those who are victorious without ever engaging in combat are the most skillful of all”! 
These are not times for the weak-hearted!
According to a publication from the US Army War College: “The undeveloped mind, when bombarded with information and external stimuli, quickly loses the ability to decide and the courage to act until the moment of crisis. The developed mind can part the shadows of chaos, disorder and confusion to create a vision and pursue it with conviction, keeping the organization on the proper azimuth to achieve its purpose. We can learn from the ancients that acquiring the full spectrum of courage (intellectual, physical, and moral) requires the continuous development of mind, body, and soul.” [4}
This statement is mirrored in one of India’s classics: “One, who is in no way perturbed or moved at the happening either of a good or a bad event, just as a mountain cannot be swept out by flood of mirage, should be known as the wise”. 
There’s no doubt we live in troubling times. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their security and their faith in our leaders’ ability to turn things around. Threats to our survival are inherent in the human condition. Regardless of a shaky economy or prospects of terrorism, the inevitability of disease and death has been our lot since the beginning of human existence. From this perspective, nothing much has changed. However, as our world has grown more and more complex, we find ourselves at the mercy of social and economic conditions that appear to be beyond our control. Uncertainty seems to be the order of the day. As far back as most of us can remember we’ve never seen a time when courage and wisdom were more needed!
Crisis and the way it’s dealt with, is how we generally define leadership these days. The greater the crisis, the greater the opportunity of being defined as a heroic leader. However, heroic leadership can also be defined by growth and prosperity. This is especially true when one must confront and overcome impediments to growth and prosperity. Let’s not forget that growth and prosperity bring with them strength and stability. These often act as preventative measures against many crises. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, the prevention of crises is superior to fighting the battles that often accompany them.
The principles that guided history’s great warrior sages are equally effective in achieving success for the challenges of everyday life. As counter intuitive as it may seem, the lives of great men and women like Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Jackie Robinson, Andrew Carnegie and many others, all embody the spirit and principles similar to those employed by ancient warrior sages.
History has left us with the stories of many great leaders that can certainly be given the title of warrior sages. They are soldiers and they are scientists. They are titans of industry and they are politicians. They are doctors and clergy. They are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers - they are sons and daughters. They show up in every walk of life. Many of them never held a sword or gun in their hands. However, many have stood out over time and their names remain legend among their varied cultures. Their acts are retold in historical books, essays and conversations. They were heroic in every sense of the word!
Along with the retelling of their stories, we’re left with a documentation of the principles they lived by. These principles are transforming in nature, and provide us with a framework that can be replicated to meet whatever challenges lie before us. Their application can be applied not only to the field of battle, but to business, sports, science, medicine, government, relationships and just about any area of life you can think of.
Benefits of Heroic Leadership
Institutions, whether they are small businesses, associations, corporations, foundations, military complexes or governments all need individuals with heroic leadership qualities in order to achieve the success they seek. The principles culled from the lives of historic warrior sages provide the fix that many are looking for. Although these past leaders represent diverse cultures, their principles are universal in nature, and transcend time, place, language and customs. They are as fresh and relevant today as they were a thousand years ago.
When these principles begin to take up residence in our lives, we begin to develop heroic leadership qualities that make us innovative, driven, and focused. They bring about inner strength, determination, clarity of vision and a clear sense of purpose. They enable us to see what’s needed to efficiently accomplish the task at hand. They also provide us with the skill of bringing others on board.
Presenting a system for developing leadership qualities in the context of warrior sages creates an extremely compelling learning environment. Introducing these fascinating personalities along with anecdotes from their lives will inspire others to want to emulate some of the noble characteristics they embody. Along with hearing their exploits, people can also learn simple techniques that will give them a direct experience of the effectiveness of some of these principles.
Recognizing the great need for our leaders to acquire heroic leadership qualities, the warrior sages of the past provide us with all the tools necessary. Applying these tools will put us back on course toward greater success and prosperity. Then perhaps, the conversations we hear regarding leadership will be suffused with cheerfulness and enthusiasm. 1. Yagyu Munenori (2003) The Life-Giving Sword. Kodansha International.
2. Sun Tzu (1991) The Art of War. Shambhala.
3. Christopher Kolenda (2001) Leadership: The Warrior ‘s Art. Army War College Foundation, Press.
4. Ramachandra K. Bhagwat (1954) Jnaneshwari. Samata Books.
1. Yagyu Munenori (2003) The Life-Giving Sword. Kodansha International.
Headhunters and Recruiters
In these times when jobs are few, job seekers often think of headhunters or recruiters. A recruiter is someone engaging in recruitment, or the solicitation of individuals to fill jobs or positions. But before you search for someone to find you a job you need to learn about the different types of recruiters. There are primarily two types of recruiters namely “Retained” and “Contingent”.
The “Retained” executive search consultant is engaged on an exclusive basis by a hiring company to identify and assess candidates to fill senior management positions typically paying a salary above $150,000. These recruiters are on retainer paid by the company. Retained recruiters work for the company and not for job candidates seeking employment. Retained recruiters are paid for the process, typically earning a recruiting fee in 3 stages. 1/3 of the fee for initiating a search, 1/3 of the fee for delivering finalist candidates for a position, and the final 1/3 of the fee when a job offer is presented to the selected job candidate. Given their deep relationships with hiring organizations, they are acutely aware of which companies are growing, the talent those organizations need, and what they are willing to pay to attract top-notch executives. Retained search firms are paid by the companies that hire them to fill a position, typically a fee of one-third of the job's first year compensation. Search firms are not working for you, but for their paying clients. Therefore, do not expect firms to be overly responsive when you contact them. If your resume is impressive, they may add you to their database of executives. Executive job seekers do have to be careful in how public they make themselves. You want to gain visibility as a top performer in your field, but not be perceived as an active job seeker.
The “Contingency” headhunter on the other hand are contracted nonexclusively by the company and often is in competition with other contingency fee search firms to identify potential candidates for lower-level management positions that usually pay a base salary of $75,000 or more. Only firms that identify candidates who are ultimately hired get paid a fee for their services. Contingent recruiters are paid only upon the successful completion of the search. These recruiters may earn 10% to 35% of the candidate's first-year base salary as a hiring fee. The fee is always paid by the hiring company, not the job seeker. The contingency headhunter is much more likely than the retained executive search consultant to distribute your resume to as many potential clients as possible because it increases his or her chances of making the right introduction and, ultimately, of getting paid. If you haven't yet landed a job with significant management responsibilities, it's far more likely you'll be working with a contingency recruiter. Contingency recruiters provide you with a great deal of exposure, since they send many resumes to their clients. This can be useful to you early in your career or if you are unemployed. However, bear in mind that you may not always want your resume widely distributed if you are happy in your current job.
Finally, you should know that no one in the business of recruiting should ever ask you for money to facilitate your career move regardless of how professional they pretend to be. Recruiters should get paid by the company and not you. Legitimate search firms are always paid by their clients and never by the job seeker.
Mantra and its Meaning
There is perhaps no subject in the Indian scriptures (shastra) which is less understood than mantra. The subject is so important a part of the Tantra-Shastra that its other title is Mantra-Shastra. Commonly scholars and others describe mantra as "prayer," "formula of worship," "mystic syllables," and so forth. There is nothing necessarily holy or prayerful about a mantra. Mantra is a power (mantra-shakti) which lends itself impartially to any use positive or negative. Mantra is a very large part of the ancient school of yoga. It is a specific path of yoga in itself called Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga or Japa Yoga. Mantra has been practiced in almost every mystical and spiritual path including Buddhism, Judaism, and Sufism and as Rosary in Christianity.
Mantra is sound, and sound is reverberating in everything in this universe. When water flows, it makes a gurgling sound. That is mantra. When wind blows through the trees, it makes a rustling sound. That is mantra. When we walk on the earth, our footsteps produce sound, and that too is mantra. Within human beings as well, there is a self-born sound which repeats itself constantly along with our breathing and that is the mantra Hamsa or Soham.
We are constantly surrounded by sound. When we disturb the air in any way, we create sound. The slightest motion of our bodies disturbs the air around us, and we produce sound. When we raise our hand, we compress the air in its way, and that compressed air front will travel away from us at the speed of sound, which is about 740 miles per hour.
Sound has enormous power; in fact according to the Kashmir Shaivite scripture of Spanda Karikas it has the power to create an entire universe. Even modern scientists have recognized, as the ancient sages did, that there is a vibration which reverberates ceaselessly throughout the cosmos. This vibration underlies all matter and is the substratum of everything. Just as it pulsates within all the objects in the universe, it also pulsates within us. That inner pulsation, which we can discover throbbing at the root of the mind, is the true mantra.
The ordinary meaning of spanda is throb or vibration. In the terminology of Shaivism, the word Spanda has a specific meaning. It refers to movement in something which was formerly motionless. Spanda is Shakti, the power which transcends the senses. The word spanda means subtle movement or the manifestation of the subtle and pure "I"--consciousness.
© Kamran Loghman
Genesis of Martial Arts in India
The modern images of India often depict pictures of poverty, sickness and lack of development. However, India was the richest country on earth until the advent of British colonial rule in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus was attracted by India's wealth and it was in his pursuit of India, that he landed in the Americas and thinking he was in India, he called the native Americans, Indians.
What is also not apparent immediately are the treasures of India in the form of its long history dating back to 3000 B.C. and its vast philosophical schools, one of which is Buddhism. India is the birthplace of the Buddha (Born Siddharta Gautama in 563 B.C.). India's offering to the world has been numerous. For example, India invented the numeric system, algebra, trigonometry and calculus. The art of navigation was born in the river Sindh around 5000 years ago (the word navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word navagatih).
The ancient civilization of India grew up in a sharply demarcated sub-continent bounded on the north by the world's largest mountain range - the Himalayas, which, with its extensions to east and west, divides India from the rest of Asia and the world. The barrier, however, was at no time an insurmountable one, and at all periods both settlers and traders have found their way over the high and desolate passes into India, while Indian have carried their commerce and culture beyond her frontiers by the same route.
One such example was Hiuan Tsang (c. AD 600-64) a Chinese pilgrim and one of the most distinguished Buddhist scholar of his time who traveled to India in 629 A.D. and stayed for 16 long years, traveling extensively and holding discussions with other scholars and gathering scriptures and texts to take back. In Kanchipuram he became a friend of the local king and his face was later carved on the temple built shortly after his visit.
Much has been written about India's influence over the Chinese martial arts. Some are true and some are unfounded. For instance there is no scholarly consensus that Bodhidharma introduced Indian martial arts to China. The list of travelers from India to China is not limited to Bodhidharma, but a wide variety of merchants and numerous Buddhist scholars such as Ajitasena, Amoghavajra, Bodhivardhana and Buddhapala. If India has had a direct influence on Chinese martial arts, it would be historically inaccurate to place that burden only on one traveler such as Bodhidharma. However, it goes without saying that the Indian influence over China has been enormous. The past ambassador of China to USA, Hu Shih could not have placed India's influence over its neighbor more clearly, when he stated that, "India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border". In fact over the centuries Indian philosophy and culture has had a profound influence over China, Burma, Tibet, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the entire Indochina.
Mythology has had a profound influence on every facet of Indian life and literature. The origin of its history is also often depicted in mythological language and it goes without saying that the origins of its martial arts are also often depicted in mythological language.
The warrior arts of India were imparted to the ascetic meditative sages (Rishis) by Shiva the lord of yogis. Shiva is known by various names including the terrifying Rudra. His consort is the goddess Parvati also known by various names such as Shakti, Uma and Kali. According to the scriptural texts known as Purana, the physical abode of Shiva is at mount Kailasa near lake Manasarovar, presently located in the Tibetan high plateau. After mastering the arts the Rishis established various hermitages in order to impart the divine knowledge received from Shiva to those worthy of initiation (Diksha). The disciples (Shishya) were selected carefully and had to meet strict criteria in order to be initiated. An individual lacking nobility in character would not be taught. "With soap you can not whiten the coal" said Kabir the famed Indian mystic saint (c. 1440 A.D.).
Numerous hermitages were established throughout the ages, which were responsible for guiding the initiate to enlightenment. The hermitages were responsible for the entire educational training of the disciple. Topics covered were as esoteric as philosophy to the mundane art of cooking. Combative arts (Kshatriya Vidya) were taught in Gurukulas or Rishikulas (hermitage of the master usually located in the forest) where the Acharya (teacher) or Rishi was well versed in the martial arts. The master (Guru) must have achieved final enlightenment, and reached the zenith of spiritual perfection (Siddha). In addition to being a Siddha those who had also crafted their body in the internal fire (Yajna) of warrior studies were called a Kshatriya Siddha Guru (Spiritually Perfected Warrior Master).
Among the renowned hermitages were those of Anangadeva situated at the confluence of river Ganges and Sarayu, Valmiki's situated at Citrakuta Hill and Bharadwaja's situated near the confluence of Ganges and Yamuna river. Sukra's hermitage was situated in the kingdom of Raja Danda between Vindhya and Saivada. The hermitages most noted for their warrior trainings and their resident Kshatriya Siddha Gurus were those of Vasistha, Agastya, Drona, Vyasa and Parashurama. Many great legendary warriors were students at one of these hermitages including Arjuna, Rama, Krishna, Bhima, Vishvamitra and Bhishma.
India boasts a multitude of manuscripts and scriptures covering a wide variety of subjects including the warrior arts. The great epics known as Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as the Puranas, and various Shaivite texts are just portion of this vast storehouse of wisdom. Dhanurveda a part of Agni Purana, written by Sage Vyasa, discusses the training of a warrior and particularly an archer.
Martial Arts of India
The combative arts (Kshatriya Vidya) practiced in ancient hermitages were based on a comprehensive and interrelated body of knowledge. Eventually with time, their components separated into various independent schools of martial arts and weaponry. Today, India's martial arts are divided by geographical regions, each characterized by the use of various weapons and empty-handed techniques. This article attempts to provide a bird's eye view of the various systems and weaponry still in practice today. Therefore a brief description of each system is provided for the simple purpose of identification and classification. A detail analysis of India's martial art system of the past and present is beyond the scope of this article.
Mallayuddha (Mallavidya) is commonly referred to as wrestling. But a closer look will show that although the grappling techniques are a major part of Mallayuddha it goes far beyond wrestling. In fact Mallayuddha was a major part of Kshatriya Vidya. Mallayuddha is divided into four categories. Jarasandhi (Limb Breaking techniques), Bheemaseni (techniques requiring strength), Hanumanti (Tricky techniques), and Jambuvanti (Locks). Intentional body throws (Danki) are practiced to learn to fall properly without injury. Various punches and Kicks are also utilized. Pushes and strikes (Baha) against the opponents body with legs, shoulders, forearms and various other parts is practiced for conditioning. Various push-up (Dands) on fingers and knuckles are practiced. To develop lower body a variety of deep knee bends (Baithaks) are performed. It is not unusual for an expert in mallayuddha to perform one thousand repetitions of Dands and Baithaks during a practice session.
Mallayuddha was the basis of body development for the Kshatriyas. Various ingenious tools and equipments were developed for the purpose of body conditioning and strength building. For instance, Malla-Khamb, a vertical pillar is used to train and strengthen the upper and lower body. By holding this pillar with either hand or leg locks a group of 12 postures are practiced. Stones dumbbells (Nal) and heavy wooden barbells (Sumtola) as well as various heavy clubs (Karela) are utilized for bodybuilding. Therapeutic healing practices and massage therapy is usually practiced by the master.
The highest stage in Mallayuddha is one of being a Pahlevan. Gama was among the twentieth century Pahlevans who was born in Kashmir in 1878. He was called the lion of Punjab. No one ever stood a bout of more than a minute with Gama before they fully surrendered.
Vajra-Mushti is an off shoot of Mallayuddha practiced mainly in the north. It employs a horned weapon that is worn on the fingers of the right hand and is used for punching (Mushti). It has five points. In this art the standing positions (Pavitra) has great importance. Punches and kicks in addition to Mallayuddha techniques are practiced. Vajra is one of India's most ancient and highly honored weapons. It was the weapon of Indra the god of war. It is said that this weapon was made out of the backbone of the rishi Dadhici and was presented to Indra. Perhaps the ring found on the weapon lead to the belief that it was made of the backbone. Vajramushti warriors are deadly and ferocious fighters although at the present time their numbers are very few. The author had the privileged of meeting some of the last living masters (Jethis) of Vajramushti.
Bandesh is another off shoot of Mallayuddha. These are lock holds placed either on different parts of the opponent's body or weapon. There are six stages during the process of Bandesh, they are Pavitra (stepping), Rokh (blocking), Lapet (twisting), Fekan (throw), Chheen (snatching), and Bandesh (lock-hold).
BIinot is the art of protecting oneself without any weapon. Its focus is mainly on the limb breaking techniques (Jarasandhi) and locks (Jambuvanti) portion of mallayuddha.
Mushtiyuddha fist fighting also called Muki, is the combative techniques mainly focused on hands and fists. Although it may appear as fist fighting, it is not similar to modern boxing. Fists are utilized for offensive and defensive purposes. The practitioners harden their hand and fist by beating them against stone, and various other surfaces. Shri Narayanguru Balambhat Deodhar and Shri Lakshmanguru Balambhat Deodhar were renowned Muki masters in the city of Benares. Both of them, singly, were more than a match for a dozen Muki fighters. It is not the stuff of legends to hear a Muki master killing a tiger with bare hands. In the 1800's Sohong Swami of Bengal had fought and killed tigers. His last bout was in front of a large audience arranged by Prince Cooch of Bihar where he killed a ferocious Bengal tiger called Raja Begum known to be a man eater. After this incident he renounced the worldly life and was initiated into the monastic order of Sanyas.
Nagas are a large group of warrior ascetics. Although they have renounced worldly life and have given up all possessions in the pursuit of asceticism, they are extremely militant, fighting with rivaling sects, the Muslims and later even the British. Nagas wore no clothing even while living in freezing Himalayan caves. They smear their body with sacred ash (Bhasma) and wore a long matted hair (Jata) symbolic of their devotion to lord Shiva. They are ferocious fighters since they had no fear of death. They use staff, spears, swords and trident as their weapons. There is also a group of Nagas that follow lord Vishnu rather than Shiva and they are called Bairagis. Although they wear clothing nowadays, some groups are also naked. Although the Nagas are peculiar and unique, their arts of fighting is not exclusive to their group and most of it can be found in other martial arts of India. Historical references to the Nagas goes back several thousand years.
Gatka is the combative art developed in the northwest area of India known as Punjab for the protection of the Sikhs religious groups. Gatka started with Har Govind Guru in late 1500's AD. Gatka has mainly been practiced in India by the Nahang Singhs, who believe in the importance of preserving the type of dress (Bana) and weaponry as was worn by the Sikh Gurus. Gatka is a basic and practical art. It is based upon a single movement called the "Panthra". This movement is initially practiced using no weapons to help develop accuracy of footwork. It is practiced in circular motions, simple forward and backward motions and also more complex motions such as star shapes. Gatka is based primarily on the use of three types of weapons, namely staff (Marati), flexible weapons such as rope, belt and whip and mainly the sword (Teg). Saber (Kirpan) and dagger (Khanda) are also used.
Kalaripayat is the martial art that is practiced in the southern tip of India in the state of Kerala. The word Kalari is derived from Sanskrit term Khalorika which stands for combative training ground and Payat meaning the art of combat. According to Keralolpathi, the traditional chronicle of Kerala, it was introduced to south India by sage Parashurama. In 1793 Kalaripayat was outlawed by the British and became almost extinct, however its practices and traditions were saved by few masters (Gurukals). The empty hand combat of Kalaripayat is Verumkai Prayogam. It is the art of attacking and defending Marmans (vital points). Various types of chops, blocks and locks are included. The training begins with Meippayat or body control exercises with precise applications of the legs in different steps, turns and leaps. Various weaponry is used including, Kettukari (Quarter staff), Cheruvati (Three span staff), Kattaram (Dagger), Churika (sword and shield) Urumi (flexible sword), Kuntham (The spear) and finally Otta. This is a peculiarly curved weapon, made of wood, about eighteen inches long. Gaining mastery over the Otta ultimately means the complete mastery of blows to the vital points (Marma Vibhaga). In fact the highest stage of Kalarippayat is the Marma Adi (attacks to vital point), which is a near extinct science, practiced partially by a few masters.
Varma Ati is the fighting arts of the Tamil Nadu region focusing on attacks and defense of Marmans. It includes Ati Tata (hit/defend) and Ati Murai (law of hitting). It was imparted in Tamil area by sage Agasthya. Training is performed outdoor and not in a Kalari. At one point the practitioner were called Agasthiyars or Siddha Yogis referring to the fact that they were expected to practice a highly esoteric form of yoga meditation. Initial exercises include attacks and defenses aimed at the Marmans. Various empty hand techniques include those with fist, elbow, tip of the index finger, butt of the hand, joined finger tip, thumb, and extended knuckles are utilized. Big toe and forehead are also used.
According to the yogic text known as the Shiva Samhita there are 350,000 subtle interconnecting channels of energy (Nadis) within the body. When they interconnect near the surface of the skin they are called Marmans (Sanskrit: Marman, Malayalam: Marmmam, and Tamil: Varman). The earliest textual evidence of the marman dates as early as 1200 BC in the Rig Veda. The god Indra is recorded as defeating the demon Vrtra by attacking his vital spots with his Vajra.
Marmans are extensively described in the science of ancient Indian medicine (Ayur Veda) which can be found in Sushruta Samhita (c. 500 BC) and in Charaka Samhita (c. 200 AD). According to Susruta the human body contains 107 Marman points which, when struck or massaged, produce desired healing or injurious results. Susruta knew the importance of avoiding the vital spots in surgery. He identified illnesses caused by direct and indirect injury to them. He describes each vital spots location, size, classification, and symptoms of direct and full penetration and the length of time a person may live after penetration. Therapeutic treatment of Marmans (Marman Chikitsa) with piercing needles (Bhedan Karma) was practiced by Ayurvedic practitioners, however the finger (Adankal) and hand treatment is the most common usage today. There are 107 Marmas in a human body of which 64 are mainly used during combats (Kulamarmams). Hitting these Marmas can freeze and disable certain parts of the body or make one unconscious.
Silambam is another martial art practiced in south India in the area of Tamil Nadu. The training begins with mastery of the staff and the knowledge of which is then further developed for empty handed combat. Another closely related tradition to Silambam is Kuthu Varisai of Tanjore area.
Finally, Kshatriya Vidya (Science of combat) was born of the destructive power of Shiva. However, this power (Shakti) was revealed in order to remove obstacles and rebuild and develop. It is not meant to destroy people and property. The true understanding of the Kshatriya Marga (warrior path) is to destroy and eliminate one's weakness, lower self and finally the demon of ignorance, in order to rebuild and develop a person who is physically powerful, emotionally and intellectually liberated and spiritually enlightened and perfected. Warrior training is therefore for crafting a powerful body and mind with all its associated emotions and thoughts.
True way (Marga) therefore, is not about seeing one's self as an enemy. But seeing one's self as a potentially expanded divine being who with proper method and application can reach its full potential in all areas of one's life. This all-inclusive developmental approach affects every area of one's life including the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, the spiritual and even the financial. The truly developed warrior will achieve Bukti (worldly success), Mukti (spiritual perfection) and Shakti (power).
In summary, the numerous Indian martial arts practiced today and cataloged in this article are derived from the Kshatriya Vidya that was practiced in ancient India. They are rich in techniques and diverse in their approach. However the methodology of warrior training as well as the practices that leads one to enlightenment is as unified and alive today as it was in the India's ancient past. The study of Indian martial arts enriches one's own practices and attitudes regardless of the martial art that one may be practicing today. From an academic view, the study of Indian martial arts may perhaps shed light on historical past and exchanges that occurred between various martial cultures of the Far East and India. However the true study of Kshatriya Vidya is the study of the essence of becoming a warrior and the process of spiritual perfection.
Meditation in Other Cultures
Meditation is a universal human experience found in many cultures throughout the world and it is practiced by most major religions, schools of philosophies and mystics. Meditation is a very large part of the ancient school of yoga, which has profoundly affected other cultures. It just happens to be that yoga is the oldest method of meditation and the most documented. Although most people are familiar with yoga as various physical postures, yoga is not limited to the practice of physical poses.
In Buddhism, meditation was passed down from the Buddha (who lived 2,500 years ago) to twenty eight successors of an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, who later traveled to China and introduced Dhyana (Sanskrit for meditation) to the Chinese. In China, meditation was named Chan (a mispronunciation of Dhyan) and was later exported to Japan where Chan became Zen. The meditation tradition of India was also introduced to Tibet by Jetsun Milarepa in the 12th century, which had a profound impact on the development of the Tibetan Lamas.
In Judaism there have been many mystics who practiced meditation. One such renowned mystic was called Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (Baal Shem Tov) who lived in Poland in the 1600's. He once remarked that "All that I have achieved; I have achieved not through study, but through the state of the soul. When man gives up the consciousness of his separate existence, and joins himself to the eternal, such a state produces a species of indescribable joy".
In the Islamic mystical path of Sufism, the mystics (dervishes) practice a meditation called "moragaba". This closely resembles the meditation practice of yoga. In fact, many of these renowned Sufis traveled to India, throughout the ages, in order to receive meditation instructions, which impacted the development of Sufism. In the West the poetries of renowned Sufi masters such as Hafiz and Rumi are now widely published.
In the Christian tradition, Saint Teresa of Ávila (who lived in the 1500's) was a renowned Spanish mystic whose teaching is filled with meditation, ecstasy and rapture. Saint John of the Cross is another mystic of the same era, and his teachings are also filled with meditation. There are numerous Christian mystics who practiced meditation including St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Therese of Lisieux and even the modern day saint Padre Pio. In his writings, Padre Pio states: "Whoever does not meditate, is like someone who never looks in the mirror before going out. If he doesn't bother to see if he's tidy, he may go out dirty without knowing it."
The Hopi Indians of North America also practiced meditation. They believe that various spiritual doors have to be opened in order to experience the wholeness of all creation and meditation is the practice that makes way for their spirituality.
To this day, in the far reaches of the Kalahari Desert in Africa, the people of the Kung tribe practice a ceremonial dance and meditation in order to enter into "Kia" or transcendence.