My First Yoga Teaching

In December of 2019, I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge of yoga and use my training as a teacher to conduct a free 5-day workshop. The workshop benefitted me in various ways, giving me the occasion to structure my free time creatively and helping me develop certain strengths as a facilitator.

Purpose Mission Vision

Swamiji has initiated the second chapter of Yoga. He has said that the phase of propagation of Yoga is complete and it is now time to deepen our understanding of yogic science. In his lectures and messages he has stressed the importance of slowing down and understanding the nuances of yoga-vidya and prana-vidya.

This workshop was an attempt in that direction.

My objective in conducting the program was to present Yoga in the right perspective, to dispel certain misconceptions and attempt to correct the distorted and limited view that people may have of it.

Approach & Class Structure

In the program, I stressed on the understanding and experience of what prana is. It was my attempt to take the lessons beyond lectures and focus on experiments, observations and reflections to induce an understanding of the various levels of our being. The students were at the end of the course able to distinguish between the physical body and the psychological (non-physical). I attempted to make the idea of the non-physical relatable and comprehendible, and encouraged the participants to discern physical from non-physical, gross from subtle. To be able to realise that prana lies in between and permeates both the gross and subtle aspects of our being, further cemented their understanding of prana.

My approach was:

  1. firstly to initiate a discussion about prana, keeping it open throughout the week,
  2. secondly to help them identify prana after each yogasana practice, also incidentally encouraging them to practice self-observation,
  3. progressively intensifying their experience of prana with each day’s practices and
  4. finally, consolidating these observations in a written document and repeated discussions about prana.

It was important to anchor their learning and help them revisit the discussion, rather than allowing a concept to be relegated to a lecture in theory.

Concepts Covered

We discussed the following concepts and what is meant when we use these words.

  • prana
  • subtle and gross body
  • the meaning of Yoga – word meaning and in application
  • pawanmuktasana (anti rheumatic postures) series I
  • simple spinal stretches and bends
  • introduction to yogic psychology and Yoga Nidra

Class Structure

I identified the following aspects of a yoga session:

  1. converging attention to class
  2. prayer, setting intentions
  3. theory
  4.  asana
    1. demonstration
    2. practice with supervision
    3. observation, reflection, rest
    4. alternating practice
  5. questions, discussions
  6. short relaxation
  7. prayer and conclusion


I remember having heard or read Swamiji talk about innovation and originality in teaching. I took that as a permission to introduce my personal pedagogical style into the sessions.

I deviated from the traditional classroom guidelines in the following ways:

  1. Breath:

    1. I professed free and relaxed breathing in all postures and did not insist on the purity of linking in- and out- breaths with the initial and final positions. Rather I stressed on releasing the breath and ensuring natural and free flow of breath.
    2. I extended the duration of holding in the final positions. This necessitated free and natural breathing as professed above.
    3. The coordination of in- and out- breaths was taught in later classes (days 4 and 5) but not stressed upon.
    4. The awareness and auto-correction of posture and relaxation in the end-position was my primary focus rather than the coordination of in- and out-breaths with the movements.
  1. Invocation

At the beginning of class I used bhramari or silence to anchor the attention to the class instead of Om-chanting and shanti-mantras. This was done respecting the diverse religious and cultural beliefs of the participants. Another reason was lack of confidence. I concede, however, that I ought to have stuck to tradition and will do so in my subsequent workshops.

  1. Compilation

I compiled a concise booklet by typing each day’s notes and practices. To this we added the participants’ hand-written reflections. We used A5 size stationary for their writings as well as for the printed notes, such that they could be bound together on the final day. This gave the students a handbook of knowledge already acquired and a permanent reference for continuing practice.


With every workshop one facilitates, one’s knowledge is reinforced, and experience is gained. At the same time, one is humbled by challenging questions and situations in class.

At a personal level, this workshop firstly helped me overcome my hesitation and lack of confidence. Having completed it successfully, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, it was a reminder that my knowledge in Yoga is still limited and that knowledge is vast.  Conducting a workshop or teaching a class is a constant check on the ego and a steady reminder that we are seekers and learners just like the participants.


With humility I accept the gift of confidence and learning that this program provided. I am grateful to the guiding force of the universe.

हरि ओम् तत् सत् ।

Homeopathy – A Tryst With Healing

It’s so important that people are made aware of the dangers and truth about medicines. And not just the layman – it’s the unscrupulous doctors who prescribe antibiotics for the mildest infection, who need to be further educated!  I share here my personal experiences with the wonders of homeopathy.

Healing is done best by the body by itself. What’s important is that we find ways to induce and boost the body’s ability to heal itself. The immune system does need some assistance now and then. However, it’s not necessary to overdose the body with chemicals for the same effect.

For the last ten years I’ve been under the expert guidance of an accomplished homeopath & psychotherapist at Bangalore. While I used to often catch a cold in the unpredictable climate in Bangalore earlier, I now remain largely unaffected by the erratic changes in temperature and humidity. I suffered from lower back pain and the spasms used to be intense and rendered me immobile for weeks. With homeopathy my spasms would be released in a day!

My daughter is now ten years old. At age two her paediatrician declared her “asthmatic”. A week and a few discussions later, our family homeopath put her on some magic pills which she called her (my daughter’s) constitutional. In two days she was cured of her cough and wheezing that had till then continued unabated for 8 months!

A few months ago she developed pre-pubescent headaches. After several tests and consultations a specialist declared it “migraine” based on the symptoms and “family history”. And then it happened again. It took our family homeopath 7-10 days to figure what was going on. She changed her “constitutional” as our child was now a new and different person with an emergent new personality! And lo and behold! The magic worked again! The so-called migraine never came back!!

I am of the opinion that medics should focus on the understanding of the immune system, its auto healing properties and how it’s related to our consciousness. I know this may sound far-fetched to many allopaths who believe homeopathy to be akin to the occult. Yet it’s important to ask ourselves where the frontiers of science lie and what defines occult. Perhaps we are losing out on a wealth of “knowing” in the mistaken belief that science is only chemistry and substance or the “physical” reality of only what has hitherto been measured!

It’s true that homeopathic medicines DO NOT contain any substance from the healing source – but only a recorded energy field, a memory of the healing properties from the mineral, plant and animal worlds. And the good thing is that it does not introduce anything into the system, nor impose anything upon the body’s mechanism. All it does is INDUCE and PROPEL the required healing faculties of our wonderful human body (and mind) in the desired direction.

Far-fetched? Not in the least. Experiments and meticulously recorded trials and scientific research point towards the fact that homeopathy is a science alright – it only delves into domains that we need to open our minds to.

My Yoga Teachers’ Training Course (2014-16)

11th October 2016

Today was the graduation ceremony of the two-year yoga teachers’ training course of which I was a participant. Although I did not graduate today, I was asked to speak and share my experiences and learnings.

As the Vedic incantations of the sacred homa permeated the ambience, I scanned my memories of the previous two years and recalled that I had had insightful experiences that were truly transformational.

The measure of success for any course is to gauge whether the goals and objectives set at the beginning have been achieved. Although I did not undertake my internship and although I did not get certified, I believe I have successfully graduated from this course on this momentous day, because all the goals that I had set out to achieve and most of the goals that our teachers had envisaged for us, I see having been achieved.

Personal Transformation

At the start of this journey, we were constantly reminded that the course was not about certification and asana and pranayama alone, but a journey of personal change that we were called upon to experience in the larger design of the universe of which we are a part. This seemed far-fetched at that time, and yet today, on graduation day, I see the foresightedness of the guru-tattwa that spoke through our teachers giving new direction to our lives.

New Horizons

I believe the course has brought about deep transformations and at different levels and in different spheres of our lives. Yes, we have learned many asanas and advanced pranayama techniques. Yes, we learned much about meditation and esoteric practices, a variegated and eclectic menu of relaxation and meditation techniques to suit our varying needs, moods and tastes. Yet, the course gave us much more than mere techniques. It opened windows to a new horizon of knowledge, concepts, ideas and philosophies that have enriched our intellect and given a new meaning to existence.

Cessation of the Conditionings of the Mind –  योगःश्चित्तवृत्तिनिरोधः 

The single most important and concept that permeated the course and which emerged recurrently in the teachings was that all the paths of yoga, be they asana, pranayama, shatkarma or the seemingly diverse wings, such as Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga or Bhakti Yoga, are aimed directly or indirectly towards the primary objective of chitta shuddhi, the cleansing of past conditionings that date back several millennia. That we bring forth our past conditionings and create realities and situations in a constant process of evolution that is aimed towards this eternal cleansing.

The Witness Within

The second most important learning was the understanding of who we are. I do not claim to have found the answer to this existential question, but I have certainly progressed on the path towards insightful realizations. Certainly, by a process of elimination, I understood that we are not this body, nor the mind. The Self HAS the body, and a mind. The understanding of the separation between the observer, the sakshidrshta and its experiences, both internal and external, was life-altering.


This leads on to the next very potent concept of Awareness. In the Bihar School tradition, great emphasis is laid on developing awareness in all practices, be they physical or esoteric. It is when the observer can be free from the afflictions of the mind and body and achieve a level of stillness, that awareness can allow past conditionings to arise and be exhausted, facilitating and perhaps accelerating the evolutionary process of chitta shuddhi.

Yogic Psychology

The introduction to Raja Yoga may appear irrelevant to a “yoga” training. But nothing could be more relevant than understanding the underlying principles of Yoga that are enshrined in the spiritual science that is Raja Yoga. It is thanks to the teachers’ training course that I learned fundamental concepts of spirituality, the nature of consciousness and the order of the universe in a scientific manner. The course debunked the myth that Raja Yoga is a religious text fraught with the arcane and supernatural practices. We learned that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were a thesis written by a great sage, a spiritual scientist, who taught techniques to master the mind and its deeper realms, bordering with the spiritual dimensions. With just a rudimentary introduction to the sutras, I was greatly influenced at once by the simplicity and profundity of eastern psychology.

Action & Personal Excellence

Karma Yoga, both as a practice and a theory at the ashram has taught me a few very valuable lessons that have contributed to the way I manage my time, family, business and studies and multi-task with much more ease and fluidity than in the past. I learned firstly the importance of efficiency and excellence in one’s work, more than the importance of selfless service. Further, I realised that goals change and goalposts move forward with time, and that rather than obsessing over goals and living in an imaginary future, it’s wiser to be present to the process and not get too attached with the outcome, using goals merely as a direction in which to move forward.


That brings me to an equally important idea of acceptance – acceptance of the self as one is, knowing that our flaws and our shortcomings are not us;  they are temporary afflictions that can be overcome; acceptance of the outcome of our work, our karma; acceptance that we are not entirely in control, to be able to drop self-blame without repudiating responsibility – understood in the right sense; acceptance that in this evolutionary process, time stretches and that there is ample scope for self-improvement and redemption.


At Atmadarshan Yogashram, I learned an important lesson in simplicity. We are not a swanky upmarket yoga school; our asana-postures are taught simply yet scientifically. We were taught less at a time, with emphasis on repetition and more repetition, and even more practice. And I learned that less is in fact more. Our teachers set high standards, and yet they taught us only as much as we could digest; they raised the bar without diluting the significance of what was taught.

A course such as the YTTC at Atmadarshan is a rare combination of various disciplines. It gave us the opportunity to see Yoga in a broader light and in the right context. The teachers at the ADY Bangalore have put together this course that has not only informed and educated us but also enriched our lives with insights and practical techniques to make ourselves better students and fellow practitioners of yoga.

with gratitude to my teachers

Vikram Malhotra

The Importance of Sanskrit Language in the Modern World

The Importance of Sanskrit Language in the Modern World

While the world looks to India and ancient Indian texts for the advancement of the existing scientific knowledge, we are busy aping the west only to find that their scientific investigations lead back to our own ancient repositories of knowledge. Sanskrit studies are becoming increasingly popular in the west while India is lagging far behind in the race and losing out on it’s wealth.

The country has suffered a long ordeal of linguistic oppression and a resultant inferiority complex. English has pervaded our education and administration and has acted as a instrument to subjugate the masses and enslave the educated elite. With each passing decade, the number of foreign language learners increases manifold with India’s obsession with everything European. Learning one’s own mother tongue seems to be a matter of distaste and disdain – while learning English and European languages is a matter of pride and prestige for many.

As we approach the change of times and as Indians rediscover their roots in their collective consciousness, we begin to reflect why and how the Europe-centric mindset has pervaded and distanced us from our own languages, culture, traditions and knowledge.

More and more countries  are popularising the study of Sanskrit, not just for the spiritual, cultural and literary interest in the language, but also for the wealth of scientific knowledge available in Sanskrit texts and which were hitherto written off as rudimentary by ‘modern’ scientists and intellectuals who were unable to grasp the depths of the knowledge contained in them. Perhaps the knowledge was way ahead of their times and it is only now that modern science has reached a level of understanding and ability to align its scope.

NASA is researching the Vimana Shastras (the scriptures of aviation science) with astonishing breakthroughs in design and functionality. Research in mathematics and astrophysics is looking to Sanskrit texts for deeper understanding. Alchemy, medicine (Ayurveda) and Yoga are being researched at higher depths today. Consciousness studies are a pertinent science in the modern world, and Vedanta is becoming more and more apt in today’s world – as much as it was in ancient times. Linguistics, psychology, poetry, political science and diplomacy are being resurrected from the confines of the past and revived with great rewards. Even information technology finds Sanskrit amenable to natural language processing and see it as a potential for future interactions with machines.

The one country that still regards Sanskrit as a classical language containing merely religious literature is India. We have not yet woken up to the idea that Sanskrit is a treasure and very relevant in the modern knowledge-society and is perhaps the future for science and technology. Many universities in Europe and America are raising the level of Sanskrit proficiency in their departments, while India is still treating it as a third language meant to enhance scores in school transcripts, without real application.

If there is one language that can be called the language of the future, it is undoubtedly Sanskrit. People are not yet aware of its potential and the research that is currently going on with the sciences, which unfortunately, remain encrypted for want of Sanskrit scholars who can approach the texts in a secular and empirical manner. The potential is vast, and it is only a matter of a decade or two before this becomes an established and widely accepted fact. Parents and educators should make themselves aware of the potential that Sanskrit studies offer to their children and MUST suggest it in addition to a foreign or regional language or two in their curriculum.

Macrostructures and Microstructures As a Study-Aid in Textual Analysis and Text Creation

1. Introduction

The concepts of micro- and macrostructures have been relegated to an academic concept in the fields on linguistics and are perhaps the subject of some research. The application of these concepts, however, can have far-reaching implications in the field of education and learning. Of special mention is the use of these concepts as a learning aid especially in the field of humanities.

The theory of micro- and macro structures postulates the summarization and identification of the gist of a text. As a sub- branch of discourse analysis, it also studies the skeletal structure of texts. In the process it unravels the process of textual construction while de-constructing it. This dual analysis of text provides insights to a reader (receiver) and these insights can be used for the effective analysis, deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of the text in a learner’s mind.

The concepts of macro- and micro- structures and the rules related to them can be used as effective tools in the classroom to improve comprehension and memory while at the same time improving the learner’s written expression.

This paper attempts to use the concepts of micro-, meso- and macro structures and explains their use as an aid to effective memory and writing. With an example, it discusses how a few students were taught how to firstly extract and summarize information from a chapter, and then, based on the macro structures, reconstruct the gist of the chapter and write a précis.

The results are quite promising, and the combination of note taking and précis writing prove to be an effective learning aid for schools and colleges.

In this paper, we shall analyze the notes extracted from the student’s note book in the light of the theory of macro and microstructures and try to identify what aspects of the process are responsible for the better retention of information and the effective expression in writing.

This methodology can prove vital in the teaching of writing and learning skills that are so important in the academic sphere today.

2. Theory of Macro-Structures (Macro-Rules)

The conceptual framework provided below is based upon the theory espoused by Teun A. Van Dijk. He proposed that micro- propositions can be grouped together to form a common macro proposition. This grouping is subject to rules which he calls Makroregeln or macro-rules.

Macrostructures are semantic in nature and represent the global semantic (meaning) structure of a text or a part thereof. They provide a global understanding of the context and text-meaning (van Dijk 1980, 41-44).

All macrostructures must fulfil the requirements for semantic connection as should the microstructures. The theory of macrostructures explains HOW we arrive at the respective macrostructures, what the processes are that can trace and outline the transformation and hence represent the so-called RULES that govern the process and that link the microstructures to their respective macrostructures. Hence, if visually described in an image below, every bundle of microstructures (structures at a lower level) that comes together to a macrostructure at a higher level represents a macro-rule. It is noteworthy that we are dealing with the unitisation of proposition-sequences or groups of propositions and not individual or isolated propositions. We talk here not about units but globality.

 Figure 1: Micro- & Macrostructures

2.1.The Macro-Rules

Van Dijk described 4 basic rules that determine the different kinds of semantic transformations abiding by which we can arrive at macro structures. They are

1. Auslassen Omission
2. Selektieren Selection
3. Generalisieren Generalisation
4. Integrieren Reconstruction or Integration

All rules, according to Dijk, must fulfil the principle of semantic implication (Prinzip der semantischen Implikation) which means that all macrostructures arrived at by the use of macro-rules should be semantically implied by the cluster of microstructures or propositions. A macrostructure should naturally evolve out of microstructures or clusters thereof (van Dijk 1980, 45-49).

3. Case Study

The following are the notes extracted from the notebook of a student from the grade V in a school at Bangalore. The child has the book entitled “Heidi” prescribed as part of their reading for English literature (Spryi 2011).

3.1. Methodology

The student was asked to undertake the following exercise with the instructions given below:

  1. Readeachchapter
  2. Underline the key words and elements in the sentences andparagraphs
  3. Then categorize the chapter thematically into various segments/ sections
  4. In a note book, create a 3 column table.
  5. In column 1, mention the segment no. or letter.
  6. In column 2, jot down the main points underlined during thereading, omitting the ones that may now appear irrelevant orof less importance after having read the entire chapter
  7. After completion of step 6 for the ENTIRE chapter, reflect and ask oneself what is the MAIN idea or the gist of each segment. At this point, the student is encouraged to merge and club segments or to re-arrange, categorize and organize the information based on the overall understanding of the chapter.

3.2. Extract from notes

Below is the extract from the note book. Copied below is only the extract for chapter 1 of the notes. There are a total of 15 chapters in the book.

Ref.  No. Summarized Points


Macro Structure


A. 1.     Mayenfeld, Switzerland, Alps

2.     June – sunny morning

3.     Two people up mountain

4.     Young woman – Dete

5.     5  y/o child – Heidi

1.     wearing three dresses

2.     thick woollen shawl

1.  Dete is taking Heidi up the Alm Mountain to leave her with Alm Uncle.


(Inference: the girl is wearing all her clothes as she is going to stay with Alm Uncle for good – and it’s easier to wear the clothes than to carry them in a bag.)

B. 1.        1/2 way up (at Dorfli)

2.        Did not return greetings of people

3.        Woman’s old home.

4.        Friend Barbel joins them at Dorfli.

A. 1.     Dete has got a job in Frankfurt.

2.     Is going to drop Heidi with Alm Uncle.

3.     He is Heidi’s grandfather .

4.     He is an unfriendly person.

5.     Barbel advises her against this.

2.  Half way up at Dorfli, her friend Barbel joins her.


3.  They start a conversation.

D. 1.   Barbel does not understand why Alm uncle is a misanthrope.

2.   Why he is called Alm Uncle.

3.   Barbel lived in Dorfli – she was married there.

4.   Dete was born here till her mother died.

5.   Had a job at Ragatz. Now a new good job at Frankfurt.

6.   Asks Barbel why people are against Alm Uncle.

7.   Barbel wants to know more about Alm uncle.

8.   Dete says she knows quite a bit – but Barbel should not tell anyone.

E. 1.   Barbel assures Dete that she can keep secrets.

2.   Dete does not see Heidi.

3.   Looks around and finds him with a goatherd – Peter.

4.   Dete can hear the story now.

5.   Alm uncle apparently has nothing except a hut and two goats.

F. 1.   Barbel asks whether Alm Uncle ever had more.

2.   Dete replies: He once owned a large farm.

3.   He liked to spend, driving about the country, drank and played cards.

4.   One day he lost his fortune.

5.   His mother died of grief.

6.   He joined the army for 12 years.

7.   He came back with a small child to his relatives in Ragatz.

8.   His relatives disowned him.

9.   He never went to Ragatz again.

 4.  History of Alm Uncle.
G. 1.     He came to Dorfli with his child.

2.     His wife had died soon after giving birth.

3.     He paid for his son to learn the wood trade.

4.     His name was Tobias. He married Dete’s sister – Adelaide.

5.     They both had a child – Heidi.

6.     Tobias died two years later when some wood fell on him.

7.     Adelaide died of shock a short while later.

8.     People talked of his tale.

9.     They called it a punishment from god for his ill deeds.

10.  Some said it on his face.

11.  Alm uncle was bitter and angry.

12.  He stopped speaking with people.

13.  He went to live on top of the mountain.

H. 1.   Adelaide’s baby was 1 year old.

2.   Dete and her mother took care of Heidi.

3.   The mother died a year ago and

4.   Dete went to live in Ragatz.

5.   She paid an old woman to take care of Heidi.

6.   Now she had got a new job with a rich family in Frankfurt.

7.   She had to leave the day after the next and

8.   Had come to leave Heidi with Alm Uncle.

5.  Reason for Dete to leave Heidi with Alm Uncle.
I. 1.   She says she cannot take Heidi to Frankfurt.

2.   On the way they see a dilapidated little hut.

3.   It belongs to Peter, a goatherd.

4.   He took care of goats for a living.

5.   He had no father.

6.   He had a blind grandmother.

J. 1.   Peter knew where the tasty bushes were.

2.   He took the flocks by another path.

3.   Heidi followed him.

4.   She took off her clothes and made a tiny bundle of clothes and was only in her under-clothes.

6.  Heidi makes friends with Peter, a young goatherd.
K. 1.   Heidi is left behind as Dete walks up.

2.   She calls out and Heidi rushes up to her.

3.   Dete scolds her for having taken off her clothes and asks her to wear them again.

4.   They reach Alm uncle’s hut.

5.   He is sitting on his chair, smoking and looking at the valley.

L. 1.   Alm uncle initially refuses to accept Heidi. She asks “what is the child to do with me?”

2.   Dete replies that she has taken care of her for four years and now it’s his chance.

3.   She says it is his problem now – how he takes care of her.

4.   Alm uncle gets angry and screams at Dete telling her to go away.

5.   Dete runs away, feeling guilty.

6.   People ask her where she left the child.

7.   When she replies, people don’t approve.

7.  Dete hands over Heidi to Alm Uncle despite his refusal and runs away feeling guilty and sad.

Table 1: Note taking and Macro Structures – Example

3.3. Précis Version 1: (Short Version)

Dete is taking Heidi up the Alm Mountain to leave her with Alm Uncle, who is Heidi’s grandfather. (1)

Half way up, at Dorfli, her friend Barbel joins her (2). They start a conversation. Dete explains the reason why she must leave Heidi with her grandfather (3, 5). They also discuss Alm uncle’s history (4).

On the way the little Heidi makes friends with Peter, a young goatherd (6).

When they reach the mountain top, Dete hands Heidi over to Alm uncle and runs back, feeling guilty and sad (7).


3.4.Précis Version 2: (Longer Version)

Dete is taking Heidi up the Alm Mountain to leave her with Alm Uncle, who is Heidi’s grandfather. (1)

Half way up, at Dorfli, her friend Barbel joins her (2). They start a conversation. Dete explains the reason why she must leave Heidi with her grandfather (3, 5). They also discuss Alm uncle’s history (4).

Dete shares with Barbel the story of Alm Uncle and how he had squandered his fortune in his youth and his mother had died of grief. He served in the army for 12 years, and had a son. His wife had died after giving birth. His relatives disowned him. He taught his son, Tobias, the wood trade. Later, Tobias married Dete’s sister Adelaide. They had a daughter together, whom they named Heidi. Tobias died in an accident and Adelaide died of grief soon after. People spoke of Alm Uncle’s misfortune as a punishment from God and actually said this on his face. Alm uncle became very bitter and stopped talking with people (4).

Dete and her mother took care of Heidi after Adelaide’s death – and her mother died a year ago. Now, Dete has got a job in Frankfurt and cannot take Heidi along with her. So she decides to leave her in the care of Alm Uncle (5).

On the way the little Heidi makes friends with Peter, a young goatherd (6).

When they reach the mountain top, Dete hands Heidi over to Alm uncle and runs back, feeling guilty and sad (7).

4. Analysis

The process undertaken by the student results in the following internal mental processes and enables the student to achieve a better understanding of the chapter.

  1. Deconstruction of the text and categorization into segments
  2. Understanding the global propositions of the various segments
  3. A discerning understanding of the relevance of certain aspects, and the relative insignificance of other aspects.
  4. A clear visual and mental picture of the various propositions as situated in the larger contexts.
  5. Interconnecting the macrostructures to create a short summary.

This incidentally also represents of what happens in the mind and how the data gets processed for better and more effective re- presentation while writing the précis.

We can see from the part I (the tabular notes) that the student has divided the chapter into 12 segments, A to L as show in column 1. For each segment, the student has noted down the main points in column 2. These represent the microstructures or the individual information and propositions that are provided in the text. It must be noted that this is already a level higher in terms of micro and macrostructures, as not all the text from the original is provided here but only selected of the key information.

After the main points were noted, the notes were reviewed at a glance. With this overview and with and understanding of the global context, the candidate then re-organized the segments. This is the result of the comprehension of the ideational meaning of the chapter (the content) as well as the textual meaning (Halliday and Hasan 2004, 47) which deals with the interconnectedness of the ideas, content or propositions. It is with this global understanding (ideational + textual meanings) that the student comprehends the chapter in its totality.

Based on the aforementioned understanding and processing, the student then arrives at the main ideas or themes and writes them in column 3. These are the macrostructures or macro-propositions. The student identifies correctly 7 main topics or themes that are covered in this chapter. These 7 points represent the macrostructures of this chapter.

This provides a tree-structure where the macro structures are easily retained in memory by virtue of the power of association, and each macro structure is related to various micro propositions. The result is that the table works like a palimpsest or archive, a kind of a mental map so to speak, which makes it easy for the brain to locate large amounts of information in a systematic manner based on its relational significance and logical categorization under the larger macro structures.

This is akin to systematic arrangement of books in a library or filing of files in an organization. The library or storage area is divided into zones for different categories or alphabet groups. This is level one of the division – like the macro structures. Then, within each zone, a further sub-division is done for individual sections or shelves, in which the individual files are placed. These compare to the micro propositions of the text. This kind of organization, as we all know, assists in ease of retrieval, and the same process takes place in the mind of the learner. The cognitive ability of the student is bolstered and the “memory” appears to have improved, when in reality, it is not memory per se, but a framework of relationships and interconnectedness that is clearly spaced out on paper and as a result, in the mind.

The macrostructures appear disjointed as they appear in the table. Hence, in the next step, in part II of the notes, the student has re-phrased the 7 macro-propositions or macro structures into a paragraph, making necessary modifications to make them connected and flow into one another (précis version 1). Intertextuality (Renkema 2004, 50-51) is achieved this way which comes forth as good writing style – and the disjointed propositions have been woven into a coherent paragraph.

In the précis version 2, we see that the student has realized that the propositions 4 and 5 are of greater importance, and merely mentioning the “about-ness” (Renkema 2004, 90-91) of the themes 4 and 5 is not sufficient. She decides to add a summary of both these aspects. This is optional and a step further in the level of detail.

With the addition of the two paragraphs (italicized), the précis becomes complete and no important detail seems to have been left out. In version 1, it seems as though merely an overview of the themes has been provided (eg. “They spoke about the history of Alm Uncle.”), while keeping the actual and significant information (the history) hidden from the reader. In version 2, however, the information seems complete and the précis can function as a summarized version of the story by itself.

5. Challenges

The method introduced in this paper, though effective and very useful, will have 3 major areas of difficulty.

1. The identification of the key elements to highlight
2. The identification of the global or main idea from a large chunk of information
3. Finally, the ability of the student to connect the macro

structures and weave them into an interconnected paragraph

These skills are not always mastered by students especially in our Indian context, where the medium of English is actually an alien one and most of the learners speak a different language at home while using English as the primary medium of instruction and interaction at school.

These challenges notwithstanding, the process itself presents an insight into the process of assimilation and integration in the mind and provides a key to clearing the blocks in the process of learning and retention of information.




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