to great india and its incredible people, to great india and its incredible people, my motherland,...
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To Great India and its Incredible People,
my motherland, which gave me
the inspiration and resourcefulness to invent email, and much more.
I love you with all my heart and may this book and the journey of a 14-year-old son of India, free your mind,
oppressed by over 350 years of British colonialism, which continues its abuse, through modern day “leaders,”
traitors of India, who oppress and abuse far worse than colonialist masters, long gone.
Until victory always.
© 2015. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, Ph.D.
Print and distribute freely
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – The Promise 6
Chapter 2 – Inventing Email 23
Chapter 3 – The 7 Secrets of Innovation 39
I was born on December 2, 1963, a dark-skinned, lower-
caste Indian, in Bombay, India.
The face you see on the cover of this book is a 14-year-old
version of me from 1978. I was just a boy, and only seven
years had passed since I left my motherland India for the
United States. At the time, I was working in Newark, New
Jersey, one of the poorest cities in the United States, where
I invented email, the email we all experience today.
Like that face, each of our visages reflects our unique
journeys across multiple worlds, starting at home to
beyond and back to our self. The beauty of life perhaps lies
in our common struggle to find patterns of connection
across those worlds. While the particular scenes and
characters of our journeys may differ, the search for
meaning to face our self with kindness, love and acceptance
This book conveys one such journey that begins in India,
and then America, where a 14-year-old Indian immigrant
boy invents email, and later contends with the unenviable
struggle to convey the true source of that innovation to the
world. From that struggle emerge universal and eternal
lessons, long hidden by “experts,” about the source and
nature of all human innovation.
In this book, I share those lessons as “the 7 Secrets of
Innovation.” The worlds I experienced on my journey were
ancient and modern, east and west, science and tradition.
Across those worlds, I sought connection between the
magical holism of the East with the scientific rigor of the
West. Those worlds allowed me to uncover these secrets,
which I hope will benefit your journey to innovate, create
and serve humankind.
A Land of Chaos: Bombay, India
My journey begins in India where I came to love chaos and
diversity. Many religions, classes, castes, cultures, races,
colors and languages melded into a sensory bazaar. The
view from our
apartment offered a
jolt to one’s senses. I
buildings made of
glass, metal and
steel that stood side-
by-side huts made from twigs, grass, old tires, straw, mud
Our neighbors were Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims,
Jains and Zoroastrians. Sadhus and yogis meditated along
the road. Transvestites, transsexuals, gays, straight men,
women, and children walked hand in hand. Being multi-
lingual was the rule, not the exception. At home, we spoke
Tamil; in school, English; on the streets, Hindi; with friends,
The streets were extreme. People walked. Others pulled
rickshaws. Bicycles and Mercedes rode side by side.
Beggars crawled. Boeing 747s roared. The smells of
roasting peanuts, scrumptious curries, exhausts from
diesel trucks, roadside pooris, and cow dung were all in the
air. The outdoor markets offered sugar cane juice, goat
brains, 24-karat jewelry, jackfruits, radios, malas, incense,
parrots, and fragrant spices. Women in colorful gold, blue
and red saris strode by women decked out in the latest
Italian fashion. Men wearing traditional Nehru jackets,
white dhotis, and hats conversed with businessmen in
From Mumbai t
From Mumbai to Muhavur
In the summers, these scenes changed. Bombay
disappeared. A long two-day overnight journey, on an old
Wild West like caboose train took me to the remote village
of Muhavur, located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
This was the land of my ancestors, ancient and serene. An
emerald landscape of rice and cotton fields, mango and
coconut groves, where streams and mountains gently
awoke and soothed the senses.
Clean air, fresh
water, small dirt
roads, a million
huts of hand-made red bricks, palm leaf roofs, innocent
cows, calves and adorable temples were the backdrop.
Minimal electricity, no running water, and a few scattered
phone booths brought one to a different reality. This was
the village of my grandparents, hardworking farmers, who
tilled the fields, awoke at 4AM and slept at dusk. They lived
simply, devoted to land and God.
Their home was a small two-story building. Across it stood
a smaller white hut, with a thatched roof where several
cows, ducks and hens resided. From the middle of that hut,
a Moringa tree grew, up and through the roof. Each
morning, my grandmother before sunrise, would get up
on the entrance to
She used milled
white rice flour
through her hands, like sand passing through an hourglass,
to make abstract geometric and symmetric designs,
resembling mandalas. Sometimes I would wake up early
just to watch her drawing the kolam, a process, which was
indescribable, with visions emanating from her mind’s eye
transformed on the red brown earth leading to the home.
The designs were said to evoke the Gods and put the one
who looked upon them into different states of
As one came home, one could not avoid the kolam, a
reminder one was entering a special place. Two solid teak
doors were the entrance into a small 10-foot by 12-foot
room, which served as the living room, dining room and
sleeping room. Ahead, one could see the kitchen, where
something was always cooking. The fragrance of cumin,
ginger, cardamom, red pepper, and freshly grated coconut
filled the air.
Heroes: Gods and Shamans
Heroes: Gods and Shamans
In the living room, near the edge of the ceiling, along all four
walls, hung pictures of great deities and heroes such as
Shiva, my namesake, who destroyed, created and
transformed; Rama, the virtuous and noble hero of the
Ramayana; Devi, the mother Goddess; Parvathi, wife and
consort of Shiva; Ganesha, the elephant headed one who
removed obstacles; Jesus, God’s avatar and the Savior of
mankind; Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge; Lakshmi,
the Goddess of wealth, and many others. The smell of subtle
incense and Vibbuthi, holy ash, was always in the air.
My favorite was the deity Muruga, who graced the small
altar, and was known as the teacher of teachers or guru of
gurus, whose familiar
was the peacock and
above whose picture
hung a beautiful
Chinnathai, knew the ancient arts, could channel spirits,
was known to be clairvoyant, had knowledge of the great
herbs and medicines for nearly any ailment, and would do
rituals and mantras to heal those who requested her help.
She was the youngest of sixteen children, and the only
daughter. Her arms were marked with incredible and
ancient tattoos. She had a nose ring. Her hair was pitch
black, she chewed tobacco and betel leaf. Her face was like
the earth, dark and hues of red, with eyes that extended to
the beyond and lines that marked her journeys of many life
Patterns of Health
Everyday someone would come to her, asking for help
concerning their health, and on weekends, long lines
extended from her door. I was amazed by her ability to
diagnose someone’s problem by simply observing his or
her face. She had learned powers of diagnosis from yogis,
monks and adepts including Siddhars, the practitioners of
Siddha, India’s oldest of traditional medicine, by simply
observing the face, an ancient practice known as Samudrika
She shared with me how the Siddhars believed that the
entire cosmos including the smallest particle to the largest