Sunday, June 5, 2011

I am a common Indian man and I do not support Ramdev Baba

While the world is pretty much busy is supporting or opposing the fast by the yoga guru Ramdev Baba and a pretty small section of people creating hype over it on the net and social media, I can find the voice of the common Indian man almost neglected in all this chaos. Supporting Ramdev Baba, or for that matter, Anna Hazare has been a craze in the tech-geeky, and often misleaded, youth. Though no one is expecting a magical change in situations, everyone is expecting something to change, without knowing exactly what. The supporters of Ramdev Baba, though a very small fraction of the huge Indian population, are succeeding to make their voice loud enough to seem true, and the majority of Indian population is left as a dumb spectator of all the events passing.

When I see the over-enthusiastic youth to propose support for these protests, have they ever thought about the consequences of it? These protests are nothing but the means for creating an anti-government sentiment in the country. The UPA has been in power for the last seven years. For the first-term, the BJP-lead NDA could not even find an agenda for the polls and lost the elections even without fighting wholeheartedly. This time they cannot afford to do so. The extreme right-wing Hindutva ideology cannot be successful each and every time. They needed something as an adjunctive to the Hindutva ideology.

Baba Ramdev and Sangha Pariwar:
BJP (or for that matter RSS) has a very small, but every strong and loyal, core support group. In the democracy of “one vote per head”, they can never ascend to power depending only on this core support group and they know it well. To overcome this factor, the Sangh Parivar always tries to spread its wings as wide as possible to cover a second-line support from the society which would increase the headcount. Organizations like Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, and so on are just the spread wings of the Sangha Pariwar where the top leadership comes from the core group and the headcount come from the second-line supporters.

Where does Ramdev Baba come to the scene? He is just a bonus that the Sangha Parivar can have. He is not in any way officially affiliated to the RSS (though the support and think-tank support is apparent). Rather, he has kept himself aloof only to say people that “Look, I am not attached to any political party.” He has already gained much follower support from his yoga activities and now he is trying to turn this follower group to the third-line support group of the Sangha Parivar. Sangha needs as much as support from their core circle as they can gather and that’s why they are supporting Ramdev Baba.

Why not Saffron?
People may ask why am I being a saffron-phobic? The congress has ruled over this country for most of the time? What if we ask for a change now? Before going to the answer, I want to make a disclaimer that I am a common India man, I happened to be a Hindu, my father used to go to daily shakha of the Sangha (in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Ram Mandir issue was on hype), and I am not attached to any political party in any slightest way. I am no more involved in politics more than casting my vote when election comes. My interests are far nonpolitical – reading, music, films, etc. – then why should I bother who is there ruling on top?

I am a common Indian young man, 27 years old. I hold the Constitution of India to the top. I cannot segregate people (as the saffron group tends to do) based on their cast, creed, or religion. I am a firm believer of “We, The People of India.” I cannot think myself as a Hindu, Maharastrian, or anything for that matter. Nothing can come between me and my Indian-ness.

We live in a secular democracy. We know it is the best type of state for the varied culture of India. The ideology of Saffron Pariwar is exactly opposite to this. They cannot gain power with what limited support they have from their core group. All their efforts are to increase their outer circles using fascist means: Vociferous propaganda, continuous advertising, favorable use of media, and now effective use of social media. Baba Ramdev and other are just puppets to create a headcount in outer circles. They will promise everything and even implement on it. But isn’t it what Hitler did to achieve powers. We can certainly give him credit for blowing new life in the then Germany, which was going through serious economic crisis and post-war depression. He promised people of good governance, and he worked for it, but then he also used his hatred policy against Jews as the means to polarize the vote bank and he succeeded. Can India afford to let the saffron parties succeed? Can India afford oligarchy, if not dictatorship? Think once again, think thousand times, you may not have the freedom to think and express in that regime.

Tragedy of Indian democracy:
This is just an update to what I have written above. All the day, as I was keeping an eye on the events, I could see BJP people openly in support of Baba Ramdev. I cannot understand the logic behind this. BJP is the largest party in the opposition. The people of India have elected them to ask question to the government. The constitution of India has given them the platform of parliament to ask questions. The government is responsible to them for any of their action; and what the opposition does, walks out of the parliament during the sessions and sets up and joins the protests on road! And people go behind them, what else can be the tragedy of India democracy?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ekla chalo re…

Ekla chalo re... Picture by Bilal Mirza/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons CC-BY 
Sometimes He leaves you all alone.  You never know His plans.  May be He does all this to test us, just to check whether we are fit for His tests or not.  For whatever reasons, but sometimes He lives you all alone, and you just feel helpless without His glimpse, with lot of questions in your mind, with some unknown fear in your heart, all alone in this infinite world… and He whispers in your soul: Jodi tor daak shune keu naa aashe, tobe … If they answer not to your call, walk alone, walk alone, walk alone…
May be I have been talking a lot about Tagore lately, but he never leaves me alone.  I was alone, like in a trance, when I started writing this, sitting in front of a blank screen.  I took three days to write this little post.  I had a lot to write and I had no one to share.  And He whispered in my soul:  Jodi tor daak shune keu naa aashe, tobe ekla chalo re… and these words and this tune became the tune of my heart…

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning; 5:20 a.m.  I am not on a morning walk as I would usually be at this time because it was agreed upon.  The alarm buzzed up at 4:58 with “Mora saiyyan mo se bole naa..” I just switched it off and tried to lie asleep, but could not do so even for 15 minutes and got up.  I cannot stay on bed even for a second after I get up.  There was no question of going on a walk.  It was against what was agreed upon and again it would have created a new turmoil in the teacup.  So, as there is no better option left to me and as the surplus of thoughts would not get such peaceful time in the day ahead, I am here on my PC writing something (that is really not what I wanted to write) for Ghalibana…

The week that passed was a wonderful one as usual.  As it is said – yeh aasmaan, yeh baadal, yeh raaste, ye hawaa (this sky, these clouds, these roads, this air) – everything was on its correct place and I had no real complaint against the world (or I had the biggest ever complaint against it).  After a long time, I read a few blogs which I had been following for a long time but could not visit them in a while – Gladys, the Kenyan undergraduate, is exceptional.  She really writes wonderful and I was so much happy to see her happy; I wrote a long comment on her latest post Just Because :).  I had also been on Olive Oyl’s blog after a long while.  Oh God, she is getting more and more philosophical.  I had last read her on her 20th birthday when she wrote “Now that I am getting out of the so called formative ages, I am supposed to take stuff around the world very seriously” I think she has really taken this thought seriously and has gotten a new pair of specs, philosophers’ specs.. :)

And a lot many things happened, but as I wrote on Facebook on last last Saturday night - we are human beings, civilized ones as they call us... We cannot go naked out in the world... And last night, I noted a poem by Meena Kumari “Naaz” on FB – This night, this loneliness, the ticking of heartbeats, this silence… Everything is calling you, come for a moment… Give a new dream to my closing eyes… I don’t know why I go such bizarre on Saturday nights, or may be I know it, just cannot go naked out in the world.

Again, I wrote a quote from The Dialogues of Plato on Facebook as my status (Oh, how quickly I forget that I have no one there to understand what I mean).  I wrote:

Now the only difference, Socrates, between you and Marsyas is that you can get just the same effect without any instrument at all; with nothing but a few simple words, not even poetry.

And as expected, I got a comment:  Please elaborate…

So, this was the last week, or say this was a part of it that I can tell without going naked – otherwise, the earthquake in Japan, the tsunamis, the ICC world cup going on, the match against South Africa yesterday in this very town, the defeat in it… These are like the things of some other world… Or like I am an alien from some other world who gasps for air on the Earth.  And why I am talking about the past week when it’s a Sunday morning and I should wake up with a “bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim” thinking of the wonders yet to come… I don’t know… I know nothing… Who I am, why I am, who are you, why are you, and what you are doing here on my blog…?  It’s Sunday morning and now it’s 6:06 a.m.  Now, I should get up from my computer and buzz like an alarm to wake everyone up… We were to go on a walk at 6 a.m. this morning…

A Hairy Chihuahua which made me laugh a lot yesterday.  Photo By: Bonnie van den Born at CC-BY-SA 3.0


P.S. Hey, sorry, I asked you what are you doing here on my blog dear… You know, everything… You are Omniscient… You know what and why I am writing… You know even what is between the lines… you know we are civilized and still I don’t need to hide my nakedness in front of you…  It’s is Sunday morning and cannot stop missing the Chihuahua…

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Khol do by Saadat Hasan Manto: A Shocking Experience

Saadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was a prolific writer of Urdu short story.  He was a journalist, literary critic, screenplay writer, play writer, and a keen observer of the society in which he lived.  He is inarguably one of the most read authors in Urdu prose literature even today.  Manto’s stories are often criticized for sexuality in them, but as Manto himself had said “if you find my stories dirty, the society you are living is dirty.  With my stories, I expose only truth.”

“Khol Do” is one of the most famous and controversial stories of Manto.  It is one of the masterpiece depicting the effects of violence during the partition of India on the people of the land.  But unlike many others, Manto does not see the perpetrators as Hindu or Muslim, Hindustanis or Pakistanis, he just sees and depicts them as human beings with all their wilderness and barbarity.

“Khol Do” is basically a story of a father ‘Sirajuddin’ who had to left India during the partition days.  Story starts with Sirajuddin finding himself on the railway platform of Mughalpura, Lahore.  After the dreadful journey from Amritsar to Lahore in which hundreds were killed and injured and lost and raped, he just lay down for hours on the platform of Mughalpura.  He wakes up from his unconsciousness only to find that his wife and daughter are not with him.  As he is still in daze, the image of his wife, about to die, with ripped open stomach comes in front of his eyes, just telling him to leave her alone and run away with Sakina, his daughter.  And then suddenly he realizes that Sakina is not with him, nowhere.

Sakina, his daughter, the daughter whom he cared for too much, that he could not even leave her dupattta there in all that chaos when it slipped off her shoulders.  He still finds the dupatta in his pocket, but where is Sakina…???  He tries to find her everywhere, still couldn’t find her and finally thinks he should ask someone for help.

After a few days, he finds that some young boys are doing a great job of bringing back the daughters and women remained on that side of the border.  With a new ray of hope to see his daughter, he gives her description to those boys.  “She is fair, very pretty. No, she doesn’t look like me, but her mother. About seventeen. Big eyes,black hair, a mole on the left cheek. Find my daughter. May God bless you.”  Sirajuddin prays daily for their success and after a few days they find out Sakina…

Here we can see the vision and capability of Manto to see the naked truth.  Those boys were out to find out Sakina and they have now found her… She was the daughter of their land, from their side of border.  She had already gone through a lot.  The boys behave very kindly to her and make her feel at ease but they tell nothing about her to her father even when he asks about it.  Manto tells nothing about what is done to her, what the boys do… Only when Sirajuddin asks them about her, they just say “we will find her soon, we will!” and Sirajuddin just pray for their success…

And a few days later, people find a female body, half dead, near the railway track.  In hopes of finding Sakina, Sirajuddin goes behind them to the hospital.  The last portion of the story is worth to read in original.  It is the most shocking part of the story and perhaps the most shocking piece of prose ever written.  I have never read such thing in my life and even now when I read it, for Nth number of time, I find it similarly shocking.  I am going to end this post with that part as I won’t be able to write anything after it.  The end goes like:

He stood outside the hospital for some time, then went in. In one of the rooms, he found a stretcher with some-one lying on it.

A light was switched on. It was a young woman with a mole on her left cheek. “Sakina,” Sirajuddin screamed.

The doctor, who had switched on the light, stared at Sirajuddin.

“I am her father,” he stammered.The doctor looked at the prostrate body and felt for the pulse. Then he said to the old man: “Open the window.”

The young woman on the stretcher moved slightly. Her hands groped for the cord which kept her salwar tied around her waist. With painful slowness, she unfastened it, pulled the garment down and opened her thighs.

“She is alive. My daughter is alive,” Sirajuddin shouted with joy.

The doctor broke into a cold sweat.

Shocked… to think of what would have happened to a girl of 17, who just hearing “Khol do” opens down her salwar in spontaneous reflex… shocked with the the capacity of Manto to see, perceive, and depict the truth as naked as it is… Shocked with the courage of a writer to write such a self-critical thing (those boys were on his side of the border)… And the government charged Saadat Hasan Manto for the charges of pornography…

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Monday, February 21, 2011

By the River Piedra, I flow and flow and flow...

Days have passed and I have written nothing. Sometimes you get so engaged in living life that you don’t even get time analyzing things! Life is going such – by the river Piedra I sit and talk; by the river Piedra I laugh and cry; by the river Piedra I live and die and reincarnate myself! Sometimes you live life with all your existence and you don’t get time to analyze things! Yes, I have been having such time nowadays, every moment, every moment of the day and night, I am living my life with all my smiles and tears, with all my joys and sorrows! Once I had just forgotten what I am, who I am, why I am? And was still living – or say was living like a zombie, as a dead body with mechanical powers only! And my God put soul in the zombie, made me a human being, and set me in the world to live every moment, to grow up, and did everything to make me capable of the place he has thought best for me – at the top of the world, at His feet, in His heart!

It happens! By the river Piedra, you sit and think how to cross this vast distance! You effort yourself by the river Piedra and make a raft to cross the river! And you get attached to the raft; you even get attached to the river itself not wanting to get out of it. You just want to flow and flow and flow as the river goes wherever it will go! You just forget that you set in your raft to cross the river not to flow with it, and it happens that even the thought of crossing the river, of reaching another bank, of leaving the river and the raft, kills you! It happens! It happens – I don’t want it to happen! I don’t want to sit and weep on the other bank! I want to flow wherever she will take me, even to the vast sea where I would never have to leave her water and my raft, and thinking I cannot do that, still on the raft, still flowing with the river, I cry, cry like a child, and the river, my God, my mamma, just watches at my tears holding her own tears back for the fear that seeing them I would burst out, and then cries alone that she cannot even offer her lap to rest my head on it!

This morning, I cried again like a kid, still in the raft flowing with the river, and the river, my mamma, seemed too far to me! I know she was hiding her face from me as she cannot hide her tears in front of me! She wants me to go on the other bank, explore the new countries, and give my full life for the reasons she would leave me there! She wants me to just leave my raft with her that she would carry forever wherever she would go! She wants me to not get attached – not to her and not even to the raft! And still flowing, still on my raft, I cried, still crying, and she, my mamma, is not showing up her face to me!

Mamma, please don’t do that, please! Please let me flow with you! Please let me be with you wherever you go, please! You know, the country on the other bank is nothing, just arid land, dry and parched up! I will again start living like a zombie there mamma! Let me be with you – you know, the sea is vast, much larger than the land, there is much more to explore that I cannot even imagine! I am tired of being on land mamma, let me flow; let me flow with you, to the vast sea, where you will forever be with me, in every drop, every moment! I want to go there mamma, please don’t say no, please…

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two Moods from Glimpses of Bengal by Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore is one of my most favorite authors. Though I have read a very little of him, and though I know no Bengali, whatever I could read in English translations, his writing has been close to my heart.

Glimpses of Bengal is one of the little-known books of Tagore. It is a collection translated letters written by him when he was still young; in his own words in “the most productive period of my literary life, when, owing to great good fortune, I was young and less known.” Tagore finds that writing these letters was a “delightful necessity” for him with accumulation of surplus thoughts and emotions in the days of his exuberant youth when he had ample leisure.

I am presenting here two extracts from this book, which I find very close to my heart. They were written when he was in his 27th and 30th year respectively, in the same phase of life thorough which I am going now. And sometimes I feel, it was me who was writing those lines…

Letter 1: July 1887
I am in my twenty-seventh year. This event keeps thrusting itself before my mind—nothing else seems to have happened of late.

But to reach twenty-seven—is that a trifling thing?—to pass the meridian of the twenties on one's progress towards thirty?—thirty—that is to say maturity—the age at which people expect fruit rather than fresh foliage. But, alas, where is the promise of fruit? As I shake my head, it still feels brimful of luscious frivolity, with not a trace of philosophy.

Folk are beginning to complain: "Where is that which we expected of you—that in hope of which we admired the soft green of the shoot? Are we to put up with immaturity for ever? It is high time for us to know what we shall gain from you. We want an estimate of the proportion of oil which the blindfold, mill-turning, unbiased critic can squeeze out of you."

It has ceased to be possible to delude these people into waiting expectantly any longer. While I was under age they trustfully gave me credit; it is sad to disappoint them now that I am on the verge of thirty. But what am I to do? Words of wisdom will not come! I am utterly incompetent to provide things that may profit the multitude. Beyond a snatch of song, some tittle-tattle, a little merry fooling, I have been unable to advance. And as the result, those who held high hopes will turn their wrath on me; but did any one ever beg them to nurse these expectations?

Such are the thoughts which assail me since one fine Bysakh morning I awoke amidst fresh breeze and light, new leaf and flower, to find that I had stepped into my twenty-seventh year.

Letter 2: Shelidah, 31st Jaistha (June)1892

I hate these polite formalities. Nowadays I keep repeating the line: "Much rather would I be an Arab Bedouin!" A fine, healthy, strong, and free barbarity.

I feel I want to quit this constant ageing of mind and body, with incessant argument and nicety concerning ancient decaying things, and to feel the joy of a free and vigorous life; to have,—be they good or bad,—broad, unhesitating, unfettered ideas and aspirations, free from everlasting friction between custom and sense, sense and desire, desire and action.

If only I could set utterly and boundlessly free this hampered life of mine, I would storm the four quarters and raise wave upon wave of tumult all round; I would career away madly, like a wild horse, for very joy of my own speed! But I am a Bengali, not a Bedouin! I go on sitting in my corner, and mope and worry and argue. I turn my mind now this way up, now the other—as a fish is fried—and the boiling oil blisters first this side, then that.

Let it pass. Since I cannot be thoroughly wild, it is but proper that I should make an endeavour to be thoroughly civil. Why foment a quarrel between the two?

And sometimes I feel, I was the Tagore, thinking to myself "Much rather would I be an Arab Bedouin!"

Disclaimer: The Arab Bedouin are not intended to be uncivilized community.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Let My Love Be Like a Raft For You

Once the Buddha explained the doctrine of cause and effect to his disciples, and they said that they saw it and understood it clearly. Then the Buddha said: “O bhikkhus, even this view, which is so pure and so clear, if you cling to it, if you fondle it, if you treasure it, if you are attached to it, then you do not understand that the teaching is similar to a raft, which is for crossing over, and not for getting hold of.”

The Buddha has elsewhere explained this famous simile in which his teaching is compared to a raft for crossing over, and not for getting hold of and carrying on one's back: “O bhikkhus, a man is on a journey. He comes to a vast stretch of water. On this side the shore is dangerous, but on the other it is safe and without danger. No boat goes to the other shore which is safe and without danger, nor is there any bridge for crossing over. He says to himself: “This sea of water is vast, and the shore on this side is full of danger; but on the other shore it is safe and without danger. No boat goes to the other side, nor is there a bridge for crossing over. It would be good therefore if I would gather grass, wood, branches and leaves to make a raft, and with the help of the raft cross over safely to the other side, exerting myself with my hands and feet”.

Then that man, O bhikkhus, gathers grass, wood, branches and leaves and makes a raft, and with the help of that raft crosses over safely to the other side, exerting himself with his hands and feet.

Having crossed over and got to the other side, he thinks: “This raft was of great help to me. With its aid I have crossed safely over to this side, exerting myself with my hands and feet. It would be good if I carry this raft on my head or on my back wherever I go”. “What do you think, O bhikkhus, if he acted in this way would that man be acting properly with regard to the raft?”

"No, Sir".

“In which way then would he be acting properly with regard to the raft?”

“Having crossed and gone over to the other side, suppose that man should think: This raft was a great help to me. With its aid I have crossed safely over to this side, exerting myself with my hands and feet. It would be good if I beached this raft on the shore, or moored it and left it afloat, and then went on my way wherever it may be. Acting in this way would that man act properly with regard to that raft.

“In the same manner, O bhikkhus, I have taught a doctrine similar to a raft - it is for crossing over, and not for getting hold of. You, O bhikkhus, who understand that the teaching is similar to a raft, should give up even good things; how much more then should you give up evil things.”

And I thought, let my love be like a raft for you.

Reference:  What the Buddha Taught Us by Walpola Rahula.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Notes: The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm was the book I was looking for for the last few days. Finally, I found a PDF copy of it on Scribd. For the most part,the book deals with theory of love. Following are my notes as I was reading the chapter The Theory of Love from it.
  • Love is an art. As it is an art, it needs knowledge and effort for its nourishment.
  • The problem of Love is not primarily the problem of being loved, but the problem of loving, of one's capacity to love.  Love is an effort to overcome human separateness.
  • Love is an act of giving -- Giving of ourselves, not from ourselves.
 *Basic elements of love: Care, Responsibility, Respect, and Knowledge.

 Care: Active concern for the life and growth of that which we love.

Responsibilty: Not something imposed upon one from outside, but one's response to the needs, expressed and unexpressed, of another human being. To be "responsible" means to be able to and ready to "respond."

Responsibility in case of mother and her infant refers mainly to the care for physical needs. In the love
betwen adults, it refers mainly to the psychic needs of the other person.

Respect: Fromm notes the root of this word is respicere i.e. to look at. Respect is not fear and awe, but the ability to look at the person as he is. He should grow and unfold as he is, not as I need him to be. He should
grow for his own sake, not for the purpose of serving me.

Knowledge: Respect to a person is not possile without knowing him. Knowledge not of periphery, but of core. Fromm elaborates this by example of a person who seems angry to us if we see him superficially, but if we try to know him deeply, we may see he is anxious, and worried; that he feels lonely, that he feels guilty. Then we know that his anger is only the manifestation of something deeper, and we see him as anxious and embarrased, that is as the suffering person, rather than as angry one.

Though, knowledge is not trying to know secrets of man.

Fromm notes, "In the act of loving, of giving myself, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover us both, I discover man."

Finally, though the book deals primarily with the theory of love and oftentimes gets too theoritical, it's a treat to read if we can understand, feel, and apply it to our lives.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Message from Buddha

Ananda, the favorite disciple of Buddha, having been sent by the Lord on a mission, passed by a well near a village, and seeing Pakati, a girl of Matanga caste, he asked her for water to drink.

Pakati said: “O Brahman, I am too humble and mean to give thee water to drink, do not ask any services of me lest thy holiness be contaminated, for I am of low caste.”

And Ananda replied: “I ask not thee for caste but for water;” and the Matanga girl’s heart leaped joyfully and she gave Ananda to drink.

Ananda thanked her and went away; but she followed him at a distance.

Having heard that Ananda was a disciple of Gotama Sakyamuni, the girl repaired to the Blessed one and cried: “O Lord help me, and let me live in the place where Ananda thy disciple dwells, so that I may see him and minister unto him, for I love Ananda.”

And the Blessed One understood the emotions of her heart and he said: “Pakati, thy heart is full of love, but thou understandest not thine own sentiments. It is not Ananda that thou lovest, but his kindness. Accept, then, the kindness thou hast seen him practise unto thee, and in the humility of thy station practise it unto others.”

I do not know where I stand in this story, but I can see the Buddha telling me “Friend, thy heart is full of love, but thou understandest not thine own sentiments. It is not she that thou lovest, but her kindness.”

1. This parable from the life of Buddha is taken from The Gospel of Buddha by Paul Carus.
2. The names here are spelled to match with original Pali names, thus Pakati stands from Prakriti and Gotama for Gautama.
3. Though Pakati calls Ananda as a Brahman, it should be noted that he was a Buddhist monk (Bhikkhu) and not a Brahman.