Friday, December 2, 2016

Living in the Present

“Yesterday’s gone ... and tomorrow may never be mine,” says a Christian hymn.  Only today, this moment, is mine to act in.  But is it really possible to live in the present moment much as that is the best thing to do.  It is best to live without the hangovers of yesterday and also without the mirages of tomorrow.  Is it really possible, however?

One plain truth is that we are a product of our past to a very large extent.  Whatever we may do, it is impossible to erase all of our past.  The past has shaped our attitudes, thinking and our very character so much so it steps in whenever we are trying to find solutions to the current problem.  It is impossible to ignore the past.  The past is an integral part of our very being.

Religion never lets the past go
Not even in the life next!
I spent my youth with certain people who rendered unenviable assistance in making a mess of my life.  They were apparently trying to help me shape my character which, according to them, was pretty bad.  They were religious people and I was an atheistic hedonist.  They thought that I had sold my soul to the devil and they took it upon themselves to redeem my soul.  My life became such a misery to me that I ran away from the place and took up a job in another place where the people who surrounded me were of a totally different religion and didn’t give two hoots to my irreligion.  I rediscovered myself in that place without much difficulty. 

Happiness is short-lived.  That’s one of the plain truths of life.  I was fortunate to have at least a decade and a half of happiness unintruded by religious people.  But then they came.  In the form of a religious cult.  They were not interested in anybody’s soul.  They were only bothered about throwing people out of the place and grab the property to themselves. 

The old missionaries returned to my life using the opportunity.  Missionaries always know how to strike when you are the most vulnerable.  This second assault left me thoroughly beaten.  It was unwarranted and unexpected.  I couldn’t even continue blogging (my favourite hobby and pastime).  It took me about six months to overcome the depression. 

This second assault left a far deeper scar in my being.  

However much I try to live in the present, I am unable to do it.  My repeated experiences make me wary of everybody much as I long to trust at least one person. 

Mine may be a unique experience.  But I’m sure there are many people who have gone through other experiences which have reshaped their very being in undesirable ways.  I’m sure the number of such people is not at all insignificant.  That’s why I decided to write this.  Just to tell them that it is not a sin if they can’t live in the present even though that is the ideal.  Ideals belong to a privileged few: those who can shape their destiny in spite of external forces that impinge on us constantly.  Most people are not so privileged.  And hence most people have an yesterday whose ghosts haunt them, and a tomorrow that is already darkened by shadows.

“I’m only human, I’m just a man / Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am...” That’s the opening lines of the hymn with which I started this post.  But who is going to offer that help?  God?  The hymn believes that.  But I don’t. I am still an atheistic hedonist.  I believe in the present.  The religious people don’t.  They believe in the life hereafter.  That’s the endless conflict between them and me.

 PS. This is written for Indispire Edition 146 #CelebrateTodayThisMoment

Thursday, December 1, 2016



Every scoundrel I come across these days preaches patriotism. Or nationalism. A few months back it used to be also called Hindutva or the great Indian Culture. I often wondered why only scoundrels preached patriotism while all gentlemen and ladies went to work to earn their living.

Nowadays more people think of becoming patriots.  Earning your living is almost impossible otherwise.  The scoundrels make the rules.  They decide who will have how much money with them. And they know how to look after themselves and their chelas.

And also to make us sing the national anthem in the theatre of the absurd.

Ignorance is patriotism, my boy.  It's a game.  You make rules.  More rules.  Bind people by rules.  After taking away their cash so that they have no means to fight anything.  Make people beggars.  Then they will lick your feet.  You become a god.  And you decide who are patriots.  And who are traitors.

Shoot the traitors.  Call it encounter killing.  You are an expert at it, aren't you?  You became a patriot through encounter killings, after all. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Black Money and Black Hearts

Thomas Jefferson who drafted the famous American Declaration of Independence which contains the oft-quoted phrase that “all men are created equal” owned about 200 slaves when he wrote that and never set them free even upon his death.  It doesn’t mean Jefferson was a fraud or even a hypocrite.  Rather it points to certain bizarre truths about social systems and the beliefs which create them.  The Americans during Jefferson’s time did not even consider Negroes as human beings.  Negroes were subhuman, according to the beliefs that upheld the American social system of the time.

All social systems are built upon certain beliefs most of which may not stand up to rational analysis.  The ancient Indian caste system or many other social practices such as Sati were not based on any objective truths.  Social systems are created by certain individuals in order to protect their interests by subordinating the interests of others. 

It was not mere selfishness either.  More than selfishness, it was an attempt to create a stable society.  The most famous Babylonian king was Hammurabi and he had created a rigid social system with a strict code of behaviour.  He said, “I know that superiors, commoners and slaves are not inherently different kinds of people.  But if we believe that they are, it will enable us to create a stable and prosperous society.” [Emphases added]

Beliefs make up social systems to a very large extent.  One such belief that is forging contemporary India is that black money is the root of all evils.  One truth is that the vast majority of Indians do not have any black money.  In fact, they don’t even have enough money to live comfortably.  A more significant truth is that black money is not the root of most evils in the county.  It is dishonesty that is the root cause.  It is the corruption that is engendered by dishonesty that is the root of most evils. 

The present war (euphemistically called surgical strike) on black money will achieve little in the end.  Like viruses that never die but find new avatars and keep on invading the human biological system perennially, black money will reincarnate more easily in the larger denominations of the new currency. 

What should be fought is the typical Indian mendacity.  Can we bring in a little honesty into our systems?  Into our hearts? 

When the Parliament under the present leader was more eager to double the wages of themselves than promote the welfare of the citizens most of whom can’t even dream of earning in a year what our MPs are earning in a month as salary, can we hope for radical surgical strikes?

Instead of striking at the root of that evil of blatant dishonesty and selfishness, the new system that is being forged seeks to promote the interests of certain sections and put others in manacles.  The manacles are not just about the temporary hardships that we have to undergo.  They are the permanent restrictions that will be imposed gradually on certain sections (read the new low castes) of the country’s population.  The reports that the information about demonetisation was leaked to certain people are indicators of more bizarre surgical strikes that will follow.  It is neither black money nor its root cause that is being treated.  It is a new social system that is being forged. 

PS. This post was inspired by Jug Suraiya’s [The Times of India’s Groucho Marx] column today: Corrupt Climate: Black money is only a symptom of the disease of dishonesty. If I were to use Suraiya’s wit, black hearts would become blackguards.  But I am not Suraiya, you see.