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Showing posts from October, 2015

True Love

Rama consigned Sita to the flames.  Krishna made many husbands cuckolds.  And they are our gods.  Their love ought to be true love.  Really? Helen and Paris loved each other and started a war which killed thousands of people.  Was that true love? Antony loved Cleopatra to such an extent that they died for each other, killing many in the process. Jesus Christ loved mankind so much that he let himself be crucified and then went on to be worshipped as a god.  True love? The Buddha was not much of a lover, I think.  He was too indifferent.  But if we were to live with him, we would have found him the ideal human being, almost a god.  Indifferent.  But never judgemental.  Eccentric and yet the most sane.  True love? Mother Teresa loved everybody because she saw the face of Jesus in everybody.  She loved Jesus.  Not Tom, Syed or Hari.  Was that true love? Mahatma Gandhi loved his principles more than his wife or children.  True love? I love Mr Narendra Modi be

Sign Not in Use

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Mat wanted to die because he thought life was too frivolous an affair to deserve itself.  He had already consulted many experts on the matter before he ran into me. The doc whom he approached for medical assistance bluntly refused.  “You want me to spend the rest of my life in prison?” asked the doc furiously.   “What prevented the doc from giving me the injection was fear of the prison,” Mat explained to me.  "Not any love of life." “If the law did not prevent suicide, would you have helped me?” Mat asked the doc.  “If I try to commit suicide and fail, will the law be punishing me for failing to live or for failing to die?” The doc stared blankly into Mat’s eyes.  Then the blankness became fury.  “Get out,” he said. Then Mat went to his pastor.  “Nowhere in the Bible is it said that suicide is a sin,” explained Mat to the pastor.  And the pastor thought Mat was right.  The Old Testament’s Yahweh was very fond of rules and regulations.  In fact, the on

Cows of Logic

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A scene from Delhi.  Source: The Hindu In his book, The Rebel , Albert Camus speaks about two types of crimes: crimes of passion and crimes of logic.  Heathcliff of the Wuthering Heights will kill anyone who stands between him and his beloved Cathy.  This is a crime of passion.  He is motivated by his passion, and his passion is genuine. Camus calls him a man of character.  As long as you don’t get in the way of his love, he won’t touch you.  He won’t even notice your existence, in fact.  You are nothing to him.  All that matters to him is his love, his Cathy, nothing else. Now, suppose Heathcliff converts his passion into a doctrine.  Suppose he begins to believe that Cathy is worthy of everybody’s admiration.  Suppose he asks all the people around him to venerate Cathy.  He can make a religion or a doctrine out of his love for Cathy.  He can build up a whole theology around his love.  He may get some supporters too.  He can get those supporters to drag out from home anyo

Dangers of Quixotism

Finally Tony Blair has admitted that the 2003 Iraq war was a mistake. Juan Cole, teacher and writer, compares Blair's apology to that of the little boy who, on being asked to apologise for calling a lady "fat," said, "Lady, I'm sorry you're fat." America, under the leadership of the quixotic Bush Jr, wanted to secure its hegemony in the Middle East particularly for grabbing the petroleum available there.  Even after the United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) reported that it could not discover any weapon of mass destruction in Kuwait, Don Quixote of America led his army against the country with the passionate support of his Sancho Panza, Tony Blair. Thousands of people were killed.  Precious properties were destroyed. Thousands of people were displaced.  Many more thousands were left as survivors suffering from chronic heartaches.  And quite a few thousand terrorists were spawned by the heartaches. India is witn

Love and the cow

Suresh was watching Bajrangi Bhaijaan when I dropped in. “It is easy to peddle hatred,” a TV reporter in the movie was saying, “love gets few takers.”  But the movie ended in the victory of love over hatred with the Pakistani Muslims and the Indian Hindus gathering on either side of the international border clamouring for love.  “Why does a meek creature like the cow instigate so much aggression among people?”  I asked when the movie was over.   “Why the cow, even an inanimate thing like a piece of cloth cut in a particular geometrical shape can instigate aggression the moment religion becomes fanaticism,” said Suresh.  “And religion becomes fanaticism only when the character of the person is domineering and aggressive.” Suresh went on to explain that the submissive person who is religious surrenders himself to whatever virtues his religion teaches him such as compassion or selflessness.  The surrender can go to extremes depending on the degree of the believer’s re

My Stories as Ebook

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I have collected 33 short stories of mine into an ebook which will be published next week.  Most of these stories were written in the last two years and published in my blog .  Just to give a taste of what the stories are like, let me give the links to three stories selected at random: Ahalya – the first story in the volume And quiet flowed the Beas – the tenth story The Nomad Learns Morality – the title story The volume is dedicated to “Radha Soami Satsang Beas especially Dr Pranita Gopal.”  RSSB is a religious organisation which took over a school in Delhi where I was teaching for quite a while.  In about two years the organisation bulldozed the school to smithereens.  The bulldozer became my guru and muse.  However, the stories are in no way related to the school or RSSB.  Not at all to the bulldozer.  Not even to Dr Pranita Gopal.  All these happened to be my best inspirers.  I’m obliged to them eternally.  Were it not for them, the potential for fiction writin

Dogs and Politics

Marilyn Monroe loved dogs because they never bit her unlike the human beings.  Mark Twain was of a similar opinion.  “If you pick up a starving dog,” declared the witty writer, “and make him prosperous he will not bite you.  This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”  Milan Kundera found his Eden by sitting “with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon.” Our leaders of the most powerful political party today seem to hold dogs in a slightly different regard.  A few months back our Prime Minister declared his love for puppies when he made a subtle equation between them and the victims of communal riots belonging to a particular community.  Now General V K Singh, union minister and former army chief, thinks that the Dalits share some genes with the canines.    The dogs are very friendly creatures which are unpolitically selfless.  They earned a bad name in India, however, because their general (not to be confused with the General) lot in this country was no bet

Real Togetherness

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Real togetherness is the relationship between the tree and the earth.  One draws its sustenance from the other.  Both draw life from each other.  Necessarily.  Ineluctably.  That ineluctability is the real togetherness.  But the extraction is based on a deep understanding.  The tree needs the earth for driving its hungry roots down as much as the earth needs the tree for materialising its fecundity.  When the infant draws life from its mother’s breasts, the mother is enriched too.  That mutual enrichment is real togetherness. Real togetherness is when man and woman probe into the eyes of each other and see oneself reflected in the eyes of the other.  The other becomes a lake into which one plunges to emerge in a while with enhanced zest for life.  The breeze of the heavens wafts through the necessary interstices of that zest.  Real togetherness is the essence of the apple that Eve and Adam bit into before being ejected summarily from God’s patronisation.  It is grap

Yudhishtiras and holy cows

"The devil called god must indeed be marvellous," exclaims a character in Subhash Chandran's Malayalam novel,  'Manushyanu Oru Amukham,' (A Preface to Man).  The novel has already won many eminent and well-deserved awards. The protagonist argues that the dog which accompanied Yudhishtira to heaven must be a stray creature and the moral is that a man who ignores his fellow creatures in his single-minded pursuit of heaven is no better than a stray dog. Yudhishtira had not cared to throw as much as a loving gaze at his people who were falling dead on the way. Contemporary Yudhishtiras are beseiging the gates of heaven accompanied by holy cows.

Secrets of the Knight

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Two centuries of wandering in the valley of withered sedges was brought to an end for the Knight of la Belle Dame sans Merci when an adventure-tourist gifted him a digital camera. "In case you bump into her," advised the tourist,  " click a snap.  It might serve to forewarn future potential victims. " It is immaterial whether the tourist was a universal do-gooder or was merely playing a practical joke on the haggard and woe-begone Knight.   What matters here is that the gift transformed the Knight's life. His camera lapped up the beauty of the landscapes that stretched farther and farther from the valley of fairy sedges.   Undulating landscapes and riotous horizons became digital heartbeats in the Knight's camera.  Country roads flanked by thriving flora composed heavenly rhapsodies. Every road invariably led to a twilight.  In the dimness of twilights, in the most insignificant crannies of landscapes,  in the unlikeliest places,  the Knight disco

Butterflies and Perspectives

Horse: If you don’t want to be a caterpillar, how can you become a butterfly? Caterpillar: Did you pass through so many stages before you became a horse? Horse: Not exactly the same stages.  But stages, yes. Caterpillar: Was it hard?  The stages, I mean. Horse: It depends.  Being a caterpillar is not hard for all caterpillars, I guess. Caterpillar: One grows up only by passing through the stages? Horse: One grows real only by passing through the stages. Caterpillar: Real? Horse: Opposite of fraud, let’s say. Caterpillar: Why should anyone be a fraud? Horse: Discontent, I guess.  Not happy being what you are.  Wanting to be something else.  Somebody else. Caterpillar: Like me? Horse: Well.  There are many creatures who are unhappy about what they are.  Who want to be somebody else.  Becoming real is a slow process, I guess.  It needs patience.  Like being a caterpillar crawling on leaves.  And then a chrysalis.  Caterpillar: But o

Some Virtues

Purity I used to be Snow White until I was bored And drifted in quest of colours And met holders of magic mirrors. Colours come in at the cost of whiteness. Generosity My generosity with words overflowed Until the words became flames And she said she was ready to burn herself Wasn’t she doing it from day one, she asked. Truthfulness So many holy books full of truths for which people kill one another. And I’m still seeking that truth which doesn’t demand so much blood. Forgiveness Every time I joined my palms in rueful prayer God said he had already forgiven me. But I couldn’t forgive him for making me a beggar again and again. Modesty I have a tail that’s nothing much to boast about, It loves to get in the way sometimes just to show off whatever colours and plumes it has; The silly little thing is attached to me as I am to it.

Smile

It is a blessing to be able to smile after you have crossed over into that period of life which people would rather refer to with the help of some euphemism than plainly as ‘old age.’  When friends of the same age group counsel you condescendingly that “age is a matter of the mind,” you are free to smile.  Smile at the condescension.  Or you can smile at the hypocrisy.  Or self-delusion, if you wish to look at it that way.  You are free to smile when people choose to call it positive thinking.  And you can smile all the way as you drive to some Art of Living prayer session which will teach you avant-garde terminology for the senility that inevitably catches up with you. The realisation that life is all the sound and fury that transpires between the wail that marks your arrival on the scene and the gasp that pushes you out can be an ideal source of smile.  The lessons that your near and dear ones tried to teach you in the countless scenes of the drama of life may deserve pretty

You are Dying, Columbus

You are dying, Columbus. I wish your corpse would carry to your grave the sins you committed against whole races of people, my people, and all the other people, whom you held to ransom in the name of a god and a king and his queen. What were you but a thief, a murderer and a rapist? You came armed with a sword in one hand and the Bible in the other. Our women were naive to welcome you with gifts of parrots and bales of cotton; They showered their hospitality on you and made spears for your men on your demand. And you killed them with those spears after raping them. Did your god smile when you poured the baptismal water on our infants who grew up to be plunderers of the earth like you? We were clay in your hands and you moulded us in your image. We despise us in your image. PS: America is celebrating Oct 12 as Columbus Day.

When Intellectuals Wake Up

Finally India’s intellectuals are waking up, it seems.  “The tide of intolerance has risen to such a level that individuals do not have the freedom to eat what they like or to love a person of their choice,” said Sara Joseph, eminent Malayalam novelist, who has decided to return her Sahitya Adkademi award following the example set by Nayantara Sahgal.  Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi had already returned his award.  Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas followed suit.  Sashi Despande stepped down from the Akademi’s General Council. Former Akademi secretary and poet K. Satchidanandan has announced his decision to resign his membership in all committees of the Akademi.  Subhash Chandran, Malayalam novelist and Akademi award winner, has told a TV channel that he is going to return his award.  Short story writer P.K. Parakkadavu, member of the Sahitya Akademi General Council, said he is resigning his membership in the council with immediate effect. Literary critic K.S. Ravikumar, member of the General C

We and They

Fascism is an act of contempt.  Albert Camus made a detailed analysis of that contempt in his book, The Rebel .  Conversely, said Camus, “every form of contempt, if it enters politics, prepares the way for, or establishes, fascism.” Those of us who are not victims of selective amnesia may remember certain mock-slogans such as Hum paanch, humara pachees which won the sloganeer tremendous popularity in the country.  If from Mein Kampf the road led straight to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the mock slogans of the country’s most eloquent orator have brought us to Dadri.  Leaving aside a Nayantara Sahgal and an Ashok Vajpeyi, the intellectuals in the country are lulled into stupor by the eloquent contempt.  Have we reached that stage where –  as in Camus’s analysis of fascism – one leader, one people translates into one master, millions of slaves ?  Finally when the orator broke his silence on the issue he took recourse to the counsel given by the President who is a soft-spo

Judgment at Dadri

‘Do you think your leg is a part of yourself?’  The Judge asked the convict. ‘Yes.’  The convict was confident. ‘What about the bacteria in your intestines...?’  The convict’s eyes bulged.  He seemed to know nothing about bacteria, and that too in his stomach. ‘There won’t be no digestion of what you eat without them bacteria in your gut,’ the Judge explained condescendingly before proceeding to the next question with his usual solemnity.  ‘What about the stream from which you take your drinking water?  Is the stream a part of yourself?’ The convict blinked. ‘Is your cow a part of you?  Is the land on which your cow grazes a part of you?  Are you a part of the landscape and all that it holds, a part of Nature, a part of the universe, one with the streams and rocks, trees and grass, buffaloes and grasshoppers?  What makes you think a cow is more a part of the universe than a Muslim?’ The convict’s eyes, which were lifeless until then, glared at the last word

Disillusionment

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Mr Ram Jethmalani is disillusioned with Mr Narendra Modi.  “I thought God had sent him as his ‘Aulia’ [representative] for India’s salvation... How I became the victim of fraud,” said the eminent lawyer who was in Bihar asking the people there to defeat the BJP in the imminent elections.  And he is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha! “Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion,” said Arthur Koestler whose faith in communism met with a tragic end because of Stalin, a leader who had made tall promises to his country.  Mr Jethmalani may not possess the insightfulness of Koestler to understand that “As long as chaos dominates the world, God is an anachronism; and every compromise with one’s own conscience is perfidy. When the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears…” [ Darkness at Noon , Koestler’s illustrious novel].  Hence a few blustering dialogues in Bihar will ease the pain in his heart which will soon be ready for compromises.  Our politicians ha

Invisible to the Eye

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One of the many creatures that Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classical Little Prince encounters on the earth is a fox.  The creature approaches the Prince with a weird request.  “Please tame me,” pleaded the fox.  The Prince did not know the meaning of ‘tame’.  “It means to establish ties,” explained the fox.  Without the ties, the boy would be just another boy for the fox just as the fox would be just another fox for the boy who don’t need each other in any way.  “But if you tame me,” continues the fox, “then we shall need each other.  To me, you will be unique in all the world.  To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” Little Prince and the Fox When you establish the “ties” the person or thing becomes unique to you, the Prince understands.  He remembers the rose which he used to look after on his own planet.  He watered it, he made a special glass enclosure for its safety, he killed caterpillars for its sake.  The Prince refers to the rose with the personal pronoun ‘she’