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Showing posts from June, 2016

Clichés

'I don't like meeting people,' I explained when a friend asked why I showed little interest in meeting him after a long period. People are clichés wherever you go.  They keep repeating themselves.  The repetition may take slightly different avatars.  Some do it in the name of the Christ, some others in Krishna's. Or Allah's. Or some Baba or other fraud. Fraud is a perpetual cliche from which mankind has no salvation, my friend said. Your problem is that you looked for salvation from them. Silly romantic dreamer! He laughed. So I am a fraud too? I asked. Living in an illusion! Aren't all people doing just that?  Living in one illusion or another? In perceived paradises?  Maybe paradise of wealth, power, positions, Babadom, kingdom of heaven... Clichés.  What else? Solitude is my cliché, I said. You are a cliché trying to run away from other clichés, he said.

Good and Evil

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“There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.”  ―  J.K. Rowling ,  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Examine history and we will be amazed by enormity of the evil that man has inflicted upon his fellow creatures mostly in the name of gods and creeds.  A lot of good people perished being labelled as heretics and witches.  Thousands of innocent people have died and continue to do so to please the gods of fanatics and radicals. The Pope has apologised for his Church's inhuman attitude towards homosexuals.  Pope John Paul II had made quite a number of apologies .  Most religions will have infinite sins to atone for if they are willing to undertake an honest introspection. And yet religion is about goodness, compassion, and what not?  That's what we have been told at least. The plain truth is that religion, like most other man-made institutions, is about power. If you have power, what you do is right and good!  Rather, it's not

Plastic Perfume

'I hate plastic flowers,' said Raj. 'But they smell better than the original flowers,' said Mohan, the host. 'No smell at all.' Mohan brought a canister and sprayed perfume on the flowers. Plastic perfume suffused the air. Then the priest came and blessed the perfume. And everything was OK. Gods and their priests make everything OK. Plastic.

Falling in Love

Sangeeta was heartbroken.  She peered into the coffee mug as if the dregs in it contained the perfect metaphor for her life. "What happened, honey?" asked Rakesh.  "You've suddenly gone moody." They were on their first date.  Sitting in the ethereal air of Cafe Coffee Day, they admired each other before the mutual assessment took off as naturally as the dessert followed the meal.  Facebook had brought them together and Whatsapp had sealed the bond firmly. "Blue is NOT your favourite colour!" She asked as if her world had broken apart. "No. Not at all. But what does that matter?" "I thought blue was your favourite colour. I always wanted to marry a man whose favourite colour was blue." "Oh, honey, but who told you blue was my favourite colour?" "Your first profile pic on fb had a blue tee." "Oh, yeah?" "I always thought blue was your favourite colour." "What does the c

Prisoners

"God!" I exclaimed just as he appeared before me as if from nowhere.  I didn't know who he was.  His demeanour carried such grace and aura that the exclamation was my spontaneous response. "Do I look like a fraud?" He asked. I didn't say fraud, I clarified. I said God. I know, he smiled.  God, fraud... He played with the words for a while. You look like a god, I said. I don't want to.  He looked slightly helpless.  People will demand miracles. Nothing more.  The priests, godmen and the like will eliminate the real god and then recreate him in their own image.  With the waxen images shaped by them, they will conquer little kingdoms.  Kingdoms with fences around. Then they will teach their followers to shoot and kill those behind other fences, clutching at slightly different waxen images.  Worst of all, they will distort all that I shall ever utter. I felt pity for him.  Can I help you?  I asked. Deliver me from myself.  He said that looking

Probe the godmen

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The income tax department has discovered black money amounting to Rs 2300 crore in godman Asaram Bapu's   palaces.  The godman's followers have a lot of shady deals carried out in the name of religion and charity. The government should investigate all the religious trusts and organisations.  Most of them, if not all, will be found to be serious financial offenders. On the other hand, the people of India should ask themselves how long they will allow themselves to be defrauded by such satanic godmen and ammas. One simple truth is that there are thousands of people who are accomplices of the sanctimonious frauds merely because religion has become the easiest way to make illegal wealth in India.  It is very easy to get away with it too. If the Modi government is serious about bringing achche din to the country, it should start with cleaning up the most pernicious places: the religious trusts.

Love in the time of war

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“You are so capable of loving.  Yet why do you fight and kill men?”  Briseis asked. “Fighting is not my choice,” said Achilles having planted a passionate kiss on the ruby lips below Brisei’s lilac eyes.  Her eyes resembled those of a gazelle, serene and pure.  “I inherited it from my father and his father and all the ancestors.  One cannot wish away one’s ancestral inheritance.” “I wish you could,” said Briseis wistfully.  She had lost her husband, father, mother and three brothers in the war led by Achilles’ people.  She was delivered to Achilles for the nocturnal pleasures of the day’s warrior. Achilles looked at her as the soldier dragged her along and threw her on Achilles’ bed in the tent.  The gaze and the grace of the gazelle charmed Achilles instantly.  He sat beside her on the bed and wiped away the blood from her ruby lips.  But the lips still shone like ruby.  He smelled her hair. “You a royal?” he asked. She refused to reply.  He took his towel, sque

The Conquest of Happiness

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In his famous book, The Conquest of Happiness , Bertrand Russell argues that the most fundamental way to attain happiness is to take genuine interest in other people and things.  Happiness requires a movement away from oneself, from the ego and its gratifications. We live in a world which encourages infinite ego gratifications.  More than half of the advertisements are for products that promise to boost one's ego.  No wonder a lot of people remain unhappy.  Too many people are drifting if not sunk deep in the ocean of their own egos.  Social networks and other such platforms are, far from being agents of genuine camaraderie, tools for self-promotion. Even gods have been enlisted, more than they were in history ever, in the perpetual aswamedha being performed by the ego.  Thus people attain remarkable success, positions and wealth using gods and cults. And remain unhappy!  The more perverse ones go to the extent of detonating bombs upon perceived threats to their egos.  They th

Losing Innocence

Germaine Greer once defined the library as a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.  The implication is that knowledge or awareness deflowers your consciousness.  What Satan offered to Eve in Paradise was nothing other than the fruit of knowledge.  As a consequence of eating that fruit, Eve lost her virginity with double delight: physically as well as cognitively. According to the Bible, she along with Adam discovered shame after devouring the fruit of knowledge. Awareness leads us to the discovery of shame, loss of innocence over and again. When the real criminals enjoy positions of power or relax in paradises abroad and petty thieves or even innocent people get life terms in prisons, we discover the shame of our race yet again.  People who are worshipped as godmen or ammas are crooks at the least and hardcore criminals most often.  Lies metamorphose into truths in the new gadgets. Truth dies in infancy. Expediency is new morality. Awareness deflow

A friend in the darkness

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Fiction It was past midnight when something that rubbed against the window pane woke me up. Maybe a leaf carried by the gentle breeze that wafted occasionally in this village not far from the sea. I turned on my side and decided to fall asleep again. But the window whispered again in the unfathomable darkness.  I stared into the darkness. The breezy whisper became a creepy rap on the window pane.  Gentle rap, like a seductive woman's inviting smile. 'Let me in.'  I thought I heard someone say. I started. Sitting up on the bed, I peered into the dark void outside the window. 'Why don't you let me in?' The voice asked and the window pane groaned.  Sweat trickled through every pore in my skin. 'You are alone,' the voice went on, 'and so am I.  Why not be company to each other?' My heart was in my mouth and so I couldn't even cry out. 'Ah! You don't want me,' the voice sighed. The sigh petered out into the void beyond

How gods incarnate

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Donald Trump has become the latest addition to the overcrowded Indian pantheon. Hindu Sena celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday in Delhi and its leader, Vishnu Gupta, has declared Trump "the saviour of humanity"  and "Messiah against Islamic terror." Last month the Sena had organised a Havan for Trump's electoral victory. It doesn't matter whether Trump hates Indians and holds them in contempt. It doesn't matter whether the Indian holy cow is part of his staple diet. Gods are above the rules for the common folk. Jai Sri Donald Trump!

The hollowness of rhetoric

Delivering the concluding address at BJP's National Executive yesterday, Mr Modi presented seven mantras to his party workers.  Empathy and self-restraint are two of the seven resounding mantras.  The problem is that they only resounded like some hollow echoes in a wilderness because they were accompanied with Modi's abiding taunting of the Congress.  All those great mantras lost the wind in their wings because of the cognitive dissonance that accompanied the rhetoric. Empathy and taunting don't go hand in hand.  Mere rhetoric has never swayed any heart so far.  That's why Modi's speeches make no ripples in spite of his being an excellent orator. Perhaps, the most pathetic fate that Modi is inflicting upon his party is the compulsive need to flog the Congress even after the latter has become as good as a carcass.  Modi should deliver himself and his party from all forms of hatred which has marked them right from the beginning.  The BJP has to take positive steps

Holy Murderers

The young man who perpetrated the mass murder in an Orlando nightclub is a typical symbol of the contemporary religious zealot.  He is not much different from some of the godmen and their cults in India. The cult that let loose its sanctimonious insanity on the Mathura police recently are also imagining itself as the Messiah of India. Religious people who perceive themselves as holier than the others are the greatest threat to contemporary civilisation.  All sorts of terrorism - overt as well as covert - emerge from that infantile self-image.  The phenomenon is nothing new.  It has marked most religions right from the beginning of human history. Can we not save ourselves from these holy murderers?  Can they be successful without our cooperation? 

Hypocrisy

We are what we pretend to be. What's it that prevents us From not pretending?

Between the eyes

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Mini story "Shoot me between the eyes." Rajmohan asked anyone who spoke to him in metaphors.  Truth is as terse and straight as a mathematical equation or a scientific principle and it doesn't need the crutches of metaphors. That was his religion. But he had never imagined anyone would take his own metaphor literally and fire a bullet directly into his forehead. Mr Pandit and Mr Sharma had approached him for a donation.  The trust established by their godman was constructing the largest temple in the world. (On land grabbed from a reserved forest.) "Why do we need temples?" Rajmohan asked them.  "Spend your money on a hospital or school for the poor people who can't afford good treatment or good education." "God's glory requires temples, bhaiyya,"said Mr Pandit. The Godman's men used all the poetry they knew to explain god and his glory. God became a flower in the valley or milk in the udder or even the slit in the pa

Springs of Sorrow

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Today (June 8) is the death anniversary of Gerard Manley Hopkins [1844-1889], a British poet whose greatness lay buried beneath the smokescreens of Victorian sensibilities.  Spring and Fall is one of his many exquisite poems.  It is addressed to a little girl, Margaret, who is sad seeing the leaves fall in the season of autumn.  Are you crying over the falling leaves, Margaret?  The poet asks the girl.  A time will come when you won’t weep over the falling leaves because life will teach you about other much more significant falls.  Fall is the blight man was born for, says the poet.  O little girl, how innocent you are!  Your innocence is the beauty of the spring season with its fresh life and enchanting beauty.  Spring is the promise of new life.  Dreams bloom on the twigs.  You are one of those numerous dreams.  But you are destined to realise that autumn will follow soon.  The leaves and blooms will all fall.  That’s their inevitable destiny.  Life will teach you

Godman Business

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The easiest way to earn fabulous wealth in India today is religion.  There are quite a few godmen and ammas who have amassed more wealth than the Ambanis and Adanis by selling gods to people. What happened in Mathura yesterday should open the eyes of both the people and the authorities.  The followers of one Baba Jai Gurudev illegally occupied 280 acres and used violence when the police tried to evict them.  The ‘religious’ people used swords, knives, guns, grenades and even automatic weapons. Exemplary cooperation between a Baba and his Government The Baba who died in 2012 (at the age of 116 as claimed by his followers) started off his divine career making the fraudulent claim that he was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.  That was in 1975 when people were not as willing as they apparently are today to be hoodwinked.  The Baba’s fraud was greeted with a shower of slippers, rotten eggs and tomatoes.  But Babas being some of the most ingenious people, they always find a way

The Earth - a love story

The earth was parched and it longed for love.  Nothing can heal the cracks in the soul as love can.  Everything that has life comes in pairs, reflected the earth.  Man has woman.  The animals have their mates.  Even the plants have their mates. Male and female.  And the love that binds them.  What’s life without that bond?  The earth longed for a loving touch.  It had been violated for millennia.  Civilisations came and went violating her pristine innocence.  Violation has been her destiny ever since the ape descended from the tree and started walking on two legs.  Did I not love you?  The rainclouds that gathered in the heavens asked her.  Did I not love you from the time you were born?  The earth smiled.  Her smile was warped.  But she nodded her ascent.  The cracks in her soul were filled with longing.  The clouds smiled.  When someone longs for you, you have reasons to smile.  What’s life without that longing? The rain descended from the heavens consummating

When Love Trumps Tradition

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We live in a world which continues to lay undue emphasis on certain traditions, especially those which have their roots in religion.  Religion being regressive by nature, its traditions will continue to be in force even when the world will have evolved far beyond them scientifically and technologically. Most religious traditions are like the gargoyles erected on magnificent edifices: they may serve some supposed purposes hideous as they appear. A still from the movie Tevye, the protagonist of the movie Fiddler on the Roof , faces the painful dilemma of having to make a choice between tradition and love.  Three of his nubile daughters break the sacred traditions of their religion by falling in love with men of their choice.  Tevye is shocked and infuriated each time.  He asks his God, Yahweh, what to do.  In doing so, he is breaking a sacred tradition himself: he is unseating the Rabbi from his sacred position as the mediator between Yahweh and his creature. The hotline