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Showing posts from September, 2016

Perspectives

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I wake up every morning to some WhatsApp messages from friends and well-wishers.  “There are only two ways of living life,” suggested one such message this morning, “Walk like you are the King or walk like you don’t care who the King is.”  The very next one from another friend (who messages me very rarely) belonged to the spiritual realms as usual: “In pride, in reas’ning pride, our error lies; All quit their sphere and rush into the skies. Pride still is aiming at the bless’d abodes, Men would be angels, angels would be gods.” The first message came from a friend who has entrepreneurial ambitions while the sender of the second one has spiritual aspirations. The first friend, presumably, sends bulk messages to all in the mailing list every morning and hence the messages may not be meant for me personally.  The second friend takes a personal interest in me as all spiritually ambitious people do.  Entrepreneurship is about managing the masses while spirituality is about savin

God’s Grief

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“It is God’s omniscience that helps Him to endure the sorrows of the world,” says the narrator of Francois Mauriac’s short story, A Man of Letters.   Why would any God endure this world of ours for so long had it not been for the empathetic understanding of the criminality that underlies the crown of His own creation?  The question begs a lot of other questions, of course.  Is there a God, did He (is it He really?) create the universe, was He aware of the evil that he was giving birth to while creating the human beings...?  Michelangelo's The Pieta Let us assume that some God created the universe for reasons similar to why Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment or Michelangelo carved the Pieta : a creative urge.  Not the whole of creation is under the control of the creator because there are unconscious motives which underlie every creation.  Sublimation of the darkness within the creator is one of the motives of creation. The human beings seem to be the darkness that la

Silent Realities

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Book Review Title: Silent Realities Author: Ranjan Kaul Publisher: Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2016 Pages: 214 It is not an easy job to fabricate arresting stories out of very ordinary characters.  The best feature of Ranjan Kaul’s short stories is that they engage us from the first line to the last.  We get glued to the characters.  There’s a rare kind of suspense that Kaul creates in his stories.  It is not the suspense we find in thrillers and other categories that usually make use of suspense.  It is rather the suspense that life carries inextricably with it particularly in the case of vulnerable characters. The reason why Kaul’s stories fascinate us is that the characters are all taken from the next street or the next door.  Ashalata who makes use of her little daughter to steal ladies’ handbags in the first story, The Handbag , Lallan who becomes a tragic victim of a corrupt and insensitive socio-political system [ Lallan ]and Hari who runs away from home beca

I love Mr Modi

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Mr Narendra Modi has come a long way from the Gujarat of 2002.  The real war is a psychological one, he has learnt.  It is very easy to rouse up the rabble and set ablaze anything.  Rousing up people’s imagination is the tough job.  A real leader’s task is precisely that.  And that’s what Mr Modi did in Kerala yesterday. Look at what he said in Kerala yesterday.  India will not forget Uri.  Mr Modi knows as well as Mark Antony that public memory is like the thistledown caught in the wind.  And Mr Modi is as good an orator as Mark Antony.  He knows how to win over hearts just like the Roman conqueror.  “When we think of Kerala, we think of God’s Own Country, it has an impression of purity and holiness,” he said to the cheering crowd.  “When I visited gulf countries recently, I wanted to meet my people from Kerala living there.” He knows that Kerala’s economy is sustained by the Malayalis working in those desert sands.  “ Kerala ke karyartaon ko vishwas dilata hoon ki aapki tap

Celebrities and me

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If I am asked to invite some “celebrities” to a dinner at my dining table, who would those “celebrities” be? At the outset, let me clarify that this is a purely hypothetical and fictitious approach to the latest theme proposed by Indispire .   The first three names that come to my mind are Arnab Goswami, Narendra Modi and Gurinder Singh Dhillon .  The last may need an introduction.  Mr Dhillon is the godman who controls quite a few empires led by a cult named Radha Soami Satsang Beas .  He is arguably the richest Indian if the wealth possessed by his cult in India alone (let alone those abroad) is reckoned.  He is worshipped as a god by a few million people in the country though he shies away from publicity of the sort I am giving him free of charge.  He is a celebrity though the Indian media has not discovered him yet except in a rare report like this . Mr Modi with his political acumen and Mr Dhillon with his godman skills can work out some divine miracles or at lea

Sydney beckons students

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Aerial view of Sydney If you are planning to study abroad, there is no better destination than Sydney, Australia. Sydney is an iconic city and an ideal place for students to come and study from various parts of the world. Every, year more than 35,000 students from over 50 countries pursue their dreams in various top class educational institutions in the city. Sydney also has a long history of providing students with multiple opportunities to hone their varied skills. The greatest advantage, particularly for the Indian students,is the temperate climate of the city with warm summers and mild winters. The breathtaking beaches and the stunning landscapes of the city will keep your mind fresh and invigorated to acquire knowledge to the fullest of your potential.  Sydney Opera House, Beaches, the Rocks, Sydney Harbor Bridge, Sydney Harbor, Paddy’s Markets, Darling Harbour, the Blue Mountains and many more breathtaking sites can be ideal places for students to spend their leisure

Shahina lets her hair down

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Fiction Shahina experienced a strange sense of oppression whenever she put on the hijab.  No other girl in her class had to cover her head and look like a blinkered horse.  Moreover, she was not a little girl anymore.  She was sixteen and was mature enough to make some personal choices at least.  “It is our religious duty, my girl,” Bapa told her in his usual affectionate way. “But there are other Muslim girls in the school who don’t wear such a thing.  There’s even a Muslim lady teacher who never wears it.” “Well, we live in a particular community and we have to follow the rules of that community.” How absurd, thought Shahina.  We call ourselves Muslims and then we divide ourselves into a hundred factions.  Shias, Sunnis, Salafis, and what not.  And then each faction makes rules for itself.  Then fight for the sake of those rules.  Absurd.  Absurd. Standing in front of the mirror, she looked at herself.  “Blinkered horse,” she smiled to herself in spite of th

Peace is an attitude

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As the world observes today as Peace Day, India and Pakistan find themselves in a belligerent situation which may soon escalate into a war.  No country can choose its neighbours and India is unfortunate to have such neighbours as Pakistan and China one of which is steeped in medieval darkness and the other has a soul that is afire with territorial greed.  Both these infelicitous neighbours will unite against India in case of a war.  Is the Third World War taking shape at the Indo-Pak borders? On the occasion  of the World Peace Day, the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said, “Peace is not an accident.  Peace is not a gift.  Peace is something we must all work for, every day, in every country.  Peace is not just about putting weapons aside.  It is about building societies where people share the benefits of prosperity on a healthy planet.” Peace is an attitude, in other words.  Peace is an elevated level of consciousness.  Peace comes from the heart. Can hearts guided

The Delights of Solitude

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A former student of mine called yesterday.  Since I am an extremely poor conversationalist, silence began to dominate after a brief exchange and he requested me to hand over the phone to my wife who was his teacher for more years than me.  Later my wife told me how much the young man, who is now a student of medicine in one of the top medical colleges in the country, admired and acquired some of my ways and attitudes.  I was stunned.  What admirable qualities do I possess?  Solitude and absolute refusal to gossip and flatter are two of the lessons he learnt from me, among a few others, it seems.  “But they are not qualities,” I protested when my wife reported it.  No one who wants to be a success can afford to choose solitude and abstain from flattery.  I lived among people who would often tell the Principal things like, “Sir, your shoes are shining so well today.  Which brand of polish do you use, sir?”  Those people are principals today and must be lapping up questions like,

I’m Happy

Some concerned friends are sending me every morning tips on keeping myself happy.  I don’t know why they think I am an unhappy person. Maybe my blog posts give that impression. Isn’t every writer an unhappy person?  Before I come to that, let me state honestly that I don’t consider myself a writer.  A blogger, that’s all.  One among the millions.  But one who takes interest in the world’s affairs.  Affairs that matter.  Such as politics, religion and their myriad combinations which rule the roost today. Perilously. The peril is not my personal tragedy.  It is the tragedy of the world.  When Kashmir burns, it is not my personal tragedy.  When people die there, being killed by Islamic terrorists or Indian soldiers, it is not my personal tragedy.  When people kill one another all over the world in the name of gods and other illusions, it’s not my personal tragedy. Yes, I am unhappy.  But not in my personal life.  I’m unhappy about what’s happening in the world.  I’m un

Detachment

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Holy men are detached from everything.  Attachment is a sin that arises from ignorance.  Ignorance prevents us from attaining the realisation that everything on the earth is maya, illusion. Ordinary mortals live in illusion.  So they are attached.  Attached to their family.  To money.  Possessions.  Holy men are not attached to anything.  That’s why they don’t even marry.  They are not attached to people.  But, as some jester said, even holy men have one flaw or another.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be just holy; they would be gods. We don’t know if the jester is entirely right.  The jester is just an ordinary mortal.  And he is making a judgment about a mortal many times greater than him.  If a man many times greater has at least one flaw, if not more, then how many flaws does an ordinary mortal like the jester suffer from?  Simple logic makes us suspect the jester’s claim.  He being an ordinary mortal suffers from many flaws.  Therefore his logic must suffer from many fla

Human Pursuits

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One of the best novels I’ve read about the human pursuit of enlightenment is Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha .  Set in ancient India, it tells the story of Siddhartha who leaves both the comforts and the religious rituals of a Brahmin’s life in order to seek enlightenment.  He joins the wandering ascetics known as Samanas.  But the hardships of that asceticism as well as its teachings fail to bring enlightenment to Siddhartha.  He meets Gotama Buddha eventually.  The Buddha is a really enlightened man.  But he cannot enlighten Siddhartha.  Enlightenment cannot be taught; it has to be experienced.  That’s what Siddhartha learns. “ That is why I am going on my way—not to seek another doctrine, for I know there is none, but to leave all doctrines and all teachers and to reach my goal alone—or die.”  Siddhartha tells the Buddha.  He has to experience enlightenment in his own way.  Doctrines and dogmas, rituals and rigours can’t bring enlightenment.  Enlightenment is a personal achievemen

What scares me the most

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I am scared of religious people.  Source Come to think of it, the world has never become a better place for all the religious people it has had for centuries.  From the time Moses gave the ten commandments to Yahweh’s chosen people or Manusmriti revealed the sanatana penal code to the chosen race a little more eastward, god’s people have been trying to make man’s world better.  A few thousand years of preaching.  Thousands of gods.  Millions of laws.  Countless places of worship.  Burning candles.  Smoking incense.  Inspiring sermons from infinite pulpits. Religion comes home round the clock on satellite TV channels.  Our very breathing is regulated by religion.  Our food is becoming religious: Prakriti ka ashirwad, for example.  So much religion all around.  So many gods.  Too many gods’ own people.  But dark matter continues to dominate the universe.   Darkness explodes like bombs in the alleys where live people who are as innocent as circumcised foreskin.  Fo

Two Teachers

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There are two teachers who have left indelible marks in my psyche.  They are not my teachers in any traditional sense of the term.  They came occupying certain eminent positions in the school where I taught for well over a decade.  That school had been taken over by a new management, a religious cult, and these two ladies belonged to the cult. Together they taught me some of the greatest lessons of life which nobody else could have taught.  One of them, an elderly lady with a beatific smile on her attenuated  lips, tried to teach me English as soon as she took charge as the manager of the school.  She began editing a report I had written for the annual sports day of the school.  Every now and then she looked at me contemptuously, without losing her beatific smile, as she massacred my report and gave it quite a shape that I couldn’t ever have.  My education under her began that day and the lessons she taught me will stand me in good stead till my last breath.   She had bee