Friday, September 30, 2016

Perspectives


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 saving individual souls.

Your ambition or goals in life determine your actions.  Ambitions being diverse, we are destined to face contradictory messages particularly in the social media.  One message asked me to be the King one way or the other while the second one advised just the opposite.  [I wonder why the vowels were replaced with the apostrophe in that message in two key words.] The first one seeks to boost our pride while the second one douses it because pride is a serious sin in religions. 

I smiled at both the messages as usual and went on with my morning chores such as watering my roses and aralias which have neither political nor spiritual aspirations like me.  The messages meant nothing to me because I have a different perspective which has nothing to do with achievements, especially political (being the King) or spiritual (being the Saint).  Yet people have always thought of me as a vainglorious man and hence offered all kinds of spiritual or psychological guidance most of which meant nothing to me.

The best treatment I got was from my last principal in the Delhi school who kept me at a distance assuming I was “pagal.”  At least he didn’t try to heal my insanity.  He was entitled to his perspective just as much as my other good friends are.  Perhaps even more so because he left me alone.



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Thursday, September 29, 2016

God’s Grief


“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 lay within God.  Even God must have been baffled by the horror of the creation, the horror called man.

Yet that Creator, omnipotent and hence able to put an end to the creation, is enduring the horror and the concomitant grief because his omniscience makes him empathetic too.  That’s what Mauriac suggests.  The more you know, the more empathy you feel.  It’s like watching a movie.  You know why this character is behaving like this. Though you can’t accept the behaviour because it is not good according to your moral standards, you still feel empathy for the character because you know why he behaves thus.

The more you know, the greater your empathy.  No, it’s not merely knowledge.  It’s more about a refinement of the consciousness.  A refinement that can come from a greater awareness and understanding rather than from any religious rituals or platitudes.

If the terrorist can raise his consciousness level, he won’t be able to kill anyone even for his god.

The same logic is applicable to every criminal. 

Crime is born of ignorance.  Crime is a form of crudeness, a lack of sophistication of the mind, even if it is done for the sake of gods or morality or whatever.

God would have become Satan without that elevated level of consciousness.  With that consciousness, He must be enduring a lot.  Poor God.


PS. A poem I wrote about two decades ago on this theme:  God’s Love Song



Indian Bloggers

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Silent Realities

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 because of the apparent insensitivity of his grandmother [The Slap] are all characters that come alive very vividly and credibly in our imagination.  They demand our attention and sympathy though none of them are heroic in any way. 

Fish and The street Sweeper touch the realms of fantasy.  The world created in Fish is a stark contrast to the one we find in Lallan.  The former entices us with its simple goodness and magnanimity while the latter shakes our conscience with its blatant insensitivity and cruelty.  The Desk presents the “make-believe” world of the corporate sector where the characters don’t even have names; they are referred to as letters such as D, N and R.

It is not always the human beings that make the world a harsh place.  Life itself carries certain harshness as seen in The Toy CarThe Nest is a story which shows that at least some of the horrors are our own creations.  The last story in the collection, Touch, reinforces the same theme that we sometimes make our life miserable with our attitudes and unwillingness to make necessary compromises.

Peeping is a story that stands out as unique in the collection.  It is not the magic realism alone that sets the story apart but also the theme.  It deals with the psychological make-up of the individual who is mere a peeping Tom incapable of taking action where action is necessary. 

We live in a world of moral vacuum and the author of these ten stories succeeds in portraying that moral vacuum effectively.  Perhaps that success is a drawback, albeit rather insignificant.  We may end up asking the question: “What is the meaning of life if it is only this vacuum that we are condemned to live in?”  The last story, Touch, leaves us with a hope: that a touch can make a world of a difference.  It is not that the compassionate human touch is entirely absent in the other stories.  But the vacuum dominates.  Sensitive readers may be left with a longing for something beyond that vacuum, like the touch in Touch or at least the protagonist’s sleeplessness in Peeping.

Overall, the stories entertain and engage the reader.  To that extent, the writer is successful.

PS. I won a review copy from The Tales Pensieve as part of Reviewers Programme. Register on #TTP for lots of #book fun and activities.


Buy the book from Amazon


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Sunday, September 25, 2016

I love Mr Modi


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 tapasya, balidaan kabhi bekaar nahi jayga, kabhi na kabhi to rang layga.

Yes, balidaan, sacrifice, is the need of the hour.  Mr Modi knows that.  His party workers have to sacrifice a lot, their lives if need be, in Kerala which is ruled by the Left that is the worst enemy of the BJP.  Balidaan is required in the Indo-Pak border more than ever, more than anywhere.  People of India, listen to that.  And get ready for the war.  It is coming.  Slowly.  Mr Modi needs your support.  Without your support he won’t go to war.  He has historical ambitions.  He will be the Akbar of the 21st century.

And he knows the strategies.  It won’t be a simple war. It will be a war supported by a whole nation of 1.25 million people.  And more nations.  Mr Modi is garnering support from a lot many other countries too.  Yes, he is a great leader.  By the time Pakistan is eliminated Mr Modi will have earned his place in history. 

Who will be left to write the history is the question that will remain.

In the meanwhile, I am becoming a fan of Mr Modi.  He knows the game. 

Let me end this with another quote from Mr Modi’s speech in Kerala yesterday.  “A day will come when people of Pakistan will go against its own government to fight terrorism.”  He is right again.  That’s how Pakistan deserves to be decimated.  Not by India.  Mr Modi will earn his place in history if that goal is achieved. 


Indian Bloggers

Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrities and me


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 least some human strategies for solving India’s myriad problems including Pakistan and China. We have come a long way from Swatch Bharat and Black Money Back.  Now the focus is on the potential Third World War being concocted at the Indo-Pak borders.  I would love to know what the godman who owns the largest area of land in the country has to say about this war for territory.  And I would love to see Mr Goswami bending his ego like the reed in a storm and trying to shout “The nation wants to know...” 

Indispire wants me to invite five celebrities, the sixth one on the table being me supposedly.  So let me invite Dr Manmohan Singh.  He will give me company, I hope, to be a silent observer even when Mr Goswami will declare him the culprit of the latest Indo-Pak showdown.  I will be delighted to learn the value of silence from Dr Singh.

What about the fifth chair?  Well, let god occupy that.  God is the silent listener always.  Let him/her/it learn, if he/she/it has not learnt it already, the games his creatures play in his/her/its name.

PS. This post is written for Indispire Edition 136 #Celebritydinner 


Indian Bloggers

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sydney beckons students

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 time when they need to take a break from their books and academic activities.

Sydney operates as a financial and commercial capital for South Asian and Eastern countries, making it even more attractive for Indian students. 

The public transport system which consists of metropolitan buses, suburban trains and ubiquitous ferries is a boon for students. 

Students can earn while they learn. The student visa offered by Australia allows the students to work for upto 40 hours every two weeks during the academic sessions and even full time during the holidays. This enables students to pursue their academic dreams without burdening their parents financially.

Being a multicultural city, Sydney's eateries cater to almost all the international palates. In this city, you can get a variety of international and local cuisines. What's more, there are plenty of options to suit a student's budget. Arguably the greatest advantage for Indian students is Australia's connectivity to India and other Asian countries.  

The universities in Sydney are globally recognized. They are renowned for their excellent academic environment which also promotes intercultural interactions with their unique support systems. 


Australia is one of the most entrepreneurial continents in the world. The students who wish to settle down in Australia after the completion of their studies will find Sydney a great place to work. Sydney was recently ranked 5th the Monocle 2015 Quality of Life Survey!


University of Technology Sydney
Among the many world class universities in Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)is one that you should definitely check out! It is Australia’s #1 young university and world’s #14 best university. UTS has also been awarded five stars for excellence in all of the eight categories of higher education by QS™ for 2014-2016. It offers various courses on subjects ranging from Communication to Business, Law to Architecture, and International Studies to Engineering and IT. The university offers various scholarships too. “UTS is about more than just study,”says its website. Renowned for its practice-based approach, UTS is one of the best in Sydney. They ensure that you graduate with as much hands-on experience as possible while exposing you to cutting-edge technology. Many of its courses are offered part time and with flexible timetable options, such as a choice between day and evening classes, so that students can easily alternate between full time study and work.

If you want to know more about this university, then they have the perfect platform for you. Apart from the information available on their website, you have the can also connect with some of thestudents who are currently pursuing their dreams at UTS! They are called the UTS Insiders- 12 students from different courses to show you the way into Australia’s most innovative and number one young university.



You can visit the UTS Insider’s website to follow them on Instagram: http://www.insearch.edu.au/insiders/


So what are you waiting for? Make your dreams come true by choosing the right university. 






Shahina lets her hair down

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 the oppression that weighed her heart down.

She couldn’t blame Bapa.  He chose to send her to a secular public school instead of a Muslim school because he wanted her to grow up like a normal human being as much as possible.  Even Bapa cannot ignore the community.  Even he wears a hijab.  It is invisible, that’s all.  We are all blinkered horses trotting along the line drawn by the community.  Minor aberrations were tolerated.  Like her going to a secular school.

Looking at the beautiful hairs of her companions in the class, Shahina felt the oppression return to her heart. She longed to get away from the classroom. 

“To let your hair down means to behave without inhibitions, to be yourself, to be free from unnecessary restrictions,” the English teacher was explaining.

Shahina left the school building during the lunch break.  She went to the far end of the playground and crossed over to the private estate.  She walked on until she reached a rock.  She climbed the rock and standing at the topmost point she pulled out her hijab, untied her hair and let it float in the breeze.

She screamed to the trees and the breeze and the butterflies, “I am not a horse.  I don’t need blinkers.”

She screamed again.  And again.  And she felt her heart becoming lighter. 

The lightness sifted through the leaves that murmured secrets to the breeze.  The breeze filtered into Shahina’s heart.  She sat down on the rock and smiled at herself. 

And then she sighed.  The warning bell rang in the school.  The lunch break would soon be over.  She picked up the hijab from the ground and started putting it back on her head. 


Indian Bloggers

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peace is an attitude



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 by words written thirteen centuries ago by a man who was struggling to import peace among warring tribes understand what the UN General Secretary is saying?  When truth still belongs to scriptures that are interpreted by people whose attitudes and awareness are groping in medieval darkness, will weapons be put aside?

The world stands in need of liberation first of all from its gods and scriptures.  Or at least from the people who are currently holding gods captive and interpreting the scriptures to suit their nefarious purposes.

Ban Ki-moon focused more on the inequalities created by the present economic system that dominates the whole world.  In fact, Islamic terrorism is mostly a fight against that economic system and the western civilisation which upholds it.  The fact is that neither Islam with its terror nor globalisation with its greed has done any good to the world. 

We can’t surrender our civilisation to terrorists.  We can’t surrender our civilisation to traders.  We need to redeem ourselves from both.  We need to think.  Think about real remedies.  And speak out boldly.  Cowardice can only create more terrorists and traders.


Indian Bloggers

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Delights of Solitude


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, “Sir, you look fabulous in this new suit.  Was it bought online from Raymonds or from the Metropolitan Mall?”

“He didn’t learn it from me,” I told my wife.  “He had it in him.”  I reminded her about one incident which took place at school.  The whole class 12 had decided to boycott a function because of their disagreement with some management decision.  But this one boy stood alone.  He did what he thought was right and ignored the entire set of his classmates. 

He had understood the hollowness of most human exchanges.  He chose solitude because he valued life above such hollowness.  Did he learn it from me?  I don’t think so.  We are guided more by our genetic makeup.  The delights of solitude belong to a rare sub-species.  And there may be some affinity among that sub-species.  That’s why, I guess, he called us the day he got his medical admission and sang a whole song over the phone for two of his schoolteachers.



Indian Bloggers

Monday, September 19, 2016

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 unhappy about people’s determined refusal to think.  I’m unhappy about the superstitions and stupidity that dominate human life.  That’s why I write.  That’s why there is unhappiness in my writing.

I repeat: it’s not my personal unhappiness.  Personally, I am a very happy person.  In spite of the missionaries who ravaged my life again and again.  In spite of the godman and his women who gave me the plots for all my short stories in the last many years.  In spite of terrorism of all sorts, I am happy in my personal life.  I don’t need tips on happiness.  The world needs it.  Go and heal it, if you can.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Detachment


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 flaws.  Corollary: The Baba may not have any flaw at all. QED.  My faith is very logical, you see. 

The jester said that Anantananda Baba, by virtue of being a man, must have at least one flaw. 

“What’s the flaw?” I asked.

“His attachment to land,” answered the jester.  Wherever Anantananda Baba fancies to set up an ashram he procures land by hook or by crook.

“He’s trying to serve the people by setting up his ashram,” I said.  “The Baba sets up ashram, convenes Satsangs, preaches spirituality and thus ensures moksha for the people after death.”

“But  he swindles people in order to procure the land he fancies,” protested the jester.  “The Baba uses unfair methods to get the land.” 

The Baba had recently bought acres of land near the jester’s house by evicting people using political clout.  In the name of development.  The people were promised a lot of alternatives.  But one the deed was settled, the Baba forgot his promises as usual.  Not entirely.  You would get something provided you became his devotee.

The jester became a devotee to see what he could get in addition to the moksha which he would surely get after death thanks to the Baba.  What about the life before death?

The jester listened to the homily during the very first Satsang convened in the newly acquired plot of land.  

The Baba dished out the recipe of happiness to his devotees very generously.  Do you want to be happy, my children?  He began.  It is so easy to be happy.  Let me give you the keys to happiness.  The first key, you must let go what is gone.  It may be your job, your land, your crops, anything.  Let go what’s gone.  That’s the first key.

And here’s the second key.  Be grateful for what remains.  Everything is never taken away from you.  Something always remains.  Your health.  Your willingness to work.  Your devotion to your guru.  Be grateful. 

Happiness is so easy to attain.  There’s only one more key.  Just one more.  And that is: look forward to what awaits you.  Don’t just look.  Achieve it.  Work for it. 

The jester laughed as he gave me the keys to happiness.  “You work and don’t complain.  The Baba will come and snatch your work at the right time.  You will get moksha in the next life. Hahaha...”

Source: Matheikal's Garden
The bright spot in the background is the moon
I took the keys seriously.  And planted some saplings in my garden.  Here’s one of them.  I’m at the peak of happiness whenever I look at each plant.  The Baba is right.

“Wait,” says the jester.  “You are getting attached to your garden.  One day the Baba will come to teach you detachment and deliver you from maya.”


PS. This post was inspired by a Whatsapp message I received this morning from an ex-colleague.  The three keys of happiness were given by him. Thanks, friend.  I know you are no jester.  Sorry for taking that liberty for the sake of fiction.  Fiction?


Friday, September 16, 2016

Human Pursuits


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 achievement.  It is unique to each person.   Enlightenment is the fulfilment of one’s self.

Siddhartha decides to experiment with the material world and its sensual delights.  Kamala, a beautiful courtesan, becomes his new guru.  She teaches him the delights of carnal love.  She helps him get a good job with a rich businessman.  The job brings him plenty of wealth too.  He gambles, drinks, and dances.  Whatever pleasures that money can buy are his. 

Years pass and Siddhartha realises that he is still unhappy.  The more delights he gets, the less happy they make him.  Eventually he leaves that world too.  He finds a new guru in the ferryman, Vasudev, who teaches him to listen to the river.  And the river eventually gives him the experience he was looking for all these years.  As an old man, Siddhartha experiences a mystical bonding with the world through the river.

Kamala, who is now on a spiritual pursuit, brings to Siddhartha his adolescent son.  Siddhartha wants to teach enlightenment to his son.  But the son belongs to the material world.  He has to find his enlightenment, in his own way, reminds Vasudev.

Each one of us has to find our enlightenment in our own way.  Enlightenment is a heavily loaded word.  Perhaps, self-fulfilment, self-realisation or self-actualisation may be better words. 

Religions, rituals, doctrines, gurus, etc may be of some help in leading us to enlightenment.  But they are only the guiding lights on the way.  The way is your own.  The goal is your own.  No one else can take you there.

Most people don’t worry about that goal, in fact.  Maybe, they think that goal lies in heaven which they will attain after death.  That’s a delusion.  Helpful delusion.  It helps to put aside our real obligations on the earth: to give solid meaning to our life.  A meaning that only we can discover or create for ourselves.

Maybe, some of us find that meaning in the material world and its delights.  If they can indeed put your soul at ease, who can question you?  It’s your affair.  Your heaven is your personal affair.  Your hell is too.

A sizeable proportion choose to live with borrowed truths.  Borrowed from religions and their scriptures or rituals.  Borrowed from godmen or ammas.  No harm.  It’s your personal choice, again. 

The harm is only when you choose to impose those truths on others.  When you insist that others should worship your holy cows or holy whatever. 

It is better to find your personal enlightenment, however.  Anyone who is on that pursuit will never impose his truths on others.  Anyone who is on a personal quest for enlightenment will be compassionate to others.  Like Hesse’s Siddhartha, the genuine seeker may make mistakes on the way.  But the genuine seeker is a constant learner.  He pauses every now and then and looks at himself, at his way, at his goal, and comes to certain realisations.  Those realisations are what really matter. 



Indian Bloggers

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What scares me the most


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.  For whom do the bombs explode? 

I wish there were no gods.  People might learn to love then. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two Teachers


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 been a primary school teacher all her life apart from being a close aide of a godman in Delhi.  The latter position catapulted her into the manager’s chair in my school which had earlier been occupied by far worthier personalities.  What the godman wanted, however, was someone who could kill the school slowly.  She did it with enviable efficacy within two years.

All the while she gave the impression to everyone that she was doing everything for the welfare of the school.  She organised workshops and seminars for teachers as well as students.  People perceived as inefficient were sacked without mercy.  Criminal charges were framed against those who dared to question her.  

The beatific smile never vanished from her attenuated lips whatever she did. In case it threatened to leave her, she assigned charge to her assistant and vanished from the office.

The Assistant was quite a contrast to the beatific smile.  She appeared formidable with a physique that towered above all normal people on the campus and a nose that promised to look down upon everyone.  She was a self-professed educationist who was a co-founder of a self-financing teacher training college.  One of the first things she remarked after taking charge of our school was, “You people are paid much more than me!” 

She made us do all kinds of work in order to justify the pay we were taking home.  She gave us assignments.  Of all sorts.  This week’s lesson plans on MS Word.  Next week’s on PowerPoint.  And the next on MS OneNote.  Then Excel.  And so on.  Overnight we became curriculum developers, test developers, ADHD experts, and even laptop experts.

We learnt to use the laptop given by the new management quite usefully.  WiFi connection was provided in school.  The Assistant “shot” mails every hour assigning new tasks and homework for the teachers.  [‘Shoot’ was her word for sending a mail, very appropriate too.]

We learnt a lot about using a laptop and the internet, so much so that I became a hyperactive blogger. 

Before my love for teaching was smothered totally, the school stood in ruins.  But I learnt the most in those two years.  About life and its peculiar ways especially when religion comes too close.  I am sure I will never come across such efficient and effective teachers in my life anymore.


PS. This is written specifically for Indispire Edition 134: The teacher you wish to meet again, at least once. #Teachersday


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