Sunday, October 30, 2016

Writer’s Dreams (and nightmares)


All of us carry a lot of stories within us.  Quite many people just bury them and get on with life which is an exacting dictator.  They get used to the endless agonies and the intermittent ecstasies.  Some offer the stories to their gods and derive the much needed solace.  A few with irresistible egos choose to write them. 

I belong to that tribe of egotists who think that their stories have some relevance for others too. That’s why I chose to publish a collection of my short stories, The Nomad Learns Morality.  The book had some good reviews from fellow bloggers.  Let me take the liberty to quote a few of them.

“... every story hits your mind hard and impels you to replay it all over again in your mind to join the dots of deeper meaning held within,” says Namrata Kumari, author of Change Your Beliefs to Change Your Reality.

An old friend (“old” merely because I hardly have contacts with people now) who works with a national newspaper once told me that I was a perverted genius.  I took it as a compliment because I never achieved anything great in life.  Compliments mean much to such people who dream big and perform little.  Namrata’s assessment of my stories as hitting hard reminded me of my own perversion.

But she was not alone.  Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said, “The author has probed deeper and, asks the questions which might have stirred every logical mind. The stories not only make you mull over harder on a few things…”  She goes on, “Matheikal has raised questions showing the chutzpah of asking even those considered as controversial. Most of the times there exists a lacuna between logical thinking and imagination when it comes to stories integrating mythology and history. He has fulfilled the gap, in very few words, he has pointed out where we fall short.”

There is a didactic undercurrent on which every writer worth his words is buoyed up.  Yet my conscious intention as a writer is never to preach any morality nor to teach anything to anyone.  Writing is a therapeutic exercise.  A painkiller not much different from a prayer.  But even a prayer can be an act of rebellion.

Sunanina Sharma wrote that my book “fires your thoughts, kindles your imagination, and intensifies your narratives with an integrity that is rebelliously coordinated.”

Amit Agarwal’s verdict is not much different either: “I’d rather have the conservatives read the book too to broaden up their horizons, and to at least have a different taste of the otherwise dull and routine.”

Let me give the final word for now to Sarabjeet Singh: “...in every story, author has (in)directly raised a question about morality or righteousness.”

Most reviews seem to agree on that one thing: the ‘perversion’ (dreams?) in my thinking, my worldview.  That very perversion now prompts me to promote the book this way.  (And that's the writer's nightmare.) Welcome to the book.


 PS. I'm indebted to these and other reviewers for their views and reviews. 

For the various purchase options, here's the link: 



Saturday, October 29, 2016

No Diwali here


One of the flames
that fluttered
on our terrace in Delhi
in a Diwali night
It’s only when the greetings came via Whatsapp that I realised it was Diwali.  Saturday is a holiday anyway and I used it for completing the works set aside for the day as usual.  The work took me to two towns on either side of my village.  There was nothing in either of the towns to remind one of Diwali.  It was business as usual.  Not even an extra lamp was seen anywhere.  No diyas which were ubiquitous in Delhi where I lived a decade and a half before I chose the quietness of this village.  No crackers which the Delhiites insisted on calling ‘bombs’ – “bum,” in fact.  

No, I don’t miss the diyas or the bums. I like this quietness.  I love the purity that wafts into my lungs.  I used to conceal myself at home during both Diwali and Holi while I was in Delhi.  Both these festivals are conspicuous by their absence in Kerala except maybe in the big cities where people from other states celebrate them.

Another memory 
That makes me think of the diversity which marks India.  Half of Kerala’s population is Hindu.  But they don’t celebrate the two festivals which hold much charm for their counterparts in other parts of the country.  Perhaps, BJP will import the festivals soon just as it has already imported gau mata.  Beef has all but disappeared from the state.  Probably the Malayali health-consciousness has more to do with that than BJP. 

While I sit and enjoy the quietness that distils through the night air from a sky stippled with twinkling stars, let me wish HAPPY DIWALI to my friends in less silent places.  Let me also reassure them that though we don’t have the Diwali bums here, we have all the political bums – a whole array of scams and scandals as raucous as they can get.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Zero


“Zero was one of the greatest inventions in human history,” I remember one of my mathematics teachers telling us at St Albert’s college, Ernakulam.  Without zero we would have reached nowhere beyond some letters like X and M and C which were employed gratuitously in the Roman arithmetic.  Zero simplified and complexified mathematics at once.  It made easy not only counting but also all mathematical operations such as multiplication and division.  Just imagine division, for example, in the Roman system.  MMXLVI divided by IXCMXXXIII.  Wow, that is 1946 divided by 9933, after the invention of zero.  And the answer is 0.19591261451.  Imagine that figure in the Roman numerals.  Your imagination would go bust.  There was no decimal system before the arrival of the great zero.

Take any number.  Say 20.  20 ÷ 20 = 1. 20 ÷ 10 = 2.  20 ÷ 4 = 5.  The smaller the divisor, the greater the quotient.  Take a big divisor like, say, 10000.  20 ÷ 10000 = 0.002.  Now apply this logic: as the divisor becomes greater, the quotient becomes smaller.  As the divisor becomes smaller, the quotient becomes greater.  Zero is nothing or shoonya as they call it in Hindi.  So, logically, when you divide a number by zero you should get the greatest number.  Infinity?  Well, mathematicians choose to leave that quotient undefined.  When it comes to zero, it’s no joking matter.  You have to tread carefully, reverentially.  “That’s why we in Kerala call zero by the name poojyam, venerated,” concluded my mathematics teacher. 

I remembered that lecture which I listened to decades ago when I saw the latest Indispire theme. 

Decades later, today, I have little to do with mathematics.  Having gone through all sorts of experiences most of which carry neither rhyme nor reason, I imagine the guru telling his disciples: “Become like the zero, shoonya and poojyam simultaneously.  Empty yourself of the ego.  Fill yourself with grace...” 

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 141 #zero



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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cult Education - video review

Video Review


Rick Alan Ross is a cult specialist, and founder and executive director of the nonprofit Cult Education Institute.  His website provides extensive information on cults and how they manipulate people's minds and emotions. 

Here's a link to a video in which he introduces himself and his work.  


In this video he tells us about the work he does in order to "deprogram" people who have been brainwashed by cults in various countries.  

Rick Ross
Ross identifies three criteria by which we can identify a disruptive cult.
  1. an authoritarian leader who has become an object of worship
  2. brainwashing of the followers
  3. the damage done to the followers - exploitation for money, sex, etc. 
Ross has been working with victims of cults from 1982.  He deprograms the victims by fostering critical thinking in them.  The video is an introduction to him and his work.  Those who are interested in cults and especially those who are victimised by any of them will find Ross's video and his website very useful. 

Ross is the sole speaker in this video.  His speech is interspersed with images from his website.  However, the viewer does not get enough time to absorb those images.  Nor is he/she given any clue as to where he can get more information about those images.  This is a drawback of the video.  Nevertheless, the video introduces the viewer to Ross and his eminent service.  Ross's service is very relevant and significant at a time such as ours when cults are mushrooming all over the world doing substantial harm to a large number of individuals.  


PS. This is written in response to a request for the review. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Satsang and some alliances


Shahid's wedding reception
Photo sent by my student
When a former student of mine who is now a journalist sent me a photo of Shahid Kapoor and his wife with a lady who was my boss for a brief (and worthy of being forgotten) period of my life, what struck me was a necklace.  “That’s the religious asceticism they preached to us,” I wrote in my response to my student.

I was aware of the glaring contradictions between the preaching and the practice of the religious cult to which the lady belonged.  In fact, I was one of the many victims of that barefaced disparity.  But what was Shahid Kapoor doing with her or she with him?  I googled and got the answer.  Google is a far greater miracle than any Satsang Guru!

Source
Shahid Kapoor is a devotee of the cult to which my former boss belonged.  In fact, his marriage was apparently arranged by the GuruIndia Today reported last month that the thespian had not yet named their child because the globe-trotting multi-billionaire Guru was not yet available for the ceremony. The Times of India tells us now that Shahid has signed for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati on the advice of the Baba, the boss of my former boss.

I now understand why my colleagues’ struggles for justice against this Baba and his people were destined to be futile.  Religious Satsangs have too many alliances for the ordinary mortals to understand, let alone handle.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Thackeray Legacy


“The Shiv Sena does not have a theory, and it is impossible for an organization to survive sans a theory,” said the veteran communist leader S A Dange while addressing a Sena meeting in 1984 at the invitation of none other than the founder of the organisation Bal Thackeray.  Shiv Sena “survived, flourished, because of a lack of theory,” wrote Suketu Mehta two decades later in his brilliant book on Thackeray’s city.  The Sena “always hitched a ride aboard the theory of the day: anti-communism, fascism, socialism, anti-immigrant and, now, anti-Muslim, pro-Hindu,” wrote Mehta.

Raj Thackeray inherited his uncle’s bizarrely opportunistic genes.  His latest antic is to get Karan Johar to donate Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund for having produced a movie with a Pakistani actor in it.  Indian army was quick to distance itself from such political drama.  Mercifully, the army is still led by sensible people especially after General V K Singh left it and took upon the BJP mantle.

In 1996, Michael Jackson performed in Mumbai which was Bombay until a few months back.  Bal Thackeray rechristened the city after the Bharatiya goddess Mumbaidevi.  But he had no qualms about letting Michael Jackson entertain the city with his American culture and art.  Thackeray got Jackson to donate a million dollars to his party.  Thackeray got Jackson to visit him at his residence.  Forget that the first thing Jackson did after entering Thackeray’s residence was to pee.  Forget that the toilet in which Jackson peed was preserved as a sacred place by Thackeray and was shown off to his VIP visitors later with unabashed pride.

That shamelessness is the real Thackeray legacy which Raj has inherited.  He knows how to use everything including an innocuous movie for puerile political purposes. 

The simple truth is that there are far better ways of solving the problem between India and Pakistan than what our mean-minded politicians make us believe.  For example, in the last 12 years the trade between the two countries has grown from $345 million to $2.6 billion.  And India exports five times of what it imports from Pakistan.  Can’t our politicians think of improving such relationships which will mean much for the people of both countries?  Perhaps, Raj Thackeray should go to his uncle’s house and sit on the Jackson commode and contemplate a while.  



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Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Essence of Heroism


Anyone who displays certain qualities which set him apart from the run of the mill may be broadly described as a hero.  For example, a man who has the courage or compassion to jump into a dangerous river in order to save a drowning person is a hero.  A person with certain talents may be considered as a hero by some.  Thus an actor or a sportsperson or a writer may be a hero for some.  Nowadays heroism has become so prosaic, thanks to the likes of Forbes magazine, that wealth can create heroes.  Maybe, the heroism of the wealthiest people lies in their ability to create wealth rather than in being wealthy per se.

Philosophically, can we define certain essential qualities of a hero?  I think there’s no harm in making such a list. So here it goes.

Heroes are usually on a quest.  The target of the quest may be anything ranging from conservation of the environment to fighting for human rights.  Aruna Roy who quit her prestigious job in the civil services in order to work for the poor and marginalised people in Rajasthan is a hero.  There are many such heroes who are on unique quests.

Risk or sacrifice seems to be an integral aspect of heroism.  Greatness seldom comes without demanding certain sacrifice.  A heroic quest actually sets a person apart from the mediocre.  Anyone who is above the mediocre runs the risk of being belittled, questioned, alienated or even done away with.  Most heretics of the medieval Europe paid with their lives for their pursuit of truth.  For me, they were heroes.  Today also we have writers and artists who run great risks and some are murdered brutally by the purveyors of absolute truths.

Sisyphus
 Painting by Nikolai Burdykin
Courage obviously follows next in the list.  But I think the courage of a hero is a natural concomitant of his quest.  Every heroic quest is a passion which overrides challenges.  Sisyphus who rolled the stone uphill if only to spite the gods was driven more by his blasphemous quest than mere courage.  His quest listed in the necessary courage.  Salman Rushdie who wrote Satanic Verses is a hero for me and possibly many others.  He must have known the hazards he was embracing while writing such a novel.  He must also have been scared stiff by the fatwa issued by a purveyor of absolute truths,  Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.  [I love the very pompousness of that name.] Yet he could not have but written the novel simply because it was the natural outcome of his quest.  When a hero is on a pursuit he is not deterred by potential threats.  If he is, he is not a hero.  However, once the goal is achieved the threats can shake his nerves.  A hero is also a normal person.

Yes, that’s the punch line: A hero is also a normal person.  What sets him/her apart is the quest and its risks.


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Evil and Man


Platitudes and positive thoughts are like palliative drugs: they make us feel comfortable in a world full of evil and negativity.  Beyond the comforts of a drug, they provide little else.  Otherwise our world would have been a paradise by now because there is never a dearth of platitudes and positive thoughts thanks to the increasing number of religious activities, cults, gurus, and what not.

The naked truth is that life is drenched in evil in spite of all the gurus and cults, motivational therapies and mass spiritual exercises.  Why?

Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo proved experimentally that social situations affect individual personalities and stimulate behavioural patterns.  In simple words, we behave in certain ways because the society demands us to behave thus.  With little provocation, formerly good people will discard their values entirely, he showed.  It is easier to make people do bad things than good.  We are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side,” he argues in his 2007 book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

It is easier to get people to perpetrate atrocities on fellow human beings than make them do benevolent social work.  No dictator would have succeeded without the support of thousands of people who were ready to torture, rape and kill for them.  No mass murders will take place without the support of some social or political system. 

More often than not, religious rituals and spiritual exercises are platforms for people to wash away the sins they have committed hitherto so that they can go on committing more.  The rituals and exercises fail because they do not change the society and it is the society with its manipulative systems that actually determine human behaviour.  It is also true to say that religions uphold the manipulative social systems; both support each other as they need each other.

If we want a world of goodness we should create social and political systems which sprout and nurture goodness.  We now have systems which feed on greed, jealousy, hate, and other evils.  They reproduce themselves. 

On the other hand, if we have a system which encourages people to cooperate with one another there will be more cooperation than competition because most people go by the public behaviour.  But can we really have such social systems?  Even the incarnations of various gods didn’t succeed in creating such systems!

So what’s the conclusion?  If you really want to be good, stay away from society as far as possible.  Dealing with our own inner devils is far easier than grappling with those out there.


***

PS. This post was inspired by Indispire Edition 139: “The ten head of Ravan (ten social evils) you would like to kill this Dassera. Atrocities on women? Judging beauty by skin colour? or some others? And in which order?”  I shied away from the topic all these days.  It continued to haunt me, nevertheless.  I could never bring myself to make a list of the evils let alone prioritise them.  Life is beyond any list, beyond neat compartmentalisation.  Ravana cannot be done away with except in comforting myths.  So I chose to take a very realistic look at the theme. 



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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Modi and Soft Power


Joseph S Nye, American political scientist, mooted the concept of ‘soft power’ as a means of gaining ascendancy in the world.  Military and economy give a country its hard power.  Soft power is its ability to persuade other countries to want what it wants them to want.

Mr Modi is getting the support of many countries against Pakistan using persuasive tactics as well as realpolitik.  He is relying more on soft power and rightly so.  No one but perverted minds would want a war especially between India and Pakistan because such a war is most likely to escalate into a world war.

Soft power can be effective only when it rests solidly on the foundation of substantial hard power.  It is also related to culture and ideology.  The Western civilisation spread rapidly across the world because it was firmly established on a secure hard power foundation.  America was a practical El Dorado.

Russia’s communism crumpled when its hard power hit the dust.  Soft power becomes impotent without the material backing of hard power.  No culture, no ideology can survive without that simple, practical and material back-up of the hard power.

India is able to get at least the support of some countries against Pakistan because of its fairly good hard power.  Pakistan cannot challenge India at the same level because its hard power is much inferior.  And its soft power is backed not by the appropriate hard power but by criminal minds that call themselves religious people.  It is quite a different matter that the line which divides religion and criminality is very thin.  Have you ever wondered why the greatest saints were the foulest sinners before their conversion?

I think Mr Modi is leading India in the right direction as far as the Pak threat is concerned.

Source: Global Hunger Index

However, Mr Modi should not forget that India has serious internal issues.  Hunger is one. The Global Hunger Index puts India below Mali, Malawi, Uganda and even Vietnam. The Prime Minister should not ignore the ignominious conditions prevailing within the country while he is dealing with the nefarious neighbour.

Mr Modi declared in Feb this year that “the total revenue loss from incentives to corporate tax payers was over Rs 62,000 crore.”  Why should we keep on feeding the rich like this?  Why not make the rich care for the poor?  Why not make the Ambanis and Adanis sponsor some starving villages in the country?  We can honour them with Bharat Ratna or some such award for their humanitarian services later?  I hope Mr Modi will use his “soft power” for such “charity at home.”


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to end religious terror – one suggestion


Yahweh by Michelangelo
Recently I stumbled upon a quote from Robert G Ingersoll’s book, Some Mistakes of Moses.  The quote which puts the Jewish God on a dissection table is reproduced below:

It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful, and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite, and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain, and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant, and changeable, infamous and hideous:—such is the God of the Pentateuch.

There are people who believe in such a heartless, mirthless, starkly absurd God too.  It is then that I fell on the contemplation whether most gods aren’t similar one way or another.  They make inhuman demands.  They do things which many of us human beings will find atrocious and brutal, absurd and hilarious, or plainly stupid.

One challenge which I am tempted to hurl at believers is this: how many of them have actually studied their religion and its god(s) - both scriptures and history - systematically?  I’m sure there won’t be very many who will raise the hand.  If they really study their religion systematically, most of them won’t find the god(s) worthy of devotion.  And all religious terror will come to an end.


Indian Bloggers

Monday, October 17, 2016

Beautiful Monday Morning

A view from my veranda
this morning

It’s a beautiful Monday morning.  The beginning of another working week.  I stood outside my house looking at the eastern sky where the morning sun was struggling to shine through the clouds.  

Clouds make the sun more beautiful, more desirable.  What is the sky without both the sun and the clouds? 

What is life without both joys and sorrows?  Without the  positive and the negative?

It’s Monday morning and I should like to start the week with all the cheer I can muster.  The morning sky, however, warns me that cheer alone cannot make up life.  What would Shakespeare’s Othello be without Iago?  Imagine Milton’s Paradise Lost without Satan.

Who doesn’t want to be positive, cheerful and good?  The problem is life won’t ever give those things alone.  There’s no light without darkness.

I welcome this beautiful Monday morning with its sun and the clouds.

I take Nietzsche along with me as I walk into the cloudy morning.  He said, “I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.” 



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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bra Baba


Fiction

“A centipede is crawling across a road with a velocity of one foot per minute.  There are vehicles plying on the road at the rate of one per five minutes.  The vehicles are of various widths like bikes, cars and buses. What is the probability of the centipede crossing the road alive?”

“Nil,” said Rohan without even thinking for a moment.

Radhakrishna, the mathematics teacher, was stupefied.  He had expected the brilliant student to sit and apply some formulas.  What is mathematics without formulas? 

Radhakrishna had given the problem to Rohan in order to keep him quiet in the class.  Rohan was an ADHD student according to the counsellor of the school.  He needed a lot of attention.  ADHD means that, hai na?  Attention Deficit?  So the loving and caring mathematics teacher gave him all the attention he could.  He gave him all the problems that his knowledge of mathematics could create.  He was particularly fond of algebra and Rohan turned out to be an expert with all the formulas in the algebra that Radhakrishna knew.  It was then that the teacher sought the advice of Professor Miranandan who handed over the centipede on a platter.

“Show me the calculations.  The steps of your calculations are vital in CBSE’s value points,” said Radhakrishna to Rohan.

“Arey Sir, your question is infinitely more absurd than the universe which has at least some laws like gravity.  But I will solve it nevertheless if you tell me the velocity of each vehicle, its acceleration, wheelbase...”

Radhakrishna stared at Rohan.  Rohan stared back. 

It was then Sohan dangled a bra in front of the class.

“Alge-Bra. Alge-Bra. This is the bra that Radha Sir was trying to pull out from our balcony last night.”

Radhakrishna was saved soon from the classroom by the Principal who rushed there in spite of the obesity he had amassed in direct proportion to the donations paid by hapless parents.

“Algebra has become bra,” Leela shouted.  Leela had a particular reason to shout.  Her inner thigh had been pinched by Radhakrishnan Sir the other day for failing to get one step right in a problem which applied the formula (a+b-c)3.

Radhakrishna left the village the very next day bearing the shame of bra-lifting.  But his mathematical mind was more preoccupied with his ADHD student’s universal laws of gravity.  Gravity.  Grave.  Gravitation.  Pull.  Yes, everything pulls everything else.  Sitting under a coconut tree which had thankfully no coconuts to fall on his head like Newton’s apple, Radhakrishna was attaining enlightenment.  He refused to go to school though his magnanimous wife forgave his sin of pilfering the bra of Sohan’s mother.  The thunderstruck coconut tree was in the next village and it was superstitiously avoided by people.

A stranger passing by thought Radhakrishna was a beggar and threw a ten rupee note as carelessly as a priest who gave gratuitous counsels to devotees.  Radhakrishna was in too deep a contemplation to notice ten rupees.  But more and more people passed by and the ten rupee note extracted the devotion and more currency notes soon which Radhakrishna could not ignore.

Radhakrishna soon became Radha Swami.

Algebra gave way to the Vedas. 

“Those who are misers will never part with their money,” Radha Swami started his Satsang homily with a quote from Rig Veda. 

The misers opened their wallets. 

Radha Swami’s wife opened a bank account which overflew with currency from abroad soon as devotees sought online delivery of Radha Swami’s instant wisdom from beneath a thunderstruck coconut tree.

“Bra Baba is going to buy the Manorama estate,” announced Leela one day in the class.

The Manorama estate was soon razed to the ground in order to construct what Radha Swami called an ashram.  

Eventually acres and acres of land was bought up by Radha Swami Ashram Trust whose motto was “Trust, isn’t that everything?”

Only Leela and Sohan and their friends referred to the Swami as Bra Baba.  They were still children.  When they grow up they will also become trustees of the Trust.  Let us forgive them.

Rohan still remained an ADHD problem even for the Bra Baba in his mind.  So the Baba appointed a corporate honcho to evict Rohan’s family from the village that was no more a village now...



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Friday, October 14, 2016

Atheist before God


Fantasy

Atheist died and found himself before God.  God smiled at him more affectionately than any human being had ever done while he was on the earth.

“I never imagined you existed outside human illusions and delusions.”  Atheist said with his usual candour having overcome his surprise.

“On the earth,” God said slowly as if he was pondering over each word he uttered, “I don’t exist much except in human illusions and delusions.”

“Oh!”  God’s reply was another surprise for Atheist.

“Do you think if I actually existed on the earth as I really am there would be so much evil perpetrated in my name?”

“Evil,” said Atheist. “And that too in your name.  That is exactly what me lose faith in you.”

“I know. Because you had no faith in me, you were a good human being.  What if you had also started fighting in my name?”

“Where am I?”  Atheist looked around.

God laughed.  “In the presence of God.”

“Heaven?”

“Call  it what you wish.  Names matter little here.”

Atheist hesitated for a while and then asked, “I’m not sure I’d be happy here.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure I’d like to be with religious people.”

“There are no religious people here.  Very few reach here after death and most of them are atheists, agnostics and other genuine seekers.  Even here they go around finding their own ways of existence.  You are totally free here to do what you wish.”

“What about religious people then?  All those who fought, killed and died for you?”

“Everyone reaches the kind of hell or heaven that they have created for themselves.”

“Didn’t you create hell and heaven?”

God laughed.  “Illusions.”  He paused and then said, “Hell or heaven – it’s the individual’s choice.”

Atheist pondered a while.  “Why did you create human beings?”

“Creation is not a choice.  Creation is an unfolding of what lies within one.”

Atheist felt sympathy for God.

 Atheist Before God was my suggestion for Indispire Edition 139.  The topic found only one taker.  The topic lingered on in my mind and here’s the result.  


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dancing Girl and Pakistan


As part of the increasing give and take exchanges taking place these days between India and Pakistan, the latter has demanded that the Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-Daro be returned to it.  

Dancing Girl
Dancing Girl is a bronze statuette excavated from the Mohenjo-Daro site before India and Pakistan became two separate nations.  It is just 10.5 centimetres high and is about 5000 years old.  The pubescent girl is stark naked except for a whole array of bangles and a necklace.  The posture looks like that of a dancer though she might have been confidently making a statement to her audience.  She holds her chin up and looks smug.  In short, she is a total contrast to what today’s Pakistan expects of a young girl.

Let us visit her briefly at the National Museum in New Delhi to ask her what she thinks of her threatened extradition.

“Oh, I think it would be horrible,” says DG losing all the panache that has graced her face for millennia.  “What will they do to me there?  Will they throw a purdah over me?  Will they lock me up in some closet?  They might even blast me to smithereens.”  DG shivers.

You understand her feelings and emotions.  She belonged to a culture in which people lived together as a cooperative community the kind of which cannot exist even in the most fantastic of human dreams today.  Mohenjo-Daro.

Mohenjo-Daro
Mohenjo-Daro was a dream.  You can read it in the radiance of her demeanour.  Mohenjo-Daro was a city of excellence built almost five millennia ago.  The Citadel had a large residential structure which could house about 5000 people.  It had two huge assembly halls and a number of public baths.  Then there was the Lower City.  There was the market.  An excellent drainage system.  There was love among the people.  Women were not discriminated against. It was a civilisation that was superior to most that came later. 

“Okay, I can’t ever go back to that, I know,” says DG plaintively.  “But why would I go to a place that is absolutely opposite to all that I ever lived in?”

You know you have no answers to her questions.  You know you live in a world that is strange even to you.  You don’t understand things like nationalism and jihadism.  You don’t understand why people create wonderful things only to bombard them in the name of some oddities allegedly living along with aliens up there somewhere. 

You bid adieu to DG.  You wish her good luck.  You know she cannot shed tears.  Thousands of years of existence is certain to make you hard.