Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Response to Chetan Bhagat



Lesson No. 1 from Karnataka: There’s no ethics in politics, stupid is the title of Chetan Bhagat’s article in today’s Times of India, a newspaper that has sold itself to Bhagat’s beloved political party. I am among those whom he has labelled as “stupid” but I refuse to accept the label. Here is the reason.

   Bhagat’s only argument in the verbose article is that in “desperate times” political parties can resort to unethical practices in order to win. Winning is more important than ethics. The end justifies the means, in other words, and that is a somersault from what the Father of the Nation had taught us. We have indeed come a long way, too long a way, from the Mahatma and his ideals.

   What is ironical is that the party which created the “desperate times” is indulging in practices which Bhagat (or Bhakt, as many people have begun to call him) has adjudged as unethical. Leaving aside ethics for a moment, plain logic will tell us that the party which has created the problem and is hell-bent on aggravating it for gaining more political mileage cannot or will not solve the problem. Hence the “desperate times” will only get murkier. Is that what Bhagat wants?

   We can safely answer yes to that question because Bhagat believes that the BJP is the panacea to the country’s present woes. The despair of certain sections of the citizens is part of that panacea. Bhagat has hired lessons from the Kurukshetra War to prove his point. “Even in our ancient texts like the Mahabharata, the war isn’t won ethically,” he argues and rightly so. “It was a virtuous war for the Pandavas, but there are enough tales in the epic to show how they employed unethical means to win it where needed.”

   This is where the problems lies. Bhagat is not only justifying duplicity but also upholding it as a divinely ordained strategy.

   The inevitability of pragmatism notwithstanding, to discard ethical principles in theory is tantamount to throwing away the baby with the bath water, which Bhagat fails to understand. In the pragmatic milieu of politics, as in a war, unethical practices do take place. But the moment you sanction them as right and add scriptural scaffoldings to them, you are dismantling the entire moral fabric of the nation. You are telling the nation that everything is right on the way to achieving your goals. Lynching is right. Assaults are right. Rapes are right.

   As long as Bhagat insists on seeing the nation as Pandavas and Kauravas who have begun their Kurukshetra War, there is no possibility of a sane solution to the crises faced by the nation. Moreover, why does Bhagat think that all those who support the BJP are Pandavas and the rest are Kauravas?

   Be that as it may, Bhagat is a serious threat to the nation’s moral fabric as long as he views people who uphold ethical principles as “stupid”.


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Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Cat



French writer Anatole France was of the opinion that until we have loved an animal a part of our soul remains unawakened. Among the many parts of my soul that remained unawakened was love for animals. I would admire them from a distance and quite a lot of them are far more admirable than many human beings. The ‘fearful symmetry’ of Blake’s Tiger and the ‘shining tail’ of Lewis Carroll’s Crocodile move me to wonder but I wouldn’t get too close to them anyway. Why, for that matter, I wouldn’t get too close to the loyallest of dogs or the cutest of cats just because I couldn’t tolerate some of their habits like the dogs leaving their signature piss all over the place or the cats licking their paws narcissistically.

   A cat walked into my soul a few weeks back, however. Someone was tired of the cat’s intemperate love and hence abandoned it in the farm behind my house. Maybe, he was abandoned on the roadside in the night and he just strolled into my farm. I saw it roaming round in the morning and ignored it. In the evening, back from my regular job, I went to the farm to fill a few grow-bags for the spinach saplings that were getting too big for the seed pot.

   The cat watched me gingerly from a distance before inching closer and closer, encouraged probably by my cool indifference.  He sat down a couple of metres away from where I was digging and continued to watch. When I was about to move with the filled grow-bag, I said to the cat, “Come.” He followed me with an obedience that warmed the cockles of my cold heart.

   Maggie gave him some food which he ate ravenously. He has continued to share our meals ever since and has gone on to become a mild dictator. If he is not given his share before we sit down at the dining table, he will walk in through the window and circle the dining table furiously with loud protests.

   I have a habit of drinking a couple of glasses of plain water as soon as I wake up in the morning. The moment the cat hears the sound in the kitchen he will start meowing relentlessly at the door. I pick up a couple of biscuits, wet them under the tap and place them in his plate. The purring sound that accompanies the process has become my morning bhajan.

   In case I am late one morning he is sure to sneak in through the window and march majestically into my bedroom with a demurring miaow. When I am in the garden in the evening plucking out weeds, he is there watching me jealously before making an occasional leap at my hand that’s plucking the weeds. He is jealous of the weeds that get more attention, I think. When I take my usual walk outside home after dinner, he joins me trying to rub himself against my leg.

  The other day, when I didn’t hear his demand for his morning biscuits, my heart skipped a beat. I opened the door and he was not there. I called him by the name I have given him. No response. I went out and walked to the front of the house. And there he was gleefully catching and eating the hoard of alates that were flying around the bulb outside. He didn’t bother even to look at me. “Have your feast, gentleman,” I said as I walked away to my morning’s chores.

   The cat has indeed awakened a part of my soul, I realised.


  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Life’s Magic



Happiness has to be discovered. It has to be created especially since we live in a world that ineluctably takes a perverse pleasure in injecting misery into our veins relentlessly. There is a political system which impinges on us with its taxes and taxonomies. There is the society with its unforgiving creeds and codes. And there is our religion with its insatiably hungry gods.

Then there are our personal sorrows and anxieties. Our very genetic makeup can be our worst enemy. As one writer (whose name I can’t recall now) said, “There is a man within me who is angry with me.” I have had tremendous problems confronting that angry man within me.

I have struggled with myself for years and years. I never liked me and I always found it difficult to believe if someone told me that I was a loveable person. My wife’s boundless patience with the angry man within me helped to tame the anger. Her patience with me taught me to be patient with my students. Her love taught me the real magic of life.

When I was offered an opportunity to write some positive posts in my blog, the word ‘magic’ kept bombarding my neurons with a frenzy that only the angry man within me could grasp. I embraced the challenge whole-heartedly though soon I found myself running short of time because of the extra duties that my profession as a teacher threw on the way as the Board exams were over and the evaluation work started. I didn’t want to disappoint the angry man within me, however. The result is this book, a 26 page short ebook, that has been downloaded by more than 80 people in a single day.

I was thrilled when a young reader sent me the following WhatsApp message today:



I’m not sure I deserve such appreciation. But every writer likes to be read. That authorial greed made me write this post. Just to present my book to the readers of this blog. The book was a humble attempt, though written in a hurry, to discover happiness, to create happiness for the angry man within me. If it strikes a harmonious chord in more hearts, I consider myself amply rewarded.

There is one person who kept on telling me almost every day in April, when the 26 chapters of the book were posted in my blog, that her life was undergoing a positive change because of my posts. Thank you, dear friend, you made a difference in my life.

To read/download, please click here



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Why religion should be tamed



While reading Shashi Tharoor’s latest book, Why I am a Hindu, I got stuck at a quote from Swami Vivekananda. “Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it,” goes the quote from a speech delivered by the great Hindu in Chicago. “Every other religion lays down certain fixed dogmas and tries to compel society to adopt them.” Swami Vivekananda then went on to compare religious teachings to a coat. Truth is like a coat of a fixed size for most religions. The size is fixed by the Rabbi or Pope or Mullah or Godman. Whoever you are, you have to wear that coat. Never mind the hilarious look it may give you because it just doesn’t suit you. You have to wear it if you want to belong to this religion. The meaning of religion is accepting the given truths blindly. Don’t question. Don’t dispute. Don’t doubt. Just accept. Accept what is shoved down your throat.

“The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realized, or thought of, or stated through the relative, and the images, crosses, and crescents are simply so many symbols – so many pegs to hang spiritual ideas on.” Swami Vivekananda told his American “Sisters and brothers.” [Yes, he addressed them as Sisters and brothers, giving prominence to women long before the West thought of doing it.]

The Hindu can cut the cloth and stitch the coat that suits him. In other words, the Hindu can worship any god. She can worship Rama or Ravana. He can worship Durga or Mahishasura. She can worship Jesus or Allah. Hinduism is all about liberating people to their own gods and not at all about enslaving them to a monolithic creed as most other religions do.

No wonder the Americans sat down and listened to Swami Vivekananda with admiration. The British were later stupefied by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of tolerance and non-violence. The Swami and the Mahatma are the real spirits of Hinduism. What do we find today, however?

Hollow speeches. Empty promises. Hatred. Violence. Mounting discontent. And glittering dresses, foreign trips with a retinue of chefs topped with the usual logorrhoea.

Can we not change this?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fortress of Falsehood

Image courtesy


Truth is rather banal and often ugly too. Falsehood is so charming that it spreads like wildfire through gossips and rumours via social networks as well as so-called national television channels newspapers. Quite many people in India have sold their souls to falsehood, it appears, as the media channels have sold themselves to the government.

When a national leader of the stature of Amit Shah (whether he deserves the position or we deserve him there is a different matter) professes shamelessly that the fate of Karnataka would have been different if the Congress-JD(S) MLAs were not locked up in a resort throws a blinding light on the fortress of falsehood erected by the Kaliyuga Chanakya and his loyal emperor. The claim is not very unlike a burglar’s declaration that your possessions will be his if you leave your door unlocked.

Perhaps too many Indians are indeed leaving their doors unlocked. Not the doors of their houses but the doors of their judgment. That’s why an infinity of falsehood is spreading on the social networks. There are too many hate messages there meant to divide the nation into Hindus versus the rest.

The ruling BJP could not deliver on their promises of development, clean governance, public hygiene, and so on. In order to win the next general elections they need a new battleground to fight on and Hindu Rashtra has been deemed fit. One of the easiest things to do is to stir up religious sentiments of people. After all, what can be more holy and hence more provocative than one’s god(s)?  

Hatred is injected into people’s hearts using falsehood. It is done using social networks so that the messages remain anonymous and no one faces legal action. There is a whole IT cell at work, paid for by the ill-gotten money of the Party, spewing venom day in and day out with the intention of dividing the country into two inimical groups. Many of these messages claim that it’s going to be another Kurukshetra War with the Hindus as the Pandavas and the rest as the Kauravas. You can imagine who Krishna and Arjuna are.

“Your duty is to kill, Arjuna,” says Krishna. “In a battle there are no brothers and uncles; there are only enemies. Stretch your bow and shoot your arrow. Do your duty without pondering over the results….”

What is left unsaid is: “Kill and die so that a few of us will live in opulence when the whole show is over.”

Even the original Kurukshetra had its unfair share of falsehood all over right from beginning to the end. Too many fortresses of falsehood. It’s a great legacy indeed.


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You are welcome to read or download my ebook Life's Magic:  Here


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Narcissus

I sit in the centre of a black hole, thwarting
Light rays and science laws, charting
Joys and sorrows of the universe, mixing
Memory and desire and love, longing
To draw the universe to my core.

I am the nucleus of a singularity;
And my love surpasses infinity
Flowing from the plenitude of my being
And bounded, alas, by a black horizon.
Nothing can ever go beyond the horizon.

Love is a great conqueror.

Echo was the best of all
   that I ever drew to my core.
She was
   the distil of the finest mist
   the ardour of the deepest hope
   the sigh in the sweetest dream
   the pearl in the saddest tear

Echo was the best of all
   that I ever pinned with my love.

Hurled into the whirlpool
   that swirled inward
      from the brink to the core
         by the charm of my warmth
Echo was the best of all
   that ever pined for the best. 

I am the best.

I am the core of the fire
  that burns in the human heart
I am the heart of the calm
   that lies in the deepest ocean
I am the spirit that throbs
   in every waft of the air
I am the life that aches
   in every seed in the soil
I am the force that snaps
   the chains that bind the soul
I am alpha and omega
   the beginning and the end

I am Narcissus
Whose love is a whirlwind
That sweeps over the horizon
Drawing everything into my heart.
I love them all because they are all mine.
Mine.
Mine was she.

Echo was the best that I ever made mine.

Echo is now a sound
   that haunts the horizon
      unable to snap the cords
         stretched tight across her breast
            by my love.

Love is a great transmuter.

I long to draw the universe to my core
And hold it in a tight hug
And mumble gently,
“I love you!  I love you!”


Notes
1.      The similarity of the first stanza to the opening lines of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is not coincidental.
2.      The original Narcissus of Greek mythology spurned the love of Echo, because he was too much in love with himself. The Narcissus of this poem loves Echo, but he loves the whole universe, longs to hold the universe in his embrace.
3.  The poem was written more than twenty years ago, about a year after my marriage. 
4.  I'm posting it again after so many years simply because the poem has been rising in my consciousness again and again these days with a meaning quite different from what I had in mind when I originally wrote it. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Great Indian Garden

Image from Xinature


Last year during Onam Amit Shah greeted Malayalis in the name of Vamana Jayanti. The Malayalis not only pooh-poohed him but also trolled him left and right, up and down, so much so that the BJP President was left black and blue in the social media. Wishing the Malayali Happy Vamana Jayanti on the occasion of Onam is like asking the Bengali to celebrate the Durga Puja as the martyrdom of Mahishasura. There are people in India who worship Ravana as a divine entity. Imagine telling that to the North Indian who burns the effigy of the ten-headed villain during Dussehra.

In short, India is a country with an infinite variety of festivals as well as cultures. Hinduism is not at all a monolithic religion. The gods worshipped in one part of the country may be demons in another and vice-versa. That is the fantastic diversity that India is even within the single religion of Hinduism, let alone the diversity contributed by other religions such as Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, and so on.

Culturally too, India has a similar diversity. Culturally, there is very little in common between the beef-eating Malayali and cow-worshipping North Indian. The differences are not confined to the bovine milieu alone. Most of the festivals of the North don’t ring a bell in Kerala and vice-versa. 

The North-east is similarly quite a different world compared to the rest of India. The people there may play the political games much like their counterparts elsewhere in the country and vote even BJP (a party that is totally alien to the cultures in North-east) to power, but when it comes to celebrations they will sway to western rock and pop music as much as to their indigenous, seductive rhythms.  Most of the festivals of the rest of the country don’t mean anything in that domain.

India is a potpourri of diverse cultures, languages and ways of living. Trying to homogenise it under the bulldozer of Hindutva is not only reckless but also would be (if at all the attempt succeeds) a tragic decimation of amazing variety.

Why would anyone want to decimate variety from a garden, for example? Why would anyone want to have just one kind of people everywhere? I for one can’t comprehend that. I would love my garden to have roses and marigolds, daisies and pansies, and a whole lot of vibrating colours and fragrances. I admire the rich variety of cultures in my country. I find that variety fascinating, scintillating, breath-taking.  Let no one pulverise that beauty into a monotonous monochrome monolith.

PS. Written for In(di)spire Edition 222: #culturaldiversity


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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Innocence


Fiction

You don’t know how much I miss you though I chose to keep you far away from me. Was I saving you from me or me from you? I don’t know. I don’t know whether either of us stands in need of such salvation. You are one of the finest persons I have ever had the fortune of coming across.

Sam looked at what he had just typed into his Facebook status update. He read it again and again. What’s the use of this? He asked himself. He had not only unfriended her but also blocked her. How would she ever see this even if he posted it?

Why is it that we have to suppress certain loves? Sam wondered. He knew there was nothing, nothing whatever, wrong about his love for her. It was pure friendship. Maybe something more than friendship. Love?

There’s something wrong with the word love, he mused. The moment you say that a man loves a woman, the world turns pink. The clouds rumble. The sand grains on the seashore metamorphose into chastisements.

You were sheer delight to be with. Absolute fun. When you laughed the roses in my garden bloomed. When you talked music flowed in my veins.

Sam looked at what his fingers just typed and smiled to himself. Why can’t the world understand that there can be innocent friendship between a man and a woman?

Innocent? Yes, that’s it. The world is not innocent.

I’m unblocking you. Innocence.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Shashi Tharoor and Crime in India

I don’t know if Shashi Tharoor abetted Sunanda Pushkar’s suicide. I don’t know whether it was suicide or natural death. I know one thing, however: India today is a country where anyone can become a criminal overnight and anyone can become a saint overnight depending on which political party you belong to or get support from.

We have a Prime Minister whose complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots is not a secret at all. You can kill hundreds of people, drive out thousands from their homes and sow the seeds of communal hatred in the whole country and still be a hero in India. The most powerful person in the country after the PM, Amit Shah, was notorious as an encounter killer until he put on a saintly halo round his fat face after his best friend became the most powerful man in the country.

Yogi Adityanath just wrote off all the criminal cases against him when he became the Chief Minister of the most crime-ridden state in the country. 20,000 cases against politicians in Uttar Pradesh are wiped off history by the man who wears an ascetic’s robes which look more farcical on him than outrageous.

The ruling BJP has the highest number of lawmakers with cases of crimes against women. The party has supported crimes against minority communities and Dalits. All the promises made by that party about bringing clean governance were only “chunavi jumla” (electoral gimmick) as Ram Jethmalani said last year.

Everything – well, almost – is a gimmick in the country today. The reality is a bizarre monster hiding behind charming masks designed by the world’s best costume designers. According to latest reports, BJP has spent ₹4300 crore on publicity alone after Modi became the Prime Minister. Publicity. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth, as Goebbels the Guru of RSS said and our Prime Minister exhorted as in the video below.


It’s a hilariously tragic state of affairs in the country. Fair is foul and foul is fair, Shakespeare would say. Hard luck, Shashi!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Slave's Distance

Image from World Future Fund


Technology is offering us more and more means of coming closer. There are chat sites, friendship sites, messaging apps; moreover, phone calls have become cheaper than ever. Has the distance between persons decreased, however? On the contrary, it seems to be increasing.

The reasons for this are complex like in any social problem. I would like to draw your attention to one aspect of that complexity: increasing totalitarianism in government. Through a lot of means like the Aadhar, the government has taken over a tentacle-like grip on citizens. Do you know that every single bank account of yours is open to government surveillance? The government can, if it wants, monitor your internet usage, your phone calls, and even your personal life if it comes to that.

On top of that intrusion into our personal affairs, the government is feeding us with a lot of lies and distortions. Already the textbooks in many North Indian states have been modified to teach a new history according to which the freedom fighters who were heroes hitherto have now become villains or insignificant while erstwhile villains are glorified.

Many leaders belonging to the ruling party, including the Prime Minister, keep uttering falsehood in their speeches. The latest example is that of Bhagat Singh mentioned by the PM in a speech.

TV channels and other news media are also employed by the government machinery to propagate a lot of falsehood.

There is a method in this insanity. The motive is to create a theocracy in which there will only be one religion, one culture, one language. Consequently many people get labelled as antinational and are under attacks of various kinds. In such a situation people begin to mistrust one another. You don’t know when your best friend will become your worst enemy just because of your religious or political affiliations.

The solution lies within each one of us. We need to rise above the falsehoods propagated by those in power. We need to challenge them in whatever capacity we can, however diminutive that capacity be. We need to uphold humanity as best as we can. There is no other way if we wish to forge ahead as a great nation of variegated people with umpteen cultures and languages.

PS. Written for IndiSpire Edition 221: #insecurity

A personal note: I have noticed that the tendency to treat people as slaves is spreading to certain educational institutions too. Recently the education board under which I work ordered teachers to report for examiner duties under threat of a massive fine of ₹50,000. The Regional Officer of that Board has been issuing more and more intimidating messages as well as orders in the last two months to teachers. I wondered again and again why teachers should be treated with so much indignity. I guess the totalitarian disease is contagious.


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Friday, May 11, 2018

The King and his excreta


Whenever the King wanted to excrete his devotees would compete with one another to carry the chamber pot. It was very rarely that they got an opportunity to carry the excreta of the King since the King was mostly abroad spreading the cultural greatness of their country far and wide.

Whenever the King returned from abroad the devotees gathered outside the airport to receive him. They jostled with one another and elbowed out one another. Those who managed to get near to the King in spite of the Z+ guards (by bribing them, in fact) all had a chamber pot with them. “Do you want to excrete, Your Majesty?” They asked the King. “Please excrete, Your Majesty.”

TV channels were ready with OB vans that had helicams which would record the King’s excreting. They telecasted the whole process under various names such as Bowel ki Bath and Swachh Rashtra. The finest industrialists of the country competed with one another to sponsor the TV shows. The leading banks financed the national entertainment.

People were happy. People had entertainment. They loved to see their King travelling far and wide wearing royal robes designed by the world’s finest fashion designers. Nationalist spirit welled up in the nation. Jai Ho! Jai Ho! The people shouted. Loud. Louder. And louder.

TV channels broadcasted Jai Hos. Industrialists funded TV channels.  Banks funded industrialists.

The citizens carried chamber pots asking the King to excrete more and more. And they got more and more royal excreta.


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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The sins of a holy man


Book Review

Title: Dera Sacha Sauda and Gurmeet Ram Rahim
Author: Anurag Tripathi
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2018
Pages: 198       Price: ₹299

When criminals are attributed godly stature, depravity spreads among people like a malady. Gurmeet Ram Rahim is one of the many godmen who attained godhood in India with the help of politicians, businessmen, goons and sub-mediocre common people. Anurag Tripathi’s book shows us how depraved a man Gurmeet was though he extracted worship from millions of devotees among whom were also powerful politicians and wealthy capitalists.

“Gurmeet’s philosophy was far from spiritual,” says the book. “It was oriented from the beginning towards acquisition and accumulation of power.” When Gurmeet became the head in 1990, the Dera owned some five acres of land. By 2017 his empire in Sirsa alone extended to over 700 acres of land excluding the many benami properties belonging to the Dera.

The book explains in detail the various strategies employed by Gurmeet’s thugs (devotees) to force landowners to sell their land to the Dera at dirt cheap prices. Intimidation of the landowner, converting the farm into a garbage heap by asking devotees to dump garbage as well as defecate there, destruction of cultivation by letting loose animals on the farms, and various other techniques were put to use as suited the occasion.

Gurmeet had his own private army specially trained and brainwashed to do all sorts of nefarious things for him including killing opponents and intimidating into silence women who were raped him. The godman had a multi-speciality hospital where two doctors were always available to castrate young men who would become his slaves in the form of Qurbani Dasta. A kind of opium (fanki) cultivated on Dera lands in Rajasthan was mixed with food so that the inmates would always be under its influence and hence obey the master without any questioning.

Honeypreet, the woman who shot into notoriety when the godman was arrested last year, was projected as his adopted daughter but was in fact his concubine. Here was a man who had no qualms about shedding his lust upon his own ‘daughter’! What is more, he used her as a trap to snatch the entire wealth of one rich Gupta family by getting the young Gupta to marry her.

The book is divided into three parts. While the first part shows the sleazy side of the godman’s personality, the second gives us a brief history of the Dera with a focus on how Gurmeet corrupted it totally and the third shows us how difficult it was for justice to catch up with this man who had the backing of the entire political system with both Congress and BJP trying to subvert the investigations and a whole personal army ready to kill for him.

Those who are interested to learn about the inner secrets of cults led by fraudulent godmen will find this book interesting as well as rewarding if not shocking. Any sane reader will be left wondering why millions of people are ready to follow such fraudulent people though the book does offer an answer to that too. The social situation forces people to do certain things. When agriculture took a backseat in Haryana and Punjab and the big farmers brought in cheap labourers from Bihar and UP, the Dalits in the two states were left high and dry. Deras gave them opportunities to live a more dignified life with free education for their children and work opportunities for themselves. Moreover, at the Deras they were treated with equality while outside they were low-caste people held in contempt. It is also easy to manipulate helpless people and get them to do what powerful people want them to do.

The book is easy to read being written in a simple and straightforward style. It took me about five hours to finish it. I found it engrossing especially because I am an implicit victim of another godman who gobbled up my entire school in Delhi with its 15-acre campus. This godman of Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) is another land-grabber in the shape of a spiritual leader. Recently the Delhi government demolished many of his illegal constructions and retrieved the forest lands that had been encroached by him. Along with my wife once I got an opportunity to visit the headquarters of RSSB in Beas, Punjab. I was astounded by the kingdom that the godman had built up there, a kingdom which extended right from the Beas railway station to kilometres and kilometres on the bank of the Beas River. You cannot enter the enclosed kingdom unless you are a member of the cult. Inside the kingdom there is another Constitution with its own rules and regulations including traffic regulations apart from regulations on food, use of mobile phones and cameras, and so on. Most of the devotees looked like slaves some of whom were happy with the security offered by the system while others seemed mostly women who escaped from unhappy married lives into a less unhappy life of shady spirituality. The two women of RSSB whom I knew at close quarters were as villainous as Gurmeet at heart. I know many men of RSSB who were no better than those two women, though my acquaintance with the men was more distant. Anurag Tripathi’s book revived my memories of the three years I was destined to spend under the leadership of RSSB people who had taken over my school with nefarious motives. But even without any such personal associations, you can find this book rewarding if you are interested in knowing how fake spiritual organisations work in India and how depraved they can make thousands and thousands of people.


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Monday, May 7, 2018

Rewinding



Some time back Maggie (my wife) asked me whether I had any regrets about my life hitherto. “A lot of things were wrong,” I said. “Some mistakes were due to my own nature and quite many more were because I didn’t know how to deal with other people and the games they played.”

“So if you are given another life, you’d live it quite differently?”  She persisted.

“Of course. But that doesn’t mean I’d toe the lines drawn by others. It just means that I’d make new mistakes.” I paused and then continued, “At least they’d be my own mistakes. They are preferable to other people’s truths.”

We can’t go back and correct the mistakes of the past. When I find the dominant political party in the country trying to correct the mistakes or perceived mistakes in the country’s history, I get hiccups.  We can only act in the present. We can only move forward. The past offers us lessons. The mistakes of the past can teach us tremendous lessons, but they cannot be corrected. We shape our future by what we do in the present.  

Walking backward and kicking up dust storms is not only futile but also insane. I don’t want to rewind my life in order to delete anything from it simply because it cannot be done. I would look back in order to draw the right lessons from there.

One of the biggest blunders I committed in the past was to involve myself with certain people. I was a misfit in almost every company. I don’t make good company; I am a loner by nature. I was born to be a loner, I believe. When I gave up companies I found myself a much happier person. Books became my faithful friends. I deserve them only, I guess.

Even today when people of those old companies get my phone number from somewhere or other and call me, I feel jittery. The truth is I have blocked quite many of such numbers. Or I just don’t answer the calls. It’s not because I hate them; it’s because I still don’t know how to deal with them. I don’t want to make a fool of myself anymore.

Suppose I could really delete a part of my life. I would delete those few years in which I had ‘friends’.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Why I stopped writing politics

Image from Wikipedia


When you are confronted with a situation that is irredeemably hopeless, what do you do? I would choose to avoid it and walk on. In the less sophisticated parlance of the village that I have chosen to live in now, if you step on shit you will stink.

Three months before Mr Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, I made a prediction in my blog: “Modi will engender a civil war in the country if he becomes its Prime Minister, my instincts predict.” Within months of his becoming PM, many Christian places of worship were attacked in Delhi and peripheral regions. Eventually Muslims and Hindu Dalits became the targets of hydra-headed attacks. People were killed in the name of cows and other totems.  Women were assaulted, raped and killed. The tragedy goes on.

Most of the promises made in Modi’s election manifesto have remained unfulfilled though the country is marching towards the next general elections. Development, job creation, corruption-free governance and bringing down prices were what Indians voted for. What they got is more corruption, more poverty, more unemployment, more taxes, rocketing prices and, worst of all, mounting mutual hatred bred by false propaganda and brazen chicanery.

The country has been brought down to the worst of imaginable situations. It will be a Herculean task for any leader now to bring basic sanity back to the nation. Unfortunately, there is no sign of any such leader. Tragically, Modi will come to power again in 2019, my instincts tell me. Murphy’s Law will continue to work out and wreak its vengeance on the nation.

Hope was the last item in Pandora’s Box. All the evils and miseries of the world flew out of that box, according to Greek mythology. I don’t know if hope was the last misery or the last redemptive power. I would like to hope anyway, hope for a better India.  India cannot become worse any further now.

A cry in the mountains is known to have started off an avalanche.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Love makes all the difference


Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novella, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, is about an old man who wishes to gift himself “a night of wild love” with an adolescent virgin on his 90th birthday. The nameless narrator never found time to marry because whores kept him too busy all his life. He never loved anyone, in fact. “Sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love,” he says. He is a mediocre writer until his perverse desire on his 90th birthday changes him radically.

The madam of a brothel offers him a 14 year-old girl who is a virgin. Poverty leads her into this venture. She has been drugged by the madam because she is terribly scared of what may happen to her. One of her friends died of bleeding after having sex with a man from Gayra with whom she had run away. The “men from Gayra are famous for making she-mules sing,” says the madam. The narrator’s sexual prowess is well-known to the madam.

The narrator sees the girl sleeping under the effect of the valerian she was made to drink. He watches her naked body and leaves her untouched. He calls her Delgadina, the name of a girl in a song which he sings for her though she is sleeping. The girl is sleeping every time he meets her with the intention of making love to her. Eventually he falls in love with her.

The love brought about a miraculous change in him. He starts writing love poems in his newspaper columns and the poems make him famous. He discovers a new joy in his life, a new passion to live. He never has sex with the girl. He loves her. Interestingly, the girl loves him too. The “colours of a joyous dawn” envelope his house now.  And his heart is full of a “joyful agony.” He hopes to live on to the age of hundred in order to enjoy the pleasures of love that he has discovered for the first time in his life.

The novel is not as great as the other works of Marquez. His writing has the usual magical touch with all its lyrical beauty. But the theme is disturbing with what may be described as paedophilia though that is not what it really is. None of the characters other than the narrator comes alive like Marquez’s characters usually do. The heroine sleeps most of the time.

Yet the love that the narrator discovers at the age of 90 is magical indeed. Love is what actually works wonders in life. Love is a wizard.

As I read the last lines of the novella, I was left with a question that nagged me for most of the time I spent with the short book: Why did the girl have to be so young?  I have no answer yet.