Bhagavad Gita And Impact on Western Mind

March 8, 2017

 

                                    Sanskrit Scriptures And The West

In India, Sanskrit and the Sanskrit literature have been almost forgotten but it has influenced the European writers in a big way. Very recently it was found in New-Zeeland that if a student knows Sanskrit it can very easily master English. So Sanskrit is included in the school syllabus there.

In the beginning, the Sanskrit works which have influenced the European writers were three works: the Jataka stories, the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesa. Being stories, communicating classical Hindu themes with ethical message those suited the medieval taste. They rationally appealed to all those who loved to listen to and tell mysterious stories. People used to hear and enjoy such stories, especially when they moved from one place to another as merchants or soldiers or pilgrims or travellers or ascetics .

The story of Pardoner’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer’s (1340-1400), was based on one of the Jataka stories. In a similar manner, the tales of Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma mixed up with some tales of the Hitopadesa and the Kathasaritsangare came to be known to the literary world as the Fables of Pilpay or Bidpai. It is almost a source of much European literature related with   folklore tradition. -1 The earliest English references to these tales are found in Sir Thomas North’s (1535-1601), The Moral Philosophy of Doni. For centuries the India that evoked some response in the western brains and world was the India of tale collections or the India of amazing wealth. The India that Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) mentioned in his Suppliant Women:

And tales I know, how Indian women roam;

By camels drawn, each in the tented home. -2

This India was not the golden India of later times. The India that appears colourfully in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale in the account of ‘Emetreus Kyng of Inde’ (11.2155-2189)-3, is the India of Gold. Shakespeare (1564-1616) mentions India which testifies to this golden Inde  idea of tradition. -4 Robert Ralston Cawley in the section on ‘The East Indies’ in his book, The Voyagers and Elizabethan Drama,  echoes  that with the golden India concept was related to the range of other ideas indicating wonderful geography, anthropology, flora, fauna and customs.-5 Yet it was from the late sixteenth century onwards that pragmatic accounts of India began to appear, such as the accounts of the Dutch missionary Abraham Roger, Edward Terry, Thomas Coryate (1577-1617)-6, John Ogilvy (1600-1676), Richard Eden (1521-1576)-7, Richard Willes and Sir Thomas Herbert. The impact of the belief of India as an actual rather that amazing country can be seen in Restoration Literature and the orientation of Samuel Johnson’s (1709-1784) Rasseles (1759) and Voltaire’s (1694-1778) Zadig.

Prior to the eighteenth century, India for Western World was known for her wealth and affluence. Western people were concerned only with the gold and other valuable materials. But at the end of the eighteenth century, their approach was changed. Now India was also known for her rich philosophy. With the luxury goods, philosophical ideas also travelled to western world from India. Times Literary Supplement, comments:

Between East and West the cultural wind blows both ways,

though a hasty present-day inspection might suggest that

it blew mainly eastward . . . . The wind from the East is quieter,

older, less immediately detectable; it penetrates and mingles,

and its note is deep . . . . Today the student from the Orient may

find himself to some degrees at home in Western Thought

for the elements of his own cultures, that are mixed in it.-8

Towards the fag end of the eighteenth century, curiosity in Indian literature and philosophy was aroused in the West by the translations of some major Indian scriptures and literary works. Germans were the first to show curiosity in the Indian writings on religion, philosophy, and literature. About five hundred years ago we find a German translation of the Panchatantra, entitled as Panchatantra Das Buch der byspel der alten Wyseen, by Anthonius Von Pforr (1488)-9 , based on Sanskrit via Pahlavi, Old Arabic, Hebrew and Latin. Bhartrihari’s verses were translated into German in 1663.-10 B.Hirzal translated Sakuntala in 1833. -11 The translation of the Manusmriti by J.C.Huttner appeared in 1797 and one of the Upanishads in 1808.-12 A wave of translations came out after Peiper (1834) who enlarged the value of his metrical depiction by copious grammatical, mythological and philosophical notes. Max Muller (1823-1900) contributed greatly to the translation of Sanskrit literature as editor of The Sacred Books of the East. He translated Hitopadesa (1844), Meghduta and parts of the Rig-Veda.-13

                                    Bhagavad Gita’s Journey To West

In India, due to the faulty secular policy and vote bank politics, this great book has been rendered controversial book. So much so, in Soviet Russia very recently it was banned and it was declared a book preaching violence. But Bhagavad Gita has influenced and impressed a large number of western scholars.  This book is more than five thousand years old.

J.W.Hauer, a Sanskrit Scholar who served for a few years as missionary in India, gave to the Bhagavad Gita a central place in German faith.-14   A huge number of German scholars were deeply influenced by the Indian philosophy. Kant (1724-1804), Herder (1744-1803), Fitche (1762-1814), Hegel (1770-1831), Schlegal (1772-1829), Schiller (1759-1805) and Goethe-15 (1749-1832) are very significant names in this regard. Friedrich Von Schlegal (1767-1829) who translated the Bhagavad Gita, quoted a few passages of the Bhagavad Gita in his own metrical translation (1808), collectively with lines from the Ramayana; Manusmriti and Sakuntala. The German pioneer Baron Wilhelm Von Humboldt started studying Sanskrit in 1821. After reading the Bhagavad Gita he thanked God that he had lived long enough to read such an inspiring book. He delivered a famous lecture on the Bhagavad Gita beforethe Academy of Science in Berlin in 1825.-16 In German, there is a museum named after the name of Herder ‘Herder Museum’. In this museum a number of Indian Manuscripts, carried away from India during the last more than a thousand years are conserved.

There is also evidence of the early Roman contact with India, though the contacts are limited to trade only. But quickly these contacts resulted in intellectual interactions. As a result of this interaction, Anquetil du Perron (1731-1805) translated Upanishads into Latin. In Surat, Gujrat, India, he discovered the Avests and published it as Zend-Avests in 1771.-17 The Oupnek’het which he then translated was the Persian version of the Upanishads, translated in 1656 by the Mogul prince Dara Shikoh, son of Mogul ruler Shahjahan, the elder brother of brutal and fanatic Aurangzeb. Realising that he was in fact, dealing with a Sanskrit text, he decided to translate the text into Latin. The first translation of a Sanskrit text into Latin was completed in 1796 -18 which was published in 1801-1802.

The Nelopakhyana episode of the Mahabharata was translated from Sanskrit in 1819,-19 while the first Latin collection from the Gita was published by O.Frank in 1820. A.W Von Schlegel was the first to bring out a complete Latin translation of the Bhagavad Gita in 1823. With the support of Goethe, Von Schlegel also started a Latin translation of the Ramayana but did it only partly.-20 Lassen also contributed in the field of translating Gita and other Hindu scriptures in the European languages.

The invasion of the East India Company in India brought England and India nearer not only politically and commercially but also culturally. In England Sir William Jones (1756-1794), who passed away at the age of forty-eight was a pioneer and almost a crusader in this field.-21 He lived in India for ten long years. As proved by the records, he was the first English intellectual to command the Sanskrit language and interpreted the Eastern classics to the West. He was also and the first to translate Kalidasa’s Abhigyan Sakuntalam into English in 1789.-22 William Jones also was the first man to bring out an edition of a Sanskrit text. This was a short poem entitled Ritusemhara or Cycle of the Season published in 1792-23. In the same year, he published his English translation of Jaydeva’s Gitagovindam-24

The first Governor General of Bengal, Sir Warren Hastings appealed to some Hindu Pundits (scholarly people) to prepare a digest of Hindu Law. They prepared a scholarly work in twenty-one chapters, called Vivadarnavasetu. But when the work was ready nobody could be found to translate it directly from Sanskrit to English. As a result, first, a Persian version was made, which was translated by Hellhed into English called A Code of Hindoo Law in 1776. -25 Warren Hastings also helped the establishment of the Asiatic Society -26, who’s first President was Sir William Jones. -27 Hastings sent Charles Wilkins to Benaras to learn Sanskrit, and when Wilkins’ translation of the Bhagavad Gita was ready in manuscript, he persuaded the East India Company to have it printed and published in London. He himself wrote the introduction of this great Hindu book. The translation was published with the title, The Bhagvat Geeta or Dialogue of Kreeshna and Arjoona. This translation was in eighteen chapters and was brought out in 1783 -28.  The combined efforts of Charles Wilkins and William Jones gave a strong force to more and more translations from Sanskrit. Colebrook lived in India for more than thirty years, (died in 1837) and he translated A Digest of Hindu Law on Contracts and Successions in 1797.-29 In 1804 he edited the Hitopadesa–30 with an introduction, and the Amarkosa-31, with marginal translation in 1808. He also prepared a Lexicon and Grammar of the Sanskrit Language in 1805-32. He also undertook the difficult task of translating works on arithmetic and astronomy.

Literature is also a philosophy. Though some critics may not agree with this notion. There are countless examples of seer poets enlightening ancient truths. Such graceful revelations are universal spiritual truths to which no one person, age, or religion can lay claim but certainly Hindu scriptures are closest to universal truth. In their effort to unravel the mystery of life and death poets and writers tried to make rapport with the Indian spiritual reality, like Hindu sages.

  1. Marshman and William Carey editedThe Ramayana of Maharishi Valmiki in the original Sanskrit -33 with a prose translation and explanatory notes in 1806. H.H. Wilson came to India as a doctor of the East India Company but was soon interested in Hindu scriptures. In 1813 he published his first translation of Kalidasa’s Meghduta and Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus-34 from the original Sanskrit. He also prepared the first Sanskrit-English Dictionary in 1819-35 and was the first to take up the chair of Sanskrit in Oxford in 1832. In this respect, Britain lagged behind the French where the first Chair of Sanskrit in Paris was established 1814 and in Germany where it was first set up in Bonn in 1818. Sir Edwin Arnold in 1860 translated Hitopadesa, in 1875 Jaydeva’s Gita-Govinda and finally in 1885 The Song Celestial i.e. the Gita. His famous book, The Light of Asia is also heavily influenced by the Indian philosophy especially the Gita. Charles Wilkins’ translations of the Bhagavad Gita (1785), the Hitopadesa (1787), the story of Sakuntala from the Mahabharata (1793); A Grammar of the Sanskrit Language (1823)-36 were parts of that zeal for Indology, that from the last quarter of the eighteenth century onwards, extend over a number of western countries such as Britain, America, France, Germany, France, Russia, Italy and others.

These translations and transcriptions of Sanskrit scriptures and literary books created a culture in Europe in the nineteenth century, influencing the important English writers. Of all the translations of Indian scriptures and literarily works, the translation of the Bhagavad Gita exercised the broadest and deepest influence on the imagination of western writers and thinkers. The reasons are not difficult to understand. The Bhagavad Gita has a significance and message which is apparently so universally human that its meaning remains significant to all ages and cultures. It is not a ‘neutral text’, but one which has played the most noteworthy role in India’s religious and philosophical movements as well as in the political life of a common man. It is one book which is not sectarian because it does not drive its sacredness from the subjective belief of its worshippers. The Bhagavad Gita is replete with dynamic inspiration which lifts up and moves the heart and mind of the reader. D.S. Sarma rightly points out:

We may read the Bhagavad Gita a thousand times and

think we have exhausted its meaning, but the next time

we go to it we get a new light, which we never dreamt

of before. The suggestiveness of the wonderful book is

really infinite, If only we begin to interpret it for ourselves

In terms of our own experience. -37

                       Bhagavad Gita and the English Literature

The Gita influenced a large number of English men of letters but in a big way, famous Romantic poet S.T.Coleridge was the first important English poet to respond to the Wilkins’ translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Coleridge more than any other of his generation poets, was familiar with the works of a number of ideologists such as Sir William Jones.

In this field, the Asiatic Researchers, founded by Sir William Jones did a lot. It also holds the proceeding of the Bengal Asiatic Society which was established in 1784, and The Ordinance of Manu; written in 1794, is also an important name.  Major Runnel, prepared the first correct map of India in his Bengal Atlas in 1779-38, Thomas Maurice’s History of Hindustan 1795 -39, Sir William Ouseley’s, Oriental Collection, 3 vols., 1797-99-40, and Jean-Antoine Dubois’ Hindu, Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies, in English was translated from the original text in French in 1816. -41. Kathleen Coburn observes:

India was the subject of Coleridge’s considerable reading;

mention’s Wilkins’ translation in connection with the poet’s

projected poem of the fancy and the understanding to

be entitled The Conquest of India by Bacchus. -42

One of the Indian scholars, Dr.Munir Ahmed, who has made a thorough examination of the reflections of Indian thought in Coleridge’s poetry, maintains:

The pantheism of ‘The Eolian Harp’, the demonic agencies in ‘The Ancient Mariner’, the intense longing for deep self-possession and calm response in ‘Osorio’ and ‘The Triumph of Loyalty’ and also perhaps the idea of the soul’s transmigration suggested in ‘Christable’, can be related to his Indian readings.-43

It is clearly mentioned in the ‘Philosophical Lectures’, that Coleridge read the Gita translated by Wilkins. Between December 1818 and January 1819, Coleridge read the Bhagavad Gita, just as he read The Ordinances of ManuThe History of Hindustan and other Indian books, as a part of his extensive pursuit for a religious philosophy and his deep interest in Hindu philosophy. He writes:

We have in this work (The Wilkins’ Gita), which I have now before me, an extract from the great poem of India where pantheism has displayed its banners and waved in victory over three hundred millions of men and this has been published in England as a proof of sublimity beyond the excellence of Milton in the true adoration of the Supreme being. It is an address to the pantheistic god.-44

Coleridge also has read an article in the Annual Register which he borrowed from the Bristol Library on 10 March 1796, which contains, “It is better, say the Hindoos, to sit than walk and to sleep than to wake; but death is the best of all.-45 He echoes these words in a letter written twenty months later to his friend Thelwall on 14th October 1797:

At other times I adopt the Brahman creed and say – It is better

to sit than to stand, it is better to lie than to sit, It is better to sleep

then to wake but death is the best of all! – I should much wish like

the Indian Vishnu to float along an infinite ocean cradled in the

flower of the Lotus and wake once in a million years for a few minutes.-46

In Coleridge’s poetry, there are evidences to the effect that he read the Wilkins’ Gita. The pantheistic outlook that Coleridge had found in the Bhagavad Gita, is present in ‘The Eolian Harp’, composed at Clevedon, Somersetshire, the home country of Charles Wilkins:

O: the one Life within us and abroad,

Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,

A light in sound, a sound-like power a light,

Rhythm in all thought, and joyance everywhere,

Methinks, it should have been impossible,

Not to love all things in a world so filled.-47These lines and the lines immediately below them refer to all animated nature as organic harps diversely framed one intellectual breeze sweeps. These lines very closely echo the idea of the following lines of the Bhagavad-Gita as translated by Wilkins:

The man whose mind is endued with this devotion, and looketh on all

things alike, beholdeth the supreme soul in all things, and beholdeth

all thing in me, I forsake not him, and he forsaketh not me. The ‘Yogee’

who believeth in Unity, and worshippeth me present in all things, dwelleth

in me in all respects, even whilst He liveth. -48

Parallels to the Bhagavad Gita are easily visible in many other poems of Coleridge. Likewise, Wordsworth was also responsive to the greatly constant influence of the Bhagavad Gita. Wordsworth’s own experience of pantheistic Immanence was made stronger by his contact with Coleridge. In ‘Tintern Abbey’ the following lines easily recall to mind the Indian thinking as expressed in the Bhagavad Gita:

That blessed mood,

In which the burthen of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world,

Is lightened:-that serene and blessed mood. -49

The following extract from the Bhagavad Gita expressing the same idea:

The ‘Yogee’ of a subdued mind; thus employed In the exercise of his

devotion, is compared to a lamp, standing in a place without wind,

Which waveth not. He delighteth in his own soul, where the mind,

regulated by the service of devotion, is pleased to dwell, and where,

By the assistance of the spirit, he beholdeth the soul. He becometh

acquainted with the boundless pleasure which is far more worthy

of the understanding than that which ariseth From the senses . . . he

is not moved by the severest pain. This disunion from the conjunction

of pain may be distinguished by The appellation of ‘Yog’, spiritual union

or devotion. It is to be attained by resolution, by the man who knoweth his own mind. -50

Wordsworth feels the same state when the “breath of this corporeal frame” is “almost suspended” and then, “we are laid asleep in the body, and become a living soul.”

The Bhagavad Gita talks of that intellectual and ethical state in which the ‘Yogi’, the entity who has subjected his mind and body to rigorous order and has controlled his senses, experience tranquil mood, as expressed by William Wordsworth.

Among the younger romantic poets, Shelly was most vulnerable to greater idealistic principles. He was very well well-known with the works of Sir William Jones, who belonged to the University College Oxford, where Shelley studied. Shelley had read ‘The Genius of the Thames’ written by his friend Thomas Love Peacock who himself was well-known with the English account of Jaydeva’s Gita Govindam and who worked in the office of East India Company. A book that Shelley knew well and which contributed significantly to the range of his imagery, myth and symbol, was Edward Moor’s Hindu Pantheon. In a paper entitled ‘Possible Indian Influence on Shelley’, published in the Ninth Bulletin of the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association of London, Dr.S.R. Swami Nathan has established the Hindu Pantheon and the Irish novelist Miss Sydney Owenson’s novel The Missionary, as the source of some important images of Shelley. Commenting on Dr.Swami Nathan’s paper, the Times Literary Supplement wrote in an editorial:

So the Greek Aphrodite- Shelley’s Promethean Asia-born of the sea foam stood- Within a veined shell, which floated on over the calm floor of the crystal sea.. -51

Lakshmi- Miss Owenson’s luxima-who tints all Shelley’s projections into womanly form of intellectual beauty, is the love that Shelley, Plato, and the Christian vision alike place at  the core of being. -52

Shelley’s basics of philosophy predominantly regarding good and Evil, the Avatar and the relations of the individual soul to the celestial soul seem to have been based on the Bhagavad Gita. Shelley, like Coleridge, widely read Indian scriptures and literature. There are passages and lines in Shelley that are similar to the passages in the Bhagavad Gita. For example following lines of ‘Love’s Philosophy’:

The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of Heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in this world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle. -53

Recollect the image given in the Bhagavad Gita:

AaPaUYaRMaa<aMacl/Pa[iTaï&

SaMaud]MaaPa” Pa[ivXaiNTa YaÜTa( )

TaÜTk-aMaa Ya& Pa[ivXaiNTa SaveR

Sa XaaiNTaMaaPanaeiTa Na k-aMak-aMaq ))

äpüryamäëam acala-pratiñöhaà

samudram äpaù praviçanti yadvat

tadvat kämä yaà praviçanti sarve

sa çäntim äpnoti na käma-kämé

(Just as all water enters, from all sides, the sea, of which the shores are not transgressed, though it is being filled on all sides, so is (true) tranquility obtained only by that person who is entered by all objects of sense (without disturbing his tranquility); not by one, who desires the objects of sense (is it possible that this tranquility is acquired) -54   (Ch-2, Sl. 70).

These lines are translated in English by Wilkins as:

The men whose passions enter his heart as

Waters run into the unswelling passive ocean. -55

Here there is a picture of water of rivers entering into and losing themselves in the unmoving sea. In relation to lines of the poem of Shelley, the reference to ‘law divine’ and ‘one spirit’ has its echo in the Bhagavad Gita’s as

Servabhutasthamatmanam sarvabhutani ca tmani. (Ch. VI, sl.29)

This sloka was translated by Wilkins as:

The man whose mind is endued with this devotion, and

looketh on all things alike, beholdeth the supreme soul in

all things, and beholdeth all things in me. I forsake not him,

and he foresaketh  not me. The ‘Yogee’ who believeth in

unity, and worshippeth  me present in all things, dwelleth in me . . . -56

Shelley again refers in Adonis to ‘sustaining love’ and the light whose smile kindles the Universe’ in the following lines:

The one remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly. -57

On the death of Keats, Shelley recognized: “He hath awakened from the dream of life.”

The Absolute Ultimate in the centre of the transitory lots of is the idea of the Bhagavad Gita too. The concept of Maya also runs in Shelley’s poems. The Bhagavad Gita’s ideas of ‘soul’ and ‘water’ are also again and again referred to by Shelley in his important works.

Southey (1774-1843), a contemporary of Wordsworth had direct knowledge with the Bhagavad Gita and other Indian works. His footnotes to, The Curse of Krishna (1810), very frequently refers to the Bhagavad Gita and there are suggestions also to The Institute of ManuThe MahabharataSongs of Jayadeva, and Maurice’s History of Hindustan.

Even there are big numbers of poets of the nineteenth century but are elapsed today could not get away the sway of The Bhagavad Gita. One such poet is Richard Henry Horne (1803-1884) who refers to the Indian thought of ‘Yoga’ in his epical work Orion (1843). This poem discusses to the doctrines of Nishkam Karma and predestination. The following lines are significant in this regard:

Not in thee

Was failure born, its law preceded thing:

It governs every act, which needs must fail-

I mean give place to make room for the next

. . .                           . . .                           . . .

Sit still, Remain with me. No difference

Will in the world to be found: ‘t will know no charge,

Be sure, say that an act hath been ordained?

Some hand must do it: therefore do not move:

An instrument of action must be found,

And you escape both toil and consequences: -58

This extract is a direct suggestion to the well-known idea of the Bhagavad Gita that the doer and master are only, God.

Likewise one more poet, William Bell Scott (1811-1890), in his Autobiographical Notes, confesses to has referred to the Cosmogony of the Hindoos in his famous and popular poem ‘The Fear of the World’ a philosophical poem on freedom from the fall (1846). Again In the Autobiographical Notes, (vol. I, p.237), he says that in the poem referred to, he has repeated a portion of the Bhagavad Gita.-59 this he does in section III of part ii of the poem in which his hero, Lyremmos, is shown, standing on the banks of Holy Ganges. He listens to a divine voice. Actually, this was the clear influence of the Bhagavad Gita on him. The God, he feels, pervades and sustains all things.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), a powerful thinker and writer of the Victorian age was among those who read the Bhagavad Gita and incorporated its philosophical ideas in his works like Sartor Resartus (1832), etc. it was he who gave a copy of the Bhagavad Gita to the famous American Poet and philosopher, Emerson, when the latter visited him at Craigenputtock.-60 Carlyle’s concept of Duty, (work is worship), his theory of the great man, i.e., the Hero, and his firm conviction of the world’s being an illusion are so close, in letter and script, to the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, that in the mid-nineteenth century he may be called the greatest apostle of Indian philosophy. It is not without significance that he alone among all English men of letters has been acknowledged as the prophet. An independent work of the influence of the Bhagavad Gita on Carlyle is possible.

Another great Victorian poet Robert Browning, his view, values, vision, and convictions are very close to Hindu vision in general and the Bhagavad Gita in particular.-61 Similarly it is also believed that Karl Marx’s Enlightenment Theory is nothing but the reinterpretation of Hindus’ philosophy of Vasudhevkutumbakum although it is a different issue that he was a very bitter critic of Hindus and Hinduism.

Tennyson accepts that intellect is not strong enough to understand the final reality. It only “stirs the surface shadow” but never “hath dipt into …/ The abysm of all abysms”.  Hindu Vedic scriptures assert the illusory (maya) dualistic mask or surface-shadow as ‘maya’. This is something we need to understand and defeat.

Only Hindu mystics or saints see this truth or maya through Self-realization and poets and thinkers declare it through transcendental imagination. Once they experience out-of-body awareness, mystics attain the area of pure consciousness and the self seems “to dissolve and fade away into boundless being; and this is not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest… the loss of external personality, (if so it were) seeming not annihilation but the only true life.”Tennyson here conveys the essence of Advaita Vedanta, the cardinal tenet of Hinduism, Brahma (God) alone is real. The universe is unreal, and the individual soul is none other than the universal soul. This idea is taken by Tennyson from the Bhagavad Gita.

Evidently, this state is not confined to sages. At times poets also realise this state:

In ‘Memoirs’ Tennyson  informs Mrs Bradley: “There are moments when this flesh is nothing to me when I feel and know the flesh to be the vision, God and the spiritual the only real and true.”

D H Lawrence is overjoyed at the prospect of discarding his flesh “Like luggage of some departed traveller”.

The poet William Blake confidently said: “I am in God’s presence night and day.” In this mystical trance, which is seeing the soul with bodily eyes closed, is when we receive the highest kind of intuitive knowledge.

This is nothing but influences of the Bhagavad Gita: Evidently, this state is not confined to sages only.

A parallel is found in the Bhagavad Gita: “The flesh was as though dead, yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the circumambient atoms…. An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The spirit of God, I realised, is exhaustless Bliss.”

In the Kathopanishad, Yama tells Nachiketa that the supreme person, the size of a thumb, dwells forever in the hearts of all beings. Krishna assures us in the Bhagavad Gita: that He is seated in the heart of all beings.  Vivekananda said: “After long searches here and there, in temples and churches…at last you come back completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and find that He …is nearest of the near, in your own Self.”

However, among the poets of the Victorian era, it is Matthew Arnold who seems to have been more deeply influenced by the Bhagavad Gita than any of his contemporary poets. He was born in an age which was surcharged with orientalism due to the increasing political and cultural intimacy of the West and the East. It was the age which had several translations of the Bhagavad Gita and other Indian scriptures and literary works by a number of European scholars, and of Omer Khayyam by Fitzgerald. It also witnessed the growing popularity of the Koran references to which were made by Carlyle in his lecture on Mohammad, the Hero as Prophet, and of the Arabian Nights, etc.

Son of a distinguished educationist and a strict disciplinarian, Mathew Arnold felt ill at ease in his family. He felt equally dissatisfied with the atmosphere at Oxford University where he was sent to study. Later on dissatisfied, as inspector of schools, he experienced a spiritual and intellectual crisis. At Rugby School, he was seen very reserved and known as ‘Lofty Mat’. His mockery is said to have been directed on at least once, and without its victim’s knowledge, upon Dr. Arnold himself. “He displeased his father Dr. Thomas Arnold and was stood behind the Doctor’s chair, he gratified his friends by making faces over father’s head.-62 Saintsbury points out, “His bent was hopelessly anticlerical, and he was not merely too honest, but much too proud a man, to consent to be put in one of the priests’ offices for a morsel of bread”.-63 As inspector of schools he felt disgusted with traveling which he found tedious and depressing.

A bad carriage on a filthy lane, a bun snatched hastily in railway station,

thirty pupils, teachers to examine in an inconvenient room, and nothing to

eat, except a biscuit given by a charitable lady, eighty training college candidates to supervise for seven hours a day, with the gas burning most

of the time, either to give light or to help warm the room.-64

Environment, around him further intensified his pain. The industrial revolution ushered in an era of ‘haves and have nots’ and presented a social view of naked poverty and ugliness. The old social order was cracking and nothing concrete was there to replace that. The untimely and sudden death of his father upset him emotionally and spiritually. It was, therefore natural that a sensitive man of the nature of Arnold found himself between two worlds ‘one dead and the other powerless to be born’. “Always at war with the worldliness-the worldliness within the worldliness without”,-65 Arnold was poignantly conscious of his inner conflict. Some critics think that ‘he on occasions behaved in the most unpredictable manner’. -66  In September 1849, he went to France and there he met a girl named Marguerite. Arnold was infatuated with the girl and wanted to marry her but he could not do so. This further upset him emotionally. However, she became an important character in Arnold’s life.-67

All these factors convinced him of the meaningless of life. Legouis and Cazamian write: “The vague Christianity of Arnold, the moral pantheism to which all his philosophical reflection leads, seems to have left in his inner self an emptiness, a scar which is revealed only in his poetry”.-68 He felt as Arjuna did before the commencement of the war at Kurukshetra. He was in search of spiritual peace. It was, therefore, natural that he developed a deep interest in Hindu scriptures, particularly in the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote to his friend Clough in Sep.1849,

My dearest Clough these are damned times, everything is against one the

height to which knowledge is come to spread of luxury, our physical

enervation, the absence of great natures, the unavoidable contact with

millions  of small ones, newspapers, cities, light profligate friends, moral desperados like Carlyle, our own selves and the sickening consciousness of

our difficulties, but for God’s sake let us neither be fanatics nor yet half blown by the mind.-69

For these reasons, his interest in the Bhagavad Gita increased day after day. He particularly admired the doctrine of Nishkam Karma. He carefully read the Wilkin’s Gita, as his letter to Clough shows. In one of his letters to Clough on March 1, 1848, he wrote: “I am disappointed the Oriental wisdom, God grant it were mine, pleased you not”. -70 The two, had been, no doubt, acquainting themselves with oriental wisdom sometime before this date. On March 4, 1848, he again wrote to Clough: “The Indians distinguish between meditation and absorption, and knowledge, and between abandoning the practice and abandoning the fruits of action and all respect thereto. This last is a supreme step, and dilated throughout the poem”. -71

The “Poem” referred to in the letter is the Bhagavad Gita. Arnold’s language and a few words used in the above letter show that Arnold had read Wilkin’s Gita. Wilkin’s translates the twelfth Sloka of the twelfth chapter thus:

Knowledge is better than practice, meditation

Is distinguished from knowledge, forsaking the

Fruits of action from meditation, for happiness,

Hereafter is derived from such forsaking. -72

Again, in the depiction of the forty-third Sloka of the second chapter, Wilkin’s introduced the word “absorption”, for which there is no identical in the original. He also used the word “meditation” for both the Sanskrit words Dhyana and Samadhi. These peculiarities of explanation are in none of the other translations available to Arnold such as Schlegel’s Latin translation published in 1823, Lassen’s bigger and better account of the later published in 1846. It is a different matter that Arnold might have also discussed with either Schlegel or Lassen or Cockburn Thomson, who published his translation in 1855. Cockburn Thomson writes that the Schlegel’s edition was the one “most generally used”. Lionel trilling believes;

Arnold has at his disposal several translations of the Gita…I suspect

that Arnold read the Essay of W. von Humboldt on the Gita (Berlin, 1826),

and the improved and amplified Latin rendering of A.W. Von Schlegel (1823). -73

These facts have now been confirmed by Kenneth Allots’ publications of Arnold’s reading lists contained in his three early diaries. -74 H.F. Lowry in his editorial note to Arnold’s letter of March-4, to Clough suggests that the Bhagavad Gita “heavily influenced” Arnold’s ‘Resignation’ and other early poems. But Clough did not like Arnold’s curiosity in Oriental philosophy. In a review of Arnold’s 1852 volume which incorporated ‘Empedocles on Etna’, he quoted Arnold’s poem ‘Mortality’ and was happy to find that Arnold had “for once” escaped from “the dismal cycle of his rehabilitated Hindoo Greek Philosophy”.-75 But the fact is that Arnold could not escape from the eastern influence as Basil Willey points out, “Arnold is a child of new era and has felt the full strength of the modern spiritual east Wind”.-76

Edwin Arnold, R.W. Emerson, Walt Whitman,  T.S.Eliot, W.B.Yeats etc., are some other names who were deeply influenced by the Bhagavad Gita, Vedic philosophy and Hindu way of life. There are numerous such examples. It is said that then Ambassador to USSR, Dr.S. Radhakrishnan, famous philosopher-politician used to give lectures to ruthless communist dictator Stalin on the Bhagavad Gita. It was to everybody’s surprise that Stalin was charmed by this great philosopher. In a lecture, on Hindu philosophy Stalin listened Dr.S.Radhakrishnan. After that meeting, Stalin almost became a disciple of Dr.S.Radhakrishnan. At the time of Dr. Radhakrishan’s departure from U.S.S.R. to India, Stalin expressed his wish to see him. Dr. Radhakrishan met him and before leaving, he patted Stalin on the cheek and back like a father blessing his son. Stalin almost in tears and reacted emotionally, “you are the first person who has treated me like a human being and not like a monster you are leaving and I am sad.” -77

World order in Hindu cosmology was governed by immutable cycles of an almost   inconceivably vast scale — millions of years long. Kingdoms would fall, and the universe would be destroyed, but it would be re-created, and new kingdoms would rise again. The true nature of human experience was known only to those who endured and transcended these temporal upheavals.

–Henery Kissinger

Now the Bhagavad Gita is either part of the syllabus or taught in a number of universities in America and universities in other countries, especially European universities. After the establishment of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, (ISKON), in July 1966, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta  Swami Prabhupada  in New York, U.S.A., the Bhagavad Gita became one of the most popular books, world over and it was translated in almost all the languages. -78

Father of atomic bomb J.Robert Oppenheimer was also a big fan of the Gita.

“Death fell from the sky and the world was changed,” US President Barack Obama said on Friday at Hiroshima, where his country dropped an atomic bomb – the first – that killed 140,000 people in August 1945.

Obama’s words were evocative of what J. Robert Oppenheimer, the’ father of A-bomb’ said – or remembered thinking – after the bomb, christened ‘Little Boy’, was dropped on Hiroshima on the orders of the then President, Harry Truman.

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and, to impress him, takes his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

Oppenheimer, Jewish by birth, was quoting a translation of verse 32 from Chapter 11 of the Gita:

“Divi soorya-sahasrasya

Bhavad yugapad uthitaa

Yadi bhaah sadrshi saa syaaad

Bhaasas tasya mah’aatmanaah!

Kaalo’ami loka-kshaya-krt pravrddho

Lokaan samaahatum iha pravrttah!”

In 1933, when Oppenheimer was in Berkeley – prior heading the atomic bomb project called the Manhattan Project – he became a student of Arthur Ryder, a Sanskrit professor. That’s when he developed an interest in the Gita and read it in Sanskrit.

Oppenheimer would later say the Gita was one of the books that shaped his philosophy of life. -79

Everyone has infinite potential and talent. Yet most people live and die without so much as a glimpse of who they really are or what they bring to the world. The Bhagwad Gita helps unlock your potential so that you gain the power to rock the world. All it takes is a slight shift in attitude, change in thinking.

M K Gandhi was a timid barrister who transformed into a Mahatma. Swami Vivekananda initially trembled at the thought of trembling the thought of addressing the Parliament of Religion, became a world-famous preacher! Abdul Kalam rose from humble origins to become President of India. -80

World celebrates, 21 December as ‘Gita Jayanti Day,’ means that the Shreemad Bhagavad Gita came on the earth on this day.

References-

1–P.Harvey, The oxford Companion to English Literature: (London, 1953), P.87.

2-Quoted by M.K. Naik et al. (ed.), The Image of India in Western Creative Writing,(Dharwar, 1971), P.35.

3-A.C. Cowley (Ed.), Chaucer : Canterbury Tales, (London, 1950), pp.58-59.

4-C.R. Banerji, ‘India in Shakespeare’: Indian Journal of English Studies (1964), pp.67-75.

5-R.R. Cawley, The Voyagers and Elizabethan Drama (rpt)., (New York, 1966), pp.107-161.

6-In 1612, Thomas Croyate visited India and reached Agra in 1616. He died at Surat. A letter of his from the court of Greet Mougal is printed by Purchase, and this and another letter from the East are included in a collection called Thomas Coriate Traveller for the English Wits: Greeting (1616). (Harvey, p.188).

7-He published in 1533 a translation of Munster’s Cosmography, in 1555 of Peter Martyr’s Decade of the Newe Worlde or West India. (Harvey, p.250).

8-Times Literary Supplement (London), (26, Dec. 1958), p.751.

9-W.M.Callewaert and S.Hemraj, The Bhagvadgitanuvada, (Ranchi, 1983), p.293.

10-ibid. p294.

11-Idem.

12-Idem.

13-Harvey, p.506

14-Hauer Calls it (Gita), a work of imperishable significance. He declares that the book “gives us not only profound insights that are valid for all times and for all religious life, but it contains as well, the classical presentation of one of the most significant phases of Indo-Germanic religious history. It shows us the way as regards, the essential nature and basal characteristic of Indo-German religion. Here spirit is at work that belongs to our spirit”. He states the central message of the Gita in these words: “We are not called to solve the meaning of life but to find out the Deed demanded of us and to work so, by action, to master the riddle of life”.

(Quoted in Hibbert Journal, April 1940, p.341).

15-Goethe wrote in 1826: I have no means of aversion to things Indian, but I am afraid of them, for they drew my imagination into the formless and the diffuse against which I have to guard myself more than ever.

(Quoted by R.K. Das Gupta, ‘Western Responses to India Literature’, Indian Literature; Sahitya Akademi, Jan-March, 1967, pp.5-15.

16-Callewaert and Hemraj, p.294.

17-ibid., p.288.

18-Idem.

19-Ibid., p.289.

20-Ibid., p.291.

21-A.L. Basham (Ed.). A Cultural History of India, (Oxford, 1975) pp.409-10.

22-Naik et al., p.91.

23-A. Macdonnel, A History of Sanskrit Literature, (London, 1928), p.3.

24-Callewaret and Hemraj, p.235.

25-Ibid., p.234-35.

26-Bashem, pp.409-10.

27-“While he (Jones) believed in Christ and Christianity, he was attracted to the Hindu concept of the non-duality of God, as interpreted by Sanskara, and the transmigration of soul . . . ‘I am no Hindu’, but I hold the doctrine of the Hindus concerning a future state to be incomparably more rational more pious, and more likely to deter men from vice than the horrid opinions inculcated on punishment without end”. (D.P. Singhal, India World Civilization, (Calcutta, 1972), p.205.

28-Macdonnel, p.2.

29-Callewaret and Hemraj, p.235.

30-idem.

31-Idem.

32-Idem.

33-Idem.

34-Ibid., p.236.

35-Idem.

36-Naik, et al., p. 235.

37-D.S. Sarma, The Bhagavad Gita,  (Madras, 1940), p.6.

38-Naik et al., p.38.

39-Idem.

40-idem.

41-idem.

42-K. Coburn (ed.), The Note Book of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (London, 1957), Vol.I,Note No. 1647, last paragraph.

43-M. Ahmad, “Coleridge and The Bahaman Creed “:Indian Journal of English Studies, (1960), pp. 18-37.

44-Philosophical Lectures, (ed) K. Coburn, (London, 1957), p.127.

45- The Annual Register, (London, 1782), vol.25, p.37.

Page-20

46-Coleridge; Collected Letters, 1, p.350.

47- E.H.Coleridge (ed.) Coleridge Poetical Works, (London, 1969), p.1101.

48-C.Wilkins, (trans.), The Bhagavad Gita, London, 1785), VI, 65.

49-The Poetical Works of Wordsworth (ed.), T.Hutchinson, (London, 1953), p.164.

50-Wilkins, ibid., pp.64-65.

51-H.Bloom,Shelley, (ed.), New York, 1966, p.173, ‘Prometheus Unbound, II, V,ll.23-24.

52-Times Literary Supplement, (26 th December 1958), p.751.

53-The Complete Poetical Works of P.B.Shelley , (ed.), T.Hutchinson, (London, 1943), p.578.

54-OM-TAT-SAT SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA RAHASYA OR KARMA-YOGA-SASTRA, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Third Edition, (Poona, 1971) Revised, July-1975, p.906.

****Hereafter referred as the Gita. Sanskrit, Roman, and First translation are downloaded    from Goggle.

55-Wilkins, ibid., p.42.

56-Wilkins, p.65.

57-Bloom, p.343.

58-Orin (ed.), Eric Partridge, (London, 1928), p.86.

59-Naik et. Al., p.54.

60-Emerson was deeply disturbed on account of the death of his wife at an early age. It was again the reading of the Bhagavad Gita that alleviated his spiritual journey and rejuvenated him.

61- Arti Gupta, ROBERT BROWNING, (SARUP & SONS, New Delhi, 2002)

62- L. Trilling, Mathew Arnold (New York, 1949), p.19.

63- G. Saintsbury, Mathew Arnold, (London, 1955), p.6.

64- J.D.Jump, Matthew Arnold, (London, 1955), p.40.

65- D. Bush, Matthew Arnold: A Survey of his Poetry and Prose, (New York, 1971), p.71.

66- A. Wright, Victorian Literature, (Ed.), (London), p.7

67- H. Park, Matthew Arnold, A Life, (1970), p. 496.

68- E. Legouis & L. Cazamian, A History of English Literature, (London, 1954), p. 1190.

69- The Letters of Matthew Arnold to Arthur Hugh Clough, (ed.) H.F. Lowry, (London, 1932), p.111.

70- Ibid., p.69.

71- Ibid., p.71.

72- Wilkin’s, p. 72.

73- Trilling, p.25.

74- Kenneth Allott, Matthew Arnold’s Reading Lists in Three Early Diaries, VL, II (1959), pp.254-266.

According to the reading lists published by Allott, Arnold seems to have read Victor Cousin’s lectures on the history of modern philosophy and he may have gathered some information regarding the Gita from Cousin’s account of it. He is, however, free from the light tendency towards misinterpretation that Cousin betrays in trying to translate the thought of the Gita into terms readily intelligible to the western audience. Incidentally, Cousin declares in his lectures that his knowledge of Indian philosophy is entirely derived from Colebrook. Here, some relevant remarks from Cousin:

The yogi searches only for god, but he finds him equally in everything. Only in order to contemplate him in all things, make an abstraction of that which is not him; it is only the substance of things, pure being that it is necessary to consider, and as the end of contemplation is to unite ourselves to God, the means of arriving at this union is to resemble him as much as possible, that is to reduce ourselves to pure being, by the abolition of all thought of every interior act; for the least thought, the least act would destroy the unity in dividing it, would modify and alter the absolute substance. This state of artificial absorption of the soul in itself, this suppression of every internal and external modification and consequently of consciousness, and consequently of memory, is ecstasy. Ecstasy is the end of contemplation, it is to this that the Yogi tends, and he aspires to annihilate himself in God.

Course of the History of Modern Philosophy (trans.), O.W. Wright, (New York, 1852), I, pp.397-398.

75- Prose Remains, ed., Mrs. Clough, (London, 1888), p.373.

76- B.Willey, ed., Nineteenth-Century Studies, London, 1950.

77- S. Lal, 50 Magnificent Indians of the 20th Century, Jaico.

78-A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Path of Perfection, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Mumbai-400049, 1979.

79- ‘When the father of the atomic bomb quoted the Bhagavad Gita’, Shailaja Neelakantam, The Times of India, (E-Paper), New-Delhi, India, May 27, 2016.

80- ‘The Gita makes You A High Network Individual’, Jaya Row, The Times of India, New Delhi, Wednesday, August 31, 2016, p- 24.

N.B. In this article, information has been gathered from different sources. It has been tried to give their sources but due to shortage of space some references are not given. Every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyrighted material, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked, the writer will be pleased to make necessary arrangements at the first opportunity.  It should be seen as the unintentional lapse. Kindly bear this omission.

Advertisements

Waiting for a turning point: Supreme Court’s triple talaq judgment sets the country on path leading to uniform civil code

September 11, 2017

Last month’s historical and path breaker verdict by a Supreme Court Constitution Bench, banning instant ‘triple talaq’ divorce system by Muslim men to their wives, is a game changer for the Indian republic and Indian politics and the very idea of secular and democratic India. That is notwithstanding the judgment being a shy, split verdict. It is a big surprise that India has supporters of personal laws and triple talaq at the highest level.

 

It is very clear now that all are not happy with this judgment and some even underestimate the parallel with the landmark Shah Bano judgment of 1985, which was made null and void by the then Congress, headed by Late Rajiv Gandhi government,  under the pressure of mullahs. But this time makes no mistake and a big no to communal politics, this is a game changer. For starters, far removed from Shah Bano, this was overturned by an act of parliament and making the mockery of secularism. 

 

As a matter of fact, it has already revived debate on the need of a secular uniform civil code (UCC), one of the most important but unfulfilled ‘directive principles’ of India’s Constitution that would replace the existing separate, communal and personal laws for Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and Christians. Of late, these minority personal laws have become notorious like Khap laws. These personal laws make Indian secular democracy a fake secularism.

 

It took seven decades to ban and declare unlawful a minor and very repressive divorcing method. It speaks volumes about Indian secularism, the concept of equality and Indian justice. Those who opposed alteration triple talaq had apprehension that, foreseeing it would make way for a UCC. One fails to understand, what is wrong with a secular Uniform Civil Code.

 

The most critical part of this debate, of course, is that many supporters of triple talaq and personal laws had habitually included not just conformist and fanatic Muslims and communal leaders, but also so called “secular” politicians, activists, intellectuals, academics, legal luminaries, journalists, comrades etc. who day out and day in swear by secularism, equality and women’s right. But here it seems that their sermons are only for Hindus.

 

On the one hand, the Constitution of India assures and guarantees equal rights to all citizens but the special provisions to minorities make Indian secularism and equality irrelevant and fake. It was always at odds with the concept of a modern, civilized and secular democracy.  The Constitution makers did not keep in mind the repression by

 

 

 

 the Mughal and colonial rulers and again threw the nation in another the turmoil with these communal provisions. They failed to understand the plight of majority community for hundreds of years by Muslims and Christians. They could not implement the universal and equal rights of all citizens in modern, secular and democratic India.

 

Now for Indian Muslims, role models are conservative theocracies like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is very ruthless to the public practice of religions other than its state version of Islam, Quranic and Sharia Laws etc. Now, Indian nation, Indian Constitution, Indian justice system, Indian Parliament etc. are secondary to Islam, the Quran, Sharia etc.

 

The centre of that gamut is illustrated by the former Ottoman Empire, theocratic but comparatively moderate but Indian law makers failed to note that its occupation of Constantinople in 1453 was very atrocious, with massacres, plunder, enslavement and brutal conversion to Islam of the non-Muslim population.

 

The Ottomans’ ‘Millet’ structure of justice system permitted every religious group their own laws. But this was only in law books. This empowered a kind of nationhood where the Muslim ruling class kept hold of its dominance but, in enlightened self-interest, pretended to protect non-Muslim minorities by allowing their rights as groups.

 

The constitution and standard of the countries like the UK, US, France and Germany were the other measures of the nationhood. They were marching towards liberal and open-minded democracies and they distributed with both constitutional rights and civil liberties for the majority community, as well as rights for minority groups, but the rights of all the individual citizens were given the highest importance.

 

But, India has a different history and background where minority rulers were repressing majority community before independence. In the disturbances before nation’s Independence, the idea that the constitution makers could wish to be a modern democratic nation was not accepted by the Muslims which resulted in the two-nation theory, the idea of Pakistan, and division of India.

 

However, our Constitution makers were the staunch supporter of a modern, secular democracy, and were against a theocratic Hindu nation. But in their concern to appease the remaining minorities, they failed to make a truly modern, democratic, liberal and tolerant version of secularism.

 

Despite all this past experience, the constitution makers twisted out the secular principles in the directive principles and decided to continue with existing colonial era separate personal laws. After that hardly any reform took place during the last seven decades. Only cosmetic laws against dowry and domestic violence, Hindu personal laws, and the not obligatory Special Marriage Act, all failed to reflect the modern, secular and multicultural sensibilities. Most of the reforms were directed only towards Hindu community.

 

But despite the claim of a strong and treasured democracy, our nation had medieval kind of laws and practices like triple talaq, halala, polygamy, mutha, Sharia and Quranic laws, gentile mutilation, circumcision, burqa, hijab, madrasa and church education, etc a hard slap on our secularism and multiculturalism. Here, individual rights have no importance but the laws of a sect or a religion have more value.

 

Moreover, these personal laws have been a big hindrance to hold together a fractured nation during its early dawn as a republic; the original foundation is severely disturbing in the long run. As it again, reinforces the two-nation theory. Separate personal laws for every religious faction in a modern-secular democracy can be acceptable only if the majority cannot give equal rights to the minorities. Here, in India, only majority community is secular, liberal and tolerant.

 

In fact, that is specifically what supporters of UCC argue, whether openly or hidden in phrases. They cite so many examples over the past 70 years, including recent Triple Talaq-Halala-Polygamy, to emphasize that India needs and “ready” for UCC.

 

But in veracity, regardless of its lots of troubles, India has established to be a firm democracy where such shocks are not the exception, but the norm. But, an institution, like the judiciary and Election Commission continue to encourage assurance, as in the SC’s landmark judgment on ‘Triple Talaq’ recently, making triple talaq irrelevant, although two judges were in favour of triple talaq. 

 

The opposition of UCC, itself challenges the idea of India and her Constitution which supports UCC. And unquestionably it does harm to both our hard won democracy as well as to those who are a victim of the cruelty personal laws.

 

Baring the Muslim clerics, the chiefly encouraging responses to the triple talaq judgment confirm, that nation does not support clerics and personal laws. The nation is governed by the Constitution, by the Parliament and by the Supreme Court, and not by the standing of personal laws.

 

The judgment has very clearly defined religious personal law is illegal and unconstitutional and paves the way to a complete secularism. Without Uniform Civil Code, Indian secularism is a big farce.

 

Some fringe element those are with secular and left parties are creating a bogey of “Hindu Pakistan” if UCC is implemented. Without UCC we will a mirror illustration of that theocratic nation like Pakistan, this is a mirror image we should be ashamed of.

 

 

Fake Revolutionary

August 20, 2017

Ayesha Ansari was very nervous.

She had just five minutes left for her interview to start but she couldn’t find the right address. Lost, she stopped in the mysterious corridors of JNU to ask the address.

Nobody paid any attention to her. All ignored. She was bewildered and confused. Wondered why?

All were talking in English but the accent was more confusing. It was neither English nor Bihari, Bengali, Hindi, English and what not. All mixed and with twenty-five per cent really good English.

‘Common room…please guide? I have to attend the interview…I am from OBC

/minority/backward region category. Where is the common room?’ She almost cried.

‘Where are you from, girl?’ asked a girl with uncombed hair, dirty jeans, cotton kurta, and a cigarette in mouth.

‘Me Ayesh Ansari from Jalmahal, Bengal.’

The girl laughed. She wanted to show that she was modern and advance and she was a rustic village girl.

‘What are you interviewing for? Guard or peon?’ The ill mannered soiled clothed girl again laughed.

Ayesha Ansari did not reply as she did not want to spoil her interview. She and all seemed to be political activists. Another girl, tall and slim had some pity for her and replied, ‘Take a right turns at the multi story building and you will see there a ‘Q’ for interviews.

‘Thank you,’ she said very coolly.

‘The sign board is in English not in Bengali!’ the girl took a long puff and muttered.

Her friends pulled her and whispered some nasty things about her.

It was the first interview of Ayesha Ansari’s life. Four old men sat opposite to her. She could not understand whether they were professors or migrants of some drought hit areas.

Uncombed dishevelled hair, floating beard, dirty trim fit jeans, long dirty kurta. One of them was puffing a cigar and two others were taking black tea. She was taken aback by their mannerism.

She had a different notion about the graceful attrite of professors.

She was taught to wish people before an interview. ‘Pranam, sir.’

‘We are four here,’ retorted the man sitting in the middle chair. He was around sixty years old, wore thick glasses and a loose jacket.

They all unitedly smiled at me in sarcasm. It was the English-class-to-Indian-class smile. The smile of superiority and arrogance that she wished them in Indian sanskaras.

‘Pranam,’ Prof. Mukherjee said tersely.

‘Directly from village to Delhi,’ good break. Said Prof.Mandal,

‘OBC, minority, woman and the backward region category,’ said Prof.Siddiqi.

‘Dada Sunil Gangoupadhaya should be here to interview her,’ all laughed together.

‘Her category and backward region are her final merit,’ said the Prof. Mukherjee.

‘OBC, minority, woman, backward region category, Jalmahal Bengal,’ asked Prof.Siddiqi, scrutinizing through her file.

‘Yes sir,’ she was bewildered by their response.

‘Can’t you speak a full sentence?’ Prof.Yadav said in a rude voice.

‘Yes, yes, but I am afraid due to your high scholarship,’ she said meekly.

‘So…why you want to join JNU?’

There was hushed silence. All looked at her like wolfs.

‘I want a good university, good city and scholarly environment for my future,’ she replied in a wavering voice.

All smiled at her answer.

‘What is good about JNU and Delhi?’ Asked Prof. Mukherjee.

It was enough for her in English. She switched to Hindi. She was not comfortable in English. They will laugh on her English and she was sure to be rejected by them.

‘This University has a big name in Bihar, Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand etc., states,’ she said.

‘Can’t you speak English?’ Said Prof.Mandal.

She observed her slip-up on their smiling faces. She had said it because she was more at home in Hindi. But here the panel was more interested in showing their wrong accent English rather than knowing her correct Hindi.

‘Prof. Siddiqi even raised a question, how did she get a call for the interview?’

Prof. Yadav perhaps realized her tension and nervousness and said to her ‘JNU desists Hindi as the medium of instruction.’

With her own mother tongue Hindi, she felt very panicky. Now she was trying to find out the easiest way to leave that place and go back to Bengal. But suddenly one Professor Yogesh Bhardwaj entered the room.

‘Bengal se ho? He said.

She was surprised but relieved.

‘Yes, sir. Bengal.’

She wanted to touch his feet. All four English speaking revolutionaries were staring at her and looking at each other with twisted brows.

‘Tell us about yourself and achievements.’ Bhardwaj Sir said.

Seeing me nervous he spoke,’ be easy and take your own time.’

The four professors were looking at Bhardwaj Sir with contempt.

She made herself relaxed and spoke her prepared lines.

‘And you want admission in M.A. English. Why?’ Asked Prof.Mandal

‘It is a very tough course. Need a lot of studies. Remarked Prof. Siddiqi.

She could not understand why they were against her?

‘I am from OBC, minority, woman and the backward region category or from a poor family will not work her.’ Sarcastically uttered Prof.Siddiqi.

‘Can I explain my point in Hindi Sir?’

All were surprised on her newly acquired confidence in Hindi.

All remained silent. She explained her point in Hindi.

A small crowd of students, mostly seniors, had gathered around the interview rooms. New admissions always pull the students. She stretched her neck and looked at the crowd. She saw a very simple boy. Very tall and slim.

Six feet is very attractive for an Indian boy. His fair colour, sharp features, long neck, broad shoulders, long and athletic legs were enough to pull the attention of every girl. He was an applicant of the general cum merit category. He wore blue very decently stitched trousers and white shirt.

‘5% reservation for attractive looks,’ a senior girl commented as he entered the interview room. All the girls there giggled but he remained unfazed as if he was used to such comments.

When he passed her, she saw his sweaty charming face from close. They made eye contact for a split second and he vibrated her heart. She was attracted towards him. It was love at first sight. She felt something deep inside her heart for him. It was the most attractive face she had ever seen in her life.

All is wrapped in destiny. He returned after few second.

‘Pen, please,’ he said. She felt almost paralyzed.

She put out my pen from her bag.

‘I said pen, please,’ She held the pen for an extra second. She wanted to look at his innocent face a bit longer.

She gave him the pen. He took it nervously and looked at her.

‘Good luck, speak in English with the monsters.’ She said.

‘What?’ He looked at her. She wished she had worn better clothes.

‘They prefer English speaking candidates.’ she said. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.

He caught her staring. After the interview, he walked up to Ayesha Ansari to return the pen.

‘Thanks,’ he said.

‘Your pen was lucky to me. My interview was good,’ he said to her.

A few girls tried to make eye contact with him but he ignored them. She wanted to speak to him more.

‘What is your good name?’ She asked.

‘Good or bad, you know but one name, Yogesh Sharma.’ He said and smiled.

Yogesh! She liked his simple name.

‘Your name?’ He asked. For the first time in her life, a handsome Brahmin boy has asked her name.

‘Myself Ayesha. Ayesha Ansari.’

‘From Bengal,’ he said and laughed.

‘You. You?’

‘From Haridwar UP..’

He was so attractive and charming that she wanted to continue talking to him.

‘Wow, you are really good,’ she said.

‘Thanks,’ he said.

‘Anyway, I have to go,’ he said and lifted his hand. ‘Bye, nice meeting you.’

‘Bye,’ she said, although her heart didn’t want it to end.

‘Unless God blesses us both and we are both lucky,’ he added and smiled.

‘Yes God will definitely bless us,’ she said.

‘Yes. If he does, then hope to see you again. Else, bye forever.’

He walked away. Her heart sank. She wanted nothing more than both of them to get admission in JNU.

She stood alone in the corner of the verandah. All others had left. She saw the red brick-coloured building and forest around it where young cupids were sitting inside every bush.

‘Good Morning,’ he said. His sober voice startled her. She had been scanning the university notice board.

She turned around. She had prayed for both of us to get admissions. She made it but his name was nowhere in the list.

She was very sad and shocked. She had only fifty percent but Yogesh Sharma had eight five percent. Fifty percent was selected and eighty-five percent was rejected. She never thought of this that her caste, religion and backward region will pay her so handsomely.

She joined the university but could not get a place in the hostel. One day she was roaming in a nearby colony in search of a room. She was shown a room in a flat. An inmate of the other room was a boy. She was hesitant but on her amazement, the resident was none other than Yogesh Sharma. She gave advance and took that room.

Perhaps she was in love with Yogesh. But it was useless. She could not control her feelings. Yogesh Sharma, the handsome Brahman boy, preparing for civil services and giving tuitions, most handsome boy on the earth, owner of an extraordinary intellect and speaker of mesmerizing lines and snatched her heart.

Every day she used to go to the university and he gave tuitions to students. In the night he prepared for civil services.

Sometimes they walked down the University roads together. He was with her for hours.

‘You made friends here?’ he asked.

‘No’ she said.

She could not tell him that you are her only friend here.

‘You?’ She asked.

‘I am still trying to adjust,’ he said. ‘I feel I don’t belong here.’

‘Trust me, next year you will get admission,’ she said.

Our flat was a ground floor flat. There was a small piece of land behind our flat. Yogesh was very fond of gardening. He was a lover of trees and plants. He planted red hibiscus, mango trees in the garden. Soon the small garden had lush green plants all around. She also started helping him in his hobby of gardening.

In this manner, time passes. Days, weeks, months and a year passed.

Next session started. He again applied. But again he could not get admission due to faulty admission system where merit has fewer points but caste, the backwardness of the region, gender etc., have more point. This system was a new kind of apartheid.

One fateful morning when she got up, Yogesh was not in his room. He had collected his belongings and left the flat.

She was shattered, devastated. In a moment, her world and dreams were crushed.

His phone was switched off.  Her messages were not delivered to him. She waited for him at the entrance of the flat every evening.

Their neighbours could not understand her trauma. But they all saw it, “It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.”

After this, her personality changed. She became silent. She never missed any class. She sat on the front seats and took notes very seriously but never participated in any discussion or activity. She would sit in the flat and the garden for hours but never talked to anyone.

Sometimes she lurked on the university roads, hoping to see him again. Nights hit her hardest. She found it difficult to sleep alone. She lay on the bed where they used to sleep together. She ended up being more shattered and puzzled. She wanted to get Yogesh out of her mind but she failed.

She passed M.A. and got some jobs too. But she did not want to work in Delhi or in any big city. She got a job of a teacher in a village, Bhawanipur, Bengal. She preferred that job, where she could serve her own people and make them good citizens.

She reached the school. But she could not understand should she focus on the teaching or see the cracking plaster of ceiling.

‘Live with self-respect. Live for others, which are how one can earn respect.’ This was taught by her father.

The school was a fifty-minute walk from the main kasbah of Bhawanipur. After passing through the field, she reached the grey-and-red school building. It was very old building, perhaps not painted nor repaired for decades. This was the gift of our much hyped revolutionary comrades and secular TMC. Rains create more havoc.

The school has three classrooms and a common staff room. There was no electricity although electric poles were there. The school has no toilet. Teachers and students have to go to the field to relieve. Ayesha used bushes or the field as do all the teachers of the school.

There was no fee; even then enrollment was very low. Indians have beggars inside. Without any fee, they want all the degrees.

Imran Ansari was the most notorious boy in the school. He was hardly eighteen but appeared much bigger than his age. He belonged to a very rich and politically connected family. Both Communists and TMC leaders used to visit his father due to his grip over his community votes. Ansaris were in meat and scrap business and were doing very well.

Imran was addicted to whisky. Imran spent as much money on whisky, almost equal to the school’s entire budget. Imran was very short stature but his confidence and bullying nature made Ayesha seems like a kid answering his questions. Imran’s family was insanely rich and rough. He had an Urdu accent, used to wear a skull cap and lived in a Muslim ghetto.

One day he did a horrifying thing with Ayesha. He bent forward and to hold of her waist. She was too shocked to understand this. Imran lifted her. All students giggled.

A part of frustration came from her heart. Ayesha has lived with this fakeness all her life. She was like a refugee for Imran and his fellow student’s cum friends.

One day Ayesha got up very early and went to relieve in the fields. When she was washing her shit and her butt in the village pond, from the other side, a voice devastated Ayesha:

‘myadama kaal skula khulbe ?’ (‘Madam will the school open tomorrow?’)  It was Imran.

Ayesha Ansari fainted. On regaining consciousness, she rushed to her room, collected her belongings and took the first-morning train to Haridwar to find out her true love.

 

N.B. In this story, all the characters, places and episode are imaginary. Any similarity, if any, will be only by chance. It should be seen as an unintentional lapse. Kindly bear this omission.

How Blue is my Sapphire

August 16, 2017

I am a true Indian and a Harijan.  So are all my relatives, friends and contacts.  One happy day I gave good news to all, “I am going to Varanasi.” All were happy but worried too. With congratulations, I was showered with pieces of advice.

“Varanasi-Holy Ganga! ….how lucky you are! Great?

“No, no, you would have tried to America.”

“It’s the same thing. Varanasi or America…Makes no difference. Success is more important…This time Varanasi…next …America! Who knows?”

Really, a big name! A big city, a lonely planet and a glamorous playground of the dark-superstitious-Hindu world.

“But beware of Pundas, Brahman, Sadhus and cheats.”

“Don’t go out alone on banks of river Ganga. It is full of rowdy Sadhus, pundits and cheats. ”

I was surprised that why everybody was so scared of Hindu Sadhus and pundits but love Muslim Mazars and dargahs.

In India too, I have been hearing this since I was a child. Indian model of secularism has made Muslims as the most important species. That is talking about them has become fashionable, intellectualism, humanism and above all a powerful vote bank.

Long, whitish donning skull cap, some in lungis and most of the women in burqas and in hijabs. We have all possible shades of Islam among us.

“Crazy people. They love everything Islam and Islamic. Good or bad makes no difference”

“Ha-ha, hee-hee, hoo-hoo,” everybody laughed.

Mr Dior of France has created a perfume called Poison. A black bottle in the shape of half cut apple. So is Brut. Similarly Rape jeans.

All are so popular here and there too.

Whatever the trend there, it is to be followed here.

“Varanasi is a very expensive city. Where will you stay?”

“Take my niece’s address. She lives in the safe township, Malviya Nagar.  You can stay with her. You can go to Knowledge Village in the morning and come back in the evening.” Shall I ask if the niece is Hindu or Muslim? What a funny question! A Hindu niece will be a Hindu.

Whatever she is, my lodging has been prearranged. Happy! Spoke to the niece, “Enquire at the Varanasi Railway Station and a cab to Malviya Nagar. Call me from there. I will come and pick you up. Telephones in Varanasi are out of order most of the time.”

When everything was ready my mother gave me a golden ring studded with blue Sapphire. She said, “It will protect me from inauspicious waves and looks.

All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am…..

Good. Tension free.

My train reached Varanasi. Big railway station. Everything was big. Big longue. Big luggage. Big sadhus and big pundits. Big women. Big enquiry board.  Visible clearly from far. But station itself was very dirty.

The first thing I did after coming out of the coach, I kissed the blue sapphire and the soil of the oldest city and oldest civilization of the world.

Carrying the big luggage on a big trolley, I crossed the big longue, reached the big enquiry counter and stood in front of a blue eyed, healthy, black glass wearing woman. I was surprised why she was wearing black glasses inside a room.  She was blind.

“When does the local train leave for Malviya Nagar?

“I don’t know.”

“Do you have a timetable? Information booklet?”

“I don’t know.”

I was shocked to see their hostile behaviour towards visitors.

I was almost in tears. Muttered- Malviya Nagar. I was advised by my host,” Take a taxi and come. It will cost you Rs.40/= Ask a policeman and get the fare fixed, otherwise, you will be cheated.”

I had this choice only. At least my hotel expenses have been saved. I moved towards the taxi stand. There were so many taxis. All the drivers were in grey and whites.

I reached one of the taxis. “Malviya Nagar.”

“Meter or without the meter?”

I was taken aback. Was it Varanasi or Chennai?

He has his name plate written ‘Saddam Husain.’ on his shirt.

I remembered I had been advised to ask the policeman to get the fare fixed. I saw one there sitting in the booth….Shukla …! Written on his name plate.

“Beware of Brahmans. Stay away from the Brahmans.”

Hey, Krishna! Protect. He was advancing towards me like Genghis Khan, the brute and inexhaustible rapist.

“May I help you?” He asked. Tall, strong, tilak on his broad forehead. I was scared and dumbstruck. My tongue trapped. I managed to murmur, “The fare to Malviya Nagar.”

“Switch on the meter,” he ordered in a firm voice to the driver and me. “It will come around Rs.40/=. Okay?”

“Okay.” I was happy to be released from his clutches.

He walked away. He was very decent and soft spoken. I felt like stopping him and talking…But ….beware of Brahmans.

All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am…..

The driver was on his seat. He opened the boot of the car by pulling a knob.  I put my luggage in it. As soon as I entered the taxi, it moved. Speed was very high like the arrow of Arjun’s Gandiv. I was on the cloud nine although a little nervous. Outside it was hot, but inside the taxi it was cool. The temperature was comfortable. I closed my eyes to take a small nap. I heard the driver’s voice.

“Where do you have to go Madam?”

“Malviya Nagar.”

“Any idea, where’s that?”

“I don’t know. Wait; Let me see it on the map.” As I was seeing the map, the meter clicked Rs.50/=.

“I Shouted, we have crossed Malviya Nagar. Meter is indicating Rs.50/=.”

“Stupid policeman. Forty! He does not know anything. Wanted to ruin my business as I don’t bribe him”

“So? Miser Indian. Get down here.”

“How can I get down here in a remote forest?”

“I have to go to Malviya Nagar.”

“It will cost you near about 70 to 80 rupees.”

“Whatever. I have to go there. Move. Signboards may give us some clue. I also tried to find out on the map.”

I kissed my blue sapphire.

“Malviya Nagar. Malviya Nagar. “I jumped with joy.

“Street? Block, building, number?”

“Raja Harish Chandra Road, Amrapali Towers, B-Blok, Flat No.101.

Oh God, Jai Hanuman, Here Krishna Here Ram, Om Namah Shivaya, please bless me and help me.

The driver got down in front of a tall building.

“This is your address.”

“This one?” Totally abandoned type. Few Mazars nearby. On the other side was a forest. Totally dark.

I went into the building campus. There was a temple near the entrance. Some sadhus and pundits were busy in some puja and chanting holy mantras.

Taxi driver muttered something.

I heard, “Hindu bitch.”

Who? Where? Or me? There was no one. So am I a bitch? Oh Krishna! Protect me.

In a split second rape of Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria etc., danced in my mind.

I shouted, “The policeman has the number of your car. Take me to the proper address.”

He laughed at me.

“Listen, listen. The policeman is our brother and a local. He will not help you against us.”

I was taken aback. In India, Muslims are treated like VIPs. But here they are naming me as a bitch. What a great bond? Actually, nobody cares for Hindus and Indians.

A whistle thud and a guard was standing in front of me.

He was like a demon. Tall, strong, tilak on his broad forehead, moustache, and blue eyed. He laughed at me.

“Yes, madam. Why are you disturbing us here?”

I was shocked at his behaviour. I was just enquiring about the right address only and he was blaming me of disturbing him.

“Please help me. I have to go to Raja Harish Chandra Road, Amrapali Towers.

Asking a Brahman for help! What is this?

He appeared more dangerous.

Here Krishna, Here Ram.

I kissed my blue sapphire ring.

The demon opened the door of the car and sat next to me. I minimized myself into the corner. He roared, “Driver.”

The driver came running and puffing.

“Raja Harish Chandra Road, Amrapali Towers. No ifs and buts”

My blood froze. The driver became pale. He was hurling abuses some time in English, some time in their local dialects.

“Donkey, bastard, pig…!

On his name plate was written, Ram Kumar Mishra.

We reached “Raja Harish Chandra Road, Amrapali Towers.

The taxi stopped. I got down.

“Open the boot,” I shouted.

The driver also got down. He was a middle aged man.

“Open the boot.”

“Give me the money first.”

“I will give you the fare but first give my luggage.”

“No first give the money. Educated Hindu women run away without paying.”

I was shocked and surprised. How poorly they think of educated Hindu women?

“I was told that taxi drivers like you ran away with luggage as well as money. Open the boot take out my luggage and take your money.”

Ultimately again Ram Kumar Mishra roared, “Give her luggage. Don’t talk much. I am here.”

Blue sapphire – strong skull capped man and women passed by. All were staring at me.

At last, both I and my luggage were safe.

I called the niece and she took me to her small flat. I told her about my experience. “These taxi driver scoundrels are all cheating and consider we educated Hindu girls as second-grade citizens.”

Luckily I have got a shelter so easily. I enjoyed my first night with this unknown niece of my neighbour. Next day I strolled in the campus of the building. All very imposing, huge and luxurious houses. Long, bright foreign made cars.

The niece said, “This is very good, posh and safe colony. No local or non-Hindu live here. All are outsiders. Some are Europeans. So no tension, no crime. Women are very safe here.

I spent the next night with her. The next morning I took a train to Knowledge Village where I was appointed as an academic executive in a university. My job would take the full day. I would have to find out a room near my workplace.

The flat of the niece was near the ghetto of Muslims where the majority of the people were in silk and cloth business.

The train arrived. The gate of the coach was quite wide. I was feeling clumsy and uncomfortable…

A large number of locals entered the coach in like rowdies.

I saw four empty seats. I tried to occupy one. The table cum board which had been locked with the seat suddenly opened and hit my hips.

“We are playing chess here,” a well built, fair complexioned man said. He had opened the table without any warning. On two other seats were big sized men. One seat was empty. People in the coach were laughing at me. They were all rich people wearing expensive clothes and carrying briefcases. They all must be going to markets, every morning and returning together in the evening. They must be playing chess every day. But the same thing could have been said politely. They were all local weavers except me. “Are all locals as uncivilized?”

I cursed myself. Coward! Coward Hindu woman. I felt like crying. Humiliation, anger, frustration, shame, self-condemnation and what not. They cannot defeat me in arguments. Academically I was much higher. Hindus are treated so badly everywhere.

I took the cheapest room near the Knowledge Park. The hotel has strange rules. They made me first deposit entire amount. If I leave the hotel earlier,

“Take back your money when you leave,” came a terse reply. I have no reply. We are the third class citizen.

I kissed my blue sapphire to get some solace.

Leaving my suitcase in the room, I went out for a walk. It was very hot outside. But I wanted to see the city. I also ate a tasteless burger and drank coffee.

Fast and furious winds started blowing. I rushed towards the hotel. I put an overcoat to protect my sari. The winds did not stop. They became more furious. The shade by the road side was crowded with the people waiting for the taxis. Taxi drivers were giving preference to locals and people from ghettos. This was another shock. In India, there is racism in everything.  After an hour I got a cab and reached the hotel.

Everybody was surprised. How could I reach on time in this weather otherwise, “Indians are never on time.”

Next day again the weather was very bad and taxis were asking four times the amount. Very difficult situation. Almost impossible to reach the office. It was raining very heavily now. My umbrella turned inside out. I was very badly tired. “Taxi” I yelled.

Nobody stopped. I was running to reach on time. I requested a policeman. But he was also of no help. I reached a tourist office. The attendant told me,” You cannot sit here. Office time is over, so I have to lock the office.”  On his name plate was written Amar Paswan.

The weather was very cruel.

My skin was burning and my head was spinning. Only I remained there in the storm like King Lear, plunging, drowning, and floating in the storm.

I could not reach my office nor to my hotel.

I saw a temple nearby. I rushed inside. I saw a small cabin type shelter. I sat there on the ground. There I got respite from rain and storm.

I have just laid down…I removed my wet sari…went off to sleep.

“Wake up, get up!”

“Let me sleep.”

“It is morning. Wake up.”

I opened my eyes. A very smart, fair skinned and sharp featured young man was shaking me.

I screamed loudly.

He moved back, shocked and scared.

I got up.

He came near me with a glass of hot milk.

“Thank Baba Vishwanath, you are alive.”

Tears dripped down my cheeks.

“Why did you come here?”

“I could not get any taxi and there were heavy rain and storm outside.”

“Where do you have to go?”

“Raja Harish Chandra Road, Amrapali Towers, B-Blok, Flat No.101.”

I tried to get up. I faltered. He lifted me by holding my hand. Again I stumbled. He put his hand around my waist and lifted me. I did not resist, rather I liked his touch.

“Are you drunk or drug addict?”

“No. I am tired and hungry.”

He touched my forehead and hand.

“You have fear.”

“May be! I am feeling very weak and exhausted.”

“Do you have disprin or paracetamol with you?”

“No.”

He gave a call to someone and told that Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj was speaking. He ordered to bring disprin or paracetamol tablets.

He took me to his room. I lied down on his bed. A boy brought the medicines. He gave the money. He gave me biscuits to eat before medicines. He dissolved the disprin in water and gave me. I took the paracetamol with the milk. I was feeling much better.

After some time he brought two plates of aloo-puris. We both ate breakfast together and took tea.

“What is the time?” I asked.

“Eleven…morning.”

“Now I have to leave.”

“I won’t let you go alone.”

He gripped my hand firmly.

“Why?”

“Taxi and auto drivers, rickshaw pullers, beggars, drug addicts, juggle and ghetto dwellers, etc., may cheat you or rob you.”

“I feel scared.”

“Of Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj? Then run away.”

He removed his hand. This time I gripped it more tightly.

I was amazed but happy that a Brahman priest is so kind and caring for a Harijan woman.

He took me to the taxi stand and asked the driver to drop me at my hotel and not to charge any money. I was surprised the respect he had in the mind of the people.

I came back to my hotel room and removed my dirty clothes…lay down on the bed crying…and slept.

I was wrong.

Yes. Brahman. Male. And me?

Female. Hindu.. Harijan. Alone

I took Disprin. The hotel was full of people. But all were tired. Some were Sheikhs, some foreigners, a few lean and thin Indians. But all of them were tired and exhausted.

On the next morning, I got up. Absolutely happy and tension free. I kissed my blue sapphire. I checked out the room, collected my luggage, handed over the keys, and took my money back.

I finished my coffee. Ate the pizza, swallowed the disprin again and called the cab.

Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj cured a sick worm. I failed but Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj had won.

I reached the temple. Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj received me and alighted my luggage.

“I will live here permanently.”

Pundit Vishnu Prasad Bhardwaj smiled, gripped my hand and took me to his room.

I kissed my blue sapphire.

 

 

Enlightenment of Soul

August 15, 2017

You don’t converse with anyone,

The radiance has declined to dawn on us,

Notwithstanding the unsurpassed attempts,

But all love you for a ray in the unhappy, sad hearts.

Lit candles of love in the unhappy, dejected hearts;

Assumption about me and my semblance

Is identified on some unknown belief,

That creates confusion, gossip, malice and fury.

You move in the space to build wisdom,

But O love! Bottomless selflessness,

Surge like milk, honey in underground springs;

Transcendent, chaste, virtuous and unsullied.

Springs explodes and attain Moksha;

The external identity and awareness;

The chaste and enlighten self,

Guides and takes to the heavenly world.

Then the ‘Best Self’ demonstrates itself.

Then the delight and bliss of life explode.

Then the self and life become satisfying.

Then the self-enlightenment is absolute.

A Thrust Crown

August 10, 2017

It is aptly clear that Congress managers failed miserably in dealing with the Anna-Ramdev fight against corruption and Modi magic for peace, harmony, development and nationalism. By their confused politics, Congress leaders and their allies have become a subject of laughter.

Sonia Gandhi is always surrounded by the shrewd manipulator politicians but they always fail. Similarly, the economic politics of Dr Man Mohan Singh failed to deliver any good to the masses. He proved as an artificial economist totally surrendered himself to his corrupt and arrogant ministers and arm twister allies.

Failed on all fronts, as is the practice in the nation, they took shelter in secular tactics and Reformation theatrics. But in return, he has opened a new branch of extremism and reforms each i.e. secular extremism and reform scams. Now Sonia Gandhi is out of the picture for some mysterious ailment, there is no authority to guide the party. Here lied the test where the economist ex-prime minister and novice Rahul Gandhi failed completely.

The mishandling of Anna-Baba Ramdev movement destroyed the future prospects of Congress and UPA. In Modi, BJP and NDA have got a very powerful and dynamic leader. He, On the one hand, he has exposed the failure of UPA-II and the deep rooted involvement in the corruption and now the situation is almost unbearable. Modi and his aggressive team have almost made the nation believe the never before nation has seen such a corrupt and failed government.

Now it is very clear, Sonia Gandhi is out of power centre and all other power point proved ill tongue comedians, it was left solely on Rahul Gandhi and Man Mohan Singh responsible for all the workings of Congress. Although Sonia-Rahul due tried their best to put the onus of their failures on Dr.Man Mohan Singh and others. This attempt also failed. The mismanagement created by the confrontation with team Modi proved suicidal to Rahul Gandhi in his attempt to prove himself as an alternate. The Same mistake was committed by Congress in dealing with Anna Hazare after Anna announced his indefinite fast from August, 16. The Same type of immaturity has been shown on facing Modi’s magic. Instead of tackling politically, a type of extremism and hatred was shown in the name of secularism and justice to Muslims, as if only Muslims are the only citizens in this country.

An arrogant and novice team of advisors like Ahmed Patel, Kapil Sibal, Chidambaram, Digvijay Singh, Manish Tiwari, Ambica Soni etc., are pushed as fire fighters. Here lies the failure of the leader because no one has the maturity and dignity to deal with this type of social and national uprising. They were trying to open the out of date law books and cases.

Now Sonia-Rahul duo and their team failed to realize that Anna was leading a crusade against corruption and Modi was using development and nationalism as a national issue. Anna-Baba Ramdev constructed a platform and team Modi completed the rest of the remaining task to pull the country behind them and the name of the tired Sikh economist was tarred beyond cleansing. They made the nation believe that Dr Man Mohan Singh during the past ten years was leading the most corrupt government country has ever seen. Starting from 2G and CWG, attacking the anti-corruption crusader Baba Ramdev but sitting duck on Hassan Ali, and cash for votes case, Afzal Guru, Bhullar, etc., raised serious doubts about his leadership merits. But Rahul Gandhi is not ready to learn anything from these drubbings.

Even the self-styled young Turks, talked openly an expression that Sonia Gandhi was not physically fit to lead them out of these crises. It was a direct attack on Sonia Gandhi, ex- PM and Rahul Gandhi from within and their respect in the party.

No action against tainted leaders, soft on Islamic and Naxal terror, exposure on fake Hindu terror, caste oriented social justice, anti-Hindu but pro-Sharia secularism, etc have not only dented their already battered reputation but also has fallen within the party.

Now Sonia-Rahul duo and the Congress are facing the worst crisis of credibility, making them disreputable as the lasts Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar. The only thing favourable to their survival is that all the MPs and leaders are still with them as they have also lost confidence in themselves.

Now both Sonia-Rahul has gone into hiding and does not want to step in when the credibility graph is so down. Now every body in the party specially Sonia-Rahul wants to win the Mount Everest but is afraid of climbing rocks. Due to this failed leadership, these are troubled days for the nation and the opposition.

Silence or support to corruption, scams, secularism, social justice, non-governance, communalism, castes-ism, separatism, price rise, etc., are such words which indicated that Rahul Gandhi cannot understand the complexity of these issues.

Dr Man Mohan Singh has already failed on these counts and much more can be added. Whether nation gets tough Jan Lok Pal or not, scam masters are punished or not, prices are downed or not, terror is controlled or not, Nation follows Modi development and nationalism model. But the nation has already declared that Rahul Gandhi is not fit for this crown in the same manner as the nation had been cowed down due to weaknesses and failures of Dr.Moamohan Singh and nation had seen the darkest days. There is no area or work for which Dr.Manmohan Singh the economist can be proud of.

Now even Congressmen are sceptical about the leadership qualities of Rahul Gandhi. Jayaram Naresh has very rightly said that the Saltnat has gone but the Sultan is still very arrogant.

 

Water management in UP A litmus test for Indo-Israel ties

August 7, 2017

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the UP Jal Nigam and Israel’s ministry of national infrastructure, energy and water resources, during PM Narendra Modi’s historical visit to Israel in early July 2017. Israel will help UP in water utility reform.

 

With the signing of MoU, Uttar Pradesh will be the first foremost collaborator among Indian states to jointly work on water utility reforms with Israel, which will cover all aspects, including drinking water supply, in both rural and urban areas, irrigation, rivers cleanliness, competence and conservation.

 

As per the modalities, the state government will form a joint task force of UP Jal Nigam, Central Water Commission, Central Ground Water Board and National Mission for Clean Ganga and some other departments related with water to identify and categorize the challenges and priorities and look for solutions in a time bound manner. This has to be worked out by the water resources ministry to carry on works within the MoU.

 

UP has dozens of rivers. Major ones are Betwa River, Chambal River, Ganges, Ghaghara, Gomti River, Hindon River, Kali River, Ken River, Ramganga, Rihand River, Rapti River, Yamuna and much more. But due to encroachments on the wet land, river plains, catchment areas and river beds, all the rivers are become left as drains. Only during rainy season some of them have enough water. So, clearing all these encroachments is also a big challenge and restores the rivers to their natural forms.

 

As Israel gives great importance to India, Israeli authorities are very keen to take up the problem areas very seriously to find the right solutions. Actually, UP will be a sort of tough test case for this India-Israel cooperation and overall without knowing the syllabi. Moreover, they have to face the hostile opposition parties which are traditionally pro-Islamic nations and anti-Israel. If Indo-Israel working group succeeds in UP, it can open other areas of cooperation too to be replicated elsewhere.

 

UP has no shortage of water. The problem is the proper management of water and water resources. For this, they must construct dams and check dams on a very large scale. UP has plenty of rain water. If this water is collected in dams and check dams, this collected water can be used during the lean season. This will end the problem of drought and water shortage in this state.

 

The water collected in dams and check dams can be released in the rivers which will ensure the flow of clean water in rivers, throughout the year. Thus rivers will be cleaner. This will also increase underground water level and increase the ground water level. Water harvesting system must be installed on a very massive scale to recharge and increase the ground water level with clean water.

 

River linking is another way out to revive the dying rivers. By this method surplus water can be diverted to other areas. These methods will solve most of the problems of floods, droughts, water shortage, pollution, etc. This will ensure clean and safe water supply to people across the state and increase the green cover and reduction of dust, soil and water pollution.

 

The joint team should also ensure the zero liquid discharge policy as far as sewage effluent is concerned for tackling Ganga and other river’s pollution and encourage using recycled water in agriculture. Water conserving resources like the construction of dams, check dams, river linking and rain water harvesting should be carried out in the drought hit and water-starved region of Bundelkhand. The agencies of both countries have to work together to find out state specific solution.

 

Although, the Israeli experts had worked in other states earlier, including Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, in the field of water use management, efficiency and desalination, the UP will be the first state where the country will have to work on several issues altogether as part of overall water management reforms.

 

On these issues, there was detail discussion and understanding between state CM Yogi Adityanath and Israel’s ambassador to India Daniel Carmon in Lucknow in May before signing of the MoU.

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy January

July 31, 2017

Through the snowy January nightfall, up shots of thirty-one days snow fall, the news spread like a forest fire—the rumour or reality, nobody knows.  Something about Ayesha and a Pundit boy. Molested, hugged, romanced, love: none of them, sitting in a Madarsa after the Friday prayers, noon where the deodar trees stirred, covered with snow, cooling all, the cold breeze, hitting them, in a frequent gush of decayed anger, their own stale breathing, knew exactly nothing what happened.

“He was Shankar Pundit,” said Maulvi Akbar. He was a young boy; a long, slim, fair-coloured boy with attractive features, who was counting the notes. “I know Shankar Pundit. He’s a shrewd pundit boy. And I know Ayesha too.”

 “How do you know her?” a second teacher asked.

“What do you know about her?” a student asked. “A beautiful girl?”

“No,” the teacher said. “She is about thirty, she is divorced.”

That’s why she has no respect… “

“Respect, hell!” a bearded, strong built youth shouted. “Won’t you take a Muslim woman’s word before a pundit’s?”

“I don’t believe Ayesha will seduce a Pundit boy of twenty-two.” The teacher said.  “I know Ayesha.”

“If women get old without getting married, their attraction for boys goes down—” Said Maulvi Akbar.

“I don’t believe anybody did ant-thing. Nothing happened.” I leave it to you to decide.

“Then you’re a hell of a pundit man,” the students muttered angrily.

“You don’t understand?” He said. “You accuse a Muslim woman a lie?”

The Maulvi held the book, opened to teach to his students. He did not look around.

“It’s this cold weather,” another student said, “It’s enough to make any man hot do anything. Even to an old lady like Ayesha.”

All remained serious. Maulana said in his mulish tone: “I ain’t defending the pundit boy. I know well and you fellows too, how a woman that never…”

“You damn kefir lover!” the student said.

“Shut up, paid rioter,” scolded the teacher. “We will first inquire about the incident and has enough time to act.”

“Nobody will touch him. The student murmured. “Facts, hell! I want him stoned to death. I am an expert stone pelter.”

“You’re comfortable with Hindu kafirs,” the student retorted. “Aren’t you?” You tell them, Babur, “he said to the student. “You can add up to me, even if I am not only a Muajjim and a stranger.”

“That’s right, students!” the teacher said. “Find out the truth first. I know Shankar Pundit.

“Shut up, Imran,” the second student said. “We have enough time to punish him.”

“Well, Allah!” the student shouted. “You think a kafir in this town…?”

Babur could not digest this. “Do you claim that anyone excuses a Hindu attacking a Muslim woman? You better go back to Vaishno Devi temple. Valley, Kashmir Valley doesn’t want your presence here.

“Vaishno Devi what?” the second student said. “I was born and brought up in this valley.” He was baffled and shocked. He was ready for any tussle. He drew folded his sleeve. “Damm if I’m going to tolerate a Muslim woman—.”

“You tell them, Babur,” the Muajjim said. Allah if they—.”

The main gate of the madrasa opens with a crash. A stoutly built man stood at the door, his long beard floating. He was wearing long black kurta, wore a round- skull cap. His hot, aggressive and violent looks created a sense of fear in the group. His name was Taimur. He was a local goon.

“Well,” he shouted, “You keep on delivering sermons and let a Hindu boy rape a Muslim woman on the streets of Islam Nagar?”

Getting support, the Muajjim was very excited. His beard was floating like kabaylees. His armpits were stinking. “That’s what I have been telling them!” he repeated his hot tone.

“Did anything really happen?” the third student asked. “Every time, everybody can’t watch her undress, on the river bank, like Shahrukh Bhai says?”

“What?” a shocked student said. “What is that?” The teacher asked them to remain silent and pay attention to Quran and its teachings. 

Aamir flattered the third student. “You are waiting to happen?” Are you going to let the Hindu boys do what they like until you get evidence?”

“I am telling the same!” Aurangzeb shouted, cursing everybody.

“Here, here,” fourth student Nadir whispered. “Not so loud. Don’t talk so loud.”

“Right,” Aamir said; “no need of talking at all. It is enough of talks. Who’s accompanying me?” He rubbed his buttocks violently.

Maulvi Akbar silenced all. “First find out the facts students. I know Shankar Pundit. It wasn’t him. Let’s discuss with Haji ji and act accordingly”

Aamir angrily twisted his furious face. Maulana Akbar did not pay any attention to Aamir. They looked like Shia and Sunni sects. The other teachers pretended to be talking with the students. “You mean to tell me that you’d give more weight to a Hindu’s word over a Muslim woman’s? You damn kefir lovers—.” Aamir said.

Another student Laden rose and silenced Aamir: he too was also a local goon. “Now, enough is enough. Let’s figure out our action plan. Actually, nobody knows, what actually happened.” 

“Figure out, my foot!” Aamir jerked his fists. “All they’re with me get here from here. The ones that ain’t—.” He stared his gaze and pushed his arms across the road. 

Four men rose. The students also got up. “Here,” they said, throwing their books; We are with him. We don’t want to live but by Allah if our daughters and sisters and mothers—.” Aamir stood on the floor and abused other of enjoying free electricity and heating, donated by kafirs to keep the mouth shut. Another rose and moved with them. The leftovers sat awkwardly, ignoring one another and then one by one rose and joined the killing squad. 

Maulvi collected the books from the floor. “Students, don’t attack him. Shankar Pundit can’t do it. I know him.”

Hot headed Aamir shouted, “Come on,” He almost ran. From his long kurta pocket pulled out the butt of a heavy automatic revolver. They ran out. The madrasa door crashed behind them reverberant in the chill air.

Maulvi Akbar collected the books carefully and swiftly, and put them away, and ran to his room, and took his skull cap from the wall. “I’ll be back soon as I can,” he said to the other teachers. “I will help my people —” He went out, running. The two other Maulvis followed him to the door and accompanied him, leaning out and looking up the street after him. The air was silent and cold. It had a freezing cold at the base of the tongue.

“What can we do?” the first asked. The second one was saying “Allah ho Akbar,” under his breath. “If he gets angry Aamir, today will be last day” “Allah ho Akbar,” the second whispered.

“You think he really has relation with her.?” the first said.

II

She was thirty-one or thirty-two. She lived in a small-old house with her invalid brother and a thin, dirty, depraved uncle, where each morning, between five and six, she would appear on the roof covering her face with a hijab, to sit on the floor and listen to the Aarti from a Hindu temple. After dinner, she takes rest for a while, until the afternoon began to cool. Then, in one of the three or four new salwar-kameez which she would go downtown to spend the afternoon in the local market with the other ladies, where they would bargain the prices in cold, pressing voices, without any fear of refusal by the sellers.

She was off at ease people— not the best in Muhammadabad, but liked by the sober people—and she ordinary-looking, with a brilliant, faintly faded manner and dress. When she was a student she had had a slim, nervous looks and a sort of rigidness which had enabled her to popular of the town’s social life as epitomized by the farewell high-school party and Jamat-social period of her age group while still children, without any class consciousness.

Very late she realized that she was maturing; that those among whom she had been a little attractive look than any other were launching to learn the satisfaction of snobbery. But her face began to carry that dazzling but almost faded look. She still carried it to parties on dimly lit halls and summer lawns, like a cover, with that confusion and irate denial of truth in her appearance. One evening at a party she heard a boy and two girls, all school- mates, called her aunty. She stopped going to parties. 

She gazed at the girls with whom she had grown up as they married and got families and scores of children, but no man ever paid any attention to her steadily but the children of the other girls had been calling her “aunty” for many years. Their mothers told them in sarcastic tone about how fashionable Ayesha aunty had been as a girl. Then the backwards going town began to see her moving on with Rama Shankar, a Sanskrit teacher in a college. He was a bachelor of about thirty-two —a fair-colored man, always smartly dressed. He owned the first Tata-NaNo car in town, saffron coloured. Ayesha was seated beside him wearing a designer burqa the town ever saw. Then the town began to curse her: “Shameless Ayesha!” “But she is matured enough to take care of herself,” others whispered. She almost pleaded her schoolmates that the children call her “didi” instead of “aunty.”

It was five years now since she had been branded as a bad character lady by public opinion, and four years since the teacher had gone to Akbarabad, returning for one day, each Diwali, which he spent with his friends in a temple. From behind their curtains, the neighbours would see him pass, and during the across-the-street Diwali-day visiting they would tell her about him, about how well he looked, and how they heard that he was prospering in the city, watching with bright, secret eyes her haggard, bright face. Usually, by that hour there would be the scent of perfumes on her breath. It was gifted her by her only friend. She was considered as immoral socialite aunty of corrupt civil society.

Her mother became very old and kept to her in the room altogether now; the bony aunt ran the house. Against those conditions, Ayesha bright dresses, her idle and empty days, had a reality of fuming worthlessness. She went out only with elderly women now. Each evening she dressed in one of the new dresses and went market alone, where her young cousins were already strolling in the late afternoons with their body wrapped in stinking burqas, tired heads and heavy, awkward arms and conscious hips, clinging to one another or staring and chuckling with naughty boys when she passed and went on to the tea shops, in the doors of which sitting and relaxing men almost ignored this single aunty, pining for their attention. 

Ill

The teacher, Maulvi Akbar went speedily up the street where the dim lights, insect-swirled, frowned in a severe and vicious manner in the lifeless air. The day had died in a gloom of dust; above the gloomy square, chocked by the killing dust, the sky was sad as the inside of a grave. Below the east was a buzz of the twice-tamed moon.

When Maulvi Akbar passed them, notorious Aamir and three others were getting into an old jeep parked in the dark street. This Jeep was used by Aamir to carry stone pelter in the valley. Amir roared with full might, “Anybody wants to leave, did you?” he said. “Damn good thing; by Allah, tomorrow when this town listened to about how you saved the honour of your faith”

“Now, now,” Ghazni said. “Dawood’s all right. Come on, friends; fast!”

“Shankar Pundit will never do anything wrong, boys,” Maulvi Akbar said. “Why, you all know well as I do there isn’t any town where they got better Hindus than us. And you know how women think about men when there isn’t any reason to, and Ayesha you know anyway? ”

“Sure, sure,” Ghazni said. “We’re just going to speak to him a little; that’s all.”

“Speak hell!” Aurangzeb said. 

“Shut up, in the name of Allah!” Ghazni said. “Do you want everybody in town to know about everything?”

“Tell them, in the name of Allah!” Aamir said. “Tell everyone that’ll let a Muslim woman eloping with a Hindu boy.”

“Let’s go; let’s go: here’s the tempo.” The tempo moved yelling out of a cloud of dust and black smoke at the street end. Aamir started his jeep and backed out and took the lead. Dust and smoke lay like smog in the street. The street lights dangle dim- floated as in water. They drove on out of town.

Old vehicles were creating ugly noise on rutted lanes. Dust and smoke engulfed it too. The dim bulb of the temple, where Shankar Pundit used to teach the downtrodden children in the evening, was unusually silent, perhaps, fearing some mishap. “Better stop a little before?” Gazni advised. Aamir did not reply. He slammed the tempo to stop, in the headlights; all were glaring for Shankar Pundit.

“Listen here, boys,” Shah Rukh said; “if he’s here, don’t ask anything? If he was involved, he would run. Don’t you see he would?” The tempo also came up and stopped. Aamir got down; Aurangzeb leapt down beside him. “Listen, boys,” Shah Rukh said.

“Switch off lights!” Aurangzeb said. The wheezing darkness hastily engulfed the lanes. There was no sound in it save their breaths as they hunted air in the arid dust in which they rot; then the retreating chomp of Aamir and Aurangzeb’s feet, and a moment later Aurangzeb’s voice:

“Shankar. . . Shankar!”

Below the east, the pale of the moon amplified. It lifted above the mountains, brightening the air, the dust so that murdering mob breathe, live, in a sink of rotten lead. The night-bird was voiceless, so do insect, no sound except their panting and a faded tick of toning metal of the vehicles. Inside their impassive bodies crushing one another, they seemed to be agitated dryly, for no more moisture came. “Allah!” a voice said; “let’s get out of here.”

They waited until blurred voices began to audible out of deadly darkness. They got out and waited tensely with heavy breaths in the dark. Aamir kept on abusing Shankar Pundit and Hindus. They all ran shouting, “Kill him, kill the kafir!”

“Not in the open,” Aamir said. “Pull him into the car.” They drag Shankar in. “Kill him, kill the pundit son!” the ruthless voices murmured. They dragged Shankar to the car. Maulvi Akbar had waited beside the jeep. He was feeling sick and low. 

“What is this, boss?” Shankar said. “What is my fault” Someone brought a long cable. They tied him. He submitted to the cable, looking swiftly and doggedly face to face, hoping to hear some kind word. “Who’s here, boss?” he said, leaning to stare into the faces. He spoke a name or two. “What you-all say I done, Aamir Bhai?”

Aamir pulled the door open and shouted, “Throw him in!”.

Shankar did not stir. “What you- all going to do with me, Aamir Bhai? I haven’t done anything, I haven’t done anything: I swear ‘ in the name of Allah” 

The others struck him with regular blows and he spied and cursed them, and swept his tied hands across their faces and accidentally hit Maulvi Akbar upon the mouth, and the Maulvi struck him hard. They pushed at him. He stopped struggling and lied quietly as all were hitting him. He lied between the Maulvi and Gazni, coiled his body in so as not to touch them, his eyes going quickly and relentlessly from face to face. The jeep was running followed by the tempo.

“What’s the issue? Daood?” Gazni asked.

“Nothing,” Maulvi Akbar said. All laughed.  They drove towards the forest and turned away from town. The tempo came out of the dust. They drove on, gaining speed; the final glimpse of town left behind.

“Damm, he stinks!” Ghazni said.

“We’ll finish that,” the man in front beside Aamir said. Shahrukh suddenly moved forward and touched Aamir’s shoulder.

“Throw out, kafir,” Aamir said without turning his head. He drove speedily. Behind them, the searching lights of the tempo glared in the dust. Presently Aamir turned into a narrow road. It too was bumpy in disuse. It led back to an old graveyard, on the bank of river Jhelum. It had been used for grazing land.

“Shankar,” Maulvi Akbar said.

“Throw him in the river, then,” Aamir said, flinging the car along the furrows. Besides the Maulvi Akbar, Shankar spoke: “Aamir Bhai.”

Maulvi Akbar wanted to get down. Their action was like a dead boiler blast: cooler, but utterly dead. The jeep jumped from rut to rut. “Gazni Bhai,” Shankar said. The Maulvi Akbar began to jerk frantically at the door. “Glance out, there!” Gazni said, but Maulvi Akbar had already kicked the door open and rolled out of the jeep. Gazni kicked Shanker furiously, and he swung out. The car went on without dropping the speed.

The force flung him rolling, through the mud-sheathed wild plant, into the river. Dust winded about him, and in a deep, brutal crackling of lifeless marshy land, he lay choking and gagged until the tempo passed and died away. He fluttered and tried to rise but collapsed.

The moon was clear, riding bright and clear of the worldly dirt and the town was frowning beneath. Shankar lost his consciousness, could not hear the sound of running vehicles and the blaze of dust behind them. Taimor’s tempo came last. Now one man was less in the jeep. 

They drove; the dust gulped them down; the glare and the noise died away. The dust hung for a while, but soon the eternal dust wrapped them up. Maulvi Akbar scaled back onto the road and limped on toward madrasa. 

IV

As she dressed for dinner, on that Sunday evening, her own body felt like dancing. Her hands shook automatically, and her eyes had a bright sparkle, and her hair flew and crackling. While she was still dressing her friend reached and sat while she put on her very showy undergarments, stockings and a new red suit as if going to meet her beloved. “Do you feel hot enough to go out?” she asked. “When you have had time to get over the shock, I will tell you what happened. What he said and did; every- thing.” All her friend was listening with bewildered astonishment.

In the leafed darkness, as she walked toward the mall road, she began to smile mysteriously, something like a socialite, getting her prey, until she ceased smiling. Both the friends walked slowly because of the terrible cold and due to her hilarious mood. But as they reached the mall she began to whistle, walking with her head up, holding her friend’s hand, looking at each other romantically, and glittering class of their eyes.

They entered the mall, took the corner seat, gorgeous in her transparent fresh dress. She was feeling young. She watched, as un-wed couples eat ice-cream, her head up and her eyes dazzling, fleeting the hotel and the scantily dressed drummers in chairs along the curb around them, “That’s the one: see.? The one in saffron in the centre.” “Is that he? What did they do with Shankar? Did they—?” “Sure. He’s all right.” “All right, is he?” “Sure. He went on a little jaunt.” Then the wine shops, where even the young men loafing in the entrance, casually dressed and chasing with their eyes the motion of her hips and breasts when she passed.

They went on, passing the rowdy boys, suddenly hushed silence, defensive, fear. “Did you notice?” the friend said. Her tone crashed like long hanging sighs of pain. “There’s not a Hindu in the mall. Not one.”

They decided to go the movie-show-‘Page-3′. It was like a mini but artificial fairyland with its fashionable girls and bright presentation of life caught in its beautiful but dark metamorphosis. Her eyes and lips began to flutter. In the dark, when the movie was shown, she tightly gripped her friend’s hand. She hurried before other’s could see, without the feeling of amazement, and she took dozens of kisses and smooches on her friend’s face where she could see the hordes young men and girls sitting in two and two. 

The lights dimmed; only the screen lights visible, and fake life began to unfold, stunning and romantic but sad in real life. Young boys and girls sat, aromatic and romantic in the dimly lit hall, their paired backs in shadow, delicate, sleek, and their slim, beautifully young, kissing and embracing with the silver screen, inevitably on and on. They began to laugh. In trying to suppress their agony, it appears more abnormal than ever; heads began to turn. Still laughing, guards raised them and led them out, and they stood at the gate, laughing on a high, unrelenting note until the taxi came up and they helped them in.

V

It was almost midnight when Taimur drove up to the house of lovelorn Ayesha. It was orderly, clean and like a bird-cage. He parked and locked the jeep outside her house and entered. Shocked Ayesha rose from the bed beside the table-lamp. Taimur entered her room and stared at her until she looked down.

She stood before him, her face terrified, and an adult magazine in her hands. Her face became pale, strained, and fear struck. “Haven’t I told you not to talk kafirs?”

“Bhai!” she said. The magazine dropped from her hands. He glared at her with his hot eyes, his fierce face.

“Didn’t I tell you?” He moved toward her. She moved back then. He caught her shoulder. She stood lifeless, looking at the debauch.

“Don’t, Taimur. I am sick. . . . periods; please, Bhai. You’re slaughtering me.”

Taimur violently removed her dress and the new undergarments and the stockings and threw her to bed.

Suddenly, he pulled out the pistol. Ayesha became paralysed. She opened her mouth but no word came out. He said today was payback day. He said note down the time and day.

He took the pistol from his hip and laid it on the table beside the bed, and sat on the bed and removed his shoes, and rose and slipped his trousers off.

There was no movement, no sound, not even an insect. The dark world seemed to lie stricken beneath the cold moon and the lidless stars.

He pushed her, pinned her down, slapped her, bite her and hit her.

Taimur rubbed the pistol on the thighs of Ayesha. Ayesha shivered and began to weep because she realized the penetration inside.

“Shut the slut up or I’ll shoot you.”

“Didn’t I tell you?” He released her and half struck, half flung her across the bed, and she lay there and watched him quietly as he left the room.

Taimur was rough and violent. He spits on Ayesha. He stopped, zipped his pants, started the engine and drove away.

Ayesha stood dazed and confused, what had happened. Suddenly she stood and rushed out of her house, went straight to river Jhelum and jumped.

Next day devotees saw two dead bodies floating. One was of Shankar Pundit and other was of Ayesha.

Maulvi Akabar, his students and other faithful were there dazed and puzzled. With hushed discussion, puffing bidi in the fog. 

While the ice was fresh and cold they stopped laughing and stood still for a time. 

“Shhhhhhhhhhh! Shhhhhhhhhhh!” they said, seeing the ice-pack, smoothing their heads, examining it for the story; “poor girl with a kafir!” Then to one another:

“Do you suppose anything really happened?” their eyes darkly glitter, secret and passionate. “Shhhhhhhhhhh! Poor girl! Poor Ayesha and Shankar!”

Police were called and bodies were fished out.

Police sent the bodies for post-mortem. A post-mortem confirmed the rape on Ayesha but the DNA test confirmed that rape was not committed by Shankar Pundit.

Police conducted the search of the house of Ayesha. Only a round skull cap was found and the marriage photos of Shankar and Ayesha, marrying according to Hindu customs in a temple.

Civilized and sane citizens constructed a temple on the banks of river Jhelum in memory of Shankar and Ayesha. Young lovers visit that temple to get the blessings of God for a long and happy married life. 

Creation of a New Character

July 30, 2017

One may be the bravest soldier in one’s regiment, received compliments  from officers and peers, and received the best comments for the bravery, but if such a soldier fail to convey his bravery in the bravest manner like killing a terrorists in an encounter, even the  bravery of such a brave soldier will pass unnoticed and unrewarded.

Same applies to literary, historical and professional deliberations and presentations. Clear show and honest presentation must be there by the soldier in a professional and brave manner in the records of the regiment, and the sooner the soldier achieves this formula, the better it is for his regimental growth on the professional front.

Translators are not the language-mechanics but they are the gate-keepers of aesthetics, they are not the looters of originality but they are the baskets of human emotions being transferred from one basin to another river-bed.

(Subodh Sarkar, ‘EDITOR’s NOTE’, Translations and the New Mandarins’, Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New-Delhi, No. 263, May/June 2011, vol LV No.3, p-7)

Communication skills and language are very important in professional career and work place dynamics and growth and these qualities, skills and command can make a new character or expert, in the same manner skills and expertise in translation, script writing and history writing can make a new character, can give new interpretation to any book and kill the original character or interpretation.

For example in 1960 a famous movie Mughal-e-Azam, was produced by Shapoorji Pallonji and directed by K. Asif.  After this movie, so many new interpretations came about Emperor Akbar and his life. Noted eminent, secular, communists and Muslim scholars created altogether a new Emperor Akbar. A ruthless, brutal and fanatically anti-Hindu Emperor Akbar was replaced by kind, secular, romantic and humanist Emperor Akbar. Not only was this, a new romantic but imagery Queen Jodha Bai also created to show Emperor Akbar as a secular king to show Hindu-Muslim unity and prove the superiority of Muslims over Hindus.

Similarly, in 1963 a very famous film Taj Mahal was made and written by A.K.Nadiadwala and directed by M.Sadiq, based on the historical legend of the love of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. As per the legend, Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in fond memory for his beloved seventh wife Mumtaz Mahal. But in this blockbuster creation a new Shah Jahan was created and really brutal, womanizer anti-Hindu Shah Jahan went into oblivion.

In the present scenario, literature, as well as film, presents a distorted image of reality, for both these media of expression, tend to glamorize violence and sex to become more saleable and popular.

(Sumitra Kukreti, GLORIFICATION OF CRIME IN LITERATURE AND FILM: THE GODFATHER VS INDIA’S BANDIT QUEEN’, Film and Literature, Ed. K.K.Sharma, K.K.Publications, New-Delhi, 1997, P-127.)

To avoid such controversies and distortions, some unchangeable characteristics, based on realities should be given to the script writers and directors before-hand before making any such historical movie, so that coming generations must get a true picture of the history. The concerned must ponder over the subject before initiating such important projects. This will be of great help to convey the history correctly.

They are actually launderers of ideas and history. Recently in a very scintillating speech famous MP, Meenakshi Lekhi branded such writers as ‘Intellectual mercenaries’.’  Such faulty creations only add to confusion and controversies. The writers and translators must keep in mind that it certainly goes a long way to have efficient and effective, but honest communication with the audience and readers. The coming generations of readers and viewers monitor the effect of the performance or the text and significantly contribute to the factual presentation of any historically important character.

This is the age of social networking sites. One cannot hide the reality, about any character or text from the readers for a long time. As in the case of eminent secular historians, now nobody believes their versions. They are subject to mockery.  This is the worst type of anti-intellectualism or as famous Victorian poet Matthew Arnold wrote in Culture And Anarchy as ‘Philistine’.

One must make a list of important events before taking them up as projects. It is a very important quality to depict the things honestly. It is very good to show some extra merit in the script or in the book but blatantly ignoring the historical facts may not go down well with the audience or the readers. It is understandable that now a day everyone tends to be a bit more informed when dealing with such creations. But one must be honest in one’s professional life.

Same confusion and controversies were created when the secular and communists groups tried to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan. For Hindus and nationalists, Tipu Sultan was an anti-Hindu fanatic ruler who was responsible for slaughtering thousands of Hindus and razing Hindu temples. But in the famous television serial ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan,’ written by Bhagwan Gidwani, Tipu Sultan was shown as a secular ruler, who fought against British rule in India. Secularists and communist describe Tipu Sultan, as the first freedom fighter, died for the independence of India. He was renamed as ‘Tiger of Mysore’ by them.

The powerful presentation is an asset but one being tactful and honest while ensuring that you do not twist the history for somebody’s vested interests. Owing to stressful environments at work, it is important that the writer must say the right thing at the right time. Doing so avoids future confusion and controversies and establishes the associations, demonstrates thoughtfulness and credibility. In case one is forced to write things which are not based on facts, the best way to tackle that pressure is to ignore such needs and refuse to get involved in such projects.

The Manusmrti (Sanskrit:  मनुस्मृति), also met the same fate. Manusmrti is the most important, most reputed and most studied legal text among the many Dharmaśāstras of Hindus and Hinduism. Seeing the death and importance of the Sanskrit text it was the first Sanskrit text translated during the British rule, by Sir William Jones, in 1794.  Manusmriti is also called the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra or Law of Manu. But after translation Manusmriti was badly criticized by secularists and caste-ists although it is a different matter that most of the critics of Manusmriti do not know even the A-B-C of Sanskrit. Now Manusmriti is a highly abused and criticized text.

There is no denying the fact that the enduring value of literature lies in its universality of appeal. Every reader of a literary masterpiece brings to it a richness of interpretations which springs of the quality of his own sensibility. The work acquires value to him for its lights up the dark corridors of his soul and gives him a chance to air his views on the meaning of life and destiny. But Narasimhaih also points to a danger inherent in such an approach. Critics may adopt a “fragmentary” approach and see a work of art only as a wish-fulfillment of their own frustrated dreams and desires.

(ENGLISH STUDIES IN INDIA, CULTURE AND COMMITMENT ASPECTS OF INDIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH, BHAGWAT S. GOYAL, SHALABH BOOK HOUSE, MEERUT, U.P., p-65)

One must have gleaming ideas but nobody is allowed to distort the facts or history. Such gimmicks cannot work for a long time. One is bound to be exposed. The honest and effective presentation is the key to building trust, reputation and healthy environment.

In this category of creation on new characters, the name of Bhim Rao Ambedkar is most apt. Ambedkar never was a victim of caste discrimination. He had his schooling at the Army school, run by the British government. Later on, he shifted to Elphinstone College. Gayakwad ruler of Baroda, Sahyaji Rao-III, financed his higher education. He also had his education in America. After coming back from the US, Ambedkar was appointed a secretary to the King of Baroda. Bombay Governor Lord Sydenham helped Ambedkar to obtain the job as a professor of political science at the Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in Bombay. So Ambedkar had a very comfortable life.

Though this simplistic position on biography and autobiography was shared by theorists of the two genres in the past, in the context of the kind of debates that contemporary theory has witnessed on such question as the discursive distinction between fact and fiction, the constitution of subjectivity in auto/biography, the truth status of the claims made by the auto/biographer and the overall generic specificity of auto/biography, one might find it difficult to accept the position that the self in the past is an uncontested subject. This is not a purely theoretical debate. Sometimes people, including writers, can feel deeply mortified by the images that fellow writers create in the name of auto/biography.

(‘Translation as Hoax: Art, Othering and life Writing’, P.P. Raveendran, Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New-Delhi, 237, Jan-Feb 2007, Vol. LI, No.1, Pp191-92. )

Due to the vote bank politics in India, secular leaders and caste leaders found Ambedkar as the most powerful mascot to get the votes of Dalits. They changed everything related with the life of Ambedkar. He was re-canonized as a poor, oppressed and struggling Dalit icon replacing all the real facts about his life. The reality was that Ambedkar was the son of a British army officer. Ambedkar’s ancestors had for long been in the employment of the army of the British East India Company. His economic condition was quite good and he was very well cared by a Brahmin teacher during his schooling and higher education was looked after by King of Baroda, the Gaekwads. In his political career, he was very well supported by Britishers and heavy weights of Congress.

The question that remains to be answered is,’ Should literature or a work of art be censored?’ The answer is ‘Yes’. Despite our right of the freedom of speech and expression, certain control is necessary. This freedom can be abused very easily. This concept of freedom combines the ideas of right and duty.

(Madhumalti Adhikari, ‘CENSORSHIP AND LITERATURE: LAW AND IMPLICATIONS’, CENSORSHIP AND LITERATURE’, Ed. K.K.Sharma, K.K.PUBLICATIONS, DELHI, 1998, P-6.)

 

CENSORSHIP AND LITERATURE’, Ed. K.K.Sharma, K.K.PUBLICATIONS, DELHI, 1998.

CULTURE AND COMMITMENT ASPECTS OF INDIAN LITERATURE IN ENGLISH, BHAGWAT S. GOYAL, SHALABH BOOK HOUSE, MEERUT, U.P.

Film and Literature, Ed. K.K.Sharma, K.K.Publications, New-Delhi, 1997.

Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New-Delhi, 237, Jan-Feb 2007, Vol. LI, No.1, Pp191-92.

Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New-Delhi, No. 263, May/June 2011, vol LV No.3.

 

 

 

O! Lord Krishna

July 9, 2017

Your grandeur is divine,

Radiance is never ending,

Kingship eternal,

And majesty is timeless.

 

Your lustre benevolent,

Your Kingship fabulous,

Your grandeur is with dignity,

And brightness is gorgeousness.

 

Your greatness never declines,

Your splendour mesmerises the spirit,

Your radiance boosts love,

Your rule has timelessness.

 

O the Supreme, the bestower, the Giver.

Compassionate and benevolent ambience,

Man violates and commits the sin of hate:

You pardon on his remorse.

 

Your Divine existence, felt by noble souls,

Your tranquillity and peace remain forever,

With love in world multiples,

O Krishna! Your Maya wipes out tears and pain.

 

Man and God

July 6, 2017

Created by unknown God: gorgeous, wonderful;

Having positive qualities of kindness and care,

Godliness, purity, love and affection.

But deep inside carrying a primitive barbaric man,

With instinct to hunt and slaughter; ravage, burn

And fill the spirit of rivals with horror.

 

Man incarnates his own gods, in his naughty minds;

Bit by bit fabricate gods myths with fairy-tales,

Load the mind minds with fantasy, fancy and images.

Wishes, doubts, and worries; make waves of fake gods.

The yell, blazes in hearts, and minds in quest of blessing from gods.

Inscribe all the tales of man made Holy Books.

 

Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, and Shiva: all are within;

Compassion, humility, care, and love are in our mind and hearts.

Created by God, He is for man to guide and purify inner self;

But the brute man, in his hidden self;

Bang up violently, to raze beautiful world;

Of innocent creations, to create a disorder.

 

Love and compassion for fellow creations,

Must rest in our deep self, to control us, seize us, and arrest us.

Rays of Truth dawns on every heart,

The essence of the Almighty reflects there,

To bless with peace of mind and heart,

And go beyond the self, to illuminate the soul.