Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Father of the Nation


My father once said, if you have to name one personality who has served the nation better than all others in the last 2000 years, it is Adi Shankaracharya.
A moment of truth, it was.

If not for Him, Hinduism would have been wiped off the surface of this earth with India becoming a Buddhist country entirely.

Anything founded on anger and resentment is not really well founded, isn’t it?
All religions that broke away from Hinduism had anger, resentment and disapproval at their foundation.
The founders, no doubt, had compelling reasons for doing what they did. They were great men indeed, but nevertheless, they were guilty of detesting and deserting a grand old tree for a few decaying branches. They failed to understand that decay and degeneration are a natural phase in the life cycle of any living entity.
The thought, that an entity founded on negative emotions, compulsions and circumstances must be unlikely to last long or strong, occurred to me when I happened to read about the Brahmo religion founded by Ram Mohan Roy, in one of Tagore’s works.

One of the things the Brahmo religion professed was inclusivity as opposed to the caste system’s exclusivity.
With time, the Brahmo Samaj grew, and the convictions of its members became more entrenched, so much so that within a few years of its founding, the Brahmo houses were found to be having side or back entrances for Brahmins who were not to be admitted from the front entrance into the living room!
They avoided hobnobbing with Hindus, especially Brahmins and never married their children outside the Brahmo community.
They criticized and looked down upon Hindus. With relish. And chauvinism.
The very exclusivity that they had striven to oppose had become part of their thought and practice.
The purpose of the Brahmo's founding had been defeated.

Today the total number of Brahmos in the world can be counted in hundreds.
A religion founded on circumstantial compulsions became redundant and less relevant once the circumstances passed.

Another religion that broke away from Hinduism was Buddhism.
Buddha was Buddha.
But Buddhists were Buddhists.

A few hundred years after the Buddha had come and gone, Buddhists had become corrupt.
They were no longer non violent.
They killed Ayurvedic doctors performing surgery because surgery was violent and Buddhism advocated non-violence!
They started burning Hindu libraries - the first step to destroying a religion or a culture.
They went on to desecrate Hindu places of worship.
They spread their tentacles across the subcontinent, not merely by preaching Buddha’s teachings but by maligning Hinduism.
Hinduism was gradually being eroded.
Not just the Buddhists, but Jains, Kaapaaliks and Charawaaks had started questioning and negating the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic religion.

Then was born the saviour, Shankara. Adi Shankara.
The purpose of whose incarnation was to revive the great Hindu religion of thousands of years. To reveal to the people, the grand old tree in all its glory, greater and mightier than its decaying twigs.

He marched from Kaalati in Kerala to Kashmir, on foot, discussing and debating the subtle and nuanced, yet prolific Sanatana Dharma, (dharmasukshma's - nuances and subtleties), with scholars - challenging opponents, persuading, preaching. And winning.

The crowds that had gathered, and others that had heard, having been shown the truth, the light, forsook their wandering and returned home to where they belonged.

The non-believers had damaged the temple at Badrinath and thrown the idol of Narayana into Naarad Kund of Alakananda.
Shankara was 11 when he arrived in Badrinath, restored the damaged temple, reinstalled the idol of Narayana which according to legend, he simply put his hand into the Narad Kund and picked up, proclaiming 'this IS Narayana!'.

If not for Shankara, Hinduism would have been wiped off, India would have become Buddhist, and then, gone on to become a Muslim country.

And what a marvel, that Shankara revived and restored the religion from its diminished state to its full glory without using any weapon, without hurting a single soul.
Words, thoughts, ideas, dialogue, debate and discussion were his weapons.

So, if one person deserves to be the father of the nation, more than all others who served it, it is Adi Shankara. Without the shadow of a doubt.

Today, I will go one step ahead and proclaim that Shankara must be the father, not just of India, but of the entire world.
For, if Hinduism had been wiped off, the world would have lost the best part of its inheritance.
Yoga would have been wiped off.
Sanskrit would have been forgotten.
Ayurveda, obliterated.
Spirituality, obscured.
Vedic mathematics would have been lost.
Sattvic living, unheard of!

True religious tolerance would have become non existent, as Hinduism is the only religion that wishes all people well - Sarve Janaha Sukhino Bhavantu - there is place even for atheists in Hinduism - they may attain salvation through the Karma or Yoga marga, if they choose not to take the Bhakti or Jnana marga of the believers.

The Bhagavadgeetha would have been lost.
‘Goddess’ would have been no more, as all other religions recognize only the Father and not the Mother! Hinduism is the only religion to put a woman on the pedestal.

Mountains and rivers,
elephant, mouse, snake, peacock and cow,
the peepul tree,
the Tulasi plant,
the jasmine and the lotus flowers,
the flute and the Veena,
and all that are elevated to divinity in this great religion that reveres the Spirit in all creation would be mundane utilitarian objects of interest only so far as they could be harnessed to serve man.

Dharma, the concept that provides fairly for all, the only perfect Constitution needing no amendments would have been lost and its antithesis from the west - ‘All is Fair in Love and War’, the war cry of capitalism - would have pervaded all judgment and discretion.

The oldest religion of the world, whose custodians are the only people with an unbroken line over 5000 years, (besides the Chinese), would have perished.

With non intrusion, non invasion, non expansionism and non violence, all gone, it would have been a very different world.

Therefore, Adi Shankaracharya could be the father not just of India, but the world.

Father of world or no, he must definitely be the father of the nation.

Coming to think about it, this would help, beyond tokenism, in shaking Kashmir and Kerala, the two most wayward states of India, out of the debilitating malady of devil worship into which they have cursed themselves.

Shankara, having discoursed at various places across the country, arrived in Kashmir, looking for Mandana Mishra, the renowned Sanskrit scholar of Kaashmir of those times.
Upon inquiring about the direction to his place of dwelling, he was told that the house, the courtyard of which had a parrot speaking in Sanskrit, was where Mandana Mishra lived!
That was Kashmir, where even parrots spoke in Sanskrit. Kaashmir, the land of Sanskrit, the land of Saraswati, known as Kaashmirapuravaasini.

Beyond the butchering of Kashmiri pundits, beyond the obliteration of all traces of Saraswati and Sanskrit and above the hill named today as ‘Takht-e-Suleiman’, stands the temple of Shankaracharya, overlooking the city of Srinagar below, clearly and surprisingly visible at all times as you glide over the waters of Dal lake in a Shikaara, as if saying ‘Hinduism is here to stay’.

Kerala.
This was where Shankara was born. He revived Hinduism. Like nobody before or after him.
Kerala was also the place of Swati Tirunaal - a king who was a Carnatic classical musician and contributed great compositions praising Lord Padmanabha.
The language of Kerala, Malayalam, though South Indian, is 70% Sanskrit, closer to the divine language than any other south Indian Language or perhaps any other Indian language.
Kerala is known as God’s own country.

Who ever dreamt that a day would come when you could not light a Hindu lamp in this God’s own country?
The communists protest against the lighting of the lamp during inaugural ceremonies, a Hindu thing as it is, and irrelevant in a secular state.
Love Jihad laughs and dances in all its horror.
Hindus in Muslim majority towns have to take permission from the local mosque to set up pavilion for Ganesha.

Thankfully, elsewhere, in a restful enclosure within the royal palace of the Chera dynasty, in Tiruvananthapuram, adjacent to the richest temple of the world, compositions of Swati Tirunal are sung by the greatest musicians of Carnatic music, year after year, in the Swati festival organized by the unbelievably simple and humble members of the royal family. Yes, Hinduism is here to stay.

How ironical that Kashmir and Kerala, the crown and the lotus feet of this country, both associated with Shankara, should have betrayed Hinduism and its saviour in this way!
Perhaps, proclaiming Shankara the father of the nation will open the eyes of these people and the likes of them country-wide, to the falsehood of the identity they have taken on and lead them back to their long forgotten home of true peace and tolerance.

This is a picture of the plaque that stands in the vicinity of the Kalpavriksha (it's a mulberry tree) in Joshimath where Shankara meditated 2000 years ago. Do read. (click the pic to magnify)


Sunday, September 10, 2017

No Ganesha for Gauri. It Seems.


This whole business of silencing voices of dissent has been going on since Indira Gandhi’s emergency or even before that.
The emergency was an operation in silencing voices of dissent. Among other things.
And it wasn’t three or four, but hundreds of thousands of voices.
People were arrested, jailed, poisoned when in prison, others eliminated in mysterious ways, opponents dis-empowered and so on.

Before indira gandhi, Nehru had eliminated many many whose ideology was opposed to his. Their deaths were shrouded in mystery and no enquiry commissions were appointed to look into them.

In the recent times, hundreds of BJP and RSS workers have been killed. In Kerala, a prime accused in a killing is the presiding chief minister himself. Yogi Adityanath isnt accused of murder, is he? And yet, his chief minister-ship is questionable but that of the Kerala CM is not!

All this anger and shock and concern about democracy now, is like America waking up to terrorism only after 9/11.
Then all of a sudden, there was terrorism in this world, suddenly there were terror outfits, there was Osama, war was necessary, what was the world coming to, establishing humanity the need of the hour and so on.
We Indians had been suffering terrorism for years and decades.
And there was not a word from these people.

Until she was killed, I did not even know who Gauri Lankesh was. I had heard of Lankesh and Lankesh Patrike though.
So I decided to read something from the public domain about this largely unknown woman ‘shot’ to fame.

The first Youtube video I watched proved that she was a Modi hater and a ‘secular’ when she was enlisting opportunities that could have been used against Modi that the ‘stupid’ Karnataka Congress government had missed. Not the first of her kind, I thought and moved on to the second video.

It was the second that I watched repeatedly, a video that made unnecessary  the watching of a third.
Since the speech is in Kannada, I will translate it here - a part of it that resounds in my ears, and in between them.
“Hindu Dharma, it seems. Who established this Hindu Dharma?
We all know well who established the Christian faith and what it’s holy book is. We know who established Islam and about it’s holy book. We know about Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism. But can someone tell me who founded this Hindu Dharma?
This is a religion that has no father, no mother. This one does not even have a holy book. Until the British came and gave a name to it, this one didn’t even have a name. Religion it seems. You call that a religion?
You know how our constitution defines a Hindu? It defines a Hindu this way: One who is not a Musilm, not a Christian, not Buddhist, not Jain, not Sikh, not anything, a nobody, he is a Hindu. There is no such thing as Hindu religion. These right wing groups want to protect this religion it seems. We don’t need it. We have our constitution and that is our Dharma”

Why I am translating it for you? Most of the sympathizers hadn’t even heard her name and didn’t even bother to find out more before they joined the crowd in gasping, crying and of course, condemning her murder.

By all means, you may continue to sympathize with her even after reading this but I thought you should know your subject in case you don’t at all.

She gave this speech in 2012 in Mangalore. And got away with it. For five years.
Did she ever realize that had she given such a speech about Islam in a Muslim country, she would have been eliminated in 5 hours? Of course she didn’t.

This JNU woman, Shehla Rashid who is a supporter of terrorist Afzal Guru and had been adopted by Gauri Lankesh along with ‘son’ Kanhaiya, was expressing outrage at the silencing of ‘Gauri maam’ calling her a most kind woman and what not.
If it was Islam that Gauri had been criticizing instead of Hinduism, would Shehla Rashid even be seen around her? Of course not.

Every murder is unfortunate, horrific and deserves fair investigation(note my stand!) but State funeral?
I was taken by mild surprise by the gunshots.

When I woke up this morning and browsed FB, after turning the geyser on, I was made familiar with some more of the ‘activist’ in her and my mild surprise turned into shock and disgust.

In one tweet she says Narendra Modi had a gay marriage with Australian PM Turnbull - referring to the picture of Modi and Australian PM, both standing garlanded in front of Akshardham temple.
In Another tweet, she wants to send her used sanitary napkins to Narendra Modi instead of pink chaddis.
In yet another tweet, she says the mothers of RSS people are either sex workers or rape victims and their fathers rapists or brothel goers. She ‘gives’ them two options and ‘asks them’ to ‘choose one’.
And the most recent one, there is a photograph of an Indian toilet with the word Modi written on it and the tweet says 'ghar ghar mein Modi '.

And they gave state funeral and gunshots to this loose cannon, this rogue journalist of such low class?
The State has lowered its esteem by giving State funeral to these irresponsible, cheap, abusive, flippant words from a woman on the loose.

I mean, there were people like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, and others - universally accepted, respected, and possessing unquestionable integrity and character that were associated with the RSS - and she said their mothers were sex workers!
Was she tweeting in a state of drunkenness?

Amazing Grace! said some eulogies of her from the family.
Really? May be in personal life.
From her videos and tweets, I only see disgrace.

By the way, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was one of the people eliminated by Nehru - arrested on no solid grounds, just ideological differences, jailed and injected with poison and killed.
And Gauri says in one of her speeches that her family always criticized Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi but never received death threats from them.
Yes, Nehru and family did not send death threats, they directly eliminated people. Not just those having different ideologies but those within their own party who could challenge their dynastic rule. What happened to Madhav Rao Scindhia and Rajesh Pilot? So many mysterious deaths?

Gunshots and eulogies alright, I hope they will not turn her into a Goddess and build a temple for her. Remember she was a rationalist, atheist and secular?
Her atheism brings me to another point. Her burial. She wasn’t cremated but was buried. So if you are a secular or an atheist, it means you cannot be cremated according to Hindu rites but you can be buried like a Muslim or a Christian.

In death, as in her life, she has shown us what ‘secularism’ of the ‘liberal Indian’ means - abandon and condemn Hinduism. Condone or follow Christianity and Islam.
But abandon Hinduism for sure. And kill their cows.

Oh yeah, she was one of the participants in that beef ban protest near town hall.

Though as I said before, the second of her speeches I watched made unnecessary the watching of a third, I went on to watch a few others that were lost in the crowd of videos condemning her murder.

In one speech, she is campaigning for Tipu Sultan, trying to use it, of course, as a weapon against Modi.

Most of these fellows do not seem to know that Tipu’s fight against the British was no act of patriotism nor ‘freedom struggle’.
In fact, his defeat and death were a blessing.
Tipu wanted to defeat the British but by joining hands with the French!
Tipu was at constant war with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the British were allied with the Nizam.
Tipu invited Napoleon to ally with him so he could defeat the Nizam and the British. Napoleon was all set to arrive in Bombay when a British rookie sank an entire French fleet of ships in the Mediterranean and Napoleon retraced his steps back to France.
If Tipu had won, India would have been a French colony instead of a British colony. And we would have got independence not in 47 but in 67, for the French torture machine was far more sophisticated and ruthless than the British torture machine.
The French wouldn’t have cared an iota for Gandhi’s non violence. They would have simply blown away his bald head into bits!

There was an FB post saying we love Taslima Nasreen for questioning Islam but hate Gauri for questioning Hinduism.
Firstly, I haven’t read Tasleema Nasreen nor Salman Rushdie though I am familiar with their stand.
Secondly quite a few times I have wondered if these might be the Ram Mohan Roys of the Muslim society who walked away from their religion in anger due to compelling circumstances, having no patience to interpret the true meanings of their scriptures.
So, yes, I have asked this question of myself and not jumped in excitement at the usefulness that the opinions of these Muslims present to those of us who bear resentment towards the Muslim community, more often justified than otherwise.
And I chose Ram Mohan Roy because comparing them to Burqa Dutt, I mean Barkha Dutt or other financially motivated likes of her might be an insult to these people.
And lastly, as for those who do love Taslima and hate Gauri, they may not have double standards. Not necessarily.
Because may be Tasleema is right and Gauri wrong.
For though all religions may be equal as scripted by their prophets , they may not be so in the forms they have taken today.
I will give one example and that one will be enough.
When Yakub Memon was hanged for terrorism, ten thousand Muslims gathered on the streets of Nagpur to join the last journey of their 'brother'. But if Chota Rajan were to be put to death, not even ten Hindus will gather around his body. Not even ten!

She brought some Naxals into the mainstream it seems. How many? I don’t have the number. I was wondering and just then, I saw news about Sri Sri (Ravi Shankar) bringing together 67 groups in the North east, some of whom had taken to militancy. And its not the first time he has done it.

Thank God for people who exemplify the truth that you can save dalits, naxals and muslims without spewing hatred for Hinduism, or even while being a guardian of it.

Long live freedom of speech. Not the abuse of it.
Long live the rational mind. But not perversion disguised as one.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Padmini


Padmini.
That’s the name of the queen of Chittor and also the movie that’s being made about her.

What a chaste woman she was.
At the first hint that her husband had been killed in war and the lecherous Muslim king, having won the war, was marching towards the palace and its principal chamber that was her abode, she ran to the huge pit of fire and jumped into it, as was customary those days for women of high honour. She would rather burn into ashes than let another man touch her. Such was her chastity and that of a thousand other women of the palace who jumped into the pit of fire. Also, of all the women of those bygone days…

The director of the movie based on her life has chosen, for the role of Rani Padmini in his film, of all the actors in the cinema industry, a woman who, in her half educated but over enthusiastic video on feminism, outdoing all other feminists preceding her, said, ‘Sex outside marriage, my choice!’
The actor isn’t married but her statement is in congruence with the promiscuous life she has lead so far.

Irony, tragedy or joke? Perhaps all of them.

Rani Padmini’s beauty was sung far and wide, and it was to make her his captive that the Muslim king had come marching with his army all the way.
The fact that this actor is an ordinary plain Jane in the context of the queen’s legendary beauty bothers me much less than her views on chastity or rather, her complete divorce from it.

Its just a movie, no big deal.
This is just a thought, no big deal either.



Friday, September 01, 2017

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 9 - Padum and Pibiting


At last, after a long drive through a bleak desolate plain, we reached Padum.

I was as tired as the two others I was traveling with - my parents. The onus of finding a hotel room was upon me without anyone having to mention I and I would have done it anyway but the angry looks, the frustration over the delay caused made me want to cry. The absence of the keeper of the place seemed more serious a delinquency than it ought to have.

Unfortunately, I did not note the name of the hotel, but it was a nice hotel that we found a room in. The town of Padum, the administrative capital of Zanskar was grubby and completely lacking in charm. This is not what I had expected. All I could do was to keep looking up at a mountain top that had a really smooth covering of snow on its rounded top - I remember my dad likening it to butter. One side of it was washed in the setting sun and the evening passed, the white turned to yellow and then to pink.

There wasn’t much to see, except a except a nearby hillock crowned with a little Gompa. Mother and I started walking towards it.

From the roof of the Gompa, we saw a river in the valley below. This was either the Zanskar river or one of the two tributeries which came together to form the Zanskar.

The mountain tops were washed with the yellow of the setting sun while they remained grey-brown below their shoulders.

We met villagers on the way. Children, women, cattle.

Very importantly, we met two men, absolutely God send. One was a Tamil christian and the other, a Hindu from Jammu. Or that’s what I remember… they inquired about who we were, where we were from; having told them, we found out that the Tamil Christian had his posting here. The person from Jammu, upon learning that we were headed to Kashmir, Srinagar in two days, warned us saying, ‘Wahan ke log bade kaminey hote hain, sambhalke rehna’… upon learning that I wished to visit Karsha and Stongde monasteries the next day, they offered to take me there in their personal vehicle and also be our tour guides. They were going to save us a few thousand rupees.

We thanked them, gave them our hotel address and returned to our room.





























Monday, August 28, 2017

Ladhak & Kashmir 2010 - Day 9 - Toward Padum


As we drove on towards Padum, the main town in the Zanskar region, the scenery along the rather long drive was typical Ladhaki, beautiful, but made monotonous by it’s familiarity to us in the days that had past.

The first few pictures down are those of a kind of leafy plant introduced to us by our driver as a plant whose leaves were tasty, sour sweet and consumed by the local people there. I did eat a leaf, much to the fear and resentment of my not so adventurous parents to whom ‘old is respect and new is suspect’.