Monday, May 30, 2016

Are you jealous?


Click Here for Photo credit

Are you Jealous? - Exploring Ahimsa, Hinsa and the Stick & Hole Theory

“To conquer the inner self and the outer world, we do not need weapons, wars, greed, malice or exploitation, but we need to practice ahimsa, aparigraha (non-attachment or trusteeship of worldly possessions, as against, hinsa, or appropriation of all possessions) and anikant (multiplicity of views.)”

I found this written on a little card given to me, with the hope that I would send in some donation towards the upkeep of the Sri Sumatinath Jain Swetamber Temple, inside naughar, at Kinari Bazar, Old Delhi, while taking a walk written about in Delhi: 14 Historical Walks, by Dr Swapna Liddle.

Of late I have been contemplating deeply on the three words, “Are you jealous?” and while it is true that multiple answers have arisen, as a true seeker of yet another question, Who Am I, the aforesaid, three words, have taken on a status of high priority to me, in my quest for the root question, Who Am I.

Yog Sutra of Patanjali which dates back to 400 CE, talks substantially on ahimsa as the first most important path to follow for a seeker of Truth. When Jainism and Buddhist borrowed heavily from this, it became a way of life.

As an ardent student of Buddhism as taught by S.N Goenka, I have tried to incorporate the practice in my daily wakeful life, personal and professional. The challenge of a 10 – 21 Days Vipassana retreat is now a luxury, I can’t afford, in terms of time, hence, it is wiser to practice in wakeful everyday life. That certainly does not mean that one is not at all times struggling with the inner kurukshetra/war of emotions and their resultant affect on my own life. It is all too well to say that avarice (greed) is the root of all evils and the resultant Hinsa, or appropriation of all possessions is the cause of the war within and without our living experience of life.

As fellow beings, we tend to share each others’ histories and get included in our shared experiences. This forms the foundation of bonded relationships.

While Vipassana may help me introspect and be watchful, the answer to Are you jealous, I think lies with Freud.  A young man of Indian origin, and a Kolkattan, that too, although living in the US has propounded and made the world very simple taking cue from Freud’s Oedipus and Electra complex. He is kind to explain to us that all of Freud is all about ‘Kathi aar phooto’, which translates from Bangla to English as ‘Stick & Hole’ theory. I would say, that the answer to the profound question, Are you jealous lies in this simple theory that classifies the entire human experience into two simple facts – (a) kathi/stick (b) phooto/hole. Why then bother about the dangerous last requirement of practice of ahimsa, that being celibacy. It would be impossible to achieve higher values of this life, both Buddhist and Jains say, without achieving celibacy. Freud would duly put celibacy, which he hadn’t the vaguest idea of, in the context of our higher philosophies in India, into the realm of failed sexual interaction causing the vibrant, compulsive sexual energy to find its escape in Art etc, such as the case of Van Gogh.

Thus, no matter where I look for an answer to that profound question, Are you jealous, I prefer to take the middle path.

- Yes, I would be jealous, if in the first place, I owned or possessed that which I now have lost to someone else.

- But, if for all reasons, that which I have lost, was not what I possessed or owned in the first place, then i cannot be jealous about what I do not and never had.

- But if the ‘Stick & Hole’ Theory is true, then what i do not have in my possession now, I might aspire to possess it in future.

- But if what I aspire for is not my possession now and never has been, I cannot own up to be jealous, because, right here and now, they never were or are my possessions in the first place. Nor have I lost what I never owned in the first place.

Hence, putting aside the question ‘Are you jealous,’ to the shallowness of Freudian Psychoanalysis brilliantly illustrated by the ‘Stick & Hole’ Theory, I prefer to continue to focus on the questions in my quest for Truth, that being ‘Who Am I’.

Returning now, to the main subject of Jainism in Delhi, the leaflet I picked up, says,

“The prime significance of this place, which is the period of Sri Neminath Bhagwan (22nd Thirthankara, out of twenty-four) is that it was established as the capital city of India by the Pandavas who were the chief followers of Prabhu Nemirath Bhagwan, the cousin brother of Lord Krishna.”

Wikipedia has said that the first Digambar Jainas arrived in Delhi during the Mughal era, when the Agarwals were invited by Emperor Shah Jahan to come and set shop here in Delhi. This was very late but we are aware that Jainism spread widely in Gujarat and Rajasthan, including the south. But in the north, we know that there were temples, even as close or thereabouts in Meherauli, for there is evidence in the stones that made up the Qutab Minar built in 1192. In her book, Delhi: 14 Historical Walks, the author, Dr Swapna Liddle writes about the Qutab Minar Complex:

“Around much of the perimeter runs a pillared colonnade. The pillars are mostly elaborately carved and on close inspection one can see many humans, animals and divine figures. Such sculpture seem out of place in a mosque, since depiction of human or animal figures is unacceptable to orthodox Islam as being akin to idolatry. The answer to this mystery lies in the fact that these are re-used material from twenty-seven Hindu and Jain temples that had stood in the vicinity and were mostly destroyed by the invading Turks as an act of war.”

Indeed, before the Delhi Sultanate was overthrown by the Turks from Central Asia, in 1192, the Rajputs, also called the Tomar dynasty in the north, who finally were overthrown by Prithviraj Chauhan, also a Rajput reigned. It is expected that Jainas spread wide in Rajasthan during that period and even before or else the Qutab Minar would not have pillars with Jain Temples.

There are so many histories on the same thing and perhaps all are right. Like anekant (multiplicity of views) one must bear at heart that history is truth told by the historian from his view point which so many times was dictated by the ruling king and dynasty, who wanted history written with them as the centre of the world.

Thus, too with Are you Jealous?'

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sufi Sarmad Shaheed - Excerpt from Delhi: 14 Historical Walks by Swapna Liddle

Photo credit below
If you are in Delhi and are visiting Jama Masjid, and have arrived using Gate # 1, then, on your right, is gate #3, beside which is the shrine of Sufi Sarmad Shaheed. 

Writes noted historian of the Mughal era, Swapna Liddle, in her book Delhi: 14 HistoricalWalks 

“He was a successful trader but while on a trip to Sindh, he converted to Islam and also became attracted to mysticism. He distanced himself from worldly concerns, his asceticism even leading him to discard his clothes. After travelling around for a while he came to Delhi, where Shahjahan’s son, Dara Shikoh, himself interested in mysticism and with an unorthodox approach to religion in general, became his disciple. Dara Shikoh, however was put to death on orders of his brother Aurangzeb in a tussle over succession, and Sarmad wound up on the wrong side of the political divide. His unorthodox ways gave Aurangzeb ample ammunition against him. Sarmad’s nudity was one charge against him. The other was that when asked to recite the Islamic creed – ‘There is no God but God and Mohammad is his Prophet,’ he stopped at ‘there is no God,’ saying that his attempt to understand the mysteries of God, he had so far only got to this stage. Sarmad was found guilty of heresy and beheaded at the orders of the emperor. The story of his death itself is interesting and has two versions. One is that as soon as his head hit the ground, the full kalmia was spoken from his mouth, and the head rolled the distance from the palace to the Jama Masjid reciting praise of God. The other version is that the headless body picked up the head and started to walk towards the mosque in anger. As he reached the foot of the steps, the voice of his spiritual master, Syed Hare Bhare Shah, who was buried there, was heard to ask, ‘where are you going?’ When Sarmad replied that he was going to lay his case before God, Hare Bhare Shah persuaded him to give up his anger as he had reached his destination. Sarmad’s body collapsed right there, and he was buried at that spot. The interior of the shrine is painted red. Next to it is the shrine of Hare Bhare Shah.” - Excerpt from  Delhi: 14 Historical Walks By Swapna Liddle  

Note: All Links below are my choice.  

References:  Click here for Dara Shikoh 
                       Click here for kalima

Photo credit: HERE

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Review: Axxiss and the Magic Medallions

Tim Murari’s second YA fiction, Axxiss and the Magic Medallions, (the first of a trilogy), is a fascination journey of six teenagers from different parts of the world, with one thing in common – they all wear a medallion placed around their necks at different times of their lives, medallions, whose chain does not break and are similar to each other, making the kids, ‘special’.

‘… a massive earthquake, 12.5 on the Richter scale, the largest ever recorded, has struck hundred miles north of the Australian coast in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.’ (Pg 11)

This is the beginning of a wild leap of imagination that stretches over time, space, digging up the past, fantastic meeting with world renowned scientist who proved the theory of gravity, and the brilliant development of the story, that makes the six teenagers come together, to solve a common problem.

The problem is as follows: Due to the massive earthquake, Gondwana land, which was buried deep in the ocean for many centuries, has emerged and is threatening to submerge the earth and establish itself in place of the earth. Surrounded by malicious creatures, Gondwana land must be submerged again, in order that the earth may survive. The key to this lies with Axxiss, although he does not know it yet and must wait for the solution, which will emerge from his medallion.

The story moves speedily albeit with a lot of struggle for our young team of six, but nevertheless, they are able to overcome all hindrances and dangers. They have been kidnapped by forces of evil men and women, to meet their end. The boys and girls are away from home and at once desperate to return to where they came from, on the other hand, they must fulfill the task of bring the earth to its rightful place and push Gondwana land back to where it belongs.

Axxiss and the Magic Medallions is a book that can be read at many levels. At the top layer, is this awesome adventure of these six young boys and girls, but beneath that there is another layer, that addresses the young mind of main characters of the book, making it a YA fiction.

There is the third layer as well, which is only revealed in the last and final chapter. And that is a magic number.  Two quotations from the book are critical to what I have just said. They are:

‘If the surface of the earth was the conscious, then Gondwana was the subconscious of all those who lived above. It was the dark, dark side that prowled beneath the surface of the conscious in every creature, especially the Above Creatures.’ (Pg 147) 

Now, who are the Above Creatures? This will emerge only much later in the book. Axxiss is the chosen one on whose medallion the secret will appear.

‘They stared at Axxiss’s medallion waiting for it to reveal its secret. ….What showed up was a set of numbers: 4-20-7.’ (Pg 230)

Now, dear reader, go figure!

Tim Morari leaves his reader with almost a Sudoku, which until solved, the reader cannot put the book down. Thus, shifting the power to the reader, Morari, manages like an astute dramatist to pull his reader into his plot, involving him, engaging him till he has found the answer. He must now join the famous six searching the meaning of those three numbers, put singly, or in a combination, or whatever!

It is a stroke of genius on the author’s part that makes for an end where the main characters and reader together, must to find the solution to save the earth.

Helpful Hint: One of the combinations of the number(s) is a helpful angel. Go wrack your brains over it, now.

Publisher: Scolastic India Pvt Ltd
A-27, Ground Floor, Bharti Sigma Centre
Infocity-1, Sector 34, Gurgaon 122001 India
Author: Tim Murari
Pages: 232
Price: 225 Printed Version

About the Author: Timeri N. Murari’s career spans journalism, novels, non-fiction, screenplays and stage plays. Children of an Enchanted Jungle is his first book for Scolastic. He has written novels, including The Taliban Cricket Club, which has been translated in more than 20 languages. His latest novel, Chanakya Returns, was published in 2014. For more, visit his website by clicking on this LINK LINK 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Ilahabad (Persian for "place of a god") best for Triveni Sangam & The Kumbh Mela

Whatever be the reasons, old and new, if you are going to Allahabad, go only for the Triveni Sangam, which means the confluence of three rivers – the Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati.

Our boatman told us that the way to identify the rivers is with the colour. Yamuna, being greenish, Ganga, brownish and when they come together, they become a light colour of bottle green. River Saraswati, which was the third river, is mythical and is said to flow below, is now really silent. Dried up, I am told. But the pandas (priests) and the boatmen will not tell you that, because, their livelihood is dependent on. The boatmen take you to the middle of the river for your dip at the confluence of all three rivers. 

A man ties his wraparound after having a dip in the river

This second most ancient city in India, Allahabad was therefore called Prayag (place of offering, because of the confluence of the rivers). “Allahabad was originally called Kaushambi (now a separate district) by the Kuru rulers of Hastinapur, who developed it as their capital. Since then, Allahabad has been a political, cultural and administrative centre of the Doab region. Mughal emperor Akbar renamed it Ilahabad, which the British changed to Allahabad. In 1833 it became the seat of the Ceded and Conquered Provinces region before its capital was moved to Agra in 1835. Allahabad became the capital of the North-Western Provinces in 1858, and was the capital of India for a day.’(See Wikipedia: Allahabad)  

In the political history of India, as well as in Education, Allahabad, continued to be of importance and in fact was called ‘the Oxford of the east’.

However, today it is best known for the Kumbh Mela See BBC Report on Kumbh Mela 

More Photos CLICK Here