Friday, November 08, 2019

Book Review - In Search of Heer by Manjul Bajaj

Photo Credit HERE
In a modern re-telling of an ancient story, first told by Damodar Gulati in the 16th century, author Manjul Bajaj, joins the many versions of the same story told over the years, by many authors and poets. However, this time, the distinctive pen which is the author’s mark, is written in the 21st century with an engaging, often, addictive method of narration. Having done this, Manjul Bajaj joins an illustrious group of writers and poets, filmmakers who have written on the same theme, Heer and Ranjha. 

In Search of Heer is a simple tale, starting with the love story of Heer, the beautiful daughter of Mihir Chuchak, a rich landlord of Jhang Syal , and Ranjha, the spoilt and handsome son of an affluent landlord in village Takht Hazara, who are destined to meet and fall in love and marry with the support of Heer’s father, in somewhat of a concealed manner, unlike a big, fat Punjabi wedding, with relatives, from far and near thrown in. The secret is found out by Heer’s paternal uncle, Kaidu Langra, and all hell breaks out as he connives with Heer’s mother, and weds her off to Saida, of the Khera clan, equally, wealthy. But the reader must find out what happens to Heer in this marriage. 

In the meantime, Ranjha has realized that he has lost Heer, and must now find the balm to his broken heart by embracing the spiritual path. A flutist, whose music has a soul, Ranjha is well nigh liberation but is again pulled back by the appearance of a crow, which reveals to him, that Heer is waiting for him and so he must waste no time but proceed immediately to where Heer is. Ranjha leaves with his flute totally naked of any other desire but to find his Heer.

In a strange twist of events, Heer finds a friend in her marital home, who is her sister in law, with no less a hidden love story in her heart and the reader is allowed a peep into what might happen next. Breathe easy. You are about to commence into another rough ride with many twists and turns.  

This said, In Search of Heer, is much more than just a story re-told. There are many lessons to learn from the many voices that narrate the story – crows, pigeons, goat and each is has a unique voice, I most loved to engage with. A humungous amount of research has gone into telling the reader more about each of these animals and birds so that the reader is enriched in many other ways, understanding the nature of these creatures. Research has also gone into the life of an ascetic and someone in search of a spiritual life, which gives solace.  

However, for me, the most endearing parts were the role of Heer as a feminist icon. She exudes courage, valour, willfulness, and is stubborn and outspoken, uncompromising. Yet, vulnerable and receptive to love and longing. Her questions are relevant to our times, and many of us can hear our own voice in her words.

No less enchanting was the spiritual side of the book, without being religious. It calls the reader to conclude that there are no short cuts from sex to super-consciousness, except by actually living it. And the way out is through. The symbolic crow is the id in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis as it were. Love lived in totality may well be the eternal transcendence we seek as humans.

The book is a living testimony of a skillful hand at work and an astute intellect that can gather the story from many quarters and reproduce a new version which appeals to the modern, 21st century reader and their understanding and engagement with love in its many facets.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Politics of Laugh Jihad

Hardly had we recovered from the shock of HRD Minister, India, Sri Ramesh Pokhriyal, stating that premier institutes in India, like NIT and IIT, must focus their research much more on our ancient Indian science because, after all, it was not Sir Isaac Newton who discovered gravity, but our science already knew all about it much before the western world became aware of it even. But even before we had time to cogitate over it, his colleague, Minister of Railways Sri Piyush Goyal had proved Sri Ramesh Pokhriyal wrong by stating that it is indeed, Einstein who discovered gravity. Many trolls followed on Twitter

In the face of two very ‘scholarly’, RSS cadre members of the ruling party in India, naturally, recent news that in fact there was no Aryan invasion in India, because in Rakhigari, Hariyana, the lead researchers of this soon-to-be-published study — Vasant Shinde and Neeraj Rai, said that DNA tests on the Rakhigari human skeleton established the knowledge ecosystem in the Vedic era was guided by “fully indigenous” people with limited “external contact”. This has seriously dislodged the Aryan invasion theory which holds forth that a set of migrants came from Central Asia armed with superior knowledge and arms and invaded the existing settlements to establish a more sophisticated civilization in India and pushed the original inhabitants down south. (Read ET article here)

Having said that, we now are faced with a very big question, as to who then are our brothers and sisters of another religious background? 

Please to note, we have quoted so-called ‘scholars’ in the above article and hence, we must now visit the Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister’s Blog.

My growing fascination with the writings of author, activist, Jaya Sharma, has raised my eyebrows which refuse to return to place, after she has quoted the sannyasi Chief Minister of UP, Sri Adityanath Yogi, to say in his blog, “We have decided that if they take one Hindu girl, we’ll take a hundred of theirs. If they kill one Hindu, then we’ll kill a hundred of them.”

Let us pause here, to think who the CM is referring to. If the Rakhigari human DNA has proved that there has not been any invasion from the Central Asian countries, then, who are the ‘they’ in Sri Adityanath Yagi’s blog? If they are indigenous, as the researchers seem to prove, then, the CM’s statement seems null and void – “We have decided that if they take one Hindu girl, we’ll take a hundred of theirs. If they kill one Hindu, then we’ll kill a hundred of them.” All they, theirs, them, are, unfortunately, indigenous only, and there does not seem to be anyone else. So, Sri Yogi, must research his article and make necessary changes, having connected with Vasant Shinde and Neeraj Rai, of the aforesaid discussion published in Economic Times

The honourable CM, is further quoted to state in his blog, and I quote – 

“A system where a girl surrounded with fragrance is enticed into a stinking world; where the girl leaves her civilised parents for parents who might have been siblings in the past; where purity is replaced with ugliness; where relationships have no meaning; where a woman is supposed to give birth every nine months; where the girl is not free to practice her religion; and if the girl realises her mistakes and wants to be freed, she is sold off”. 

The concept of ‘dirty’, ‘stinking’, ‘ugliness’, are all part of Manusmriti which as scholar and researcher, Sreyashi Ghosh, writes in her article here “MANUSMRITI HAS BEEN SINGLE-HANDEDLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEROGATORY POSITION ACCORDED TO WOMEN IN THE POST-VEDIC PERIOD.”

Thus, we can assure that the CM of UP, who must be a hard-cast, post-Manusmriti, patriarchal sannyasi, who has preferred the natural sexual energy to be restrained and controlled in order to not 'pollute' himself, by ejaculation in intercourse, and divert the same energy ‘upwards’ towards God-realization, but, may fall short of final liberation, due to extreme hate for women. 

What you can’t get, you never forget and since longing may not be reciprocated, bitterness is the extreme one tends to feel, thus, writing, speaking, emoting bitterness. Just like Manu in fact, who is noted to be a woman-hater. 

Coming back to the article by Jaya Sharma, What the fantasy about Kashmiri “girls” reveals about men of Hindutva published in CounterCurrents(dot)Org, we must dispel all notions that Sri CM, UP, who is a sannyasi, has any experiential proof of what is sexual, leave alone, sexual fantasy. Hence, his expressions on his blog, maybe pure quotations from Manusmriti and we must as educated, sexually active women, no matter where in India we live, or the world for that matter, take it with a pinch of salt. As the author herself, points out, there is no dearth of virile Kashmiri men, that their women, need to look at ‘other men, of Hindu origin. Having said this, I must again reiterate the scientific report, about the Rakhigari human, that there are only indigenous men and women in India, hence, they, theirs, them that Sri CM, UP, India, refers to are perhaps all one single community.

Sri Piyush Goyal and  Sri Ramesh Pokhriyal, are an encyclopedia of knowledge, of ancient science, as they themselves have proved, to resounding hilarity on all social platforms, like facebook, twitter, etc, which Sri CM, UP, must learn from and change the content of his blog, so that he does not appear to be like his colleagues, very poorly intellectual. Before Ms. Mahua Moitra takes this matter up on the floor of the Parliament, causing more hilarity across the world, it is best to rectify, than to regret.

NOTE: And before I am arrested for writing this post, I wish to say that, the opinion expressed here are personal and the author has tried to maintain what the researcher Sheyashi Ghosh has quoted from Manusmriti by Patrick Olivelle, translation of a “good woman” and is bursting at the seams with loud laughter, rocking her already voluptuous, hungry and angry for sex body. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

War Room - Letter to Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra

Hi Mahua,

Your maiden speech in the Parliament made me sit up, as it did so many globally. It was profound, bold, and pinned the issue you were speaking on, the rise of fascism and the 7 signs that signal its growing presence.

Today, I am not talking about this. Much has been deliberated, tweeted, and shouted on all forums ground, air, and digital.

I want to congratulate you on your strategy – You planned it well as the link given states. It is a wonderful case study of what media, old and new, is all about and how to garner its power to our advantage. Today, it is all about Personal Branding, using digital media, where the War Room is digital and the last elections you won was actually fought on WhatsApp. 

Given the background of just after this resounding victory, BJP has had the 2nd time around, the gossip, slandering and accusations going on from West Bengal and BJP, where media could have hourly discourses on who is right and who is wrong, your the speech brought a sudden shut-down of all such hitherto stone-hurling and shifted the world’s vision to a new platform, that being your powerful speech in the parliament. 

And you! As you yourself quoted in your interview that politics consists of the 3 'M's - Method, Myth - the hype around the person, so that everyone is talking about you, and Magic 

Internet channels went berserk and all platforms, including Social Media, Whatsapp were chockablock with that speech going viral.

So what was it that struck me most? That the old and forever relevant truth – you have only 30 seconds to make your impression, and then, either the audience is with you or they are switched out.  So, your speech managed to do just that. 

Second, a powerful voice, eloquent and clear, forceful even, you commanded attention, trust, and resounding applause on digital platforms. If it did not come at the parliament, where Lok Sabha TV captured the entire speech and the world saw it there and then, then, social media would not have gone berserk either, post the speech.

Suddenly, the whole world became engaged with who is Mahua Moitra

Imagine, using what the PM himself uses so efficiently, being adopted by MPs too to win elections! 

Hats off to the strategy – the first time is the do or die, 30 seconds to make your best impression! 

The rest falls into place automatically, doesn't it?

Note: Views expressed here are the author's only.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Excuse me, please - I am a new India

Let us not begin the day, 15th August 2019, with feelings of patriotism without understanding, what has changed in our country from the time, Pandit Nehru made his ‘tryst with destiny’ speech, which the country heard on the radio if they were unable to come to Delhi. Years of subjugation lead people to breathe easy, because, as Indians, they were returned from the British Empire, what was theirs, to call and to nurture as their own. The change was desperately needed.

No matter, how you look at it, the change was slow – very slow indeed.

It has taken us a long time to disrupt the system, to reach the last man at the furthermost corner of India. It has taken India, to take a roundabout turn and harness its strengths to do what it needed to do.

Ullekh N.P in his book, War Room, describes how the Elections of 2014 was won on digital media, using technology, to its best. The rise of India, as a technology-rich country, did not start in 2014. 

Way back, Bill Gates visited India, and went to Tamil Nadu, to experience the state, because, most of the Indians working in Microsoft, were Indians from Tamil Nadu. He wanted to know where the ‘brains of India’ came from.

The real freedom we need to be proud of is our enormous strength is the technology which we are now garnering not only to win elections but also in all fields that affect our lives. This is creating a new generation of young change-makers who want to do more for their country, in order that hunger, can be eradicated, education can be for all, housing can also be for all. Plus, healthcare is given to all. All, these are basic human rights of an individual. And this was not possible to achieve even after 65 years of Independence!

So, the real patriotism is coming from where it should – young change-makers in every field.    They are leading the disruption in every field and we need to recognize that and move with times, happy to move with the clock, moving forward.

It is not enough to shout Jai Hind one day and relapse into ‘pan-chewing, bidi-smoking, spitting-publicly, defecating-publicly, and using walls to urinate publicly, people. We need leaders who inspire the youth and this is why the youth are happy with the way they can do things today, which they never could, earlier on. Ease of doing business is primary to our country, so we have more FDI in our country. And the backbone of our country remains strong – Economics.

This Independence Day is more precious because the day coincides with Raksha Bandhan (The festival which strengthens ties between brothers and sisters). If yoga is accepted and practiced worldwide, I think that Raksha Bandhan too should become an international festival. 

In the purity of the bonding between brothers and sisters, is an unconditional tie of love, that runs through life – it is by its very nature an emotion spelling out devotion to each other, and protection of each other. In that sense, it is free, because unconditional love and loyalty set us free.

Jai Hind!