Friday, December 29, 2006

Telltales of a fundamentalist:
1. He is really a Chauvinist who strongly holds that his culture, society, country, religion or his people are greatest.
2. He continually tries to absorb ‘only what is good in other cultures and countries’. Thus he puts lots of focus on demarcating the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’.
3. He is poor in his communication skills in any language, and may even admit that though he cannot put his thoughts in right words but his thoughts are still ‘right.’
4. He is superficially a very ‘secular’ person who ‘respects other religions also’.
5. He also continues to assert that is being humane in his ways
6. He assures that ‘excessive’ freedom is bad. And so the freedom of Press should is most essential to be put in control. The Sting Operations are the obvious proof of it where personal areas have been intruded.
7. He instantly feels offended whenever anything critical of his goodies emerges. He tries to suppress it there and then. Thus he practices Obscurism in some way or the other.
8. In the present scenario, he holds that Judicial Courts are going out of their limits. He would not be disagreeing that the politicians are also bad, either.
9. Regular performer of rituals and other religious activities.
10. His frequent defense is Counter-allegation. ‘You didn’t do good either’.
11. He never understands poor quality from another variety. ‘A rural life is different from urban life’ is a classic case. Urban life is not perceived as evolution of rural life.
12. Also he, thus, holds past to be superior to either present or future.
13. Believes that theory is different from practicality. Debate of Idealism versus Realism goes on for ever with him. ‘Practicality or reality is away from what you learn in books.’ (Maybe he is the best teacher of it!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Negatives of Lucknow’s ‘Aap’-culture.

Pehale aap.” “Nehin, pehale aap.” And the train sets away rolling.

This is the most vivid picture that comes to our mind, the moment we talk about the Awadh’s (formerly, for Lucknow) ‘Aap-aap’. And even when the train is missed out in surmounting one’s ‘pehale aap’ (‘you first, please’) on the other, Lucknowites are still proud of it. For, now this is seen as the symbol of the city’s greatest patronage to two popular language of the country at their distinction, the Urdu and the Hindustani. Javed Akhtar, Naushad, K.P. Saxena, -- don’t know how many noted literati have taken routes to fame through the streets of Lucknow.
But, like we keep one-track thinking for most of our subjects, so do we do here. Because we consider only ‘aap’ to be pure and the best, and the rest to be sub-standard-- ‘Tum’ is more of plebeians. The two are never evaluated against their merits and demerits— formal or informal, stressful or comfortable. All ruled out—it has got to be ‘Aap’, always.
Due to my regular intercourses with many other dialects, of late I have stumbled upon some disadvantages also of the ‘Aap’ word. For once, people see it as mark of submission to their ideas. The resistance or protest laced in ‘aap’ is perceived to be weaker than other second-person pronouns.
Secondly, the communication is obstructed as the users of the word continue to remain more formal with each other. This makes them to put more focus on avoiding getting hurtful than speaking out one’s mind. The father-son relationship, friends relationship, it all remains un-warm, un-sharing, and taut, till ‘aap’ acts as the binder.
Also, the patrons of ‘aap’ often feel offended at the slightest piercing by ‘tu’ or ‘tum’. This is because there is a natural expectation of reciprocating Respect while giving it to the other. One does not realize that he may, infact, be compelling the other, against his will, to do that.
The ‘aap’ culture is also repressive on the use of swear-words. Now however illicit it may sound, but the fact remains that abuses too are used to depict some of our basic feelings, like anger or extreme love, in their varied degrees. There is an un-obstructed pouring of feeling by their use. ‘Aap’ keeps us shackled us to certain fixated ideas beyond which it becomes Intrusion.
I think the word itself sees it origin from other native dialects, ‘Bhojpuri’ and ‘Awadhi’— variants of Hindi, which lent it to Arab soldiers during Mogul rule in India. Urdu, meaning the Camp Language, was evolved as the fusion of Hindi and Persian happened. Speakers of both these languages would use this word to keep off any confrontation among them, while fighting for the same ruler. They surely must have been under stress while keeping company of the other ‘strangers’. The stress of those times, to date, gets carried down by excessive use of ‘aap’. Later, even Mogul rulers adopted it, and thus it became the king’s language.
Today, since it’s so many centuries now, Lateral thinking is required to re-explore the pros and cons of ‘Aap’.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Our misplaced obsession about Bhagwad Geeta

Thousands of years, and this scripture is still so current. This has been the guide of the Hindu lifestyle, and may I propose- the Indian lifestyle, since time immemorial. And amazingly enough the ancient philosophy finds its relevance in our lifestyle even on this day, despite so many social and technology-driven changes. I was mesmerized to see the rock sculpture of Shree Krisna and Arjun on their chariot, on the battlefield, with Krisna’s forefinger stretched outwards (to the enemies) at the entrance of IIM-Lucknow. Perhaps this is the first and most classic case of war-management, wherein the Advisor—or the manager, in the seat of the chariot pilot, changes the ordained outcome of a war, the Mahabharata.
The holy Shlok(the Verse) associated with this famous scene read:
Yadaa yadaa hee adhramasya, glaanir bhavati bharatah,
abhyuthanam dharmaya, tadaatmaanam shrijaamayham’

Meaning:
Whenever shall the Adharm (the evil) humiliate this land,
I shall be reborn to establish the Dharm (the righteousness).

But soon, I begin to wonder that the entire philosophy of Geeta is deemed to have been contracted in this Shlok along with another famous one, mentioned below; and this is what looms over the masses, no matter how they are acting:
Karma kiyae jaa fal ki ichcha na kar tu insaan
Jaisa karm karega tu, waisa fal degaa bhagwan.
Meaning:
Keep going with thy work, without bothering for the fate,
For how thou shall work, thou shall be rewarded
.
I must mention that this one a vox populi interpretation of the scripture, coined as recently as 16th or 17th century.
The theory contained in these verses is so ambiguous that the entire demarcation of the good and the evil is comfortably fuzzed up. Every person can find its relevance in his deeds; so much so that the superego to judge the good and the evil is sent to summer sleep as the meaning of Dharm itself becomes so hazy.
Take a few examples- anytime a murder is to be carried out, the whole trauma of conducting the heinous act can be overcome by recalling Krisna’s Shlok.
Every time a burglary is done, Krisna’s picture is conjured up in mind to hold the belief that the booty rightfully belongs to us! And if it is not delivered back, then we have the Dharm to snatch it away. On occasions, a girl can also be eloped with, for Krisna is famous for one such act also.
More than anything, it is the commoners’ self-styled interpretations of the entire book which lends such dubious place to it. The interpretations are stuffed with logical inconsistencies which are overcome by mere stifling of doubts.
Back in early nineties the teleserial, Mahabharat, had presented some of the more consistent explanations of the scripture for the commoners. The teleserial was a phenomenal success, may be, in the history of entire world. Some of the more tenable arguments now pervaded through the commoners. Like, they could now argue with increased confidence the prevailing inconsistencies in the society in regard to place of women. The womanizing behaviour and the Butter-pilferage deeds of Krisna were understood in more Dharm-compliant manner. In short, the morality and the act were construed against each other.
However, what this teleserial couldn’t have done for obvious reason was to call off so much of obsessive belief in the doctrine of Karma. I have often noted people clinging to it in many of their arguments when they find themselves defeated by other theories. It is well known fact that matters of life and death are still un-deciphered by present advances in Sciences. Since the Geeta mostly lies down the facts pertaining to these matters, an ultimate and insurmountable resort to Bhagwad Geeta saves them complete humiliation. The result is that they become deaf to many other doctrines which have relevance for moments other than birth and death. They even become rejecting to the idea of finding more current and deeper theories of these mystic matters also.
IIM-L may be having the rock sculpture to inspire its students to deliberate how motivation through speeches, careful planning, and out-of-norms tactics by Krisna won the war to the Pandavs from the mighty Kauravs. Who knows how many of us Indians see this as another proclamation of the Bhagwad Geeta theories over the rest!