October 14, 2011

Statements, Backlashes and Damage Control

Brood. Brag. Brash. In national interest...

Indians love to talk. And they love to have an opinion on anything and everything. Now since everybody has an opinion and everyone likes to be right, the talk is not always taken in well by all. It need not be. Just a minute... there are opinions on this too, because everyone also has a right to react! Kuch log baaton se react karte hain... kuch log laathon se... (I sense you are getting my hint ;))

Day in and day out people make public statements, often at the cost of another, with a menial aim to malign or attempt to sabotage efforts by another, whatever they may be. We know of people who have been the ‘statement givers’ lately and from all sides of the coin (yes the coin does not have only two sides... we should go back to the stone age where pebbles were used for coins... they make a better metaphor giving endless dimensions to everything, which as a matter of fact, is true).

Any observer would notice that these statement givers are part of a larger ‘team’ or ‘group’ whose ideals and core are symbols of something else altogether. They have known to cause more damage and severe dents to what the group stands for. Here we need to keep in mind that the ‘group’ refers to ‘any’ group – political, non-political, anti-political, socialist, anti-socialist, pessimist... so on and so forth. We can leave aside religious groups since they are naturally marred by controversy and give rise to other groups who call themselves ‘above’ religion but still have strong religious undertones.

Religiosity (or the non- of it) is congruent with the very existence of the homo sapiens species of creation. Ya, ya, there can be many arguments over the opinions that exist on this. But I don’t see the logic how one can deny religion not being the basis for one’s choice of religion, atheism and even spiritualism. Ok, enough of digression. We’ll discuss that in a later post.

Coming back to statements, we love them dramatised and in true Bollywood ishtyle. And then there are the reactions... of all imaginable kinds – from soft and harsh words to gaalis in the ascending order up to even murder. And that is not the end of it. ‘Reaction’ is not singular. It is a series of actions and reactions and further statements and further reactions till we reach a tipping point. This is the ‘damage control’ mode.

This is the most destructive mode of all. What the statements and backlashes don’t do, the damage control does... or recently has shown to be doing. It further dents the image and dilutes the issue redeeming it irrelevant and dissipated. The focus shifts on something else. Maybe that was the purpose in the first place. And then, maybe not. But this mode is by far the most time consuming and energy consuming... much more than the other two put together and doubled. Also in the futile attempts to clarify that follow, more things are given a place and a ladder – more statements, controversies, team-breaks, speculations and mass judgements. Has the damage been done yet?

Utterly spicy and entertaining, these things however, raise sharp questions on convictions, the conflict of individual perceptions and what the others would like to hear, the fight for singular supremacy  and above all the sheer degradation of respect for values and the inability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not. No doubt it is a Herculean task (or maybe more) to keep a group consistently motivated, enthusiastic and on the same platform. Higher the stakes, higher the level of difficulty.

But we Indians love to talk. Talk out our mind ‘as it is’. Welcome to the circus... we are always in town!

October 3, 2011

Two of the Shiva trilogy...

(A brief review of the The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi)

It was after a long time that I read a book cover-to-cover in one sitting (well almost)! The last one I read was the Devi Bhagvatam – absolutely fascinating to the core... what I got from that book will probably never be written on this blog, rather, it can’t be written. And before anything else, there is no comparison whatsoever between Amish’s books and the Devi Bhagvatam. Please... get that straight.

That said, let’s come back to the two books that caught my fancy in terms of devoted time – The Immortals of Meluha and Secret of the Nagas – both authored by Amish Tripathi.

For a quick introduction, the Shiva trilogy is a work of fiction with Indian mythological characters and philosophy as its base.  Needless to say Shiva is the central character depicted as a raw, ruthless tribal who comes to realise his ‘godhood’ as events unfurl in his life. The author has also tried to bring in a contemporary relevance to the entire thing and there are parts where you can relate to current issues irrespective of whether or not the author intended to do that in the first place.

The language is essentially ‘everyday’ and doesn’t evoke a sense of the literary pleasures of reading. But still you can’t put it down till you are done with it. Maybe that’s the beauty of it. It flows effortlessly and you can read fast! So what was it about the books that made me read them without putting them down??

Firstly, they are all Shiva and I am an ardent ‘fan’ of Shiva – the Shiv tatva, the Shiva energy, the Shiva bearing or whatever other names we may have. Now don’t ask me to explain what that means... I can’t. And I won’t elaborate further on this.

Secondly, the author has beautifully hinted upon historical events and placed them in a fashion that can still be related to. Even the names of his characters and geographical locations find a base in our historical setting. Though the plot is fictitious, this resemblance simply reflects the author’s intensive homework... right from the Kailash Parbat and Mansarovar to the Indus Valley civilisation (which is also known as Meluha) to Kashi, Ayodhya, Bengal, Magadh, Dandakaranya and Panchvati. His description of these places somewhere poked me about them being present situations too. For example, the book mentions areas like Magadh, parts of Bengal and Orissa as being infected with plague with generation after generation battling the epidemic. What I read and later found out was that the Magadh region (which geographically denotes present day Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and a little from Bengal and Orissa) even today has alarming levels of plague, malaria and dengue... to the level of epidemic.

His depiction of different kinds of society, outlooks, perspectives, concepts of good and evil, god and human, etc. somewhere seemed to make sense in my understanding of social and political situations. The book is not an antidote and does not provide solutions but it gave a fresh perspective on what a section of our society would think like.

Specifically, I loved the way he has portrayed Sati, Shiva’s wife and his relationship with her – of mutual respect and love. She is a daring woman, highly dignified, brave and intelligent warrior, a good student and most importantly one who does not compromise on her self-esteem. And yes... she upholds Shiva’s respect to the helm and is ready to take on the world for him. And so does he! Shiva is himself unabashed, uncouth to an extent, smokes grass and gives an impression of being ‘cool’ and ‘chilled’. He has his own inner demons and a troubled past that he is unable to let go of. But what is striking of him is his compelling search for his inner soul, trying to make sense of his ‘purpose’, the love for his wife and child, his ability to see through things, give an entire new meaning to his ‘purpose’ and his sincere attempts to live up to the title bestowed upon him – the Neelkanth.

Though the book goes all good-good and win-win for Shiva (which pulls it down from being a collector’s item), it lightly touches upon issues of caste, untouchability, dirty politics, geographical identity divide, unjust rules to mention a few. His depiction of the societal laws, the need to revise them as per the time and conditions, constantly look out for the larger good all seem to make sense but do not provide any solutions. They tend to get lost in philosophy. Not that the book is expected to provide solutions; its purpose is entertainment. But what I’d like to see more in the third part is the demons in Shiva’s mind and his past which seems to be relevant to his present condition.

Waiting for the third in series – Oath of the Vayuputras...

Best Always!

The First Post

Though I have been contemplating writing (seriously) for a long time now, the idea never saw the light of the day. I began writing but never completed what I undertook. So now I have a compilation of incomplete works which I now propose to bring to life by reworking and completing them or junking them if no longer relevant.

I thought hard on what my first piece should be and a flurry of topics came to my mind but not one was convincing enough to fill the top slot. Finally I thought it is best to go back to the source – the Shakti, the infinity from where I arise, from where this Srishti arises and dissolves back into. To write about Shakti is probably beyond my reach and comprehension but what I present here is how I have seen her manifest and understood little about.

Caution: This is my FIRST attempt at poetry and I have failed miserably each time I tried to express through poetry before this. So, just get the feel and the intention and ignore the technical aspects. Thank you.

Shakti you are, manifest everywhere
Durga here and Kali there
Lakshmi, Saraswati and still many other
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the life in the air I breathe
You are the light on the path I tread
You are the Master, the father, the brother
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the song my soul so rhymes
Gives me the strength to stand tough times
You are the One, naught any other
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!

You are the divine in Shri Guru’s feet
Where the essence of you and my being meet
Making me realise you are not another
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!
Salutations to you O’ Holy Mother!