Sunday, June 8, 2008

Of Indomania and Indophillia ………

Today I was watching “The Last King Of Scotland”. The movie did show the historic extradition of all Asians from Uganda. There were around 50000 South Asians living in Uganda at that time. And my Mind wandered off thinking as to how many times Indians faced such problems. I had but one way of knowing, by searching for it in the Internet.

I was not particularly thinking of how many Hindus have been prosecuted in India or abroad because of their faith. There are many such instances. Of course there is Aurangazeb who was possibly the worst ruler any country ever had. His religious prosecution saw no limits. There were the Portuguese who have even cut hands of people worshiping Hindu gods. However I was more interested in finding out how many Indians irrespective of their religion have been a target of ethnic cleansing abroad.

I work for an Israeli company and have seen how strongly the Jews feel not just about the holocaust but also about the event where there were expelled from their homeland by the Romans in the 1st century and had to face innumerable difficulties up to the 20th century because of it. Even now in the 21st century Antisemitism does not seem to die. Did the Indian Diaspora ever suffer like this? I searched the Internet for Answers. Of course other than the few exceptions in Uganda or the Fiji Islands, the Indians living abroad have faced fewer problems. The latest concern for us is Malaysia. It has been reported that around 4000 temples have been brought down and the Indians living there face discrimination in every day life. These are however unconfirmed.

Indophillia is by and large a more recent thing. It started when the British captured Bengal and everything Bering the name of India became a fad in Britain. People tried to find out more about India’s history and culture. They also visited India to understand and see for themselves what they were reading so much about. It is this impression of British India that the rest of the world still believes in. Hindu Philosophy did gain a high level of acceptance when Swami Vivekananda went to the USA. Oppenheimer quoted from the Bhagwad Gita after the Manhattan project was a success. Bollywood movies have made in roads in possibly every European and American country. But the notions about India still refuse to disappear.

The image of India remains that of a land of snake charmers and extreme poverty in the west. With a population of around 1.2 billion and about 23 % of them living below the poverty line this perception is not completely false. However it is not the complete truth. Four of the top ten richest People are Indians. India has the largest Middle class, it is the largest democracy, it speaks around 25000 languages and it has more than 200 different Religions and cultures. I see India more as a mini encyclopedia of the world. India is possibly the only county which has shown against all odds that Secularism and democracy do work in chorus. Mark twain once remarked about India that, “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.”

The perception of the world about India maybe changing, but I guess it will take another 100 years for them to come in terms with reality.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Here come the Rains ……….

The monsoons have arrived in Mumbai, It has hit Mumbai around 3 to 4 days in advance, but certainly are a welcome relief to me.

The monsoon is certainly my favorite season. I wouldn’t miss the sweet smell of the soil after the first rains for anything on earth. The rains bring in with them the most pleasant memories of my life. My mind wanders of to my childhood days. I always enjoyed getting wet and dirty in the first rains as a kid. In fact it was one of the customs followed by me and my friends every year. Rains certainly meant going back to school and an end to the summer vacations. But I do not remember even a single year when I was dismayed about the rains hitting Mumbai and having to go back to school.

In his Poem “The Rainy Day”, Rabindranath Tagore mirrors the feeling of every parent when he says …

Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the forest.
O child, do not go out!

But I guess children are not the ones to adhere to all these rules and regulations. Yesterday when it was drizzling a bit in the evening, I could clearly hear the children playing outside yelling with joy. One look outside the window and I saw almost all the kids in my locality, jumping around the garden. Some were just enjoying the rains while others were showing off their brightly coloured umbrellas to their friends.

Today when the first heavy rains hit Bombay, the first thing I and my colleagues did was to leave our work at the desk to go down and have look at it. There were no shouts and shrieks of joy like the kids, nor did we go outside to get fully drenched. But the joy was evident in every ones eyes. There was nothing but positive and happy thoughts in our minds.

Bombay has had its share of problems with the rains. I will probably never be able to forget 26th July. I was working in Navi Mumbai back then. The long trek back to Andheri was probably the most challenging thing I have done in the last 3 years. Mumbai did come to a halt for two days and I was down for another two days on account of high fever. However these rains seldom bring back those memories. I do hope I don’t face such problems this season and get to enjoy every minute of it.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Myth called GOD ?????

Today I was debating with a close friend the Concepts of Advaita and Dvaita Vedantic Philosophy. I have always been inspired by Shri Adi Shankara‘s version of GOD and my friend is an ardent follower of Shri Madhavacharya. But later in the day my mind did wander a bit… It wandered off to a book which I had read some time back and which challenged my concept of GOD through logic and science.

“Myth” has it etymological origins in the word “Mythya”. The word means False or untrue in Sanskrit. The search for truth in Hinduism is akin to the search for GOD. As Per Hinduism the one and only truth is GOD. Richard Dawkins in his Book “The GOD Delusion” certainly questions this so called fundamental truth to a huge extent. His reasoning is clear and his logic is flawless. Questioning your faith in GOD is the most difficult thing to do. When I discussed this book with my friends most of them were shocked that one book could make me challenge my beliefs. When I asked them to read the book for themselves, one of them was not even willing to touch the book fearing reprisal from GOD. The book converted me from a normal non fanatical believer in GOD to an agonistic. But being an agonistic was never simple. I was not able to accept the fact that my life had no purpose and that I would account to nothing after death and that no part of me would survive once I am burnt in the pyre. It was at this time that as more forcefully drawn to the Advaita philosophy.

I do think I am at peace with GOD for now. I probably have a few answers to the questions raised by Richard Dawkins. However I am still far off from convincing myself beyond doubt that GOD is not just a Myth invented by Man. My own introspection convinces me that there will never come a time in human history when the belief in God is done away with. Many Science fiction writers do imagine a world were the GOD delusion is abandoned once and for all. But I find this hard to accept. Man has always sought GOD in some form or the other. He has sacrificed himself and killed others in his quest for seeking him. Now I would like to point out that the gender of God is another totally different debate. But that is a question I will ask myself once I am convinced of the existence of GOD.

Religion still plays an important part in the legal system of every country. It can have a positive or a negative impact on the people of the country. There are nations where in you can be hanged for questioning and not believing in a particular type of GOD prescribed by the Government. The surprising thing is that the same is true in Communist countries like China where the government promotes the abandonment of the concept of GOD. Of course in their Case GOD is General Mao Zedong. Criticize him at your own peril. They are no more rational than fanatical countries like Iran.

GOD has always been the corner stone of Culture and tradition. Religion the bane of all evils we face in society. These two have always existed and will continue to exist. Our quest to find the purpose of life, if there is one will finally end with GOD. But will we ever be able to distinguish between Truth and Myth? Will we ever get a definitive answer to the question “Does GOD Exist”? I am sure I will not get an answer for this question in my lifetime.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Re-Igniting Blogs

Its been a very long time since I actually wrote a blog (not that 2 was a large number to begin with), But Recent events seem to inspire (or should I say Instigate) me to write again.

A Lot has changed since I wrote my last blog. I see more and more of my friends writing something every day. Pouring their hearts out and being much more honest about their feelings in blogs. I get to see a different person whenever I read a blog written by my friend. I read AB’s Interview in which he has said that writing Blogs is like opening my doors to everyone. I believe that was one of the reasons why I did stop writing. I did receive a lot of flak for the first two I wrote. People laughing and pointing the futility of bringing out petty issues like media not being responsible and letting people known how successful the T20 World Cup was, When they already knew it J . But I must add here that Amir Khan and AB are also not spared for writing their thoughts in blogs.

So I sat again today to gather my thoughts (messy thoughts). Which wander without purpose; which has no need to stay in one place for more than a minute, which can travel huge distances in seconds and look into the minds and hearts of people…..

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