Thoughts 97

97: My journey from nothing to nothingness goes through a void.


I've finally got sucked in to writing on a controversial topic, especially during elections: Hindutva. For people who do not know, the word Hindu itself has come from a meaningless non-existing link of religion, and has come to stay to become a religion. Thats a word that will not go away, of course. The word Hindu, from the simplest trace among many similar, comes from Persians refering to us as Sindhus, those staying beyond the Sindhu river and their pronounciation of the phoneme si as hi and dhu as du. That continued to be related to the religion followed here, Sanathana Dharma (the eternal set of righteous rules, so to say) and became earmarked as Hindu, forever.

So what is sanAthana dharma? Among gazillion things, including atheism, through polytheism, to monotheism, without contradicting (surprising to people who take everything on face value), its a religion that classifies categories of people based on their work and since one usually follows work that runs in the family (a doctor's child mostly looks to be a doctor, a marwadi runs his father's business, and so on), its by birth too. A person that subscribes to this *thing* is termed a Hindu, one that voices it (me, with my trumpet!) is a Hinduvadi and this *thing* subscribed to, this *concept*, is Hindutva. With that logic, everyone can be categorized as a Hindu. Hence vasudhaiva kuTumbakam, the world is one family.

Back to political link, its all a contradictory governance, where on the one hand, brahmins are being made a singular minority in a country among a singular minority that is already made of Hindus, due to political nonsense and on the other, we voice that there shouldn't be SC, ST, OBC, untouchability and what not. For the record, there is nothing called untouchability in the Vedas, there are four classes of people, based on their birth-and-work. If its not clear, go back to basics, read them *yourself*, don't voice something that comes from polito-religious freaks who have never studied even basics, and if they have, they deliberately hide it from you in their vote-bank interest. I'll add it here for an easy look up, from the pancama veda that Mahabharata (and no, Mahabharata is not a mythological story, it is Itihaas, meaning history, and a much better recorded one, than our fake schoolbook history) is:

janmanA jAyate shUdrAh samskArAt bhavet dvijAh
veda-pAthAt bhavet vipro brahma jAnAtiti brAhmaNAh

I'm not going to write a commentary on it, but suffice it to say that everybody is a shUdrah by birth, only with values does one become a twice-born (the other three *classes* NOT *castes*), which is similar to a logic that modern education makes a person superior (yes, socially it is so; if not, why be in a society?), studying, reciting and understanding Vedas makes a person a pandit and knowing brahma (for simplicity, I'll translate this as: infinity), does one become a brAhmaNa.

Having said all that, I'll repeat, everybody is a Hindu. Finally, if that is really how great an advanced secular society we want to be, not calling ourselves Hindus, why not do two very simple things:
  1. Remove caste from all government forms and other documents.
  2. Then, remove religion from all government forms and other documents.
Whether we can do so, whether we do so, the fact that always was and will always remain is... ...vasudhaiva kuTumbakam. That has no change, na bhUto na bhavishyati.

Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Thoughts 96

96: I've been trying to be worldly and failing, while not trying to be spiritual and succeeding!

26AS Income Tax India

I was totally flabbergasted when an e-mail from IT India popped up in my inbox at 0140 hrs!!! My first reaction was that they are tracking down people who haven't paid their returns. I haven't this year, yet. My excuse, covering up laziness, is that I didn't have any regular income to do that. Then, I thought maybe its about my long overdue IT refund. It was neither. I read the mail and read again, after I opened the attachments about my TDS account, my 26AS form [Annual (Tax) Statement]. This is what it was, in their own words: The Income Tax Department (ITD) has started transmitting the Annual Tax Statement of taxpayers as a part of its citizen centric exercise.

Interesting, very interesting. However a good move that is, it still reminds me of my job at L&T where I used to make hectic company tours, mostly back to back. That was almost 13 yrs back when my salary was menial -- well, old economy job as it was-- and it wasn't a good idea to put all my money in company tours with travel advance shelved for further tours, till earlier statements were cleared. My co. used to keep my statements pending when money was due to me, and clear it off faster when it was the other way around. There was a simple Chanakya Neeti solution for me: an overdrawn
IOU (I Owe yoU) advance.

All this detour just to say that everyone wants you when you owe them money, no one is going to come and give your dues to you. The age old principles applies to India IT as well. They are not going to mail me for IT refund for AY2007-2008, but they have an account of my TDS ready and mailed for AY2008-2009. Perfect.

In any case, we must all pay our TDS, advance tax, IT returns, however bad our govt utilizes that money (maintains); aren't we "responsible citizens" after all? :)

Vande Mataram, Jai Hind!


It seems that each generation passes on its cumulative frustration to the next one, which bursts out as some form of an angry expression. While movies like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Rang De Basanti and A Wednesday expressed it on the silver screen, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Black Friday tried to subsume the anger towards the end, in the latter by a quote from the Mahatma: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind!

The built up rage on many fronts continues in Anurag Kashyap's latest: Gulaal. The movie came as a shock to me since I saw it without knowing what it is about! I like to be woken up to the world so, every once in a while out of my hibernation. Only from his blog now, I came to know that Anurag considers this one to be his most angry movie, the one that got made during his bad times with our great censor board. On a related note, I never understood why the censors understand only Hindi abuse and not the English ones to be so biased in our own movie certification!

The movie gives us a raw package of the state of affairs in Indian politics: anarchy, extremism and what not under the banner of democracy. There are two words that flash regularly in the movie: "hello there", "hell_ _here". Sarcasm is at its top in the song Ranaji, albeit delivered in a Rajasthani style, dealing with International mess we cope with, under the headings of anti-terrorism, governance, globalization, etc. While Yaara Maula tells us how we reached thus far, Sheher is a song that talks of what happens when the city sleeps and its really scary; if not, it should scare us, because the city always sleeps! ...

... I think I'll stop here, else I'll lose my sleep tonight. We, as a populace, give up thinking about the system for the same reason; I'm just one of us. Or as A Wednesday announced: Just another stupid common man!
has all the songs with lyrics, that you will hum along once the song cuts deeper into you. However, I'll leave you with the lyrics of Sarfaroshi ki tamanna thats modified for a scene in Gulaal:

sarfaroshi ki tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai.
dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazuve kaatil mein hai
waqt aane pe bataadenge tujhe ae aasmaan
hum abhi se kyaa bataaye kyaa hamaare dil mein hai

o re bismil kaash aate aaj tum hindustaan
dekhte ki mulk saara kyaa tashan kyaa chill mein hai
aaj kaa laundaa yeh kehtaa hum to bismil thak gaye
apni aazaadi to bhaiyaa laundiyaa ke til mein hai.

aaj ke jalson mein bismil ek gungaa gaa raha.
aur behron kaa wo relaa naachtaa mehfil mein hai
haath ki khaadi banaane kaa zamaana lag gayaa
aaj to chaddi bhi silti englison ki mill mein hai

dekhna hai zor kitnaa baazuve kaatil mein hai
waqt aane pe bataadenge tujhe ae aasmaan
hum abhi se kyaa bataaye kyaa hamaare dil mein hai
sarfaroshi ki tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai.

Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

Mumbai meri jaan

After a long time, I've seen a good Hindi movie: Mumbai Meri Jaan (MMJ). Rarely more than one movie stands out in this league any year, but in 2008, the other one was surely A Wednesday (AW). Released in 2004, Black Friday (BF) is a movie that falls in this category. There are two common things about these three movies; one, terrorism and another, Mumbai.

Over the past few years, I've thought of writing something about Mumbai, but never have I been able to blog it out well. There were so many things I wanted to write, good and bad, but failing to prove what Mumbai finally is. I always doubted if anyone other than a Mumbaite will ever understand and/ or agree with this. Maybe not. But the fact still remains that Mumbai has this unique thing that no other place in India has. Its truly cosmopolitan. Yes, I have traveled a lot in India. To know exactly what I wanted to say all this while, you got to watch MMJ and see how the movie ends with all the characters. It contrasts so much with other depictions of Mumbai in movies like Satya, Salaam Bombay, etc, all equally true. And on a similar subject, how very well BF, AW and MMJ focus on three totally different aspects, all important! I'd urge you to watch all three movies if you haven't already. I saw AW last year, but managed to see BF and MMJ only recently. All three movies are totally unbiased presentations and though works of fiction are based on true events. Its sad that there's so much furore of totally junk movies without any message, even Oscar fever, but many of us haven't even heard of such great movies.

Although I've not been able to express my love for Mumbai on the weblog ever and perhaps never will, I'll say this following... Of so many of my tours outside Mumbai, there was one thing common: every time I returned back to Mumbai, as soon as I entered the city, I've always said "Home sweet home". No matter where I end up in life, I'll always be a Mumbaite. And yes, it is a lot different than being a Maharashtrian, a Kannadiga, a North Indian, a South Indian or whatever. Its being truly Indian, where there's a place for everyone. Even with all the negativities in the song Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan from the old movie CID, its still Yeh Mumbai hai meri jaan!

Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

guNAs: part 2

... continued from part 1

The guNatrayAs make up the prakRti which in other words is also known as mAyA. Now we know that mAyA has two powers: AvaraNashakti and vikSepashakti. Its AvaraNashakti covers and hides brahman, while vikSepashakti projects the world. I'll come back to this a bit later. Lets try and see the link between the three guNAs here; the respective characteristics or keywords that relate to them being as follows.

tamas: darkness, inactivity, ignorance, lassitude, dullness, inadvertence, stupidity, doubt, etc.
rajas: energy, primal active force, ambition, lust, anger, avarice, arrogance, pride, egotism, envy, jealousy, etc.
sattva: giver of happiness, humility, guilelessness, self-control, unselfishness, purity, contentment, truthfulness, fearlessness, faith, devotion, yearning for liberation. (#1)

Now if we look closely, we see that tamas has specific characteristics to cover things up (eg: darkness hides things, ignorance will lead to not knowing something, etc), while rajas can aid projecting things (eg: arrogance and egotism may lead to a false sense of achievement, etc). So rajas and tamas potentially form the powers of mAyA! sattva, on the other hand, creates a balance between the other two and sets the path for freedom. That is, while tamas digs the grave for one, rajas attaches him, and sattva sets him free. So, in a way, mAyA itself has the hidden potential to liberate.

Let go back to mAyAshakti now. Consider a drama and a role for an actor in it. The person, who is trying to get in a role puts on some makeup. Now the idea of makeup is twofold: hide what he is and then be what he is not. Although twofold, these are not really two distinct steps, its a single step; if the actor hides who he is, he is trying to be someone else already. If he tries to be someone else, there's an implicit idea to hide. Precisely so, Avarana itself results in vikSepa. Taking the classic Vedantic rajjusarpa example or the rope-snake analogy, if due to insufficient light, the characteristics of rope remain hidden, that in itself projects a snake!

to be continued...

(#1: Sw. Nikhilananda's introduction to Atmabodha)

guNAs: part 1

Vedanta builds a lot over Samkhya's description of prakRti. prakRti is made up of three guNAs: sattva, rajas and tamas. Although guNa translates to quality in English, its not literally that. Sw. Nikhilananda of Ramakrishna Math gives a good example to negate this in introduction to Atmabodha. He says that guNa is not a quality the way hardness is the quality of wood, etc. Let me try to explain this a bit. If you remove the quality of hardness from wood, it may have some other quality, lets say brown colour. If you remove that, you'll still have something else, and so on. That is, there are many qualities to wood. Even if you remove them all, it will still remain to be something that you may or may not be able to define, but, yes, it will still be. But with prakRti, its not so; all the guNas add up to make prakRti. Without sattva, rajas and tamas, prakRti doesn't exist! Having said that, lets see what these guNAs are.

rajas is a guNa that adds activity to everything that is otherwise at rest. tamas makes things lie down to inactivity, which is different from rest. Say, if rest is a neutral activity, tamas is a negativity of that resting, which is laziness. sattva is a guNa that bridges rajas and tamas. While rajas is what makes a human nature human, tamas makes it devilish and sattva makes it godly. rajas is what keeps a human being involved in doing something worldly throughout the lifetime (and beyond). Every person, however, is a mix of all three; one of the guNAs maybe predominant though, defining the person's characteristics.

Not only things visible, but things not visible are also made up of guNAs since they are a part of prakRti... everything is. So all bodies, from the grossest to the subtlest are formed of guNas. In other words, all matter is made up of guNAs, all mind is made up of guNAs.

to be continued...