Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Swades Revisited Finale- Spiritualism of convenience.

Contd from previous post…. There is something more that came to my mind (although not everyone of you might be able to relate to it…realization is personal… if you ever talked to me on such topics you’d be lucky enough to notice it). I realized that in every debate related to Indian society, populace, choices, freedom I have very often presented contradictory and confusing views.

I realized that I’ve seen the life here at the village wherein there is very little freedom, very little choices and primary struggle is survival, not prosperity, I’ve seen the life at Alhbd wherein there is a little freedom, people have a couple of choices, I’ve seen the life in Delhi wherein people have more freedom and choices and finally I’ve just been lucky to see the life at UK, wherein people can’t imagine life without freedom and/or choices. May be I’ve read/seen/experienced the best and worst of so many strata of societies wherein excess of one strata is the basic necessity of the other one and taking into account all indexes no particular hierarchical ratings for “best society” can be decided. So may be, just may be, I have not been able to decide what package is best for anyone of any strata and I keep swinging like a pendulum to grab the best of all the worlds, hence the confusion.

Later while I was at Alhbd, I had a good discussion with my mother over the entire puja and concept of spiritualism. I told my mother that I don’t really believe in idol worship very much although don’t deny it at all. I argued that if really these big pujas would be a better way to make Him notice your faith, then would money not be the ultimate God; you spend more of it, have a grander puja and God would notice it more. Then why God, why not do everything to achieve money since it is a way to reach Him.

Well, my mother didn’t have much to argue against it but she felt as if I didn’t like spending money on the puja. She tried to turn the tables on me with this idea but I clearly said that I did the puja because they all wanted and I am not very religious at all. Then I further told her how pandits fighting and pandits discrimination ultimately defies the whole logic of puja-path, that I don’t totally neglect a mandir when I pass by one but don’t believe that running every Tuesday to Sankatmochan will make Hanumanji happy (or maintaining a dry day on Wednesday or any other day will appease any other God, although I didn’t mention this).

Although (to criticize it) this may be called as spiritualism of convenience but I have faith and I don’t hurt anyone by this and the best part is atleast I am not vulnerable to faith-breaks like in incidents like those of Shabrimala and Amarnath.

The interesting part is that my mother had no reply to all this, and in some ways she did agree to what I was saying but she is planning another puja shortly. Seems my arguments were good but not effective enough.

But the point to think is this, is spiritualism only/more effective if you take pains to reach, adulate Him or as Mohan Bhargava puts it across to Ravana in Ramleela, “Dekh taj ke paap Ravana, Ram tere man mein hai” spiritualism is a self-faith and self-satisfaction thing. (thanks to Sid for making me realise the connection)

Update: And this article couldn’t have come at a better time. Read 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 : TOI survey on youth’s take on spirituality!!

Next Blog: Blog Vs Diary!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Swades Revisited-III-Apni To Paathshaala

The day after, while I was waiting for a local transport (now jeeps run from my village to bus stand every 30 mins) beside the school of the village.

I had to admire this school because what was earlier a dilapidated building hardly running classes till 5th class was now well bordered area hosting classes till 8th. To make matters still more circumstantially coinciding with Swades’s plot, a part of school also hosted panchayat’s meetings; and in case of disease outbreaks, it was also used as a make shift hospital.

My cousin sisters had bunked the school to see me off and were with me there so I thought of visiting the school. Each cousin was enthusiastic to take me to their class, so Mohan Bhargava approached the school. It was a typical scene in some classes wherein I could see that the classrooms were much bigger for the no. of students attending school that day. In some classes I saw the teachers had put up a veil of newspaper between them and the students, each busy in their own worlds.

By this time this Swades idea had hit me and I just smiled thinking if there might be a Gitaji too. I went to a cousin’s classroom, expecting Gitaji but I think I was expecting too much. Had I said this to my college friends, they would have said, “Agar tu Mohan Bhargava hai to woh bhi Gita se kam nahin rahi hogi” (replace the name of the characters with the name of the actors). In this class, apparently the chalk had finished so the Gitaji had drawn a typical chemistry diagram of a round bottom flask with spirit lamp, wire gauge for steam forming moisture on a glass rod. The edges of the diagram were thinning down maybe because of small, spent-up pieces of chalks were used for drawing. She told me that she was from a nearby town and simultaneously also managed to keep interrupting the students’ chat-break, quietly asked everyone to continue drawing the diagram in their science copies and everyone willingly followed. May be my cousin had told her that I am an engineer and work in Mysore, so may be she was a bit impressed and a bit conscious while talking.

I took leave from her and visited my other cousin’s class. As soon as I entered, all the students stood up folding hands chanting Namaste in unison. This took me by surprise and I laughed noticing that the same class hosted Sanskrit for class 4th and Mathematics for 5th! I talked to masterji and he told me that he is very committed to teaching these children and wished that all the 5th class children should apply for Navodaya but the students are non-sincere. If I had to name him a character from Swades, I’d name him Mela Ram.

At the end of the visit, I realized that may be women do a better job than men when it comes to social service and selfless commitment; there may always be exceptions but somehow women are able to nurture more passion than men do who most often do it perfunctorily.

I have seen my village trotting to progress; it has a big school and the electricity is also slated to reach the village within a year. So how does the village benefit from me? Well my father had promised to build a room in the school for the children. With now the plans for the school to be built till high school, I have thought of contributing to it. Although resourceless, I will contribute it in one way or the other in future.

Next and Series Finale Blog: My Expts. With Spiritualism (refer to my previous blog to know more) – Conversation with my mother on God, puja, bhagwat and spiritualism.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Swades Revisited-II

Mea Culpa folks! I wrote the last post in a hurry to save the dying blog of mine in a crunch situation so didn’t bother to edit the blog, as I normally do. So changes

  • this grand puja is called Bhagwat as I came to know later

  • Certain other mistakes in word usage.

Anyways, I am here to continue about my visit to my village. And while telling you about the pandits I forgot to mention that the one pandit was fighting with Guru Maharaj (as the name suggests, the supreme pandit) for share of the dakshina which was collected during the dan-dakshina and my mother eventually settled it by paying extra to the pandit.

I was very little interested in the puja, may be because at some point in my life I was a hardcore atheist and although I do believe in God but such display of worship, puja, bhagwat doesn’t appeal to me at all. So while all the time pandits were running through the mantras, I sneaked into the nearby garden to enjoy the cool wind. When my elder brother came to know of this, he (() scolded me for sneaking away from bhagwat.

Well here is the funny part; when I reached home, it got a little dark and everyone was having food, my chachi cracked the joke that Guru Maharaj (GM) had earlier said that in Bhagwats, cow-dung and cow-urine should be taken as charnamrit instead of normal milk, curd, sugar, coconut etc etc. I would have refused to take it or better thrust it down the throat of GM had he tried that. But chachi kept on laughing about it, so that made me suspicious and in the end mummy relented and said that charnamrit did contain a little of the sacred stuff. Now at that time if you give me water, in the dark (if I haven’t already told you my village is a backward village where electricity is still not there) it appeared like urine. Boy, I was furious but it was of no use now. I still smile as I think that I was nagging like a child when this news took me by surprise, although to be quite honest I didn’t feel any difference in the taste probably because of the heavy sugar to counter it. But would you agree to swim in a swimming pool, if you were told that a little boy just pissed a few drops in the pool? ((

P.S.: This incident triggered a good debate between me and my mother on God, Faith and spiritualism when we reached Allahabad but more of that in the next blogs of this series...

P.S.S.: Coming up in the next blog of this series: Mohan Bhargava in my village’s school!!

P.S.S.S.: You wouldn’t want to hear how my chachi went about collecting the urine and how unadulterated sample was tested on my two young cousins ((