Was the Varna System Casteist?

The ancient societal structure of Varnas was that of a cooperative guild system where different classes or sections of people catered and complemented one another’s requirements which added to the overall welfare of the society at large. It was a mutually beneficial cooperative federal system where people across the classes were conscious of their moral and societal duties and the rights came innately with Dharmic compliance. Even a peek into Dharmashastras reveal that  that the Varna system was never about castes but a system of occupation based identity where laws were applicable in accordance with the roles and responsibilities one carried.

But it is ironical today that although we live in a system that constitutionally legitimizes inequality by celebrating reverse oppression based on alleged and generalized oppression theories of the past while normalizing mediocrity and unaccountability all in the name of affirmative action by providing for increased and incessant reservations with each passing year, the history text books still seem to compensate for the consistent political impotency by a sustained vilification of the Varna system _ a system that helped societies thrive in the Vedic age 4000 years ago.

The trigger for this post has been the CBSE class VI syllabus that teaches that the Varna system instituted inequality and was an oppressive system as if today’s provisions of Socialistic Democracy – stricken with reservations, mediocrity and BritishRaj diktats has led us to become a superpower.

The Vedic seers established the Dharmashastras based on the requirements of the then society, which were later enhanced, amended and appropriated with time but to be viewing the past social construct under the present prism and viciously attaching a political narrative to attack an entire civilization is a gross injustice to the history and heritage of our glorious lineage.

Understanding the emergence of Varna Vyavastha

To begin with there were no Varnas in the Kriti Yuga as life was very simple, easy and blissful. Life was based on Dharma with no ego, greed, complexities, cruelty, anger or desire or differentiation amongst people, there was no king nor any Veda in this Yuga. Life was sustained on something called ‘Madhu’ which was abundantly available and no special efforts or skills were required to get it. (Note Madhu here is not the honey produced by bees)

As time passed Dharma was weakened and the complexities of life increased. In the Treta Yuga, life is no longer simple and can no more be sustained on mere Madhu. Agriculture is not yet known, few trees and cereals grow and there is a need to learn new skills and crafts to sustain life. In the Treta Yuga differentiation sets in and the 3 varnas of Bramanas, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are formed as the need for sustenance grows.

(I use the present tense ‘life is no longer simple‘ because the ChaturYuga is a repetitive cosmic cycle)

The 4th Varna of Kshudra perhaps began at the end of Dwapara Yuga or at the beginning of Kali Yuga as even in the Mahabharatha there are references of the fisherman class(Suta) or the hunter class and not of the Kshudra.

Thus the Varna Vyavastha that evolved as a result of increasing human capacities was simply the emergence of a cooperative guild system where people from the same profession grouped up as guild communities, working towards the common goal of mutual sustenance and harmonious living. It was never meant to establish any higher or lower status in the society. It was just a vritti or occupational arrangement for the overall prosperity of the society but in the white man’s imperial quest, the Varna system was superimposed with the divisive constructs of the European class system and christened as our own indigenous caste system that has been successfully sustained and even thrived with booster shots of politics.

As regards to the oppression theory where it is alleged that only Brahmins were entitled to the knowledge of Vedas or learning, here is a gist from a commentary of what the Smrthis say:

The obligation of studentship was so paramount that any member of these 3 varnas not accepting it would be an outcast. No one was to imitate such men, nor was anybody to teach them nor perform sacrifice for them nor have any physical relationships with and their descendants began to be called Vraatyas(ib, ii, 5, 40 f)”

This shows that Smrithis insisted on compulsory education for all the 3 varnas of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and perhaps the Vraathyas who did not choose studentship ended up as the fourth Varna of Kshudra because the very term ‘kshudra’ in Sanskrit means ‘insignificant’, ‘petty’ or ‘silly’. It was not just in the Rig Vedic period but even in the AtharvaVeda period the dislike is evident as evil things like fever are wished away to distant westerners like Ghandharas, Bahlikas, Mujavants(v, 22,7) and to easterners like Angas and Magadhas.

Magadhas are dubbed as Vratyas in Vedic texts(AV, xv, 2, 1-4) mainly because they did not take to learning. If one looks closely Magadha was mostly ruled by Kshudra kings in history.

The prominence attributed to learning of Vedas from the above passage is conspicuously revealing of the advocacy of mandatory education for all and those who did not learn them were called insignificant. While it is obvious here that imparting of education or knowledge had nothing to do with class or caste by birth although in later periods it did get reduced to family traditions but it is worth pondering if the initial differences in the society began not on account of systemic denial but of individual refusals or indifference or inability to seek knowledge that might have furthered the structure of identity of Varna by birth. And mind you this education was not elementary but a compulsory higher education as studentship ranged from 9 years to 18 years to 36 years in the Vedic times.

Of course in later Vedic period and also in medieval times the duration of years were lessened in accordance with the needs and demands of the different guilds that formed the bulk of the society as most of these guilds were given a free hand to set up their own laws and legislations. The Vedic society was essentially bound by Vedas at large but enjoyed self-governance within the framework of Dharma.

Importance attributed to spiritual knowledge over the mundane

The Vedic knowledge is classified into 2 types namely Para Vidya and Apara Vidya. Para vidya is the experiential knowledge of realizing Brahman – that which cannot be taught but can be realized. It deals with the 4 Vedas, Upavedas and was/is normally achieved with the guidance of an Acharya.

Apara vidya is the knowledge of arts and crafts – the 64 kalas which includes agriculture, science, crafts, medicine, laws, logic etc required in the day to day sustenance.

As more and more people became interested in Para Vidya, perhaps it came to be associated with prestige and supremacy over other skills, this shift in treating the Para vidya as more important than the Apara Vidya where the knowledge of sacred became more important than knowledge of the mundane, perhaps led to the hierarchal supremacy of those who chose the Brahmana Varna just like how choosing the Science stream is viewed as superior to that of Arts, Humanities or Commerce stream today.

Punishments

Most of us have been stereotyped to believe that ManuMaharshi advocated pouring of molten lead into a Kshudra’s ears if he heard the Vedas, isn’t it?! But did you know that a Bramana who did not pronounce the hymns right and a Bramana who did not adhere to the spiritualistic and ritualistic ideals and those Bramanas who received fees for teaching were looked down upon and risked being isolated or even losing Brahminhood. Also the punishments and practices meted out to Bramins and Kshudras differed, the Kshudra had less punishments, a Kshudra got as punishment ½ of what a Vaishya or Kshatriya got and a Bramana got 4 times heavier punishment than that of a Kshudra. Also few provisions show that the status of the Shudra was not so degraded as the master or employer whom he served was required to support him throughout life even when old or disabled for work.

The Smrithis, Sutras and Dharmashastras were a body of laws governing the society that served as a framework of constitution that were evolved and enhanced with time just like constitutional amendments but it is intriguing why in these secular times we have only heard how obnoxious the Manu Smrthi was when there were other Smrthis like Vishnu Smrthi, Yagnavalkya Smrthi and Narada Smrthi!

Checks on Absolutism

In the post Vedic period, in order to keep a check on the king’s autocracy there were advising and administrative bodies like Mantri Parishads, Sabhas and Parishads. A Parishad or a Cabinet of 9 was formed out of a ministry of 37 comprising of 4 Bramanas, 8 Kshatriyas, 21 Vaishayas, 3 Kshudras and 1 Suta(Mbh, 85, 6-11). What do these numbers speak? 21 Vaishyas as against 4 Bramanas, yet it was the Bramanas who oppressed?? Or is it that the Ambanis of Vedic times dominated and high jacked the administrative eco system?

The numbers connote an administrative acumen that prioritizes economic prosperity as the prime factor for a society to thrive followed by military readiness to protect that prosperity within the Dharmic framework to serve the society and lead them to common goal of overall welfare.

End Note

Every framework of social system that shapes a civilization is bound to have finesse alongside its fault lines hence it is best to put history in an as is condition with no ideals or ideologies attached because as they say if Politics is a tree – history is its root, but in times when history has been reduced into a political tool where all social economic or political reforms are in consonance with fabricated and blown up hate filled history of divisive theories of oppression, it becomes imperative to make space and state the other side of the story which has resiliently borne the brunt of vile atrocities of invasive and debilitating socialism in the name of caste system and affirmative action.

Equality is a relative term that differs under the different constructs of social economic spiritual religious emotional intellectual ethnic cultural conditions and it cannot be measured on a scale as per the diktats of a rule book because priorities and practices of individuals differ. Equality can never be absolute in any society and it can fairly be established by defining and inculcating into the society a sense of right and wrong where right is respected and adhered to irrespective of all other conditions.

History should be viewed as a facilitator for learning unlearning and reformation, it should not become a foundationless apparatus for settling scores of alleged past

 

 

 

 

 

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The Vegetarian Fridge

Some three decades ago when the first refrigerator made its way into our home, it was quite literally called as the stale-mate by my grandma, today this stale-mate has gone on to become the soulmate of every kitchen to the extent that _ the taller these fancifully glistening models stand, the better is one’s status symbol. To put it in my grandma’s words (if she were alive today) – essentially your status symbol is directly proportional to the quantity of stale (old) food you consume.

But what does she know _ we are the organized elite educated fitness health conscious modernistas _ while the top most storey is for sprouts, dairy items dosa batter and the slaughtered vegetables sitting tight in their colorful plastic containers for the next day, the mezzanine storey is a miscellaneous mix of all and sundry that look promising enough to survive the battle for the next two days, last but not the least _ the veterans _ they stay on the ground floor as they are too old to climb up the higher storeys but nevertheless they will get all the attention when they are promoted with the best presentation and the most tangy looking toppings to die for! The lesser said about the doors the better as we buy only those pricy organic stuff but hey what else is a door supposed to hold if not for the sauce bottles and all those cheesy chunks with a whole lot of preservatives and transfats!

If this dissection is getting a little too much then I will skip the bottommost basket and straight away head to the topmost hostile and mostly barren region _ the freezer where we actually store frozen desserts and imagine them to be ice creams! But we can only be glad that we need not anymore risk maneuvering our hands through  those icicled cave like freezers frothing with fresh snow in their ancestral versions whose defrost never worked and when it did there was a Tsunami around the whole area. Thank God for the evolution of technology but then designs need to be dynamic too, catering to real needs and cannot be frozen in conventional thoughts.

But I have never understood why these damn freezers occupy such a big share of space today, when all I need is a small pull out of a tray as a freezer (of course with a separate door) and a whole lot of fridge space. I see conspiracy theories here! Yes these fridges seem casteist err read secular and reservation mongering by design where vegetarians are made to pay through their noses even when they would be effectively using only 60% of the space. I wonder why nobody has designed anything exclusively as a vegetarian fridge with a smaller freezer space, a convertible option and located at the bottom with a separate door or draw option.

While some may want to settle for consolatory changes like the new convertible option and say that we could keep even dry rations insect-free in these cold storages and put to use these otherwise barren spaces but would you buy dry rations in a cold storage from a shop? At least I wouldn’t because provisions are best for use when dried in the sun.

Strangely as of now only 2 non-Indian companies namely the Samsung and LG offer this option of a convertible fridge and both of them still have the freezer at the top unlike other brands that are offering the freezer at the bottom but without the convertible option! There is no Indian brand that is competing with these giants.

My fridge shopping quest for the elite monster ended there as I found that not much had changed since the last 20 years in terms of aesthetic or technological or functional value for that matter. Most of the models and features remained the same except a few slight variations here and there, some had shed their sturdy gridwire shelves and switched to easily breakable and delicate fiber shelves and most of them had pathetically designed panels in the doors where neither a 1 liter nor a 2liter bottle could rightly fit, if at all anything major had changed – it was the freezer space that had gotten itself a separate full length door in twin door models. The biggest take away was that my grandma seemed still right as the lesser fridge or freezer space we have the fresher and healthier we eat.

 

 

 

Democracy or Hypocrisy

The word Democracy is perhaps the biggest sham in contemporary politics the world over. Most of us tend to believe that it is rule – by the people, for the people and of the people, but if you read carefully:

Democracy is a system of Government where citizens exercise power directly to elect their representatives to form a governing body

But the truth is your power ends exactly there, your right to elect only means that you have to select from the cesspool of whatever is already there on the stock pile. Once you have elected your representatives there are no easy ways to reprimand or seek punitive recourse against them for any of their inefficiencies or administrative apathy however you will be penalized for the pettiest of nonconformity. Democracy too was launched as a remedial governing module to achieve an egalitarian society but in this quest for instituted equality what has emerged is a debilitated society which vies to be more unequal than ever for socialistic privileges sanctioned under our constitution, rendering Democracy as a sophisticated social veneer to hide the fangs of oligarchy. While Democracy in itself is a great idea but when inflicted with socialism the very essence and spirit of Democracy is harmed.

In ancient and medieval times, the system of governance practiced was mostly monarchy along with some cases of oligarchy but at least things were pretty straight that the king and his bloodline was the supreme authority that remained unpunishable by the ordinary. And those that wanted to change and challenge the regime had to encounter with muscle and military prowess or match up in shrewd strategy to overthrow the king. It is common in history to read about how the nobles of royalty conspired against the king or how slaves came to become prominent and overthrew the very rulers they served, not that things are any different today under Democracy but at least the law of justice was immediate. It was an out and out battle for power where the strongest or the most shrewd survived but at least battles fought were for upholding territorial integrity unlike today’s hypocrisy where power hungry men line up as messiahs to serve the public even if it were at the cost of compromising the national integrity and security.

The British who condemned and castigated away the monarchic system of Kings and introduced Democracy here still continue to have an Oligarchic front in the form of a queen who still wears the stolen diamond on her tiara. And all their Royal Weddings are still the talk of their town, their neighbor’s and everybody else’s town. While such forced propaganda is quite categorical of the autocratic imperial west, the pursuit of our popular editorials to romanticize Monarchy or a dynasty is telling of all that is wrong with our setup of Democracy where mindsets are still engrained with eternal enslavement to past invaders and tyrants, so much that we are unable to take bold steps without a precedent and shudder to believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander too! But the ground reality is what is good for the goose is never good for the gander because no matter how many new governing modules are brought about there is always going to be a ruling class and then the ruled class.

Democracy was brought in as a path breaking alternative to end all those struggles for power with unlimited conspiracies, bloodshed, vengeance, ambition, persecutions, disaffections and defections that prevailed under the monarchic system. If Karnataka, Kerala, Kashmir, Mizoram or West Bengal is any hint, what different is the situation today? Invasions still happen it is just that the world order and all their invasive mechanisms are more sophisticated and more foolproof today.

Although Democracy is the biggest hope, a state ridden with obsolete diktats with a socialist moribund handbook as its guiding force has today legitimized constitutional inequality setting stage for those very vices, reaping rich dividends of division to power brokers who with or without authority still wield powers and whip popular mandates into subjugation, thereby nullifying the spirit of democracy.

Ironically the last time a convicted politician who served his full sentence without bails or paroles was perhaps during the independence struggles under the autocratic rule of the British. The post independent India with a British instituted democracy, even after 70years, still breathes the air of autocracy amongst our Government offices, judiciary, police and bureaucrats who work for the powerful political masters instead of people where petition after petition are heard at the dead hours burning midnight oils to settle matters involving the political elite but justice for the ordinary masses takes decades together. This political-bureaucratic nexus has always kept people in fear and away from participation, abusing the constitutional loopholes and rendering democracy as a farcical facade for ensuring a thriving tyrannical rule.

To add to this, our constitutional lingo filled with Greco-Roman jargons with old English still remains a cryptex to common people. The indecipherability, inaccessibility or lack of understanding or awareness of the constitutional provisions coupled with the problem of nexus nobles of government departments who collude and collaborate to dictate and dilute or even reverse almost anything, is still an imperial slap that aids a reduced participation of the common man in democracy. Post-Independence, India, even after a ceremonial institution of Constitution lost hopes of public participation _ be it the taxation policies, Emergency or the quashing of a SC judgement by bringing an ordinance or dynastic overbearing, autocracy had taken over all along by discarding or deploying those very constitutional provisions at will to suit their unscrupulous functioning, thus systematically discouraging people participation or engagement.

Democracy for the record was an eyewash used merely as an electioneering tool in the last 70 years where people were mostly disconnected from the framework of governance but off late when people are becoming more aware and have starting participating in large numbers, democracy is certainly in danger, you know for whom! The recent bloodbath during West Bengal elections is testimony to the appalling tyranny enforced to curtail the participation of people where there is absolutely no scope for accommodating any adverse opinions. This makes one ponder if it is the despondency of Democracy or the diffidence of leadership to assertively evoke constitutional powers to thwart such tyranny that has emboldened such anarchy!

Even Monarchic times of the kings engaged with people, there were Darbaari Darshans, Diwan e aam, Diwan e khas, and there were times when Kings disguised themselves and went for Gupt darshans where the King engaged in discussions with his people to understand their problems and sought their opinions. The king consulted his ministers, decentralized and delegated powers amongst his trusted folks. The Magadhan kingdom during its ascendancy had social groups called Sabhas that consisted of commoners, priests, elders, military chiefs from all clans and classes. There was no autocracy as it is generally made out to be. The king took advice from the people through these Sabhas that were casteless. In fact there was a clear cut line drawn that Kings were for wars and enforcement of law and order while administration was done by a senate of elders where everyone were given a voice much like in a Democracy. Many kingdoms employed a system of Dvairaajya or Diarchy that prominently emphasizes the importance given to military preparedness along with a mechanism to ensure that the economy and administrative affairs of the kingdom were taken care. There was no need to participate in shrill mindless media debates amidst anti-national panelists or to pay apologetic sickular human right homages by filing FIRs on their own Sainiks _ Traitors were simply put to death, offenders dealt with sternly – justice was done immediately – no haggling in courts for years together. There was no UN obligation of ceasefire but only firing till the enemy ceased. There was no need for a king to appease any caste hence merit, talent and efficiency was nurtured and respected. As a matter of fact the Indo-Gangetic plains during Magadhan ascendancy were dominated by Shudra kings while the Kuru and Malwa regions were dominated by Brahmanas, so you see, clearly Brahmanas were not confined to temples alone nor were the Shudras confined to lowly labour work. Every class fared an equal chance prior to Mohmmedan and British invasions. Hence the Mayawatis and Mulayam Singhs steer clear of Shudra politics and resort to the new liberal lingo of ‘Dalith antics’ because Shudras unlike modern day Dalits did not play social victim card nor sought any reservations but fought many brave wars and lived more equally not by vilifying Brahmins but by seeking spiritual and administrative guidance and living in harmony.

BharathaKanda always valued democratic principles even before the concept of democracy came to be constitutionally instituted. In the past a King’s reign was ascertained as successful or tyrannical depending on the freedom, prosperity and happiness quotient of his people, this was certainly a measure of the democracy that prevailed. Just like bad presidents and good presidents today there were good kings and bad kings, prosperous reigns and tyrant anarchic regimes. Essentially in any module of governance it is the intent and ability of the ruler that matters most. If China and Russia and Japan have suffered under dictators and monarchs in the past, today it is the same dictatorship or Monarchy module that has led to their rising economic and military status. This is not to justify dictatorship or Aristocracy or Autocracy but India after centuries of tyrannical rule has finally gotten itself an indigenous leader who can connect and work for its masses but suddenly all those who had stumped and stampeded Democracy are today worried about its upkeep and many do not seem to realize its value or do not deserve democracy at all for they choose to be ignorant and isolated. And when those very tenets of Democracy are misused for the cause of crass communism and intervention by BreakingIndia predators to contain India’s rise and to dethrone a good leader, I wonder if they really deserve democracy.

During Monarchic rules, five hundred years ago, it took the congregation of the five Deccan Sultanates to bring down the Vijayanagara Empire, five hundred years later, in a Democracy – where people’s mandate is allegedly supreme, it is still the same story where a Mamta, KCR, CBN, Kumaraswamy, Mulayam and all their Ku Klux clans are all set to confederate again.

The orchestrated separatist unrests, manufactured civil dissensions and corrupt collusions continue unabated in the current order of Democracy nullifying the very essence of Democracy which is the people’s mandate. Hence it makes it suspect if Democracy is any different from its predecessor modules and if India should go the China or Russia way at least for the next 25 years if there has to be another Vijayanagar in the making!

 

Tirumala-Tirupathi: Paths of Glory

Waking up in the early hours when the sun is cozily shrouded in the dark, we rush to Alipiri _ the start point of the divine foot route to climb the sacred hill of Tirumala. At the scanning counter, a sea of pilgrims await the staff to attend to them but there aren’t any TTD personnel in sight today. The cops around simply don’t bother to answer, the free, luggage pick up facility to Tirumala for those climbing the hills is perhaps disrupted because of the protests of Tirumala Devasthanam employees against the whistle blower priest.

It is already 4am and the pilgrims are left with no choice but to climb up with their luggage lest they don’t get the entry stamp for the day. Each day a maximum of 15000 pilgrims on foot are allowed here.

Leaving our luggage behind in our vehicle, we begin our ascent on these grand sacred steps. And before one pants or puffs begins an avenue of hawkers selling all and sundry – mostly items for Pooja and paet pooja! There is not a waft of any cool air even in those predawn hours as it is overflowing with people even in these hot summer months of April and May.

Both sides of the path are flooded with tiny make shift shops selling coffee, tea, coconut, camphor to toothpaste, soap, lemon soda, peanuts, sweet corn to pani puri, bhel puri and pakodas to sliced raw mangoes and jack fruit. Like the paths, the wash rooms are flooded too, while there are wash areas, toilets and sinks for pilgrims, the sad reality is that it is totally unkempt and ill maintained. The amount of stench, dirt and garbage thrown on to the hills here is unimaginable. Most of these shops and their customers just throw the plastic waste onto the hills, the outlet pipes of handwash and urinals seem to be let into the open onto the hills, the pungent reek is unbearable and this is what keeps people moving swiftly. The ceiling and wall pillars are covered in cheap graffiti and the utter disregard for the sacred sanctity of this place is appalling. The concrete roof ceiling and the pillars can very well be painted with pictorial stories and slokas of Lord Shri Venkateshwara or even a digital display of mantras in a couple of languages or slow chants of recorded verses could be played to remind people that this is not a picnic spot or a railway station. For all kind of huge offerings that this richest temple receives, the poor upkeep of the pilgrim pathways speaks volumes about the negligent attitude and apathy of the administrative practices here.

Tirumala is the most sacred place and people partaking the foot climb should ideally begin only after a bath and take food only when required to sustain the tedious climb but shockingly here most pilgrims begin their brushing here and splurge in obsessive eating all along the way leading to a whole lot of plastic, pungent filth strewn around. Of course the cleaning begins only after 6am no matter how much filth is accumulated, until then people simply have to put up with the mounds of trash and tread on. To add to the misery is the stench from the unkempt toilets that possibly cannot take the load of the growing number of pilgrims visiting here and cleaning staff are a rare sight here. The waters from the wash areas are left out in the open. There are no cops or telephone point or functional first aid accessibility here. The checking point where darshan time slot stamping happens is an absolute nightmarish experience, with just 5 counters to deal with thousands of people one can only pray that they are not stomped in a stampede in this slot stamping melee. But in this melee I came across few Christians converts too who came here – for the darshan or something else I do not know.

Few people still begin their climb on their knees as a mark of revered devotion to the lord, there are many others who dab turmeric and kumkum paste on every step and light a camphor piece on every step, all along the 3500 steps but it is utterly shocking that most people here have no regard for the sacred sanctity or cleanliness of the place. While the educated see it as a religious trek and don their shoes on those very paths where many other pilgrims are devotedly worshipping each step, the uneducated and the lower classes just can’t stop spitting around the place. It seemed like a chronicle spitting disorder across Tirupathi and Tirumala where people do not hesitate to spit even around the temple premises. This place should be made spitting free!

By god’s grace we made it in 4 hours(1hour waiting at the stamping cum stampede counter) with 2 lemon sodas to survive on but the test was not over yet.

It is customary to visit the Varaha Swamy temple before visiting the main temple and a customary dip or sprinkle of the holy water on the head from the Pushkarani is a must. Sadly the pushkarani is covered with algae and is in a deplorable state with extremely slippery steps. Used nappies and other filthy things welcome you to its banks making it an unpleasant experience. Same is the fate with the pushkarani of the Padmavathi temple. The least I can do is to donate to somebody like #ReclaimTemples but not sure if Government controlled temples can be reformed by private individuals.

At the scheduled slot we snaked along what seemed like a never ending swarm of massive masses that were dripping in sweat. After hours of unabated pushing and elbowing at the hands of fellow devotees whose devotional pushing fervor raises with the rush as and when we inch closer to the inner sanctum, there was yet another rush to form a new queue. It is the Free Ladoo seal counter that stamps on your entry ticket for a free ladoo. When the devotee has already checked into the sanctum after his ticket is duly checked where is the need for another stamp on the ticket? They could very well stamp it at the time of entering itself for the Divya Darshan devotees to avoid further waiting. But finally we were in the waiting lounges and were served some milk and sambar rice.

It is certainly an unthinkable task to be managing this kind of a crowd but when the authorities are blatantly allowing thousands of people at one go in the lust for filling the hundis there has to be some definitive crowd control system in place. There is absolutely zero or very little presence of administrative staff to manage this mindless chaos called queues from start to end where forming a single line is an alien concept or a cynical crime as people probably feel that the darshan is incomplete without pushing and pulling.

In ancient times the Bramins prayed and worshipped on behalf of everybody else, perhaps, to ease the burden on those who could not follow every other religious ritual or spiritual diktat so that they could focus better on their respective regimens. The concept of society was perhaps more like in a joint family where people shared the work load to hasten productivity but today the society works on a nuclear family concept where everybody wants to and has to do everything on their own as division of work is made out to be an imperial/Brahminic oppression and ritualistic devotion is the last thing they would delegate to another!

Amidst a tsunami of elbowing hands and shoulders after an arduous wait for that one divine moment, before we realize we are shoved aside in a fraction of a second as if we deserved no more no better. But if you did a good glimpse you are the blessed one! If only batches of devotees could be seated in front of the lord for a brief slot where everyone could get a peaceful and prolonged darshan but then it’s a crowded world with unlimited wishlists for prayers, it was time to exit which was no less a challenge but the divine mission was accomplished.

This post is not about criticizing any customs or traditions or the Bhakthi of the pilgrims but this is more of an objective overview of the overall experience as a devotee, concerned about bettering the civic ambience and administrative practices that directly impact the religious experience as lakhs of devotees throng this holy place and in spite of the many facilities, there are many glaring basic shortcomings which needs to be addressed as the Lord and his devotees deserve better, much better!

Om Shri Venkateshaayanamaha!

Did Animal Sacrifice really exist in Hindu tradition?

Many Vedic traditions and practices have been misinterpreted or deliberately appropriated and infused with a lot of lies. One such lie that is repeated time and again is the practice of animal sacrifice in the Hindu/Vedic rituals.

While liberal historians reiterate that the Vedic people were meat eaters, the Vedas clearly condemn the killing of animals and the intake of meat especially of the cow. Rig veda reveals that most of the people were vegetarians and not meat eaters. While the practice of meat eating could be debated, clearly no Vedic scriptures advocate meat eating or animal sacrifice in any of the ritualistic practices. All those stories of horse sacrifice in Ashwamedha Yagna and animal sacrifice for religious celebrations is a white lie by the white man and his brown anti-Hindu brigade.

Yagna is all about worship, reverence, honoring and offering of devotion to the deity by sacrificing of the vices within before the Agni devata as Agni or Fire, the all purifying, is considered a holy witness and an interfacing deity between humans and God. It is for this reason that during marriage ceremonies Hindus take oath in front of Agni.

Yagnas are usually done for fulfilling a particular wish or the overall wellbeing of mankind. The offering/oblations mostly include ghee, rice cakes and such other non tamasic items. Meat or Animals were never offered!

During ancient times, the sovereign kings performed the Ashwamedha Yagna to declare their supreme sovereignty over other kings where a horse was set free to traverse across kingdoms and if anybody desired to challenge the supremacy of the king they had to stop the horse and fight the king lest they concede to be a vassal of the sovereign emperor. Steeds were symbols of war and victory, they were loved and revered and treated royally. Just before setting the horse free, a Yagna was performed to announce the sovereign challenge, and this had nothing to do with killing the horse or throwing it in the fire as an offering, the Aswamedha Yagna was just a symbolic ritual adopted by Deva kings before setting out on conquests. Ashwa means horse and medha has three meanings:

1.to enhance intellect,

2. to kill,

3. to inculcate love

Medha does not always mean killing but when translators with half-baked knowledge of Sanskrit began calling themselves as Sanskrit scholars, they wily and selectively translated the Ashwamedha Yagna literally as ‘horse sacrifice’, now there is something called as Gomedha Yagna, Purushamedha Yagna does that mean we throw some cows and men into the Yagna kund? similarly Ashwamedha Yagna was a ritual just before the conquest and had nothing to do with sacrificing any animal into the Homakund but unfortunately today many Hindus are led into believing that Vedic practices included indulging in abhorrent killing of animals and this ignorance is a crying shame today.

(For some insightful information on the Ashwamedha Yagna read here)

During the imperial regime of the Magadhan kings(686BC-320BC) kings mostly focused on war and expansion and delegated administration to a senate of knowledgeable elders took care of the welfare of people through Sabhas. Those days amidst frequent warring conquests it was important to build and maintain a large army but funding their sustenance was a challenge hence in order to generate revenue for the maintenance of large armies, the kingsmen collected contributions from the people which was then popularly called as ‘Bhaaga’ or ‘Bali’.

Bhaaga in Sanskrit and Kannada means ‘segregated share’, the usage of the word Bali to symbolize sacrifice(sacrifice here is not killing but to forsake something) could perhaps be inspired from the story of Bali Chakravarthy from the Puranas.

Few Indian languages like Bengali and Odiya use the Ba sound for Va, if I were to compare this with Kannada which is closer to Sanskrit.

(Bali) Vali in Kannada which means to please or to pay tribute.

In those days the Bhaaga was often referred to as the King’s share of produce or as a tribute to the king by the commoners and it was mostly given in kind such as grains and rice or milk and milk products. Usually it was fixed at 1/6th or 1/4th produce of the soil.

Bali was the import tax levied on the tracts for subsistence of certain officials. In many cases land tributes were given as everything belonged to the crown.

Soon tyrant kings started imposing taxes such as milk money which the subjects had to shell whenever there was birth in the royal family. State dues included cattle from herdsmen, prescribed services from traders, revenues were collected for birth and death in a family, tithes and fines were levied on sales. The rural taxes were called Rastra Bali or Samaharthri and the Urban taxes were called Durga Bali or Sannidharthri (Durga means fort, most city dwellers or kings’ people lived in forts and those who cultivated fields lived near their fields)

This practice under some ruthless rulers where cattle were also given as a state dues, later became an imposed tyranny on the subjects, people began to associate the Bali collectors as a ‘man eating demons’ or ‘man eaters’.

Some Taxes that were introduced in the Magadhan/Mauryan empires:

Kara              Extra cess

Visti              Forced Labor

Pranaya       Benevolence tax

Bali               Tribute

Sulka            Duty

Bhaga           King’s share of produce      

Essentially surrendering/giving away of cattle was also a part of the tax system that was classified under Bali system of tax. This was perhaps later concocted as a system of animal sacrifice that never existed in our Hindu customs.

To bring into context how our deities and belief systems have been concocted I shall narrate the story of Banashankari Devi.

The Banashankari Devi temple located in the heritage town of Badami was the revered deity of Rastrakutas and Chalukyas. Bana or Vana means forest, she is regarded as the deity of the forests who safeguards vegetation. She is also called as ‘Shaakaambari’ which means the one who wears a garland of vegetables

The locals offer her 108 vegetables and regard her as the Kula Devi who protects them and the forests. But the irony is that today most devotees no more offer vegetables but offer animals for sacrifice without knowing the meaning of ‘Shaakaambari’.

Even in Soundha or Sodhe Mutt there is a practice called Bhootabali where a demon like cake is made out of Kumkum to symbolize blood for an offering to the presiding deity but who will bell the cat by questioning the priestly practices that has come from generations. Likewise there are many temples today that offer animals in sacrifice, there are movies like Bahubali that show animal sacrifice as a ritualistic custom but remember the tittle of the movie itself is Bahubali, so if Bali only means sacrifice, are they going to sacrifice the Baahu? For all you know one thing is clear, there was no concept of animal sacrifice _ no horse, no goat not even a hen in our dharmic rituals and all such propagations and beliefs are absolutely concocted and needs to be retold and revised.

It is important that we don’t blindly follow rituals nor believe the popular propaganda but engage more in deciphering and exploring our cultural and religious practices.

Picture Tales

They say pictures speak a thousand words but I say with impunity that they create a thousand misinterpretations and confusions in the mind of the beholder who witnesses the picture or the clicking spree itself for that matter!

A few years ago I was in my usual wanderlust moods travelling and exploring Rajasthan. As we marveled at the rusty royal splurges in the Udaipur palace we were soon lured into one of those mandatory picture clicking sessions with all those traditional rustic costumes inside the palace, but what was different here was that the photographer was an ace photoshop professional with the latest camera and technological gears that we really didn’t have to go through those typical fancy dress moments where we end up getting into one of those smelly sweaty faded ‘fit all’ wraps, worn and shorn by a hundred other travelers. All we had to do was select one of those flamboyant display pictures that he had paraded on one of the walls where Aishwarya, Madhuri and Deepika did the honors of flaunting those ravishing Jodha Akbar Jewelry in all their heavily embroidered Lehangas and massive nose pins. The male models were hardly recognizable but we picked the brightest gaudy colors and just had to pose for the picture. The pictures turned out to be a super hit, the photographer had not let us down and had promptly couriered it home. We framed it up and flaunted it flamboyantly on the foyer walls with some extra lighting effects.

The picture was a splendid dash of regality with the heaviest jewelry possible and gadget cleaned faces with glorious makeup and tunics of silk, making it look like a perfect royal wedding picture! It was  and still is quite a ‘Wall of Fame’ in the house.

But little did I know its implications when I had laid my finger on Aishwarya’s gorgeous crimson attire with all those heavy jewelry, in consent.

Soon the trip and the wall were forgotten, we were back to business, the existing maid had quit and I was struck in the monotony of household chores amidst writing assignments. Maid after maid had quit for no good reason and to my horror they would demand more after agreeing for a set salary. I was at my wit’s end and was quite clueless as to what really was the problem. But it suddenly dawned upon me that it was perhaps the picture on the wall with many kilograms of gold! And it turned out that I was not totally wrong. So off late the first thing I do after appointing a helper is to casually explain what photoshop is all about and make a self-declaration that “All costumes and costly charms displayed here are fictitious and any resemblance to real gold is purely photoshopped and that any flaunting is only coincidental”!

No, my picture fairy tales are not yet over!

At another time, I had the privilege of attending a national writer’s meet and I happened to meet with the who’s who in the writing community. While I was still pinching myself to believe that a small time blogger like me was really there sitting amidst many veteran and seasoned writers and scholarly professionals, the big moment of surprise or even shock if I may call it so, came when the team I was part of, was extended the courtesy of meeting with our national ruling party president and we were graced to click individual pictures with the Chanakya of contemporary politics!

The meet was over but the nostalgia remained and resonated on facebook. However the story was not over yet, what followed was quite unbelievable for me, in fact it was a reawakening moment to understand how people reacted or responded before and after the picture. All those who never met eyes with me were now extra nice and exchanged an honorable acknowledgement with a head nod or with a newly discovered broad smile, many who had never read my blog posts were now inquisitively doing the honors of increasing some traffic on my site. There were many genuine friends and relatives who wished me well too, many reconnected and waved after a long time and then there are those few others who still think that I wield a lot of political clout and cannot stop sharing administrative and corruption issues with me and even hint at a promotional coverage for their business interests and I cannot stop being secretly amused at those Mr.Bean moments of mine. Certainly a picture speaks a thousand words but at times it also creates a thousand opinions and misconceptions too.

Yet another time I clicked a selfie to acknowledge the good work of another blogger and it was yet again misconstrued with sly suggestions and a few other times my political incorrectness has cost me with abuse and misuse of pictures from my blog so I have evolved and now I only put up pictures with black shades like a Karunanidhi or Vatal Nagraj because you never know what picture tale awaits next!

My First Experience with Consumer Forum

Sometime back I had enrolled my child into one of those premium coaching institutes for IIT/JEE entrance training program under parental peer pressure. Since we were still undecided, we had enrolled for all four core subjects.

But during the orientation session it was categorically and condescendingly proclaimed that the child has to decide if he would go for IIT or Medical and pick PCM or PCB accordingly! Since it was made out to be a life or death moment although we had made the full payment for all four subjects we decided on the batch and had to drop the additional subject towards which we had already paid.

After the decision was made I approached them for a refund of the additional amount we had made initially towards the extra subject which had to be dropped now because of the segregated batch system.

I was told that the amount would be adjusted against the fees for the next year and that no refund would be possible which meant that we had to remain trapped like bonded laborers and invariably enroll for the course next year too whether or not we would be satisfied with their service. This was an unacceptable business module to me as it was not communicated in advance at the time of enrollment. I was not willing to relent and hence kept following up with them. After much insistence they asked me to fill up a refund request form and sent it across to their head office and after acknowledgement of the same nothing much happened. My subsequent telephonic reminders and emails evoked no response and after midyear they simply refused to refund at all. I told them that I would certainly continue for the next year’s course provided they showed some professionalism and good ethics in administrative matters but to no avail. I felt let down that an educational institute had to behave so unprofessionally.

A year had passed by but there was no sign of any refund, I began searching and reading about how to seek redressal with Consumer Forum, I came across http://www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in and tried signing up online. Although the site did create a login and sent me a password, the INGRAM page never allowed me to register a complaint, the captcha code never verified and the submit button never worked. When I tried again after some time, this time I had forgotten the password and when I requested for a password reset the site never responded.

Digital India is still a long way with so many flawed applications and mediocre softwares and last but not the least the unskilled folks interfacing behind those shoddy softwares and tools.

I later tweeted to the various Consumer Forum twitter handles but there was no response.

As a last resort, I called up the toll free number on the consumer forum helpline website and luckily it was answered. I narrated the whole episode and finally a complaint was registered but with a wrong spelling in my name. The executives attending these calls are not so well trained but they did a decent job keenly hearing to the complaint and registered the same. A couple of days later I got a mail from the Consumer Forum with a complaint docket number to be followed up. I kept following up with the Forum support staff and they assured me that it would take some time but it would certainly be processed and that they would do their best to resolve the matter within the ambit of the Consumer Forum without further having to go to the COnsumer court.

There is no difference between the Consumer Forum and Consumer Court but the Forum is the place to begin with and matters that don’t get resolved in the Forum are transferred to the Consumer Court which is an extension of the same to be dealing with sticky matters. But here still, you don’t have to take any legal help and you are on your own where you narrate your side of the story with clear documents and receipts that stand your case. Consumer Forum is the first step where matters of lesser monetary value can be resolved however if the company/brand you are complaining against is unyielding the matter might go to Consumer Court where you have to write to the Consumer Court with your detailed complaint, you may also be required to go physically to the Consumer Court where your case will be heard. However the Consumer Forum helpline operators will guide you to the extent of giving you the jurisdictional address and the right people to contact in case the matter is unresolved at the Forum level.

Coming back to my case, almost after a month’s time after the complaint I received a call from my coaching center guys inviting me for a discussion. It was heartening to know that something had worked and those guys who were until recently refusing to respond to my calls or mails were now calling to have a discussion with me. During the discussion the coaching institute asked me to settle down for the next year’s course where the pending refund amount would be adjusted against the fees, I clearly declined the offer and once again reiterated that I would like to start afresh after they had refunded.

When they sensed that I would not budge, he agreed to refund the money and settle the matter however for his ego massage he did say that I could never ever enroll anybody with them ever again to which I said Amen!

Clearly it was bad business practice demonstrated yet again but for his ego massages, anyway I came back home a happier person.

But even after 20days nothing had moved, this time the Consumer Forum guided me to send a written communication to the institute reminding them of their commitment and I did the same. And after some 15 days of my letter I received my refund cheque.

Thanks to the Consumer Forum, it really worked for me all within a span of 2months.

I really wish these entrance test coaching was made a part of the school curriculum for the 11th and 12th that would reduce the parent and the student’s burden because if it is the NEET ranking or the entrance scores(CET etc) that decides the fate of the child why can’t such coaching be given mandatorily in schools, why should parents pay extra elsewhere and be over burdened when they are shelling out in lakhs as school fees. Currently our educational institutes are nothing more than loot bazaars especially for the General Merit category which is milked by these coaching institutes.

I still wonder what is it that held back the institution to honour my simple request in the first case, if only he had refunded without any fuss I would have probably continued with the same institute but for his dishonesty, nevertheless there still exists a forum that does not allow the normalization of unethical business practices.

 

 

 

Salaried Class – the budget mules

Union Budgets have been the most dreary topics for me and the very sounds of Latin smeared budgetary jargons like fiscal deficit, federal surplus have had repulsive effects of delirium if not a nightmarish experience during my college days. As if the lethal usage of ultra-formal undecipherable flamboyance with Anglicized Roman/Latin/Greek derived English words (much like our constitution vocabulary) were not enough, budgets from times immemorial have been more about political equations and revenue generation and less about real welfare of the people. Nevertheless year after year Budgets have often spoken about welfare of poor farmers or benefits to the big corporates so much so that the middleclass has come to believe that it is somewhat normal for the salaried class to be the silent donkey, bearing the tax burden without even a tsk.

Till recently the honest tax payer made no qualms of paying up his taxes even if it meant his exploitation to subsidize other non-taxpayers nor did he make any noise on the lavish rebates given to the rich corporates as they were deemed as job creators. But the pinnacle of corruption and misuse of the tax payers’ money during the UPA rule where a new scam was unveiled with each passing day, the ugly culture of nexus between the politicians and bureaucratic layers had revealed the fallacy and futility of all those populist policies that the common taxpayer had had enough.

The accumulated dissent of over 70years had reached a saturation point where he could take no more. To add to the dissatisfaction the unbridled excesses of secularism unleashed unabashedly triggered the otherwise calm middleclass for an actionable response. The Gujarat model of Modi and the overt (2002 )vilification model of Congress, lingered in the minds of the masses. And in Modi, people saw an unbreakable promise, a messiah to counter the corrupt and the carcinogenic. Also the many articulate and irrefutable voices like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitaraman, Piyush Goyal, Smrithi Irani etc of the BJP central leadership countering the Lutyen hegemony came as an avenging respite that the common man could readily connect with. Their voices seemed to comfort the common man against the disdain shown towards anything Hindu or anything middleclass as for far too long it had been a depressing sight to watch the inability of the BJP/RSS spokesperson to articulate or command answers or even ask the right questions.

The eve of 2014 Lok Sabha elections saw an impatient India waiting to throw the Congress out. And in this whole process Indian voters had upgraded themselves into an informed lot who now knew like never before _ what goes into the making of polity of the nation, so much so that every other step by the Modi Government was and is carefully watched, weighed, certified or crucified. The Modi government which is almost at the end of its tenure is still seen like a 4 year old baby by its supporters who have reposed their faith and invested their dreams in this current leadership and are obnoxiously possessive about every step taken. The slightest sign of deviation or lack of understanding or communication is naturally met with utmost apprehension because we are the same set of people who fretted and fumed when a panelist lost to a corrupt Congressi on a TV debate.

After 70 years of being let down consistently, it is unthinkable to be let down once again that too by those very people whom we voted with a lot of hope! It is precisely for this reason that the 2018 budget has received so much attention and flak from the salaried class who until recently did not indulge or mince words simply because there was no hope nor scope but today they are seemingly getting restless to reverse the flaws of the many decades in just 5years.

With no relief in the tax slabs and reintroduction of standard deduction that offers nothing much to cheer about, plus an additional Education cess on income tax that negates the standard deduction has left the middle class today disillusioned and disgusted and why not? When the salaries of the President and Vice President were deemed important to be increased and the salaried class was yet again chosen to remain the torch bearers of socialistic virtues, the anger is only justified. Limiting this post to just one of the many aspects but an important one that goes a long way in defining and shaping a developed India _ Education, a quick look tells us that the root of the problem lies elsewhere, not that it is a new discovery but for the sake of reiteration at the cost of being repetitive lest we allow it to be forgotten, we shall understand the purpose of this new addition. So we will be paying an Education cess after all those special grants and allocations for SC/ST and everybody else on earth but for the salaried class.

But where is that education cess going to be used?

It is going to be expended on training teachers for B. ED programs.

But why don’t they hire already trained teachers on par with private schools?

Because of reservation quota policy to bring social equalities where merit and logic have no place making way for obnoxious political bigotry.

Has reservation system reduced inequalities in the society?

No, it has failed miserably, as a matter of fact it has further divided and stressed on the castes

Has education system improved because of reservation?

No, Government education system is a monumental misadventure to which consecutive budgets keep adding by dressing them up with digital boards when they are clueless about basic Maths. The fact that Government pushes RTE quota in private schools where private schools make up only 7% of educational institutes is proof that 93% Government schools have failed. Also, if Government schools were good and if equality could be instituted by governmental legislations then our politicians would do good to send their children and everybody else’s children to Government schools only. Our parents and grandparents received education in Government schools and colleges and have been successful without anybody having to pay any Cess because the baton of education was in the hands of meritorious teachers who were mostly Brahmins. When there was no reservation system everybody went to the same schools and hence the quality of education and the idea of social equality were automatically taken care of. It is to be noted that social equality does not imply intellectual equality and the misconception of equality or lack of it emerges with this wronged notion that one size must fit all lest we control and curtail competition like in a communist state.

Has reservation or Government education system created equal opportunities for all?

No, only creamy layers are benefitting and exploiting while merit class are committing suicides to strike a balance.

Can we shun reservation to change our flawed education system?

No, it does not suit the election narratives in the country as the opposition(any) will ensure that all hell breaks loose and create an oppression theory and negate any good work done. No political party worth its salt will ever dare to put Removal of Reservation System in their election manifestoes anywhere in the near future. The only way out can be to dilute all reservations by creating a merit reservation within caste reservation.

So what can we really do to solve this problem?

An accumulated adversity over the last 70 years cannot be shunned overnight in just 5 years, perhaps for another 10 plus years the salaried class will have to restrain itself from seeking any tax recourse and continue to bear the burden. And this we will have to do compulsively without letting down our good leaders even if it is antagonizing and frustrating to be exploited but frankly there is no other alternative educational or infrastructural or administrative set up to cater to any immediate changes or reversal of the rusty processes. Change in our policies especially public educational system is a long way to go where Governments should infuse quality bit by bit on priority basis until a majority of people availing reservation themselves realize the farce employed in the name of equality. And it is in this kind of creation of an informed atmosphere that our Governments should strive and invest in, which is what would make this education cess a meaningful one.

As for the budget, the special attention or outrage that this budget has received especially from the salaried class speaks about increased people’ awareness and seeming enthusiasm/frustration to participate and build/set right the system by seeking more realistic and less rhetoric budgetary practices that comply with actual needs. This new interactive and participative polity created by Modi is here to stay and is a message to the forthcoming budgetary practices and administrative policies that the masses are willing to cooperate for genuine concessions but incumbent Governments can no more play out the same old populist pro poor theories if they did not work on the implementation part earnestly at the ground level reforms to its fullest potential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koregaon-Engineered Dalit Riots?

A 200 year old alleged historical win of British over the Peshwas in the Anglo-Maratha war is being celebrated in Bhima Koregaon as a commemoration of Dalit victory over Brahmins as many Mahars sided with the British army against the Peshwas even when some of the historical journals  reveal that it was more of a retreat on both sides. It is a known fact that until Independence most kings and communities either sided or fought against their local rivals by aiding or aligning with the British/Mughals in various permutations and combinations which had been the reason for a prolonged British rule but to milk it now for political mileage by casting cards of divide amongst communities  under the mask of fighting for Dalit rights and honor is not only shocking but simply alarming as these acts of deliberately instigating communal hatred and rioting is nothing but absolute ideological terrorism in the name of political narratives. Even if the Dalits had been oppressed as repeatedly alleged by historians and history text books how does it help restore their social dignity by instigating them against another caste or resorting to violence and damaging public property? By provoking and pitching the Dalits of the nation against another community the organizers of the protests are only creating a reverse oppression where the so called oppressed are instigated to turn oppressors. This is only becoming evident in the unabashed predatory polity of the Congress and all its subsidiary alliances that engage in rabble rousing speeches which are nothing short of hate speeches that are detrimental to our pluralistic society.

The British Army was mostly reluctant to recruit Dalits in their armies as they deemed them as non-martial races hence Ambedkar who belonged to the Mahar community had highlighted this aspect of Koregaon where Dalits too had fought along the British and that they should not be castigated as non-martial races. He had sought the inclusion of Mahars in the British army who were otherwise reluctant until the world war when they were forced to recruit them in order to save some white lives.

It’s been 7decades since the British left and in all these seven decades mostly Congress rule in its varied Avatars with their many populist schemes and caste reservations, and all those chants of ‘Garibi Hatao’, if Dalits are still feeling neglected and discriminated then there needs to be a serious reflection into the aspects of providing reservation systems based on castes as these quotas have done more harm by pinpointing their caste than uplifting their social status in the society.

Amongst the many Anglo-Maratha battles fought, Koregaon is one of the last few battles before the end of the Maratha regime and all Maharastrians take pride in being a Maratha but for anybody to be celebrating the defeat of the native rulers against foreign invaders in these contemporary times is a new low in the vulture polity practiced today. That the Congress party supports and outsources the riot mongering protestors at the cost of disrupting communal harmony and breaking the social fabric of the nation is telling of the ideological terrorism that is brewed today in the name of rights and honor of the oppressed. A closer look at recent riots, be it in the Una, Pattidar or Jat reservation riots or Panchkula riots and now the Chembur protests blaringly reiterates one aspect _ that that these engineered social disorders have mostly occurred in BJP ruled states making it for an open case of suspect on the Congress party’s role in it as it has been very vociferously supporting any and all forces that could embarrass or oppose the BJP in the most vicious form even at the cost of breaking India. For all their temple running attempts at transforming to shun the ideological image of a Congress that is apparently soaked in a history of minority appeasement politics with an obnoxious manifesto of communal and caste divides often cheering by the side of anti-India elements like Umar Khalid, one wonders if there really exists any ideology at all in this melee of political hooliganism that gets passed off as political strategy in the erudite corridors of English speaking hubs and concocted media panels. What is even more shameful in this whole episode is that the rightwing is naively engaging in rebuttals of egalitarianism and reiterating real history when the fact of the matter is that the Koregaon protests is no protest for Dalit integration or Dalit celebration but a blatant ploy to break India along with some vote shares if possible, and all those lengthy academic English pieces of history and rebuttals do not reach the Dalits on ground. The larger point is this_ a Congress with a miniscule parliamentarian presence still owns and runs the entire political ecosystem with no obligation towards nation building hence there is an urgent need to conceptualize a constitutional legislation extending the virtues on the lines of prevention of atrocities act against SC/STs to all other communities and criminalize the use of the word ‘Dalit’ or any other suggestive caste names by media and political parties and precautionary arrests of riot causing forces. The Koregaon incident is a deliberate attempt to break Shivaji’s legacy of Maratha pride which is almost synonymous to the Maharashtrian identity irrespective of whether one belongs to Dalit or any other community, and the presence of the Muslim Personal Law Board member Moulana Abdul Hamid Azaari and anti-India elements like JNU student Umar Khaled along side Jignesh Mevani in the rioting platform should ring a bell.

In the wake of upcoming elections in Rajasthan and Karnataka the hate brewing industry will only grow shriller in its political splitsvilla of casteist divides unless they are dealt with iron hands of law much against political correctness.

The origin of Neech Politics

The election fevers are soaring high in Gujarat and the Hindu heartland is witnessing a gale of newfound Hindu enthusiasm from its otherwise bespectacled secular saints who are now working overtime to resuscitate their gasping Hindu image! Be that as it may, as one can only attribute such last minute hitchhike pro-Hindu gimmicks as a political Ghar Wapsi stunt but what explains the callous dysphemism (this word is exclusively for the Farrago or Dichotomy types of kale angrez who have made a career out of complicated English words with no obligation to use their brains) of Mani Shankars and all their Neech politics that they now, know not, what could come from what goes out of their mouth! Whether or not he intended to say that the prime minister belonged to a low caste, but surely the Congress in its subconscious slip of tongue or a conscious clutter of borrowed mouths has not only revealed its lack of civility or respect for constitutional authorities but has also exposed its own intolerance and incompetency to counter productively in the interest of the nation or state for that matter. But a sneak peek into history only reaffirms and reconciles that the narratives of today’s Congress is no different from the past!

It is no secret that Mountbatten found in Nehru a British heart, beating beneath his brown exteriors, who dreamt of ruling an India, for whose freedom many fought and died but with middlemen like Gandhi and Nehru, freedom had to be ultimately negotiated!

Here is an incident that happened on the Indian Independence day celebrations in New Delhi August 15th 1947

Pamela Mountbatten, the 17 year old younger daughter of the Governor General, arrived with two of her father’s staff. The venue was jam packed and with great difficulty she worked her way towards the wooden tribune where Nehru and Mountbatten were to address the crowds. But at a 100 yards away they came on an impassable barrier of people, all seated tightly with hardly any space to breathe. Spotting her from his place on the tribune, Nehru shouted at her to cross over the people to the platform.

“How can I?” she shouted back, “I’ve got high heels on”.

“Take them off”, replied Nehru.

Pamela couldn’t dream of doing something as undignified on such a historic occasion, “Oh”, she gasped, “I couldn’t do that”

“Then leave them on” said Nehru, “Just walk over the people, they won’t mind”

‘Oh’, replied Pamela, ‘the heels will hurt them’

“Don’t be silly girl, take them off and come across” Nehru had said!

The daughter of India’s last Viceroy had treaded over the carpet of gleeful human beings who helped her reach the platform allowing her to tread on their bodies.  (Ref from Freedom At Midnight _ Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins)

Nehru with his elite English mannerisms was a darling of the British, as he was very much like them, he neither had concern nor connect with the villages of India or its people. The above incident only shows how he treated and thought of the poor masses of India _ as indignant and worthless enough, to be treaded upon and how he still bent back to worship and accommodate imperialism, it is past seven decades of this incident but the fact that the Congress of today is still smitten by the same white imperial arrogance with epithets like ‘ Neech’ is telling of their rigid feudal mindsets.

But the unfortunate irony is that the masses who came to celebrate India’s Independence from the British had allowed the British Viceroy’s daughter to tread on their backs on the very day of Independence forgetting the Battle of Plassey, forgetting the 1857 mutiny, forgetting the brutal lathi charges, the treacherous usurping of land, treasury and faith, the killing and hanging of many freedom fighters and their divisive politics but will the masses in Gujarat that are backing the white face of imperialism even today allow themselves to be trampled at the feet of communal dynastic politics and forget and forgive the nincompoops of Neech politics who were and are no different from the East India Company or will they ever realize and realign with India in heart and soul is something only time will tell!

 

Srinagar-Avantipura-Pahalgam

The bloom at Nishat Bagh and CheshmeShahi are worth spending some time in the backdrop of the Zabarwan ranges and the gigantic decades old Chinar trees are a real treat to watch but if you are a Bangalorean then you will find that the Moghul gardens are more or less the same as Lalbagh botanical gardens.

IMG_6302

Nishat Bagh Srinagar

Some of the lesser crowded places to visit in and around Srinagar are Doodhpathri, Pari Mahal near CheshmeShahi, Hari Parbat, Shankaracharya Hill, Avanthipora, Parihaspora, Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Verinag, Yousemarg, SInthan top, Gurez valley, Warwan valley and Daksum.

If you have to explore newer and quieter destinations you can clearly skip places like Gulmarg, which is an over hyped place with annoying horsemen who will cling like leeches. There is absolutely no scope for a relaxed walk on your own here as you will be haunted and hunted down by menacing horsemen. We did not want to take the Gondola ride but just walk around the place but the horsemen kept stalking us throughout the time spent in Gulmarg. It was a complete waste of time driving up to Gulmarg. So don’t make that mistake just head to Pahalgam.

Srinagar to Pahalgam is a distance of 96kms and a 3hours drive. This route is heavily guarded by the Army. En route you can find vast stretches of paddy and saffron fields. It is really heart breaking to see that this panoramic heaven _ Kashmir _ the abode of Kashyapa Rishi is today plagued by terrorism turning most parts of the region into a no go zone!

Beyond the saffron fields you can find shops selling saffron, dry fruits, Kesar based perfumes and face creams.

Avantipora:

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Avantipura en route Pahalgam

Avantipora or Avantipura is 29kms from Srinagar. The Avanthipura Ruins is an ancient Vishnu temple site with huge columns, carved pillars and arches. Two massive columns with figurines of Devi, Devathas and the royal family of Avanthiverma etched in those carvings welcome you to this huge heritage site that is not a living temple anymore.

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It was first damaged by an earthquake and further destroyed and looted during Mughal and British era. There are depictions of goddess Lakshmi, Garuda, Navagrahas on the columns.

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The Vishnu shrine lies above a large double base, surrounded by 4 smaller shrines which were dedicated to Shreedevi, Bhoodevi, Ganesha and Saraswathi but now there are no sanctums but only the bases. It is alleged that the silver idol of Lord Vishnu was stolen by the British. But much before the British the temples of this region were destroyed by Sultan Sikander who was known to be a fanatic temple destroyer in Kashmir. Owing to his madness for temple destruction he came to be known as Sikander Butshikan as Butshikan literally means Ídol Breaker’. During his time he would melt the idols of Gods and turn them into coins to fill his treasury. He was lethally instrumental in converting the Hindu masses of Kashmir into an Islamic den. He had restricted all Hindu practices, broken and burnt temples, slaughtered those who refused to convert. Most Kashmiris either escaped out or poisoned themselves and those who could not escape submitted by converting to Islam. The Martand Sun temple near Pahalgam had witnessed the most brutal assault during his time.

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The Avantiswami temple has 27 arches on a broad stone platform representing the 27 nakshatras. The site is maintained by the ASI and is a must see place that reminds us of the grandeur of our ancient past but the fallen structure in its ruined form is also a gruesome reminder of the gory past, if only a reconstruction of such a grandeur in these very regions would be possible to undo the past sins!

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The pillars are believed to extend deep down up to 20 feet below the ground, the site lay buried until it was excavated in the eighteenth century. It was constructed by Avantiverma hence the town gets its name after him.

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King AvantiVerman of Utpala dynasty reigned here between 855-883AD at the banks of Jhelum river. The king had built two magnificent temples, one for Lord Vishnu and one for Lord Shiva. The Avantheeswar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a few kilometers away from the Vishnu temple and faces similar conditions.

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Today a mosque lies just adjacent to this vast ancient splendor that now remains in a pitiable state of ruin yet the grandeur architecture and the techniques employed in those times cannot be missed. It is a pity that the locals do not know their own brutal past!

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Willow Cricket Bat making unit

After Avanthipura, the sides of the highway are laden with stacks of similar sized wooden planks that are neatly arranged in front of every other shop cum home. Yes they were the cricket bat making units. The Kashmir Willow bats are known for its sturdiness. We stopped by one such home unit where we could witness the making of cricket bats. We also ended up buying one!

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On the way we stopped for lunch opposite an Apple farm that was selling fresh apple juice and apple jams. We also spent some time in the apple farm and then we were passing through the bypass of Anantnag district that is known for its notorious terror activities. There were Madrasas and Mosques blaring out aggressive speeches on loud speakers and locals stared at us like animals in a cage as we passed them but we were travelling with a taxi guy from the Hurriyat dominated Lal chowk markets and hoped that we were safe as we were actually giving business to these stone pelting India haters but there was no other way!

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Pahalgam, the valley of Shepards

We reached Pahalgam around 2pm and after quickly dumping our luggage at the hotel, we took the pony ride to see around this Switzerland of India as it is known!

The local sightseeing is dominated by the pony and local cab drivers or so they make it up, our personal taxi driver claimed that they are denied permissions (unofficial mafia) to tour around to those spots in order to give the locals some business. This is the standard problem across J&K tourism especially in Kashmir. Most of these people are uneducated and are not digitally savvy they don’t have their presence online and heavily depend on their Srinagar brethren who bring them tourists. So there is no escape from these local pony and cab mafia if you have to see around.

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We took the pony ride for was a fixed number of places which would be covered in 3hours for Rs.1500 per person. We took the ride apprehensively but sitting atop a horse felt really kingly! We trotted off like royals beside the Lidder River which was an ashen turquoise.

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Look at the color of Liddar River

Pahalgam is an extremely beautiful place away from the overt commercialization that still maintains its scenic solitude.

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The Rough Mule Route

We took the hilly routes ascending the steep rocky paths amidst dense trees and large roots. We had gained some height and could now view the picturesque Kashmir valley and the Pahalgam golf course. Sitting on a horseback requires a certain understanding with the horse to bend back when descending and bend forward during ascend, as we were getting used to these majestic beauties, our horseman Shaka kept company with a lot of local information.

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Baisaran Valley

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Sunset at Baisaran while returning

Some of the places on this route were Baisaran which is vast expanse of grassy meadows it is called the Switzerland of India. There is a small cafeteria serving hot snacks, maggi and tea here, the place also has some sporting activities like zorbing. Just as we were clicking pictures it began to rain. The locals rightly point out that “Mumbai Ka Fashion Aur Pahalgam Ka Mousum _both are fast changing”!

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan Movie spot-Munni’s house

Horses are very intelligent animals they tread very cautiously and cleverly, discovering the shortest possible routes and have an amazing sense of directions. We reached an isolated serene hill which has now become a popular spot after the movie Bajrangi Bhaijan that was shot in these locations. One can get a breathtaking view of the landscapes here.

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Next we descended a steep hill, where at its bottom a clanking stream flowed past the rocky paths in all force revealing the pebbles beneath. Our young horseman was a regular to the Amarnath caves escorting pilgrims, guiding and aiding them in their holy endeavors. The people of Pahalgam are not so educated or tech savvy and are dependent on Srinagar travel agents for the inflow of tourists but they express that they are tired of the hate and rage and really wish to welcome tourists from across India but as of now they still have to rely on their Srinagar counterparts for all bookings. It was a memorable ride in spite of the terribly chill weathers.

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The next day morning we took the cab ride to Betaab Valley, Aru Valley and Chandanwari.

Betaab valley:

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Betaab Valley

The valley gets its name after the movie Betaab that was shot here, the plush green valley has a small stream flowing through it making it a scenic solace to the tourists but the commercialization has cost it its serenity. The place is owned by politicians who have fixed up a gate and an entry fees is charged to enter the valley. The artificially paved paths seem like an encroachment on nature’s beauty.

 

The Aru valley is another beautiful and calm place which is home to some resorts. At every location, you can find shawl sellers, photographers chasing tourists like werewolves.

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Drive to Aru Valley

The best place was Chandanwadi which is the base camp of Amarnath Yatra. We spent a lot of time climbing the steps beside the gushing waters of NeelGanga that flows down to join the Jhelum downhill.

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Neel Ganga River at Chandanwari, Amarnath Basecamp

We walked up to the point from where the mule routes begin. Amarnath cave was 37kms from here.

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Chandanwari- Amarnath Yatra begins from this point

 

The place is extremely serene and evokes spirituality. We vowed we would one day take the pilgrimage and headed back to be leaving for Srinagar.

Some of the other places we totally missed out are the Martand Sun temple, Mamaleshwar temple, Mattan, Tarsar lake. I wish to come back here making my own itinerary some day!

Nubra To PANGONG!

From Nubra to Pangong is some 158kms, a 4 hour drive. The night at Nubra was biting cold and the first rays of Sun was so soothing. The apple trees and the homegrown vegetable, fruits and flower gardens in our resort seemed to smile under the bright sunrays that was now spreading everywhere.

 

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Hunder Sand Dunes Resort

 

It was time to say good bye to the sand dunes that were just adjacent to our resort, just before leaving NUbra we walked around sinking our feet in the soft sands.

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Hunder Sand Dunes

 

The drive from Nubra to Pangong is very memorable for me for all its scenic surprises. There were sudden flowing streams cutting across the pebbled paths that doubled up as roads. Such clear waters I had never seen. I could see the stone beds in those streams.

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En route Nubra to Pangong pebbled paths

 

From Hunder we passed through several little towns. The route was Hunder- Diskit—Khalsar- Agyam- Shyok- Durbuk-Tangse-Lumong.

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There were only the sounds of cutting air amidst the vast expanses of lemon green meadows surrounded by naked brown mountains that lay untouched in isolation as if in a deep penance, we drove in admiration of this unique nature’s beauty where herds of sheep grazed blissfully unmindful of what lay ahead. On the way we were lucky to spot a stud of wild horses.

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We had early lunch at Durbuk village and proceeded to Lumong. Actually Lumong is the actual name of the little village where the Pangong lake gleams in her royal blue. Thanks to the movie 3Idiots, now the village itself is called Pangong! But we must agree that the movie has definitely promoted tourism here.

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Yet again we were the only ones driving on this route now around noon as most people leave early in the morning and head back around late in the afternoon. Also this is the advantage if you travel in October where tourists are considerably less. But the only disadvantage is that the tents at the Pangong Lake pack off by 10th of October. So if you are keen to sleep by the tents and watch the night sky at Pangong then you better make it before October.

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The drive was a pristine one where the Chakor Pakshis sat beside the clear waters, it was as if we were the only intruders in their serene lives.

As we drove close to the Pangong Lake, our driver asked us to watch out for the first look of the jewel in the hill that we were about to witness.

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First look at Pangong-The Kohinoor

 

The first sighting of the Pangong Lake was indeed breathtaking as she lay their like a Kohinoor amidst the glistening auburn hills. The more we saw the more we were hypnotized by her sight.

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As we neared the lake, stark bare mountains in vivid shades of brown and indigo stared at us. We reached the lake at 2 o clock in the afternoon and the weather was just right and we wanted to make the best out of it, so we did not even check in to our hotel as weathers are so uncertain in hilly regions.

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The Pangong is a salt water lake at 14500feet bordering with China, stretching over 135kms where only some 40% is with India while the rest of the lake is in China as the Line of Actual Control passes through the lake. The lake is a basin lake where its waters do not flow out into any oceans or sea but is evaporated or absorbed deep into the grounds or at the most flows to other lakes or swamps. The width of the lake is some 5 kms at its broadest point and has no marine life except for some crustaceans. No boating or fishing is done here as it is a border area. Afternoons are the best time to visit this lake as the Sun is steadily moving west allowing that celestial blue to dominantly hypnotize you. Such blue that makes one wonder if the waters are reflecting her colors on the sky! It was perhaps here that the lines’ ye jeel si neeli ankhen’ were coined.

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She is green- she is blue- she is green? Okay she is blue again! She is fickle minded and freezes into a white in the winters.

Our driver quickly drove to us to the spot where the 3 Idiots film shooting took place. It is a serene location 5kms away from the general tourist hullabaloo. The first 3kms are smooth but the last stretch is an absolute mule route layered with pebbles and rocks. But the drive is worth every bit once you have reached here. It is just you and serenity unlimited! This is the place I had been dying to visit!

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As the blue lagoon was drawing me like a magnet I was suddenly jerked by some Bollywood absurdity. A ghastly promotional residue or commercial paraphernalia of 3Idiots movie was sitting pretty here to make some quick bucks! Yes along the serene lake lies a framed poster of Kareena Kapoor in her bejeweled bride’s costume! What is even more amusing is that even that bride costume is available here for rent to be posing on that yellow scooty! I mean, really? Yes a yellow scooty is parked here at the Pangong Lake! I cannot understand but then even the 3 colorful buttock seats, the tin barrels were also present here. and then after an hour of solitude there were few travelers sitting here and taking pictures.

Traditional Ladhaki costumes are also available here on rentals, we did dress up like the Namgyal king and queen and posed ridiculously. We spent some 2hours here talking a leisurely stroll on the sandy paths. The icy winds were piercing cold and we had to wind up to our hotel.

We stayed at the Pangong Inn, our travel agent had screwed up the booking and we had to fight it out for a deluxe room for which we had already paid. It is always better to be on your own than rely on travel agents. But the inn was good, out of the entire Ladakh trip this was the only place with delicious food. It was a wooden cottage with 3 layers of blankets to stay alive till the next day. The tap water was freezing cold and there was no way we could think about a bath here. This is one place where we literally prayed to the SunGods for good weathers and warmth! We completely missed watching the night sky here as the cold was unbearable to get out of the cottage.

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Army helicopter patrolling the Pangong Lake

 

The next day morning we took an early morning stroll yet again and walked some 3kms by the lake. The morning sun was gleaming on the waters making her look a greenish black this time. There were Army helicopters patrolling across the lake for their morning rounds. We took a lot of pics and then were driving back to Leh via Chang La pass at 17688feet.

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Road to ChangLa

 

This was the most difficult drive in our entire trip apart from KhardongLa route.

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Chang La Pass 17688 feet

We reached Leh by 2pm, after lunch we headed to the Hall of Fame, spent some 3hours

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Places of interest in Ladakh

That was the end of our trip in Ladakh, the next day morning we were descending back to Kargil and then back to Srinagar to visit Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

The next day morning we visited Alchi monastery, Mulbek yet again as we did not take the Batalik route, it was time to say JuLeh!

If you want to hire a Taxi driver at Leh, you can call Dorjee 9469706051, he was an amazing chap who knew every corner of Ladakh.

Leh 2 Khardong La – Nubra and Turtuk

The next day morning I saw a stranger’s face in the mirror, the bike ride had left me with a patchy suntan and a brutally sunburned nose. I had underestimated the deadly combination of chilly weathers on sun soaked days!

We started after a light breakfast as the impending routes were steep(vulnerable for vomits) and with falling levels of oxygen. Our driver Dorjee was a friendly Ladakhi chap playing Buddhist prayers and local Ladhaki songs. We were heading to Nubra valley from Leh which is 105kms, a long drive of 7.5 to 8hours.

As you ascend on this journey, one can get a good view of the mountain ranges encapsulating Leh. Visiting Nubra, Pangong, Tso Moriri requires a permit from the DC’s office which can be obtained in Leh by submitting an application if you are on your own, if you are on a package tour or taking hired taxis, the travel agent or the taxi guy can arrange for the same.

Leh to Khardong La is 40kms which is a 2hours drive, this route is strategically significant for India as it is used to carry supplies to the Siachen glacier.

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Road to Khardong La after South Pulu

The first 25kms of roads upto South Pulu is decent, at 15300feet the South Pulu Post is a District Police checking post, you are checked for the permits, after this point begins the narrow steep muddy paths with loose rocks leading to Khardong La pass all the way up to North Pulu. KhardongLa is one of the world’s highest motorable passes at 18380feet.

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View from Khardong La

The temperatures were freezing at Khardong La and I thought my nose would freeze anytime if I continued to stand there any longer. The snow clad vistas invoked a spiritualistic spell but the thought that the Army Jawans stand here throughout the year, even in times when temperatures are in minus degrees gave me a shuddering chill within. Small shops serve tea and maggi here.

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The army has constructed a SarvaDharmaMandir here such little shrines of prayers are a common sight in these areas manned by the army. A huge Indian flag splutters in the icy winds and we challenged ourselves to click pictures without the cap or jacket! We clicked some pictures and after spending some 30minutes here, we were heading past the Khardong La towards the Khardong village which is some 30kms from this point but typically takes 1.5 hours to reach there on low traffic and no landslide days.

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Route from Khardong La to North Pulu

The crucial 15kms drive from Khardong La to North Pulu is an exhilarating and a nail biting one where the roads get really narrow and scary.

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Road to North Pulu

Driving in these tapering rough dusty paths amidst the hostility of chill weathers requires experienced hands at the steering.

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Road construction workers working in freezing temperatures.

After a bumpy drive crossing the North Pulu, we were now descending to the Khardong Village. We had lunch at the Khardong, a little hamlet soaked in the beauty of nature, you can see Yak farms here, yaks can be seen grazing everywhere here they are just cows encrusted with a thick furry blanket.

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Restaurant at Khardong village

After the Khardong village the roads up to Nubra are smooth. The drive to Nubra is mesmerizing with the Karakoram ranges cupping the Shyok River. Kharakoram means ‘the place of black gravel’ and Shyok means sorrow! Shyoka in Sanskrit means sorrow, how and why these places were named so, nobody knows!

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Shyok river along Karakoram Ranges, en route Khardong to Nubra

The Shyok River finally flows to Pakistan after Turtuk, Northern most Indian village bordering POK.

The Nubra valley is an arid looking flat valley but strangely apple, apricot and berries and flowers grow here in plenty. The unique thing about Nubra is the confluence of the Nubra and Shyok rivers and the Hunder Sand dunes. At 10000feet amidst ice glaciers lies a desert where the twin humped Bactarian camels walk.

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Bactarian Camel at Hunder Sand Dunes

 

The pebbled beds of the valley gives a feeling as if it was some ocean bed millions of years ago and due to some tectonic shifts and drastic climatic changes it is today a mix of rivers, mountains, desert and snow.

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Maitreya Buddha

 

The giant Maitreya Buddha statue against the Shyok river facing Pakistan is another attraction at Disket village, that is also home to the famous Disket monastery, another ancient Gompa! The site at the Giant Buddha Maitreya statue offers a magnificently marvelous view of the Karakuram ranges and you can easily spend an hour or two looking endlessly at the barren vistas against the blue skies with racing clouds.

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View of Disket Monastery from the Giant Buddha Statue

 

After visiting the monastery and the Buddha statue we headed to the Hunder sand dunes around 5 in the evening. A 15 minute camel ride was complementary in our package . It would be a beautiful experience if the camels are taken separately carrying lighter people but it was a horrifying to see the poor camels carry bulky bottoms in between the narrow space of their humps, some of them had their humps sagging(almost broken) because of the commercial value they offer. Some 7-8 camels are stringed and pulled closely together where we were sandwiched amidst furry stenches that were rubbing against our legs.

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Camel ride at Hunder Sand Dunes

 

The ride did finally come to an end giving relieving those camels, we decided to trek on the sands the next day as the evening chill was freezing. We stayed in Nubra for 2 nights. Nubra and Pangong were the coldest in our entire trip although the hotel was cozy enough.

The shrill Muezzin calls woke us up as it tremored the tranquility in the entire place. After breakfast we headed to Turtuk, the northern most Indian village bordering POK. The drive to Turtuk via Skuru, Bogdong, Changmar village is a picturesque one with mesmerizing views all along. It is completely an untouched desolate stretch with heavy Army presence and we were the only vehicle driving besides the snaking Shyok River in all her turquoise splendor!

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It is intriguing that the river has beach like sand shores here and its fine sand gravels are silk smooth. The towering mountains look like huge sand and rock castles that might rain sleets of loose rocks with the slightest of winds cascading into a terrible land slide in a domino effect.

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En route Turtuk

 

Nubra to Turtuk is 80kms and a 3 hours drive. You cannot find any civil settlements or hotels here on this stretch. The Turtuk village itself has some 4000 inhabitants with Balti ethnic Muslim culture. Until 1971 Turtuk was under Gilgit-Baltistan territory with Pakistan. But during the 1971 war India pushed back the Pakistan soldiers who were towering the Siachen mountain posts. Turtuk is predominantly a Muslim hub in the Buddhist Ladakh and their Islamic vulnerability to radicalism may always pose a threat to the security of India, perhaps it is good to build a monastery or a Hanuman Mandir here and have some Buddhists settle down here!

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Turtuk view from the bridge

 

The village has flowing waters and streams everywhere amidst the dense green scenic expanses of Apricot and Walnut trees. It is a small Baltic cult where women toil in the fields while men laze around near the mosque.

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A view from the large bridge over the Shyok river makes for a panoramic delight. Crossing this bridge connects you to the little uphill village that grows lots of vegetables in front of every house. There is a small Government school here where I saw little girls throwing stones at each other!

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Okay it’s not them! It’s the plenty of loose stones available from those rocky mountains of J&K state that is to be blamed! There are many Ladakhi faces who have converted to Islam in Nubra. We had lunch at a Buddhist restaurant overlooking the bridge. The air was filled with the sounds of flowing streams that joined the river beneath. The Shyok River receives water from the glacial meltdown.

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The Siachen glacier is very close to this village as Turtuk is the underbelly between Siachen and Aksai Chin. Sia means rose and chun mean place of abundance, Siachen- means Place with plenty of roses! But it is filled with the thorns of hate post partition.

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By 4pm we were driving back, en route we stopped and walked on the sands along the Shyok river! It was an enchanting experience to be surrounded by the reflections of the mountains in the pristine waters of Shyok with only the sounds of the flowing waters and gentle winds.

We totally missed visiting Panamic that was oddly scheduled for the day although it was in a totally different direction. But still we could call it a day!

 

 

Ju LEH!

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Kargil to Leh is a 3 ½ hrs drive of 214kms on NH 1D. The panoramic scenes of nature’s glory coupled with the BRO built seamless roads make these stretches one of the best places to be driving in. The weather was perfect with not one cloud to be seen on the clear blue skies _ such deep blue that you cannot find it in the cities! And those vistas of layers and layers of brown mountains seemed to stretch as far the eyes could see and the mind could comprehend.

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Some of the places one can see on this route are NamikaLa, FatuLa, Lamayuru, Mulbek, Moonscape hills, , Magnetic Hill

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We crossed the NamikLa pass at 12198feet which is the highest in the Srinagar-Leh highway and the Fatula pass at 13478feet. The entire area is a defense den with lots of convoys and army folks securing this serenity.

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View in front of Lamayaru

Lamayuru is an ancient monastery of the 8th century, I do not understand much about Buddhist spirituality but I like the calm in monasteries and their locations are often encapsulated in extremely beautiful panoramas with absolute tranquility. If you have ample time, take a walk here, it is a one off experience you cannot afford to miss.

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View of Moonrock landscapes from the Lamayaru Gompa

The view and the vistas are astonishingly beautiful around this place. Each hill has a different pattern to swirl up your imaginations. It is as if God was making his choicest sand castles here.

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The Moonrock hills, true to their name, look like craters on the moon. The pyramid shaped formations on these hills are really intriguing.

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Next was the Magnetic Hill, the expanse of similar looking smooth slopes in the backdrop of open skies against a levelled surface road make the downhill path appear like an uphill path. It creates an optical illusion that vehicles are moving uphill much against gravity. There are monster trucks available for a fun ride on hire.

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Magnetic Hill Road

Driving here is like a beautiful dream!

 

Next is the Sangam point where the Sindhu and Zanskar rivers meet.

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Sindhu Zanskar Sangam

Then there is Pattar Saahib Gurudwara, if you are reaching Leh by afternoon, you can visit the Gurudwara and have Langar.

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The Hall Of Fame is another must visit attraction where you can easily spend some 3 hours reading about the Army regiments, wars, weapons, winning stories and woeful memories. I would call it an Army Heritage Gallery with a lot of interesting information and insight into what it takes to be standing there at the borders. (We visited the Hall of Fame on the eve of our last day of the tour from 2.30pm to 5.30pm and covered the Gurudwara in the morning just before leaving Leh).

You are almost entering Leh!

Julay!

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We reached our hotel Blue Mountain in Leh at around 2pm. The Leh market is a 7minute walk from here. We had lunch at Sneha Vegetarian Snacks. Strolled around in the markets looking at why Ladakhis had a red burnt nose.

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Leh Market

I was reminded of my Srinagar driver telling me – Ye Ladakhi Kheenchke oxygen lethe hai na – isi liye inka naak laal hota hai’! Leh is at 11,562feet and the October weather was sunny yet very chill, a strange unease was overwhelmingly arresting me and I felt as if my nose was becoming numb!IMG_20171004_180519502 (1)

However I was much better after a nice hot ginger-honey drink, also fatty food like butter will do lot of good in high altitudes to keep you going.

The next day morning was the moment I was looking forward to _ what is a trip to Leh without a bike ride beside the Sindhu Rivers?

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Leh Palace

 

Bike rentals are available for Rs.1000 per day, fuel fills is on you. We started off visiting the Leh palace – a small wood and mud building. You can catch a good glimpse of the Leh city from here.

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View from Leh Palace

 

Leh is the land of Changpas, Drogpas and Dards, its palaces are simple inornate structures devoid of grandiose, built with whatever substances were available and suitable in the hostile climates by the local kings.

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The chirpy HazaarBaasha or the Chakor Pakshi

 

Ladakh means the Land Of Passes(La-Pass, dakh-land). In this land of lofty mountains and splendid valleys the best thing to do is to plunge in its scenic beauty by simply driving around against the wafting winds.

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Enroute Stok, now don’t look out for the stand!!

 

We drove to Stok Palace which is some 12kms from Leh, located in a serene seclusion, the Stok Palace overlooks the Giant Buddha statue in its close vicinity.

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The insides of the palace are mostly wooden, the walls and ceilings are complemented with bright colored paintings and artefacts.

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View from Stok

 

The occasional chiming sounds of the large Mantra Mani spun by curious tourists, adds a unique sanctity in the air. En route the highway we had lunch at ‘Buddhist Garden Restaurant’ owned by an old friendly Ladakhi lady.

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View at the Shey Palace

 

 

Next we were heading towards Shey Palace in Shey village. Shey Palace is a 16th century structure that hosts a monastery with a gigantic copper Buddha statue. It was the ancient capital of Ladakhi kings before they moved to Stok.

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Vistas near the DrukPadmaSchool

 

Next we were driving towards Thiksey Monastery and then to Hemis in Karu village. Between Shey Palace and the Thiksey Monastery there is a splendid burst of yellow! On the way we saw a whole lot of tourist vehicles parked near the Druk Padma Karpo School that is now famously called as Rancho’s School because parts of the movie – 3 Idiots was shot here (the school scenes). It was amusing to see the number of people queued up here to have a look at Aamir Khan’s classroom and of course Chatur’s pissing point! The hill stations of J&K are smitten by the Bollywood Bug, many valleys or points are named after some movie. We took some pictures here and didn’t go inside the school. We also skipped stopping at the Thiksey monastery as we were headed to see the biggest monastery _ Hemis.

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Leh to Hemis monastery is 45kms and an incredible drive with breath taking vistas of the Sindhu river and those barren terrains with a dash of Saffeda and Willows spread across in their vivid hues.

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Ladakh is known as the cradle of diverse cultures. Although predominantly Buddhist it has considerable Muslim population as Islam was brought in by invading kings, travelers and trades from around the 15th century.

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Located amidst the high Himalayan ranges like Karakoram, Zanskar and The Himalayan ranges, Ladakh is a rain shadow region with no vegetation or rain, making the place a rocky edged barren terrain that is very difficult for human existence but still Leh manages to attract lakhs of tourists round the year because of these very unique features.

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Bridge Crossing to Hemis

 

Although you can see flowing waters everywhere, there is acute scarcity of water in Ladakh. So while in Ladakh, use water judiciously and leave this heavenly place nice and clean.

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Arch gate to Hemis, 5kms before the monastery

 

Hemis monastery is located on a remote hill gorge we were the only ones driving on this route at around 4pm. It is an ancient monastery that was reestablished in the 16th century.

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Main monastery is another 3kms from here

 

It is the biggest and richest gompa that hosts the annual Hemis festival also known as The Kumb Mela Of The Himalayas, where sacred masked dances and other traditional rituals are performed. Lamas from across the world congregate here to commemorate the Padmasambava who is believed to be the reincarnation of Buddha.

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Hemis Gompa

 

This place has a small restaurant, museum and clean toilets.

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The sun was setting and the weather dipping, it was time to call it a day. And we were driving back beside the Sindhu once again against the hostile winds. By the time we reached our hotel my nose had almost signed off and felt like it didn’t exist!

 

Srinagar to Kargil, Day2

Srinagar to Kargil is some 201kms via NH1 and a 5.30hrs drive nonstop. The gradual ascend by road helps in acclimatization to the hostile weathers that await you at Leh and beyond hence we had allotted 2days to reach Leh. We left Srinagar around 8.30am, driving via Ganderbal district, the vistas by the countryside are beautiful with roads lined with willow trees in all their sun dipped yellows and apple farms in all their bloom.

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The route from Srinagar was via Ganderbal – Sonamarg – Zozila pass – Drass- Kargil on NH 1D.

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Typically there is negligible public transport available from Srinagar to Kargil. The transport service is dominated by the private local Taxi mafia where Taxis from Leh and Ladakh cannot enter Srinagar and Srinagar taxis are not allowed to engage customers beyond Leh. So it is impossible to hire a through Taxi. One has to change the Taxi at Leh as the Srinagar Taxi can only drop you till Leh. The taxi fares are exorbitant, shared cab or a bus is another option but a its going to be a tiring nonstop drive. You could also drive your personal vehicle or hire a bike. For the adventurists the bike option is the best as it is not only economical but also an exhilarating and indescribable experience to be driving amidst such picturesque paths. However since our travel plan was through an agent the taxi engagement was part of the plan so we didn’t have to worry much except for the kind of driver we would be given. Previously my experience with makemytrip was a pathetic one, with an arrogant driver.

This time around our driver Gulzar was seemingly enthusiastic about tourists, willing to interact and explain freely. A staunch Abdullahs supporter who believes in a separate Kashmir but holds the current Government responsible for low influx of tourists, when the truth is that people are bypassing these stone pelters by flying directly to Leh. When I gently remind him about the same and tell him that Kashmir was getting all the funds from the Indian Government he quotes the Sheikh’s autonomous prescriptions and plebiscite dreams of remaining separate. The rigidity of religious radicalism blinds all logic, even as he kept saying panchaaz for pachaaz without knowing that Pancha is the Sanskrit 5, he confidently claimed that all media reports were false! Clearly the Maulvi scores over the media here. I could only wish if he had known that Sheikh Abdullah’s father was a descendant of a Kashmiri Pandit Ragho Ram Kaul who was converted to Islam in 1722 as per his own autobiography ‘Aatish e Chinar’.

I was quickly reminded of Shri.B.L.Santosh’s words at the writer’s meet who said that ‘to take control of a waywardly speeding bus heading towards disaster, one has to first board the bus, take control of the steering, then ensure that innocent passengers are safe while taking care of your own safety before bringing the bus back on to its track. The Kashmir issue is a classic case of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, they want us tourists but don’t like India or Indians.

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En route we saw many Army personal training in rock climbing. Every time we stopped to shake hands or click pictures with the Army with their consent, it was a heart burning moment for our driver and apprehensive to stop near them but after a while he got used to it.

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Sonamarg

 

After some 90kms, we reached Sonamarg which is much sought after tourist spot at 2730 meters above sea level. Sonamarg(Sona-golden, Marga-path) is a mountain valley that is encapsulated by towering Himalayan peaks with many Himalayan glaciers in its vicinity. You can take pony rides to the Tajjiwas glacier which will cost you Rs.1500 per person for a 2hrs ride. You have to bargain. Parts of the movie Bhajrangi Bhaijan were shot here.

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Tajjiwas Glacier

 

Many trekking, rafting and pilgrimage(Baltal camp for Amarnath) base camps start from here. Best time to visit here would be the early April when summer is just beginning when the valley is still dressed in snow. But since we had an overdose of snow in our previous trip to Manali we were keen to meander amidst the bare barren hills of Leh that too in October when the crowds are thin where your clicks will not be interrupted by selfie clicking travelers. It was a beautiful sight of vast green and gold meadows with imposing deodar trees standing tall in vivid Vermont like shades and interesting patterns. The snowcapped peaks played peekaboo against the backdrop of the Sindhu River that snakes picturesquely in all her chaste clear waters! The roads here are maintained by BRO and manned by the Army.

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This route gets buried under 50feet of snow after November, disconnecting Ladakh through this route hence the center is building a tunnel to keep the connectivity open throughout the year as the routes beyond this point are shut down in winter and only the Army stays put here as of now.

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We spent some time here on photography but gave the pony ride a slip. After zero point we were heading to Zozi La at a height of 11474ft.

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Zozila routes

 

La means pass, Zozila is the second highest pass in the Srinagar-Leh highway and the link between Ladakh and Srinagar. It is the most difficult route with rugged rocky and dusty paths, prone to frequent landslides that can be triggered by the gusting mountain winds.

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Rugged routes of Zozila pass

 

After the rugged and rocky routes of Zozila begins the brown vistas with good roads.

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Shades of hills through my eyes

 

During this drive you can see the Tiger Hill all along at the far end.

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Tiger Hill

 

By 12 noon we reached Drass, the coldest place in India at a height of 10764feet_ the quiet little town in the Kargil district today that had witnessed one of the fiercest battles on its treacherous terrains in 1999 when Pakistan had intruded into our territories.

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Kargil War Memorial in Dras

 

Set against the foothills of the Tololing heights in the background of Tiger Hill and Point 4875(Batra Point) where the mighty Indian soldiers sent home the Pakis disgraced and embarrassed, the Kargil War Memorial is a fine tribute to the many heroes who fought relentlessly to recapture and restore these integral points back to India. The current structure was built by the Indian Army in Nov 2014.

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There is no entry fee or any charges here but you have to sign and enter your details along with ID proof at the entry.

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The moment you enter, the huge Indian Flag fluttering in front of the barren Tololing Hill against the backdrop of the blue skies is a nostalgic moment. As you proceed you can see a full size replica of the Bofors gun and the MIG 21 aircraft placed here as they played a crucial role in the Kargil battle.

Then there is Manoj Pandey Gallery showcasing the various achievements of different units and regiments of the Army that participated in the Kargil War.

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Veerbhumi: Sandstone Wall

 

To the far end on the left side is the Veer Bhumi with hundreds of sandstone memorials of all those officers and soldiers who gave their lives. As I salute these martyrs a strange silence floats in the air moistening your eyes, I kneel down to read those several names etched now in heroic history _ soldiers from Kerala to Karnataka, Bihar to Bengal and Punjab to Sikkim. They had all come here to fight in these unknown terrains for their motherland to fight against the enemy in these treacherous terrains amidst hostile locals. It is upsetting to note that the locals here who stay here don’t seem to care. Kargil is predominantly a Muslim settlement again, perhaps it is for this reason that a radical rogue like Pakistan could infiltrate into the hilly pockets of India.

It is an out and out demographic war encouraged right under our flawed constitution with obnoxious articles like 370 and 35A. While some stupid Hindus blinded by their secular filters may refuse to see the truth and say ‘hey let’s not discuss politics and religion’, the ground reality is ruthlessly harsh where radical mosques are fast multiplying in the serene spaces of Ladakh too. The war memorial is a tale of many unknown faces, unheard names of unbelievable courage and sacrifice who have made it possible for us to stand safe amidst these serene vistas today. Such tales that moisten your eyes and such bravery that you could swell in pride.

The Memorial also has an ATM, a souvenir shop, a small refreshment area selling Samosas and tea. This stretch has no hotels so it is better you grab something here. We had not realized we had spent almost 3 hours here. We came out with a Jai Hind cap and our driver was almost turning squint.

Somewhere near the memorial is a place called BhimPattar which is believed to a Mahabharatha time rock thrown by Bhimasena. We followed the board and looked around but could not place it.

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Sindhu-Soru Sangam

 

We were now driving off to our hotel in Kargil via the Sindhu Soru Sangam point, where the green Sindhu waters meet the black Soru tributary. The confluence is an enticing sight in a bewitching background. We entered the Kargil town, tired and hungry.

Our hotel _ The Zozilla Residency was a decent place with an open restaurant overlooking the Soru River. But the whole place was invaded by flies making it impossible to have food outside however the vegetarian food was decent and the room comfortable.

After a hurried lunch at 4pm, we left our taxi behind and took another local cab to a secluded place called Hunderman which is a 15kms drive from the Kargil town. It is a cliff hanger like drive with extremely narrow paths and sharp bends. No outside taxis are allowed yet again here. So we had to shell out another 1500 for this drive in an Omni Van. Later on I came to know that it can be availed for even Rs.800. If you look at it, it is a convenient agreement amongst the Kashmiri Muslim populace to give business to local crowds at the cost of the customer where one has to compulsorily hire a local cab for local sightseeing even if they had their own taxi at their disposal.

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Hundarman Hill

 

Hunderman is the last village on the Indian side, the hill falls directly in the firing range of the Pakistan(POK). You can see Indian and Pakistani bunkers and soldiers in a binocular. We managed it with our camera zoom. There are some old houses in a dilapidated state that the villagers left behind. At the bottom you can see clusters of apricot trees by the Sindhu River. The Ladakhi faced driver Kasim narrated how closely he had deceived death during the Kargil unrest when Pakistani shells had bombarded his town from the opposite hills.

It was around 8 degrees and falling further by the evening. We headed back and that was the end of day 2.

Stay at Kargil or Drass or Alchi helps you acclimatize better so as to avoid AMS (altitude mountain sickness).

 

 

 

I Got My Khata Without A Bribe!

If you are a Bangalorean the most frequently used word in your circles would be – ‘Khata’! And it is often made out to be a premium document, procuring which is again made out to be an uphill or an impossible task without a bribe!

But what is a Khata?

A Khata is basically a Persian word which means Account, the use of the term came into being during the regime of rulers like Tipu Sultan but is still prevalent in the real estate lexicon as it is a livelihood giving word to many touts.

A Khata is a revenue document which facilitates assessment and calculation of your property taxes. It records details like – size of the property, location, built up area and identifies the actual owner of the property who is liable to pay property taxes. Essentially it is an account with your municipality that identifies you as the owner liable to pay property taxes. As per definitive rules on paper it is deemed as a must have document for applying for Bank Loans, getting Electricity and Water connections etc but in today’s world where we are paying property taxes online with or without a Khata and even able to procure electricity, water connections and bank loans without the need to furnish a Khata makes the very concept of Khata obsolete and irrelevant. Also a Khata does not have anything to do with ownership as the tittle deeds take care of it. In this digital age where we have already aligned our Aadhar card with Banks, pay online property taxes without a Khata or E Khata and importantly the sale deeds have our pictures on it, makes the Khata an archaic headache of a practice that our Governments must soon shun.

But since this dated paperwork is still not revoked most of us are smitten with it as if to a sought after commodity procuring which is made out to be an arduous task by the touts and mythmakers. Hence most people are trapped into paying some Bribe to procure this document called Khata which is deemed important when you are selling your property.

Since I had no plans of selling my property nor was I desperate to procure this document by paying up a Bribe I had decided I would never apply for it in the first case until it became completely online and stabilized at a stage where the Khata would be couriered home to me. Even the PID generated in an E Khata is of no value addition as we are already paying our taxes online without any PID and the E Khata is of little help as of now as ultimately one has to still see those beautiful BBMP faces while physically collecting the Khata from your nearest BBMP center or Kiosk!

I had expressed the same sometime back to a few fellow residents in my apartment who shared similar thoughts during times when many others in the community had opted to get it done by paying a bribe. In fact all that Bribe giving was facilitated and organized as if it was some Khata Mela! And this kind of unabashed display of moral unconsciousness, openly normalizing a corrupt practice had shocked us!

We decided we shall apply together, individually and make sure we do not succumb into paying any bribe

Sometime later, we got together, one of the senior gentlemen got the application forms from the BBMP office, after duly getting the forms filled, signed, attested and attached with the respective DD’s(2 nos) addressed to the Commissioner BBMP along with the 2%tax on stamp duty mentioned in your sale deed and the Khata charges of Rs.125 along with the latest tax paid receipt, we set out to hand it over to the Tappal (the clerk).

On seeing some 10 of us approach together, the clerk smelt the abnormal attitude. Thanks to all those people who have normalized Bribe giving as just another transactional obligation and see ‘exercising your basic right’ as activism! Stockholm syndrome perhaps!

It was around 12.30 in the noon 21July when we reached the BBMP office and it was not an unusual site at all to find the ARO and the center head missing in action leaving the place with a bunch of clerks who were determined to non-cooperate with us, however even we were equally determined to counter that noncooperation with absolute patience and insistence.

At first he said that Khatas are not being issued individually for apartments and that they would only issue in bulk as per the new circular. We then asked him to show the circular and he was quiet horrified when we insisted on seeing that circular and even looked it up online. There was no such circular. Since it was not pasted anywhere he realized he could not play around. Then he said your DD amounts may be wrong and asked us how we had concluded the respective amounts. He asked us to checkup and submit it at a later date, to which we said that the amounts were calculated as per the information provided by the BBMP office earlier and also the BBMP website and if there was any wrong it was for him to inspect and reject!

Next he said that we had to notarize the copy of the sale deed(first sheet of sale deed to be submitted where the name of owners appears) and also provide a copy of EC (Encumbrance Certificate). Although it was not mentioned anywhere in the Khata application or on the BBMP website asking for these documents, the clerk kept refusing to accept our applications without EC.. After haggling in raised voices for half an hour, he showed us some old applications submitted which had endorsed copies of notarized sale deeds(first sheet of sale deed) and EC.

EC is another document which says the property in question is free from any monetary and legal liabilities and it can be obtained from any registered authorities like Notaries. The Notary normally checks the sale deed and stamps his seal. A notarized copy of sale deed along with EC has to be submitted to the BBMP along with your latest tax paid receipts and duly filled Khata application. The Notarization is all about certifying, attesting and authenticating an instrument. In the past many dealings with sub registered offices and other such Government offices, I have got many deeds and documents attested by a Notary but till date I have not understood what the hell does the Notary authenticate from those very documents or copies that I have provided, upon which he blindly stamps and signs for a 50 or 100 depending on how well-dressed you are! In my opinion the concept of notarizing is another useless practice and all those Notaries should be thrown in the Arabian sea!

The next day we got the EC and the Notarization done together for Rs.300 per resident.

And on 24th July our applications were finally accepted with a pink receipt of acknowledgement given. Remember to file and frame this copy till you receive the Khata as this is your magic wand to Nirvana!

After a week’s time we visited the BBMP office again for a follow up, this time the clerk gave his number and asked one of us to contact him and said it was not really necessary for all of us to keep coming. He indicated that he had done his job and that we needed to follow up with the ARO and that the ARO was too busy. We met the ARO who was very rude and yet again told us that he could not Khatas individually and that we had not submitted the information of all the flats, flat nos, their built up area, owner names etc which we tabled and gave him the very next day. We also mailed the same to the ARO but there was no acknowledgement.

The following week when we visited him again, the ARO seemed to be in a good mood and was in conversation with some senior person just outside the office. We quickly approached him and he(ARO) gently promised that he would give the Khata in a week’s time.

After some 4days we called up the clerk and then began the story, he started demanding a bribe in the magnitude of the same amount our fellow residents had made. We indicated that we could not pay him so much and kept the loop open and told him that he had not even come for a site inspection, we were keen to get him for a site inspection first and certify that all documents submitted by us were in accordance to the requirements of the BBMP. Finally in the following days, he made a visit and again opened the talks for a bribe, to which we did not commit anything nor antagonized him.

The next time we called he indicated that he was willing for a negotiation but we told him that we could not pay him anything.

After this incident we had a group meeting and few in the group were going weak to somehow settle it off even if it meant shelling some small amount which I thought was what the delay tactics was all about – to yield us into the Bribe trap. I even thought I will go it alone if need be but then we held on to our original beliefs.

There was silence from all of us for one whole week and then we thought enough was enough and wrote to the higher ups. A written communication requesting and reminding them that a Khata had to ideally be issued in 24days from the time of submission of the application and that now more than 2months had passed and our DDs would lapse soon causing us the inconvenience of going through the procedure all over again. We sent a registered post to the Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and the ARO of BBMP on behalf of all applicants together under one signature.

Almost after some 15day(Diwali holidays included) we got an acknowledgement by postcard from BBMP from the day of the letter. The clerk too called up but we somehow had missed the message. When we next visited the BBMP we were told that we could collect the Khata the following day. It was a pleasant shockJ but the next day 25 October we got our Khatas without having to pay any BRIBE in exactly 3months time!

One last line for those of them who say – people in a working system do not have the time to spare following up with this kind of activism: Each of us make time  for our preset priorities and interests. if shaking a leg at the Zumba class is a priority for some, a few others may find solace in social causes. It is just a matter of how one prioritizes and plans to spend his or her time. And when people say they are busy with their work schedules and unable to make time to seek their right, it is always about their priorities and never about lack of time!

 

Srinagar Houseboat stay!

A reverie of those serene paths snaking uphill

As if to embrace the blue skies

Seemed to rekindle our wayfaring thrill

The mountains were calling …And we set sail like little travel flies!!

We grabbed a great flight deal and before we knew it we were in a cramped rear seat onboard an Indigo flight flying to Delhi and then to Srinagar. We had customized this travel itinerary with a Srinagar based Travel Agent called Milli Tours and Travels, flight bookings were our own!

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We reached Srinagar on 2nd October at 3pm and were picked up by our driver Gulzar. Srinagar is big town with tall old Chinar trees, lakes, ancient bridges and broad busy streets laden with carts of fruits and dry fruits along with an eye popping number of Army personnel and patrols present everywhere.

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As we drive past the Jhelum River in the backdrop of ancient bridges, I wonder how this ancient town of Srinagar – which ideally means the land of Goddess Lakshmi (Sri-Lakshmi, Nagar-town) came to become the hotbed of terror.

Driving in and around Srinagar felt like visiting a different land altogether _ with a 98% Muslim population it felt as if I was in some Islamic country. Shops and streets are filled with Phiran clad, typically sharp bearded men and hijab or burqa clad women who gaped at us Bindi wearing bare headed tourists like aliens from Mars! As we passed avenues of tiny shops which were all with Islamic names with not one Hindu name or presence to be felt, we realized there was nothing strange about the alarming presence of the army.

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If we could travel with open hair and a Bindi on the forehead, it was because of the Army’s presence. En route to Dal lake I saw CRPF personnel engaged in Swatch Bharath initiatives where they were sweeping the roads, it was quiet annoying and saddening to see them employed for this work but it is also possible that this method is employed to get them acquainted with all the streets and the ongoing activities.

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By 4pm we reached our houseboat in the Dal Lake, where our night stay was scheduled.

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Dal lake is a floating boulevard of Shikaras, Houseboats, gardens, handloom and textile shops, paper mashe artworks and a whole lot of trinkets, Saffron and Khawwa(local kesar drink) sellers. The backdrop of the tawny towering Himalayan ranges encapsulating the expanse of the gleaming waters makes for a picturesque sight! Dal in Kashmiri means lake but yet people like us call it Dal lake!

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But my first impression about the Shikara was very disappointing as I was hoping to see some overtly decked up colorful swan like Shikara with a lot of vividly hued flowers like in the Shammi Kapoor song. But we had to settle down into our sober looking Shikara along with our entire luggage to shuttle in to the Houseboat hotel for the night stay.

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We dumped the luggage at our destined Houseboat amongst the many Houseboats that were lined up as if at the onset of a boat race. And then began our complementary Shikara ride of 15minutes arranged by the Houseboat via the agent. Shikara rides cost around Rs.200-Rs.300 per hour per head as claimed by our Shikara chap Majid Bhai.

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It was sunny but the chill factor was still there. The lake is a vast stretch of green waters filled with obnoxious amount of weeds in spite of 4-6 weed cutting machines deployed across it. The lake seems to have lost its original beauty because of overt commercialization and Eutrophication which means excess nutrients being present in the water leading to growth of too many plants, algae and weeds robbing the lake of its oxygen. From the Dal you can view the Shankaracharya hill.

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Within 5minutes into our pristine ride, began the annoying harassment of pleading vendors and leech like photographers who wouldn’t let go of us till we yielded. We were charged an exorbitant amount of Rs.1500 for 15 photos when we had asked him only for 2pics. Also the quality of costume, jewelry and the picture quality is pathetic in Dal lake, you could try the same in Nishat garden where the costume and the background are extremely beautiful. But if you want the lake background pay him a couple of hundreds borrow the costume and do your own photography.

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Since we did not want to turn the ride into an ugly experience we succumbed to his exploitation and let go of him. Going forward we were on the hit list of many such pesky vendors. We decided we shall not talk to anybody or even make an eye contact and it really worked.

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Houseboat of Gul Gulshan Gulfam fame

Majid Bhai our boat man showed us around the lake pointing to distant boats of significance, one such houseboat was where the Gul Gulshan Gulfam teleserial shooting took place and another large antique boat turned out to be a British era DhaakGhar or the first floating post office of their summer capital.

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British era Floating Dhaakghar

Gradually the conversation turned to the tourist influx and their routines, their source of income, livelihood and things like that. Then came the topic of stone pelting, we were cautious not to ask questions that would get us toppled into the waters but then Majid Bhai was more than friendly and shared quiet some opinions. He did not deny the stone pelting incidents but is not too happy with the media. He holds them responsible for a reduced tourism into this part of the country, and that this slowdown of tourism itself is a potential reason for radical exploitation of the unemployed youth in his opinion. He also concedes that there are people who dont want tourism to grow. I could almost connect his thoughts with the braid chopping incidents where tourists were being beaten up as being suspects. But I was determined to insist on a nice bob cut in the event of such attemptsJ. As he shared his opinions the Azaan calls blared out from the nearby mosques one after the other muddling up the serenity of the lake.

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However in my brief stay here I saw that most places I stayed did not subscribe to main stream English news channels. They watch Hindi channels largely and most of them were local channels except Zee Kashmir Express. Perhaps our Government should air freely some of the important news channels here. Essentially the messages of national bonding do not even reach here and they rely on fake whatsapp forwards and videos. My driver told me that he has a whatsapp video of army personnel pulling up some innocent guys and shooting them. It is disturbing to note that such fake propaganda where such staged fake attacks are carried out by militants themselves wearing the Army combat gears to conspire people against the armed forces is shaping the mindsets of these impressionable and religiously bigoted minds. Army uniforms are easily duplicated and available in the markets. In the recent past there have been many attacks by militants wearing the BSF, CRPF and Army uniforms

The Government should perhaps  send counter whatsapp push-alerts/videos and texts revealing the truth perhaps through mobile service providers or banks via their mass sms or whatsapp/emails. As of now most of these people don’t deserve the convenience of the social media and the inherent freedom that comes with it, to that effect internet connections in Srinagar are often down and disconnected for security reasons. Hence it is better to keep print outs of all your travel plans, contact details and enough cash but remember make card payments only to these folks, let them pay up their taxes and be reminded that they are Indian citizens!

No amount of peace or diplomatic talks can help contain the demographic decadency in the valley as I witnessed while driving past places like Ananthnag (in the later part of our trip) and the situation here demands a curt hand at plucking out religious radicalism that is vehemently and unabashedly propagated in the Mosques and Madrasas here with their blaringly fanatic speeches of instigation for upholding a dominating Islam with an anti-Indian pitch. There is nothing religious about it but only rabidly radical repression of vulnerable minds. For security reasons loudspeakers must be banned here and Mosques and Media houses shut down as they are the root cause of the unrest. On a lighter vein the Hurriyat and other separatist leaders should be given protection by these very duplicate olive green uniforms in their fake combat gears.

Maybe we should parcel some Southern land sharks or set up some Idly Vada shops and mellow them down or deploy some brash pan spitting Bihari/UP babus to change the demographics there!

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Anyways coming back to the Shikara ride, it was a good ride but for the overt commercial activities. We were later taken to some Handloom shops where I bought some salwar suits and sarees only to realize later that the same stuff was available for lot lesser in the outside markets.

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We also visited some paper mash art shops and bought some trinkets as souvenirs which were again available for ¼ of its price in front of Shalimar Bagh. The shops near Dal lake are pricy and you can shop only if your bargaining skills are sharp and shrewd.

A fifteen minute complimentary Shikara ride turned out to be a 3 hours affair as we were haunted by several marketers and spent lot of time in the shops and saying no. It is a predetermined quid pro quo arrangement between the Shikara and the shops hence he had willingly extended it so generously.

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It was 8.30 in the night and the temperature was dipping, finally we went back to our houseboat. A nice hot vegetarian dinner was served in the living room of the boat, the boat had 6rooms totally and only 2 were occupied.

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The insides of the houseboat seemed like a spooky setup in an old Bollywood flick. The dim lights, walnut wooded ornate interiors with their velvety bedspreads and mink blankets were very inviting not for us but the mosquitoes! It had been almost 19hours since we left Bangalore and our eyelids were collapsing. it was completely a ‘Wud-ja-makki’ hour and we just sunk into the cosy bed hoping not to be bitten by any termites.

Next day early in the morning we woke to shock! We could hear Hanuman Chalisa at a distance!!

Following the Hanuman Chalisa were several blaring rounds of Azaan as if in some Jugalbandi. I wondered if the mosques had suddenly become secular but then we quickly found out that the sloka was coming from the Shankaracharya Hills which is guarded by the army.

It had worked like our morning alarm and we began our day quiet early. The bathroom was neat and with steaming hot water as the geyser was on all night. After a quick breakfast, by 8.15am we were jet setting to Kargil.

Wait for my Leh and Ladakh posts!

Babas of Philosophy or Politics?

No rapist should ever go unpunished under the court of law, more so when the person claims to be a spiritual guru with a large fan following of gullible devotees! Spiritual Gurus are supposed to be torchbearers of Dharma who effect social harmony in societies but when Gurus take to dramatics and still wield the powers to generate a violent outrage through their devotees, distorting the very idea of devotion, one cannot help but contemplate if such reprehensible reactions are really spontaneous or staged?

It is no secret that politics often takes refuge under philosophical leaders making them larger than life personalities but then for a religious mob to be assembling in such large numbers and resorting to such violence that too on a 15 year old case whose outcome was almost predictable leaves no doubt that this rioting incident was very well-planned and propped up. The recent reports of recovering AK 47, petrol bombs, 2500 Lathis and other such arsenal from the Dera Sach Souda vehicles goes on to prove the same. There is nothing wrong in religious groups forming Mutts or Deras, infact Deras have been regarded as casteless platforms of equality for social bonding and security for the poor but the whole gung-ho about the Dera chief’s dirty department raises questions as to how any religious group could get access to arms and arsenal! Was there any political angle to it? Who would benefit from such mass disruptions and halting of public life? Why would a ruling government willingly let loose mobs to run amok when their own administrative acumen would be at stake and under the hawk eyes of the media?

With some Congress men even tweeting that this violence should go as a warning to the BJP if they even dared to touch the Gandhi or Vadra family, it may not be premature to say that like the farmer’s protest in MP that was hijacked by the Congress goons, even the Panchkula rioting incident appears to be orchestrated by the Congress as their stalwarts are involved in several land grabbing cases here. Apparently the Khattar Government has been pursuing all illegal land grabbing cases of the Vadras, it is another speculative thing if any politician in India will ever go to jail for a full term.

The speed with which the media demanded Khattar’s resignation when a 14 year old rape case that was dangling in the air under congress rule is taken to its logical end under the BJP makes Congress’s and their lynched liberals’ frustration evident! Remember there was no such ask by the media when Bengal was burning!

Gurmeet Singh the spiritual baba cum actor cum writer cum philosopher cum sportsperson cum social libertarian cum music director cum hero cum Dada Saheb Phalke film foundation award winner for the most popular actor and director is the 3rd chief of the Dera who was given a VVIP status with Z+ security under the erstwhile Congress rule. But when these Babas do not pay political dividends they will be vilified as Hindu Rapist Godmen whether or not they really promote real Hinduism! Not that RamRahim was any holy cow but the issue is about how easy it is for the political chancers to suddenly deem a sect as a separate identity either for garnering votes or for vengeance politics. Whichever way they go they leave no stone unturned to belittle an entire indigenous faith and ridicule all spiritual leaders of that sect when one Baba is caught. Post independent India has been a secular era at the cost of Hindus all along till now, ironically the Dera Sacha Souda that was founded by one Mastana Balochistani in 1948 basing its faith on secularism, quietism, individual and strict social disciplines is today used/misled by shadow clouts of politicians to unleash violent disruptions where lakhs of gullible followers are let loose from the Congress ruled Punjab into Haryana as if to deliberately create a political turmoil in the state of Haryana just before the verdict!

The British encouraged formations of newer cults of secularism all along starting from Bramho Samaj, SaiBabas, Dera etc alongside missionary activities. Whatever be the intentions of such newer introductions and propaganda, Indians have absorbed and adapted them all into their indigenous cultures as their own but what is intriguing is the fact that although India has always been the land of sadhus and sanths who reformed and rejuvenated our societies it is only in recent times that Sadhus are able to mobilize chaotic mobs leading to killings of their own followers.

Such mob mobilizing is witnessed not just for a RamRahim but also on the calls of radical Maulvis or Padres who have in the past instigated riots against the system. Be it the Christian mischief of alleged Church attacks in Mangalore or Orissa or the recent communal violence and rioting in Bengal where instigated mobs stood blindly with their masters who whip their minds and inflict their subterfuge political agenda making it into rabid religiosity.

It is for this reason that the BJP has to forcibly penetrate the ugly communal religio-political empires built during the Congress regimes to neutralize not just political mileages but to contain the separatist dance of division politics from disintegrating the society into warring groups against the system. Since the damage is already done as this identity politics has seeped deep within. It has become a dangerous mind game today as it starts off with the poor and then percolates amongst the privileged, brewing its ugly portion of separatism across all classes. And in this identity politics while the media hyperventilates on only Hindu saints, carefully choosing to ignore all misdeeds of Maulvis and Padres, some right wingers today seem to play down the theatrics of the Baba and deem that he was a centrifugal wall against Christian conversions in the Punjab and Haryana regions, fair enough if evangelical activities are eating into our societies, let us demand for a categorical ban and a strict constitution legislated against missionary activities but until then should we convolute the integral aspects of Dharma fearing Christian conspiracies and stand beside a bogus baba is left for everybody’s introspection.

Punjab and Haryana have always been a concoction of Congress/Akali/regional party strongholds that plunged the state into drugs and cultural debauchery during their regimes largely because of maladministration with no inclusive growth. The lack of opportunities coupled with cultural bankruptcy of an impressionable group has been well encashed by replacing the absence of modern administration and facilities with liberal dozes of celluloid and crass Rap cultures. It is no co-incidence that the all in Baba who donned ridiculous Gladiator like costumes, playing a lover, a macho with those trendy bikes, becoming a hero, a savior in all his avatars via films, sports, music and drama served like a bespoke design to pull and engage those gullible crowds (read vote banks) with absolute ease.

Gurmeet Singh has been an ardent Congress supporter for a very long time and it was only recently during the 2014 change in the political wave that he chose to drift along the sweeping tides of the BJP or atleast that is what was announced although numbers don’t indicate the same. His conviction could have come much earlier during the Congress rule if only there was a political will to duly deliver justice but Congress being Congress can only do what it is best at – to aggravate and orchestrate administrative lapses only to score brazen political miles at the cost of 30lives and 300 innocent injured victims and a whole lot of damage to public property.

But the BJP that is scrambling to contain and cut into a Congress eco system of communal politics and violence will be better off by being equally ruthlessly prepared for all such future charade of chaos with more astute, affirmative and agile administrative demonstrations because we live in interesting times where on one hand we have people taking out candlelight marches to see that the rapist is convicted and then there are those who petition for the mercy plea of the rapist and then there are those who burn down towns when a rapist is convicted!

Spiritual leaders are essential illuminating torch bearers for our societies who aid in upholding the Dharmic quotient without any limelight but when affinities and ideologies of the perpetrator of the crime becomes a determining factor to ascertain the gravity of the very crime then it is evident that there is more politics to it than any acclaimed philosophy. And all such philosophy of Babadom or Maulvidom or phedophile Pastordom should be ruthlessly shunned.

Redeeming the Hindu Identity

The pinnacle of unabashed corruption, lawlessness and suffocation of the Hindu idealism in particular that swept the country with a nationalistic fervor a few years back was largely because of the organic efforts at diminishing the Hindu identity that has now rebounded and hit back with a metamorphosed Hindutva narrative that only seems to be growing. But the ingredients it takes for an unshakable robust Hindu identity to establish a strong and well-knit Hindu society is still far from missing!

What really is a Hindu identity today? What is it that we feared and still fear so much about our traditions and ideals getting evaporated slowly? And more importantly what really are we doing to exhume the fading glory of our religious values? And are we doing enough?

One can define a Hindu identity as a ruminant reflection of our way of living where our way of living is largely influenced by a Dharmic bent of mind that is nurtured by the guiding lights of our scriptures leading us towards the path of righteousness and truth. The moment this Dharmic aspect is removed from our everyday actions, the society begins to deteriorate gradually into an unsophisticated maze filled with paths of greed, hate, vengeance, ego, immorality, lies and brazenness consumed by selfishness with no meaningful goal in life. Essentially the Hindu identity cannot be separated from the spirituality embedded in our social and religious lives where cultivating the habit of thinking and seeking the truth, to be conscious to oneself is primal to its existence.

Although we boast of our spiritual spirits and cultural values it is not at all uncommon to see Hindus let down fellow Hindus. So are we leaving our foundational idealism back home just before we step out into this materialistic world? Or is there is a foundational flaw in grasping and practicing this idealism? Or have we simply learnt to be schizophrenic, shedding the bag of moral ethos when it comes to money and ego and donning it back when we choose to appear philosophical and prudent? Or is it simply because we have disconnected ourselves from our roots of spirituality and forgotten to be fully aware of the world and its relation to the self!

But then it’s a brutal world out there and cultivating honest ethical practices or expecting the reciprocation of the same is the biggest challenge one encounters in an ever expanding and expensive market dynamics! If you do not overtake somebody else will, and your honesty and adherence to ethical principles will only prove to be the biggest hindrance in your growth. And the crux of the matter is and has always been about a few extra bucks!

A few bucks of bribe to the municipal officer, a few bucks of tip that your cylinder boy demands, a few extra bucks the rikshawala rips you off, a few bucks of bribe in the name of CSR, a few bucks to deviate your housing plan, a few bucks to the cop , the local politician, , many more bucks to the donation funds of education institutions and the list goes on! Tapping in or letting go of that few bucks is what it boils down to because it is all about money and less about being human enough. And interestingly these few bucks decide whether you are a pro-active, practical and a positive persona or a miserly, right path taking, always complaining wronged negative loser! The filthy rich will pay their religious obeisance to all their money grabbing sins via a VIP visit to Thirumala and redeem their Hindu identities while even a poor thief will do so by shaving his head off, mocking that very symbolism that is meant to make him reach the awareness of the symbolic reality!

It is just a matter of a few bucks, isn’t it? But remember, those few bucks define the few values left within you!

It is true that the run for fame, money and material has corrupted our minds and snatched away our real identities as a society. But the Hindu identity is not just about becoming austere and relinquishing wealth or worldly life but to cultivate a conscious mind that is not altered by time and place, to cultivate that transcending vision that can see and sustain and uphold truth along a good life. Good life may mean to be doing good deeds but then good deeds are more about upholding the truth and less about only being nice. Today, our resilience to corrupted minds is so much that we are unable to distinguish the filth from the finesse or so we pretend, because we lack the courage to be conscious. That consciousness that we have never sought!

The state of socio-political affairs is directly proportional to the level of spirituality left in a society!

Today there is an unofficial dual economy that runs parallel to the main stream one that we all know of – one is the Hindu economy and the other a minority /Muslim economy! One may deem this as a crass communal narrative and wonder as to what this dual economy or market dynamics has got to do with Hindu idealism or spirituality but the fact on ground remains that these separate markets out there for the Muslims and the Hindus although politically instituted indicate the reality of how conscious we are of our filthy attitudes.

While the Hindu vendors/ businessmen leave no stone unturned to cheat and let down their fellow Hindus, the Muslims are extra cautious not to let down their own! Their own – and this is what makes the difference! You will not see many Hindus think like this in their day to day transactions or dealings! This is not data driven but just my observation of ground realities that is shriller than one can imagine. Often times vegetables, fruits, consumables, commodities in Muslim dominated markets or markets near Mosques are much cheaper than any other markets. One may argue that there are many instituted privileges granted to them along with much constitutional support but one cannot deny the strange camaraderie or it could be their assumed feeling of separateness that perhaps binds them better and closer, which makes the poor Muslims become extra subservient to their rich Muslim clients and in turn the rich Muslims are more considerate towards their poor.

While the innate ideals of Hinduism are based on practicing good deeds, doing our duties and adherence of Dharma, a united atmosphere is unlikely to come across casually amongst Hindu groups or communities as they are constantly and craftily competitive, lesser compassionate and show no morality or respect towards fellow Hindus who may or may not be subservient to each other. They don’t seem to be interested in reasoning or reflection of their words or actions nor care much for building healthy relationships as they bear no more value in a world full of blind egotism and the run up to the mounds of money and manipulative powers or the sacrosanct supreme feeling of having had the last word! Fortunately there is a growing trend among educated and middle class Hindus to be more empathetic towards the lesser privileged Hindus but unfortunately the reverse is not true as most of the times they have been fed with the victimhood theory of oppression by the rich and reminded about their rights with no obligation of duties or respect for hard work.

If that was not enough, even an educated/rich Hindu dealing with another wealthy/educated Hindu succumbs to the vices of greed, hatred, treachery, disrespect and ego wherein he lets down his own people on ground but will cry for unity in the virtual world, he will not shun his own ego but will call others as egoistic! Even the most intelligent and educated are spiritually bankrupt where yesmanship is deemed more intelligible than knowledge itself. It has become almost as if we can be respectable or professional only in our paid job environments lest we let our mind and tongue loose in all our everyday interactions with our own people.

Take for example the Make in India initiative, it has sprouted a series of indigenous companies and most of them who started these as I have seen are people from the corporate world who have experienced the MNC culture but sadly they do not extend the same culture that they enjoyed to their hires locally although they go out of their ways to accommodate when it comes to hiring a white! It is this self loathe or underestimation/ under-valuing of fellow Indians that has to change.

If at all there is anything binding the Hindus more vigorously today, it is the shared distress or atrocity than the shared progress or prosperity! It is a dangerous syndrome that needs to be uprooted. Perhaps the Hindus must be explicitly taught in religious discourses to respect fellow Hindus if at all this Sanathana Dharma has to prosper and thrive. And this can be achieved only when every single Hindu makes an effort at not just reading but also inculcating the essence of our scriptural values and be in sync with our real spiritual idealism which is the foundation for a prosperous civilization or a vibrant community to stand robustly against all odds or invasions.

A Hindu is freer to make his spiritual choice for all his deeds unlike the Muslims where there is a messiah who dictates through the Mullah and the Masjid but when we Hindus forget the value of this freedom and its intrinsic responsibilities and doomed in materialistic fears there will be no freedom but only be fiefdom!

 

Does Rationality Really Exist!

There is nothing called ‘Rationality’ in this world, as every saga has the sagacity of the storyteller embedded in it! And every story is told with a perspective, every narrative has a viewpoint, an opinion, a belief. It could be individual views or an ideology of a group of individuals masquerading as universal veracity. When these opinions find either large social acceptance or solemn silence they manifest as the rational truths although it may or may not be the truth.

Social acceptance can be measured by two means, one is when people demonstrate their acceptance with enthusiasm and side with it openly and the other is by solemn silence whether or not one agrees but they choose to follow nonchalantly or almost blindly. But the spirit of rationality is alive only when individuals make their adverse voices heard lest silence shall be presumed as consenting steps in the ladder of rationality which is one big frame of many individual opinions. Having said that being neutral is no rationale for rationality because there can only be a right or a wrong in any given situation and it is only rational to be siding with that rationality which has withstood the test of time and that rationality which can illuminate souls even when in deep dark dungeons.

But to accept something as rational, one should be able to see the truth and inculcate the habit of hearing harsh truths no matter how bitter it can make you feel. And to do this it is important to separate the self from the matter at hand because the essence of truth is not lost on us when we separate that egotism and focus on the root cause analysis of a problem, to arrive at a meaningful solution. Most times when you choose to make your adverse opinion heard, people feel offended and resort to personal attacks as a defense mechanism, the strategy is put to best use when one is attacked in packs. When 10people contradict you, it is a lot easier to break you down and it is just amazing to note that just like how terrorists are well networked, Adharma often adheres to building a nexus of people because it does not have the strength to stand on its own! And it thrives when just voices watch mutedly! It is human to deny our actions, dilute and digress the issue when confronted with the fact of our fallacies but training our minds to treat all issues as plain data that needs to be processed without attaching the self is one step towards furthering the ascension of rationality, to put it in more simple terms being rational is that one step or decision that aids a clean sleep with a pure conscience of having spoken the truth than suffer silently forever and it really does not matter if it is your truth or my truth as long as we make space for each other’s rational discourses and debates.

 

CBSE 10th Board exam results doesn’t matter anymore!

The 10 std CBSE results will be soon announced but honestly the arrival of the results(so late) make no decisive impact today as admissions for most PU and 11th std schools are already done and even the classes for the new academic year have begun!

The schools/colleges have made their creamy choice selecting only those students who have secured a 9pointer and above for science stream, 8pointer and above for commerce or arts. And all these calculations are based on the grades/performances obtained from the internal exams/FAs/tests/pre-boards conducted by schools that accounts for 70% of the academic assessment of a student rendering the importance of board exams to only a 30% leverage. In the context of the current admission processes followed by most schools where children are enrolled for 11th standard based on their yearlong performance(10th std) or even previous year’s academic records(9th std) that are taken into account, the board exam is reduced to just a mere formality.

While people might argue that the actual potential of a child is measured through the CCE where every exam adds to the final score thereby reducing the stress levels of the child who previously accumulated all that stress for the final board exams where only one exam determined the fates, at the outset it sounds all holy and chaste and seems to make lot of sense but the fact is that the burden today is simply passed on to the parents from the child where only the length of your pockets decide the institute that one would get into because every school is busy racing for ranks and cherry picking 9+pointers or atleast that is what they seem to declare like morally upright and meritorious institutes when in reality they are doing a disservice to the meaningful cause of education by devising these cut offs where a certain percent of merit is of course taken but the same cut off is thrust at the face of other parents to craftily collect donations and normalize a channel for exorbitant collection of money.

 It is impractical and unbelievable that a whole batch of students enrolled in a class are all toppers with only cent percent marks. Are these cut offs just a mechanism to mint money? Most parents pick those CBSE schools that have 1-12th std so that they do not have to worry about looking for newer colleges after  matriculation but unfortunately many schools deny seats to their existing students after 10th std while enrolling newer students from other schools and collect fat donations from them under the garb of building funds and stuff like that and all this is done even before the board results are announced, as if it does not matter at all!

Is it some kind of nexus amongst private schools where even a 9pointer is shown out and denied the subject of his/her choice thereby forcing parents to cough up for the donations that come under various terminologies like building fund, charity fund!

Today the fees in a private school in Bengaluru starts from anything close to a lakh rupees and this is the standard slab across 1-10std. This exorbitant amount is somewhat normalized and hence made imperative in the mindsets of parents that it is okay to shell another additional lakh or so towards donations for the 11th standard admissions! Some schools are charging a fees of around 90 thousand plus the donation of another 75 thousand, plus bus fee of 26-40thousand plus uniform which is another 3-4thousand, books 4-5thousand! Additional coaching classes for 11 would be another lakh rupees! Education industry has simply become a loot bazaar of late and a politician’s side business!

The CBSE rule advocating that schools cannot force parents to purchase books is another joke, as most schools charge anther 4-5 thousand rupees for books, and this is compulsory, there is no question of reusing previous year’s books, as each year they purposefully add or remove/twist/rephrase some content to make it look like a changed version but nevertheless they do ironically preach about reuse, recycle, global warming, how to be ecofriendly and dedicate many activities for the same by again cutting some charts and making big banners! I have heard that even for NEET seats, most colleges are collecting Rs.5000 in cash for blocking a seat lest they have to let go of the seat and it is non refundable and no receipts are given for this amount!

Coming back to the trauma of this transition period of moving from 10th to 11th, the post is incomplete without mentioning about the extra coaching classes and all those crafty institutes running the same, without succumbing to whom the parents are in a parental peer pressure to compulsorily admit their children lest their children lag behind in regular school. These institutes have good teachers compared to the regular schools but why cant regular private schools hire these very good quality teachers instead of letting these after school institutes blossom? Or are the schools and the institutes are being run by the same people?

Most teachers even in the top schools today are women, who decided to kill time by taking up a teaching profession, sometimes they take it up because they get holidays at the same time as their children and also because it is seen as a light job without much stress! This is not to demean women or underestimating their abilities but to reflect on how the teaching profession is today looked upon. During our times, people took to teaching because of their passion to teach, we had equal number of male and female teachers because teaching profession was thought of as a noble and serious profession with a lot of responsibility of shaping young minds but today it is not unusual to find mostly housewife turned teachers across schools. Again I reiterate that this is not to demean those ladies who are passionate teachers and there is nothing wrong if one takes up a job that aids in balancing home and work life as long as they love teaching but it is shocking to see that the male teachers are almost missing from schools and on the contrary are found in bigger numbers in the coaching institutes! What explains this? Is it because teaching in schools is seen as below dignity for engineers and doctors who pursue teaching profession? Is it because high qualifications and merit are met with meagre pay scales in private schools or is it the lack of social respect for the teaching profession itself in primary and secondary schools that forces the qualified and deserving people stay away from school atmosphere!? Women too are present in these extra coaching institutes but certainly not in the same numbers as men! Are the deserving and the dedicated deliberately hired only in extra coaching classes leaving the schools with substandard candidates, if this is not the case why then are some CBSE schools openly running integrated programs in alliance with these coaching institutes? Or is it that the schools are money happy and don’t bother much about merit or meaningful education anymore? Or are the schools unable to do justice to push for perseverance among students because of CBSE’s very own guidelines of ‘less homework less writing policy’ wherein schools cannot impose or give elaborate writing work, hence encourage external coaching centers to churn marks which is challenging to achieve in the current scenario where rules bind the hands of the CBSE schools in leading the children to practice to perfection by writing more?

The results will be out anytime from now but there is absolutely no excitement or eagerness in awaiting a board result today unlike our times where the 10std board exam results shaped our paths and our choice of educational streams and institutes! The board exams for 10th std in its current form seems to have lost its relevance as an important exam that was once a turning point for many, either the HRD ministry should attach more importance to it and make it a deciding exam by announcing the results before the admission deadlines or at least there should be a rule where schools/colleges can proceed with admissions only after taking into account the board exam results along with the internal exams of the schools.

Should Sanskrit be made a compulsory subject in schools?

The three language directive introduced by the CBSE aids the students to learn two different languages in addition to English however the focus has largely been on the thorough study of the second language elective while the third language elective is often very elementary syllabus for upper primary children. This existing directive of compulsively having Hindi as one of the language electives has left South Indians juggling to make that hard choice between the love for regional language and the awe for Sanskrit, as Hindi is made compulsory.

Such concerns have always met the ire of linguistic nationalism but let me make it overtly clear that South Indians can walk and talk in Hindi today, so certainly this is not a Hindi hating post bringing about the North – South divide, but to talk about the apathy of the treatment meted out to Sanskrit amidst a fearmongering and polarized ecosystem where any efforts for the revival of this rich language called Sanskrit is unapologetically termed as saffronization while unwaveringly taking pride in English.

Today English is the mode of instruction in most educational institutes barring Government schools and a few regional medium schools .It has unofficially become the official language in every other private and business sector, English is the chosen language even in our highest judicial courts. Thanks to the centuries of English propagation that has made us Indians feel that – all what is written in English is gospel truth – which was precisely the intent behind its introduction – to have people read and believe only a particular narrative. Back then Sanskrit was a big obstruction to the cause of English and to the cause of evangelism hence it was serially disconnected from all organized and unorganized institutes of education. States were created on linguistic grounds to uphold the regional chauvinism to keep divisive spirits eternal and quiet naturally I may be seen as succumbing to it when I say that today I am made to either take Sanskrit or Kannada and I cannot have both because Hindi is a mandatory elective.

Languages in schools have always been seen as mere marks garnering subjects and the introduction of foreign languages like German, French with their job promising aspect have fascinated many adding to the toll on regional languages. In places like Bangalore with the millennial generation accommodating to an exploding non-kannada populace, today one can come across only traces of Kannada, even in an eloquent Kannada family as most conversations are often mixed with English and Hindi these days. Essentially whether one takes Sanskrit, Hindi, Foreign or a regional language it is the spoken language that matters to nourish any language as such and today without doubt the millennials are more comfortable in spoken English than in their own mother tongues especially in Southern India and more so in Karnataka, particularly in Bengaluru. Interestingly Hindi has picked up and many who have never studied Hindi are also able to speak in Hindi with ease(although with regional accents), blame or bestow  the credit on Hindi cinema and serials but spoken conversations make an impact.

It is quite ironical that Sanskrit literature that was mined inside out by the British evangelists in the 17th century to form the very basis of their English identity leading to the massaged renaissance of their civilization where the richness of our Vedic past was ingested and surmised off as their own lost past, today that Sanskrit is reduced to a 2nd or 3rd language elective which may or may not be selected over choices of other foreign or regional languages. We cannot undo the past nor can we regressively get rid of English even in the distant future, as English has become a hegemonic yet compulsive necessity considering the job fetching aspect and more importantly to warily understand the scheming English mind! Also more people seem to believe that learning German or French or Japanese will be beneficial from a job perspective and financial gains than learning any regional language or Sanskrit, hence it becomes imperative to educate the masses about the future benefits of studying Sanskrit along with its promotion.

There are more than 14 universities in Germany that are teaching Sanskrit today and the growing number of German Indologists and German Sanskrit scholars in almost all the elite universities are testimony to the importance and relevance of Sanskrit. Recently a British school has made Sanskrit studies compulsory as they believe that this ancient language helps perfect them in Maths, philosophy and Science. In a world scenario where countries like Germany, Britain and America have dedicated institutes set up for pursuing Vedic science and Sanskrit, it is only in India that Sanskrit is still obsessively associated with religion and plagued by polarizing politics obstructing and delaying its rightful sanctity of being enumerated and incorporated as a heritage language that would build a sense of pride and civilizational commonness to integrate the masses at large.

In this backdrop wouldn’t it be prudent for HRD ministry to rejig its three language policy by mandating Sanskrit as a compulsory core subject much like English, Social studies, Science or Maths that needs to be studied from class 1-10. Such a step would also enable promotion of regional languages along with Hindi where Sanskrit is made available not as an optional language elective but imparted as a civilizational and cultural studies. The exploration of political, philosophical, historical, cultural and civilizational aspects present in the Sanskrit literatures would also shun the myth that Sanskrit is just a religious subject. And its study from the foundational levels would enable Indians to get a firsthand viewpoint instead of always looking up for translated versions of westerners! As a pilot project the HRD ministry could actually introduce spoken Sanskrit sessions from classes 1-10 by employing well-trained, very articulate mentors with excellent communication skills to make the sessions interactive and interesting. It is important to keep it interesting as most Sanskrit students of the past have found the grammar and its syntaxes extremely difficult and are unable to interpret long sentences and it was largely due to the fact that it was just theoretical and no spoken sessions happened for any better interpretation or understanding.

The intent of the linguistic demarcation of states in India have fetched profitable political prices for the visionaries of this divide and it may seem impossible to shuffle these regional boundaries today as a sense of linguistic demarcation has already seeped deep into minds and hearts that has led to grouping and linguistic chauvinism even when they cross the regional borders. It is for undoing this regional bias that we need a common language to unite us all that we can all call as ours officially!

It is in this context that I am not opposed to growth of Hindi because by making Hindi a compulsory subject one is bound to learn the Devanagari script and by learning the Devanagari script half the foundation is laid for Sanskrit learning!

Most people deem languages as just a scoring subject and are reluctant about addition of any more languages but it is important to understand the that for any civilization to thrive it has to have a good understanding of its past and take pride in its past and learn from its past mistakes and this is where the crux of the matter lies, language is an important medium for mass communication and mind shaping, our past is hidden in our ancient native writings and it is important to understand the power games of the past to take control of the present, and this can happen only if we revive and rewrite our true history as for far too long we have been fed with fibs of atrocious English literatures that has continually demeaned our history, destroyed the idea of our commonness and divided us. With the Sanskrit rage picking up amongst offshore scholars, there might a time when even Sanskrit literature would be sullied with fabricated theories by the western Sanskrit scholars if we continue to see it as just another marks garnering language burden!

Sanskrit is known to make stiff fingers and stiff tongues flexible but will it bend the stiff secularism rants or will it remain a sabotaged saffron lingo is to be seen but until then should we procrastinate and rant in English about how Hindi is not our national language as per the constitution and how my regional language is neglected?

Thy Name Is TROLL!!

The UPA tenure was marred with scams and a series of corruption charges where most news debates revolved around one scam or the other or about 2002 riots, however the 2.5years of Modi government though debated largely, most debates are often not on its deliverance or performance but on issues of seeming intolerance largely orchestrated by using University campuses as political battlegrounds by the opposition! One can ponder if this is an indication of dearth of development issues to debate about or is it a hangover of pre-Modi era to continue with the venomous vilification of Modi or perhaps both!

The time tested tools of communal polarization and customized news is fast eroding away with the rage of social media that leaves no stone unturned in calling out the white lies of the left liberals. The strategy of scoring single runs by projecting individual student victims across university campuses has perhaps misfired by stoking sixes of nationalistic fervor amongst common citizens who are only getting more intrigued and informed about the political scenario in contemporary India by each passing day. The nationalism word seems to have scared many in the cozy elite circles, hence there are rigorous campaigns propagating that “nationalism is not so cool after all’ on one hand while making pawns out of that very nationalism on the other hand!

Social media is a great platform to share views, news and ideas and if one decides to go vocal about their opinions it is only imperative that it is out of their own free volition they chose to be there _ to be heard! And people knowingly share information on platforms like Twitter or Facebook so that people read, like, share or comment on them, that being the normal, now one cannot expect everybody to agree and hail them as there is always bound to be an adverse viewpoint whether in the online world or outside.

And when people choose to talk about the country and take social or political stands they should have the courage and conviction to counter contrary views with facts and reasoning lest they can simply ignore the comment or even block people but to challenge someone openly and then resorting to ostrich syndromes playing victim/women card when met with hard facts is not done! Unbiased debates are an essential part of a democratic society where views are exchanged in a civil way and any disagreement or a counter argument, be it a satire version or humorous take, as long as it is not disrespectful or threatening, it is still a viewpoint. But unfortunately a lot of twiterratis and facebookers today seem to lose it when they find themselves incapable of countering with facts or when they are unable to reason out or articulate enough and when their bluff is called out., they either resort to name calling or play the victim card. So powerful is the ecosystem of the Left-Congress and their newer prodigies like AAP, that any dissenting voice which even remotely appears to be vehemently saner is today branded as Sanghi or right leaning troll and their Twitter and Facebook handles get suspended! But paradoxically it is the Congress and AAP that cry foul about getting trolled when the very jargon social media troll came into being along with the birth of AAP!

Yes the newest and trendiest word in town is TROLLING! And the ugly duckling is always a Troll!

The recent overt coverage of the Gurmehar issue by the media and the full on rebuttal in the social media exposing the orchestrators behind the whole victimhood soap has exposed the osteoporotic ribs of double standards of the left, the whole plot was out in the open when Gurmehar tweeted that she was withdrawing from the campaign and that people could contact @voice_of_ram which happens to be the official twitter handle of Ram Subramanian, the media advisor of AAP! Her older tweets reveal that she has constantly been in touch with senior journalists like Burkha Dutt whom she has declared in her tweets as her inspiration!

To cut the story short it was a well-coordinated drama along with the Main stream media, AAP and the leftist universities to garner media time for yet another intolerance drama. it is a shameful irony that the opposition whose MPs resort to sexist slandering of women cadre of BJP in the parliament house and in the social media with unthinkable filth( like Tehseen Poonawala’s tweet for Smrithi Irani) are today talking about women getting trolled in the online world! And a chief minister of a state Arvind Kejriwal, who starts and ends his day with abusive tweets/rants against Modi by employing the most acrimonious and derogatory epithets certifying others as trolls is when irony just died a disgusting death!

Rape threats are highly condemnable and certainly a grave threat which needs to be reported first and foremost to the law keeping forces, the fact that Gurmehar chose to contact the NCW and the media instead of the police is intriguing.  As always the media was zealously quick with outrage to cry foul that Freedom of expression was attacked and that women were bullied on social media, calling many sane voices as Trolls!

The media might not have taken the issue of trolling earlier but this is not the first time that a rape threat was given to a woman, there have been many cases where right wing women cadre were met with the filthiest abuses and threats thrown at them in the online world, yet ironically there was never a debate on TROLLING on any of our news channels until a left leaning Gurmehar emerged the torchbearer for Freedom Of Expression!

The problem of the left is essentially this _ “My dissent is dignified as long as I get your dignity denigrated but your dissent is simply a dud remark”! And this is what makes even a Virendra Sewag an illiterate or a Sanghi as labelling or name calling is the sharpest retort when unable to retaliate logically in a civil way.

“My dissent is dignified as long as I get your dignity denigrated but your dissent is simply a dud remark”!

Although people are getting labelled as TROLLS only from recent times, the art of trolling itself is not something new as it is not limited to just the online world nor is it gender based. It has always existed in a subterfuge manner but revealed only recently due to a change of guard who are changing the very discourse of debates.

One of the leading national dailies derogatorily referred to Smrithi Irani in a headline as ‘Aunty National’, in the aftermath of the Ramjas college protests many national dailies carried out a picture of the SFI head thrashing another student but labelled him as a ABVP goon, was it a printing mistake? Were they not trying to vilify the ABVP? Does it not amount to trolling?

Trolling is all about vilifying someone or an organization, how is it that when common individuals express opinions it becomes trolling and when established newsrooms and newspaper brands do the same it is categorized and passed off as news?!

It has been a left landscape all along ever since the last several decades and the sudden takeover of the political narrative by the right wing and the total hijack of the very idea of journalism by the social media common folks has skewered and skinned their propaganda that has perhaps shaken their grounds beneath. With a lackluster leadership and lack of credibility and a total lacunae in understanding the mood of the nation, the opposition in spite of fumbling under its own shadow of the past and present, continue with their never say die spirits, as their hunt for innovative disruptions continue unhindered with yet another Dadri, yet another Vemula, yet another Gurmehar but the larger question is whether the BJP will continue with its lame pellet policy or rebut with the grenades once for all by reforming and restoring the constitution to its true secular sense is something to be seen and until then the victimization card is here to stay as we the commoners are left wondering whose troll is it anyway?

 

 

Traffic Woes of Bengaluru, Can We Counter It?

Ideally a tar road laid should endure for good 10+years but the current apathy of roads speaks volumes about the sorry state of administration where corruption has grown multifold. Today the perpetrators no more hesitate to wear venality on their sleeves, as being corrupt is the new normal and the more the vice the more powerful the person is perceived to be!

For far too long we have discussed and debated about the pot holed roads, foam filled lakes and its menacing traffic but the influx of more traffic by each passing day seem to be unnerving Bengalureans and it is going to be worse with the current system in place! There are several reasons responsible for the asphyxiation of Bengaluru but the most atrocious one being the mismanagement by the authorities that has led us to witness this unavoidable evil, day in and day out. If the trajectory of traffic woes stem from too many vehicles, bad infrastructure, bad city planning and a dysfunctional municipal body on one hand, on the other hand we have erratic fellow drivers, rashly driven abhorrent BMTC buses that care a damn for anybody or any law, those imbecile unpredictable spooky two wheelers who could creep in or drift from nowhere and keep racing up to the signals to claim their medals until they have completely blocked the opposite side, and not to forget the admonishing attitudes of traffic mates which makes our daily lives nightmarish inch by inch, bumper to bumper.

This kind of menacing traffic woes is reducing our lifespans and productivity. It is also cutting down on the quality time spent with family which might lead to depression and frustration.

The foremost problem leading to traffic snarls today is the sanction of building approvals for big commercial malls right in the middle of already throttled traffic necks, If you take for example the Banaswadi-Whitefield ring road, no matter at whatever time of the day or night one attempts to glide through the stretch, one will invariably end up getting struck in the terribly slow moving traffic there. The major reason being the presence of Phoenix mall whose car happy customers occupy one half of the road as they line up to enter the mall while occupying half of the road, eating into the space of the otherwise broad roads leading all other commuters into desperation. In actuality the Government should impose traffic causing cess on such constructions and the concerned Government officers who sanctioned these types of nuisance projects should be penalized and transferred to the remotest village or should be made to chauffer drive citizens for 5years continuously from one end of the city to other on a daily basis for 8hours.

Another abhorrent aspect is of the never ending surge of apartment complexes where all and sundry are in the spree of developing apartment complexes. And most unfortunate is the springing of clusters of apartment and commercial complexes on narrow roads where hundreds of cars would trickle down from these complexes onto the same narrow lanes choking the traffic. Apparently Bengaluru should stop construction of any new apartment complexes or malls in the interest of reviving the green gardenia that it once was! Or at least the Government for a change should be prudent enough to allow Malls only on the outskirts of the city and put a limit on the upcoming number of apartment complexes and allow it only if the roads connecting them are broad enough to accommodate them all. A huge green lung space was gladed away to make space for Forum Mall on Kanakapura road which is also a highway and apparently many apartment gates open out to this road throwing traffic out of gear.

Who would want to drive amidst the chaotic lanes if ample public transport were available with smooth connectivity? In my opinion the grand metro rail projects are just an eye wash where hundreds of crores of rupees are siphoned off without seeing the light of its meaningful purpose, because all that the citizens needed was a decent connectivity with ample number of buses plying continuously across the length and breadth of the city ensuring that people don’t have to stuff up like cattle to meet their schedules. But the fact is that even after so many years there are not enough buses to meet the growing needs as newer hitech buses are futilely allocated in non-demand areas and to add to it the steep prices of the Volvo/ Vajra buses are anything but at par with Auto fares hence most Vajra buses ply empty as common people would rather opt for hiring a private vehicle from their door step rather than go in public transports when they have to pay the same price. So the very purpose of having additional buses is lost when at the end of the day it does not benefit the common man, which also includes the most harassed IT professional, owing to whose presence, Bengaluru is on the global maps today!

Also till date there is no bus route app or a streamlined chart or digital bus route information board put up at the local bus stops to assist the passenger to ascertain which bus goes where and which are the areas connected from a particular stop and at what time it would arrive, which would help people plan their day’s commute. Maybe it’s time to have an app dedicated to planning local bus commutes.

If the Government is unable to handle the public transport system it should at least aid and facilitate private players to pitch in to compete fairly along with Government transport services but unfortunately any private player who dares to make the price absolutely competitive is unduly harassed at the hands of red-tape and hegemonic government policies with deliberately tedious procedures making it an unfriendly affair altogether for anybody to even venture out there. I use the term deliberate because if consecutive governments ever intended to ease out the operations and encourage efficiency most obsolete policies could have been done with long ago but the fact that such policies prevail reveals the much prevalent intentions of the policy makers and keepers who refuse to make anything worth benefiting the common man.

The recent case of Zipgo, a private startup that took on the challenge of curbing the menace of traffic woes in Bengaluru city was shown the door demanding elaborate documental approvals which is not rocket science to decipher what it meant, the latest addition being curbing the cab pool services of Uber and Ola which effectively are signs that there is no body out there in the ruling state government who cares about the lifestyle disorder called traffic abuse which is costing the common man his time, money and health! If not the Cab pool, the Government could at least make it mandatory for all big private companies to provide compulsory shuttle services to their employees, which is the only way the Government could choose to positively harass the private sector while also benefitting the common man and thereby reducing traffic woes.

As if it were not enough there are those blood sucking banks that loans out lavishly and today Bengaluru is in such a state that even if the Karnataka Government comes up with some unrealistic proposals like odd-even formula, most houses already have two cars _ one with odd number and one perhaps with even! And it is not about elitism or prestige of owning 2cars but it is just that people have given up on getting any kind of bargain from a feeble public transport system endured by a lethargic government and there is little hope from the alternative transports like rikshaws or Taxis who are unresponsive or mostly seen as unreliable and unsafe.

If the idea of public transport were to be revamped in a big way in Bengaluru, then like exams even commuting will be a festivity where the Government could put a cap on the number of new rikshaws, two wheelers and cars hitting the streets. Cars and fuel should be made more expensive so that people compulsorily take public transport and two wheelers should become an absolute luxury like in foreign countries but all this only after a grand revamp with a thoughtfully well-knit network of connectivity and ample number of buses in sight, if at all it ever happens!

And to top the list of woes it is not at all unusual to come across fellow drivers engaging in a brawl right in the middle of the road, over a rear-end hit or crashing of the side mirror. But what is appalling these days is that if you are hit by the Cab driver class types then they will neither stop nor own up or bear the damage costs, instead they may pick up an assaulting tone of fight and flee, even if you report to the police, it is not of much help as such cases are neither filed nor followed up seriously.

Now if you reverse the situation and it is you _the salaried slightly educated idiot who has been taught to be nice and law abiding who cannot think of getting into a physical fight nor know the tactics to get the cop on your side, who bumps or even touches caressingly, the rear end of a cab or their likes, then chances are that you will be surrounded by a big group as it doesn’t take them much time to gather fellow folks around to aggravate things to the extent of using slang epithets or engulfing blows or threaten and make sure that they relieve you off from all cash. To counter such hooliganism you will get no recourse from the cop as he is mostly cognizant of such loots and knows for sure that he will get his fair share. The cops usually side with them and worse you may end up being harassed by the cop for questioning. If the intruder has given a phone number and left, chances are that he will never attend your call! The concept of amicably settling and agreeing to seek third party insurance claims is still a rarity. Setting up complain help desks or call centres for the same will be practically of no use, installation of more CCTVs and an additional deployment of a patrolling cop with more decision making powers across every street would perhaps help ease ugly tiffs but with current police forces facing shortage of staff maybe the states could consider recruiting eunuchs as traffic woes’ attendants or traffic managers and make their lives more meaningful relieving them of their horrendous routines of begging and harassing citizens in signals and shops.

Essentially our traffic woes are a culmination of lack of good public transport system, lack of good connectivity, lack of urban city planning, inept government bodies filled with crimson red-tape, an ineffective and ill-defined law which is not fool proof when it comes to traffic related woes, rampant corruption, lack of genuine concern among leaders and cops for the welfare of the common man, apathetic citizens and ever growing urbane challenges of fitting the classes of law abiding and the impatiently lawless, together!

Is the Bengaluru urban development department listening!!

 

 

What is that white man doing in BANGUR Cement?

bangur-cement

There was a time when an entire thirty minutes slot or even a one hour slot would be dedicated to pure creative content without any interrupting commercial breaks except for technical interruptions! Then came the world of ads which was again reasonably placed exactly in the middle of the program that too only for a short while! Then came more sponsorships and ad time was extended but thankfully all ads would be continuously played giving the viewer ample time to shuttle between other chores before settling back in their seats! But today the ads have outpaced content and one can see more creativity in ads than any cinema or serial for that matter! That the world of ads have annoyingly penetrated everywhere even into the 6inch gadget is an untold digital abuse of the consumer, is another topic for another day yet I cannot stop being amused by the plethora of creativity and craftiness of mind games that goes into these ad making!

The modern day ad has in many ways shunned the traditional concept of stereotype short films of blatant promotion of products, as today, it is not just about selling a product but about catering to the psyche of the consumers and playing with the trending moods. With the specialization job markets and technological advancements, ad making is a great career in itself as creativity is weaved like a bespoke costume, customized to suit a definite audience.

Ads these days are not just captivating but also thought provoking but then there was this off the track ad that intrigued me _the Bangur Cement ad where a Gora serves as the mascot of credibility of the cement with his authenticating line in firangi accent ‘Sastha nahi sabse accha’!

I wondered what the f… is that white man doing in an Indian cement ad?

Why does it take a white man to vouch for the credibility of an Indian brand of cement? Okay the fact that I am talking about this ad has already served the purpose of the ad maker which is to catch the attention span and remember the product. But JK cement was no less when it comes to grabbing eyeballs when they chose a bikini clad model to walk out of a beach to promote toughness of their product! Ads have always banked on glamour and white skin but only until Ramdev baba broke that myth!

The Bangur ad frustratingly tells of a fair skin obsessed society where the ad makers reiterate that Indians tend to believe in whatever a white man says far more easily than their own brown brethren.

The western constructs might have by and large influenced us so much that perhaps our mindsets are today toned or tamed to unquestioningly accept their version as ultimate truth and tend to castigate away voices within. This I say  because I find that even today during the discourse of many TV debates or generic casual talks remains that ‘the Americans say so’ or ‘the Wikipedia says so’, we often refer to some event of the west and try to authenticate our facts or base our logic on some western instances or beliefs. I am amused to see people sharing whatsapp videos where white westerners are found talking and reaffirming our scientific or spiritual matters that we Indians have been saying all along but it becomes a standard validating mark only when a western concurrence is seen! We hear more carefully and believe more easily when a western scholar confirms something what our scholars had been saying all along. Of course we are gradually changing and  unlearning all that we learnt in history classes that only the west gave us great inventions but the phenomenon of unlearning is not yet complete, as there is this frenzied obsession about the white skin that is hard to shun, not that it is wrong to have a white skinned model or a liking for fair skin but the catch in the ad is all about establishing credibility of a product which the ad makers have vehemently tried to persuade a vast brown audience by getting a white man to vouch for it as if we still naively believe in all that glitters is gold and I cannot help but coin this white obsession as Bangur syndrome henceforth!

 

 

The Hexa Experience

When it comes to cars, I have always been a Tata loyalist all my life and an invite to the Tata-Hexa Experience center only rekindled memories of our 15 long years of journey with Tata so far! In fact our travel frenzies started with our Tata Indica before moving into Manza and all along the experience has been smooth like the journey of life so far.

 

The best part about Tata vehicles is its space, strength and low maintenance aspect and the new Hexa is all this and much more as it comes with loads of new features in its steely best! The first look is definitely awe-inspiring that will give a run to all the other SUVs and is bound to be a sure hit among car enthusiasts drooling over its fiery robust looks with power-packed features.

hexa-cycles

Some of the highlighting features are its 8 way adjustable driver seat, cruise controls to set the speed, ConnectNext Touchscreen Infotainment System by Harman and a ConnectNext App suite, great seat upholstery, 19inch machined cut alloy wheels with Hill hold and descent controls, its rain sensing wipers are fitted not adjacent to each other but at opposite corners that aids cleaning the entire frame of wind shields perfectly well on a rainy day! And importantly it is a 4 cylinder diesel version of manual cum automatic transmission type with Super drive modes, Sports mode and Race car functions _ all these without much maneuvering hassle of the stick!

The vehicle is to be launched by Jan 18th 2017 and the price would range anything between 12 Lakhs to 18 Lakhs for the low and high end models and of course Blue is the mood this season!

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hexa-ditch

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hexa-muddy

The Hexa Experience was definitely HEXTRAORDINARY with that adventurous ride on the rugged test tracks. It was a 10 minutes ride where the driver piloted the stylish monster perfectly well with absolute ease, greeting, instructing and explaining to us like a captain on a flight, running us through steep ascents of metal slopes and marshy ditches, halter breaking on the descending slopes and accelerating on a ascending hill of steps and wooded patches of uneven logs, bumps and also did a kind of side wheelie with one set of the side wheels on the ground and the other set on a high muddy mound.

hexa-dust

After this rugged, off the track ride, we also went for a test drive on the roads and I must say I really loved the pickup and driver seat adjustment that enabled me to take the beast in complete control! The ease of the stick and smooth maneuverability of changing it from manual to automatic to sports mode seemed like fun.

Hexa looks like a much better version than its predecessors like the Safari or Aria!

Hexa, as I understand is based on the term Hexagon _ the six sided star symbol that represents union of strengths, the hexagon is also used to depict the bonding strength of the molecular structures in chemistry typically, it also perhaps is symbolic of the 6+1 gears, whatever the reason for its name but Hexa is certainly Hextraordinary and I would definitely drool about owning it as long as the Tata customer service centers buck up to give the best and it is priced competitively!

http://hexa.tatamotors.com/

However I will still complain that no car designers(all brands) have so far made sense when it comes to designing space for keeping water bottles, the space allocated is often very small that cannot even hold a regular 1L Bisleri water bottle nor does it have any safe fall-proof place to keep mobile phones handy especially when fitted with app suites. (Accessories don’t help much in both these cases) and helpless co-passengers often end up as mobile keeping stands and water bottle wading wives.

 

Anyways it was a well-organized event with adventure, food, fun and good music although bloggers never like to pay for their food but listening to the wonderful numbers of the 90s _  Aafreen Aafreen and Mayiri songs after a really long time kept our spirits high and of course the fun games did keep the kids engaged giving us adults some breathing space to listen and list out and then there was also a little corner promulgating the concept of dog adoption set up by CARE amidst the exuberance of Cars, which I thought was very thoughtful to encourage hands that gear up the tough to  lend a helping hand to the needy.

All in all it was time well invested and yes we did ask the Hexa man for an exchange offer to reinvigorate our travel spirits with a new high called Tata Hexa with its power packed, feature loaded adrenaline pumping effects!

Life is a quest!

There are no boundaries that the mind cannot cross

And no quandaries that the heart does not toss,

Each day is a struggle to decipher the dogging mind

Each experience an enlightening strife

To seek and understand the purpose of life,

To set the paths simple and straight

You never knew was such a tightrope walk of fright,

Until awakened from your disillusioned best

Calming tumultuous thoughts is no tryst,

Life’s sessions of learning and unlearning

Are indeed tough lessons from unforeseen churning!

 

Lights Camera Action!

Celebrations and ceremonies are an integral part of our lives that form the dynamics of socializing, shaping minds and memories that we take home and cherish.

With the advent of science and technology and of course the social media, today, memories are no more, that merely something to be carried in our hearts or treasured in our secret troves but something to be worn on our sleeves and flaunted on our social media walls! Not that we at any point of time would be very comfortable putting up our personal pictures on concrete compound walls but somehow our perception of a memory or a memorable event has certainly evolved over times.

Capturing candid moments of our life in a camera has certainly charmed us by making memories more memorable. It has converted every small occasion into a grandiose affair, but perhaps the evolution of the ways of capturing a memory has definitely altered the perspective of living the moment itself! And in many ways has diminished the very idea of a ritual or celebration today, as it has become more about coverage by the cameraman than the connection with the moment!

From the black and white wedding pictures or gothic frames of graduation galleries hung like winning trophies in yester years, that were captured in weaponry like traditional roll cameras, where the camera man literally struck his head beneath a black sheet of cloth, we have come a long way in today’s digital world. It is just that today, the cameraman sticks his butt out on all auspicious occasions for all stage performances that too right in the center of the stage like a constant creative backdrop raging and kindling everyone’s imaginative fervors high as they struggle to get a sneak peek of what really is going on the stage!

People have always endured with enthusiasm and believed in reliving those assurances of cherished clicks of print and digital memories that one may mostly never look up a second time! Nevertheless a few shots or even some extra indulgence doesn’t really hurt but I cannot fathom the idea of buttcentering in this age of drone cameras and candid photography! And I can only hope there will be some buttless cameramen just like wireless, cordless or perhaps a Buttfree recording just like hands free gadgets!

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Anything but no center stage butt ery blocking please!

I very enthusiastically attended an annual day fest recently, in spite of the elaborate stage arrangements, I was struggling to get a glimpse of the performers all along as the performers were mostly drowned and camouflaged in colors by the glaring LED screens and covered behind the omnipresent cameraman whose debatable butt catapulted many thoughts in me finally prompting a post on the futility of his butt and our bizarre obsession for the same from decades together!

But it is time, that truth be told!

People have silently borne the brutality of these butts for far too long ever since the onset of video cameras and camcorders.  People have been forced to witness more pairs of butts than the actual married pair sipping Coca Cola from the same bottle.

These obnoxious camera butts have been the melting pot of makeup where people have often paid with their sweat and synthetic smiles and have even postured like plastic bunnies as per his schizophrenic whims and fancies.

Perhaps the silhouette of these opaque butts are the very inspiration that keeps  overly dressed and decked up people motivated enough in marriage halls to stand endlessly and pointlessly in long queues to pass the parcel(gift) that they received in their previously punished posturing affairs!

Even those long rails and tails of shouldered camera equipment do not help much as they are again assembled on top of a towering grid where the indispensable butts block the audience view yet again!

The last time I saw some meaningful gathering was at a cousin’s wedding reception where she personally greeted every guest and mingled freely with the crowds, the couple strolled away from the dais, taking blessings from the aged and elderly who sat gleefully in their respective places enjoying their soups as the candid photographers clicked without interrupting those real moments she could cherish for a life. That was the best wedding I witnessed where she had taken the wedding oaths at home in a traditional way with just the close circles that mattered most and with just those members who were interested in the rituals and threw a five star party for the rest of us.

I do not know if I am growing old or is it increasingly becoming an obnoxiously synthetic society with each passing day where social events, celebrations or ceremonies are fast losing its intended aspects of living and celebrating the moment but then as the cameraman walks in gloriously like a gladiator with all his celebrated paraphernalia, we cannot help but adjust our sarees and hairstyles, waiting for him to proclaim his takes and retakes with some Lights, Camera and Lots of Fake Action!

Pattadakal and Aihole

We started from Badami to Mahakuta, a group of Shiva temples which is 12kms from Badami.

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Mahakuta Temple

 

Mahakuta is sacred place for Veerashaivas(Lingayats), it is an ancient temple which has Shiva Linga in the Pushkarani itself. We spent some 20minutes here and continued to Pattadakal. Mahakuta to Pattadakal is a short ride of 10kms

Pattadakal

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Pattadakal

 

Pattadakal means place where the kings were coroneted, it is a UNESCO world heritage site with a group of 10temples. The masterpiece architecture is built expansively with exemplary forms of Dravidian and Nagara styles and was a flourishing and important town of the Chalukyan times during 500-750AD. Though much of the previous glamor as quoted by locals is lost to vandalism and nature, what remains is still awe inspiring.

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Pattadakal

 

Pattadakal in ancient times was known as “”Pattada Kisuvolal” or “Rakthapura”which means valley of red soil.

The Western Chalukya dynasty founded by Pulakeshi I in the 6th century was a powerful dynasty that ruled for nearly 2 centuries where there was all round development. Those were peaceful and prosperous times that people excelled in the fields of art, architecture, literature, administration, socio-religious and economics.

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Stone Window

There are no decent hotels in the vicinity and the only source of food was from the street vendors who sold North Karnataka variety of Jolada Roti and Curry.

 

We were forced to live on tender coconuts and soft drinks.

If you are planning to visit Mahakuta,

Pattadakal and Aihole in one go, it is strongly

advisable that you carry your own food(get it

packed from your Badami hotel) as there is

literally nothing here in Pattadakal and Aihole.

Next in the list was Aihole, the much awaited place for me, Pattadakal to Aihole is some 25kms which is a one hour drive on the dusty lanes by the Jowar fields.

Previously these fields were considered for construction purposes but the ASI has intervened and stopped any construction near the proximity of the ancient monuments.

jowar-and-onion-on-roads onionsBleating flocks of sheep, open scape of fields as far as your eyes could see welcomed us on the dusty lanes with Jowar and onions harvests spread out by the roadsides to dry in the scorching sun.

Aihole is an ancient rustic town on the banks of the Malaprabha River in the dusty abode of Bagalkot district.

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Aihole is derived originally from the term “Ayyavole” or “Ayyagala Hole”, Ayya means learned one and Hole means stream, so Ayyahole literally means a place of Brahmins. In fact the word ‘Ayyavole” is a corrupted version of the Sanskrit word “Aryapura”, Arya means Pundit and Pura means a place or town.

There is a legendary story behind the origin of the name Aihole, the story goes like this….

Aryapura was ruled by a mighty king named Kartaviryarjun, once on his expedition to the forest, Sage Jamadagni invited the king for extending his hospitality as it was customary in those days to for hermits in the jungles to host and serve the king when he passed by the forests, the king was very pleased and equally surprised at the swift service extended, upon enquiring the sage revealed that it was due to the divine powers of the God sent cow “Kaamadhenu”. The king demanded that the divine cow be handed over to him but the sage refused, Kartaviryarjun in his fury killed Jamadagni. Parashurama who was the son of Jamadagni was furious on hearing this and set out to avenge his father’s death, also those were the days when the tyranny of the Kshtriyas on the sages had become rampant hence Parashurama decided to cleanse the world by destroying the whole of Kshatriya race. After the killings, he came to Malaprabha river to clean his bloodstained axe upon which the entire river had turned red and he exclaimed _ Ayyi Holi”.

Another angle is “Ai or Aiyoo is an exclamation and Holi in Kannada means stream/river”, thus the town got its name.img_5085

Aihole was the cradle of temple architecture during the prosperous rule of the Chalukyas between the 4th and 8th century. It was an important educational and religious capital that housed many scholars and saints. Varaha(Boar avatar) was the emblem of the Chalukyas, which bears similarity to the Vijayanagara emblem.

The Chalukyan empire extended across today’s Karnataka, AndraPradesh and Maharastra and Karnataka was called as Kuntala Desha as it was a flourishing trade center, the inscriptions in Aihole bear testimony to it.

Aihole is a town full of temples however the main attraction is the Durga temple complex that houses several little architectural wonders. Although the sanctum deities are mostly Shiva Lingas, some mutilated, some missing, the inside of the temple porches/entrances have a sculpture of Garuda with folded hands which is a symbolic trait of Vishnu temples, meaning that these were originally Vishnu temples. No deities are there and the ones remaining are disturbingly destroyed.

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The Indian Parliament design was inspired from this ancient architectural marvel of the Durga temple.

The apsidal shaped monument is clearly one of the finest structures of the 7th century. The pillars have carved figurines of Mahishasuramardhini, Varaha, Vishnu, Shiva and Ardhnarishwara sculptures, some figures are plucked out from the pillar and even the dilapidated sign boards and information boards need a facelift.

Some of the other temples surrounding the main monument mostly have low ceilings and they are unfortunately named after shepherds and nomads who occupied the place before the place was taken over by ASI. Not much study seems to be done on these sandstone marvels that lie in a pitiable environment. There is also a ASI museum within the temple complex.

Another interesting stone carving that I came across here is the MAKARA carving or the Makara Torana

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Makara is a strange beast with a crocodile’s face, lion’s feet and a body bigger than an elephant with snakes emerging from its mouth, whatever it indicated I could not get any information about this strange depiction of art form which may even be mythological or symbolic to the spirits and lifestyles in those reigning times.

If you are a first timer then you have to hire a guide lest you don’t understand a thing and might miss out on some important aspects but since this was my second visit we were content pretending to be amateur historians with our own deciphering and interpretations.

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Next we headed to Ravanaphadi, which is a unique and very interesting rock cut cave. It is also a 6th century marvel, with a hall and pillars and a deity chamber inside. It has large sculptures of ten armed Shiva in a dancing pose on one side and Harihara on the other side.

You can get a good view of Aihole Durga temple from here. There are some 28-30 ASI recognized temples around but most of them are in a deplorable condition.

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Even in the immediate vicinity of the main monuments things are not very inspiring,

the irony is that although the cluster is maintained by ASI, the surroundings are shockingly filthy with no food or facilities for tourists, also many squalid shants are lined up dangerously close to the monument. The roads are horrendously dusty and except for couple of main tourist attractions the rest of the hundreds of temples lay in filth with narrow connecting roads where pigs soaked in slushy swamps welcome you and one cannot even think of getting down to enter the temple premises.

After a hectic day we headed back from Aihole to Badami which is 36kms and could not wait to have some delicious food at 5pm.

After which, we visited the Banashankari temple which is 5kms from Badami.

Banashankari temple

Banashankari temple

Located by the side of the

Harishchandra Thirtha the temple

is dedicated to ‘Banashankari’ or

‘the deity of forest’.

Bana or Vana means forest.

 

The goddess is also known as ‘Shaakaambari’ meaning the one who wears a garland of vegetables.

This goddess of nature and vegetation is offered 108 vegetables by the local devotees who regard her as their Kula Devi as she had emerged from the Yagna Kunda and saved

Dried up Harishchandra Thirtha

Dried up Harishchandra Thirtha

them from the demon Durgamaasura.

She was the revered deity of Rastrakutas and Chalukyas. But after the white man came here to explore he engaged in his quest of lies and tirade against intrinsic beliefs and values of Hinduism. Today in the several branches of Banashankari temples, the devotees no more offer vegetables but sacrifice animals as they have no knowledge of the very meaning of Shaaka Ambari. We took blessings from the eight armed Devi seated resplendently on a lion and called it a day.

That was the end of our 4day architectural extravaganza in Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal.

The next morning we were driving back to Bengaluru.

 

 

Badami Caves and Bhootnath Temples

Nothing is more fascinating than the architectural marvels of Hampi, Badami, Pattadakal and Aihole. An entire township filled with the glorious stone pillars, pathways, stepwells, Mahals, temples with towering gateways laden with carved intricacies in awe inspiring precision is what makes the arid towns of Hosapete and Bagalkot an enchanting experience where one gets to explore the rich heritage and lifestyles of our glorious kings. Watching the rusty radiance of these sandstone structures on a moderately sunny day is something I can do endlessly.

Our trip to Hampi a few years back was very enriching so this time, we spent time only in Badami and Aihole.

We set off driving on a lazy afternoon from Bengaluru via Tumkur on NH47 road up to Chitradurga and NH50 up to Hospet route to reach Hampi is 375kms and a 7hours long drive without taking breaks.

After a day’s halt at Hampi we resumed our journey to Badami by 5pm in the evening.

Hampi to Badami is 160kms and a drive of 2.45 hours on NH397 _ Bevoor_ Gadag road. While we were still enamored by the seamless visionaries that the Vijayanagar kings were for having chosen to establish their erstwhile capital by putting their natural surroundings to best use amidst enclaves of rocky dunes that served as a natural security barricade while the Tunga River satiated their water needs, but what stood in store on the NH397 was quite the opposite as the highway was laden with not just highway men but also women, defecating in the open! It was as if a whole town was out there congregating in a mass-relieving exercise and that too while chatting away to glory on their mobile phones with little plastic mugs of water beside them. The headlights of the zipping vehicles served as a torch perhaps.

The water scarce, arid zones of northern Karnataka are really appalling and a grim reminder of today’s callous administration!

As we zoomed past pictures of rural reality, we could only pray that our resort booking in Badami had enough waters for our basic rituals because the more we traversed the lesser were our hopes of even getting a decent accommodation, on the dusty uneven roads(ditches) of Bagalkot until we reached what looked like a tar road but with several beauty spots in the form of pot holes.

Fortunately our hotel ‘Heritage Resorts’ in Badami was a nice and clean, decent place with a vegetarian kitchen, cozy comfortable beds and we could not have asked for more.

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Badami in Kannada means almond, due to its almond colored sandstone architectures the city was called Badami. Badami was earlier known as Vatapi owing to the legend of demon Vatapi and sage Agasthya.

“Vatapi and Ilvaku were two demons who hounded sages with their tricks. They would lure the sages into a feasting meal, where Vatapi would take the form of food and be served by Ilvaku to the sages, once the sages had feasted then Ilvaku would call out Vatapi to return. Vatapi would emerge from the sage’s stomach thereby killing them. But when Agasthya rishi was served this tricky lunch, he immediately said “Vatapi Jeerno Bhava” meaning let Vatapi be digested, that was the end of the demons.

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Badami, was the capital of the Chalukya kings who ruled from the 450AD to 757AD, Jayasimha was the founder of the Chalukya dynasty. These rock cut caves were undertaken during King Pulakeshi’s time and completed by King Mangalesha. After the Chalukyas, Badami was ruled by Pallavas, Rastrakutas, Hoysalas followed by the Vijayanagara kings, Adil Shahis, Marathas, Odeyars, Hyder Ali and British. The Pallavas who invaded Chalukyas, took away a statue of Lord Ganapathi (flat stomached idol, the only idol of Ganapathi in his flat tummy) as booty and placed it in Thiruvarur. The 17th century poet Muthusamy Dikshitaar praises this idol in his song ‘Vatapi Ganapathim Baje’ as the idol was from Vatapi(Badami).

badami-mobile-picThe Cave temples located beside the Agastya Theertha is the main attraction, the sandstone structure with 2000 steps is a steep summit of gigantic rocks that houses four caves(a fifth one is discovered recently).

img_4921The 1st cave depicts Shaivism with Shiva as Nataraja in his dancing form with 18 hands.

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img_4933badami5The second cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu with panels of Vamana-Trivikrama and Bhoovaraha. The ceilings have Swastika symbols carved and MatsyaChakra(fish wheel), Puranic episodes of SamudraManthana and Krishna’s tales can be seen.

Cave 3 is again dedicated to MahaVishnu, it is the largest and most ornate caves of all, it was completed by King Mangalesha.

Cave 4 is a Jaina cave temple, the smallest of all, you can get an excellent view of the Agastya Theertha in the backdrop of Bhootnath temples and the scenic range of sandstone rocks.

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badami6badami3After descending from the caves we headed to the Badami Museum which is just some 200meters away. A narrow and dirty path ridden with pigs, open gutters and small dingy houses in all its filth surrounds this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the immediate vicinity. A mosque is also built in the same sandstone material right next to the caves, like in most of all our heritage sites/temples. This one was perhaps from the Adil Shahi’s times. But the overall filth surrounding the monumental wonder is acrimonious apathy of successive governments. However the locals told me that the Modi government has already undertaken to make things better.

img_4929As of now whether it is in Hampi, Badami or AIhole there are no strict safety or security measures for the upkeep. If you go to the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort or Humayun Tomb in the north one can see the kind of elaborate security measures, CCTV screening and numerous guards at every point but the Hampi, Badami, Aihole are sites where the whole town is a monumental wonder with numerous breath taking structures, all of them without much security deployed and with unapologetic tourists with no regard for the grandeur of the heritage site as they call it ruins.

If this kind of extravaganza were to be in any other Western country it would perhaps arrange guided digital tours with Walkie talkies aiding tourist to re-live this ancient history. If it is maintained and propagated even today its rich heritage can make Karnataka synonymous with Hampi. But today most North Indians are not even aware of this glorious place called Hampi, Badami and Aihole as it is not given the importance like other Mughal monuments.

Most sites are at the mercy of the tourist guides who demand img_4950anything like Rs.500 for two hours when you need a whole day to cover just 8-10 places. Hampi has some 550 places where some 54 are UNESCO recognized heritage sites and Badami takes 2full days.

We spent some 30-40minutes at the museum and then took a stroll along the Agastya Theertha. Walking beside the serene holy waters enclaved by gigantic sandstone rocks amidst green patches feels blissful.

This route leads to the Bhootnath temples, a place that was once filled with scents of flowers, bells clanging and Vedic Mantras, the Kalyani where holy baths were taken is today devoid of the main idol itself, as we neared the Bhootnath temples, we could see groups of ladies washing utensils and clothes in the Agastya Theertha polluting it with detergents and soaps.

 

img_5000The Bhootnath temples are a group of Shiva temples located on the far end of the Agastya lake, with both Nagara style and Dravidian style architecture. One can sit here in eternal solace watching those majestic almond reflections in the gleaming waters calmly.

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A little away from the Bhoothnath temples on the left side is the Mallikarjuna temples, a plainer version of Shiva temples of Kadamba times.

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A whole lot of temples but no prayers offered anywhere here as it is customary in Hindu temples that once a Vigraha or idol is broken even if partly then no Pooja is offered. Today it is a much sought after place for cinema shootings and adventure enthusiasts for rock climbing as Badami has its own rock climbing camps.

We completely missed out the Shivalay temples, the fort and the Vatapi temple where once the unique idol of Lord Ganesha with a flat tummy was worshipped here before being taken away as booty by the Pallava kings.

Badami has mostly budget hotels and very few luxury hotels, it is well connected by rail, bus and ideal to visit from October to January.

Navabrundavan _ By The Tunga River

Navabrundavana is a sacred place for Madhwacharya’s followers, it is located near the ancient town of Hampi, Karnataka. While the heritage town of Hampi is filled with tourists across the year for its rich sand stone temples and glorious sculptures that stand tall in spite of those ruining invasions, Navabrundavana is a  quiet and calm abode of the 9 holy saints of Dwaita Siddantha who meditated here in this pristine and picturesque rocky island amidst the Tunga river.

Madhwacharya was a Vedanta philosopher who was a proponent of philosophy of reality_’Tattvavada’.

People refer to this place as the ‘Jeeva Brundavanas’, as a Brundavana is a fortification around the revered saints when they entered penance when alive. It is unlike the concept of a tomb hence the word Samadhi is avoided.

Navabrundavana has two routes, one is from Anagundi which is a long drive of 30kms from Hampi and the other one from Hospet is a shorter (6kms from Malligi hotel) one near the banks of the Tunga River which is not a popular route.

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We took the shorter one and reached a dead end near the river bank, we had to take a ferry to reach the island temple but could not find a single soul. Some faded graffiti on the wall slab beside the waters, revealed a mobile number. Upon calling the number we were asked to call out loudly and look for one Ramzan Bi, who would probably be asleep somewhere in the surrounding farms. So chances were that if Ramzan Bi was in a deep slumber then we would miss seeing the place however we cried out as best as we could and finally Ramzan Bi turned up from across the other side, speedily rowing a large caracole.

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This is Ramzan Bi at 60+years she has a family of 7 members and makes a living by rowing Hindu pilgrims to their sacred place, this is real India! As she rows amidst the scenic splendor of nature surrounded by rocky dunes and lush green Jowar farms against the gleaming Tunga waters in the hot Sun, she tells us about the peak seasons and good days to visit it here.

After this brief ride amidst nature, we had to walk some 200meters in between tall blades of grass and rocky enclaves to reach the temple.

navabrundavan

Navabrundavana is an absolutely quiet place without any elaborate architecture, it is for the spiritually inclined with only the sounds of nature and few religious chantings. It is perhaps because of such calmness and serenity that the sages chose to meditate here.

After the darshan, we headed to the Virupaaksha temple, had lunch at Mango tree which is now shifted behind the market area in the Virupaksha temple vicinity.

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Virupaaksha temple

Then we walked up the Rathna Beedhi(Street of gems), the pillared avenues where diamonds, pearls, rubies and emeralds were once sold like vegetables in open trays, such was the Vijayanagar economic splendor and architectural vibrancy that in spite of sabotage and loot these monuments stand tall attracting lakhs of tourists across the year. In spite of the beheaded and broken sculptures I refuse to call it ruins! You can view my earlier Hampi post here.

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We walked by the Tunga rivers that is picketed by rocky boulders, an early morning or early evening walk here is the best thing to do, the rocky paths leads to Kodandarama temple and Yantrodharaka temple(Hanuman temple) which is said to be consecrated by Vyasa Raja, the Raja Guru of the Vijayanagar empire, who set up 732 Hanuman temples, he was the teacher of Purandara dasa.

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Little mantapas by the Tunga River

The story goes like this “Vyasa Raja usually took bath in Chakratheertha, the TungaRiver banks where Kodandarama temple is located. As he meditated and prayed on the rocky hills of Chakratheertha, the Charcoal image he had drawn, symbolic of Lord Hanuman would disappear into the rock. The incident occurred several times, Vyasa then composed the Yanthrodharaka Hanuman Sthothra and encircled the image with Shatkona yantra (Hexagonal star) or the Vaayu Yantra, thereafter the image of the lord stayed. It is also believed that it was here in this ancient town of Kishkinda that Rama met Hanuman during his search for Sita. Hampi is full of footprints from our Ramayana epic as it is the oldest town in the civilization as per scientist who have carbon dated some rocks here.

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View from Yanthrodharaka

 

As luck would have it, the Mandir was closed(this is the second time I tried to visit) so we just sat down for a while, enjoying the picturesque view of the Tunga River from the mountain top.

This was the end of our Navabrundavan trip, we then resumed our journey to Badami in the evening.

Do read my upcoming post on Aihole and Badami.

Rape of Humanitarianism with Identity Politics

Soumya, the 23 year old who protested a rape was brutally assaulted and thrown out of a moving train in the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train in February 2011. After pushing her out of the train, the one armed handicapped beggar Charly Thomas alias Govindachamy had brutally raped a bleeding Soumya, who died 5days later.

There would have been a huge media outrage if the victim, instead of the perpetuator, was a Christian minority.

The trial courts had awarded death penalty to the accused but Charly Thomas or Govindachamy as the main stream media has conveniently rehinduised him, appealed in the Supreme Court that has now quashed his death sentence and awarded a 7years jail term as they could not find any substantial evidence to prove that he had pushed her from the moving train or that he had pushed her with an intent to cause death.

It is another thing that all the legal and judicial procedures from investigations to arrest to trial and the final judgement in this case was completed in record time.

The Supreme Court is supreme law governing us under the constitutional framework but amidst luminous legal arguments, piquant political correctness and robust rapist representations can we ignore the fact that it was the sinister circumstances or intent to outrage the modesty of a woman, that had led to Soumya’s fall which reduced her into a vegetative state? It is perhaps immaterial or still irrelevant in the naked world of judicial emperors against whose new clothes the common man cannot speak about hence we all bow down to their interpretations and directives!

But who is this Charly Thomas or Govindachamy?

Is he really an ordinary unstable beggar as claimed by his lawyers?

Various news articles have reported about records that state that this 30 year old Charly is a habitual offender who has in the past been convicted and wanted in several robbery, rape and murder cases.

As per a report in The Hindu, he was convicted in the following cases:

2004: Tindivanam Court sentenced him to imprisonment for three months under Sections 457 and 511 of IPC;

2005: Kadalur Court (for 45 days under Sections 457 and 511 of IPC); Palani Court (for eight months under Section 379 of IPC);

2006: Erode Court (for seven months under Section 379 of IPC);

2007: Tambaram Court (for five months under Section 380 of IPC); Thiruvallur Court (for three months under Section 379 of IPC);

2008: Salem Court (for six months under Section 379 of IPC)

But it certainly is intriguing that this petty beggar as his lawyer claims could afford a high profile lawyer like Biju Anthony Aloor who charged 15lakhs for this case.

Incidentally Biju Anthony Aloor has represented another rape accused in the Nayana Poojari gang rape case, he had also offered to fight Pakistani Terrorist Ajmal Kasab’s case.

It is another thing that people representing rapists, thugs, political thieves, the corrupt and the morally naked are often termed as high profile these days.

But in the Indian scenario, beyond money or political power there is an invisible identity cult dominating all public discourses under the white man’s gaze that restricts, regulates and controls the native orientalists(as they refer to us) for the sake of cultural and economic exploitation and for global supremacy.

Today we Indians often refer to US as a global power; their supremacy is normalized without a question! While they have made their mark technologically and economically that we all today concede with, what we don’t read is that there is a parallel attempt to mark their cultural and ideological supremacy that sinisterly compromises ours. And this happens by accentuating our shortcomings and reiterating their efforts on humanitarian causes to make us look like a vandalized inhuman lot. Not that the change in the name will make the brutality any less but it is for this reason that a Charly Thomas is guarded by humanitarian boundaries while a Govindachamy is vilified.

Today anybody who understands this western identity based supremacist agenda will be alarmed at words like humanitarian, charity, benevolence, love and compassion!

Philanthropy is an old garb of proselytization!

Today it is very common in Kerala or Tamil Nadu, Andra or Karnataka where you come across many orphanages or care homes  and various other words of hope

These organizations often seek support and solicit financial donations on online portals for a humanitarian cause putting up pictures of destitution to churn sympathy and funds.

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A study reveals that at least 25 million orphan children are under the care of these kinds of care foundations who volunteer to help and adopt the poor and needy.

This large figure could be a result of overall poverty, health issues, financial instability to sustain large families because of illiteracy affecting family welfare, death of breadwinners, Abandonment due to poverty or illegitimacy, alcoholism, abductions.

While it is true that a developing nation like India has to do lot more for child rights but that does not mean we should let a free run for the menacing beggary mafia which exploits all of the above mentioned concerns!

The humanitarian cadets take it over from the inhuman beggary agents to rehabilitate them in their homes of hope.

Soul harvesting becomes easier when the prey is innocent, ignorant or illiterate, poor, destitute or a child.

Child converts prove very valuable as they can be easily molded.

The Christian missionaries are actively dominant amongst economically lower strata people like pourkaarmikas, maid servants, drivers, farmers, beggars, ragpickers or any ground level helpers.

It is alleged that Charly Thomas, the brutal beggar is one such evangelical activist who works with Akasha Parvakal(Birds In The Sky), an evangelic missionary group that targets to convert beggars and ragpickers into Christianity that propagates prevention of abortion under a cool name called pro-life theme.

Perhaps Charly with his handicap was an epitome of destitution who met his target numbers, religiously emerging as a Robinhood for conversion activities in TN, Kerala and Andra hence the political and state weightage behind a ruthless inhuman beast of a person.

A Malayalam newspaper reported that he was not only an evangelist but also a political pawn who raised funds from the beggary racket and finished many unwanted rivals as he is alleged to be the henchman of the CPIMas that openly stood by him.

Dr.Unmesh who conducted the post mortem initially and provided many valid points was sidelined and another Dr.Sherly Vasu was inducted into the team. It is reported that apparently both the lawyer Biju Antony and Dr.Sherly Vasu are Christian evangelist activists who are part of the same ‘Birds In The Sky’ missionary group. This possibility of blatant interference of the church in matters of judicial prudence to the extent of supporting anti-socials and brutal criminals and influencing cases to favor the cross could turn out to be a dangerous Chimera brewing in our backyard.

The current state of affairs where humanitarianism is sold at the hands of soul harvesters certainly does not empower women nor inspire faith in the legal, judicial systems prevailing in our country. And in this context it is imperative that the conversion laws in our country is revisited as the Soumya murder case is not just about brutal rape but about the growing audacity of lawlessness and rape of humanitarianism with identity politics!

(Source of Information pgurus.com)

The Nationalism Debate: Is Humanism the new word to replace secularism??!!

Picture from Google Images

 

Free India turned 70 yesterday amidst a jubilant nationalistic fervor! it is another thing that our Independence was just a convenient well crafted handover of power batons from the white master to his brown apprentice until recently where it took us almost seven decades to elect a common man to represent India and the idea of India.

 

The social media was abuzz with ‘Happy Independence Day’ wishes and Whatsapp groups soaked itself in tricolor.

Not to be left behind the print media too made some tricolor pitches with blown up product advertisements leaning on a dash of patriotism while some media channels paid tributes to its soldiers and martyrs who laid down their lives for this country but there was this one program on CNN IBN18 hosted by Bhupendra Chaubey that caught my attention!

When the whole of India was busy celebrating its freedom and when our soldiers were being shot from across the borders and stoned from within, interestingly enough this program was debating about how much of nationalism was too much for this nation and if the very idea of nationalism was dividing the country!

Like all debates there was a nationalistic narrative and then there was an anti that narrative, I do not know if I should call that anti-national narrative because it was something more than that so I chose to anyway hear out their version of the alleged dangers of overt nationalism to see if the discourse made any real cuts about the problems faced by India and how we could move forward with integrity and unity.

But the debate was less about India or its independence and audaciously more about why any Indian should pride himself about India’s independence or its tricolor where the anchor Mr.Bhupendra Chaubey vehemently tried to prove in vain that there was nothing nationalistic about holding a 8feet long tricolor flag and that people didn’t have to wear patriotism on their shoulders to prove their patriotic penchant.

Although other panelists like Tejasvi Surya argued that just like a man sporting a beard is proud to flaunt it as a religious symbol, it was only spontaneous and natural for a sportsperson representing India internationally or any other Indian to splurge in the tricolor as it is symbolic of national pride.

Although the debate hovered between a sympathetic secular tone and the usual penchant for anything anti-majority where panelists like Mr.Saad Bin Jung made unconnected remarks on a national platform that today’s nationalists divided people using those very symbols of pride like the Bindi(Hindu Tilak) and the Thali(mangalsutra)!

Whatever secularism and tolerance meant?! Whatever respect for other faiths and symbolisms meant! Weather the debate weaved together the non-believers or witch-hunted the believers of nationalism in an open debate on a national news channel but certainly yet subtly the whole debate disguisedly emphasized on one aspect _ that the strong card of secularism(read pseudo) has given rise to overt nationalism and that it has forced the erstwhile secularists to downplay or even discard the Secular serendipity and come up with an alternative term or perhaps coin a new word called Humanism for an inclusive India.

Yes, Humanism is the new catch word of the liberals!

Humanism has always been an essential part of our inclusive indigenous dharma so much that we have often extended it to other forms of life as well and needs no reintroduction to its netizens.

Yes, humanism is a welcome gesture as long as it is extended in sync with the ambit of our constitution and is not lost into the contours of many political isms at the hands of fake human rights activists where one human is made out to be superior because he is a sympathized victim over the other human being who might be a simple law abiding citizen rightfully discharging his duties.

Humanism is relative when it is subject at the hands of leftists, socialists, capitalists or communists however the nationalism debate ended with a dream of a developed and integrated India bereft of any caste divisions and communal chaos 30years down the lane when India completes her 100th Independent year.

But the bigger question is will the media and its masters make a sincere attempt to merit its own monologue and let go of caste and all its political embellishments in their future course of discourses. I did not know that there existed a lingayat votebank or a Vokkaliga votebank until the media highlighted it, hence I find that the media is equally guilty of sculpting divisive mindsets sometimes with over emphasized caste card and sometimes with misinformation overload and many times with half information offloaded!

The fact that there was a nationalism debate on one of our national news channels that too on our Independence Day about why it is not so cool to wear patriotism on your sleeves where a panel gets to decide as to how patriotic can one be or not be and whether it is really important or irrelevant to qualify as a nationalist in today’s scenario, should compel the editorials of these media houses to introspect and analyze themselves if they can ever castigate caste away from their narratives and if they in their quest to score over and suppress an ideology are desperately disgruntled so much that they have to resort to an anti-national pitch to counter the growing dominance of an alternative narrative!

 

 

 

 

An Ode To An Adonis

 

She might have been extremely cautious while cropping his tender nails, making amply sure that he is not hurt the least bit, she might have tip toed into the room lest she disturb her angelic toddler who was fast asleep. Like you and I she might have dipped her hand into the hot water tub just before bathing him, to make sure if the heat was just right, she might have blown the boiling smoke away from the hot porridge bowl and even burnt her tongue making sure that the food she fed was warm enough!

Then she would have waited eagerly for her child to return from school every single day, making his favorite dishes!

Perhaps her whole world revolved around him tending and attending to all his needs so much that she had perhaps started living her dreams through him.

Today he had chosen to call it quits!

He had quietly returned home from school and jumped off from the top floors of the high rise building leaving a note saying that he didn’t deserve to be their son!

What could have been raging in his mind, what were those lone regressive battles he fought in his young little mind? Was it humiliation versus helplessness or inability versus indifference, self-worthiness versus social sanctity or was it simply because of all that incessant physical tending and aesthetic attending in the due course of which a corroborative connection with the mind and the heart was lost?

Sometimes kids hurt themselves physically or even exaggerate about a certain physical ailment in order to get our attention as we have, with or without our knowledge led them to believe that only a physical damage can get our attention, by rushing only when the wound is visible!

I have never met this mother nor the unfortunate child but the fact that this incident has happened in the close proximity of my vicinity brings sleepless nights and indescribable uneasiness that continues to seep in and haunt me.

A tender young life who could have had a promising life has been lost! And I feel really very helpless too!

This forces me to ponder and reflect upon myself as a mother and wonder if I have done enough or am I over doing it?

There are no perfect parenting tips in this world. Neither can anyone advocate a certain style as a conventional doctrine of parenting, as individual is different and most often the upbringing of a child is directly proportional with various factors ranging from the very parent’s upbringing, financial and social circumstances, the societal expectations, mental well-being, status symbolism and of course the very system around us where the merited are suffocated to emerge more meritorious in the limited space of academia coupled with the hypocrisy of our Governmental organizations that systematically wedge a social divide into the society with various socialist reservations and quotas threatening the very idea of social egalitarianism bleeding large sections of the society that are getting stressed and depressed by the private educational institutions that preach us parents with paid parental orientation sessions about avoiding parental pressures on children when they themselves proclaim that it cannot be anything less than a 97% to board their bus!

The biggest irony is that schools and colleges openly set cut off points rendering all career counseling sessions as a mockery. Today, only a 9 pointer or above can opt for science, those above 8 can opt for commerce and the rest can go for other left out options.

Isn’t this blatantly suggesting that Science alone is above everything else? No wonder opting for Science has become symbolic with false prestige and intelligentsia status as nobody wants to be called a dimwit or lesser intelligent!

And that is the reason there is a mad rush for opting science alone even at the cost of paying donations thereby encouraging systematic corruption leading into a shortage of scope for those who seriously want to pursue a particular stream. This precedent also belittles other professions so much that today there is a dearth of awareness about the importance and availability of various other career options.

Our Indian children are perhaps the only ones who have so far braved against all the academic and aesthetic pressures so resiliently because they are required to excel in English, learn Hindi, learn the regional language for the love of the land, if possible also take up Computers and a foreign language to increase one’s chances of global opportunities, you should be a wizard in Science and a topper in Maths to qualify your grey matter amidst peers and parents yet kick the football high amidst the dust and strike a chord on the guitar to establish your cool dude image lest you are a nerd, you should also be socially sensitive species who will spend extended hours on compulsory social activity project and also finish those additional online assignments and various other Olympiads and value addition programs just before hurrying up to the private tuitions without which one is a deemed to be doomed!

Yes, you cannot classify all that supposed vibrancy that these private schools are trying to inculcate in our children as an obnoxious burden but then the larger question is whether this systematic loop of elite eloquence about specific education streams alone enable our children to be resilient enough, of which even parents play a huge part in!

Children repose enormous faith and confidence in us parents, so much that I can never be wrong for my child! I am kind of an encyclopedia for him throughout his growing years. And my opinions and demonstrations form a large part of his outlook that goes on to shape his mind and idea of himself and the society at large.

My opinions will always mirror in his imaginations, thought process and self-worth.

But as he grows up it is important for me to shed my strict parental cap and reiterate back to him that like him even I am human and that whatever I say or do is largely as per my beliefs and principles that I have acquired over the years with many failed and many successful attempts and achievements and that even I can err or be wrong or become angry at times for which I will need his support as well.

There are times when I express to my teenage son that I am tired and feeling very low because I lost a writing contest or was unable to do a certain project on time and get enough readership and that I would love it if he made some tea for me, not that I cannot make it for myself but only to demonstrate that he can relate and reciprocate like this when he is feeling low as well.

Now who does not yell and scream or itch to raise your hand or punish in ways that we believe can reform our children, I guess it is only instinctive at times as it is extremely difficult to make our children focus and put in efforts which has never been imparted from day one as schools today hardly give any homework only to face the blues later. But it is most important that we do not drag on our ego or grudge and instead choose to patch up almost immediately by sitting down and talking things out calmly with our children.

When you are angry just remember that your child is some 25 30 years younger than you!

Our teenaged children may not be mature enough to understand our views, thus it is upon us adults to balance things out but this reiteration that you care and are willing to share and discuss his grievances or try to ease them will certainly enable them to think freely beyond the standard conventions and aid in them with self-esteem and confidence to explain their position and believe in themselves.

I know it is indeed easily said than done more so if it is a boy that you are raising, as a mother of 2 boys I see that when they grow up they don’t easily connect with you or share things with you, so it is important that while we chase them like werewolves we also connect with them, listen to them and honor their little decisions that makes them feel that they are heard and taken seriously as well.

When I was a child my mother let me make my decisions in life, in fact she even banked on my opinions for matters that concerned all her household affairs and financial matters at my early age of 12, which in a way has empowered me with such confidence that it not only helped me decide independently and enabled me to pick the right against the wrong but also kind of bonded me to be honest with her no matter what and never let her down.

Remember you had patted and petted your child all along when they were little and today, your sudden spurted spurious behavior at the helm of their teens will confuse and send them into a cocoon. Some children may react by rebelling wildly and some others may mildly go mute. And it is these muted symptoms that parents have to be wary of!

Unlike our childhood days where we were punished black and blue and were trained to be rugged from the initial days, our children have not been exposed to any kind of harshness or hardships because of our own ceremonious pampering and yielding to all their demands after letting them footloose until their 10th grades. But here is a tricky situation where suddenly you gear up and start chiding him cutting down his play time, restricting him in all ways possible pushing him to the study table which when not sustained by your child you resort to aggressive and repulsive rile rants without your knowledge, without realizing that you had not trained your child to be rugged like you, without realizing that there can be no lush green vegetation under the dominant shadow of a banyan tree.

Every child needs acknowledgement, sometimes verbally, sometimes with a small physical touch of care and love in subtle forms like a little pat on the back or a small considerate hug or just some oiling of the hair or even stroking the hair gently or tucking them in their sheets before bed, remember you did all this and much more when you cuddled them obsessively in their younger days and now suddenly are shying away but it is a proven fact that a physical touch of care and concern by parents reassures an adolescent child and strengthens them emotionally, no matter how big they are.

And talking about the limited stream of opportunities, believe me there is no dearth for them and no, one, stream is above another, as every finger in the fist has a role to play. You can be anything from a biotechnologist to an economist to a media person to a writer to an artist to a digital animator to a voice artist to an advertisement creator or a cartoonist to a lawyer to an army person to a photographer to a travelling archeologist to a historian to an anthropologist to teacher to an RTI activist to a politician to a TV anchor to a sportsman or a businessman or an entrepreneur or even go on to become a Steve Irwin!

There are many doctors, chartered accountants and engineers who have become film actors and movie directors today and even national spokespersons for political parties, so essentially a stereotype science subject or an Engineering stream or an American scholarship alone does not necessarily make you successful.

As a child I was always good at stories, I was always interesting in essays and debates and dance but I could not figure out my strengths or interests so I ended up taking up commerce. Numbers and statistics scared me off in college and I seriously found it uninteresting and dry sessions that I could never relate to and always found myself participating in a whole lot of cultural events or would prefer sitting alone under a tree.

People around thought I was only good at cooking useless stories and indulged in nonstop chattering! But as life had it, I later found myself in marketing roles and counseling and recruiting jobs that required talking all day and today, yes, I do what I always did best, cooking up stories and articulating my views for the world to read.

Success is only when you emerge out of a trying situation with confidence and conviction and this confidence is churned only with constant care and a lot of connection with your child on a daily basis.

A precious life is lost in a hurry without ever knowing how and when those days of merry transformed into a sudden unceremonious melancholy. No amount of words or wishes can ever come remotely close to compensate for the loss and guilt with which the parents may have to lead their lives and in my opinion it is totally insensitive and unproductive to blame the parents for this ill-fated short destiny.

The least we could do to pay an ode to this Adonis is to stop, and take time to reflect upon ourselves.

 

 

The Fear Factor

It has been a bloody Ramadan this year with mass killings at Orlando, Paris, Lebanon, Yemen, Baghdad, Istanbul and Dhaka, today one can say that terms like ISIS and terrorism can be used interchangeably!

As a child I remember watching the movie ‘Kaabuliwaala’, the story of a friendly Afghan man selling sundry articles to make a living back home but I do not know when the destitute Kaabuliwaalas turned into dreaded Talibans running for the trophy of Khilafat.

Did they change jobs? Or did they suddenly excel in the economic, educational, technological and military spheres? Or did the futility of their meagre earnings redefine their rigidity?

Well the very definition of Terrorism goes like this

Terrorism is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes”.

So it is important to understand who is ISIS (Islamic state of Iraq and Syria)?

The Middle East or the Arab countries is a cradle of Abrahamic religions. The Gnostic and Iranian religions were replaced by Judaism, later Judaism split up into Christianity and Islam. The Jews and Christians pride themselves as superior to Islamists and mostly use them as pawns in any given crisis.

The desert clan was a savage community that fought amongst each other for power and mostly sought to meet its basic requirements, either by conquest or conceit or simply conniving with power masters.

Around 1902 due to an oil spillage incident it was found that the Arabian Peninsula might be a great resource for oil. During the First World War, the need for oil reserves was strongly felt. Both America and the Soviet Union invested in the Arab land for further digging of oil.

A pipeline network of 3200kms of sea route in the Suez Canal was built to facilitate large scale supply of oil in alliance with King AbdlAziz.

Since Soviet Union and America the super powers with robust military and technological advancements, the duo constantly compete with each other by cutting down each other’s power abettors. But sometimes they shake hands and make up and share the loot at the end.

Ever since America set its eye on the oil reserves in the Arabian countries, it has carefully pitted every king, every little country and every tribe against each other so that the Americans can continue to rule them.

In the 1970s the CIA used the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt to disrupt the Soviet expansion and prevent the spread of Marxist ideology.

A former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda was unquestionably a product of Western intelligence agencies and that the CIA nurtured Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Cook explained that Al Qaeda, which literally means an abbreviation of “the database” in Arabic, was originally the computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists, who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis, in order to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan. (Ref link)

Al Queda was actually a carefully planned foreign policy of the US.

Later when Saddam Hussain’s power was growing, initially the Americans used him to wage a war on Iran and later when he refused to be a dummy for them and showed signs of independent ambitions, the Americans together with the Britain and France spread rumours of fear across the world that Iraq had undeclared piles of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and that Saddam Hussain might perpetrate a chemical, biological, bacterial and even zoological war perhaps:)!

A bloody war was declared on Iraq in 2003 and in a short time Saddam was ousted and plucked out by public hanging.

The Iraq oil belt had temporarily quenched the oil thirst of the US and in 2005 the US intelligence terminated the search efforts for any unconventional weaponry in Iraq.

The Iraq Intelligence commission concluded that the judgements of the US Intelligence about any existence of weapons of mass destruction was misconstrued and wrong.

But the Western agencies will never be blamed for their inhuman interference upon other nations.

It reminds me of Yamadharmaraya’s story, the story goes like this:

Once Yama’s mother was upset that the whole world would curse and accuse her son for causing death and regard him abhorrently as the death giver, Yama then calmly showed a glimpse of the affected families and friends…

At one home, the inmates cried that their beloved son died in an accident, they blamed the truck that hit their dear son. In another home the wretched Cancer had caused the death, in yet another house a murder, so on and so forth…. Yama smiled reassuringly at his mother and told her…See nobody ever curses your son, in fact I am revered as the Lord of death”

While Yama is diligently doing his dharmic duties, the West continues its dubious adharmic quest for the greed of global power without anybody pointing fingers at them!

In an interview with Fern Britton on a TV program, Tony Blair the then prime minister of UK claimed that even if he knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq he would have still waged a war on Iraq.

Clearly winners get to write history, the other side is often a victim of vilification.

Remember Muammar Gaddafi of Libya? Oh my god, he was a real bad bad guy! Another dictator, Isn’t it?

The propagandists employed at their hands through various media houses were deployed in the task of vilification of Saddam Hussein as a dictator, a ruthless and a wretched leader. They blew up the theory of a biological bacterial war telling the world how it was the need of the hour for America to intervene and play the super protector in their sincere humanitarian effort to save the world from terror when they are the manufacturers/co-producers of terror.

Much later the American citizens realised that George Bush and Bin Laden’s families were long time partners in many dubious businesses.

The fact is that today with no evidence on the WMD, Iraq is reduced into a lawless, leaderless land seized by looters and stooges of the imperial west to reap their opportunistic fortunes amidst the distressed and unsettled communities.

Today the CIA claim that as per their intelligence reports Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction are hidden buried somewhere in Syria hence their humanitarian urge yet again to intercede and bomb Syria.

Syria’s Shia president Bashar Al Assad is a Soviet sympathiser and an ally of Iran. After Israel and Egypt, Iran is the next growing country with nuclear ambitions, a Shia dominant state which is a threat to Jewish Israel. Also Iran lies between Syria and Iraq, now that Iraq is a fallen state, Syria is the next target to weaken Iran for their idealism of global domination.

The US, UK and France are unable to push their agenda of going for a war in their favorite battleground _ the middle east through UN approvals as China and Russia will veto down their aspirations. Hence the trio can either go to NATO or play their usual humanitarian and world protector card because they want only Israel to remain powerful in the Arab region as it fits their power equations.

As to why the US and Israel act like conjoined twins can be largely attributed to the political Zionism lobby and their shared intelligence and military interests.

(Zionism is overt and covert methods for a pro Jewish policy across the world).

The CIA in its bid for its WMD theory has deployed its media houses to prove to the world how much they care for humanity even while they are supplying arsenal, recruiting and funding rebels in 62nations across the world.

This is the advantage of popularising a common lingo _ the English education to your subordinates, your mind is easily enslaved to their ideology as you can never read or comprehend an Iraqi or Iran’s point of view because of the language barriers.

But after Bush and Bin Laden’s secrets were out how can they still run their foreign policy in the same name hence they have now scripted a new name called ISIS with an invigorated focus on Iraq and Syria, as if to tell the world and Iran in particular that first it was Iraq then, and now it is Syria, next it will be you!

Although Syria is a sympathizer of the Soviet, the Russians and the Americans might shake hands and share power consensually in their common quest for oil and power.

It is  upon every other nation to challenge the western foreign policy instead of being mute spectators because today it is Syria, tomorrow it might just be anybody who dreams of growing big.

Syria is bound to fall if the soviet and the other powerful nations of the world are simply going to watch.

The US army does not like to shed much Christian and Jew blood of their soldiers across foreign soils hence they do local recruitment by misleading the youth of the newly sieged country in the name of Islamic Jihad.

Interestingly ISIS never messes up in China or Russia or North Korea or Japan for that matter, it is only in countries that might grow to be a potential threat and who are Soviet sympathisers or neighbours of powerful nations.

Today the new bad boy in town is the North Korean leader Kim-Jong-Un, he is ambitious ruthless wretched and a hard core dictator as projected by the media. Whether or not the Koreans think so who cares, we think so because we will believe what we are being led to believe and yes his growing nuclear aspirations are a threat to US and UK and Russia too.

Today the Imperial West is pumping crores of rupees into India for establishing Wahhabi Universities across India.

Wahhabiism is an extremely conservative form of Islam that propounds the theory of hatred, violence and injustice against non-Muslims and their own creed of Shias and modern Sunnis and women who don’t subscribe to the rigid theory of Sharia.

Wikipedia suggest that it might be the British Secret Service that set up and strengthened the arm of Wahhabi Islam along with their dummy puppet sheiks in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly these Saudi sheiks have all Jewish/Christian wives and Saudi as a state is just a glorified dictatorial family business of the west and less of a nation as people do not enjoy any rights or freedom.

As per an India Tv report Rs.1700crores was pumped into India recently for establishing Wahhabi centres of preaching, Rs.800crores have been allocated to set up Wahhabi institutes.

The equation for India is clear, with Pakistan on the west and now Bangladesh on the East and a treacherous China and a whole chunk of Wahhabism pumped into India with poster child faces like Owaisis and Zakir Naiks, the new catchword is ISIS and one can see it surrounding us in Kerala, Kashmir, UP, West Bengal, Hyderabad and parts of Karnataka with their fear mongering strategy because like the Mountain Mist slogan Darr ke aage jeeth hai if this fear is extinguished then they will be unable to rule us.

(Here is a video of ISIS fake beheading)

In the wake of such serious scenario at our door steps, it is a right step if the centre axes the root by stopping Saudi funding and banning faces of terror in totality.

If the US is serious about its War On Terror then it could simply stop aiding financial and military supplies to the ISIS, why ISIS, it could stop its arms supply to Pakistan first of all. It could contain them by blocking Youtube channels and other social media sites of ISIS across the globe, it could cut their food supplies but if they did all of this how can they remain powerful? So it is quintessential for them to keep the diplomacy of divide and rule and continue to spread fear through fake money and fake terror but with real blood!

Our media is going berserk covering the innuendos of the Islamic terror and eagerly showing smiling pictures of youth sporting guns like Vandom, and then we cry it is because of Islam! No I am certainly not saying unrealistic things like ‘terror has no religion”. Yes, today rigid Muslims have become synonymous with the face of terror. The conservative concept of Islam and their heinous crimes in history has besieged and drawn India backward by many yard miles but what are these Islamic terrorists worth without the western military and financial backing? Why the hell should Indian media call any Owaisi or Naik or a rigid mullah on a national debate unnecessarily glorifying him? Nobody would today care a damn if they were arrested and imprisoned or executed but for the unnecessary limelight and secular sympathy!

Why is the west together with their Indian media houses pitching only an Islamic face for terror? It is because the desert clan has already made its savage mark in history through its various invasions and inhuman acts. If it has worked in the past why change the game now when they can easily flare up a communal angle to anything and everything.

Also the first and second world wars have reflected poorly on the humanitarian image of the imperial West and today they have set up many councils for the cause of World Humanity and other fallacious foundations which will come out as farce if they blatantly began another world war hence the new strategy is religious terror and cold wars.

The vehement attempt of the West in keeping the turbulent history alive has been a huge success in India so far and if it goes any further, India will never be able to stand up and resolve its issues on its own. India should neither rely on Russia nor US as they are both like Pepsi and Coke with not much difference in their ill effects and dependability for good health.

The Mossad, the CIA, the British Secret Service have their own dedicated illegal and unscrupulous banks and printing machineries to run a dual and dubious economy so that they keep their recruited rebels that includes not just terrorists but also politico, activists, journalists, NGOs warm and running.

Maybe the Indian ministry at the centre today, should focus on similar tactics and buy out these glorified pseudo intellectuals and gruesome goons within, by compensating them as much as their western counterparts with the same dubious mechanisms and completely confiscate their Foreign incomes and cut contacts or deal with them with iron hands lest millions of rupees will be wasted in the futility of endless meaningless debates in and outside the parliament on a farcical fear mongering called freedom of faith.

Dar Ke Definitely Jeeth Hai if the central government really wishes to curb this foolery of fear once and for all from the roots lest you never know tomorrow the CIA and MI might say that Saddam had shipped his weapons of mass destruction to India!

Hallelujah!

Gods Must Be Crazy

thanksgiving

The thanksgiving ad in the Thursday newspaper left me wondering if Gods really read newspapers! How sure are we that they read only English dailies? And being the supernatural omnipresent power that he is what if he was updated with the latest technologies and read by just swiping and scrolling the clouds aside, what if he also superseded the print media and updated himself with Facebook or Twitter?

All these questions amused me about the immense faith people still repose in expressing gratitude so superficially that too at an advertising expense of Rs.1600 per box and how relevant is this Thanks Giving in the Indian context?

thanksgiving1

 

So here is a brief about how the whole idea of thanksgiving started.

In September 1620 the Pilgrims(religious reformists of the Church) from Europe set sail across the Atlantic ocean and reached the rocky shores of the new world that was inhabited by the native American tribes called Wampanoags.

The Pilgrims were welcomed by the local red Indians with open arms and shared their food supply with the Pilgrims as it was their custom to help the visitors and be courteous to them. (They were called Indians because the initial voyagers of Europe had assumed this new land to be India)

The wheat that the Pilgrims had got did not grow on the rocky soil and they survived only by the kindness and accommodative nature of the local tribals _ the Wampa no ags.

In 1621 the Pilgrims met a tribal called Samoset who could speak English and were thrilled when he entered their Plymouth colony and said ‘welcome’ in English!

Soon Samoset got another tribal named Squanto who could speak better English and he was regarded as an instrument sent by god by the Pilgrims.

Squanto taught them the many ways of survival in the new world as these European Pilgrims mostly lived in dirt, short supply of food and medicines, and did not know how to survive the cold winters. Squanto brought them dear meat, beaver skin, taught them how to cultivate corn and other vegetables and build new homes like the red Indians.

He explained how to dig and cook clam, showed them medicinal plants and pointed out poisonous plants to stay away from, he told them how to use sap from maple trees and how to use fish for fertilizer and dozens of other skills that improved the lifestyle of the Pilgrims.

In order to celebrate this good fortune the pilgrims initially invited Samoset, Squanto and a few other Wampanoag leaders and their families for a thanksgiving feast but when the tribals arrived in overwhelming numbers the pilgrims were unable to feed them, to which the tribals themselves arranged for all the food once again!

Soon as the number of European Pilgrims increased, they began to disrespect the local faith and became intolerant which led to a deterioration of their relationships. Any Indian who came near their vicinity was looted, enslaved or murdered. Soon enough they constructed cannons and prepared for the military destruction of the locals, they even beheaded some Wampanoags and displayed their heads on wooden spikes in their colonies. By mid 1630s a new group of 700 more Europeans who called themselves Puritans arrived in the new world and settled in Boston, by now the attacks on the Native American Indians had increased considerably.

Perhaps the Pilgrims regarded their voyage quests of expansion and invasion as a pilgrimage and the Puritans’ regarded their baptizing  efforts of cleansing(ousting) the native faith and ethnicity as purification.

Squanto was taken as a prisoner and then taken as a slave to Spain after baptizing him into a Catholic!

In 1637, some 700 Pequot Indian tribes were trapped and killed by the whites after which the governor of Massachusetts Bay colony whitewashed their gory crime by declaring “a day of thanksgiving’ for those 700 innocent unarmed civilian lives.

By 1675, the Massachusetts Englishmen were in a full- fledged war with the Wampanoags who were now reduced from some 24000 to just 750 in number after many a genocides, Their lifestyle and culture was steadily eroding after various European imposed laws and values.

In 1676 the Wampanoags leader Metacomet was killed and his severed body parts were displayed in different parts of the town. His head was struck on a pole in Plymouth on the real first ‘day of public thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy’. Wait! What did you think, the whites were thanking the native tribesmen all along?  They were thanking their lords for having been able to live so resplendently by oppressing a whole civilization!

Thus after a brutal holocaust of hunting down the friendly redskins and then declaring a thanksgiving day as an honorary day to celebrate not the brotherhood of man but the deceitful defeat of natives was introduced.

With more and more frenzied killing of the natives who were either enslaved or exterminated, the thanksgiving became synonymous with a feast after each massacre.

The brutal history of ‘thanksgiving’ and all that killing of the natives 350years ago, is today sweet coated with testimonies of veneration and words of nationalistic fervour extending gratitude to the lord for the bounties and blessings for all their unkindness.

Yes, today, America is an evolved nation with very many races, however their(read white invading Europeans) flagship methods of seeking, securing and finally seizing power after a sumptuous loot is still the same where ethnic cleansing is carried out under different pretexts but it is really outright hilarious and interesting to note that we in India, blindly follow this Western practice which in no way has any relevance in the Indian scenario. Whatever ‘Thanksgiving’ meant but thanks to the indomitable spirits of secularism we are steeped in, one can never fathom the idea of questioning the farce of any faith whatsoever! Isn’t it?

References from Dr.Habib Siddiqui’s material on Islamicity website

PATHI PATHNI AUR WHATSAPP

If B.R.Chopra were to remake the bollywood flick ‘Pathi Pathni Aur Woh’ today, he would name it Pathi Pathni Aur Whatsapp!

 

Unlike the reel flick where ‘woh _the other woman” steals the husband’s attention, today the other instant messaging client called whatsapp has stolen away Pathis from Pathnis and vice versa, with such captivating charm and cheer that they instantly engross and enslave you while clenching in its fibre clutch _ your uninterrupted attention!

Such is the fervour of this instant fever that good looks and good food are left cringing for attention!

Anniversaries and birthdays have become cost and time effective as you can now bestow bouquets, bells and cakes from the clouds quite literally and even make up for a belated wish with excessive bouquets and smileys!

Whatsapp messages not only educate you but also make you witty and wise; they can turn you karmic, liberal and even philosophical in life!

You can smile your best, giggle or guffaw your arse out at the hint of a joke without worrying about that eerie incisors. You can lift any finger except one to applaud and aplomb and even turn red with rage _ it is a pit that helps you identify your true emotions and relieve them all in one funky go!

You will turn a positive person with a penchant for spirited quotes by the morning and send so many roses and good morning messages that your friends will turn red like those roses, after some positive doses you then go on to philosophically become a wife analyser by the noon with the latest husband/wife jokes in town and say all those things with ease that you normally cannot say at home. You can reap the benefits of Karma by endorsing something holy and noble with the folded hands emoticon or by simply forwarding it further!

At the office, in the little time that you get from your busy whatsapp schedule you will probably complete few meetings and send out some emails even while you wink or shed tears of ecstatic joy with your left hand at some ‘thodu’ message in the client meetings!

At tea time you become a quizmaster putting your groups IQ level to test with mind boggling and blood boiling puzzles like these

By evening you have blossomed into a social activist forwarding messages of social sobriety and political prosperity even when your partner is struck up in the bathroom without water.

By the night it’s time for all those videos that you could not play during office hours because of pretential risks and it is the perfect family time to indulge in a whatsapp jugalbandi with your partner’s latest forwards!

Such is the wonder of whatsapp that you can perform yoga, plant trees, save water, stop rapes and educate them all lifting various fingers on whatsapp even while we don’t lift our little finger on ground.

And finally when your partner is on the verge of breaking your mobile screen, you can still dare to console her quoting an old whatsapp joke!

Share this whatsapp pravachan if you enjoyed it!

Brewing of a new cult called Saiism?

Thomas Babington Macaulay who is regarded by many as the father of modern education in India was a radical historian posted in the East India Compan who was  the catalyst behind abolishing Sanskrit while introducing English in native schools to further the imperial legacy to culturally contain the native Indians.

Even Max Mueller whom Swami Vivekananda revered as a scholar was a Jackal in sheep’s hide, in one of his letters to his wife in 1886, Mas Mueller writes……..

I hope, I shall finish that work (translating the Rigveda).  It(Veda) is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung up from it during the last three thousand years.” 

And on 16th December, 1868 he wrote to the Duke of Argyll, the then Secretary of State for India – “The ancient religion of India is doomed, now if Christianity does not step in, whose fault will it be?”

In their quest to contain and create sublimely submissive masses the modus operandi was to establish their superiority by belittling other faiths, their first and foremost tool of oppression was to thrust their language on us by which they could sow their beliefs on the Indian civilization and hoped to produce a brown breed of English speaking and English thinking natives, which they did succeed to a large extent but could not tear apart the religious beliefs successfully because in spite of the natives speaking multiple languages and worshipping multiple forms of Gods and Goddesses, most philosophies often concurred that Brahma Vishnu Maheshwara were the supreme trinity who formed the basis for this entire cosmos to exist.

The British had realized and witnessed that Indians by and large revered Gurus and saints to seek the path of spirituality and they also knew that they would get debunked if they got some Christian saint to do the preaching and tried direct penetration amidst the already initiated, so they resorted to its disintegration first.

 “When you cannot convince, Confuse them……..” was their mantra…

So the white man promoted everything that was adverse to the majority beliefs and customs, he inflicted various Godmen, venerated them in writings, propagated and pilloried them so much that they became new Gods in the 19th century and enjoyed instant fame with a curiously quick propaganda.

Such propaganda that it is today a multimillion dollar industry!

One such industry is called the Sai business industry.

saibaba original pics

The story goes like this….. In the early 19th century ie…just 90years back there came a Fakir amidst the farming community in a small village called Shirdi, who lived in a dilapidated mosque wearing white robes and head gear who is believed to have preached ‘sabka mallik ek’ while he blessed everyone with the words “Allah Mallik”!

Sri-Sai-Samadhi-Mandir

Mazar of Shirdi Saibaba

He died in 1918 due to old age and sufferings like any other mortal being. A few reports suggest that after his death his body was buried in a nearby Krishna temple after removing the idol and then a Mazar(an Islamic tomb) was built which today the devotees call as Samaadhi!

Saibaba's Mazar in 1950s

Saibaba’s Mazar in 1950s

In the Hindu customs a Samaadhi is built for saints who could choose death at will while in penance, in a sitting posture not when they die of old age like ordinary mortals.

Abdul baba, devotee of Saibaba

For some time a Muslim devotee Abdul baba was in charge of the Mazar but later in 1922 it was taken over by a lawyer Hari Sitaram Dixit after winning a petition and a Sansthan trust was formed.

saibaba sculptor

In 1952, a marble Sai statue was built on a silver throne with Lord Shri Rama’s picture in the backdrop it was now called Samaadhi Mandir. This marble was donated from Italy!

We love Italian marble isn’t it?

Even some scriptures were produced after lifting from the biographies of other saints and endorsing it as Saibaba’s teachings.

Govind Dabholkar alias Hemadpant (1856-1929) wrote a devotional biography “Shri Sai Satcharitha” in Marathi, he had begun only two chapters in 1916 and in 1918 Saibaba died but he resumed the work again in 1923 after he became a member of the Sai Sansthan Trust. Later the book gained a new English adaptation by N.V.Gunaji who cleverly omitted Baba’s Muslim context and fixated a Vedantic edge to it, Gunaji ignored frequent use of Urdu words and Muslim practices of baba like Namaz and Sufi teachings, goat slaughter practices endorsed by Shirdi Sai and ascribed many alleged miracles to Saibaba’s credentials, this version was widely propagated and read.

Dr.Marianne Warren urged that an overlay occurred in much reporting about Saibaba, tending to obscure the Sufi dimensions of his profile with an evident attempt to Hinduize his teachings.

The academic commentator described the same book thus:

“A detailed presentation of alleged miraculous phenomena…. the intent of the work is clearly hagiographic, aiming at the expansion of Sai Baba’s popularity among the public at large.” (19)

A lie repeated a hundred times goes on to become the truth and it doesn’t take much time to blow up beliefs over bigotry that too with a thesis in miracles!

Image from shirdisaibabaexperiences.org

Image from shirdisaibabaexperiences.org

Those white robes have turned saffron today!

Today you can see SaiBaba’s pictures mostly in the backdrop of Shiva or Ram or Krishna! Why this coalition religiotics!

sai-baba-durga-devi

saibaba as krisna

Why this ardent insistence on this Hindu theme?

And not to forget, there will be Saibaba I, II and III, the latest being Aniruddha Baba who claims he is the reincarnation of Saibaba in this 21st century!

But the Oscar goes to this picture below:

None of our Saptarishis enjoy this kind of fame or power and the Hindu temples today are all hypothecated to the Murzai trusts. Moneys from Hindu Hundis are siphoned off for proselytizing activities, subsidy for Haj and upliftment of backward vote banks.

Today the Shirdi Saibaba temple is one of the richest temples owning over 380kg gold with an annual turnover of Rs.350crores with an autonomous control by a selected few trustees.

Earlier the temple trust was run by a 15-17 member committee which constituted of mostly Congress clan, but in March 2012 the Bombay High Court disbanded the committee and has appointed a three member panel after a PIL by two Shirdi residents.

The court had also banned the temple committee from auctioning the gold, silver and diamond articles which the temple had received from devotees after a petition argued that the valuable were offered to the god, not to the temple for raising money from them. Today the Modi government is baiting them with an interest of 1.25crores for depositing their gold in Gold Monetizing scheme but there is a HC ban on melting of temple gold offerings.

“Sai “simply means saint in Islam and Saibaba didn’t utter a single Sanskrit word but Wikipedia deciphers the origin of the word ‘Sai’ thus:

However, Sāī may also be an acronym of the Sanskrit term “Sakshat Eshwar”, a reference to God.[citation needed] Sakshat means incarnate and Eshwar ( Ishvar) means God’.

This is how seeds of provincial prowess are sown to contain the masses through mass submissions with tools of religion and linguistic similarity.

There have been many saints in the past who are still revered amongst us because they equipped us with the prudence to distinguish between the divine and the dubious by not elevating the messengers of Gods as Gods themselves.

Yes it is true that people can choose their faith by all means but a faith that is founded by lifting scriptures of an already prevalent faith only reiterates the fact that there is a constant attempt to vehemently dilute and deviate people’s beliefs to create more cults. Yes it is also true that these religious model business houses are doing their bit to provide food, education and medical facilities and employment to various people but even the Christian Missionaries do the same with a hidden agenda of keeping minds under subservience for global political-power one-upmanship!

A few thousand years back Buddhism and Jainism propped out as offshoots of Hinduism, a few hundred years back Sikhism was born out of Hinduism as people carved out a new cult and today confuse and claim that Buddha is the 9th Avatar and not Balarama! One other theory by the Tamils is that Murugan is the 9th Avatara!

Today there is a similar attempt to create another cult called Saiism that is soon brewing rapidly altering our religious identity and the religious scientists are trying their best to inflict Saibaba into our scriptures, into our hymns, they are turning “Jai Shri Ram” into “Om Sai Ram”! If I contest this, my own clan will team up against me! The white man’s dream is achieved!

200years from now somebody might even argue that he was one of the Dashaavataras and slowly denigrate the original texts. 200 years from now you never know even the followers of triple Sri or Sadguru might accredit some miracles to their beloved seers and proclaim newer Avataras like the canonization theory of the Church!

Yes in a country where even Jayalalitha, Khusboo, Sonia and Rajanikant have temples built, it would come as no surprise if tomorrow there is a temple built for triple Sri or Sadguru and their likes. It is in this context that I say, belief is an obligation and truth your choice, by not succumbing to the ballistics of propaganda politics as you owe to the future generation the knowledge of the original dharma and truth in its real sense and expose them to our ancient scriptures.

I do not know if Saibaba and his likes performed any miracles, I do not know if he really preached with the absolute knowledge and enlightenment that is credited to him but surely the Macaulays who dreamt of breaking this country’s culture have miraculously succeeded to a large extent with their tremendous foresight and vicious agendas and this new trap of cultism is a potentially becoming fatal tools of disintegration!

Devdutt Patnaik: The Myth Maker

Watching Television for entertainment or enlightenment is a huge risk nowadays. While news channels have turned into high decibel zones, serials have turned into venom breweries and comedy is reduced to its lowest crass with obscene debauchery to tickle your nerves, sports is all about IPL and swerving shiny bottoms so I was left with only travel and history.

The first time I watched this channel called EPIC TV I was quite impressed and I started watching more of it! With program topics ranging from travel, history, ancient lifestyles, kings and famous personalities, wars, pre-independence era, religion, spirituality, politics, sports together with cuisines and their origin, films, art and culture and all our gory filled as well as glorious pasts told from an Indian perspective, it has become the talk of the town!.

I was instantly fascinated with this channel and particularly the sketching stories with crisp narrations in the ‘culture machine’, the “Stories of Rabindranath Tagore”, although they are mostly stories of debauchery and extra marital affairs of the rigid Bengalis in the pre-independence era, the stories, the depiction and narrative somewhat touches you especially when their crew cast with artistically relatable big eyed white-saried seductive actresses showcase and portray a women’s perspective along with the spectacled men with coats and dhotis taking you into an Eastman era.

The main attraction seemingly is the narratives and interpretations of Devdutt Patnaik, a self-declared mythologist, although I admire his explanations and interpretations that keeps the uninitiated curious the fact that he calls the Vedic history as a myth is something I cannot agree with.

Interestingly the channel also hosts programs anchored by people like ‘Nasir-Uddin Shah’ and ‘Mahesh Bhatt’, whose anti-national left leaning credentials and outright support for terrorists is no secret. So I mused as to what, an impressive speaker like Mr.Patnaik was doing amidst this crew and this only intrigued me further into reading more about him and his other works on his website and Facebook page and twitter as well.

I enthusiastically began following him on Twitter and was surprised to see that his Dharmic tweets are mostly politically angled to suit today’s Indian political scenario and of course with an unseen subtle judgemental pitch oscillating between Modi and his strategies.

He also says when he interviewed Wendy Doniger that “Anyone who is serious about studying Hinduism needs to study the works of Wendy Doniger (b.1940), who for over 40 years has been researching, translating, and commenting on Hindu scriptures and stories. Had it not been for her, I would not have had access to so many tales hidden in our scriptures”.

Most of the people he follows on twitter are the same enigmatic brigade who cried intolerance a while ago. I know that Retweets and one’s choice of whom they follow on social media are not categorical endorsements of any ideology as such but I would mostly follow people whom I can relate to or I am curious about!

I also read his article on the Scroll.in where he attempts a Dharmic narrative with a seeming obsession with Narendra Modi’s past and future like most twitterattis he follows!

I shall quote a particular interesting line from that article

Only the asura, says Krishna, thinks he created the wave. He assumes he controls nature. He assumes the world exists for him, or should exist for him.

A deva submits to a world where there are forces at work that are beyond his control. He gracefully accepts the fruit that comes to him.

Remember the author is giving a dharmic discourse in comparison with Modi’s political past and future, although he claims the write up is not about Modi!

Whoever the Asura here is in our political context that Mr.Devdutt Patnaik refers to who he thinks created a wave, but in writer’s lexicon this kind of writing is called subtle ideological baptism or in short “subtle agenda poison” where the writer cleverly downplays or degrades someone yet he projects as if he does not take a stand but compares and contrasts leading the audience into a compulsive conclusion!

It is not a new concept that spiritual gurus and Dharmic discourses quote political contexts for better explanations, but unlike today in earlier times spiritual gurus made their affiliations clear to their followers by endorsing certain ideologies but the threat today is the disguised propaganda and hidden agendas of our own people who use religious discourses to influence political decision making or culture bending. Art and literary work have often been seized for cultural makeovers, as they are portrayed subtly but have the potential to mesmerize the moron and the mastermind! Loud messages are often sent in the most muted forms!

It’s a smart world out there today where wars are no longer fought with violence but with agenda based propagandas, inflicting cultural terrorism by diluting beliefs and misleading masses with sweet words where the biggest tool to bond or break people always has and is religion.

False propaganda or cultural terrorism is more lethal than violent wars today as it has become the modern artillery of western nations vying to climb the power ladder.

The Puranas and Vedas can be best understood by individual interpretations if attempted with the same detachment and humility of our ancient sages but it is important that these epics, their scientific and spiritual significance be passed on in the same original form without distortions or forcing other’s interpretations as truth.

In today’s scenario where religion is a rage and Dharmic gurus and amateur historians are sprouting up from all corners of the world, you need to first enlighten yourself about the reliability and genuineness of the author/guru and ascertain his credentials of integrity before you seek the real enlightenment!

Siddha in a secular jam…

As the grand old party’s symbolic hand gets murkier by the day with a plethora of scams and lies unfolding each day, the more it tugs at weeding out the lotus bloom, the deeper it is sucked into its own corrupt slushy marsh accumulated over the years. The hypocrisy of secular/pro-poor/pro-farmer rants is fast evaporating into thin air as the people now see through their farce. The veteran party is left with few states under its iconic hands and hence few political strategies left! It is in this context that when all promises of progress and development have fallen flat and the party is exposed more than it could dare to bare, that the Congress crew is now desperate to retain its power bases and make the most during its current reign in states like Karnataka and is explicitly playing its caste card and vote bank politics to retain its secular passengers.

minority

I saw this big ad on DH today and wondered how much more divisively explicit can a party chest beating about secularism get?

minority3

Whatever welfare of all people under Indian constitution meant, the Siddaramaiah government’s unapologetic obsession with Ahinda politics and minority appeasement is only growing!

minority1

We the salaried, private school educated middleclass majority are the new Dalits in the bizarre system of socialistic equal opportunities where the prices of our essential commodities, services and education facilities are sky-rocketing by the day because of the appeasement policies to subsidize and provide everything free to the Muslims, Christians, SCs, STs and backwards.

The Anna Bhagya scheme gives free rice, palm oil at Rs.25, salt at Rs.2 and sugar at Rs.13.50 per kg. Then there is Ksheera Bhagya and Ksheera Dhaare. As if the BPL schemes were not enough now there is also an APL (above poverty line) scheme in the form of Rajiv Arogya Bhagya and Hut-Free housing scheme where the beneficiary pays 30% and the rest of the 70% medical and housing expenses are paid by the government. That’s not all, there is also another unique bhagya called Runamukt Bhagya which waives off the loan taken by SCs, STs, backwards, Muslims, Christians and after that they are again eligible to get fresh loans to take newer economic activities.

Under this scheme 395crores of SC’s loans, 69crores of ST’s loans, 514crores of BC’s loans, 363crores of minority loans were waived off!

Loans these days make you more secular if not secure!

While on one hand we are bogged by the Karnataka state’s many sprucing Bhagyas squeezing the middleclass Hindus, on the other hand the center wants us to empathize with some more poor people and forcibly surrender our gas subsidy! It is another thing that I have to pay another Rs.20 to the poor gas delivery boy as an extended corrupt compulsive responsibility!

While the minorities and backwards are backed with free education, reservation quotas and schemes like Vidya Siri Bhagya, the middleclass are naively shouldering the burden of RTE quotas as the schools now stealthily pass on this additional cost to the middleclass parents by hiking their already exorbitant fees.

hitler's quote

In Bengaluru, schools are charging anything between Rs.73000-Rs.90000/- for even a class I student and the bus fees is Rs.20000-Rs.65000/- irrespective of the distance. Three years back when the RTE quota were not yet introduced the school fees was considerably lesser but unfortunately in India the very poor are exempt from tax and the very rich evade the tax, it is the gullible middleclass who is a superficial citizen of India paying up all taxes, following all the rules and regulations, paying penalties and interests but with no obligation from the administration whatsoever.

All moral values, hard work, fables of truth and honor, good manners, etiquettes, discipline, niceties are for the middle class morons while the power mongers have always flexed their muscles and thrust their hegemony.

With a state government that is too busy audaciously appeasing only non-Hindus _ the middleclass can only hope that the center devices some schemes of respite for the tax paying middleclass as well, since removing the evil of reservation politics is a distant dream, the least it could do to bring about a balance is perhaps include more and more merit and middleclass into the reservation list thereby diluting this acrimonious divide with dual economies in a caste thrust secular society or will they ask the creamy third generation reservation candidates to forgo their quota and pass on this social status accruing subsidy to the others?!

 

“BJPWalker” Rocking Kerala Election

Kerala, the spice capital of the world, the land where many ancient civilizations flourished, once renowned for its culture and traditional values is today less about culture and more about communism and their communal violence with the advent of communism post India’s independence,, yet Kerala is often seamlessly promulgated as the state with the highest literacy rates, but the insidious truth remains that even with a literacy rate of 93.91% as against the national average of 74% the state of Kerala tops the unemployment rate at 7.4% which is almost 3times the national level of 2.3%.

So where did the state go wrong?

Before understanding where it went wrong, the people of Kerala need to shun their prejudiced pseudo secular filters and understand why it went wrong? The answer lies hidden in an ideology that was adopted six decades ago!

Communism _ an idea of a classless society where society shares all property and wealth in common, in simple terms somebody else who may or may not have worked hard enough, shares profits of your labor. In short Communism is a slow poison that harvests lethargy, kills the spirit of competition and learning, disintegrates the idea of a robust economy and completely disregards merit leaving the strings of decision making with a powerful few.

The economic inequality during post Independence led to the hope of an equal distribution of uneven wealth accumulations amongst the peasants who were overwhelmed when Land Reforms and Ordinance Bills and Education Bills were passed, reversing everything as they went on to become the land owners overnight but the sad truth is that even after 60 years of Communist/Congress rule in the God’s own country, the manufacturing activities are almost nil, the unemployment graph is only surging, industrial progress is bleak, today the multinational companies are reluctant to invest or set up new business in the state of Kerala owing to the lack of infrastructural development, fear of industrial unrest by communist aggressors who do not allow the benefits of globalization to be passed on to their people. Hence there is a dangerous trend of skilled and unskilled labour drifting away from Kerala to distant shores for greener pastures that leaves the economy dented and dependent only on NRI remittances, tourism and trade to some extent!

NRI remittances are good but can an economy depend only on remittances alone which can be at stake in the adversity of a war or political disturbance?

Even tourism is a lack-lustre business in Kerala as most tourists dread about the safety aspects and lack of good hotels and good food especially vegetarian food except for a few posh unaffordable resorts.

Also communism by far claims to be Godless and pro people but on a closer look it is just a vicious combination of pseudo secular and power mongering brokers that has changed the demographics of free thinking and peaceful living.

It is in this context that the people of Kerala need to thwart down the pseudo secular rhetoric and leverage their voting rights in large numbers giving BJP a fair chance to prove them self in the larger interest of the state’s development.

The BJP candidate Kummannam Rajasekharan has been playing a pivotal role in stirring a nationalistic conscience amongst Keralites.

Mr.K.Rajasekharan has been a journalist, editor in various publishing houses who after working at Food Corporation Of India, quit his job to become a social activist. He has led the Nilakkal movement in 1983 against encroachment of temple lands when a church priest claimed that a stone cross established by Jesus’ apostle Saint Thomas in 57 CE was unearthed from near the Mahadeva temple at Nilakkal near Sabarimala, and proposed to build a church on the site, Hindus mounted a protest that lasted for six months and finally resulted in the relocation of the proposed church. In the Marad massacre incident in 2003 where Hindus were attacked with swords and the killers escaped into the local Juma Masjid, police were prevented from entering the mosque by Muslim women, as the General-Secretary of Hindu Aikya Vedi, Kummanam Rajasekharan played a tremendous role in this movement for justice and fair trial. He has also led agitation against the Aranmula International Airport project which was a detrimental to the fragile ecosystems and had various environmental violations. He has also led movements against Elavoor Thookam and Palazhi untouchable practices. He had earlier contested in 1987.

The communal and divisive vote bank politics prevalent from the last 6 decades has let down the people of Kerala with only a secular jargon coined time and again but with no visible development or opportunities whatsoever.

In the past many BJP/RSS candidates and workers have been ruthlessly murdered or eliminated through violent methods from the political corridors but in spite of the constant communal violence from the communists and Congress and all their allies, strangely it is the BJP that is termed as hardliners who involve in communal politics.

But this time around the BJP has made its presence felt remarkably, connecting and reaching out to the common man, thereby instilling confidence amongst people who had lost faith in democracy.

“The #BJPWalker rocking Kerala elections” program was an exciting experience for the voters of Vattiyoorkavu constituency in Kerala as they indulged in the festival of democracy, witnessing a glittery march with people carrying illuminated portraits of Sri.Kummananam Rajasekharan the President of BJP, Kerala State and a candidate for the assembly elections due on May 16.

The BJPWalker created with the portraits of Sri.Kummanam and Prime Minister Modi ji were carried as a light weight back packs by volunteers. They were also wearing three dimensional masks of Modi ji and Kummanam Ji. The pedestrians, commuters and bystanders witnessed such glittering fervour first time in their life and they seemed to simply love it as they took selfies and sent them to friends, BJP is connecting well with voters and ensuring that they read the content published on BJPWalkers , they are taking feedback from different section of voters and involving low cost interactive communication system with high Return of Investment says Buddha Chandrasekhar @buddhabjp creator of BJPwalker.

In addition to the bjpwalker they are using Hydraulic moving display of Modiji and Kummanamji, large balloons and models of electronic voting machines in training voters, says Buddha Chandrasekhar

The election for Kerala Assembly is picking up speed and heat as BJP is using unique campaigning techniques to reach out to the voters. BJPWalker was inaugurated by Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri.Ananthakumar and covered by major local Kerala channels.

The Communist ideology that swept with quick succession, the gullible minds of the peasants six decades ago seems to be fading away as a farce into thin air as the people now realize that hard work and a legitimate developmental plan with an earnest will to implement it alone can take a state forward!

http://www.bjp.org/

 

 

Puthravathi Bava!

As the perfectionist walks in like a queen bee, the hullaballoo of the lesser mortals is quickly hushed into chronic whispers! She is the master chef who will roll her sleeves to prescribe the finest recipes, she is the nutritionist who will add five portions of lentils and vegetables and seven varieties of fruits in her child’s diet, she could be the next brand ambassador for Scorch Brite who will scrub and sterilize everything around the house sparklingly clean with disinfectants, she is an omnipresent mother with eyes and ears everywhere, never letting that Cerelac drip anywhere beyond the bib, she is the Cindrella who will jump at the stroke of the next feeding hour lest her child’s growth goes haywire, she will panic if the milk powder is 0.001mg lesser and will wait for the calcium to dissolve and integrate into the body and shoot up as little nails on the finger so that she can file them on time! She will starve for chocolates herself lest her child should pick up that habit, she will keep her child away from violent visuals, teach when to say excuse me and when to say thank you. With an only child to care for, a single child parent leaves no stone unturned brandishing the baby with branded products the baby’s bum is spic and span on time and the skin is supple and soaked in one or the other cream. A single child parent can emerge as the messiah of logic and the counsel all with mindboggling parenting tips that can actually make you go weak in the knee feeling like a serial punitive parent caught red handed. To cut the story short, a single child mother is the personification of motherhood and can be nominated for the Oscars in the world’s best mom category or so she thinks!

I was all of this and much more until I was mom, yet another time!

While parenting a single child is no child’s play, the addition of one more child into the family tree is like a drop of nirvana in the ocean of parental saga as it teaches you to be super pragmatic in life and turns you into a new leaf. You will quickly learn how to suddenly multiply your hands to tend to hungry mouths and meet the messy challenge of how to put on the oxygen mask first and then go about saving other’s lives! But there are some common salient features of a second pregnancy:

The moment you announce your second pregnancy, the fleet of supporters at home that you were flaunting until recently will suddenly fall sick or go into a spiritual deluge and go on a pilgrimage unattached from your new attachments, at office your manager will suddenly talk of gender equality and levy more loads of work on you. At a personal level _ with the nostalgia of your first baby still showering in your bed and that stench still fresh in your and everybody else’s minds, baby shower will be a taboo word, and since there is already a downsizing threat in the corporate corridors, your hubby might suddenly turn romantic and get you only a beautiful red rose instead!

At social gatherings, family and friends will bless you stressing on the ‘Putravathi bava’ phrase even if they know that you already have a boy, and by chance if your blood is boiling with those women rights activism, save that energy as you have not quiet deciphered the hidden meaning when elderly women bless you that way! It secretly means ‘why should you have all the fun when I have toiled tons to bring up my sons only to be my daughter-in-law’s husbands’!

As a mother of two boys, I can now somewhat relate as to what it is to bring up sons and keep consoling myself _All is well_ I am only a facilitator! No this post is not about sons versus daughters it’s just about first time parents versus experience!

Once you are promoted as a parent of two kids you are now more envisioned and research oriented, perhaps the previous experiments are driving you close to the god particle and now that recipe, that nutrition you researched earlier will radiate resplendently on your belly, the discipline, the time table and all that perfect parenting instincts will circle around your eyes like freshly laid kohl, slowly the staunch timetable of calculated healthy portions will be tossed and wrapped over like masala dosa as they now appear obsolete, hyper rigid and monotonous, not that your family is turning squint and famished, it’s just that you will bite and binge on anything that looks like food. Sleep and piping hot food were never so pricelessly precious perhaps!

Also you will suddenly want your spoon fed first child to become terribly independent at once now so that you can go back to square one with your second stint at parenting but since that is a distant dream now, you can only fancy a whimsical wish that there were more than 24hours in a day or perhaps a school/baby care that runs in night shifts!

With the elasticity of the tummy comes the flexibility and adaptability in your approach, your ideas and insights will change like candidates jumping into new political outfits. The clean scrubbing, finicky freak that you were, will now feel, immunity is something that kids should develop naturally, the earlier the better! You will suddenly start appreciating your child’s choice and independence and not fret when he does not finish a portion. Soon it will dawn upon you that being overtly vigilant about your child is more about over protectiveness and less about caring hence it is best to let them test the waters and learn to handle their little problems themselves at the playground while you enjoy an evening walk.

Earlier the worries revolved around how the hell can I make him polish the bowl? Now it is ‘how the hell do I meet their never ending demands’? The younger siblings usually learn quickly from the older ones making your life lot easier when it comes to eating habits or personal hygiene or reading for that matter. Earlier I was obsessed with time but today time seems to be obsessed with me, setting new deadlines and newer targets each day!

Today the branded products sit at the shelf and expire unperturbed as I now know that the shine and suppleness on the face is not because of those creams anymore, it’s more about the spunk in your mind that you stride with and a sparkle in the eye with that acquired patience, perseverance and learning that comes only with parenting, more so if you are a proud parent of two notorious kids!!

The worst fears of single child parents that they will end up with additional responsibilities and less time for them is half baked, yes the initial years are demanding but as children grow up slightly the siblings learn to appreciate each other’s presence leasing you with a lot of leisure time.

The idea of this post propped up to me when I walked past a single child mother diligently run behind her cycle happy kid, with portions of fruits and nuts crying hysterically “it is energy time beta”, the bête noire of “Hum do Humare Do” that she was, her penetrating grimaces clearly indicating her dissent for the uncaring or careless parent that I was to leave my kids on their own as I swung my arms in Yogic fervor wielding more power as against her but I smiled candidly, secretly blessing her with another “Putravathi Bava” hoping that a drop of parental nirvana drops on her too!

This Article Was Originally Published in mycity4kids.com

Reading The Upanishads

I am trying to read the Upanishads but it is more difficult than any religious texts, as spirituality and religion are two different aspects altogether. I would have read two or three novels in the time I took to read just 40 pages so far. But it is certainly intriguing and inspiring!

Reading about metaphysical phenomena and getting initiated philosophically is more difficult than I had perceived, as it requires acute concentration and dedication to decipher the real meanings! But you don’t need to be sceptical and resolutely reserve it to be read only by retirement, because there is no point chest beating about our spiritual heritage without once trying to read them. So for the beginners here is a brief about what really are Upanishads.

The Upanishads have represented philosophy, spirituality and life for thousands of years and have influenced in the past many nations far beyond the boundaries of India, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Ceylon, Malay and even the westerners as many ancient Indian texts were found buried under the sands of the west.

The Upanishads are a philosophical quest that inspires and helps one to understand life in the right perspective without any rigidity and rise above the glamour of fleshly life, by aiding philosophical answers to the material problems and spiritual questions of life.

The connotation Upa(near) ni(down) shad(sit)  means sitting down near knowledge. (In ancient times, pupils sat down by the river banks to seek knowledge from their Gurus).

The root sadh means ‘to loosen’, ‘to destroy’, ‘to reach’

Essentially Upanishads are Bramhagyan or Bramha knowledge by which ignorance is loosened or destroyed and it is intelligible only to the initiated. In short it is a spiritual vision with philosophical arguments.

Gordon Milburn, an evangelist who studied Upanishads said “Christianity in India needs Vedantha. A very useful step would be recognition of certain books or passages in the Vedantha as constituting what might be called Ethnic Old Testament”.

Popularly there are 108 Upanishads, the Latin version of Upanishads_ Oupnekhat has 50 Upanishads but of all, the principal ones are:

Eesha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Maitreyaneya, Taithreya, Aithreya, Chandogya, Bhrad Aranyaka and Svethasvatara.

The Upanishads were not written by any one person or with any one philosophy, they were teachings that developed over parishads or spiritual retreats where teachers and students discussed and defined different views.

The Upanishads are Sanaathana _timeless!

Some of the sages who wrote the Upanishads are Aaruni, Yaghnavaalkhya, Baalakhi, Svethakethu and Shandilya…..

108 chapters to give solutions to the problems of life, maybe this is the reason we have 108 as the emergency number.

The Vedas and Upanishads are the history of the world and India in particular. They hold the authoritarian influence the world over, because of their inspirational values as they are vehicles of spiritual illumination and a treasure-trove of wisdom and knowledge. Earlier they were orally passed on from generation to generation but with time people found it difficult to comprehend and remember hence it was written down.

The Rig-Veda is the oldest literary monument of the world which reveals the high civilization that existed in pre-historic India whose borders extended far beyond today’s geographical boundaries.

The Rig Veda deals with hymns and prayers of praise,

The Yajur Veda deals with sacrificial formalities,

The Saama Veda deals with melodies,

The Atharva Veda deals with magic formulas.

Each Veda consists of

  1. Samhithas are a collection of mantras or hymns, prayers, benedictions, sacrificial formulas and litanies.
  2. Brahmanaas are the prose essays that explain mantras from Samhitas in simpler ways, for better understanding and discuss the significance of sacrificial rituals and ceremonies.
  3. Aranyakaas or forest texts were evolved when hermits did not have enough resources to follow conventional sacrifices or rituals, the Aranyakaas focus on meditative thinking. The word Aranya originates from Arana, in Vedic age those who continued their studies without marrying were called Aranas or Aranamaanas, they lived in hermitages or forests. The forests where the aranas lived were called Aranya.
  4. Upanishads deals with solutions to the problems in life, they are difficult to comprehend hence they are taught in the end of the Vedas, hence the word Vedantha meaning Vedasya Antha _ that which is taught at the end of the Vedas. Some scholars use Vedantha and Upanishads interchangeably while some argue that they are different.The Vedic civilization extended far beyond the middle east, when Iran was known as Iriya, Palestine was known as Pali sthan(the land where Paali was spoken).Ahura Mazda is the fire god of Zoroastrians, Avesta is their scripture and Avestan is an Iranian religion pre-dating the Islam. The lines “despised and persecuted remnants moved to Yezd and Kirman” reveal that the Yezidis have a Vedic past and worship many Hindu symbols like the peacock which is the vehicle of Murugan, it is perhaps for this reason that they are being exterminated today.

The Samhitas and the Brahmanas represent the Karma-Kanda or ritual portion of the Vedas while the Upanishads represent the Gnana-Kanda or knowledge portion of the Vedas.

The Vedic civilization extended far beyond the middle east, when Iran was known as Iriya, Palestine was known as Pali sthan(the land where Paali was spoken).

Prof.E.G.Browne writes “when in the 7th century, the warlike followers of the Arabian prophet swept across Iran overwhelming in their tumultuous onslaught, an ancient dynasty and a venerable religion, a change apparently almost unparalleled in history was in the course of a few years brought over the land where for centuries the ancient hymns of Avesta were chanted and sacred fires had burned, the cry of the Mu ezzin summoning the faithful to prayers rang from minarets reared on the ruins of temples at Ahura Mazda. The priests of Zoroaster fell by swords, the ancient books perished in the flames and soon none were left to represent a once mighty faith but a handful of exiles flying towards the shores of India and a despised and persecuted remnant in solitary Yezd and remote Kirman”.

But in spite of centuries of Islam, the Vedic thoughts are not totally effaced from some passages of the Quran as it still has mystic interpretations echoing their past religious beliefs.

Ahura Mazda is the fire god of Zoroastrians, Avesta is their scripture and Avestan is an Iranian religion pre-dating the Islam.

The lines “a handful of exiles flying towards India” does not reiterate any Aryan invasion theory because the Vedic civilization was not limited to the boundaries of today’s India alone, it extended wide across the middle east and far west as well. The Zoroastrians who fled to India are today called Paarsees.

Some astounding similarities between the Indo-Iran(Persian) terminologies are:

In India, we refer to Varuna as the water god and lord of rta In Iran, Ahura is the water god and lord of aasa
Varuna is allied with Mitra, the Sun God Ahura is allied with Mithra, the Sun God, in fact Iran had a religion called Mithraism that pre-dated Christianity and was in rivalry with Christianity.
Dyaus means sky in Sanskrit Zeus is the sky god in Greek and Avesta.
Vrthrahan is slayer of Vrthra, sometimes regarded Vishn. Verethragna is an Zoroastran god in the Avestan times
Apamnaapat is a deity which in Sanskrit means ‘sons of cosmic water’ which is a form of Agni. Apa means water and Napat means grandson Apam Napat, in Avestan means sons of water. Apa means water, napat means grandson.
Yajna or Yagnya means worship or oblation through fire Yasna means worship or oblation through water.
Gandharvas are celestial beings in Vedic beliefs. Gandharewa are celestial beings in Zoroastrianism.
Yama is the God of death Yima is the God of death
Hotr or Atharva, is a priest Zoatr or Athravan, is the priest
Vaayu is wind Vayu is wind
Krsaanu Keresaani

Both the Zoroastrians and Hindus revere the Sun and involve use of fire in their oblations but while Hindus revere and worship the Devas, the Zoroastrians regard them as demons and vice versa, perhaps the Zoroastrianism was established rebelling against its predecessor, that has unmistakable similarities with Vedic systems.

Zoroastrianism was founded by the prince Zarathusthra, which sounds very similar to “Dhritharasthra” to me, maybe their race continued somewhere in the AryaVartha or Airiya or Iriya or Iran but there is no evidence anywhere whatsoever.

But the larger point is that most beliefs that exist today are offshoots of the Vedic practices, where some got corroded while some colluded and rebelled against its roots forming newer faiths and followers. And it is in this context that some faiths follow the stark opposite of the other, just to prove its upmanship over the other.

And it is in this scenario of the society that spirituality outdoes religion, to enlighten and inspire us for the everyday obligations of life.

References from “The Principal Upanishads” by S.Radhakrishnan.

Have we lost our responsiveness?

There was a time when we would do things at the first instance of being told, responsiveness came like an inbuilt trait, those days! I do not know if it was the pattern of participation in the family affairs or perhaps the diligence we were wired with, that ensured we did things the way it were expected. But somehow today there is a growing trend of people all around who have grown thick skinned to this important interactive credential, as people just don’t think it is important anymore to heed to, at the first instance.

Although responsiveness has always furthered knowledgeable folks to be in the epicentre of good work and good will keeping the others in the periphery, oftentimes I find that responsiveness is becoming rationed and people take niceties for granted and respond only when nefariously yelled at or sarcastically nudged in public!

A travel website recently duplicated my content without seeking my permissions, I refuted several times politely asking them to remove the post but was able to get a response and get them to act only when I resorted to threatening them to naming and shaming them publicly on social media sites.

At an other time an arrogant muscly neighbor, mellowed down only when his reputation was at stake in public, it is indeed intriguing how people no more respect good words in good faith and succumb only when the defaming whip is lashed!

It is an unconscientiously hypo critic world out there where fear of a reduced reputation rules over responsiveness or rightfulness. A few other replace credible moral reputation with money and yes men, with whom yelling or ridiculing is an easy option to extract responses and actions but short lived as it ruins our mental peace and reflects poorly upon us but how do you handle the many occasions in life where you have to deal with the not so nice people with absolute niceties and still get your work done?

I often resort to pathetic humour to make a point, sometimes at my cost and even force myself into a metaphysical trance to counter the insensitivities! Because some viewpoints and mind sets deserve only a befitting laugh than logic and when you cannot please everyone, just tease them!! What do you think?

The Bed Bugs Of Journalism

The release of the accused JNU student leader #KannaiyaKumar on interim bail is being jubilantly celebrated, not just in the JNU campus but across the pro Congress, pro Marxist media channels.

I was casually surfing channels to ascertain how each channel brings out this news, it was indeed entertaining to see white lies and biased opinions aired so benevolently without the slightest remorse of being dishonest to one’s own conscience.

 

However one such channel that caught my attention was the NDTV, the news anchor Ravish Kumar was chatting up with a few JNU students trying his best to down play a serious sedition charge and converting the coverage into an image makeover session.

For those who are clouded with confusion about freedom of speech and use the jargons like sedition and dissent as interchangeable words, it is important to know that 5 of our policemen gave up their lives to protect and uphold the honour of our parliament_ that parliament which is the sacred sanctum of  building and developing this nation called India. And an attack on India’s parliament is a blatant challenge to her very sovereignty and honour. If not for those brave cops who died fighting the gun wielding terrorists encircling our parliament house, our thick skinned politicians would not be here to make these tall rhetoric speeches about freedom of speech.

Kannaiya Kumar the student leader who organised a commemoration day for the terrorist Afzal Guru, the mastermind behind the Parliament attacks is unfortunately being made a hero when he was very much channelizing and coordinating anti-India sloganeering like “Bharat tere tukde honge and Bharath ke barbaadi thak”. The Supreme Court of India ordered the judicial execution of Afzal Guru but the fops of free speech will continue with their agenda of dividing this nation and show their contempt for court decisions by celebrating and organising Martyrdoms for terrorists and Maoists.

What Kind of Azzadi do they really want _another attack on the parliament??

Well in this case, Kannaiah is only released on interim bail and the matter is still subjudice in courts but Kannaiah’s speech was scripted no less than a Bollywood flick, he hinges largely on an anti Modi pitch but fails to make a point. He mixes up things and takes a complete U turn on the famous Azaadi mania, he now cries Azaadi from corruption and Manuvaad and RSS. Whatever secularism meant!! But Manuvaad and Brahmanvaad are very fashionable terms these days and the speech is incomplete without a reference to farmer suicides! He goes on to say that the backward people are forced to take up jobs in the police and builds up a link to the farmer issue by saying “and these poor people who take up the jobs in the police force are sons of poor farmers and that nobody cares for the suicides of farmers”

Ironically most farmer suicides occurred during the Congress regime and the Modi government is only trying to ease out things for them at the cost of once again burdening the general category by levying taxes on EPF and removing the subsidy on cylinders but a speech is a speech and it has to compulsively have some peculiar if not secular stuff in it.

He rants that the poor police cop in the Tihar Jail does not get to study in JNU like him and cries foul that private education is expensive!

Some 60years back my father studied in a Government college that had the best professors, and yes they were general merit category professors who taught in Government schools and colleges, there were no private educational institutions then nor any reservations, he didn’t pay a dime but got the best of education. Today if anybody is to blame for the pathetic state of affairs in the founding years of primary education _ it is the vicious policy of reservation as all the teaching jobs are today occupied by reservation quota candidates who are ill equipped and unqualified to teach.

Today the Manuvaadis and Brahmanvaadis and all general category merit classes are classically castigated aside in the name of reservation quotas to make way for minorities and backward classes even if they didn’t deserve it. It is for this reason that general merit candidates are almost devoid of any posts in the Government jobs and not otherwise. As a result of which corruption has grown multifold with undeserving candidates without the ability or qualifications occupying posts that they cannot handle and do justice to.

A Government job today is seen as the goose that lays golden eggs, and people pay lakhs of bribe money even to get into the post of a Hawaldar, such is the scope for looting the stupid common man, with whose tax money people like Kannaiah get to hold the mike to massacre the society with hatred and divide.

93% of our educational institutes are run by the Government and only 7% by the private players that too with an RTE prick, how else can this 7% sustain if they didn’t make their courses expensive after paying those fat bribes for all those approvals and sanctions by the government babus!

But the enthusiasm on Ravish Kumar’s face resplendently revealed how much he wanted to say “Mere Rago Mein Khoon Ab Baara Guna Zyada Daud Raha Hai….. Aap Ko Ab Kaisa Lag Raha Hai” but he did not stop there!

Mr. Ravish Kumar, a senior journalist of NDTV proudly broke the investigated news to us on national TV that Kannaiah did chase away the bed bugs from the JNU hostels!

But the larger question is who will chase away these bed bugs in the nasty world of journalism? Who will stop the Kannaiahs who blatantly instigate a social divide amongst the youth in the name of backward and forwardness which is very dangerous to the integrity and unity of our nation? Who will fumigate the bed bugs of divisive rabble rousing news channels that are setting a dangerous precedent of showcasing to the youth of this nation that it’s cool to be anti-nationalistic in the name of free speech?

 

Brahminical Tyranny! Really??!

Braminical tyranny, they cry! “Brahmmanvaad ke kilaph ladenge, nahi sahenge……whatever” they cried. They hyperventilate about being suppressed by Brahmans from time immemorial but ironically Babasahaeb Ambedkar was raised and educated by a Brahmin who also gave him the name Ambedkar! We worship a Cow herd and venerate a non-brahman Valmiki who went on to become a Brahman!

The population of Brahmins today has come down drastically their literacy rate is above 85% and mostly excel in the fields of education, law, medicine and legal systems without any reservation systems because of honesty and hard work.

Brahmanism is more about following a particular life style than about just being born into a caste.
The one who knows the Brahman _ the supreme self, the ones who live a life of simplicity and dedicate their life in pursuit of knowledge, the one who does not harm or cause blood shed of any emotional beings, the one who believes in his mental strength than any violent physical strength and the one who is against all dark evils and stands by a fair justice system, it is in this context that in Indian mythology all the bad Asuras and demons who spread evil are portrayed as dark and the one who destroys the evil is the seeker of a fair justice whether this evil destroyer is dark or white is immaterial and our Vedic puranas are proof enough to this.
In the South Indian temples you will see that all deities and idols are carved in black stones, the Krishna idol in Udupi is in black while the Krishna idol in Vrindavan is made of white marble!
Krishna means black in Sanskrit. Rama, Krishna and Shiva, Durga or Kali, the Hindu Gods are always depicted in blue which is symbolic of being extremely dark in complexion! But unfortunately our historical mythologies have been hijacked by the non-believers and twisted to suit these agendas.

A sect worshipping Mahishasura, the evil demon! Really! The pseudo secular reign in the past has seen the addition of many new Jayanthis in their overwhelming zeal to commemorate the Dalits. Our sages and spiritual leaders were also not spared their castes were deliberately flaunted to create an artificial dissent among fellow Hindus. Revered sages like Valmiki, poets like Kanakadasa were leveraged to inflict a casteist divide, but they forget the very definition of a Brahmin _ “The one who knows Brahman” and it is for this reason that the Brahmin community never opposed or played into any of these moves as they believe in respecting knowledge no matter where it comes from and this has been amply demonstrated all along and stood the test of time.

We have been hearing from our births that there is a social oppression of lower castes by the hegemony of Brahmanism, I do not know when really the Brahmins got a chance to oppress amidst the last 800 years of sabotage and invasions but this is what the Joshua project says
“Brahmins are a key community in India who uphold Hinduism. Please pray that the light of the gospel breaks through the veil that blinds this community.
Pray that the true God will reveal Himself to this community and use Brahmins to preach and teach about Jesus Christ”.
The white man is hard at work to erase Sanathan Dharma by wily deploying Brown British moles across the length and breadth of India who are often disguised as rights activists or Green brigadiers or evangelists of freedom, creativity and liberalisation and not to forget “senior journalists” and “rational thinkers”!

My converted Christian colleague at office could not stop himself from piquing at me about my staunch vegetarian habits. He would say “Din mein teeka, raath ko chicken tikka” meaning a Tilak in the morning and chicken sticks at night! I was dazed at his guts and unprovoked shot at piquing me but was equally amused at the disrespectful ignorance and the hatred that was inflicted in him.

Truly a new