Monday, August 11, 2014

The Rakhi debate -contd.

I am truly touched to the core by your words, sir, and by your enlightened approach to differences of opinion on ideological issues. Your views on religious processions, the use of loud speakers etc truly come as relief.
I feel it a blessing for me for a person of your learning to allow me to agree to differ with you on a few things - like Rakhi, for instance - and still continue to have respect for each other, although almost all of this respect between us belongs to you . After this,I am emboldened to say that even if Rakhi had been an empty ritual for me personally, I would still have totally respected the sentiments of those who find a lot of sentimental worth in it - as I do now..
We agree to differ on Rakhi , and this is a measure of your intellectual magnanimity .
I look forward to interacting with you in future also - more in the nature of learning from you through discussion .

I have a some reservations ,sir, on some of the things contained in your earlier post and I will take the liberty of in-boxing my views to you for a dispassionate look at things.

I am obliged that you forgive me my political views. Quite honestly, i regard my politics as a very small part of who I am.

I humbly wish to make use of this opportunity to share a little more on how I view a proximity to and respect for the Hindu, the Muslim and the Christian ways of life as a tribute to egalitarian spirit taught to us by our great Gurus - one of whom is also described as "Hindu ka Guru, Muslim ka pir."

The spectacle of my Hindu brethren coming to Gurdwaras does not give me any communal pride but it does fill me with respect for their magnanimous approach to religion.

Likewise,, I respect the Sikhs who accompany their Christian friends to Churches and Hindu friends to Templesand Muslims to mosques and observe the norms of their religion at their holy places out of a heartfelt respect for each other's sentiments.I have never felt that my paying respect to the religious beliefs and customs of other religions can ever come in the way of my religious persuasions.If anything, these things merely fill my heart with more humility and reverence towards what the Gurus taught us.

Similarly, sir, when I take pride in the brave Sikhs/Khalsa rescuing Hindu women from invading marauders, I am also filled with reverence for the brave Hindus who came forward courageously to stand by the Guru when the beloved Sahibzadas were martyred and their mortal remains had to be consigned to elements - as at Sirhind . Every Khalsa who risked his life to save the honour of Hindu women as a part of his duty of honour must also have been reminded of Bhai Todar Mall and many others of his kind from among the Hindus.To these brave and enlightened Hindu followers of the Guru we owe a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid. These bonds sparkle like gems in history. 

I must learn from you in due course of time ,sir, more on what our great Gurus taught us on open-minded approach to spiritual pursuits.I am greatly touched by the humility and modesty with which you have sought to understate your own learning and scholarship and also your profound knowledge of Sikh history and religion. It is thanks to your truly liberal and tolerant approach only that I have been able to express my views on an extremely sensitive issue in such a free and open manner . I intend to put more demands on your time, tolerance and learning in days to come.
Meanwhile, I will try to deserve at least some of the kind words you have spoken about me.Please accept my sincerest gratitude for that, sir. . 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rescuing abducted women and all that accompanies the phenomenon

(In response to a poem that speaks of Hindu women being rescued from marauders by Sikh heroes in the past.)

I like this poem as a voice of protest against ritualism. And I hope this protest is not limited to only  "threads" - there are so many other symbols which are as useless and  helpless as these threads and yet we are willing to die for them.

And the other thing,-   I do not know how gracious, dignified and heroic it is to keep  rubbing this point about protecting Hindu women from  marauders ad nauseam .. Most of those who saved Hindus women were men who had only recently been drawn from this very society and were not aliens brought in from  foreign lands.

All the Gurus' Sikhs came from a community which we seem so keen to ridicule today. Would the Gurus too  have spoken about that community or any community  the way we do?  Or would the Gurus even forgive us for doing what they so strongly forbade us?  The ancestors of our Gurus too belonged to some community. Should we ridicule them too?

I doubt if Sikhism  teaches us to humiliate our protectees    by constantly reminding them of their failure to protect their women. Even our own women folk were attacked and left undefended on many an occasion in history - right up to November 1984  (Let me recount a personal example on this. Life and  honour of  two of my closest relatives - my Bhabiji and my niece were  defended and  saved by their Hindu neighbours in Janakpuri, Delhi. These noble neighbours  risked their own lives for this in November 1984. And that was when Sikhs had deserted one another  for their own safety).

So where should I rate the selfless courage of these Hindu neighbours who were not even close friends of my brother and  who yet protected his family against members of their own community?And the voice raised in favour of the Sikhs by eminent Hindu legal luminaries, journalist, human  rights and civil liberties  champions and many, many others  is too recent to forget. True there are elements in that  community who act against all established civilised norms, and are driven by communal considerations. But such elements exist in every community, or don't they?

And if we are so keen to remind Hindus of what our forefathers did for their forefathers, must we forget  what they did for the Sahibzadas - to name just one example ? The Sikhs themselves deserted the Gurus but the likes of Todar Mal stood by the Guru and his family.Examples of the Hindu followers of the Gurus sacrificing everything for the Guru and his family are far too many to forget.That is because the Gurus, unlike us, did not speak the language of hatred, derision and ridicule against them. And these Hindu devotees adored them and loved them better than they loved their own lives.

I think we are being unfair to our own religion  when we run down people from other communities.

Just a humble point of view.

Another visit to Mahilpur: Manzil ke pass

Coincidences sometimes give substance to what appears to be a vacuous and gloomy existence.
Take this.

I went to my village, Mahilpur today - and it has always been a pilgrimage I make there to be with the people whose memory is both a blessing and a discomforting reminder of my heavy guilt. I have often felt that the soil of my village has a way of knowing what I am passing through.

This is a village my mother did not leave even once,not even to visit her parental village. The only exception was once when she had to be taken away in an unconscious state for treatment. Whenever there was an occasion to visit my maternal grandmother's home, it was my father who would make the trip. Mother always felt strongly and always said gently that only death should take her away from the home she was married into.

Today as I took the final curve towards my ancestral home, this is what greeted me , coming out from a shop at the entrance gate:

"Zindagi ne kar dia, jab bhi udaas
Aa gaye gabhra ke hum manzil ke paas..."

Brothers and Sisters- six in all?

I have told this before to some friends, but some may still bear to hear it.

I was the youngest of six children in our family, four brothers and two sisters. My eldest brother was an extremely brilliant and handsome debonair - Brad Piit looks combined with culture and grace of Dilip Kumar. The one younger than him was a perfect shot, a big game hunter, with a heart that could make tigers blink -literally. He had killed many. My third brother next in line one younger than him was not much different from the rest- a big game hunter, rough,rugged, rustic and a lover of dangerous drives and dangerously beautiful women .

And then we had two sisters.

Unfortunately, only I and my exceedingly gracious and pious sister are left to look a stark family tragedy in the eye.

Compared with my manly , extrovert brothers, I was considered quite the weak girlie, sentimental and clumsy lad - truly a mamma's boy.

We would have many guests daily and I would gladly act as the proud "waiter" to serve meals to them.
One day this happened. And please remember, we were four brothers and two sisters.

When I was excitedly helping in serving food to guests, one of them asked my brother how many brothers and sisters we were.

Brother replied most casually, without even looking up, , "Three brothers and three sisters."

Thinking that brother had erred absentmindedly, I corrected, "Veer ji, Four brothers and two sisters."

Brother looked up at me , with a most compassionate and kindly smile, and said, "So, you count yourself among brothers?"

"Munda saoo aa," commented the guest, as he looked at me and smiled .

Take away Madan Mohan and you take away half of India's film music

Take away Madan Mohan and you take away nearly half of the heart of the golden era of music in Hindi cinema. One of the few directors who seldom, if ever, gave an ordinary composition, Madan's numbers stand out almost as the distinguishing signature tune of his period. And that was the age of immortals like Naushad, Roshan, Ghulam Mohammad, S D Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan,Salil Chaudary, Chitargupt, Ravi, - to name just a few.
( By the way, when you talk of Madan Mohan ,it is impossible not to talk about Kaifi Azami.The two together stand out as an exceptional writer-composer duo.)

One of the sadder aspects of Madan Mohan's graph, who had actually begun his career as a singer with Lata : most of his great compositions came in films which were either ordinary or were made under banners that really didn't endure -Chetan Anand being the exception. Unlike Shankar Jaikishan who had RK or Naushad Sahib who had the likes of Mehboob Khan, Kardar and had his songs regularly given an aui-visual grandeur by the likes of Dilip Kumar, Madubala, Vijayantimala, some of Madan Mohan's greatest songs were picturised on artists who did not really rank as superstar immortals.

It is possible to argue against this 'thesis' but even the great composer himself had this same sad feeling towards the closing stages of his career, though someone more qualified than me to talk about Hindi cinema can shed more light on this.

When Madan Mohan did compose for big banners , the films did not do exceptionally well at the box office, even though their music swept the charts, with exceptions , towards the closing stages, like . Chetan Sahib's Hanste Zakham,

Some of MM's greatest gems came in films that actually bombed at the box office for being off-beat. Dastak for example ( Bahiaa na dharo, Maai re, Hum hain mataa--e-koocha-o-bazar ki trah.
About his great and immortal melodies not getting a befitting audio-visual support, take this s breathtaking number from Sanjog,picturised on Anita Guha.No offense to Anita ji as a consummate artiste, but commercially, she did not fall in the top bracket)

(And what a lyric - overwhelming flood of great lines by Rajinder Krishan:

India 0-4 / And Prudential Cup Zimbabwe

In 1983 Prudential World Cup, India were 17 for 5 at Tunbridge Wells against Zimbabwe but came back to post a competitive 266 for eight, thanks to a swashbuckling unbeaten 175 by Kapil Dev. (Gavaskar 0, Srikanth 0, Mohinder Amarnath 5, Sandeep Patil 1 and Yashpal Sharma 9) India in fact went on to win that match.
alls from Trueman and Bedser in 1952. They were soon 26 for five. But then followed a century stand between Umrigar and Phadkar and India finished the day at 130 odd for six.

When India were 0-4, a sports journalist from "The Yorkshire Post"got a teleprinter message from his office asking him to correct the scorecard which, the office thought, had mistaken been put upside down. They thought it was perhaps 4-10 (4 runs for no loss) 

Although India still lost the match, they had recovered enough to escape humiliation.

The Way i watch cricket

The way I watch cricket, it is ball by ball, shot by shot --and details of a bowler's action, captain's strategy, the thought and philosophy behind a particular field placement, the batsman's footwork, body position, a subtle change in stance -- I mean every little thing is engrossing and mentally absorbing. Therefore, a cricket match - and even forms of sport - excite me in ways far more than just my interest in a possible result can.

A late wicket by India can keep fans occupied tossinga hundred possibilities in th match - one of them also being a possible English collapse late middle order collapse , helping India tolimit the English lead to around 50-70..All kinds of thoughts to keep our night occupied..

Mungheri lal ke Unseen Sapne

Mungheri Lall ke Unseen Sapne ( Bhi sach hotey hain) 

India can win the Fourth Test against England, though it would require a magnificent resilience and more than their share of luck . ( 'More than their share' because in the previous three matches, the entire team of God's angels of luck acted like Her Majesty's Loyal Servants, and India's share is held back in reserve.)

My hope springs from Indian sporting miracles like Davis Cup Inter Zonal Finals against Brazil in 1967-68 (?). With the rubber tied at 2-2, the final and decider Reverse Singles match between Ramanthan Krishnan and Thomas Koch was all but lost, with Krish trailing locked two sets to one, and 2-5, 15-40 in the fourth set.In other words, the hugely talented Brazilian champion Thoma Koch had a a 2-1 set advantage, and had two game, set and match points.
Half the spectators had already left the Calcutta Tennis Stadium, and it all seemed merely formalities for Koch to complete.

Then came one the greatest and the most stunning come backs in the history of all sports and THE greatest "from the edge of precipice" turnaround in Davis Cup ever.
Kris saved two match points, the first with a classic sharply angled cross court return and the other with a superb 'touch' drop shot which krish was always famous for. It was deuce (40-40). The Indian touch artist produced a dream like return to form, and played like man possessed to sweep five games in a row, and from 205, 15-40, he clinched the set without dropping another game, winning at 7-5..

Kris by was no longer playing tennis. Those who saw the match ( I only heard the AIR commentary as a class nine student in my rural school) -- those who were lucky to be thee that aftrnoon could not believe their eyes.
Kris was no longer playing tennis , they agreed, and it was some flawless divine spirit that they saw on the tennis court, some God of perfection in a dance of joy and delirium with precision and flow and movement all in a dazzling fusion under an awe-struck sky and unbelieving sun.Such was this magic of artistry that the powerful Koch was swept off the floor without so much as even a semblance of a fight in the tie-decider fifth set, Kris winning 6-2.

Record books say that Krishnan won the last set 6-2 but what they won't reveal is the Shiva's dance of destruction on a Calcutta tennis court in July 1966.

Western Media wrote incredulously of " Madras miracle in Calcutta" and said Kris was the god of Oriental Magic.I heard the melody and the beat on which God's feet tapped that afternoon.

At Manchester, another Madras magician could yet revive the oriental Magic.

And what do you say about my memory, writing all of it from pure memory.?? . (This is just a veiled request that errors on facts etc may please be overlooked. But on the actual scores of the rwo sets, my memory will never fail me like it will never fail while recollecting many newspaper headlines almost half a century ago!! )

Religious Non-believer

In the tradition of Albert Einstein and one of its most ordinary and humble subscribers, , i am a "deeply religious non-believer"

But God !! If I open up on the subject, it would run into volumes on the persona of Monseigneur God and his mindless sheep and his chosen local havaldars??And a lot else...

Right now, I prefer to make use of the half an hour available to me to catch up on the desperately needed sleep than on any waste of words on the many controversies unleashed by use, abuse and misuse of this name or word - God......

That said, even though I have never believed in a distinct identity or persona or figure or figurehead or even an idol that could enjoy the status of a singular entity such as God or its equivalent in other languages, it is hard to close one's eyes and mind to the presence of a deeply felt, experienced and even seen and touched (overwhelming) power that runs though every atom , every wave, every pore of every being or non-being in cosmos .

I do not call it God because that is such an insufferably stupid name for something that is so inexpressibly beautiful and mighty.

I invoke Albert Einstein again:

"The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious."

Churches can't make me irreligious

All the churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras in the world have failed to rob me of my faith in God.

And God - what a ridiculous and idiotic name for something with such infinite power to overwhelm us with profound beauty, power and grace !

Miss Juliet Gertrude - a Poem


Miss Juliet Gertrude, Miss Juliet Gertrude-
A lovely flawless Victorian prude 
Who , leaving Romeo mocked and boo’ed,
Married a rich, and properly clumsy dude
Who was really so crude, really so crude
That for her hungry eyes he brought junk food
When her lips thirsted- he called for spicy fluid.

"My life's ruined, Romeo is coward and destiny rude-
Will he return, that Romeo with a romantic brood?
Please tell him I’ve changed my clothes- and my mood."
Oh Miss Juliet Gertrude, Poor Miss Juliet Gertrude!!

Commentaries and I

As I said earlier - or I hope I did - sports is not just a physical thing. A lot of it is played in mind. And as much as games are to be enjoyed, their capacity for entertainment is enhanced considerably by sports writers and commentators.
In my own case, i I think of the likes of Allan McGilvray - who was the first commentator in English I ever heard when I was in fact in school but had a passion for commentaries.
India were touring Australia then (1967) under Patuadi ( which became my fun nickname as a form of revenge by my village folks none of whom knew anything about cricket). I can recall McGilvray's description of important moments in that series, including how he described Pataudi's "tragic compsure" as the Indian skipper braved Mckenzi in an epic innings that stood out amid ruins.
I remember that because of the time gap between India and Australia. I used to get up at 4.30 a.m just to be able to listen to cricket commentary in the darkness of early winter mornings ( pressing my ears close to the radio set at near zero volume so as not to be found out by my stern father and brothers.Only mother would know and she would be worried about my suffering exposure to cold in the dead of the winter.) It is another matter that later in life I found out that father and brothers all knew of my passion and secretly approved of it.
Legendary commentators shaped my mind - the likes of Pearason Surreita, and the BBC string of immortals including Christopher Martin Jenkins ( I can never forget his words when Amarnath bowled Holding to give India the Pridential World Cup) Henry Bloefeld, Brian Johnston - these are the stuff of which language gems are made around immortal moments in sports, especially in cricket.

Cricket is as much about how those men play in the field as about what is talked about them outside that playing arena. No game, with the possible exception of soccer in my village, can match cricket in intellectual gossip, never ending trivia, experts comments, petty talk, myths, legends and written and unwritten literature, including poetry. In fact cricket literature is a genre by itself. I can honestly admit that I owe my interest in the English language to sports in which cricket, hockey, football and lawn tennis played a big part. When I was a sports journalist with Chandigarh based daily, The Tribune, most of my daily reports on filed by me to my desk were often described as "poetry" by Chief Subs, Sameul Banerjee, ( Ajay Banerjee 's peerless father) and Donald Banerjee . For the same reason, I used to have trouble with many of my other subs on the spots desk.
Thus, even though India lost the fourth Test to England when I was still travelling from one end of Punjab to another, I will not be stopped from talking about it.

Snippets from Facebook - also Super Moon

Some festivals carry a subterranean streak of silent pain for some of us.... Brighter and more festive the spirit outside, sharper the slicing edge of that secret the song goes, "baahar to ujaala hai magar dil main andhera"...

"If politician is the face of the system, its backbone still is the bureaucrat.Keep that in mind when you praise or deride either of them."
Indians are very angry with India these days. If India too could speak, I wonder what opinion it would express of Indians in general.Missing: the efficient, faceless and honest bureaucrat who once walked this country by the name of ICS. I have been lucky to have worked with some drawn from the IAS who fitted the classical mould - and one of them rose to be the head of Civil Service in Punjab. But it saddens me that even this first rate officer, whose friend I consider myself without the need of reciprocity from him, was one of the exceptions in the system.

Does Bharat Ratna deserve Netaji Subhash Chander Bose ? Your opinion please. 

( But please don't treat this as a reflection of my opinion on the importance of the award. If the government decides to confer it upon me, I promise not to embarrass the Prime Minister by refusing to accept it. But we are talking of Netaji Subhash Chander Bose.!)

Do not always disbelieve a person who says he is not scared as a husband; after all, not every man is necessarily a married man.

People are always willing to change their opinion about others, if the opinion is good. However if in their opinion someone is bad, that opinon they will cling to like dear life even in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.
Why ??THE MOON THAT WILL RISE TODAY IS AN EXTRA-SUPER MOON - both astronomically and astrologically.This doesn't happen too often. And it happens because this day moon will be as close as it gets to earth in its annual elliptical cycle- the distance reduced from a maximum of 400, 000 kilometers ( 248,548 miles- apogee) to just about 356,896 kilometers (221,765 miles) away. iT WILL CST LESS TO GET THERE TODAY. 


Moon is considered a very special celestial body and is believed to exert great influence on earthly happenings - both scientifically and astrologically. This is most evident in tidal waves influenced by the gravitational pull of moon

There is also a belief that moon affects human imagination - -because of the heavy content of water in human body.
. The closer it is - as today - the greater the influence.The word lunatic comes from Luna ( moon) and literally means " affected by moon" .
We all know why lovers and poets - who feel so close to moon - are also considered a little ( if not totally) lunatic.(The word 'romantic also means extravagant, exaggerated, wild, imaginative, fantastic. improbable, unreal - all drawing their source from imagination qualities attached to the influence of moon).:
You also must have heard of the expression "mooning around".
Thus the special place moon enjoys in the world of arts, especially poetry and music is not altogether unjustified.

The proximity of moon to earth can also cause tectonic effects -earthquakes, geographical as well as in the lives of men !! :)It is said that the greatest number of crimes including murders suicides also happen on full moon nights. So do not go out alone tonight.
Its better to romance - or write poems or draw paintings or compose songs - sitting on the roof your secure homes.

But moon has a pull all its own.

The only way to reduce the impact of failure is to accept it.

In war, both sides lose, and its just a question of who lost more. In trade, both sides win, and its a question of who won more. - Senior Pakistan Journalist Najam Sethi on Indo-Pak relations.

Rakhi: the Hindu-Sikh debate

archaran Bains Harjinder Singh Dilgeer You are great scholar of SIkh history, religion, ideology, philosophy and scriptures. therefore, i must sit on the ground before you and learn from you.

I have a few reservations on the questions you have raised. And in all h
umility, i wish to place these before you honestly and truthfully so that you can remove them or may be remove my misudnerstandings. 

About the Rakhdi practice, I have this to submit humbly: 

Because of the daily social interface between the Hindus and the Sikhs,some of their cultural symbols have got mixed up. But to react to these in extremes may be a little harsh.

After all, the brave people who responded to Guru's call to join his mainstream were all ( with just nominal exceptions that can be counted on finger tips) drawn from the Hindu community/ religion, even though the dominant segment of society at that time were the Muslims.

Its a little unfair not to remember this fact. 

Secondly, one of the main reasons for the spread of Sikh numbers was the custom in many Hindu families to baptise their eldest son as a Sikh.The Hindus did it as gesture of respect for the gurus and an expression of gratitude for their Sikh brethern who were also not Arabs, buut drawn from the Hindu society, as I said above, sir. Thus the bonds between the communities are not just skin deep. 

The Sikhs are a separate religion and that fact must be respected by everyone all the time. But to consider even common social customs as a threat to our religion is probably taking a hard ideological position which is historically indefensible and inconsistent with the brave liberal message of the great Gurus. . Can we deny that most of the non-Jat Sikhs still carry their Hindu surnames - like Bhatia, Arora, Bedi and so many others. In fact Bhai Gurdas ji also referred to these caste surnames in his unforgettable and immortal classic . Waaraan Bhai Gurdas Ji. 

Sir, the point you are trying to make is valid - that ritualism should be avoided and that the Gurus dismissed ritualism as superficial. This is very true.
At the same time, even today, one sees more ritualism in the observance of purely Sikh religious norms - as in the use of incense and holy jyot with desi ghee in our Gurdwaras or even at other places where religious services are practised. No Hindu comes to tell us to do it.We do it on our own. Even Guru Nanak Dev ji's immortal anti-ritualsitic but supremely lyrical and breathtakingly original hymn - Gagan mae thaal.." is sung in gurdwaras and other places by using lamps, incense, chawar and everything else which the hymn implicitly discards

Further, sir, In Western countries, the SIkhs routinely celebrate Christmas as devoutly and with as much enthusiasm and cheer as the Christians do. In some Muslim areas, the Sikhs join their Muslim brethern to perform all the rituals of Islam. This never threatens their Sikh ethos.

The reason for this is that the Sikh ethos and SIkh philosophy are so strong that they need not fear any threat from outside. Minor social customs like Rakhi can have little meaning in challenging the strong sikh beliefs. In fact, that is not even the intention. 

After all, which Sikh household does not celebrate Diwali or Holi and many other relgio-cultural events.?

But they don't observe Ram Naumi, Janam Ashtamai or Shivvratri because these are not cultural events. These are purely religious Hindu occasions and only Hindus observe them. You will rarely find a Sikh visiting a Temple on these occasions.

Rakhi , Diwali, Holi and few other festivals on the other hand fall more in socio-cultural than in religious zone.

Sir, the point really is that instead of being rigid on social customs, the Sikhs perhaps will do well to re-ignite their spiritual energies, and that is not done either by observing rituals or by rejecting them This falls in purely spiritual category. i\I am sure that all Sikhs know it and that is why they see no threat from socio-cultural practices common to them and some other religions. 
The reason why these social customs remain common in different communities is that the dominat catchment area for the Sikhs in early stages were the Hindu masses. Therefore some cultural memory is carried forward without violating religious convictions in their new religion- Sikhism. 

Now, rakhi - or rakhdi as we call it in Punjab - is not a religious ritual. Its a social custom. No social custom can influence religious and spiritual pursuits - neither positively nor negatively. Rakhdi can neither take us close to God nor away from Him. Its just a social thing..

The emphasis needs to be on spiritual awakening rather than on obsession with social customs - our own customs or those of other communities.

If we look at things from an extreme and rigid angle, then even the practice of Anand Karaj will be called to question because the great Gurus did not write those divinely inspired verses of union with the Nirnakar ( paya prabh abinashi) for something so routinely worldly and materialistic as marriage of male and female . The four laavaans are also a continuation of Hindu ritual with a minor change in number from traditional Hindu practice. In Gurbani they relate to a sublime experience. But we have reduced it to just a social tie up of two families based on purely material considerations and relating merely to boy and girl getting together to run a family. 
This is far far removed from what the Guru spoke on those breathtaking words of spiritually inspired moments.

Sir, the point I am trying to make is that the Sikh masses routinely observe social customs which have remained common in society. But where relgious customs are concerned, no SIkh will get mantras recited at his wedding, no Sikh observes Hindu religious dates such as Ram Naumi, Chaturthi, Janam Ashtami or so many other such events. There is no confusion in a common Sikhs' mind that he belongs to a strong and independent religion and its strngth and independence is not threatened by commonly observed social habits that have lasted since centuries>

In short sir, I think in line with open and non-rigid approach advocated by the Great Gurus, we may not take things to illogical limits in trying to distinguish ourselves from others.

In the end,let me point out a strong irony.The number of Hindus visiting Sikh Gurdwars is much, much larger than the number of Sikhs visiting temples. What does it mean? Are they more liberal and secular than us and respect our religion more than we respect theirs.If that is true, then we are going astray somewhere from the teachings of our Gurus.

These are some of the questions in my mind which I have humbly placed before a great scholarly mind such as yours. Please consider them. And if I am wrong - which is most likely - please touch these points one by one. i will be grateful.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Me, ancestry and environment

Almost the first thing to remember about our condition is  that  neither ancestry nor initial environment -the two things that truly shape who we are -are chosen by us. Thus, the 'me' or 'I' that we so obsess with is not something that we can truly take pride in. It is none of our own doing and hence no achievement.
 But yes,if we are happy about 'what' or 'who' we are as persons, then  we know that there is something for us to be grateful for to nature and environment. That can teach us humility and humility can show us the path to happiness.

Me Culture and a little twinkle of redemption

  Sometimes,it appears that generally speaking, we are a generation of Nature's  spoilt  ugly brats of Nature,  with no gratitude and long lists of grievances, each with a million reasons   to sulk.  It is a royal daily march of  imperial "Me" grouses.

Sometimes, it  must get sickening even for  mother nature to keep hearing this  'MeMeMe' cacophony day after day, generation after generation. If  I were mother and had to put up with me as son  with my  current temper and conduct  I would be sorry at what I produced - a mass of ugly attitude walking on two legs, self-centric - with eternally  outraged arrogance as its sole reason for theatricals  and sickening grief, shedding tears into five star hotel beds or writing poems on poverty on gadgets that a whole years earnings of a majority of the inmates here.

Yesterday, a friend offered to take me on an all expenses paid  trip around Latin America to make me forget my woes - one of which is financial stress !!

Yet Mother forgives me and I am allowed to feel aggrieved and outraged  even as I see terminal stage cancer patients and many other less fortunate co-habitants on earth bravely smiling and even trying to bring smiles to others'  faces.

Human kind can be incredibly petty, exasperating - a crowd of  Insolent kids of  nature's  undeserved plenty who need no excuse to be always  complaining . My rights,my respect,my happiness, my this,my that -- at times,life seems to be nothing more than a litany of  "Me" rituals.

And when I go to a library, I find long rows upon rows of books on how to "value my self respect, how to demand my rights, who to claim my happiness, how to stand up for myself. Yes, even on how to "stand up for myself". I was wondering,"Is there truly nothing else that I can be taught to stand up for.? Is there no one else whose rights I can claim for him? Isn't  there  happiness of someone other than me  for which I can be taught to forgo my own."

I didn't find much. But I found a few titles which spoke of how not to allow the world to walk over me, how not to let others - even friends - to take me for granted ! And I found another  which spoke of eastern philosophies of  acceptance as a choice as "defeatist.".

I live in a world proud of its  "Me Culture" and worried that its children might not learn enough about  how to 'stand up for their rights." God! In this day and age, we are still worried about 'my rights'. It even talks of Me time as a treasure. Me with me thinking of me enjoying me in love with me planning for me,protecting me , fighting for me - How sublime! How uplifting!

The irony is that I am yet to come across a "Me culturist"  who is  happy. Each one on this planet is groaning over his  Me outraged by a certain other's act,  a certain look, a certain attitude,  a certain thought or lack of it and even a certain silence of another.. And consequently, 'ignorant armies clash by night' on this 'darkling plain.'

Is there nothing to salvage  this landscape and liberate it from this fatal narcissist grip.?

Can nothing redeem this  landscape of despairing arrogance and this religion in which Me is the Omnipotent God? May be, a  little twinkle, a little gently floating  glow amid all this darkness.It does appear ever so briefly after a stretch of ages.  And then we are reminded that all is not lost. Even amid this ugly , thick and stinking  darkness infested with Me-fleas, there is  a certain Bhagat Pooran Singh worthy of Harmandar, a certain Theresa who desires to turn a city of misery into  city of joy, a certain Jesus worthy of a Mariam's lap, a certain Guru Gobind Singh willing to sing the songs of love after hatred had claimed all his family.

A moment lifted out of  all-enveloping stink,  a moment that rises above this decaying darkness and shines as a little star far above this landscape, not so much to dispel darkness as to point a way out of it - this moment, this messenger of light  compensates for the self-enveloping darkness.