May 122010

Two very different instances of religious/caste patriarchs intervening in civil society have come to the fore in the last couple of days. Both are Anti Constitutional. And, its about time the Government and the System said religious oppression in the name of Religious freedom be damned – the Constitution comes first.

The first instance was the Khap Panchayats that has been flexing its muscles for quite some time – excommunicating and killing without consequences. They have got Navin Jindal to tow the line now.

Mr. Jindal has said -

“I and my whole family respect the years old traditions and rituals of khap panchayats. My house is their own home and they can come there any time. I am just like their own child and I can never go against them; rather I always need their blessings.”

Navin Jindal, if you remember, is the man who went all the way to the Supreme Court for the right of Indian Citizens to fly the Indian Flag, and won .

Mr.Jindal has forgotten that the Indian flag represents the Indian Republic. And, the Indian Republic is enshrined by the Indian Constitution . The Indian Constitution states:

14. The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
15. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

If the Khap Panchayat had its way – it is not just same gotra marriages that will be nullified, but there will be penalties to anyone who breaks caste rules . And, as all of us know, these rules – if applied to their logical conclusion – will lead to the Hindus getting their equivalent of the Taliban.

I wonder if a Member of Parliament who is so ready to violate the Constitution has the right to be in Parliament !

The second instance of the Constitution being violated, is the Deobandi’s – who have declared that it is haram for women to work

“It is unlawful (under the Sharia law) for Muslim women to work in the government or private sector where men and women work together and women have to talk with men frankly and without a veil,”

If the fatwa is followed through to its logical conclusion, it would mean that Indian citizens who are Muslim women cannot be the President, Prime Minister, Member of Parliament. They can’t work in a Hospital, a Call Centre, a Hotel. They can’t teach in a co-educational school, they cannot work for a NGO, they can’t work as engineers…. This essentially means that women are barred from most professions except sweat shops where they can sit with other women and sew stuff at cut price rate.

In both cases a bunch of patriarchs want the world to bend to their interpretation of religion, and honour …. I hope that in both cases this is the straw that breaks the back of an communities that have kept quiet — and rise up to delegitimise both the Khap Panchayats and the Deobandi’s. The best way to destroy them is to stop listening to them !!

And finally – i hope everyone remembers that the reason Krishna wasn’t invited to Rukmini’s swayamwar was because he was a Yadav and she was a Kshyatriya princess.

Let us also remember that the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid – a merchant who employed him.

Those who have proclaimed themselves as guardians of religion and tradition seem to have forgotten their own religion and tradition :( -

Sep 282009

Being in love with God. Filled with passion for God. Having a mystical connect with God. Having communication with God that bypasses organsied relgioun. Where you stop referring to God in the terrifying patriarchal formality – and refer to him in the second person. where you fight with God, personify him – dance for him, sing for him, want to marry him … these are just some of the aspects of the bhakti movement. Bhakti goes beyond mere devotion.

Some of the best poerty – be it bhakti or sufi - is a living testament to this obsession. If you listen to saqia aur pila, for example, you will realise that the poet is not talking about alcohol, but the high from loving god.

For, Meera - Krishna was her true husband – the man she married as a young child. Chaitanya saw himself as Radha and the gopis who performed the Raas Leela with Krishna; Aandal was so in love with Ranganatha that, it is said, that the Lord absorbs her as his bride; Jayadeva, it is said, has Krishna come by to finish his poetry.

In a way, Jayadeva began the bhaktification - if one can call it that – of Hinduis, a good two centuries before the rest of them, north of the Vindhyas. His work took away faith from the hands of the priests and put the individual at the centre of the relation with God.

I grew up listening to Jayadeva’s works in bits and pieces – primarily as Carnatic Music . The ashtapadis – or 8 line verses – are fairly popular in Carnatic music ; but i have never heard the Geeta Govinda in the Hindustani Classical style.

Here is M.S.Subhalakshmi in ragamalika singing the dashavatara that forms the prelude the Geetagovinda


And, here is a different take. the music is better than teh video. Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar in Ananda Math – a fabulous rendition of the Dashavatar .


if you know of others drop me a line.

Apr 252009

…. i realised when i was looking through my Flickr Stream, that i have more than a fair share of photographs of places of worship, of emblems of faith. Here are some of my favorites :


The Brahma temple at Pushkar is a rarity – legend claims that it is the only Brahma temple in Hindudom – though i have been to one in the South as well. It is said that Brahma – the creator of the universe, committed a great sin. And, he prayed to the greatest of all Gods – the God that Gods worship – Mahadeva to expunge his sins. And there by the lord’s grace sprung a lake – that washes off all sins. People come here from everywhere to pray for the soul of loved ones, who are no more.

The Worshipper
Mendicant outside the Kizhaperumpallam temple

Orange, the colour of sacrifice. For many of us, a person wearing orange is a charlatan who uses religious symbols to get us to part with our money. but, in many temple towns – the sanyasis and sanyasins – those who have renounced the world – are just that. You wish to give, you do. You don’t – you don’t. they just sit there and see the world go by.

the smiling sadhvi

Lighting the Lamp

What i find fascinating about relgiion is not the great edifices or the theology or the arguments for and against, but faith. Pure and simple faith. The fact that people believe that there exists a set of supreme beings who watch out for them. And, in many of my travels what refreshes me is not the fact that devotees reach out with fear to their God, but love and adoration. And, it is this faith that sustains ….

Feb 112008

Today is [tag]Basant Panchami[/tag] – the day traditionally marked as the first day of spring. It is that period of time when the world is so very beautiful, that love blooms…..

Good Morning, Sunshine....

The [tag]Siva Mahapuran[/tag] describes the first day of spring as the time when the God of Love [tag]Kamdev[/tag] shoots his passion filled darts at Shankara – the Great God of the Universe – to get him to break his meditation and notice Parvati, for legend had it – even the Gods had legends – that if the Lord of the Universe does not meet Devi – the mother of the Universe … there can be no life at all……Never mind that the God of the Universe opened his third eye and burnt Kamdev to embers….the process began. Shiva and Parvati are soon united, and Kamdev himself is revived, so that the universe can thrive..

In the North of India this is also the time when Saraswati is venerated and children are taught to read and write for the first time. NS tells me that in Assam – everyone is clad in yellow – including little girls wearing the yellow mekla…. celebrating the spring festival. In Mumbai too, the local temple was adorned with yellow and orange flowers … making one’s heart bloom
Spring is Here.....
This morning I have been listening to Raga Basant… sung by [tag]Veena Sahasrabudhe[/tag] and it is a trip… I hope that spring means that the cold wave that we have been facing goes away… soon.

Update : Check out [tag]Pandit Jasraj[/tag] singing raga Basant … Aur Raag Bane Baarati… Dulha Raag Basant…

[youtube]h4tdn0DlIYo[/youtube]For all the readers of this blog, a happy spring festival… and may there be peace and love in your lives….

Nov 212007

This from CNN IBN

Britain’s first state-funded Hindu school has come up with a unique definition of ‘practising Hindus’ as part of its admissions policy — those who pray daily, do voluntary work at temples, follow a vegetarian diet and abstain from intoxication.

My brothers and I would manage 25%. My mother , would get 75% , my dad would have been disqualified a long time ago.

I really wonder why the British taxpayer is paying for such a narrow definition of a religious school. In fact, why are they paying for religious education ?

Most Hindus, btw are non vegetarians. The vegetarian stricture primarily applies to the upper caste Hindu (read Brahmin) – and even those traditionally ate meat. I can pull out enough examples from Agastya to Vishwamitra … who were Brahmins & meat eaters….The school doesn’t seem ‘Hindu’ as much as some Gujarati Vaishnavite ISKON version of Hindu….. Trust an organisation like ISKON to take an exciting ‘God’ with an interesting personality and a colourful life — and convert him into something boring and judgmental.

Poor Kids…. they are never going to make good Hindus, and that is such a terrible thing to teach children … that you are failed ‘Hindus’

btw. The Bhagvad Purana is fairly clear that Krishna not only ate meat, but also drank Soma, Hunted, Loved, Married multiple times and was not averse to appreciating the female form…. I guess if he was born today he wouldn’t get admission in the school….:)