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A fatal knife called love


Penetrating scars,

held deep and close,

pain of unrequited emotions,

love is intoxicating,

shred of pain,

unhealed wounds,

how do we find closure?

seeking love again,

this emotion running far away from us,

like an adrenaline kick,

jettisoning us in the air,

penning mushy poetry and songs,

ageless like well bred and kept wine,

tasting better with time,

intimate oxymoron,

sensual touching,

running up and down,

balm to heal and hide bruises,

make what you may,

pain gives pleasure,

the passion of trudging the complex and battered route,

no wonder,

we are complex,

carried away blindly,

by this fatal knife.

With love

V

 

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Stillness and a new tune


Enraptured by stillness,

flowing river,

kaleidoscope of images,

a season foraying,

like fallen leaves,

pain,

angst,

every single emotion left behind,

bereft of tears,

i ain’t a rock,

a sandstorm, may be,

what to make of emotions?

constantly evolving,

silence enshrines many untold stories,

tears stopped,

stream of water shall burst,

the soul is lost,

to the sound and whims,

the mood is like guitar,

strumming a new tune,

at every end,

don’t hold on things,

set free the soul,

capturing the mind,

is overrated,

seeking the forlorn lover,

ah! just forget it.

Love

V

 

 

 

 

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Day 1 January 2019


January 4:

I am taking it slowly, one thing at a time as the festive holiday affords the luxury of not rushing too much but at leisurely pace. A fleeting glance at office emails, gulping the scotch, blogging at my pace and started with a new book, Madhu Vajpayee’s I Owed You One.

On New Year eve, I discovered a quaint and cozy coffee shop, Paul, a French brand meeting a couple of Indian folks as baristas. The best thing about the coffee outlet is that there is a main lounge and inside, a smoking room that works for me not only because of fag accompanying coffee but a quiet place where I can afford the luxury of reading peacefully without being bothered by disturbing voices. Such corners without noise, far away from the bustling crowd sitting in the main lounge, have always been a favorite with me. The cherry on cake is that there are huge windows and the fresh air wafts through them, breeze flowing it and admiring the huge trees downstairs. I finally found my happy space.

There was a time when I had a phobia of taking the elevator running down to the ground floor at shopping malls. While taking the downward elevator, it reminded me how I overcame this fear in Pune a couple of years back in the company of my closest friend M. We were hanging out at E-Square, shopping for stuffs and was shit scared in taking the elevator down when she wheedled me into taking a deep breath, follow her and stand on the elevator swinging to the down floor. It took me a while to be convinced to ease out and put my foot on the elevator. We again took the elevator to the top and going down, repeating the exercise a couple of times that instilled the confidence in me. So much for good friends that can help us to conquer the demons and grateful to M for helping me to battle out the fears or else I would never be able to do it.

The couple of regular trips to the coffee shop on the first floor at the mall and just yesterday when I took the escalator down made me hark to the past and winning the battle with the help of M. Friends has always been my constant pillar of support and that’s where I draw my strength from. It’s really strange how taking the elevator this week brought me back to the past and battling out this phobia.

Happy New Year

With love

V

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2018 Hindi cinema: The year when content scored high


2018 was one of the rare years that belongs to the triumph of content, scoring high and mainstream season lost the game. It rang changing times ahead where commercial Hindi films must pull the socks if they want to stay relevant in the age of web content, low-budget and regional cinema gaining an upper edge.  Thugs of Hindostan, Race 3 and Zero bit the dust at the box office in spite of big names like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan showing that the audience has become more exposed to good cinema and will not accept mediocrity. Content and the audience, increasingly restless, are King. Let’s look at the best films of the year, in my opinion.

  1. Andhadhun & Badhai Ho

Shot entirely in Pune, Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun starring the new toast of the town Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu in splendid form and the versatile Radhika Apte belong to the film noir genre, aesthetically treated and a well-narrated script coupled with suspense makes the cut as the film of the year along with Badhai Ho.

Ayushmann Khurana scored a double whammy in 2018 with Badhai Ho and weaving surprises with the wonderful Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta showing that interesting roles can be written for actors in their 50s and 60s, ably supported by Sanya Malhotra. The cherry on cake is telling the story of a middle-aged couple who bore a child and sends a strong message on our ingrained prejudices. Definitely, Badhai Ho is counted among the best films of the year and coming of age cinema.

 

2. Manto & Tumbbad

The latest Nandita Das directed Manta tells the story of Saadat Hassan Manto played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui showing that he is among the finest talent in the country. The film has several poignant moments, recreating partition time on friendship and pain coupled with the climax deeply touching the heart.  Of course, the film has some flaws with much emphasizing depicting Manto but the honesty with which Das brings the story alive makes it among the best stories told this year. Rasika Duggal playing Manto’s wife match Siddiqui acting histrionics.

Tumbbad set in the 1920s Maharashtra is a fantasy film about the curse of greed and wealth starring Soham Shah, directed by Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad. The film is divided into three chapters and edgy scenes coupled with visual imagery takes the breath away.  Tumbbad is a rare gem.

 

3. Raazi

Many think that Raazi, a spy thriller and on-screen adaptation of Calling Sehmat novel is considered to be the best work of Meghna Gulzaar. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat simply proves her range as an actor and one of the best talents that we have today, upping her game where is this movie finds a place in her impressive career graph. Raazi showcases the multi-talented Vicky Kaushal holding his own forte in this woman-centric film.

 

4. Simmba

Blockbuster is written all over Simba where Rohit Shetty takes it where he left Singham and what we get is pulsating entertainment fare that has been missing this year. The film has all the box office ingredients with Ranveer Singh in superb form, Sara Ali with less screen time but has, nonetheless a presence, ably supported with terrific actors like Ashutosh Rana, Sonu Sood and Ajay Devgan in a cameo that will delight fans. Rohit Shetty knows by heart what works for the audience and Simmba is pure masala.

 

5. Stree

A tale where the eerie and spooky meets comedy make Stree as a very refreshing tale regaling the audience with an effortless Rajkumar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor in the leading roles beautifully complemented with foot tapping songs. Funny and scary at the same time, that’s how Amar Kaushik scores and extracting fine performances from its lead cast.

 

6. Padmavat

There is no one in the film industry that can make royal grandeur and opulence look charmingly extravagant than Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The movie faced the ire of bigots, stalling the movie forever postponed but at the end of the day, Padmavat is sheer beauty and poetry in motion. Bhansali’s lucky mascots Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone nail their parts, together with Shahid Kapoor and Aditi Rao holding their own in this splendid period film.

 

7. Padman

R Balki’s Padman with Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor in lead roles is an important film tackling the issue of menstruation, ingrained prejudices against women and dogmatic beliefs. The film raised awareness in reminding us that menstruation is an important cycle in a woman’s life. The lead actors from Kumar to Apte and Kapoor lend depth to the story that could have been a game changer, except that at some point, the message got diluted by resorting to cliché in places. As a whole, the movie drives home a very important point and the initiative must be lauded.

 

8. Sonu ki Titu ki Sweety

Sonu ki Titu ki Sweety is dude film with Kartik Aryan, Nushrut Barucha and Sunny Singh echoing the young generation, love and friendship. Luv Ranjan’s take on love vs friendship is targeted at the youth and changing mores, adding to the foot tapping music making it a breezy fare.

 

9. Sanju

The biopic on Sanjay Dutt belongs entirely to Ranbir Kapoor who is Sanju in every way, mannerism, fantastic dialogue delivery and the life of the rock star who has had a wild past, his encounters with drug, arrest in the 90s Bombay blast and troubled relationship with his father Sunil Dutt. Manisha Koirala as Nargis, Diya Mirza as Manyata, Sonam Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal brings to the fore Dutt’s tumultuous past. Not so much for the biopic factor but performances since it seems to be an attempted washout of Dutt in places. The only brownie is the unfair trial of the media by the makers.

10. Veere di wedding & Karwaan

Veere di Wedding belongs to the gang of girls, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and newcomer Shikha Talsania about female bonding, relationship screw-ups and yes, patriarchy set against women. One of the most powerful scenes is the masturbation that drew the ire of a section of the media but makes a powerful point on women’ right to have fun or desires for that matter. Thumbs up.

Karwaan is one of the most underrated films made this year with Dulquer Salman, Mithila Palkar and Irrfan Khan on a road trip narrating the story of three distinctly unique individuals coming together. It’s a journey beautifully tapping into emotions, passion and human understanding. A slice of life movie helmed by Akarsh Khurana that touches hearts in the right place and an effortless comedy. The movie showcases Mithila Palkar as an actor and she is set to emerge as one of the biggest stars in the coming years.

 

 

The other notable and deserving movies made in 2018 are October, a coming of age and simple story weaved by Shoojit Sircar with fine performances from Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu and Gitanjali Rao. The Sircar and Juhi Chaturvedi combo strikes with force and bringing a sensitivity in our understanding of human relations; 102 Not Out marks the successful comeback of 80s superhit Jodi Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor in this fun-loving father-son spicy comedy; and Hitchki on the Tourette syndrome marking the return of Rani Mukherjee on screen after a hiatus. One of the remarkable messages in the film is on how empowerment and upliftment can go places to achieve inclusive education, class bias coupled ghettoisation of education. The film could have been treated in a better way, though.

Keep watching movies and applauding meaningful cinema.

Love

V

 

 

 

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Day 50: Empty the trash


A year hits an end. Fob off all negativity and anger trash that seeped in during the last era and relegate it to the bin. Don’t take past pain, trauma or pent-up emotions along and wake up with a new light.  I pledge to flush all frustrations down the drain and unburden the self, free from whatever anger bugged or held me down during the last year. Isn’t it the true and real purpose of decutter!

People who hold no meaning in my life would not be given the serum to bog me down or frustrate the mind. So much happened in 2018. I see no point in giving them a leash of life, be it anger, bottling up of feelings, past defeats or the various struggles.There is no point plugging the rewind button for the mind works in an intriguing manner, and giving meaning to trash does little in emptying ourselves. Stop giving importance to things affecting us.

There were several spasm of inward anger when the ire was directed against the invisible foes that made me feel shitty and cursed myself for lacking the spine in calling them out. The same ones who made me feel inferior or thinking I am daft. But, what’s the point in playing this old toxic song all over again. I am plain bored in playing this game that affects me in places, read the mind and ending up leading to frustration most of the time. Slowly, this shit accumulation accentuated my anxiety and depression issue where the mind conks, like the computer getting heavy and slow on days like that.

I need to control my anger in a better way and there were days lashing at people, plain strangers for flimsy reasons, something I regretted to no end. But, then, why cry over split milk and what matters is the attitude in overcoming negativity and minuses. This is something that I pledge to work on during this New Year. Empty the trash. I am repeating it to myself several times that I lost count.

One issue that bugged me to an irritating level was the lack of sleep and imagine the pain of the eye socket opening up at 6 a.m and refusing to close down. I struggled with sleep for several months but thankfully, towards the end of this year, was able to overpower the lack of sleep. I hate waking up early since for me the best time is getting up late. It makes me more productive for the entire day.

Learn and unlearn things, in letting go of not just things, people but emotions fettering growth. Going with the flow and tide is the most therapeutic thing which I hope will, ultimately, happen for me. I am already cherishing the idea of waking up and staying put during the day without chasing the anxiety or negative thoughts looming and affecting my mental state. Sometimes, we hold so much to negative thoughts boiling inside and there should be a way to release the excess energy. The onus falls on me. The change has to be sought and brought within. I pledge that in 2019 small changes will be made and get rid of all inferiority if any, chucking out the toxic past, conflicting emotions, flush out the anger and be more composed, balanced as a person.  I shall strive to be a tiny drop in the ocean triggering the tide lifting humans. A small part, we all can play, to make the world and humans better.

Wishing a Happy New Year 2019

Love

V

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Interview: A Festivelle celebrating BossLady Shruti Seth


There is something very effortless and chirpy about Shruti Seth, gelling and flitting effortlessly with an easy demeanor, being at her candid best on social media where she plays an active role. The best thing about the actor is that she doesn’t flinch in calling a spade a spade.  Sporting her jaunty acuity on her sleeve, down-to-earth and portraying easily the girl next door, Shruti may be an enigma to decode but comes as a real-life stunner.

Is there a 90s kid ushering into 2000 who can feign ignorance on the telly show Shararat? Right, Shruti became a household name as Jiya Malhotra and went on to play in several potboilers such as Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2, Rajneeti, Slumdog Millionaire and Fanaa, the sitcom Rishta.com, TV host for popular shows such as Comedy Circus, Comedy Nights Bachao and had a first stint with Channel V as VJ.

There is no pretense about Shruti in this tete a tete where she narrates the idea behind #Festivelle, a 2-day fest celebrating women, the ‘SHE’ in all moods, co-curated with good friend Gul Panag.  She says with vim, “Festivelle is derived from the word, Fest & Elle, the latter translating to ‘She’ in French, basically a Festival for Women.”

At a time when women are pitted against each other, Festivelle as a concept comes with a clear voice on the need to come together, posing as each other’s strength in creating a niche for the sisterhood spanning across various walks of life.

Shruti enumerates on the project and shares, “Both Gul and I thought that Festivelle would be a great platform in bringing women together to enjoy and unwind themselves without the worry about being pawed and mauled as what ends up happening in most festivals. Our constant efforts whittle down to be behind the vast women talent in whatever length we can and help buck and promote the tribe. A sheer belief that the time is ripe for women to deepen the collaboration with each other since it’s the only way for us coming together as a force to increase our numbers in all respective businesses.”

Curators of Festivelle, Shruti Seth and Gul Panag posing.

The movement has been making waves on social media with #bossladies trending all over the place in hailing the gang of girls spanning across several various walks of life coming as a united force.  What became a razzle-dazzle in the nick of time is credited to the strong belief for women to stand tall as a rock pillar of support for each other.

The actor says: “Both Gul and I firmly believe in standing together strong and always maintaining that women can lend the greatest support to the other and we don’t see why there should never be a reason to celebrate women and their many achievements. Hence, #BossLady.”

A crowd-sourced 2-day event, Festivelle sums up in celebrating the SHE, today’s modern women where there is no dearth of topic be it gender, music and art extravaganza firming the bond. Shruti recalls Festivelle hosted in 2016 was a 2-day festival open to all the ladies, she says, where the aim was in reaching out to women and gauge what they would look forward in a women’s sole festival. She intones, “That’s how we set up the 2-day festival in 2016 but we have decided to alter the DNA a bit. It remains inherently a women-only fest but hoping to bring an added edge by engaging with our community throughout the year through a slew of small curated events before hitting it off with a big tent pole.”

In 2018, smaller events will be unfurled for curated female guests. Similar to 2016, the open to all tent pole event will again take place at the end of the year but, till then, it is not a public event.

“The idea is to stay alive online through the year and simply put, we don’t need to restrict ourselves or confine our actions with the community just once in a yearly basis. The aim is to curate events every single time of the year,” Shruti says.

The 2016 edition of Festivelle remains entrenched in the calendar that was held on December 17 and 18. This year, altogether, the first event, #BossLady was curated in recognition of female achievers being on top of their games and foraying as successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs, says Shruti.

She announces the next campaign in offing will be on Health and Fitness, adding, “Together with Gul, I have a firm belief in staying fit and it’s where women must pay heed to their physicality for strength, health and fitness cannot be traded for anything else. In the same vein, we want to try to rely on the influence of our peers and women we look up to, to help motivate their fellow sisters to give health topmost priority.

It’s been two years of Festivelle which is already bustling with a line up of activities as Shruti tells that the next 2 months is brimming with chattering up on their respective social media handles regarding health & fitness and wellness, as a whole.

As we look forward in welcoming 2019, it surely looks promising with an offline event towards Mid-February with a healthy and scrumptious brunch at a 5-star hotel with the added bonus being health experts interacting with and addressing guests during the afternoon time.

Like for every curated platform fired up with ambitions has its own set of challenges, starting with pooling of funds which remain an issue that Shruti agrees. She explains, “Everyone wants to know why men are not allowed, for instance. Yes, it gets quite tricky but at the same time we are fortunate of having some great partnerships with leading brands coupled with a pretty good turn out not only in 2016 but for our first outing of 2018 Boss Lady, when we garnered the support of Audi and The A has been gracefully and kind in offering us the venue.”

Festivelle has etched some great partnerships with leading names such as Audi, The A, Jacob’s Creek, Brancott Estate, Radio One, Colours Infinity, Just Herbs, Da Milano, Bombay Perfumery, Kaya, Nicobar, Tarz, Longchamp, Tablo & Invision that says a lot about the goodwill and credibility of the platform and its architects.

Actor on sets, Shruti Seth.

The belief in a project laden with long-term goals, says Shruti, is armed with the vision that doesn’t limit itself to entertainment but having as its USP the desire to help and promote women, pushing brands to hop on board quickly. The fact that both curators Gul and Shruti have the commitment of juggling homes, office and shoots can bear its own set of constraints but owing to a fantastic team spearheaded by Layal Ayoub ensured that the curators’ burden is alleviated.  Shruti says: “Layal is imbibed with unique qualities and single-handedly shoulders the entire load that keeps us stress-free in building Festivelle. We are constantly looking for women supporting our initiative and it gives us happiness to have the unflinching and relentless support of Layal for Festivelle.”

Festivelle Boss Lady is fostering dialogues among women. Both Shruti and Gul are an intrinsic part of the Hindi Film industry that witnessed the #metoo campaign that many described as a game changer. The platform’s main takeaway, she says, is that women are plainly fed up.

“Women are fed up of being objectified and treated in a certain way, albeit, callous, of having to fight to earn what is their rightful place at the work sanctity. The problem has percolated for too long that we’ve had to scoff and laugh off, pretending that we don’t care over sexism or remarks of misogynist nature of being dealt with at every single day at work.” Shruti emphasizes.

“Women would like to be treated with the same amount of dignity and respect that their male counterparts receive. Having said that, the #metoo movement that initially gained a certain momentum seems to be losing a bit of ground.  The most important part is to keep going from strength-to-strength and making more noise to keep the impact alive so that it doesn’t turn into oblivion with people going back to their routine lives or it will turn out to be something which happened on one particular month in the year that was.”Shruti firmly believes that the campaign must have a longer leash to bear a bigger and lasting impact on workplace harassment.

At a time when we are witnessing raging issues such as unequal balance at workplace coupled with exploitation, harassment and patriarchy set against the #metoo context, can Festivelle play this role in giving women a voice calling for respect and consent? Shruti says with a flurry of honesty. “We are not taking a specific stand but what we are doing is pretty clear. Owing to the fact that we spearheaded Festivelle in itself affirms that we come from a place of privilege but at the same time we espouse values of a world where women are meted out equality.”

She adds that if in a small way, the platform can make a little dent in the universe, it will be an achievement in contributing something to the girls tribe. “Mostly, the women we engage with are already much empowered and we hope to keep engaging to ignite the fire inside each other that will have a trickledown effect on women’s lives. For us, it remains a huge contribution in itself,” Shruti says with a whip of hope and intelligence.

As a film and theatre personality, Shruti is always active on social media, particularly Twitter and she belongs to the horde of sane voices, never shy in speaking the truth where she is often at the receiving end of a chockfull idiosyncracies trolls. It gets very tough in battling for truth to prevail.

The actor takes it with a pinch of salt but emphasizing rightfully that the ordeal faced is no different from what it is for every single woman present on social media. Shruti remains unfazed, “The larger point is that one has to understand the clear modus operandi at play and once you’ve cracked the code, it doesn’t really affect you that much.” She has advice for both women and men facing the ire of pestilential voices, “Just go with your truth and don’t back down. I keep telling that you don’t have to get abusive or sink lower.” The actor quotes Michelle Obama, “When they go low, you go high.” As simple as she gets.

On the work front, Shruti has a line up of interesting projects on the anvil and she will soon be a judge on a reality show. Fans will see the star in an Amazon Prime Series and another non-fiction series slated for release in 2019. “Luckily, there are lots of super creative projects happening on the digital medium and let’s see what offers come rolling in the upcoming year”.

Shruti Seth is one brand name and a celebrity who is never shy in swaying to life’s ebbs and flows. The actor with an endearing presence having won our hearts as Jia Malhotra is constantly striving to make a difference through her co-curated project along with Gul Panag to make Festivelle a force to reckon with in years to come. Here’s wishing Shruti Seth and her entire team roaring success not only with Festivelle but also the interesting line up of film and web projects she is part of in the coming New Year.

Love

V

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Book Review: Shashi Tharoor’s Why I am a Hindu, Hinduism as culture and not religion


Book Review: Why I am a Hindu

Publisher: Aleph

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Rating: Four stars

Click to buy on Amazon

Blurb on Goodreads

 

 

Introduction:

Hinduism can be interpreted in a multitude of fashion but more as a lifestyle rather than a religion, a glasnost to its adherents.  Shashi Tharoor’s book: “Why I am a Hindu” depicts what it means to espouse the religious values of Hinduism that has always boasted of tolerance and openness while emphasising on the free will to practice religion, irrespective of Islamic, Christianity, Hindu or Zoroastrian faith reflecting India’s plurality, right from the ancient age to modern civilization.  Since times immemorial, the basic tenet of Hinduism has distinguished itself from other religions in embracing openness of faith where the author explains his own personal belief in what being a Hindu holds for him.

In today’s times, the Hindu faith is at a cross-road with right-wingers and fundamentalists dictating an aggressive Hindutva representing a symbolism that Hinduism has never been in the first place.  Shashi Tharoor brings to the fore the practice of Hindu religion from a theological perspective where casteism had no place by showcasing the role and contribution of eminent scholars such as Adi Sankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda but facing harrowing times with a spate of incidents that don’t honor true Hinduism that shaped Modern India.

 

Varna system, Brahminism and Vedic practices:

Shashi Tharoor describes Hinduism as a polycentric faith with multiple structures and rightly points out in the words of Radhakrishna that ‘not all self-declared truths are of equal value’ with Sanathan Dharma being inclusive which has constantly evolved.  An important aspect remains the word ‘plural’ with spiritual leader Dada Vaswani calling Hinduism variously ‘a fellowship of faiths’, ‘a federation of philosophies’ and ‘a league  of religions’.

The foundation of Hinduism lies in the Varna system or what modern economists call the division of labour and hence, it’s a sine qua non to put the entire caste ideology in its historical perspective unlike today where the so-called Brahmin supremacy is enforcing the right-wing practices down the throat with caste making for electoral or religious equations. Unlike the Dharmashashtra through varna-ashrama-dharma, today caste is a bane in our society with a group of entitled Brahman enforcing the self-made rules destroying the image of India as a plural society that suits divide and rule for the political class.

Hinduism was and has always been a very accommodative and democratic faith as enshrined in its culture of folklore, Bhakti, music, dance, and poetry, as well as regional forms of worship, carried in its womb.  There is a need to revisit the old age Hindu worship in the context of the Sabarimala temple chaos looking at the fact that one of the early philosophers Ramanuja not only spread worship but also allowed women in the sanctity of the temple. Call it a leap of faith or something else but the violence against women puts Hinduism in a bad light with ugly politics being played.

An important facet surrounding Hindu religion is the Vedic faith-based itself on the element of rituals and sacrifices, the homans surrounding ‘agni’ prayer rituals surrounding the fire. The Vedic practices involved ablution which Puranas borrowed and integrated the practices as part of its rituals. Ablutions surrounding the fire belongs the Vedic Hinduism which the Puranas imbibed.  The stark difference lies in the fact that Puranas not only incorporated fire ablution but also injected idol worship that was absent from the Vedic way of life. It shows how Hinduism is flexible and is forever in flux.

 

RSS, Hindutva and Indian Constitution

At the outset, painting a picture of a secular India where our forefathers and freedom fighters relentlessly fought so that the idea of nationhood prevails, it stands important at the same time to remind ourselves on the role of the RSS that has always ideologically stood against the law of the land.

Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhaya of the Jan Sangh has always vociferously opposed the Indian constitution which is anchored in its foundation and which guides the RSS till date, opposing the notion of One land, One Nation theory on the ground that the absence of the Hindu Rashtra cannot be the basis of constitution, calling it Un-Indian, albeit, equating Hindu to being an Indian. Known to repudiate secular values, Tharoor infers on Upadhyay dogmatic belief on the constitution which he described as an English child born in India. It can be interpreted that Upadhyay and its ilk’s understanding of the Indian constitution whittles down to impose a Hindu Rashtra, making a ‘dangerous comeback’ with the rise of Modi and the RSS going on rampage in today’s times with the beef lynching or cow vigilantes in the country, threatening India’s values as a nation.

Of course, we are well acquainted with the turmoil, owing to our political history and present-day BJP’s attempt to re-write India’s tryst with destiny. The BJP, an offshoot of the RSS gained prominence to dominate modern politics, right from 2 seats in 1984 to 282 in 2014 out of 336 for the NDA-led alliance by evoking Hindu sentiments and the Muslim threat. The unfortunate politics over Ayodhya, destruction of the Babri Masjid and the Rath Yatra, the oft-repeated Mandir wahin banege’ represents everything which is wrong but, nonetheless helped them to gain a thumping majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha.

The role of BJP and RSS need to be understood in its context in constant opposition with India as a nation. Tharoor refers to Veer Savarkar’s letter of apology which BJP has omitted when the former wrote to the British asking to be released from jail which pushes us to question the hyper-nationalist hyperbole in those days and quite similar to the present Government’s policy of striking a deal with the west, something they always. There is no doubt about it that Minimum Government, Maximum Governance was and is a package sold to the masses yet the party who dare speak about nationalism has no galls in embracing the West to further global economic ties. Let’s go back to the famous Veer Savarkar’s letter:

“a prodigal son longing to return to the parental doors of the government….(If) the Government in their manifold beneficence and mercy releases me, I for one cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English Government which is the foremost condition of that progress.”

The condescending and self-serving attitude of the RSS on one hand and the dichotomy of declaring war on the Indian constitution which in their view cannot be recognized because of the no mention of ‘Hindu’ serves as the biggest hypocrisy in today’s times when the BJP is in power. The 1990s was a dark era in this painful history of India with the demolition of the Babri Mosque and the awaited judgment in Ram Janambhoomi which is dividing the country on religious line, no doubt by the BJP and Hindu fundamentalist organizations like RSS and VHP.

 

Godhra, distortion of History, separation of State and Religion:

 

Tharoor writes on the failure of Narendra Modi as the most powerful Chief Minister during the Gujarat carnage where innocent Muslims were massacred. The army was called after three days and the rulers have a lot to answer following the pogrom so much that Modi received a public rebuke by then PM, the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Modi days was counted in power but saved in the nick of time through the personal intervention by LK Advani.

Tharoor writes on the Hindutva vs secular India where the big question among liberals is: Will the constitution tame Hindutva or will the latter transform the workings of the constitution?

As India readies for 2019 mission and names changing from Allahabad to Prayagraj coupled with the distortion of Indian history continuing unabated with poster boy in UP Yogi Adityanath posing as the BJP trump card among the staunchest Hindus, several questions loom large on the destiny of the country.

It makes sense to quote the Hindutva ideologue K N Govindacharya who pressed for the amendment of the Indian constitution and declaring war on the idea of individualism against the Indian value system. He joined Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in rejecting the nature of constitution, pressing on the need to delete secularism, pretty much like human rights. The biggest dichotomy is the wrong use of checks and balances by fundamentalist in hitting at absolute freedom, inferring to ethnic minorities.

The distortion of Indian history with the present BJP in power cannot ignored with facts staring straight at us with his lame attempt to wipe off the mention of Mughal Muslim rulers in the Maharashtra Education Board class history book be it Razia Sultan, Muhammad Bin Tuqlaq where the educational system is witnessing a non-existent battle for Hindutva warriors. Of course, Rana Pratap is lauded as the Hindu warrior and Tharoor rightly argues on why Akbar and not the former ruled the country for three decades or Chattrapati Maharaj, seen as the most secular in Maharashtra replacing Muslim Kings. It remains the biggest irony in the attempt to colonize our rich legacy by Hindutva forces.

We are hinging on a dangerous path looking at assaults on writers, barging on the sets of Padmavati and trashing art exhibitions which loom large on us as a nation that once prided itself as the land of Kamasutra. The hatred when a respectful painted like MF Hussain was forced out of the country and one thing Tharoor fails to point out which I understand on account of being a politician on how all political parties, including the Congress Party played ugly politics and for that matter, Salman Rushdie wasn’t even spared the iron rod.

This is not Hinduism but brand Hindutva since the religion has always prided itself in being tolerant and accommodative of all faiths showcased through rituals which Tharoor himself points out. The whole whataboutery what if a Hindu painted Allah or MF Hussain didn’t paint figures belong to different religious faiths.  I think we tend to make a dangerous analogy. I concur with Tharoor. As a  Hindu, there is no insult on our faith but a metaphor on the form or description of a woman. The worst part is we worship our Goddesses confined in temples when many sick or deranged minds doesn’t think twice in assaulting or exploiting women, relegating them in the kitchen not just in India but where our Hindu population migrated across the globe. Patriarchy in reverse!

Tharoor rightly ignites the debate on the place of Khujaraho erotic sculptures, devadasi tradition, Kamasutra if not in the Hindu Sanskriti but where else, something I am proud as a person born in a Hindu family. This Puritanism doesn’t augur well with our faith when it comes to our erotic sculptures, embedded when intolerance looms large.

This quote holds significance on the relation between Hindu religion and erotic sculptures, inferred by the Indian Supreme Court judgment:

“Ancient Indian art has been never devoid of eroticism where sex worship and graphical representation of the union between man and woman has been a recurring feature…even the concept of lingam of the God Shiva resting in the centre of the yoni…representation of the act of creation, union of Parakriti and Purusha. The ultimate essence  of a work of ancient India erotic art has been religious in character and can be enunciated  as a state of heightened delight or ananda, the kinda of bliss that can be experienced only by the spirit.’

 

Cow Violence and Hindu Chauvinism:

The biggest irony about the BJP clean sweep to power was built not just on Hindu chauvinism piggy backing on the Modi wave but the reality was with a fair majority of voters not adhering to the Hindutva brand of hatred but on principles of economic reforms and investments. It was about the aspirations of the Indian middle class suffering a lot and let’s be honest, towards the end of its mandate UPA-2 was in free fall with rapes and violence against women post Nirbhaya, corruption and the price of basic essentials sky rocketing. People wanted change.

The unfortunate truth is the Modinomics has lost its significance with a bunch of idiots asking Hindu women to bear 10 children showing the scant respect of the RSS or BJP extremist brigade for women. Unfortunately, the PM himself has given a free rein to the loose-canons shouting hoarse about love jihad, forced conversion to Hindu with fanaticism riding high courtesy the lumpen political or religious elements.

The statistics are telling and rightfully so, Not in my Name as a Hindu stands important when we see the cow vigilante spreading fear, lynching and the killing of innocents over beef. The statistics make for a huge revelation with 63 percent of atrocities committed against the Dalit in states such as UP, Bihar, MP and Rajasthan attributed to cow vigilantism, triggered by Hindu Chauvinism moving with impunity due to the Government inaction. If this doesn’t scare us as a society, I don’t know what will in a plural society.

Of course, the author painstakingly goes through the hate crime subjected to one Muslim, Mohammed Akhlaq mob lynched and his son nearly beaten to death for keeping beef in the refrigerator which turned out to be mutton.  The worse is the perpetrator of the crime was draped in the national flag. Such a dishonour to our Indian tricolor and it shows that since the BJP has been in power innocent Muslims, Dalits and defenceless women are paying a heavy price, for something as insignificant as meat.  Now, who is the biggest anti-national?

The irony is that so many Hindus have consumed beef since times immemorial fits with the origin of Hinduism, Vedic practices. Tharoor does well to dispel the myth by referring to the Dharmashastric literature, Taittriya Brahmana with the cow as food or Vasaneyi Samhita supporting that the meat was eaten in those times.

Hindu Nationalism is not Indian Nationalism. The author rightly urges all Hindu to protest loud and clear to stop this divisive politics.

“When I say God, I don’t mean a particular God.”

These are the highs in an age of hatred that should make all of us feel proud being Indian and a rare instance where a Hindu priest is quoted telling someone.  This represents the true essence of Hinduism.

 

Concluding Remarks: Plural India

India, as a secular democracy cannot thrive on hate politics. The basic fundamental of freedom is enshrined in Roti, Kapda aur Makaan but also our liberty to practice religious beliefs and values.  As rightly remarked by Tharoor, Hinduism has always ensured the secular way of life in terms of religious freedom, its inherent flexibility and adaptability foraying into the post-modernism age with no self-imposed views. He stokes the debate on the need for all of us to speak of Hinduism as a culture rather than a religion for it has always been a way of life rather than a religion, unlike Islam or Christianity.

“I say this not as a godless secularist but as a proud Hindu who is mortified at what his own faith is being reduced to in the hands of bigots-petty men who know little about the beliefs, tradition and history of faith in whose ‘defence’ they claim to act.”

It couldn’t get better than that for we have always seen the dearth of knowledge about religion waging an aimless war making them ridiculous. High time we get rid of this dangerously communal rhetoric and threatening other ethnic groups by forcefully claiming, ‘Garv se Kaho Hum Hindu Hai.’ There is no pride in beating innocent people to death and the misogynist or raping of women hailing from minorities such as Muslims or Christians. Today, India must resist this Hindutva politics of hatred, distorting not just constitutional values but wiping our history.

If the recent state elections are something to go by, one can safely say the Hindu belt in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan rejected the politics of hatred, religious chauvinism and crushing of minorities that has dealt a huge blow to the BJP and RSS politics of hatred. India deserves better as a country for we have always been known for love, tolerance and not hatred.  There is a huge difference between Hinduism and Hindutva, about time we restore the lofty principles of the former.

 

Love

V