Posted in Political History

September 17 Contradictions: Coaxis & Convergence

Not only is September 17 the birthday of our beloved Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, it also happens to be the birth anniversary of E V Ramaswamy aka EVR aka Periyar, who spearheaded the Dravidian movement in the 1940s that led to eradication of untouchability in Tamil Nadu. EVR is credited with gaining entry access for millions of dalits into the state temples that held their doors closed to them until then. In short, EVR bestowed the much denied dignity on hundreds of thousands who were stomped over by the upper classes for centuries playing the ‘caste card.’ To most, it is a legal victory. Only to the traumatized and stigmatized community, it is akin to winning a psychological warfare.

To some of us like me, both Periyar and Modi are equally important. Dravidianism may have fizzled out presently just like the Congress party has lost steam over decades. That does not imply that these entities did not play their crucial roles at very important junctures of time, crafting history.

EVR managed to accomplish what none of the so-called Shankaracharyas of India even dared to attempt. To me this is the ultimate ‘Bhakthi’ or even better, ‘Mukthi.’ To me, the chappal mala thrown by EVR would have been smilingly received as a garland of roses by Lord Raam. That is Ram to me. That is how I perceive Ram. This Ram i know wouldn’t have even wanted the Ayodhya. This is what maketh Ram. Sometimes I wonder why I have to think like this. But then I remember this is also the land of Ramanuja. This is faith to me. This is the dharma that i have come to believe in. I do not respect any culture or ideology that denies fellow humans equality and justice and dignity in the first place. I have written much on this. I trust our Sanatana Dharma has always been far above all this, but selfish groups reduced us to this lowly levels. If at all reservation has to go once and for all, I request the upper castes to consider working in crematorium for just an year to experience what these downtrodden went through for ages. None stops you from manually scavenging either. Denial of social justice, equality and knowledge sharing and messing up with someone’s self respect and dignity – this is cruelty worst than cold blooded murder to me. This is what the upper castes of India committed through millennia. And we all talk about ‘Black lives matter’ when for eons we thrived suppressing systematically fellow humanity. What a wrong sense of entitlement some of us enjoy thanks to virtue of birth.

Of late a lot of demonizing such a phenomenal man as EVR is happening. How much is he maligned, how much character assassinated decades after he left. This must reveal to you something. That EVR was undoubtedly an epoch in history whether you wanted him to be one or not.

EVR cannot be held responsible for the current political scenario in Tamil Nadu just as Mahatma Gandhi cannot be made accountable for the Congress debacle in present times. Denying EVR the credit for what he truly deserves is appalling. The more he is villainified, the more will some of us defend him staunchly. EVR’s views on women for instance! He was far ahead of his times. Much later in subtler tones we had our own K Balanchander make pictures echoing what EVR spoke of in the 40s and 50s. Periyar did not also mince words and did not hesitate from naming and shaming. He called a spade a spade. If it hurt someone, then how about the Panchamas living in the fringes for centuries. They do not even fall within the four varnas. Outside the varna system. If mere words can wound, then what trauma could harsh realities of life have inflicted not for one year, one century but for at least a two thousand years… Not mere untouchability, even unseeability was in force in many pockets of our society, especially in Kerala that gave us Adi Shankara. This was not a 3000 years ago but until a mere 100 years back.

Admiring EVR does not have to prevent one from being nationalistic at heart. Most importantly, Dravidian values need not have to make one any less Hindu. I am equally proud of what our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji is achieving for India, given the complex times we are living in. EVR mattered in the 1940s quite like Gandhi and Congress were relevant during our freedom struggle. Times change, history is in the making, and in modern India of the 21st century, the need of the hour is a man of steely nerves like Shri Narendra Modi who is resolute, determined, selfless, focused and persevering. With him for our PM, our sense of security is reinforced. We know, we are in good hands. Like EVR, Modi ji in a way restored our self esteem and self confidence.

There is also need for Hindu dharma to rise above pettiness in critical times like these. The Abrahamics are waiting like hawks. No one is dragged against his/her will kicking and screaming, for conversion. Conversion happens because, some among us are willing to accept rewards of any kind for promise of dignity in return that was denied to them by the society they have been part of. The converted are our shame! Will some numbskulls ever get it.

Too many self-appointed guardians of Hindu Dharma today out in the prowl doing more damage than they ever realize. Sickening ‘holier than thou’ attitude.

Living a neutral life, striving to remain sane is not an easy job in today’s India. As for me, EVR and PM Modi are two sides of the same coin.

PS: To those of us who invoke Karma at the drop of a hat, has it ever crossed your petty minds that perhaps Ayodhya was also our Karma. Is it possible that Ram with his acute sense of social justice wanted out of Ayodhya when a section of humanity was barred from His holy abode by narrow minded pompous self-important groups? Ram has now returned to Ayodhya because finally on legit grounds, social justice and equality triumphed in India as it never ever did in over 2000 years. Hail Ram! May be this was the destiny of each and every single Hindu temple struck down by the invaders. Hindu Bharatha deserved every bit of this historical correction.

Posted in Food For Soul

Signature

Why did these geniuses want to leave their signatures everywhere?

Some time ago, Kanda Shashti Kavasam sung for Lord Muruga aka Subrahmanya, Lord Shiva’s second son was eye of a controversy. Every Tamil child grows up singing this ‘Kavasam’ and in fact, there is a scientific opinion on the popular Thamizh prayer that, the nuanced pronunciations in the lyrics can keep off Alzheimer’s, for the tongue twisters they are. The same is also said to be true of Sanskrit slokas and mantras such as Vishnu Sahasranama, Lalitha Sahasranama for instance, that are ages ancient. Repeated chanting of these can do wonders to your memory and delay aging process of the mind.

What caught my attention about the Kavasam uproar was that, how Bala Deva Raya signed the Kavasam composed by him at Thiruchendur, one of the six of the ‘Aru Padai Veedu’ – the shrines devoted to Lord Muruga throughout Tamil Nadu. ‘Bala deva rayan pagarndhadhai’ is the verse with which the devout signs off the Kavasam in his name that he first recited in the seaside Murugan temple famous for its Skanda Shashti celebrations during which time Lord Muruga rains arrows at Padmasura, the asura (demon) king, and the enactment continues to this day in the beach adjoining the temple drawing tens of thousands of Muruga bhakts throughout India for the annual occasion.

Hanuman Chalisa is similarly signed off by Tulsi Das.

Every keertan by Thyagaraja, one of the ‘trimurthis’ of Carnatic classical is signed by composer Thyagaraja with invariably the closing verse ‘thyagarajanutha.’

Which made me think, how nicely and intelligently these great men have copyrighted their renderings in bygone eras!

Let me add more names that come to my mind as I listen to devotional music.

I have not observed this trademark practice in Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thirupugazh, Thiruppavai etc. Nor have I picked up anything of this kind in Meera bhajans etc. To my knowledge, few doyens who reigned supreme in the classical music arena have patented their compositions as did some from northern India with their Samskrit compositions – in their own unique way! Clever!

Just found this curious! None seems capable of resisting the lure of vanity! Not all of us want to go down into the oblivion without making sure that we will be remembered forever! I find this signature similar to an artist leaving his/her initials in the masterpiece he/she creates that may survive to eternity. Great kings etched their names into stone masonry on temple granite walls. Some emperors got engraved their vain glory to posterity on their marble tombs. Some in history did not have a chance to leave a signature, yet they remain in our psyche, not having been banished to obscurity. Time has always done justice to these heroes be them scientists or architects or medicos or mathematicians or literary geniuses. Or even noble princes. That is how we have Vedas, Upanishads to Yogas in our midst until today. We remember Sushrutha to Bhaskara. Valmiki to Agasthya. Some signs have been erased by invaders and marauders, some signs did not exist at all, and some survived the onslaughts to reveal to us the history as it unfolded through centuries.

Recently, a time capsule was buried under earth during the ground breaking ceremony for Ram temple at Shri Ram Janam Bhoomi in Ayodhya. That got me thinking and that is how i tied Kanda Shashti and other things to each other. Just connected the dots and found it all absolutely amazing. I shall keep looking for more signatures in whatever literary composition or sanskrit sloka or mantra i may come across for a telltale sign left by the author.

Finally I have this confession to make: i am good at nothing. A mere passerby. And I may be completely wrong.

Posted in Pictures Desi

What is Art.

After 8 years since it was released, i caught up with watching our superstar thalaiva Rajni Kanth’s Sivaji, tamil film, only last evening in Prime. Of course I have loved the songs tuned in by AR Rahman always, given a voice by S P Balasubramanyam. Rajnis pictures are gross (no pun intended) entertainers. I like him over Kamal Hasan in that, he seems to treat his heroines with a bit more of respect. In case of Kamal, I have the opinion that he is vulgar with his women on screen and makes you squirm in your seat. He can never become the family entertainer that Rajni is.

I have enjoyed Rajni’s Robot made by director Shankar in the cinemas starring Aishwarya Roy opposite him. In Sivaji, it was a visual treat watching the car fight scene although generally i abhor violence. Mostly switch off death scenes/violent scenes or fast forward. Switch off tv if they show macabre scenes or present gloomy news with disturbing visuals. No point in carrying that baggage in your mind. According to some people, i am already negative! The truth is, I block a lot of negativity from my life and focus much more on positivity than I really speak about. Never psycho or terror or scary pictures for me. To fill my home with positive vibes, I play bhajans, classical music etc., in an effort to offset any negative energy present. Mind is cleared of clutter.

As for art, i am no connoisseur of art but having a spouse with artistic leaning has helped me appreciate art better. Europe tour was much more enjoyable thanks to our familiarity with art, that way. While most tourists just walked past, we stood rooted for a time studying art and debating the artists’ mindset. Thanks to my husband who himself is a scrap artist as well (he is a self-taught amateur artist) and thanks to my friends who are Rangoli specialists, i am discovering the many facets of art such as myriad surfaces, tools etc., apart from about some remarkable art installations. The art installations are a challenge to our imagination. Thought provoking. They define a new plane of art taking art to another dimension.

In celluloid pictures, i have been able to somewhat guess what can constitute art. By art here, i am not talking of award winning pictures. Art also need not have to be limited to scene settings. Art can be sublime as well relating to frames. For instance, the word ‘art’ hit me when i watched the car fight scene in Sivaji last evening. One thought in my mind then was that, this car fight sequence is like an art installation. Modern art. Abstract. The wastage hurt me nonetheless. Still I have to appreciate the stunts director and the screenplay-direction that came up with such a stunning and unprecedented scene for the first time in Tamil silver screen. Not ruling out the possibility of copying from Hollywood. Or even Bollywood. But knowing director Shankar and his originality, I have no doubts that this is his matchless ingenuity. This is what I thought of when watching ‘Robot’ dubbed in Hindi as well. Once I watched Shankar’s interview and the director said, how ideas keep popping up in his mind and how he imagines them in 3D and tries to visualize them in his mind’s eye and how he tries to match up film making with exactly what he pictured in his mind. This conceptualization that is strikingly similar to his visualization is what his pictures are all about. Great director of Indian cinema. Legend. Many of his Tamil productions are dubbed/remade in Hindi including Robot, Hindustani etc.

‘Prarthana’ the outdoor theatre also used to be my favourite drive-in cinemas by the sea (although the sea is invisible). I think now it is redundant. Not too sure how it is faring now in the digital age of Prime/Netflix and Inox cinemas. Looks like the scene is shot here. No copyright infringement intended. This is what sets Shankar’s films apart.

(This is a dubbed scene from Hindi version 😀 that hardly does any justice to the sequence. Better footage in Prime HD)

To me, anything with an aesthetic appeal to not only your eyes, but also to your heart and mind, qualifies as art. Art is ever evolving. One is reminded of Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’ with its gala science/art museum that is surreal. Art transcends levels and planes and is of a multi-dimension that is beyond one’s imagination here. I am lucky that i could expand my horizons of thinking where it concerns art. The possibilities are endless. The rustle of a leaf in the soft breeze is art as much as the buzzing bee about it. The gentle roll of the waves is an art as every beautiful twilight and sunset. Corona has spared us time to pause and take stock of art that is omnipresent about us 360 degrees. Nature or otherwise. And most importantly you don’t have to have this creative genius to reckon art for what it is. All it takes is the elusive eye that can wring art out of the ordinary.