Love in India – With a dash of Politics, Religion and Consumerism


Love, it’s a beautiful word. In all its forms and with all its little nuances, it’s a drop from heaven. The closest we have to God. Love, you hear the word and little butterflies start fluttering in your stomach. Today I will talk about these butterflies. Some of these butterflies are beautiful, some very ugly and poisonous.  I wish to invite you to look at South Asia, in a small village in Haryana, India. Two people were ordered by local panchayat to parade naked in the village. Their fault? They had married because they loved each other, without the consent of their parents.

That’s not a rare case. It’s one of the cases that modern India faces. An India which was home to the world’s greatest civilization and of course its many love affairs.

How Shiva had wept for his Sati? What heart will not fill with grief for their love story? A princess married a wanderer against her father’s wish, he disowned her. The daughter for love of her father still visited him only to be insulted. She bore that. But how could she have bore any word spoken against her beloved Shiva? She burned herself. Shiva in grief and anger killed his father-in-law and wandered across the country with the charred body of his love. ‘Sati!’ ‘Sati!’ I hear his lamenting across time. Sati is born again as Parvati, another princess and reunited with her love.

Krishna! In him we see the Ubermensch of Nietzsche but the one who lifts the poor and downtrodden. The dancing Krishna with his mesmerizing flute stands in almost every Hindu household with his girlfriend Radha. He married Rukmini, that was also a love affair (and a grand one, rest assured). The music of his flute is heard beyond eternity, calling all the lovers to participate in the grand dance of Ras Leela (The Divine Play of Love!).

Will the lovers participate? That my friends is the real question.

Meera, that beautiful and brave queen. She drank the poison and it turned into elixir. The thorns she walked on became flowers. She left her home, her husband, her kingdom for her love and wandered far and far to find her Krishna. (Once she was denied entry into Krishna’s temple. She laughed at the priest. Krishna lived in her heart, how could they have denied her entry their?) Legend has it that her soul found its way into a Krishna idol and the idol burst for two souls couldn’t live in one stone!

And yet the lovers can’t love today. Not in India which is ‘moral’ at least.

What’s stopping them?

Their parents because they don’t want their children to ruin themselves. More than 90% of Indian marriages are arranged and more than three fourth of them without the consent of bride and groom. Dowry plays an important role in these arranged marriages.

Society (people you have never met and yet they influence you). Because love will ruin the moral fibre. Children will go astray when they will see people in love.

Politicians. Yes, they tell people what to do. And they tell people not to love because it is against Indian culture.

Religious/Spiritual Gurus. The worshippers of Shiva and Krishna tell people not to love! It is against Indian culture!

How did love become against Indian culture? Many intellectuals tend to blame British and Moguls before them for this downfall. I will not delve into history. While reading about section 377 (the law that says love amongst two consenting adults is a punishable offence if they do not fit into gendered sterotypes) of Indian Penal Code in a blog post, I read a line, ‘the British gave it to us but we chose to keep it.’ The British scraped it from their constitution in 1960s. We still have it.

I am reminded of another story. The world was engulfed in darkness and only the offspring of Shiva and Vishnu could defeat the demoness Mahishi. Vishnu was born as Mohini and son of Hari (Vishnu) and Har (Shiva) was born,  Ayappa.

An India that worships love in all its forms says love is against its culture.

Then there is another side of the picture. Equally ugly as the first one. Many youngsters ‘love’ but only to have sex. Boyfriends are abusive and rich. Girlfriends are abusive and rich. It’s a race to more sex, more money and more power. And the race is fuelled by consumerism.

According to an estimate, 5.7 billion Rupees will be spent on 14 of Feb, 2016 in India. Valentine, a festival of love is emerging as the biggest market of the coming age. But that’s just one day out of the 365 (366 this year). There are movie tickets, bike/car rides, mobile recharges, cosmetics (which either adds up to, or is usually more than the first three mentioned) and so many other things that go unmentioned and are mostly unnecessary but amount to billion dollar industry.

This youth is not only cut off from its roots but has no sense of growth as well. They can neither count in Hindi nor in Roman and if you ask me, I sincerely doubt if they can in English though they only watch English movies. This is the youth which claims to be educated but has in truth mastered only the art of cat-calling and throwing racial slurs.

There is an old Hindi song which I love:

Babuji dheere chalna, pyar mein zra sambhalna,
Bade dhokhe hai, bade dhokhe hai is raah mein.

Loosely translated it means, ‘Dear sir, walk slower, be wary in love. Too many deceits there are in this path.

So what is the point of all what I have said? Where am I going with this? Nowhere. I have no conclusion to make. I just wanted to put forth some thoughts that had occurred to me in regards to this festival. How it’s almost next to impossible to find love and add to that the parental/societal/religious pressure. Then there are gender stereotypes to be fought with and the corporate’s greed. I am no one to provide a solution. I am raising an issue and wish to start a meaningful discussion which will find a solution. So please join me in this debate and let’s discuss on all the topics I have mentioned.

And what I believe is that love, despite all that surrounds it, is beautiful. Despite all the threats of society and religion, media and market, love will triumph. Do not give hope, but be wary in love.

Image shows Krishna and Radha. Courtesy: Saatchi Art Artist

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The Strange Case of Ms. Drama and Mr. Prose


This post will finally prove I’m not as brilliant as you think, you are forewarned.

When results for my second year examination came, I was not very happy with the marks in Literature, so I decide that I should give the paper again. That was not a brilliant move. You see, if I get lower marks than before I’m doomed. The results will be out soon and I will know what happened to that.

Continuing the story, after deciding to give the paper again I obviously filled the Improvement Form with help of a friend as I really hate paperwork. Here comes the trouble. We had three papers; Poetry, Drama and Prose marked as Paper I, Paper II, Paper III.

And I was thinking I have received lower marks in Drama while I had in Prose, not only that I was of the opinion that Drama is Paper III while Prose, Paper II. That my friends took me on an adventure.

This is how the format looked.

1.________ 2. ________ 3. ________ 4. ________

This is how I filled it:

1.________ 2. ________ 3.  DRAMA  4. ________

This is how I should have filled it:

1.________ 2. ________ 3.  PROSE  4. ________

Now I did not come to know of my mistake untill a week before the paper and when I did find out, I was not as worried as I should have been. Why? I had just finished my novel and my euphoria did not allow me to be sad at all.

So I went to the office and asked the clerk what should I do, as a clerk he had no idea what should I do so he told me to just go and give the paper, I thanked him and came back.

Did I prepare for my improvement exam? Yes, and no. I prepared for both papers half-heartedly. I read Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, The Guide by R. K. Narayanan and the Anthology of English Prose laughing at my good to go brain. I had decide to come both days (1st and 2nd September when the papers were to be given) and talk to the examiners of my Strange Case of Ms. Drama and Mr. Prose.

So that’s what I did, I went to university on 1st September prepared to give the paper of Drama if I had to. I explained to the invigilators of my strange case and told them that the attendance register for the exam will solve the trouble. It did. My name was not there!

And that was something I wanted because my marks in Drama were fine and I had no intention of giving that paper. So I came back and relaxed, picked up The Guide and Anthology later in the evening, read it again and went next day to give the paper for Prose.

This time my name was on the list and I finished my paper in two hours instead of appointed three. So instead of waiting for the time to end I decide to come home and do some work on my novel, which I didn’t; do some beta reading for my writer friends, which I didn’t; what I did was, sat with my brother and coax him into making a website for me, which he had been doing for past couple of days. And while we are on that, I’m going to have a Facebook party for launch of my website and all of you are invited to take the first look. I’ll post more about it soon.

How did university manage the paper?

I have absolutely no idea, they may have put my name for third paper as that was the space filled, no matter by what. Worked out in my best interest.

What did I learn?

Paperwork was not, is not and will not be my thing. I should hire a professional to do that.

Now that, that is over and I’m sort of back on track, let me remind me I have to post the review for ‘A Passage To India’ and I intend to do that very soon, maybe by this Sunday.

So, what tale of your mistakes would you like to share?

Photo Courtesy: http://fetorpse.blogspot.in

What Are You Doing?


In my last post Sorry, I’m busy! I said how I’m so busy writing my novel that I can’t seem to find any time for my blog and that means I haven’t taken a look around at what the bloggers I follow are up to. Continuing that I also said how I am reading A passage to India by E.M. Forster, which happens to be an amazing book. I have written down so many lines from that book I am starting to believe, this is the book that I will remember when I’m eighty and telling people about my most loved books.

Here I’m just quoting few of my favourite lines:

One can tip too much as well as too little, indeed the coin that buys the exact truth has not yet been minted.

Nothing’s private in India.

“We are not pleasant in India, and we don’t intend to be pleasant. We’ve something more important to do.”

… thunderstorms seldom clear the air.

… where his compatriots were concerned he had a generous mind.

I’m a holy man minus the holiness.

Everything exists, nothing has value.

If love is everything, few marriages would survive the honeymoon.

God who saves the king will surely support the police.

Forster has this amazing technique to say things which grasp you by throat. When I tried to read A Passage to India back in April this year on my PC, I got bored and left it around page 70. Then months later I picked it up at a bookshop and began reading. The first thought that came to my mind after reading the first page was: why did I not finish it? There are some books from which you could quote some lines, but this book is one of those books whose every line is a quote.

More about this book with my unconventional review later, as of now I wish to give you all tender-hearted people some good news! My novel’s first draft will finish in 10 days! I’m super excited but a little sad too. The world I had created had become my home and now I will have to leave it. But then I realize it’s a good thing, leaving this new home I will embark on a tedious journey of editing and rewriting and editing and rewriting till I feel like I have drowned into it. Oh wait, where is good in that? Ah well, the good is that the novel will get out into a big bad world and will be ready to get published and face the criticism and applause. I’m looking forward to a million rejections, billion negative reviews and trillion positive ones. Too ambitious? Mark of a novice!

Oh in case you might be wondering how long I’ll read A Passage to India, I may as well tell you that I’m reading other books too.

Social and Political Philosophy by O.P. Gauba.

A Critical History of English Literature, Vol. 1 by David Daiches.

Philosophy of Religion by John Hicks.

Mera Mujhme Kuch Nahi (Nothing Mine In Me) by Osho.

The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution by P.D. Ouspensky.

Long list? Not as long as I want, sigh

So leave a word about what you are reading and writing, so we may find a little time to interact.

Thank you for reading this.

And I’m not bald, don’t get any ideas from the picture.

Sorry, I’m busy!


Now I know that’s like the worst thing you would have ever heard but unfortunately it is very true for me as of now. You already know I’m writing my novel and recently I got more involved in it. I have to do some research and talk to a lot of people about it, I happen to find no time to write something interesting enough. I haven’t read a book I would like to review. Great expectations is still hanging with me, (will I ever be able to finish it?) and I am having all the ideas about my novel and none, not a single one about stories which I am very much interested in writing. Though I have some projects under construction (ten maybe) but I have only done the first draft and not went through them.

Poems on the other hand being the stuff of inspiration are increasing and I’m thinking of posting poetries only for some time. Maybe till I drag myself out of my fantastic novel and edit my beautiful stories (you agree about the stories, right?) I may just have to post some poetry. I although have some great books with me and I would like to review them. But as soon as I open my word processor my novel jumps up to me and demands my immediate attention. I have not told anyone what it’s about, have I? Well here is a little that I think won’t give away too much and still be able to explain a lot. A little synopsis if you will. (This will probably not be the same when the novel ends but still…)

***

After the Aryans nearly wiped the native Indians referred to as Rakshasas (Demons) in their history and forgot them as a matter of folklore and myth, one Rakshasa of a fierce clan is ready to take revenge and no one can stand in his way; not even the Rakshasas who had become their enemies centuries ago for their support of Aryans.

When Ayan finds himself in the center of long fought battles and bloody revenges he knows there is no way out. As he grieves his losses and finds new friends he comes across secrets history has hidden in its intricate stories. How far will he go to know them? Will he be able to face his own fears as he stands to save the Aryans and Rakshasas falling in an abyss of carnage?

I see in you a different future, a future that had never been before.”— Anant to Ayan. Will Ayan create that future?

***

And I picked up ‘A passage to India’ by E. M. Forster and it’s a wonderful book, more about it later.

I resolve to finish my social life. I know that will make me a nerd but I don’t care. I’m busy people! Stop asking me what I’m writing.

Anyways my Internet friends over here, what are you writing now? How close are you to becoming a writing nerd? Drop in and we will chat a bit unless of course one of us is busy writing!

Almost forgot… Yes, the picture is not very relevant.

Edit: None of this talk on my novel is relevant anymore. There have been massive changes and it’s new name is ‘Dronyaksha and The Rise of Asuras’, Book I of Rakshasa Trilogy and the protagonist is Pratham Vyas. For more see my Facebook page or Twitter handle.