A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coffee House

My non-mythological short story which was published in a Blog -

Coffee House – By Utkarsh Patel



Please feel free to send in your comments on the same.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hunger-strikes – Modern-day Relevance (Part 2)

In the last article we read about the historical and mythological references of hunger-strike. Today we will talk about the present-day relevance of the same.

Is fasting-unto-death a good means of protest?
Let’s say it is. Just as occasional fasting cleanses our physical self, fasting for a cause will cleanse our national self, at least that’s the initial belief and we will go ahead with that. It will give vent to the cause to surface and gain recognition especially when the nation is going thru such a terrible crisis. After all Gandhiji did manage to get freedom, stop riots, etc. didn’t he?
Let’s say it is not. Why should a nation fall prey to an individual’s idiosyncrasies of trying an archaic weapon to hold sway to a democratically elected government? In the current times, is this a matured way of fighting for a cause? Why should the state machinery be invoked to tackle a potentially huge law and order situation which can get riotous at the slightest of provocation at such ‘congregations’?
Is this really a potent weapon? As long as some of these fasts are undertaken by the well-known members of the civil society, it’s ok. Morphine when used pharmaceutically, converts into analgesics or painkillers used for many medical purposes. The same morphine can be abused by creating heroin for illicit usage leading to drug abuse. What if we have some key criminals in Tihar Jail resorting to fasting unto death if they are not given bail? Should the government decide to sit at the discussion table to negotiate with them? (This is not to be taken in a derogatory sense nor should be seen as a comparison of the Tihar Jail inmates with the recent followers of hunger-strike, this is just to bring a theoretical reference to the abuse of a potent weapon, something akin to a kitchen knife being a kitchen implement for a cook but a sharp weapon in the hand of a deranged violent person). The whole idea of the said analogy is to impress upon the fact that the times of fast-unto-death are probably over. It does not work well, especially in a democracy. Please note that all the hunger-strikes that we have seen in history were against autocratic and fascist regimes. A democracy gives you many more weapons to fight the war – condition that the electorate has to remember the issues that matter to him/her and not given in to short-term material gain and idolization of individuals. Today we have elections, referendums or plebiscite, judiciary, media, etc. to resort to. A fast-unto-death is no more a potent weapon in a modern democracy, and we have seen that in the case of Jessica Lal murder case, where judgment was reversed due to media and social pressure.
In the current scenario, let us examine as to how helpful was the fast by Anna Hazare and the role of the government, who henceforth will be referred to as politicians to drive home my point. Anna Hazare’s fast received a nation-wide support, unexpected to both Anna’s team and the politicians. Before the initiative became a movement and Anna earned his halo, the politicians bent down and so-called accepted his demands and decided to talk. The politicians decided to give in to their demands and agreed to form a joint group. The fast is called off and Round 1 goes to Anna! Round 2; groups are formed; marred by initial comments by the politicians and their plants leading to some discomfort, but tackled. Allegations and mud-slinging goes on and off, and cross-discussions lead to minor squabbles. Round 2 is a draw with nothing significant happening. The discussions begin and the politicians now show their true colour by not agreeing to anything that Anna’s team said and behind the closed doors there is chaos. The matter is debated and dissected to no end till the sheer brute force of the politicians frustrates Anna’s team to withdraw from the discussion table. Round 3 go to the politicians. Now Anna wants to go on fast again. People are beginning to get bored with the whole issue, and the movement has been reduced to an activity by a well-meaning person, with little sustaining power. Round 4 seems to be going to the politicians. This is the classic artwork of true-bred Indian politicians! Outwardly they bent to concede a short-term victory, but internally made life difficult by creating roadblock every moment, till the subject matter had taken a backseat in the collective mindspace of the people in general. What happened with Baba Ramdev was no different and to quote a leading newspaper which sums up the whole episode – “first the licking then the kicking”! That’s our men who we take pains to elect or rather do not take pains to elect by staying away from the process of elections.

It is important to remember that the current day politicians are not Nehru, Patel and Azad anymore just as the fasters are not Mahatma’s any more, needless to say that the India of 2011 is not India of the 40’s anymore. In such changed scenario, does fasting-unto-death work?
You tell me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hunger-strikes - Mythical Allusions

Suddenly everybody seems to be fasting for a cause. First you had Anna Hazare and his team, then you had Baba Ramdev, and soon Anna again. The moment we speak about fast-unto-death, parallels are drawn with Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent weapon to bend the administration. Someone wrote recently that Gandhiji is supposed to have gone on hunger strike some 17 or 18 times and all have had successful outcomes. So was Gandhiji the one who introduced this weapon?
The answer is a No. This probably happens since the concept of non-violence is so closely attached to him that he seems to be connected with hunger-strikes too. But history bears testimony to the existence of hunger-strikes and so does mythology (can’t shake this one away!).
The pre-Christian Ireland had seen hunger-strikes as a means of protest from a very early stage. The patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick is supposed to have gone on hunger-strikes against god! The Irish followed a code-of-conduct (so as to say) for fasting as a means of protest. This was done at the door-step of the offender. This was probably done since offering hospitality to someone at ones doorstep was a very important gesture in those days, and someone dying at ones doorstep for lack of food and nourishment could be seen as a great personal disfavor. There were a number of causes for such fasts, and not necessarily all public causes, they could be as personal as recovering ones debts too! Many other parts of the world have seen instances of hunger-strikes as a means to protest in the Western world like US, UK, etc. long before Gandhiji made in popular during the freedom struggle.
Fasting has been an integral part of nearly all the major religions, be it Hinduism, Christianity, Islam or Buddhism. The fundamental rationale for fasting is either some sort of a sacrifice by abstinence or a penance for some act/s. Needless to say that there were scientific connotations of cleansing the system but that is not the main aspect of the act of fasting. It remains an act of abstinence and in the long-run leading to a sense of control over ones senses and the selfish impulse of gorging on food. This was intended to be done for a better self-control and also to atone for sins committed both knowingly or unknowingly. I don’t intend to get pulled into merits of fasting as that is not my immediate focus. The focus is fasting as a sign of protest, or better known as a hunger strike.
One such reference of hunger-strike is found in Rmayan. When Bharat follows Ram to the forest to get him back to Ayodhya, and Ram would not budge from his decision, there is a reference of Bharat plucking some Dhruva grass and lying on it protesting to go on a hunger-strike if Ram did not join him back to Ayodhya. However, Ram manages to convince Bharat about the futility of the exercise and convinces him no to do so. Another reference is again from some South Indian version of Ramayan. According to this version (not verified however) during the rule of Ram, there were no instances of death due to premature birth. When one such instance happens to a Brahmin, he takes the dead body of his child and sits outside the doors of Ram’s palace protesting by resorting to fast-unto-death, if his son’s life is not restored back. Ram immediately calls his council of ministers along with Narada Muni to deliberate. After deliberations, it was concluded that something was happening which was against the rule of religion. Ram set out on his flying vehicle only to find that a low caste individual by the name of Sambuka was conducting some yagna to enter the heavens which was against the law. When he did not heed Ram’s orders to stop, he was killed and no sooner Sambuka lost his life, the child came back to life. This example, better known as ‘Sambuka the Shudra’ is not verified as this could to be a plant by the champions of the anti-Aryan movement who have planted many small bits to look down upon Ram for a larger political agenda. I have only used this example to show the aspect of hunger-strike as a means of protest without taking sides.
Greek mythology also has an instance but in an oblique reference. It is the myth of Demeter and Persephone (Please refer to the article dated 27/03/11 in the same blog). According to this myth, when Persephone was forcefully abducted to the underworld by Hades, the god of underworld, she resorted to a hunger-strike to protest against her kidnapping. However, she could not sustain the fasting for too long and had to break the fast by having some pomegranate seeds.
Both in history and mythology, such protests seem to have yielded results and we have seen or read about them. But in the 21st century modern democratic world, is this a good weapon? Does fasting work as well as it did or has the weapon lost a bit of its edge?
Next time we will see how potent is this as a weapon in today’s world.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Letter to the Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union Leader

Respected Sir Mr. Union Leader
 (Dual salutations are necessary to honk-in the attention of the individual)
With the rain gods having answered our prayers, I am hoping you too would be influenced and impressed by your peers (you are close to attaining the status of gods) to listen to the pleas of mere mortals like me who have to rely on your three-wheeler force which has been unleashed on the streets of Mumbai.
To begin with, I would urge you not to take offence to my request, since we cannot afford a strike of your forces which you have already threatened (though I am not sure how your forces can afford to miss a day’s earnings). I beg of you don’t do so, as we have come to understand that your force is not dependent on us (at least their vanity implies so), it is we who are dependent on your force (however contradictory this may sound to the economic concept of buyer and the seller relationship).
My first request is that if we do make an error of hailing one of your forces, can the person at least look at us and acknowledge us? If this is not asking for too much, then I can go on. Can he also listen to us as to where we want him to take us? We only do so since he does not carry a route board like the Buses do, telling us where they go, so we never ask them if they would take us elsewhere. If this is a crime, then can your forces write on their chariots as to where they ply, then we won’t commit the crime of taking him where we want to go.
I am sorry for the impertinence, but I am hoping you are still reading.
My second request is can we expect your forces to understand that Mumbai has street-jams during office hours and so, during those hours, traffic would be slow anywhere and everywhere. If this is well understood, then they would not have to rudely (apologies for this word, but many feel that this too is an understatement) tell us that he cannot go on that route as there would be traffic. Don’t tell us what every kid in the city knows.
My third request is similar to the above. Thanks to the inefficiencies (a word I am sure you would empathize with) of the BMC, the roads and the drains of Mumbai are at an all-time low (both literally and figuratively) and the rains only add to the troubles of the road, (leave we mere mortals alone). So to say that some road would be very bad and there would be water-logging, etc. only means repeating what again every kid in the city knows. If all was well, wouldn’t we have taken a bus? I apologise once again to compare your supposedly divine three-wheelers with those mammoth eight-wheelers, but please treat it as a slip of the keypad of my silly laptop.
Thanks for being so understanding, and I am again hoping that the paper is in your hands and not under one of the treacherous wheels of your divine chariot.
Finally, the cops and the government tell us that an auto is supposed to ply anywhere and we passengers simply need to board the vehicles and then tell (‘tell’, I repeat, not ‘ask’). At the risk of hurting your sentiments by invoking such elements who simply  hurl rules without knowing how to implement them and knowing fully well that you and your forces care two hoots for such rules, can I ask you if such ‘meaningless’ rules are far from the truth? If public vehicles like that of yours are going to act as per their whims and fancies then what are they ‘public’ vehicles for?
Further, isn’t the rustic arrogance of your forces slightly (or is it highly?) misplaced? For the sake of a theoretical discussion, just try to imagine (please…try…you might just exercise your brain after a long time!) a state where all Mumbaikars decide to boycott your forces services (Sir, please don’t laugh so loud……adversity makes people come together and if you are educated enough, then you must have read about recent minor revolutions both within and outside India), then what would your ilk do?  Sell vegetables or go back to the state of penury they have come from or learn some new trade (along with the tricks of that trade of course).
Then why push us passengers, to the wall? If this profession is not suitable to your forces, ask them to leave it for more worthy and needy folks, instead of earning the wrath of the same people who pay for their livelihood. Gandhiji (I am assuming you know him as all political leaders quote him without taking him seriously) had said ‘customer is god’. Technically we are referred to as ‘passengers’, but then we are customers nonetheless, and if you can’t treat us like gods (apologies on behalf of Gandhiji), please treat us like human beings at least! We are not asking for too much, I presume, after all, we have never asked any of them to ply us for free and nor have we asked them to stop the meters during traffic-jams.
Before we lose our civilized ways and get down to rustic mannerisms (by hammering the shit out of some of them – to use some lingua franca), which though might not befit us and could happen only in utmost provocation (and we are just a few degrees away from that state) wouldn’t it be great if you could impress upon your forces to behave, instead of being one of them? Unless you think that to be where you are, it is important to agree with them, else you could be thrown out during the next elections and all this is for the lust for the position which many of you have it by sheer use of brute force. Even if we do tend to understand and empathize with your compulsive inefficiencies, we don’t have to take it for long. The water level is rising (Excuse me, I was not referring to the rains…this is metaphorically speaking!) and it won’t be long before it crosses the bearable limit.
This whole letter is only to communicate that change or you and your dirty-ilk will be changed! Challenge and threaten and you will meet your waterloo (please don’t separate the word into two different words – not having water in your loo is anyway something you deserve!).
Once again if I have hurt your sentiments, then it was intentional and needless to say, I don’t regret it a wee-bit and would repeat it if need be.
Yours irritatingly,
A harried and terribly troubled Passenger

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Having gone through the rain gods and the myths associated with them, it’s now time for the Rainbows, the beautiful seven-hued arch that is seen in the sky sometimes. It is one beautiful natural phenomenon that is a pleasing sight for all. When science had not explained this occurrence, our forefathers had tried to answer this colourful arch in their own sweet way.
In majority of the mythologies, a rainbow was an occurrence after the massive destructive flood that destroyed all living things on earth. This flood was a punishment lashed out by the gods due to the ill ways of mankind. Post the flood, new life had sprung all around and the gods have not punished mankind ever since.

Noah and the Arc of Covenant
 According to the Biblical mythology a rainbow is a sign of the Covenant (promise) made by God to Noah after the massive deluge that had destroyed every living thing on earth, that there would be no such deluge again           
Ø  Seven Noahide laws that emerged out of this covenant came to be symbolically represented by the seven colours of the rainbow.
Ø  The Noahide laws are considered basic principles of living righteously in a civilised society and a path to achieving salvation.
According to the Sumerian mythology, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the rainbow is “jeweled necklace of Mother Goddess Ishtar” that she lifts on the sky, never to forget the destructive flood that destroyed her children
According to the Australian Aboriginal myth, after the floods, the rainbow was used by the Supreme Being to ‘tie’ the rain-clouds and thus to hold back the rains.
However, not all cultures relate the rainbow with the destructive floods.
As per the Greek mythology, the rainbow was considered to be a path made by Iris, the messenger, between Earth and Heaven. The Navajo of the Red Indians too believed that the rainbow was a bridge that covered the distance between the earth and the heavens. Some called it the gateway to heavens and when it showed up in the sky, it meant that the gods had opened the gates of heaven for some souls. The colours of the rainbow depicted the magnificence of the heavens.
As per the Hindu mythology, rainbow or the Indradhanush is the bow of Lord Indra, the god of lightning, thunder and rains.
As per the Chinese mythology, the rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by the Goddess Nuwa using stones of five different colours.
The Buddhists associated the seven colours of the rainbow with the seven regions of the earth. The rainbow is considered to be the next state to achieve before attaining Nirvana and the region where there was nothing individual. All related to ‘I’ and ‘me’ is eliminated in this region.
The Nordic believed that the rainbow was a bowl which god had used during his creation of the world. The Incas believed it to be a gift from their Sun god while the Arabians considered it to be a tapestry woven by the wind.
If you thought that all cultures associated good things with the rainbow, then wait till you read this.
There have been cultures that associated negativity with the rainbow. During certain period of the Japanese culture, a rainbow was seen as a bad omen, as it resembled a snake which was a symbol of evil. The people from Honduras and Nicaragua would consider the rainbow to be an act of the Devil himself and would hide inside their homes till it passed away. They would not even look at it, fearing that watching it would earn them some sort of a curse.
However, there aren’t too many references of negativity associated with the rainbow. Majority have seen this natural phenomenon as a beautiful and colourful aspect of nature. The mythological references of a rainbow too have something good to associate with as we have seen above.
So next time you see a rainbow, see it differently – put on your mythological cap and enjoy the beauty of a rainbow afresh!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rain Gods – Lord Indra

Indra was the King of gods and also referred to as Devendra, god of gods. The Vedic Indra was a very important god of the Hindu pantheon but by the Puranic times, the status of Indra had been significantly lowered, especially due to the rise of other gods like Vishnu, Shiva and others. Our focus here will be Indra of the Vedic times.
During the Vedic times, Indra was amongst the most important gods along with Agni and Surya. Indra was the god of skies with thunder and lightning on two of his hands and according to some hymns was the twin brother of Agni, thus was the son of Heaven and Earth and as we saw earlier, Indra was responsible for separating the two from the eternal embrace.
Indra killing Vrtra
However, the most important aspect of Indra is his conflict with Vrtra who is variously depicted sometimes as a demon and sometimes as a serpent. Vrtra is derived from the root word vr which means “to cover or to envelope”. In the Vedic times when rains became a need of the pastoral life, then Indra became the heroic rain god. He was also seen as a fertility god with his consort Indrani who stood for earth. Indra thus was the god of rains as well as fertility (no different from the other cultures as we have already seen) and his principal adversary was the cloud demon who had hidden all the waters of the land within itself. There are numerous hymns depicting the battle between Indra and Vrtra after which Indra vanquishes the demonic Vrtra to release all the waters from Vrtra as rain. 
Another reference of this confict says that Vrtra had taken control of all the five elements of the world, viz. earth, water, lustre, wind and ether collectively the life-sap of the world. The battle rages and Indra releases one by one each element after smashing Vrtra with his thunderbolt. There are a number of references of Vrtra all in different forms, which come in conflict with Indra with the latter being victorious at the end of it. The entire conflict is to be seen in the form of natural occurrences, every aspect of which is found in nature. The clouds gather all the waters only to release at a point of time. When the clouds get heavy and they don’t ‘release’ the waters, thunder and lightning force them to release the same. The conflict between Indra and Vrtra brings out this seasonal phenomenon very beautifully.
Many scholars have opined that Indra was a mortal hero who during the Vedic times was elevated to a divine status. Acts of his heroism and valour are captured in numerous hymns in Rig Veda. He was demoted from his position during the Puranic times where his role was limited to sending apsaras to seduce sages and relatively minor gods too could hurt his much-maligned status. But that is another subject. All said and done, Indra continued to be the king of gods and the god of rains of the Hindu pantheon.

With this we conclude the myths of Rain gods.
After rains comes the rainbow…..Keep reading....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rain Gods - the deities

Last time, we read about the primeval mankind’s explanation of rains. We will now take up a few examples of rain gods in different cultures.
Zeus and his thunderbolt
According to the Greek mythology, Zeus, who was the King of gods, was also the god of the skies and rain. Zeus’s weapon was the thunderbolt which he would hurl at anybody who would displease him, thus the thunderbolt became a dreaded natural phenomenon and till date, a thunderbolt destroys wherever it falls.

The early Egyptians considered Min to be their god of rains whose symbol again was the thunderbolt. This god was quite similar to Zeus, though not in the hierarchy of the pantheon. Min was the rain god who aided the growth of grain and was thus also a fertility deity. During the later times, the Egyptians also worshipped Tefnut, who was a goddess. The name of the goddess is derived from the root tef, which meant “to spit or to be moist” and nu, which stood for the “sky” or the “waters”. Together it implied the waters which came from the sky. This also implied that Tefnut was worshipped as the rain-goddess, though, there isn’t much clarity on her role as a rain-deity. However, she is again sort of an exception as all the deities of rain were male unlike Tefnut.
According to the Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was the god of rains and fertility and was a dreaded god. Appeasing Tlaloc was a ritual by itself and he was so feared that people then thought that if he was displeased then he would send in the floods. The ritual was not just inhuman it was also quite cruel. As part of the ritual, children would be tortured and made to cry; their tears would be collected in a ceremonial bowl and offered to the goggle-eyed and fanged Tlaloc before drowning the victims in an elaborate sacrificial ritual. All this, to appease the god who was often depicted as carrying thunderbolts and jars in which he kept the rain water.
The Mayans too had a god of rains and lightening, by the name of Chac. Chac besides being a rain god was also a fertility deity like many above as rains were very closely linked to fertility.
According to the Nordic Mythology, Thor was the god of thunderstorms and used to create thunder with his magical hammer, but they had a separate god in Freyr as their god of rains as well as fertility.
According to the Red Indian native tribe Navajo, Tonenili who was also known as the ‘water sprinkler’ was the Navaho god of water and was responsible for rain. He also caused thunder and lightning and considered to be mischievous. He was known to play tricks and would send in rain when least expected like on a clear day when people would step out for picnics. During drought there would be elaborate rituals to appease Tonenili and some aspects of the ritual would even be comical as per his nature of being a mischief-maker.
In the Chinese mythology, the dragons played a very important role and were considered to be very powerful and divine. Dragons were also known to be the controllers of all waters and were often very supportive of the mythical heroes. According to their mythology, dragons were capable of breathing out clouds and according to them that’s how the clouds formed. One such dragon was Yinglong (the Responding Dragon) who was considered to be the god of rain, and prayers were offered to Yinglong for receiving rains. The dragon sleeps all of winter and wakes up during the rainy season and thunders down as rain.
The influence of the Chinese dragons can be seen in Japanese mythology, where too the dragons were seen as water deities who were associated with rains and were often depicted as large serpentine creatures with clawed feet. In the Shinto religion, these dragons are associated with agricultural rituals and prayers for rain and the success of the fisher-folk.
As I mentioned earlier, not all associations of rains is with romance and getting cozy. Rains affect livelihood and had far larger and long-lasting implications for our ancestors and that can be seen in the depiction of rain-gods and in some rituals of the past. Sometimes the rituals seem inhuman, but let us not forget the times and the cultural milieu of the times and above all the faith-system, which is the most important aspect of every culture.
If any of you are wondering how come I have not spoken about the Hindu rain-god Lord Indra, then the reason is that Lord Indra is a subject of a larger discussion, which I intend to take up next time. Lord Indra is both a subject of heroism during the Vedic times and ridicule in the Puranas, and I intend to discuss the heroic aspects of Indra along with his association with Rain.
Lord Indra – next time. Keep reading and returning to this Blog!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rain Gods - Introduction

With the recent spells of rains announcing the arrival of monsoon the country is celebrating the much awaited and the most celebrated season of rains. The rainy season is a season of love and romance and poets have made the most of this season by singing paeans on this season. Romance blooms and love is in the air. But monsoon is not all about romance and getting wet in the rains. From time immemorial it is all about livelihood more so in an agrarian society which was probably the first occupation of mankind.
For people all around the world, rains was a much needed season and also the most dreaded one. Not receiving rains would ‘burn’ their livelihood just as too much of it would ‘drown’ the same. This led to the ‘birth’ of the often-dreaded Rain gods. Let us know more of the Rain gods from across the world.
Pictoral representation of the separation of Rangi & Papa
But even before there were gods and goddesses, the primeval man had his own interpretation of nature. A very interesting myth of the Maoris (the early inhabitants of New Zealand) explains this natural phenomenon in this manner. At the beginning, the primeval set of parents were Ranginui, the Sky God, and Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother (Rangi and Papa in short), but both were in close embrace. Gods were born out of this confluence, but they did not have enough space to move around! One of the gods, Tane who was the forest-god, decided to stand up erect and pushed his head high in the chest of the sky father pushing the sky up above and thus separating the two from the eternal embrace. Tane till today stands erect as a tall tree of the forest and till date the two, i.e. the sky and earth cannot meet. Occasionally the father sheds tears of longing for his mate, the earth and these tears come in the form of rain on earth.
The Rig Veda has a similar myth which goes a step further to imply that the parents are brought together in a sexual embrace which results in rain, which is symbolically compared to the reproductive fluid of the sky-father. Some hymns even mention of this embrace as dev-vivaha or marriage of gods which results in rain.
Be it tears or reproductive fluids, these beautiful imagery tries to explain the phenomenon of rains so well at the times when there wasn’t any other way to explain this natural phenomenon. Water is a sign of life and the above imageries lend credence to the importance of rains for the primeval mankind.
Rains have been explained here from a very primeval form of thinking. In due course of time, specific deities came into existence as different cultures developed and people found the need to explain such phenomenon in greater details and needed more clarity. 

Next time we will discuss some of the rain gods from different cultures.
Keep reading…

The above picture is courtesy Tara Lemana

Monday, June 6, 2011

No liquor if you are below 25 years of age …

ü  But you can get married and produce children – i.e. take decisions on your family and issues related to the national population

ü  But you can vote – i.e. take decision as to who should run the government for the next five years (who when elected could tell you not to drink the same booze which they distributed to get where they are!)

ü  But you can start working and contributing to the national exchequer and also pay Income Tax to the same government who tells you to pay taxes but consume what they tell you to
Isn’t this ironic? The government the young adult elects is now telling him/her what to drink when – mild beer after 21, vodka, rum and whisky after 25! Isn’t this a classic case of moral policing of the medieval kind or is it the initial stage of moral talibanisation?
All this in the name of de-addiction policy!
Shouldn’t the great thinkers come up with a policy on –
·         De-addiction of corruption for the Politicians and Bureaucrats?
·         De-addiction of strikes for the governmental organization Air India?
·         De-addiction for the pathetic governance for the Government?
·         De-addiction of non-performance by the Municipal corporations?
Shouldn’t the great thinkers focus on shutting down the country-liquor production units? Shouldn’t they focus on shutting down bars and gutka shops near schools and educational institutes?  Shouldn’t they focus on educating the youth regarding the ills of drinking instead of banning the same?
With so much to do, what a way to waste the tax-payers (some of them being young adults) time and money?
Finally, may we ask the great thinkers of modern India, as to at what age did they start drinking?
Think of the plight of Mr. Mallya Jr. – liquor liquor everywhere, can’t take a sip! He can produce liquor, but can’t sip it for another year or so!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Importance of Asking Questions - Part 2

Yesterday, we discussed the subject matter with reference from Mahabharata. Today in the second and the concluding part, we will discuss the same subject with some other examples.

Let us take another example from Ramayan. When Lakshaman was lying wounded, Hanuman was entrusted with the task of getting sanjivani buti from the forests of the Himalayan range. Since Hanuman was not used to asking questions and that too in front of Ram, he left without asking for more details. If only he had asked questions about the kind of herb required, he wouldn’t have to bring the whole mountain for a small herb! But then some people never question, or rather, never ask questions! If only he had, the mountain eco-system would have been spared the massive displacement, besides saving much of his strength and energy for future!

From the Celtic Mythology, one of the most famous myths is that of Fisher King and the story of Sir Perceval. According to this myth, like all the Knights of King Arthur, Sir Perceval too was looking for the Holy Grail. During one such adventure of his, Perceval came across a castle in a strangely ruined land. Inside he sees an old man, who is ill, but invites Perceval to spend the night. The old man gives Perceval a special sword but says little else. After dinner, Perceval is witness to strange sights. A young man enters the hall with a white spear with a drop of blood on its tip. Then follow two more young men carrying candle holders. Finally enters a beautiful woman carrying a golden cup. Perceval is curious to know what was going on, but was too tongue-tied for the fear of offending his old host. The next morning Perceval wakes up to an empty castle. There was nothing and nobody. Perceval later learns during his journey that the blood on the tip of the spear was that of Jesus and the golden cup was the Holy Grail itself! If only he had asked, the old man would have been cured, who was Fisher King himself and the entire strange land could have been cured of a strange illness. Again, a classic example of not asking a question which could have solved his quest.

Finally, an example of not asking the right question; According to Greek mythology, Tithonus, the Prince of Troy was in love with the goddess Eos. Eos requested Zeus to bestow Tithonus immortality, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth for Tithonus. Thus in due course of time, Tithonus grew older and older till he shrivelled to nothing more than a voice. According to some, he turned into a cicada, which renews its skin every year! A case of asking not asking the right question.

In life we come across many a situation when we ought to have asked a question or better still, the right question. Never hesitate in asking a question as it is only a quest which leads you to solution. If Lord Buddha had not asked the basic question of what is life, would he have attained Enlightenment and left an entire world of knowledge and righteousness? If Sir Isaac Newton had not asked as to why the apple fell down, would he have discovered gravity? If Ferdinand Magellan, had not asked the basic question of what was beyond the horizon, would he have discovered that the earth was round contrary to the then prevailing notion of it being flat? All the questions asked were very simple and according to the times, extremely ‘fundamental’. But see what the rather fundamental and redundant questions have given the world.

To conclude, never shy from asking a question. I read an interesting quote which was something like this – a person is a fool for a few minutes for asking a question, but he is a fool for life for not asking a question. On a lighter note, imagine what would happen to the likes of Google, and other search engines, if we don’t have questions?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Importance of Asking Questions - Part 1

How many times have we felt – If only I had asked? The common thing about men not asking for directions and landing into trouble, children not asking questions in the class leading to not-understanding problems, and women waiting for men to ‘pop’ the question, and Executives not asking during official briefings, is all so very well-known with all the due complications and trouble.

Just what happens if one doesn’t ask questions? Besides remaining ignorant, it could also lead to a lot of trouble. Mythology is witness to this. Let us see how the course of mythical destiny might have changed, if only basic questions were asked.

The most classical case that comes to mind is from the epic Mahabharata. Have you ever wondered, what would have happened if only Kunti had asked – “What have you brought?” when her sons told her – “Look Mother, what we got”, while referring to Draupadi? Wouldn’t Mahabharata have been slightly (or a lot?) different if she had asked the basic question instead of saying “Share amongst yourselves, whatever you brothers have got”? Many might opine that probably the Pandavas might not have been as united as they were, or Arjuna might not have got to marry other ladies, which were the much-needed political alliances. Or just about nothing much would have happened! But definitely, a very sticky issue could have been avoided and Draupadi would have been spared many a humiliation which we get to see in the course of the epic.

Let us take another example from the same epic, and that is the case of Shahadev. It is said that Sahadev knew everything, including the outcome of the dice game. But he could not say anything without being asked! It is said that when Sahadev came to know about his divine capability, he rushed to tell everybody about it. On the way he met a stranger who advised him against doing that if he wanted God on his side. He further advised him that he should answer only when asked something, and not before. Some say, that Sahadev knew that the stranger was none other than Lord Krishna who was God himself, and so he did not go against the advice. Some versions say that he was warned that if he said anything without being asked, then his head would split into two. Sahadev went on to author many of the occult sciences and is also considered to be a great astrologer, who knew it all.   During the entire Mahabharata, nobody ever asked him his opinion on anything, and thus having known everything, including the outcome of every event, he could not help. Wouldn’t the outcome of the epic be a lot different if only someone had asked him some basic questions? Probably, Yudhishtir would not have played dice and lost everything, or even if he played, Sahadev could have warned Yudhishtir about Shakuni’s evil designs. But then nobody asked him!

Tomorrow we will conclude this article with a few more examples......