Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ancient Takes on Modern Issues? L’affaire Tara and Chandra

Was Ancient India actually as straight laced as our later day patriarchial Dons would have us believe?  Evidence mounts for the Nyets.
Cursory looks at the carved, sculpted d├ęcor of numerous ancient temples and edifices around the country show proud, confident women/goddesses leading a good life. The Kamasutra certainly adds to the belief.  What of the Feminine Divinity that predates male gods in some ancient civilisations?
At what juncture did patriarchy overtake this evident celebration of the Feminine?  It is difficult to set a date or to pinpoint a culprit.  The movement was certainly invidious.  Although there is no historical evidence of cavemen slinging cavewomen over the shoulders, as depicted in Western cartoons, thank Heavens discernible clues to our own much better past do exist. 
It is the task of modern mythologists to brush away later day interpolations to such to arrive at the actual sequence of events logically … no mean task with so many centuries worth of suspect patriarchal and colonial impositions to examine against original texts, the Vedas, Valmiki Ramayan or Vyas’ Mahabharat for authenticity. 
Recent discussions on gender justice focus on apportioning blame between sexes, rather than hark back.   In that context, let’s take a look at the age old L’affaire Tara and Chandra:  
The lady was totally frustrated with her aged hubby Brihaspati.  She chanced to meet Tara, contemporary and compatible; she decided to stay with him.   Soon hubby dear, Brihaspati  came to fetch her home, knowing full well that he couldn’t satisfy her needs. He had weighty support, Brahma and Indra.    Tara had only his common sense. 

Result: a wordy battle in male ranks. As related by Mumbai mythologist, Utkarsh Patel, what is intriguing is that there is no discussion of emotion or love, nor of morality or reproach.    “The text itself is bold, focussing on aspects of physical attraction and lovemaking skills as perceived by a woman.”
The crux of the issue, shorn of morality and duty, as enunciated by Chandra, was:
=     Can the Other Man be blamed if a woman wants to stay with him?
=   Would the family be actually happy, when only the husband happy despite his wife’s unhappiness?
The interventions of Indra and Brahma, both insisting that Chandra must go back to her husband, hit a pause with news of her pregnancy. She names Chandra as father and the latter promptly names the child Budh.

Here comes a twist:
As mythologist Utkarsh Patel relates the tale, while Brahma insists  on Tara going home with Brihaspati, Tara’s word is accepted to establish fatherhood.    
“Nowhere is Tara chastised or blamed, nor is she reprimanded for leaving her husband and living with another man. Her word is accepted to establish fatherhood.” 
No lectures of morality or reproach?  Could that happen today despite tests, FIRs and pontifications on the chastity of women and purity of races in a land of genetic mixes, blah-blah-blah?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

What is OBOR?

China’s One Belt One Road initiative is neither new, nor about A road. Essentially it proposes to resurrect the ancient land and sea Silk Routes from China to the West, with modern infrastructure in roads, rails, ports, power plants etc. China will play $115 billion Santa Claus to 60 odd countries strung across Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia.
It scored early by co-opting earlier projects like the Europe-China rail and CPEC into OBOR … since there is no definitive project list anyway.  
The aim of OBOR?   Anything from using up China’s   mythical cash hordes; to resurrecting centuries-old domination over South East Asia, later Africa and now Europe and Australia too; to establish its hegemony over more than half the world with cheap loans, after its moves over the South China Sea.
The territory is familiar to India, History’s hoary Trading Nation. International trading routes cannot ignore India, straddling the Indian Ocean, with Zanzibar, Nairobi in the West and Gujarat and Kerala in the East; further east Kolkata, keyed into OBOR as South China’s access to Mynamar, Bangladesh etc to bypass the Malacca Straits, if ever blocked. 
Why would it be blocked??

India’s relations, cultural and trade, with East Africa, Far East and Myanmar are hoary.  First Hinduism, then Buddhism went East in peace. Witness Balinese Hinduism, Ramayan influenced dances, the Borobudur temple in Java, a colossal heritage Angkor Wat temple.
China’s came too, with dark spots of hegemony and overrule; worst being China-supported Red regimes that overran Indo China, split Vietnam and resulted in horrendous brutality by local regimes, the Reds and Americans.
To them and Europe, China’s OBOR avatar offers ports, rails, roads and other infrastructural goodies, funded by China and its financial sector. 
The question is: What is the catch?
Meanwhile, India rests on her past, Non Aligned laurels and pennies: a petroleum hub at Trincomalee, a maritime hub at Andaman; China sells intercontinental railways, we sell railway database. The gas pipeline and highway linking Iran to us, via Afghanistan, offering access to Central Asia malingers over Bogeyman Corruption/Delays.  Projects with multi nodal links (ship-rail-road) to Europe, via Turkey, Gulf, Central Asia, Russia sank into mire.
In the run up to the grand OBOR festival, we ‘discovered’ that CPEC cut through what we fondly call Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, disputed territory that is the pet cottage industry of various central ministries under successive governments. 
What were our diplomats doing since 2013, after which Xi Ping was entertained at Ahmedabad and PM Modi in China?   Talking about Arabs and Chinese being ‘unnatural allies’, or the dams being built along our border with China?
Let’s face facts: POK is the nub of Central Asian land routes that kept those areas bound to India since Time Immemorial.      Sindhis serviced Central Asian trade financially, amongst others; their hundis respected across Eurasia. At Partition, when Pakistan got Sindh, Hindu traders fled. While they rebuilt global connections, we forgot about them.
Now India whistles in the dark alone, “They’ll have to come to me to complete their circle”.  Who’s coming along?

The guys who wrote the Ved Purans must have been a real misogynist lot.
Hey, wait a minute; didn't the Brahmins do all the transcription, centuries after their actual creation and oral tradition?
Hmmm Brahmins?        It figures.
Some say, after release of the soul in cremation, it goes to Pitralok. 
This enables a forefather to move to his next birth. No instant rebirth?
Anyways, so grandson releases grandfather, and so on.

Now what about the women?
Does grandma also need a grandson or a grand beti will do?
Does it have to be her son’s son or Beti‘s son will do?  Is there any mention?
After all in our times when one son is common,
What happens to Daadima,  Naanima and  Mausima? 
Everyone does not have a son. Some people don't have kids at all.
Agar bete ki Beti hai, toh?
Agar Beti ka beta hai toh?
 What about his paternal grandfather then? If no grandkids, toh?
 And if only one grandchild releases grandpa, what about grandma?
Or are the women to remain floating souls around this world only?

If so, how will the guys vows of "janam janam ka Saath" survive for the prescribed saat janams?

Saturday, May 13, 2017


A New Beginning is always difficult; so much goes against the grain, the tradition, Indian custom.
Actually, not so much --- haven’t men been marrying as soon as one wife dies?  Often enough even while she lives?            
Widow remarriage is not big deal in most parts of the world.  But, in India?  
Building bridges between two lonely people, tearing down of walls of bias against women, creating a new society that recognized a new humanity ---- all these are topics people love to comment on but hesitate to delve into, even in the form of a Book.
Silver Dreams from Notion Press is one such book – that builds a vibrant, racy narrative to counter the old Sita concepts, now an Indian history staple.     Rana and Kinnary are both Senior Citizens.  Yet there is a potent zest for life, desire tamped down by circumstance and a need for the cuddles and caresses that replace passion after that while that translates into date nights.
Moving at a thriller pace through Bottecelli moments and emotional tsunamis, discussions on masturbation, the intricacies of German labor and the indenture system that replaced slavery --- to the need for ‘reaching out’, healthy Memory Banks, the need for ‘closure’ after a death in the family, mutual needs, the significance of the “jeete rahiye” blessing and why a maang tikka is worn with sindhoor.
They come across as well grounded individuals who could become the Emblem for various generations.  Reviews of the book, especially from men wandering unknowingly into romantic territories, have expressed astonishment at what they discovered of female desires and thought processes in the book… perhaps an education in itself.

The book sets something of a record:  first Romance of the Elderly in Indian English fiction.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


How many studied the “India’s Aryan Invasion” in school? Possibly everyone? 
Recent research indicates that was just an imperialist theory; a successful attempt at cultural imperialism, to prove the superiority of Occidental culture and to give the British an unholy cover for their presence in India at all -- that they were merely repeating what had been done in the hoary past.  
It offered Occidental culture a false antiquity beyond ancient Vedic culture, and served to split India into a northern Aryan and a southern Dravidian culture that still festers.  In short, an instrument for subjugation that negates the facts that Dravidian culture was an early offshoot of the Vedic, through Agastya, and that there were migrations from India, across the Asian landmass into Europe up to Germany: “The Return of the Aryans” by Dr. Bhagwandas Gidwani.
Led by Max Mueller and other Christian scholars steeped in Biblical chronology, an arbitrary date of 1500 B C was chosen post The Great Flood, so that Vedic culture would be ‘learning’? from the ancestors of the Occident, rather than the other way round.  It also served to shroud all the ancient Vedas, Upanishads, epics etc. as “myths” to allow questioning their validity.
A dark vs light skinned struggle was super imposed, as children of the sun and of the moon.  No one asked why this Sun-Moon concept was not applied to Persian and Eygptian scriptures.
In his counter argument, scholar David Frawley draws attention to the faulty mathematics and other contrary facts.
Vedic culture was created by primitive Central Asian nomads with horse drawn chariots and iron weapons that destroyed the Indus Valley Culture (IVC).    
But horses, weapons and chariots existed in the IVC too; they were a hoary tradition from pre-Vedic times. An Indus seal shows a spoked wheel, as used in chariots. In fact, chariots, endemic in the plains, would be cumbersome in the Central Asian passes. 
The question arises:  would nomads use chariots at all? The concept of nomads is those who are on the move, crossing mountains and deserts.    For an “Aryan invasion”?   Totally unsuitable.
Chariots were the vehicles of ancient urban cultures of flat rolling lands, such as North India’s plains provide galore.   The IVC was largely a city culture of planned urban conglomerations … that would mean room for chariots as well, presumably.   The Rig Veda mentions cities too; so did the histories of Egypt and Mesopotamia, long before the Occident refined into civilization.
Recent investigations indicate that the IVC was not decimated by enemies; rather, causes such as climate change or floods.  Ditto, the end of Krishna’s famed Dwarka, now Bet Dwarka that reveal elaboration between IVC and the India the Greeks saw later. Those dates would expose an unbroken urban culture going back to the beginning of the IVC.

Kudos to Dr. Gidwani’s 1990s affirmation of the pre-historic antiquity of civilization in India, that answered questions left unanswered by the classic history taught in schools.