Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kusum Choppra: A FREE NEW SITA

Kusum Choppra: A FREE NEW SITA: Can you imagine a Sita who welcomes freedom from the hidebound environs of Raghukul that forest sojourns offer?
Continuing the recent tradition of looking at the past through new prisms comes Devdutt Patnaik’s “Sita” that retells the Ramayan to delineate this new SITA.
Picking from the Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayans, Plus scores of others riddling every nook and corner of India and all the South East Asian Ramayans surviving millennia, Patnaik conjures up a truly free spirited Sita, quite, quite different from the weepy Sita mold  countless generations of women have had to cope with since Time Immemorial.
Born off the furrow, taught by the numerous learned persons who partook of her father Janak’s hospitality, Sita’s learning is stunted by the rules that rule in Ayodhya.
Still a virgin, she is quick to insist on accompanying the rule-obedient Ram into exile, that offers a new learning curve, never mind the celibate ascetic she call her husband.

In his own inimitable style, Patnaik draws from far and wide, annotating copiously to draw a surprisingly linear eventful story, striving to justify the stilted Ram while celebrating his new Sita.

STATE OF LOOT

This morning's newspaper mentioned that an H'ble bench of the Supreme Court of India is shocked that  some army officers who had been accused of illegally selling non-service pattern weapons were let off with a pittance of a punishment ---- a reprimand or loss of seniority, as the case may be.

Had a minister or one of his family or his minions done the same, what would have been the punishment?   even a reprimand?   In military parlance, a 'reprimand'  has pretty serious connotations.  But what would civilians know of that?

Consider these facts:
our so-called H'ble Members of Parliaments, popularly called MPs serve just one term, whether complete or truncated by wholesale changing of allegiances, and get a full pension for the rest of their lives.
on the other hand, the young people who sign up for our Armed Forces slog a full prime life for little more than a pittance, with none of the fancy allowances the MPs get, over or under the table, and then live out the rest of their lives on a pension which is HALF of their pay.

And it is because they spend their nights guarding our borders, on land, at sea, in the air or in the ether, that all of us sleep peacefully in our beds.  While  sophisticated gangs of h'ble citizens continue to loot the country of precious resources  quite without any accounting or anyone even batting an eyelid, leave alone SHOCK.

A FREE NEW SITA



Can you imagine a Sita who welcomes freedom from the hidebound environs of Raghukul that forest sojourns offer?
Continuing the recent tradition of looking at the past through new prisms comes Devdutt Patnaik’s “Sita” that retells the Ramayan to delineate this new SITA.
Picking from the Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayans, Plus scores of others riddling every nook and corner of India and all the South East Asian Ramayans surviving millennia, Patnaik conjures up a truly free spirited Sita, quite, quite different from the weepy Sita mold  countless generations of women have had to cope with since Time Immemorial.
Born off the furrow, taught by the numerous learned persons who partook of her father Janak’s hospitality, Sita’s learning is stunted by the rules that rule in Ayodhya.
Still a virgin, she is quick to insist on accompanying the rule-obedient Ram into exile, that offers a new learning curve, never mind the celibate ascetic she call her husband.

In his own inimitable style, Patnaik draws from far and wide, annotating copiously to draw a surprisingly linear eventful story, striving to justify the stilted Ram while celebrating his new Sita.
She has a mind very much her own, searching, questioning and triumphant in her acknowledgment of herself, rather submerged in Ram, shown up as a creature of rules only.
Sita lives within her own Self, setting her own parameters, and claiming her own space.  She is glorious in her free thinking and her fleeing from her hide-bound Ayodhya sasural for the freedom of exile in the forests with Ram; her insistence on staying on at Ashok Vatika till Ram came for her to avenge his honor; she understand where he then comes from when he tells her to go to either Lakshman, Vibhishan or Sugriv.
She even comes to accept and actually enjoy the banishment from Ayodhya as freedom once more from the petty royalty of Ayodhya’s Raghukul; perhaps the chance to raise her boys sturdy without the Raghukul malaise?
Finally comes her decision to let the hidebound Ram stew in his own rules while she makes her grandest exit yet – one which makes her an all time heroine.

For all Ram’s philosophizing, it is Sita who comes through as a truly spirited woman who has mastered to perfection, the art of internalizing her own space, her needs and her happiness.  She is happy to be a woman. In fact, she rejoices in all its aspects, cooking, healing, decorating, using all the feminine skills; perhaps choosing, nay willfully relishing the opportunities to absent herself from the Rules that her husband chooses to cling to obdurately.

Rules force Ram first to sacrifice his throne and his father’s life. Years later, his wife to his notion of the demands of kingship. And finally, his sense of right and wrong --- all to uphold the rules of his clan.     Sad but True.
Bereft of all support, Father, Mother, Wife, Brother and Bhakt, he is left with no option but to end his lonely life in the Saryu.
What a waste of  LIFE!   Maryaada Purshottam, anyone?

Hope this does not scare away male refers .... there is plenty for them too in this mind-blowing book.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sex education and Indian values?



 It appears that a 2009 parliamentary committee headed by Dr. Venkiah Naidu held that introducing sex education in schools would corrupt Indian values.    
What Indian values are we standing up for here?
Family males, school teachers, principals and other 'honorable' figures ravaging nubile young girls they should be nurturing?      Young gali ke gunde gang raping any young woman they can lay their hands on?

Going back to our hoary traditions, values means that in order to secure the throne for her offspring Saytavati insisted on a vow from Bhism, that  landed Aryavrat in deadly fratricide…. what we call Mahabharat.
We see the same Bhism kidnapping a trio of sisters for his inept brother ….. honestly a comedy of errors if it has not been so tragic, with one princess   shuttled back  and forth until she commits suicide with a vow for vengeance on Bhism, later fulfilled in the Mahabharat itself.
The inept brother dies and Satyavati calls in her brother Rishi Vyas as surrogate to impregnate her bahus,  polite term 'niyoga;  impolite surrogacy, not of  the womb but of the penis.  Products: the blind Drthirashtra, child of the lady who shut her eyes at the sight of Vyas, the pale Pandu of the lady who paled at his sight and the peppy Vidura from the servant who obliged willingly.     
Ditto later with Kunti who obliges her husband Pandu by calling on various 'Gods" to do the needful for her and her 'co-wife' to produce the five Pandavs, righteous alright, but………
Sex courses through our ancient text, as it is basic to human nature, is it not?   the sheningangs of the Gods and their Apsaras, the Rishis and their wives  and others, the Mahabharat's various stories, Ganga, Kunti, Draupadi and so many others, the other wives of the Pandavs etc. etc. etc.  Premarital sex was  as much heard of then as it is now. 
Should we not be educating our young people about it and how to cope, rather than shut our eyes with  Gandharian  silk?  

Claims to ancient scientific advances



During a recent visit to Dubai, more than once I discovered evangelists in malls handing out Islamic literature, telling of the religion in simple formats and laying claim to 'scientific' truths propagated by the Quran, which were later picked up by scientists as western knowledge.  i read and wondered at the claims,that sounded rather familiar, if amateurishly argued.     Back home, I found an old book in my personal library, much better argued "Islam and Science" from which those truths had been picked, presumably.

More recently, came recent additions to the compulsory reading list being offered to school students in Gujarat from the father of book pulping, Dina Nath Batra.   In his Tejomay Bharat, he argues that the patent on stem cell therapy for regeneration of body parts was first taken by a Dr. Balkrishna Ganpat Matapurkar!
The good doctor was, it appears, actually inspired by none other than the Mahabharata in which Kunti delivered a baby as bright as the sun: Surya's son, Karan.  That incident, the story goes, inspired  the unable-to-concieve Gandhari to undergo some sort of a hysterectomy that revealed a large mass of flesh in her womb. 
Rishi Vyas was called in.  He immersed the womb in a cold tank with some medicinal additives, after which the mass was divided into a hundred small segments that were immersed in tanks full of ghee for two years.  Those segments evolved into the 100 Kauravas.  Which of the two immersions could have caused their 'evil' nature, one wonders.
The same book also lays claims to TV with the 'divya drishti of Sanjaya giving his king, the blind Drithrashtra a running commentary of the battleground and a vedic motor car aka chariot called ' anashva wrath'  that ran without horse power.   

And after Amar Chitra Katha, we'd grown up assuming that Ravan's  kidnap getaway vehicle that was the   original airplane!!