Archive for the ‘why’ Category

Devdutt Pattanaik and the Delightful Art of Mythmaking

December 29, 2014 3 comments

This is my response to Devdutt Pattanaik’s “Delightful Truths of Cult Leaders” which appeared in the Mid Day on 21 December, 2014.

I generally do not write without knowing enough about the issue. After going through Devdutt’s article, though, I figured if a person of his callibre can write something as dumb as what he has written, surely, I can do better than him. Comments to the contrary are always welcome.

Hello Devdutt ‘Myth’ Pattanaik,

Let me start by saying that I once used to be a fan of yours. I thought you were a good summarizer of our classics. But after going through Delightful Truth of Cult Leaders in Mid Day, I have to say that you are at best a great generalizer and at worse a deliberate confounder of the “many truths”. Your generalization about Rajiv Malhotra (not Rajeev Malhotra) in the article and branding him a ‘cult leader’ has no credibility and reeks of an effort to sideline and marginalize an authentic and independent voice. Below, I would like to address this in some detail.

Unlike the ‘delightful’ tone you have used in the article, read my response in the tone of Kakabhusandi, the curious crow, who really wants to know what is going on with you.

Let me ask you straight away, this is the first time in any published work of yours you refer to Rajiv and his work, what is stopping you of all the people from going into the specifics and do a purvapaksha on the “powerful and profound truths” that Rajiv has to offer? If you term – him writing against, rebutting and challenging Doniger’s monopoly – as a successful “witch-hunt”, then one can only doubt your skills of using a metaphor.

You yourself say that Doniger has her own “fan following that believes every word she writes is the truth and nothing but the truth”

In another article you were quoted thus: “‘..problem with Wendy’s writings is her unapologetic and rather naïve obsession with psychosexual analysis of Hindu gods.’ But the bigger problem is, he (Devdutt) warns, ‘Discomfort can turn to rage when American universities start promoting Wendy’s speculations as ‘the’ truth, rather than ‘a’ truth, one that may not necessarily align with popular beliefs on the ground.'”

Dear sir, I crudely submit that her “fan following” are the “American Universities”. You think American Universities are not already promoting her views?

You say – Discomfort can turn to rage when American universities start promoting Wendy’s speculations as ‘the’ truth, rather than ‘a’ truth – are you seriously unaware of the issues raised in Invading The Sacred?


Let me quote from its cover jacket, considering in your busy schedule you wouldn’t have the time to go through the whole book,

“a powerful counterforce within the American Academy is systematically undermining core icons and ideals of Indic Culture and thought. For instance, scholars of this counterforce have disparaged the Bhagavad Gita as “a dishonest book”; declared Ganesha’s trunk a “limp phallus”; classified Devi as the “mother with a penis” and Shiva as “a notorious womanizer” who incites violence in India; pronounced Sri Ramakrishna a pedophile who sexually molested the young Swami Vivekananda; condemned Indian mothers as being less loving of their children than white women; and interpreted the bindi as a drop of menstrual fluid and the “ha” in sacred mantras as a woman’s sound during orgasm.

With such (deliberate? feigning?) ignorance, you shouldn’t have proceeded with your article. You try your best to balance by commenting on Doniger failings however were able to put out an interview with her in 2009 when her book The Hindus was published. In your introduction to that interview you wrote (emphasis mine): “Anyone who is serious about studying Hinduism needs to study the works of Wendy Doniger(b.1940), who for over 40 years has been researching, translating, and commenting on Hindu scriptures and stories.”

Are you yourself not guilty of promoting her truth as ‘the’ truth and not merely ‘a’ truth? In contrast, Invading the Sacred was published in 2007, it has been 7 years and there was/is no similar interview or any effort from your side in showing similar empathy towards Rajiv. Do you care to assimilate the many truths? Or are you merely satisfied by this half-attempt to de-legitimize his serious work by calling him a cult leader?

It is telling when you say, “Cult leaders are not liars; they do present powerful and profound truths. But the problem is that it eventually stops becoming about what they are saying, it becomes about them!”

Maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t become about them if people like you addressed their truths rather than calling them names. In a way what you seem to be saying is, “Rajiv’s assertions are powerful and profound truths, but I won’t go into specifics of his research and mock it by reducing them to buzz words.” or “I don’t have any disagreements on his content but with the form and where it is coming from!” Why would you have issues with the content if you have refurbished some of it as your own, I wonder?

Criticise Rajiv all you want but don’t do such a shoddy job at it. Rajiv often tells his “fans” something like, if you have to challenge and topple the existing monopoly you have to do your homework right with due diligence. Maybe you can learn from him like you have done so otherwise. But unlike last time please give him credit.

Looking forward to better informed articles from your side.

Other relevant references:

Plagiarism Charge Against Devdutt

A Rebuttal to Devdutt Pattanaik’s article in Mid Day


Who Are The Masses?

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Gadar_Ek_Prem_Katha_2001When I first saw Gadar-Ek Prem Katha with a crowd that cheered every move of Sunny Deol, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly.

I felt that it made my day.

It went on to win hearts and mind and seetis, along with more than ₹ 100 Cr in 2001 when tickets were cheaper, that means more people saw it than the blockbusters of today.

In the days of Kargil, “Gadar: Ek Prem Katha was a box office phenomenon and sold more tickets at theatres in India than any film in history apart from Sholay (1975)”.

But what’s the point of all of this with the title of this post.

This post is a response to those who link the success of blockbusters to judge the voters en masse for the corrupt who are in power.

This begs the question:

Who are the masses who make movies blockbusters and who ‘supposedly‘ vote the ‘least‘ capable into power?

Open Question.

Feel free to share your valuable opinion. Or otherwise 🙂

Categories: who, why

Alleged Lovers – Part II

March 3, 2012 5 comments
If you haven't already, read Part I before you proceed.

They were sitting on the banks of the holy river and she read out aloud from a book,

‘…The effect of cessation (ending) of breathing on the central nervous system is of considerable interest…The patient may lie in the chamber for hours without moving his head or changing position. The desire to smoke disappears when voluntary respiration stops, even in patients who have been accustomed to smoke two packets of cigarettes a day. In many instances the relaxation is of such a nature that the patient does not require amusement…’

“So that means he won’t need her for amusement if he stops smoking. But he can’t leave her, you know!” he smiled.

“And that is why he doesn’t stop smoking, for if he does, he won’t need his alleged lover” she replied.

“Look he can’t stop smoking just because someone somewhere experienced something and did not feel like smoking anymore, okay? He cannot stop smoking until he stops feeling the need, understood madam?”

“But you aren’t trying. And stop with the third person nonsense, will you? Or you don’t want to do that either!”

“That’s what he is saying; He doesn’t feel the need to stop smoking, so why does she want to force him?”

She closed the book and her retort remained unspoken.

How could she not force him when she felt it was the right thing to do? She wondered whether all their heated discussions were worth this much only. Just when they seemed to be getting head and tail of each other’s perspective in any matter, the topic was closed. The discussion was over. And there was nothing more to say. Or it just fizzled out with a joke or the awkward silence that was now enveloping her.

The overwhelming silence came and passed as the Sun shimmered on the Gangesand wind was only to be sensed by the wavy river surface. They had begun walking up the stairs that curled up towards the bustling Laxman Jhoola and their fingers entwined on the way.

“You know this German Bakery’s original name is Devraj Coffee House…He thinks it was Socrates who said what’s in a name? Socrates was right.” he said, wiping the sweat of his brow.

“Ha Ha, very funny! It was”, she yawned, “Shakespeare.”

“Well, as he said, what’s in a name.” He lit up a cigarette and continued,

“They should adapt it to the psyche of their traditions and change it to what’s in a surname!”

He made a ring out of his fore finger and the thumb and exhaled the mouthful of smoke through it.

“You know I don’t like you smoking” she tried to say it with a skeptical indifference of a cringe.

“Oh ho ho!” he puffed out, “So she doesn’t like him smoking but have no problems with others who smoke!”

“I don’t know them!” she said.

“What difference does that make?” he asked.

“It doesn’t matter, I feel I don’t know you too!” and with that she ended the conversation as they took the first empty table of German Bakery.

As she looked over his shoulder to the Ganges flowing by, his eyes wandered over hers and he slightly tilted his head to the right to see if anyone was to be bothered by their love talk yet unspoken. He saw a foreign national in saffron robes, asking the waiter to get a lighter. He smiled in knowing. Now she wouldn’t have a problem with even him smoking, he thought.

Then getting back to his lover and realizing that he had upset her, he said, “Look here…look here na, the inter-caste thing is not really a problem in my family, I mean yes, my extended family will be a little surprised when they get to know about this but nothing beyond that!”

“Oh my God, I don’t care if they do, you know”, she said, “but you seem to care about that so much! Is that what is the issue here? Do we have any less problems of our own that you make more issues as you go along?”

He wondered if she really thought about it not being an issue in these socially unequal times.  Then getting a little grip on himself, he re-entered the conversation to make his case again.

“Why don’t you understand, what can I do about your father now? I can’t talk to him right away…what would I tell them I do for a living?” He took a hurried drag and continued, “ How am I going to take care of your daughter, you ask old man, I will make food in the bakery and feed her of course!”

She remained silent like other times in the past but it weighed on her mind to ask him the question that had long been overdue.

“What are you doing about your Oh-So-Great business plan then?” she had repeated the question in her mind before asking it out loud and even with much restraint that she was trying to show, she couldn’t avoid the sarcasm.

His momentum of words brewing in his mind stalled after her remark and he looked away visibly agitated.

He saw the same foreigner, who wanted a lighter was now chatting away blissfully with the woman besides him, also in saffron clothing. He wasn’t smoking a cigarette though; he had lit an agarbatti instead and fixed it in the ash tray!

A little shocked at the things not going his way either at his table or hippies-in-saffron table, he called out to no one in particular,

Ek chai laana!”

When none of his co – waiters acknowledged his order for tea, he shouted as some of the patrons of Devraj Coffee House shouted at him when he was on duty.

“How will you get customer the tea unless you listen to the customer? I pay for it; am I asking it for free?”

The mood of the morning was just as peaceful as it was everyday. The reverberating sounds of the chimes carried by the wind from the opposite bank of theGangesengulfed the moods of the people at their end – except the two alleged lovers. His mind wandered on these lines and he lit up another cigarette.


Click Part III to read the concluding part of the story.

To Do Is To Be

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Sometimes it seems really weird when you are all gung-ho about what is going to be your best work, you get stuck up in some sort of technicality. Like I was all charged up the last time regarding this blog that i was going to start writing and found myself caught up in the need for this english transliteration of the thoughts of my head! it was like this, thought precedes fruitful action but in my case thought precedes and is succeeded by thought itself.

So how can/do I word it?

I guess writing needs to have a motive and a lot many people will tell you that they write because they feel like it as a natural outpouring of expression. “Have a pen, will write” is the auctioned expression of “Have a mind, will think” 🙂

I guess I am caught up in this mental warp, that is my own undoing I accept, which has put such restrictions on me such as Thee Won’t Write, what has already been written by someone else before…Thee Won’t Copy..thee will be original to the best of your knowledge and thee will keep on knowing more and if thee find it out later, thee will not be arrogant to acknowledge that someone else can also be your equal in thought in some other part of the world(no matter if that part of world is where the person sitting next to you is sitting, with her head on your shoulder!), Thou Shall Not Steal, paraphrase some other noble soul’s thought as your own(even though you scored well in probability to know that he or she or it would never find it out), Thou Shall Not Use Adverbs Easily(!) to describe something that happened and let the mood of what you say express what you want to convey so as to use the beauty of the language in the best way you can…and so on and so forth.

All said and done though, I realise that all of these constraints come in the way of your writing only when you don’t know what you think and don’t really have something to say and these constraints pull you down. Being a beautiful alibi, they creep up so slowly and make you feel up to no good, so that you can put the blame on them later when you are coming to terms with the time you wasted, when you could have been writing.

But all of this changes when you really have something to say. Certain topics like religion/politics/bad governance/the whole system being unhealthy for doing what you want to do in life/love/hypocrisy/fake people/pseudo secularism etc draw out the best in some when it comes to expressing their views through the written word. And I happen to be one of them, not that I am as articulate in my juxtaposition of thoughts into words to express what I really feel on a certain topic and go helter-skelter so much so that I may come across as an extremist of political correctness and a non conformist diplomat of absolutely no point of view.

So before I digress, I would like to come to the point(!) and begin with something that this blog is going to be all about:

Since the beginning of my time in this body, I felt deep down that life was full of infinite possibilities and that coupled with the law of infinite probability(!) gave you the environment to do basically whatever you wanted to do in your life. So it’s never too late to begin. It’s never too late to be who you might have been. Obviously I couldn’t word all of this when my time began on earth but that joie di vivre and curiosity of life always gave me that feeling of freedom in my growing up years.

But here in lies the dichotomy of my life – I had been blessed with a lot of love and freedom and my share of joy and moreover whatever I thought about in life had turned out to be working for me. But but but now that I had all the freedom to do whatever I want to do, what do I do with it?

To be contd.

Being Always Infinite

March 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Multitude Multiverse of what I am but an i, This is the moment of my manifestation in thy eye, It starts with me at a vibration of a sigh, And may reach the end of the world, which is by the by, Just another center of the Universe like, Of that center i am but an I and it may also be a sophomoric fly, More than the speed of light it will reach your I, It may not matter and we may cease to wonder why, But what I thought and what You got can’t be a lie, Like two bulbs light up, separated by space, may seem like a coincidence to someone watching us spark, But the One watching us smiles in understanding of our try, To vibrate at the same frequency that transcends our inability to see beyond the constraints of space of time and of us asking the question why, so let me try, not to reach you, But with the knowing that what else is there to do. Always Infinite a way to be me and be sure to be better than before because this is the first moment of the rest of my try.

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