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Monday, 27 October 2008

Unforgiving Africa

Wild Africa has never ceased to amaze me. The first time I came across the word ‘Serengeti ’, I was a fifth standard student- on a visit to Science City, Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta). There has been no looking back since. I guess I have watched all related documentaries broadcasted by NGC/Discovery thus far! J 

The sun was beating down… The land was parched and vegetation was scarce. It was one of those horrid African summers in the Serengeti. And a typical day in the lives of those who inhabited the land- long, searing and unforgiving. Long- for, that’s how it would seem. Searing- for obvious reasons, the relentless sun. Enfin, unforgiving- because if you cannot survive, you won’t. Simple. Period. This held true irrespective of the hunter and the hunted.

Didja Laddé was old. She needed her rest, and was desperate for some shade- the only respite from, what would otherwise be a cauldron. Her name translates to ‘Lady of the Jungle’. And she was a paradigm of the great feline- for she had been bestowed with such features. Awe, beauty, care and strength morphed into her with such enviable ease. She was indeed a phenomenon in that brute of a land she was born into. She was the Lady of the Serengeti…

In her prime, she had no competitor among her sisters. She had won many a battle. Wildebeests, zebras et al could testify. Just that, cadavers cannot render any testimony. And her mate was no less in splendor. He was one of the finest males the land had seen. But he was lazy… It was her responsibility, along with her sisters, to feed the pride. And he would help in bringing down the odd buffalo. Of course, biological compatibility was always there. Didja Laddé mothered many a cub and the pride swelled in number.

Ah, the glorious past… Her mate had succumbed to age. And now, she was alone. Well past her prime, she had taken violently ill. The pride had abandoned her. Didja Laddé found some cessation in the form of an old, lone tree. She rested, periodically shaking her head to drive away those tormenting flies… She looked up. The moon was a faint disc. Very faint. It was early afternoon… The giggle of hyenas could be heard in the distance as they ate into an unfortunate wildebeest. Ugh! She loathed them hyenas. Those snarling, snickering thieves… What do they know about pugilism? Hyenas and lions never get along. May be Lion King was a momentary exception… But of course Didja Laddé would never accept that, leave alone knowing about it!

She had survived thus far… However cruel the ambiance was. She had been a fighter all her life. She matched whatever Nature had to throw… It was not for nothing that she was named Didja Laddé by those who had been following her life in Africa’s ecosystem that is known to play host to the world’s largest and longest overland migration.

It was evening. Soon enough, another clan of hyenas closed in on where she was… May be they were old enemies. Familiar, rather. Didja Laddé could sense an odd familiarity about them. She had been successful in protecting her kill from them on earlier occasions. But that evening, there was no kill she was protecting. But then, why were they there..? The foursome… Surrounding her… Snarling… Eerie giggles filling up the environment.

The old lady roared from where she was resting… But it was no longer the authoritative roar of a queen. It was more of a warning to ward off those foul-mouthed interlopers. She could sense the imminent danger. Escapism, however, was not known to her. She would fight to the very end. The retractable claws were ready… The Clan could smell weakness. They could smell blood. Royal blood… Revelling in royal blood was no mean feat to them. The hunter was soon to be the hunted.

The quartet closed in… Teeth gnarling, mouths salivating. You could see all the eyes glimmering in the darkness that was setting in. Didja Laddé was ready… With a leap mighty enough for her age, she took out one of her attackers. Her jaws had not betrayed her. Her canines buried into her smaller adversary’s spine…

But her overall agility was nowhere as efficient as it had been before. Indeed, age does have a lot to say. She failed to swerve away from her other assailants. Her strength was suddenly failing her. Illness was having a say too. Nature is cruel. Even the mighty have to fall, and in the end- she went; her weak growls drowned in the moonlit darkness amidst ghoulish laughs. Hyenas are known to eat away at live prey… Jaws that can crack bone as if it were a twig…

Am back after a hiatus. And well, am off again. I tell you- training is such a pain in the posterior! Sorry for not having visited any blog page for the past two weeks. I will do so, very very soon. A couple of certification examinations are around the corner and loads of assessments (to add to the 80-odd I have already given since August 21st). Well, I guess that’s a rant for later. Au revoir…

My family and I extend our hearty Diwali greetings to all of you. Peace, take care and blessed be.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The dazzling panoply of a rivalry

The easel was set-up. With a colourful palette, a ready brush, a myriad ideas and a plethora of strokes in his repertoire, the artist was ready. Movements so elegant, so graceful, so profound and ever so sublime would have the audience spell-bound and rapt at attention. There was a surreal touch to his work. Oh the finesse of it all! His actions were exquisite and par excellence. More often than not, the way he would go about his job would be lucid and ethereal… For, his competitors would be left far behind gaping, seemingly tactless and wondering what had just hit them. Such was his dominance when he and his challengers took stage.

All but one. It is known that Mother Nature has her own unique way to deal with dominance. And so, it seemed only too fair that such great a talent should be bogey to 
someone. Enter the warrior. One who was not to be intimidated by any show of invincibility or ‘Godliness’. One who gnawed at the artists back. One who more than just troubled poetic pulchritude with a polar brilliance- puissance. Reminiscent of the tireless Heracles himself, this raging and rampant marauder was no cheap mercenary or bounty hunter. He was on a mission, too.

And what happens when irresistible force meets immovable object? A spectacle for us mere mortals to behold in awe. A wonder… A phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed. For, one of the said mighty has to fall, albeit momentarily, in an exhibition of contrasting art- however unique their ways may seem. The enchantment that holds those who witness the contest is worth every moment. These novae tend to illuminate the grandest of stages ad infinitum. The legacy left behind becomes the talk of raconteurs for generations till another equally (if not better) august exhibition of talent comes to the fore. And such narrations of prowess and fortitude are never ad nauseam!

It is a funny issue, the one we call a ‘paradox’. How beauty and monstrosity can charm the beholder in their own subtle ways. No wonder the captivation factor reaches its zenith when such wizards cross each other’s path in their quest for immortality. For, they are the exultant ones of the highest order… The elite Excellencies of execution… They reach heights which plebs and puerile characters can only dream of. Their mastery of the light and dark arts is put to a litmus test.

Spirit, they say, is indomitable, unending and unyielding. Indeed… The spirit of competition is ever-lasting and even vengeful! In a work of note- Ode on a Grecian Urn - the inimitable John Keats expressed how the seen are ephemeral and how the unseen are eternal… When Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal contest one another, Father Time may seem to have a sepulchral aura about Him and willingly takes the back seat to revel in a feast not for the eyes alone, but for Time immemorial. Moments, ephemeral and eternal, unite…

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Goal of Religion...

Been a bit held up since my last post... This should have been published long back. Nevertheless, I will come straight to the point. A disclaimer- this post may seem to contradict what I have said earlier. ;) But, as I always say; discussions welcome. :)

Reflections, amidst the on-going [so called] training stuff; "All religions lead to the same goal", is a concept widely subscribed by many educated people. I feel that this notion needs to be enquired into and understood.
If all religions have a well-defined and common goal, the difference would be purely cultural (A post on 'Culture' is pending; I will publish it soon). Difference in culture is totally acceptable, to any thinking person (a la 
René DescartesCogito, ergo sum
; I think, therefore I am). If all the religions have an identical intent, will there be any religious issue that necessitates a discussion? But then, what is the truth of the statement "All religions lead to the same goal"?

If ethical values constitute the goal of religion, certainly there is a singular goal adopted by all religions, the ethical values being universal. I raise questions here- should any person be religious to be ethical? Is there a need to be educated by religious scriptures alone to know what is ethical and what is not? Is it not true that any normal/sane human being is well informed about universal values? From the aboriginal in the outback of Australia, to the Zulus in Africa, to the pandit in India and to the Pope in Rome- for starters, they share at least this value; not getting hurt at the hands of  the other! That others also do not want to get hurt from him/her is also very well known to them. Other values like honesty, compassion, sharing, etc. are equally known facts. Ipso facto, they form the moral infrastructure for human interaction, not only with one another but also with other organisms that inhabit this world. This value-knowledge is born of human common sense. When there is this faculty of choice for a human being, there should be a matrix of norms known to him for making the right, rather appropriate, choice(s). If the human being is totally programmed, there will be no such thing as right or wrong in human behaviour. Without religious masters and religious scriptures preaching about right and wrong, one is very well informed about them. Therefore, ethical values cannot constitute the goal of any religion; for one can be ethical without being religious in anyway.

On the other hand, some religions take away the universality of these common-sense-born values by giving sanction to the killing of those who do not conform to their beliefs and who articulate their non-conformity. That the common-sense-born ethics are better off, without any interference by religion, is really a cause for sadness. In fact, religion should confirm the universal values as most of them do. The Vedic religion adds strength to the value-structure by introducing punya (virtue) and paap (sin) for actions that are right and wrong. Many other popular religions also introduce this element of reward and punishment. Suppose the goal for all religions is just reward or punishment, we may be able to say that all religions have the same goal despite the differences in these rewards and punishments.

differs from religion to religion. The concept of the reality of God, this world and ‘you’ is again thought of differently. More often, God is looked upon as a judgmental person located in a place yonder; albeit He is considered as an embodiment of all the attributes we associate with Him. Reaching that place and living with Him is the goal. Neither the Vedic religion nor Buddhism will accept this as a goal. A devout Christian will not accept any goal other than reaching heaven as promised by his scripture. Here again, it comes to mind, what does the statement that "All religions lead to the same goal" mean?
For a
 vaidika (someone under the direction of Vedic instrustions) who accepts with total understanding that this world including one's body-mind-sense complex is the Lord's manifestation, any form of prayer and worship is valid. Every name and form is valid enough to invoke the Lord, the Lord being every name and form. But prayer- mental, oral or ritualistic- is karma, and capable of producing a result. The given result is not the goal of religions much less the goal of any individual even if one thinks so. The goal of an informed vaidika is freedom from a sense of limitation centered on 'I'. Can there be an ultimate goal for a human being other than this? The freedom, moksha/nirvaana, from this sense of limitation is the human goal.

The Vedas say that the sense of limitation is due to one not knowing oneself. Then, it is obvious that the human goal is Self-knowledge/realization. The theologies of various world religions do not have anything to do with this goal. They are committed to their own beliefs even though they are non-verifiable and more often than not, unreasonable. They have a right to have their beliefs which do not have any space for accommodating other religious goals. But these beliefs are not acceptable to the thinking individual. They are not acceptable to a person who understands moksha either. So, all that a vaidika can say is "All forms of prayer are valid". Being an act, karma, each prayer can produce a limited result. One wants a limited result in life too (Isn't this contradicting to saying, our wants are unending?). But it can never be the goal of religion...

I hope I have not hurt any religious sentiments here. Please feel free to correct me if I have erred anywhere. I am not someone overtly erudite with the Vedas. What I have penned down here is a result of the odd discussion I have had with people, and what I have gathered after reading various articles. Yes, I am still a confused soul… One article, I talk about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa practicing the major religions et al, and now- this… ;)

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Innocence, no more...

I ne'er breathed 'til I first cried;
And cry, I now; since humanity has died.
Yes, the world is dead! D-E-A-D!
Yet, I still pray for my daily bread...
D-E-A-D? Is that what you heard me squeal?
Oh yes! Isn't it the dead who do not feel?

I am an object of your desire- amorous;
To you, I'm "raven-haired", I'm "glamorous"!
But was that a boon? Or was that MY bane!
I unknowingly trudged the Devil's lane...
You penetrated my innocence, for your delight!
In God-knows-how-many houses of the night.

"Godparent" has since been given a new meaning;
Something shamefully demeaning!
This "(gl)amorous one" has been grounded,
Ever since the fleur-de-lis was upon me, branded!
As I await her Ladyship to remove her famous blindfold,
I can only but feel life ebb, and cease to hold...
Dedicated to ‘innocence’ that has been torn away from the many innocents worldwide. Please… Let us join hands to stop child trafficking and abuse/pornography.

If my readers have made posts on the same motion, I urge them to post the respective url here. I wish to link them to this article. Feel free to link this piece with your posts as well. Peace.

Ms. Sameera Ansari links her creationWhen I was a little girl
Ms. Asbah Alaena links her creationPyari Lekri.
Ms. Aayushi Singh links her creation - And Life Shall Go On
Ms. Mona Aiyar links her creation Attacked Innocence...
Ms. Pratibha Sofat links her creation She 



Vox Populi...

Veni, vidi...


"Santa" Akshat comes to town!

"Santa" Akshat comes to town!
A token from a fellow blogging compadre, Akshat

Lady Cяystal relates...

Lady Cяystal relates...
Note - her creativity *swells* with every block. :)