Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
FAITH, CYNICAL AND SUBLIME
- How would Rumi and Gandhi have resolved the Ayodhya dispute?
POLITICS AND PLAY: Ramachandra guha
In the spring of 1907, the London publisher, John Murray, published a book on Persian mystics by one F. Hadland Davis. The book appeared in a series called “The Wisdom of the East”, whose editors desired their publications to be “ambassadors of good-will and understanding between East and West, the old world of Thought, and the new of Action”. Through the books in the series, it was hoped that the Western (and Christian) reader would acquire “a deeper knowledge of the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought [which] may help to a revival of that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations of another creed and colour”.
One of the first readers of the book was an Easterner educated in the West, Mohandas K. Gandhi. Then based in Johannesburg, Gandhi may have acquired the book from a local store, or perhaps ordered it from London. At any rate, he was deeply impressed, writing about it in Indian Opinion, the journal he then edited. Of the mystics whom Hadland Davis had profiled, Gandhi was charmed most by Jalaluddin Rumi, who aspired to “a pure heart and love of God”. Gandhi quotes Rumi saying, when asked where one could find god, “I saw the Cross and also Christians, but I did not find God on the Cross. I went to find him in the temple, but in vain. I saw him neither in Herat nor in Kandahar. He could be found neither on the hill nor in the cave. At last, I looked into my heart and found Him there, only there and nowhere else.” Gandhi ended his review by saying that he would “like to recommend the book to everyone. It will be of profit to all, Hindus and Muslims alike”.
Gandhi’s meditation on Rumi was published in June, 1907. That November, the Gujarati New Year, Nutan Varsh, fell on the same day as the great Muslim festival, Eid. Gandhi used this coincidence to offer a brief homily on the significance of inter-faith understanding. “If the people of different religions grasp the real significance of their own religion,” he wrote, “they will never hate the people of any religion other than their own. As Jalaluddin Rumi has said or as Shri Krishna said to Arjun, there are many rivers, and they appear different from one another, but they all meet in the ocean.”
A hundred years ago, Jalaluddin Rumi was known only to the specialist, but because of the efforts of more recent translators and publicists this 13th-century mystic is — according to an article in a recent issue of the Times Literary Supplement — the most widely read poet in America today. As it happens, after those two occasions in 1907, Gandhi did not write about the Sufi mystic again. However, the lesson he took from Rumi he upheld and affirmed all his life.
Twenty-five years after his review of Hadland Davis’s Persian Mystics, Gandhi received an anguished letter from an English disciple named Verrier Elwin. A licensed priest of the Church of England, Elwin was threatened by his bishop with excommunication, because he refused to take the Gospel to the Gond tribals he then lived with. The priest had learnt from Gandhi that there were many paths to god; while he himself had chosen the one laid down by Christ, he would permit the tribals to follow the road of their ancestors. The bishop vehemently disagreed, saying that Jesus commanded his followers to make Christians of unbelievers.
Faced with expulsion from his Church, Elwin wrote to Gandhi for advice. The Mahatma asked him not to take to heart what the bishop had told him, since the message of Jesus was “in the main denied in the churches, whether Roman or English”. Even if he was thrown out of the Church of England, he could remain a Christian according to his own lights. For, as Gandhi consolingly told the confused young man, “Your pulpit is the whole earth. The blue sky is the roof of your own church.”
This last piece of advice is highly pertinent to the once very intense, then moribund, and now revived dispute in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya. For Jalaluddin Rumi and Mohandas K. Gandhi did not need structures of marble and stone to find god in. Nor should we. One can be good, godly and devout without ever entering a temple or mosque or church.
Twenty-four years have passed since the locks were opened in the makeshift shrine to Ram; 21 since L.K. Advani led a blood-soaked ‘rath yatra’; 18 since the Babri Masjid was brought down by a mob. In this time, a generation of Indians has come of age with no memories of the dispute that once polarized the country. Do we need to open the wounds again? When asked this question by a visiting journalist earlier this month, a student in Ayodhya answered by saying that he hoped that instead of a temple or a mosque, a hospital would come up on the disputed site.
Before and after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, various suggestions were offered on how to put an end to the controversy. A well-meaning Gandhian suggested a multi-faith centre. Another gave this idea more specificity; we should, he said, build a “Ram-Rahim Darwaza”, a large archway signifying openness and dialogue. The proposal of the young student is as noble as any other, and perhaps more practical. What could be more meaningful than a structure tending to the poor, the sick and the wounded in a place whose mythic and historic resonances once provoked riot and mass murder in the name of faith?
This week the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court was to decide who owned the title-suit to the site in Ayodhya. The court’s sitting has now been postponed; however, whatever its decision, the matter will surely be taken by one or other party to the Supreme Court. The arguments will drag on. The sangh parivar will insist that a grand Ram temple come up on the site. Muslim extremists will argue that the Babri Masjid must be rebuilt.
In my view, rather than leave the matter to the courts, the Central government should intervene decisively to end the dispute. Under the Land Acquisition Act, the State can acquire property from individuals and communities in the name of the “public purpose”. This act has been grossly abused in the recent past, to allow private companies to grab land owned by peasants and tribals. (The conflicts at Singur, Nandigram, Kashipur and Niyamgiri were all sparked by the misuse of this act.) Here now is a chance for the State to redeem itself and simultaneously to put an end to this religious — or shall we say pseudo-religious — controversy. Nothing would serve the “public purpose” better than if the government of India was to acquire the land being fought over in Ayodhya, clear it of intruders, and build a new, well-equipped and adequately staffed hospital for the residents of the town.
Mahatma Gandhi was the greatest Ram bhakt since Tulsidas; yet once he had reached adulthood, he never entered a Ram temple (or any other). Jalaluddin Rumi turned away — or was turned back — from the mosques in Herat and Kandahar. Both men knew that the path to god was independent of physical structures and self-appointed preachers. Had they been alive, I think Gandhi and Rumi would both have approved of a hospital being built at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Speaking at Prayer Meeting on 20 July 1947 , Gandhiji said : " I cannot rejoice on August 15. I do not want to deceive you. But at the same time I shall not ask you not to rejoice.Unfortunately the kind of freedom we have got today contains also the seeds of future conflict between India and Pakistan. How can we therefore light the lamps? "
A day before on 14 August, speaking at Marwari Club in Calcutta, Gandhi said : " Tomorrow we will be free from the slavery of British; but from mid-night India will be cut into two pieces."
15 August 1947, Gandhiji spent his day with prayers, fasting and spinning. He did not issue any formal message nor did he attend the celebrations in Delhi. Talking to the group of students, Gandhiji said : '' I am not lifted off my feet by these demonstration of joy. "
Source : Collected Works Of Mahtama Gandhi. Vols : 88 & 89.
Monday, August 9, 2010
" I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when
the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall
the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen,
and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use
to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control
over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for
the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away." - M. K. GANDHI
Friday, August 6, 2010
In March 1942, British Government sent Sir Stafford Cripps to
In May 1942, Gandhi called on
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The peace march which started from Mani Bhavan, Mumbai will reach Wagah Border on 14th August, 2010.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
" Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in the very minutest detail in the activities of man and she has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him. She is entitled to a supreme place in her own sphere of activity as man is in his. This ought to be the natural condition of things and not as a result only of learning to read and write. By sheer force of a vicious custom, even the most ignorant and worthless men have been enjoying a superiority over women which they do not deserve and ought not to have. Many of our movements stop half-way because of the condition of our women. Much of our work does not yield appropriate results ; our lot is like that of the penny-wise and pound-foolish trader who does not employ enough capital in his business.
If I am right, a good many from among you, members of this Samaj, should go out to educate your ignorant sisters about their real condition. In practical terms, this means that you should spare as much time as you can to visit the most backward localities in Bombay and give the women there what you have yourselves received. If you have joined men in their religious, political and social activities, acquaint them with these. If you have gained any special knowledge about the bringing up of children, impart it to them. If you have studied and realized in your own experience the benefits of clean air, clean water, clean and simple food, and exercise, tell these women about them too. In this way, you will raise yourselves and them."
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
.J.B.Vachcha High School , Dadar.
.Ammulakh Amichand B.V.Vidyalaya, Matunga.