Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

Jan 26, 2017

Demonitization of Vedic Currency

“Violence is as Hindu as curry” - Wendy Doniger writes in her book “On Hinduism” page 136 in context with her description of classical Hindu India as, and I quote…


“Classical Hindu India was violent in politics (she forgets to mention that India was the only country which never waged war towards any other country in its history), in its religious practice (and she gives examples like animal sacrifice, ascetic self torture, fire walking, swinging from hooks in the flesh in the back… and so forth but she conveniently forgets to say that her examples are as ritualistic practice not a common social custom of Indian masses), in its criminal law (she again conveniently forgets that the last seven to eight  hundreds years, India was occupied by Moghuls and British people so can not be said that its Indian Law - though I have other examples like Winston Churchill deliberate massacre of millions due to his apathy as millions died due to starvation because of him) but I just couldn't stop laughing when she says that perhaps at the very heart of it (Hindu Violence) is climate, with its un-durable heat and unpredictable monsoon…



Though I have other issues with her, including her sad interpretations of Vedic Scriptures, I will go on to other examples how our ancient Vedic currency is being short changed by supposedly great intellectuals. 


Nirad C Choudhuri - a Bengali Intellectual and author of best selling book ‘Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (1951), who in his dedication of the book says…



“Because all that was good and living within us (Indians)
was made, shaped and quickened
by the same British Rule.”
                                             
But British and western Intellectuals were not the only one who demonetised Vedic Currency, there were the likes of Shaykh Bhavan in Moghul Court (a Brahmin, converted to Islam and because of his back ground, was consulted in cases of Sanskrit interpretations), proclaimed that the Atharva Veda allowed Hindus to eat beef in some cases and permitted burial of the dead instead of cremation.


However the British were more organised in demonetising the Vedic Currency. Few weeks ago, I met Shashi Tharoor at Hindu Lit Festival, where he specifically claimed (and I agree with him absolutely), that they not only colonized India but also colonized Indian mind.  The Manu Smiriti was written 2000 years back but the Native Indians never gave it any importance in terms of the social life but British systemized it.  Through their law commissions, numerous censuses every ten years from 1871 or so and educational doctrine. As Shashi Tharoor explains in his book “An Era of Darkness”, where he quotes Nicholas B Dirk from his seminal book  ‘Castes of Mind”…


“In fact caste was just one category among many others, one way of organizing and representing identity.”


In India, at the time, no one was really bothered about the Smriti, written by Sant Manu centuries ago. It was never considered as an important aspect of their day to day life, but British Raj ensured that the poor Indian colonised people are boxed into one of those categories. And, as they pushed forward their education system, which as Macaulay pointed out. "should be a channel to produce clerks to serve the British masters" began with missionary zeal. British Raj ensured that the Indian mind was far more colonized than the India as a country. Unfortunately somehow it still continues to produce such slaves to his / her masters voice…

And that’s exactly what worries me more. The present day Westerners / Indian Guru’s who are writing so called best sellers because it is camouflaged as an ancient Indian mythology and scriptures. But more often than not, these are full of wrong translations and ‘Mythya-logy’, which provides a vast breeding ground for a disconnect with the young Indian minds off the beauty and reality of rich Indian heritage and culture… I am sure that if they do read it some times, they will find amazing source of inspiration like Manjul Bhargava, Fields Medalist (Considered to be a Nobel Prize in Mathematics) who got inspired by a shloka given by his grand Father in Jaipur, to write his PhD Thesis.



I also hope that this ongoing demonetization of Vedic Currency is curtailed through concerted efforts of people who have are watching this wrong turn of tide. 



Well my fight against the tide goes on and I continue to appeal to youngsters to connect with our ancient heritage and culture, some time through my posts, workshops and occasionally with my books like "Songs of the Mist" sharing the Bhagwat Gita essence, 'sugar coated with a fictional love story of heart break and pain' (as Deccan Chronicle pointed out in its write up about me and my book sometime back) and get inspired. 


Even if you are not able to understand the deep philosophy of Indian thinking, written in those ancient scriptures, please do read them to have a first hand experience of the logic and language on your own as the beauty of the language alone will be a source of inspiration to change your lives. 

And to those few of my friends, who are fighting for this cause, wish you all the best and hope that you are able to inspire the young generation to at least give our heritage a chance instead of being disillusioned by the Mythya-logy.
__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Jan 16, 2017

HINDU LIT FOR LIFE: Chennai Book Lovers Happy Journey

The most awaited event of the new year for me, since last few years, has been Hindu Literary Festival which comes to a close today. This year too, it brought me in touch with wonderful writers from across the world. The interaction with humble Markus Zusak - Author of the book 'The Book Thief', unassuming and prolific Author Shashi Tharoor - who could produce a well researched book on British Colonialism, based on his viral video. The  wonderful sessions of many authors and commentators, I attended was absolutely enlightening. Spending some time with Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, getting to know her thoughts and ideas, meeting my old friend and mentor Timeri N Murari as well as some friends from Chennai Blogger's Club added an extra interest to the festival. 

This year's Festival was also special as my two good friends Dr. Chithra Madhavan and Sharon Apparao conducted wonderful workshops which were not only interesting but  engrossing as well.

And as the festival came to an end, the winners of the Hindu Lit Festival are Chennai Book Lovers... who joined in a very Happy Journey (as the auto at the venue declared) on the day of Hindu New Year Festival - Sankranti which also kick started my own literary journey with twin city launch of the Hindi translation of my book "Songs of the Mist" - Kuhaase ke Geet at Mumbai (18th Jan) and at Delhi (4th Feb) by my publisher Story Mirror. Hopefully the year 2017 will continue to be on happy note, as I start off on another journey to Mumbai University where I am conducting my Workshops on "Writing and Haiku" @ SMYCC...

Kiran Doshi (Pic Curtsy Hindu Lit For Life)
But the real winner with a lovely acceptance speech was Kiran Doshi, who received this years coveted Hindu Prize of Fiction for his book - 'Jinnah Often Came to Our House'.


Vivek Shanbhag
The final days of the Hindu Lit Fest was interspersed with many interesting sessions, beginning with Vivek Shanbhag - the Kannada Author, whose mother tongue is actually Konkani, declaring that the first quality of a writer is to be courageous. I could relate to personally as well as to his quote that... 'The Word has so many memories'.


The session with Kanhaiya Kumar - a mellowed down iconic JNU Ex-President began with his thoughts on the topic 'Is India Ready for Revolution?'

"Forget revolution, currently we have a crisis of opposition". He went on to add in his english - hindi mixed talk (for which he apologised to begin with)...

"The current situation of young generation and education system is such that degree has become important, while education is not" - Kanhaiya Kumar


The most awaited session personally for me was of the author of the book "The Book Theif" - Markus Zusak. A very humble person, who when asked to read few lines from his iconic book, not only read as he would usually do but also read it in the way a professional will, which was hilarious.

"Writers love to be miserable, that's what being a writer is all about" - Markus



Markus Zusak

"The good part of the book is that it develops friendship." - Markus

This year the Hindu Lit Fest received record footfalls, as Nirmala Lakshmanan (Program Director and Director of Hindu Group) shared the fact sheet at the beginning of the festival that the festival has generated huge response to begin with. It has pre-registered 15K participants on the day one and I believe it was more than that... Here is a picture which endorses the view...




Leaving you with some pictures with some of my friends... from the Hindu Lit Fest.


Lovely to catch up with Srinidhi Hande - The Famous Traveller 
With famous music lover, Quiz Master and good friend - Sylvian Patrick
And wonderful conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner - Geraldine Brooks

Hope you have enjoyed the journey with me, signing off 2016 Hindu Lit Festival... Cheers
__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Jan 15, 2017

HINDU LIT FOR LIFE: Day 1 - There is something about Trump?

BUT BEFORE WE GO THERE...
As 14th January is our Hindu New Year, let me treat you with the how the Hindu Lit Festival celebrated it.


The Grand Entrance to the Hindu Lit Festival

... and the beauty of new year
I have been writing about Hindu Lit Festival since its inception and as my friend Nirmala Lakshmanan, the Director of the Festival said that this time has been the most promising start with 15K registrations even before the festival began. Looking at the brochure with the details of its program, I think Hindu Lit Festival has surpassed itself in the content, quality and footfalls and above all the participation of the citizens of Chennai.


And then the session began... with the reluctant artist, opening up the festival.




...and remembering Chandralekha, by Tishani Doshi who in the beginning was even scared to ring the bell....




The best session of the day was reserved for Shashi Tharoor, who was able to manage a book out of a viral video "Era of Darkness" which is doing great but as it goes for a print in Britain but for obvious reason not with the same title...




Though it is not difficult to say, why the change of title but here are some of his quotes from his talk, which might let you know...

"They not only colonised the country, but also colonised the mind"

"Manu's thought was always there since 2000 years as Caste was, but the British were able to systemise it, which even continues today."

As I listened to him, tearing apart the systemic approach with which British went on being hypocritical about the reasons they were in India, I did not realise that I was sitting next to Geraldine Brooks, the pulitzer prize winner journalist, who in her next session talked so lovingly about the India, she has come to recognise....




"India has so many examples of moral leadership, who could stand opposite to oppression" -  Geraldine Brooks

And as she launched into the reasons for her book 'March' which won her the award in 2006, she was able to pinpoint the different way it came about. She was looking forward to an answer to the question she had in her mind...

"What happens to an idealist, when he goes to war?"

'The decay of ideals in times of war' and probably is the reason I find her voice resonating with me as she said...

"I think there is return to kind of nationalist Militant-ism" as she watched the twin towers going down, rhetoric of whites supremacist and the winning trump card - which brings to me to the most interesting phenomenon...

THE AGE OF TRUMP
Ok, there is no denying to it that it has arrived. Mark's Kurlansky - An American Author and journalist, who's daughter Talia (She co-authored a book with him at the age of 12) said that the day Trump became president - elect, her english teacher said...

"I am so sorry that my generation failed yours"



But I believe, as long as artists like Molly Crabapple, who called 'Spade - a spade' in declaring the Trump Mantra of 'Lets Make America Great Again'... is nothing but a call to 'Lets Make America WHITE Again"...




there is still a chance that the old generation has not failed the young generation. As in the end of the session, Brooks said, in an answer to the question from the audience...

"Art, freedom, thinking thrives most when its under threat" 

Amen!!

Looking forward to next few days .... Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me in Hindu Lit Festival. Please let me know your views..

__
Shashi 
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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Jan 3, 2017

SPOTLIGHT: ‘The Other Side of HIm’ - Alice Rene (Action Thriller)

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.
_______
“Have a good look, ladies. This is the face of a woman who just plunged a dagger into her boyfriends back.” - Alice Rene in “The Other Side of Him

Few years back, I had visited Vienna and fell in love with it. SO much so that one of the character of my own book is based in Vienna. So when I got a chance to interact with the author of the book “The Other Side of Him” - Alice Rene who is from Vienna herself, I had to have her in the Spotlight. I was quite sure that it would have the necessary creative ingredients to keep my interest growing from page to page. Coming from the land of Secessionist movement of the artists in early last century, my interaction with her was as creative and interesting as art lined up on almost every street corner of the city.

Though I was surprised by the choice of her subject in the book i.e. Stalking in the 1950's, but as you read on, you tend to agree with her. Published in January 2016, “The Other Side of Him” has won a IPPY AWARD, Bronze Medal in Regional Fiction and was a Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hills Award Competition in the Category of Suspense.

She says that her purpose in writing the book was to highlight the issue of stalking and what it was like in the fifties for anyone being stalked when society had not established any institutions to help such victims.

She loves to write in her study, where she has a great view of her garden. She likes quiet places where she can think and her study is the perfect place for the same. She says that it usually take her 3 years to write and edit a book. Mostly her inspiration for the book comes from her personal experiences.

BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Vienna, Alice came to the U.S. as a young child and survivor of WWII. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and came to California for college and graduate school. Her first book, award-winning "Becoming Alice” is a memoir. She has worked as a medical social worker and travel consultant, escorting groups to exotic foreign destinations, before starting her writing career. She now lives in southern California where she plays tennis, works in her succulent garden, and writes her next book.

HER INSPIRATIONS
My inspiration comes from watching people’s characteristics, how each person deals with conflict, and why.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK
1)...."he's the most eligible bachelor in San Francisco...Be an angel and do your brother a favor--go out with this guy, okay?"
2) "With his free hand he lifted my chin to meet his lips. The kiss! The passion! I all seemed to come from his heart. I wrapped his my arms around his neck and responded in kind."
3) "Dusk blanketed the neighborhood, the time of day ordinary hoodlums turned into thieves--or killers if their victims put up a fight.

THE STORY
Inspired by true events this story is about Claire, raised in the Chicago tenements in the 50's and eager to escape her humble and dangerous surroundings. Her ticket to get out of the projects is to win a scholarship to college in California. She achieves her dreams, and even meets a man on a blind date, handsome and rich, who introduces her to a life she'd only seen in the movies. In time she learns he is also deeply flawed and attempts to break up with him. However he is not ready to let go of her and becomes her stalker, a situation in which her very life is threatened. In a time before society had any institutions set up to help victims of abuse, Claire must find her own solution to escape he danger she faces.



______



– Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” | Haiku Poet
Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind


__

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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