Friday, October 17, 2014

From ‘Gurudev Dr. Ranade's Life of Light’ by M S Deshpande

“According to the law of Spiritual Gravitation, the experience of a worthy Spiritual Teacher automatically descend to his disciples. As water at a higher level must descend to a lower level, so the experience of a Spiritual Teacher must descend automatically to those who are walking on the path he has trodden.”

Continuous soulful meditation fills the brain of the sadhaka with spiritual energy which enlivens all the centres of perception in it and makes them active. As a result of this they get direct experience of the spiritual energy in the form of light, sound, flavor, odour and touch…… They arise in the brain and issue from it…..
…The spiritual experiences, thus, need no aid of the sense organs. They can be had even when the sense organs are inactive or out of order……in this sphere “intercommunication can take place between different sense-functions, through this unity of apperception.” …. Sri Purandardas could describe his unique experience like this: ‘I could hear with the eyes, see with the ears and see as well as hear with the nose.’

From ‘One Soul's Journey’ by Leni Matlin

God is positive. Man is negative. If contact is made, the Divine current flows from positive to negative. For this reason the Indian tradition of touching a Divine person. But without some form of discipline and limitation, people would be touching face and body. Hence, the custom of touching the lotus feet.

In India, the most auspicious times to meditate are when the moon is in its dark phase, or waning, and is therefore least disruptive. Let Baba explain it:

Shivaratri is observed every month on the fourteenth night of the dark half; for the Moon, which is the presiding Deity of the human mind, has only just one night more to be a nonentity with no influence on the agitations of the mind. In the month of Magha, the fourteenth night is named Maha (great) Shivaratri for it is sacred for another reason too. It is the day on which Shiva takes the Linga form, for the benefit of seekers.

From ‘Guruji. A portrait of Sri K Pattabhi Jois. Through the Eyes of his students’ by Guy Donahaye and Eddie Stern

Yoga is showing where to look for the soul – that is all. Man is taking a human body – this is a very rare opportunity. Don’t waste it. We are given a hundred years to live; one day you have the possibility to see god. If you think in this way, it is giving you good body, good nature, and health
-          Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, 2001

Patanjali gives us three crucial ingredients for success in our yoga practice. The first thing he mentions is tapas, literally meaning to burn, to burn away impurities. Through tapas, one purifies the indriyas, the organs of perception, which lends itself to a greater capacity for discrimination and self-reflection.
The second aspect is svadhyaya [self-inquiry], and he says, through self-inquiry we come to recognize what he calls the ishta devata – our personal deity, our own individual connection to some aspect of the divine that we can come to know through self-inquiry. The predecessor to that is the process of purification. So it’s a process of physical purification and then mental purification through self-inquiry which ultimately leads to the realization that you have help from unseen forces. There is an energy or entity referred to as Ishvara, that universal internal teacher …..
The last part of that equation is ishvarapranidhana – literally, bowing to God or recognizing in awe and humility that there is a timeless eternal teacher working on our behalf, and that a way of connecting to that teacher is through the lineage of yoga teachers

The benefit of regular practice is the strength that comes from it ……Even Pattabhi Jois has said, minimum daily practice surya namskara A, surya namskara B, and the final three positions of the closing sequence

Ricky Heiman…..
Can you think of a favorite story about Guruji?
Well, I don’t know if I can use this language, and I don’t know if I’ll even quote it properly, but when he was here this last trip, visitors would come to the house ….just chatting ….i remember one young lady …started talking about what was wrong with the world ….Guruji very casually said to her, “You let God take care of world, you take care your anus.” That was brilliant to me….. you take care of your mula bandha.”

Deba Kingsberg
Repetition of the same practice daily brings some insight into behavioral patterns, our personalities, and the workings of the mind.
….Repetition is the key. We go back to the same place over and over without expectation or judgement again and again in both the practice and in the cleansing until eventually catharsis, either subtle or dramatic, occurs as some stubborn or trapped part of us breaks free. A grief, a fear, a trauma, a secret, a sadness. Once it settles, there is clarity or lightness, a freedom of movement or a breakthrough in the practice that was not there before. The illumination and transformation inspires faith in the wisdom of the method. Days, weeks, months, years pass and slowly the mind settles and the window of perception clears.

Rolf Naujokat
People in India devote themselves to a certain deity and worship that deity – for example, Krishna. They see it in the form [a physical representation] and in a certain moment that form melts away and it is just a devotion to the unmanifested aspect of divinity.

From ‘Off the Record. Untold stories from a reporter's diary’ by Ajith Pillai

When liberalization was ushered in during the early 90s, it left its impact on journalism as well. Reporting from rural India was suddenly discouraged, unless there was a communal incident or a crime that drew national attention. Issues like the concerns of farmers and health came to be labelled as subjects with limited readership ….Development journalism and rural reporting took a back seat and became an aberration in most publications

… Indian Post …… Vijaypat [Singhania] sent a note to Vinod [Mehta] which listed eight people he should not write against unless there was irrefutable evidence. The list included then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Satish Sharma, Murli Deora, Amitabh Bachchan and Sharad Pawar. Confronted by this ‘prohibitory order’, Vinod decided to quit…..

In the old days, corrupt journalists sometimes managed to sneak in a planted report or review for a consideration. Today, managements have got into the act and are cashing in on those who are willing to pay for coverage.
Paid news is now an organized corporate activity ……

The Riots …. Bombay …….
The mob rule that had taken over the city with the Shiv Sena blatantly targeting Muslims was deeply disturbing and depressing …In the days to come, it came to light that the Mumbai police were not only playing down casualty figures, but also looking the other way and allowing the rioters a free hand. The state government, it seemed, was also offering tacit support to the Sena-sponsored violence.
…..Tensions had begun to build among the two communities and journalists would learn later that there were several statements made which provoked Muslims no end. Among them was one by a Hindu Mahasabha leader who said that if he was UP’s chief minister, he would have razed the Masjid with a bomb and that the building of the temple was only the beginning – every Muslim would be driven out of the country in due course. Such provocations were hardly reported in the mainstream media but word went around among Muslims in the city.
…..killings of Hindus in the Radhabai chawls ……A Saamana editorial set the tone: ‘Hindus have been burnt alive in Jogeshwari and that is why they have taken to the streets …The people and police have been fired at from mosques using Pakistani weapons. Why are we protecting them? Muslims in India are behaving like Pakistanis. It is as if there are two countries within one. The police are waiting to shoot these people. Even they feel the anguish of innocent citizens … Hindus, open your eyes and see what is going on…..’

….had a common thread of violence perpetrated by armed mobs that came to their homes chanting ‘Jai Bhawani, Jai Shivaji’. They had witnessed horrific scenes of arson and bloodletting. Many said the violence would erupt after the maha-aartis organized by the Shiv Sena in response to the Muslim practice of offering namaaz on the streets. The aartis were said to be prayer meetings but were used as platforms to deliver hate speeches. ….The maha-aartis were finally banned ….
…The then-Congress government in Maharashtra failed to act throughout the violence, There were allegations that it was allowing the Shiv Sena a free hand. Whenever we would go to Chief Minister Sudhakarrao Naik’s residence for press briefings, he was the picture of calm…..

….a friend from Peddar Road called to report that Shiv Sainiks…. Were approaching businessmen and residents of the area for protection money …He even had a copy of one of the receipts issued by the Sainiks…

From ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous. Profiles’ by Khushwant Singh with Humra Quraishi

….Ali Sardar [Jafri] summed up his life story. ‘Mera Safar’, thus in a few memorable lines:
I am a fleeting moment
In the magic house of days and nights;
I am a restless drop travelling eternally
From the flask of the past to the goblet of the
I sleep and wake, awake to sleep again;
I am the ancient play on the stage of time -
I die only to become immortal

….Dom’s [Dom Moraes] verse …..One could ….detect a few themes that recurred consistently in his poems: he was obsessed with death …his mother’s insanity haunted him all his life; and he sought escape in hard liquor and making love. He summed it up in ‘A Letter’,
My father hugging me so hard it hurt,
My mother mad, and time we went awy.
We travelled, and I looked for love too young,
More travel, and I looked for lust instead.
I was not ruled by wanting; I was young,
And poems grew like maggots in my head.

When Dom was stricken with cancer, he refused to undergo chemotherapy. It was as if he almost wallowed in the prospect of an early end, with the ghost of his insane mother hovering over him.
From a heavenly asylum, shriveled Mummy,
glare down like a gargoyle at your only son.
…That I’m terminally ill hasn’t been much
There is no reason left for anything to exist.
Goodbye now. Don’t try to meddle with this.

Zakhmi huey jo hont toh mehsoos yeh hua
Chooma tha maine phool ko deevangi ke sath

It was the bruises on my lips that made me
With what thoughtlessness I had kissed the rose

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, ….fully answered the poet Allama Iqbal’s requirements of a Meer-e-Kaarvaan – leader of the caravan:
Nigah buland, sukhan dilnawaz, jaan par soz
Yahi hain rakht-e-safar Meer-e-Kaarvaan ke liye

Lofty vision, winning speech and a warm
This is all the baggage the leader of the caravan
needs on his journey.

….Sangh parivar …..They were men of polite manners, obvious sophistication and intelligence who cloaked their fascist ideas in sweet reasonableness, with impeccable etiquette ….Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar …. There were passages in his 1939 tract, We, or Our Nationhood Defined, that seemed to suggest that Golwalkar shared Hitler’s ideas about racial purity and approved of his methods to purge Germany of Jews. …..small room. In it sat a dozen men in spotless white kurtas and dhotis – all looking newly washed as only Maharashtrian Brahmins can manage.

I have been a regular drinker all my adult life. I celebrate sex and cannot say that I have never lied. I have not hurt anyone physically, but I think I have caused hurt with my words and actions. And sometimes there is no forgiveness in me. But I consider myself a Gandhian. Whenever I feel unsure of anything, I try to imagine what Gandhi would have done, and that is what I do.

Monday, September 29, 2014

From ‘Through Siberia by Accident’ by Dervla Murphy

…the passport officers eventually sauntered on to the scene, tired-looking young women with closed faces, replicating their Soviet predecessors. In a perverse way it cheered me that capitalism had not yet taught them to feign friendliness for the sake of the tourist industry.

…the new Moscow’s crime-ridden image.
To the casual visitor, poverty is more evident than crime, the sort of poverty never visible in Soviet times. Next morning, as I approached a skip ….. an old man, desperately seeking food amidst the household waste of this affluent district, seemed not to notice me. When he found a small plastic bag of stale crusts, discoloured lettuce leaves and chicken bones the relief on his face was harrowing to see.

……five-and-a-half day train ride to Tynda ….. How ……would a three-year-old react to five days confinement? …..I was deeply impressed by Dima. He never once woke up anybody, always peed in his potty at convenient times, was carried out to the loo once a day for more substantial matters, ate everything put before him, contentedly gazed out of the window for hours on end, his lips moving, inventing a game in his mind. When it suited his parents and sister they played with him but he never demanded attention though lacking all those diversions we provide for long journeys. In nearby compartments four other toddlers and small children were equally well-behaved and happy. Do the Russians have something to teach us about child-rearing?

Mrs Baranskaya volunteered to make up my bed, a touching gesture of welcome – characteristic, I was soon to realize, of the incomparably hospitable Siberians….

Because the multinational breweries’ advertisements give the impression that beer is almost a soft drink, it is now openly imbibed in circumstances where vodka would not be tolerated. Frequently I saw small boys swilling from cans, sold by most pavement kiosks, while awaiting their school buses. As Russia has been notorious, over the past thousand years, for off-the-scale alcoholism, it is hard to forgive those corporations now enticing young Russians to develop a pivo addiction

I had by then realized that the Siberians’ devotion to their domestic animals does not extend to guard-dogs who must endure a loveless life, forever chained, feared by all but their owners.

It is impossible to escape from any Siberian home ….Siberian hospitality is agreeably informal, strangers being absorbed into a family circle without ceremony, and no polite protests were made when I joined …..

……..Adam Olearius in the 1630s…made four journeys among the Russians and reported, in what became an international bestseller …..
After a meal, Russians do not restrain, in the hearing of all, from releasing what nature produces, fore and aft. Since they eat a great deal of garlic and onion it is rather trying to be in their company. Perhaps against their will these good people fart and belch noisily….. So given are they to the lusts of the flesh that some are addicted to the vile depravity of sodomy not only with boys but also with men and horses. People caught in such obscene acts are not severely punished. Tavern musicians often sing of such loathsome things, while some show them to young people in puppet shows.

….Russian bees have a long-established reputation for ferocity.

Feodor was one of those standard Muscovites ….who have missed out on the varied genetic contributions that make many Russians look interesting.

…Russian proverb: ‘We meet you according to your dress and see you off according to your mind.’

…Lake Baikal ….the lake’s emanations have influenced Severobaikalsk. I cant complain of unfriendliness anywhere in Siberia but this town’s relaxed amiability and spontaneity seem exceptional.

I like the Siberians’ tendency to congregate in their kitchens, invariably small but very much the centre of the home ….

A carefully conducted inquiry found that 67 per cent of boys and 46 per cent of girls regularly drank alcohol… comes from a 1901 survey of the recreational habits of rural schoolchildren, aged seven to thirteen, in Moscow province ….Alcoholism has afflicted Russians to an alarming extent since at least the Middle Ages …..

Sadly, it is not a sobering fact that today’s Russian adolescents are less likely to celebrate their sixtieth birthdays than the 1900 generation.

From ‘The Living Gandhi. Lessons for our times’ Edited by Tara Sethia and Anjana Narayan

‘So it comes to this that under exceptional circumstances war may have to be resorted to as a necessary evil …. If the motive is right, it may turn out to the profit of mankind, and that an ahimsaist may not stand aside and look on with indifference, but must make the choice and actively cooperate or actively resist’

For Gandhi, the drive to increase material wants is the essence of the modern West and its fatal flaw; it is the engine of imperial expansion, of economic inequality and exploitation, the seed of war and the cause of environmental despoliation.

…Gandhi admonished that ‘the test of orderliness in a country is not the number of millionaires it owns but the absence of starvation among its masses.’

Gandhi’s candour and integrity have the additional benefit of encouraging similar behavior among those around him: as Erik Erikson reported, ‘In his presence, one could not tell a lie.’

…..Macauley said:
the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them …..
a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia….
it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern – a class of persons in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect ….

Mahatma Jotirao Phule’s historic memorandum to the Hunter Commission in 1882 questioned the sociopolitical character of knowledge in education imparted by the British Raj. It lamented that almost all the teachers employed in the primary schools were Brahmins, not used to productive manual labour. Their students in turn imbibed ‘inactive habits’ and tried to obtain government service. Phule proposed that teachers of primary school should be those ‘who will not feel ashamed to hold the handle of a plough or the carpenter’s adze when required’ and who will be able to mix themselves readily with the lower orders of society’.

Gandhi asserted that:
The foundation that Macauley laid of education has enslaved us … [Was] it not a sad commentary that we should have to speak of Swarajya [Self-Rule] in a foreign tongue?

….Nai Taleem ….whatever be taught to children, all of it should be taught necessarily through the medium of a trade or handicraft …. The brain must be educated through the hand.

He warned that education through English medium has resulted in ‘a permanent bar between the highly educated few and the uneducated many’ and ‘made our children practically foreigners in their own land.’

…the social character of the occupations that Gandhi envisaged for introduction into the curriculum. These occupations included spinning, weaving,…..tanning …..pottery, farming, ….building and cleaning latrines … Without exception, all these occupations involved manual work and were undertaken primarily by the lower classes/castes viz. Dalits, tribals, Other Backword Classes and Muslim artisans, with the women among them playing a significant role.
The political message is inescapable: accord these occupations and the communities engaged in them a central place of dignity in the education system that was never their destiny in Indian history.

….educationist Krishna Kumar noted that ‘a low-caste child would feel far more at home than an upper-caste child’ in schools pursuing the Gandhian curriculum, thereby making ‘the education system stand on its head.’

When children learn through productive work, the Macaulayian practice of prescribing textbooks would become superfluous, just as Gandhi had passionately argued. Instead of textbooks, each school would have a reference library or resource material drawn from both local and global sources as well as texts, oral or written (now multimedia too), prepared by the community and children themselves. This radical concept of how children learn should enable the school collective of students and teachers ‘to seek answers to the questions that arise in their minds … queries would reflect the nature and the stage of their engagement with the physical and social world around them’. Expectedly, the ‘path to knowledge will thus become entirely open-ended, non-linear and contextual.’

At the end of the Wardha Conference in 1937, Gandhi said, ‘I have given many things to India. But this system of education …is, I feel, the best of them.’ Yet, what to Gandhi was his best gift to India is precisely what the Indian state negated. …..India continues to adhere to the Macaulayian framework instituted more than 175 years ago!

Gandhi realized that the knowledge that the constituents of the informal economy – that is, farmers, artisans, women, adivasis and small retailers – possess is found abundantly in society. However, this lokavidya (loka = people/world, vidya = knowledge/skill/art) does not have the prestige enjoyed by school and university knowledge. Ordinary life and work are not even considered knowledge-generating activities. Gandhi’s economic programme was intended to take full advantage of the knowledge found among the people in order to make economic development inclusive for all.

….Gandhi’s economic and political impulse was to decentralize rather than centralize. Village industries (or ‘dispersed industrialization’) and panchayats, two cornerstones of Gandhian economics and polity, are testaments to this fact.

…..Gandhi says
….we have to concentrate on the village being self-contained, manufacturing mainly for use. Provided this character of the industry is maintained there would be no objection to villagers using even the modern machines and tools that they can make and can afford to use.

Not only does small-scale and dispersed industry rely on a widely available knowledge base, but in turn the presence of a thriving industry itself creates the conditions for an intelligent populace. Thus:
Since the wanton destruction of this central village industry and the allied handicrafts, intelligence and brightness have fled from the villages, leaving them inane, lusterless, and reduced almost to the state of their ill-kept cattle.

…Gandhi’s insistence on craft-based production by the masses (as opposed to capital-intensive mass production designed by experts) can be seen as not only a response to mass unemployment, but also as an attempt to preserve the link between the masses and science.

Gandhi’s criticism of modern science is that its supposed objectivity or value-neutrality (the so-called separation of fact from value) actualy hides a value system that can be just as easily anti-human as it can be pro-human. Similarly, knowledge gathered under the command of capital must submit to profit as the most important value. In contrast to knowledge gathered in the regimes of science and capital, lokavidya can be defined as a knowledge system that does not claim value-neutrality nor accords primary place to profit, but instead keepst at its centre the value of lokahita or sarvodaya

….Gandhi attacks ‘Western civilization’ not because individuals influenced by it are selfish and greedy – indeed individuals in any civilization can be so – but because this civilization makes greed and selfishness into ideals to be aspired to.

‘What I object to is the craze for machinery, not machinery as such. The craze is for what they call labour-saving machinery. Men go on saving labour, till thousands are out of work and thrown on to the open streets to die of starvation.’