Saturday, May 30, 2009

OshoSpeak – 2009: #11

From ‘The Perfect Master. Talks on Sufi Stories. Volume II’

………….’learn how to learn’ as the Sufis say – to learn the ways of the inner guide.

“Sufis have a special name for him – they call him Khidr. Khidr simply means your innermost guide; it is not an outer phenomenon. It is not somebody outside – it is your own inner still small voice. If you are silent, you will hear it. It you are honest, you will hear it. If you are sincere, you cannot miss hearing it.”

Even an ounce of awareness is far more valuable than the whole Himalayas of philosophy.

Philosophies go on moving in circles – they never lead you anywhere. Sufism is tired of philosophies. In fact, all great mystics are tired of philosophies………..God is not lost through your sins: God is lost through your so-called knowledge.

Buddha is a Sufi. Jesus is a Sufi. Ramana is a Sufi. By ‘Sufi’ I mean one who is fed up with philosophies and has started searching for the real

There is one answer. Go on knocking…persevere, be patient. Don’t feel frustrated if the door is not opening. You go on knocking, you go on knocking, you go on knocking…One day the door is bound to open. That is one answer.

The other answer is: “Stop knocking and wait!” that is the way of surrender, of the devotee, of the lover, of prayer. The first is the way of the yogi who functions through will-power. The second is the way of the surrendered devotee, who waits, trusts, prays.

Drop all kinds of idealism from your mind, and all kinds of perfectionist concepts from your mind. Be natural. Be ordinary…and you will know God. Because in just being ordinary you become the most extraordinary being possible.

Drop this I. If you can find a Master, become a disciple. You have been a disciple to yourself too long now. Find a man whom you can trust….whose presence soothes you, calms you, cools you. Find a man whose presence revives hope in you, resurrects you……….Then surrender. Be a disciple.

……………And I am not saying people cannot reach without Masters – once in a while it happens……….But for that even more courage is needed. Because to trust a man is not so difficult, it is human. To trust existence is very difficult. It needs a greater heart and greater guts

…………….A Master is a device where you learn how to surrender, where you learn the joys of surrender………………And one day you can take the quantum leap and you can start trusting existence.

…………….Lao Tzu became enlightened watching a dry leaf falling from a tree. He was sitting under a tree. The leaf was ripe, a breeze came, and the leaf dropped. It fluttered, cam slowly slowly like a feather, rested on the ground….then a stronger wind came and it was taken up……it moved with the wind with no resistance. And the truth happened: Lao Tzu became enlightened. From that moment, he became a dry leaf in the wind.

Yes, without a Master also it is possible – but to trust a leaf will take real guts

People believe in dead Masters because with dead Masters they are free to have all kinds of imagination.

At the time of King Mahmud, the conqueror of Ghazna, there lived a young man by the name of Haidar Ali Jan. His father, Iskander Khan, decided to obtain for him the patronage of the Emperor, and he sent him to study spiritual matters under the greatest sages of the time.

Haider Ali, when he had mastered the repetitions and the exercises, when he knew the recitals and the bodily postures of the Sufi schools, was taken by his father into the presence of the Emperor.

“Mightly Mahmud,” said Iskander, “I have had this youth, my eldest and most intelligent son, specially trained in the ways of the Sufis, so that he might obtain a worthy position at your Majesty’s court, knowing that you are the patron of learning of our epoch.”

Mahmud did not look up, but he merely said, “Bring him back in a year.”

Slightly disappointed, but nursing high hopes, Iskander sent Ali to study the works of the great Sufis of the past, and to visit the shrines of the ancient masters of Baghdad, so that the intervening time would not be wasted.

When he brought the youth back to the court, he said, “Peacock of the Age! My son has carried out long and difficult journeys, and at the same time to his knowledge of exercises he has added a complete familiarity with the classics of the People of the Path. Pray have him examined, so that it may be shown that he could be an adornment of your Majesty’s court.”

“Let him,” said Mahmud immediately, “return after another year.”

During the next twelve months, Haider Ali crossed the Oxus and visited Bokhara and Samarkand, Qasr-i-Arifin and Tashqand, Dushambe and the turbats of the Sufi saints of Turkestan.

When he returned to the court, Mahmud of Ghazna took one look at him and said. “He may care to come back after a further year.”

Haider Ali made the pilgrimage to Mecca in that year.

He travelled to India; and in Persia he consulted rare books and never missed an opportunity of seeking out and paying his respects to the great dervishes of the time.

When he returned to Ghazna, Mahmud said to him, “Now select a teacher, if he will have you, and come back in a year.”

When that year was over and Iskander Khan prepared to take his son to the court, Haider Ali showed no interest at all in going there. He simply sat at the feet of his teacher in Herat, and nothing that his father could say would move him.

“I have wasted my time, and my money, and this young man has failed the tests imposed by Mahmud the King,” he lamented, and he abandoned the whole affair.

Meanwhile, the day when the youth was due to present himself came and went, and then Mahmud said to his courtiers, “Prepare yourselves for a visit to Herat; there is someone there whom I have to see.”

As the Emperor’s cavalcade was entering Herat to the flourish of trumpets, Haider Ali’s teacher took him by the hand, led him to the gate of the tekkia, and there they waited.

Shortly afterwards, Mahmud and his courtier Ayaz, taking off their shoes, presented themselves at the sanctuary.

“Here, Mahmud,” said the Sufi sheikh, “is the man who was nothing while he was a visitor of kings, but who is now one who is visited by kings. Take him as your Sufi counselor: for he is ready.”

This is the story of the studies of Hiravi, Haider Ali Jan, the sage of Herat.

RELIGION IS A RISK, A REBELLION, AND A REBIRTH, RELIGION is not a consolation, it is not conformity, it is not convention. Religion is not part of the world – it is something of the beyond……………..

Religion is not a kind of learning. On the contrary, it is unlearning. Not that you have to know more, but that you have to come to a point where all knowing disappears, and you become innocent, and you are a child again. And again the wonder is fresh and the mystery of life is revealed to you.

…………..Knowledge is the most irreligious phenomenon in the world……….

……..A religious person is neither an Indian nor a Chinese, neither a Hindu nor a Mohammedan. A religious person is neither black nor white. All these things are stupidities.

Then who is a religious person? He is not a person at all, but only a presence. He drops his personality. He cannot say who he is. He cannot define himself. But in that indefinable state of consciousness, he knows who he is. This is a paradox: those who know who they are don’t know; and those who are ready to risk their whole identify and come to a point where they don’t know who they are, only they are the people who become capable of knowing. It is a gamble…..Very few people have that much courage.

A Mahavir, a Buddha, a Mohammed, a Mansoor, a Rumi, a Kabir, a Nanak – these are not people who are afraid. These are not people who are praying out of fear! They are praying out of love, not out of fear. They are praying out of sheer joy……thankfulness………….The real religious person needs to be immensely courageous to enter into his nothingness – and inside there is a great nothingness…as vast as the sky, as infinite as the sky.

Religion is not a formality. Avoid formalities. If you really want to be religious some day, avoid formalities………..Never be a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan – these are all formalities. Be prayerful, but not in a formal way. Let prayer arise. Wait for it. Long for it! Search for it!

Religion is a spark; you can get it only from an alive Master, not from the dead ones. Christ cannot help you. Buddha cannot help you. You will have to find a living Christ, a living Buddha – because the spark has to jump from one living heart into another living heart………….A Master can help only when he is alive

Jesus says: Ask and it shall be given to you. Sufis have a far profounder saying: Ask and it will not be given to you. Ask not – wait! and it shall be given to you. Wait in trust. Wait in deep understanding that when it is needed it will be given to you……….When the real need arises, it will be given, not a single moment will be lost.

Children are more understanding – have you observed it or not? – than the old people. Old people have become very very hard, cruel, cunning. Their whole life they have remained occupied with objects. All old people become Machiavellians. Young children are innocent, trusting, closer to Buddhas. Why? – the energy is overflowing.

………….Children learn fast. If a child is born in a town where five languages are spoken, he starts learning all five; he becomes efficient in all five languages………A child has infinite capacity to learn. And the reason is only one: his energy is still overflowing. Soon it will be dissipated in life.

The man of meditation becomes the man of understanding because his energy accumulates. He is not wasting it. He is not interested in trivia; he does not put any energy at all into petty things………..Energy is understanding. Be conscious of it and use your energy very consciously, and use your energy in such a way that you don’t simply go on wasting it.

Religion is absolutely personal. You cannot take your wife with you or your children with you. You cannot move in crowds. Hence, crowds are never religious. U may call those crowds Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian – crowds are never religious. The very psychology of the crowd is political, it is never religious. Only individuals are religious.

A Buddha is religious, but Buddhists are not. A Krishna is religious, but Hindus are not. A Christ is religious, but Christians are not…….

A Zen Master was asked, “What do you do when it is hot?”
He said, “I perspire.”
“And what do you do when it is cold?”
He said, “I shiver.”

So, when hot, perspire. When cold, shiver. When alive, live! When dead, die! What is in your hands? Nothing is in your hands. To think that “Something is in my hands” is the way of the ego.

…………And when he went, she was just sitting in the direction of his room looking at the window from far away. She could not get up, she was dying. And when Ramana reached, she closed her eyes and tears started flowing. She died. That cow was the first animal in the whole history of humanity or of consciousness that was given a farewell as it is given to an enlightened person. Ramana was present there.

Somebody asked Ramana, “Is this cow going to be born as a man?”

Ramana said, “No. She will not need to be born as a man – she has passed beyond that. She is not going to be born at all. She has attained enlightenment.”

Yes, it is possible. What to say about man? Even animals, if they are receptive….and cows are very receptive. That’s why in the East they have become very sacred. It is not for no reason at all – they are very receptive, open. They can grow in consciousness. No other animal can take this jump that the cow can take.

It is for no other reason than this that they became an essential part of all the ashrams in the East in the old days. They created a certain atmosphere – of purity, innocence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Movies ‘R’ Us: #2-2009

1. Maachis (Matches) (Hindi film) (1996)

A well-intentioned but shoddy movie on the sad period in recent India history that was when the Sikh militancy was threatening to split India once again. Surprising since this is from the stable of Gulzar.

A Sikh family’s journey goes horribly wrong when the man in the house is picked up on a false murder charge, tortured horribly and returned in pieces. The resultant effect on his close friend (who then turns to militancy) and his sister and near and dear ones is attempted to be documented in this movie

Raj Zutshi is the man of the house, Tabu is his sister, Chandrachur Singh is her fiancĂ©e and Raj’s close friend, Om Puri is a harsh militant commander.

The movie lacks a punch. It has shoddy editing, lack of chemistry between Chandrachur and Tabu. Tabu though is brilliant in patches but cant hold up the limp remains of a film that has a story that lacks a punch. The general level of acting generally fails to rise above the ordinary inspite of boasting some excellent actors in the cast.

A few of the songs though are remembered to this day. Very hummable and lyrics by Gulzar

Chod Aaye hum who galiyan

Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale

Paani Paani Re

Playback: Lata, Suresh Wadkar, Hariharan, Vinod Sehgal, K.Kay
DoP: Manmohan Singh
Music: Vishal
Produced by R.V.Pandit
Written and Directed by Gulzar

Om Puri
Chandrachur Singh
Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Raj Zutshi
Jimmy Shergill

2. Kishen Kanhaiya (Hindi Movie) (1990)

Terrible movie, cheesy songs, cheesy choreography, cheesy lyrics, cheesy dialogues, vulgar steps, some terrible dancing by Anil Kapoor (but you have to accept his sincerity), its utterly missable.

Oh, and btw it also stars Madhuri Dixit

Anil Kapoor and Shilpa Shirodkar
Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit
and other assorted pieces of furniture

Written by Ravi Kapoor and Mohan Kaul
Dialogue: Kader Khan
Dances: Kamal
Fights: Veeru Devgan (pa of Ajay Devgan)
Playback: Lata, Asha, Amit Kumar (son of Kishore Kumar), Nitin Mukesh, Mohd.Aziz, Manhar, Sadhana Sargam
DoP: Pushpal Datta
Lyrics: Indivar, Anwar Sagar
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Produced and Directed by Rakesh Roshan

3. Ram Lakhan (Hindi Movie) (1989)

The typical representative of a typical Bollywood melodra-musical. You have the usual elements of a Bollywood jigsaw: the wronged wife whose husband is killed by treachery, her sons who in typical fashion turn into opposite directions of good and evil, the mother with integrity and piety who waits out her revenge, the wrongdoers with whom the law of karma catches-up with, in the end, the supporting fiancees’ who don’t hesitate to pick up a machine-gun in their beau’s defense: once coy, at other times an incarnation of Durga and Kali, villainy that knows no bounds etc.etc.

Starring: Jackie Shroff and Dimple Kapadia, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, Rakhee, Saeed Jaffrey, villainy by Amrish Puri, Raza Murad, Paresh Rawal, Gulshan Grover, Annu Kapoor, humour by Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik.

Photography: Ashok Mehta
Editing: Waman Bhonsle and Gurudutt Shirali
Dances: Saroj Khan
Screenplay: Ram Kelkar
Dialogue: Anwar Khan
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Music: Laxmi-Pyare
Produced by Ashok Ghai
Written and Directed by Subhash Ghai

It does have some wonderfully intense acting from JS and AK, if you cut out the songs and dances part of it (both of them are wonderfully terrible dancers) and Rakhee. Dimple is atrocious while Madhuri is mainly taken for the song and dance part. A so-so movie all-in-all filled with very talented actors in a pure masala weekend entertainment for the family

Watch it to watch history: the beginning of the Madhuri phenomenon, the beginning of the end of the typical Bollywood villain caricature (Sir John, Bad Man etc.etc.), the Anil Kapoor phenomenon at its peak, possibly one of the last big hits of Subhash Ghai.

Flop Show

The early days of Doordarshan, the state-owned channel (at one time it was the only channel available) threw up some interesting serials. Flop Show, the humour show arrived slightly late on the scene but managed to gather its own set of fans. And in the process established the humour credentials of Jaspal Bhatti.

Here’s a walk down memory lane

Thekedar: 1 of 4

Thekedar: 2 of 4

Thekedar: 3 of 4

Thekedar: 4 of 4


Meeting 1 of 3

Meeting 2 of 3

Meeting 3 of 3

Movie Making 1 of 2

Movie Making 2 of 2

The Death of Yugoslavia

Another very interesting docu-series from the BBC stable; on the breakup of the erstwhile Yugoslavia………fascinating







Guns, germs and steel

Very interesting documentary. On the origins of ‘civilized life’ and why only certain regions of the world and certain established their global domination which the others could not.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Lata Mangeshkar.............

From ‘Lata Mangeshkar …….in her own voice: Conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir’

Few singers can sing in four octaves as Didi can. In Hindustani music, the octaves are kharaj (low), the middle, upper and uppermost, a range of twenty-eight notes. Didi can sing the entire range of twenty-eight notes. the only other singer I know of who had this same gift was Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. His voice sounded good even at high pitch. In the Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai song, ‘Aa ab laut chalen,’ Didi touches the seventh note in the fourth octave – the highest a human voice can reach. In the song, you hear her holding the note and not sounding shrill.

- Hridaynath Mangeshkar on Lata Mangeshkar

Her singing range is across a full octave from C3 to C5 and she can reach as low as G in the alto range. She can sing half notes too, and through time, has increased the range of her voice and sings from one octave to one and a half octaves effortlessly. Have you heard ‘Bekas pe karam ki jiye’ from Mughal-e-Azam? In the naat, she reaches F natural and sings an even higher pitch

……….Rafi Sahib and Lataji sang many duets together and music lovers, unfamiliar with their names, have never said when listening to their songs: ‘Mohammed Rafi is a Muslim and Lata Mangeshkar is a Hindu’………In sacred temples in Ayodhya, Mathura or Benaras, people can hear the bhajan ‘Mann tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj’ [I long for the sight of Lord Krishna]

and at the shrine of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz or Deva Shareef, a voice echoed ‘Bekas pe karam ki jiye, sarkar-e-madina’ [Show grace to the weak, O Master of Madina]. Those holy men, those sufis, did not know a Brahmin girl called Lata Mangeshkar was singing that naat

- Naushad on Lata Mangeshkar

Friday, May 22, 2009

Say it with Numbers: #1-2009

* During the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries in Europe an estimated 5 million women were executed for witchcraft

* Riyadh’s population is 4.26 million……of the total 34% are expatriate workers

* It is estimated that 40% of private wealth in Saudi Arabia is held by Saudi women……..many do so through the front of a male representative, often a family member.

* Only 20% of all doctors in Saudi Arabia are Saudi, with 80% being expatriates. This is an exact reversal of the United States

* Saudi Arabia is the most urbanized country in the entire Arab world and only 7% of the population of the Kingdom remains nomadic

* ……..divorce rates have risen astronomically, to 1 in 3 Saudi marriages ending in divorce by 2002

* Not long ago the Manchus were a separate race with their own culture and traditions. Today, only 2 to 3 million Manchurians are left in Manchuria, where 75 million Chinese have settled. In Eastern Turkestan, which the Chinese now call Xinjiang, the Chinese population has grown from 200,000 in 1949 to over 7 million today, more than half of the total population. In the wake of the Chinese colonization of Inner Mongolia, the Chinese number 8.5 million, Mongolians only 2.5 million. At present, in the whole of Tibet, we estimate that there are already 7.5 million Chinese, outnumbering the Tibetan population of around 6 million

- Dalai Lama

From ‘Cobra Road. An Indian Journey’ by Trevor Fishlock

* General Dyer (the man behind the Jallianwala Bagh massacre) was forced to resign after an official inquiry. The ‘Morning Post’ opened a fund, which raised a tribute of 26,000 UK pounds, the equivalent of about 700,000 UK pounds today. Rudyard Kipling donated 10 pounds.

* Britain ruled India with the co-operation of 565 native princes whose territories covered more than 3/5th of the country and 1/4th of the population.

* The largest of the princely states of Rajasthan was the kingdom of Mewar, of which Udaipur was the chief city. Its Maharanas have ruled since the 6th century and the present one is the 76th of the line in the world’s oldest princely dynasty

* The last of the Asiatic lions are now in their final redoubt, in the Gir forest of Gujarat………..Asiatic lions once roamed from central Europe through Persia and northern India as far as Bengal. In the last century British and Indian sportsmen shot them to the edge of extinction. They were wiped out in the Delhi area by 1834, one hunter killing around 300 of them. By 1880 their population was down to about 200, but today, because they are not hunted, there are more than 300.

* …….there was a time when man-powered litter was common: Captain Seymour Burt was carried in a palanquin for 1200 miles from Bombay to Simla in 1838. It was powered by a team of 16 bearers, working in relays, at a rate of 30 miles a day.

From ‘Cobra Road. An Indian Journey’ by Trevor Fishlock

‘I have lived, loved and hope to die in Bombay. In Delhi you are who you know. In Calcutta you are known by the books you have read. Here what you do is who you are.’

……….The plane landed at the Indian Air Force base at Bhuj…………..’The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war,’ said a little Christmas-cracker sermon on a notice I passed on the way out. There must be a sub-caste of pencil-suckers turning out these beloved maxims.

Gopal (Godse, brother of Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi) was found guilty of conspiracy…………Nearly 50 years after the assassination, he said…….’It’s not as if we went to Delhi to steal Gandhi’s watch. That would have been truly sinful.’

India has a way of magnifying, intensifying and distorting emotions and incidents, and you have to wwatch for the signs that you are becoming unhinged. Once of the early symptoms is shouting.
V.S.Naipaul recalled that, during his first exploration of India in the 1960s, ‘I was shouting almost as soon as I entered government offices.’
…………..A friend admitted that after a long spell in India he found himself raising his voice to an airline clerk in Ottawa, until his wife soothed him, saying:’Darling, its all right. It’s Canada, not India.’

From Simla station – ‘Ticketless travel is a Social Evil’, said a sign – I took the little train down to Kalka to get a connection to Delhi. Monkeys scattered and grumbled as we wound through the tapestry of forests, villages, streams and temples, through scores of tunnels and over hundreds of bridges. I looked down on blue and yellow houses, their red roofs speckled with the yellow of ripening corn cobs. The train stopped at neat, brightly painted toy stations, gay with flowers, where notices informed me that ‘The Allah of Islam is the Same as the God of Christians and the Ishwar of Hindus’.

Khushwant Singh reflected and said (on Gandhi) : ‘Some things he did were asinine, but were part of his humanity. When it came to the great issues, what was morally right and wrong, he never deviated. He has become a national mascot. But he remains a point of reference. People still ask: What would Gandhi have done?’

A disco tape was played at Maximum Thunder level. Since I was the only diner, I asked one of the waiters to turn it off. He looked astonished. For five minutes there was peace, but the waiters were decidedly unhappy. The music returned, seeping in at first, then bursting through like a wave. It was as if the waiters had a fear of calm or silence

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thoughts … … …

‘Cheshire Puss,’ said Alice, ‘would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the cat.
‘I don’t much care where,’ said Alice.
‘Then it does not matter which way you go,’ said the cat.
‘So long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Ah, you are sure to do that,’ said the cat, ‘if you only walk long enough’

- From Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’

A successful bazaar is easily defined. You come for a pair of socks and leave with a pair of shoes

- M.J.Akbar

Agar firdous bar rui-e-zameen ast,
Hamin ast-o-hamin ast-o-hamin ast

(If there is paradise on earth,
it is here, it is here, it is here)

- Anonymous: referring to Kashmir

An American economist predicts that India will be an economic superpower in the next century. I don’t want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country