Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rose-ringed Parakeets of Bodhgaya

The Thai Buddhist temple at Bodhgaya is a spectacular structure, it is as if on flame. The brilliance is awe inspiring and is worth the visit. It is while I was observing the architecture that saw these rather busy Rose-ringed Parakeets. Common throughout India these can be seen in parks in cities vying for grubs, thrown by walkers, with the squirrels. The below picture is a clearer one on a morning walk. 

 Bodhgaya is a great place to be in (I wouldn’t say that of Gaya), though I am not very comfortable with Budha being converted into God. Indeed he never even mentions about God in any of his sermons, in his scheme of things life was more important than the business of God. I have come to an understanding that religions have reached its saturation point; the problems these institutions carry are the anachronism of feudal-patriarchy and other deviant norms inbuilt in as tradition. That finds expressions as convenience of powerful. Religion may provide succor to some but overwhelmingly it carries the primitiveness and is quite entrenched in the psyche of the followers. They are therefore cause of division and strife, and the best effort of good people will be only artificial, as the basis is ‘us’ and ‘them’, and the collective hallucination of greatness. In the process the humanity and humanness is lost. Despite its professional garb Market and its nuances does carry missionary zeal, so does the definition of ‘freedom’ ‘choices’ as espoused by the West. Scratch modernity and you see the pits of Machiavellian crusaders, brute jehadis and cunning squatters. It is in this context ‘mindfulness’ is such an all encompassing thought. That makes Budha a great soul (definitely not a god, as there isn’t. Even if there is it shouldn't a concern. It is about awareness). There are many temples made by different countries as a tribute to Budha at Bodhgaya (again, I don’t go to pray, that will insulting Budha. I like the ambience). This one by the Thailand stands out…

 Subramania Bharati: life is well….well….well!!
This world is sweet; sweet is the sky and the wind.
The fire, the water and the land are sweet.
Youth and senility are sweet.
Saving is sweet; and so is being saved.
Destruction is sweet; and so is being destroyed.
Consumption is good; and so is being consumed.
Rasa is well; life is well….well….well.

I was at Puducherry (Pondicherry) with an intention of cycling to Tutikudi (Tuticorin), but what I didn’t factor in was arrest of the Chief Minister of the State. I could see the worst unfolding and decided to make a hasty retreat. In the meanwhile manage to visit the house (which was undergoing renovations) where Subramania Bharati stayed for more than a decade. Pondicherry was a French colony, and so provided a safe haven for those sought after by the British. 

 Subramania Bharati (1882-1921) was a poet, journalist (he ran a journal ‘Vijaya’), freedom fighter and social reformer popularly known as "Mahakavi Bharatiyar”, nationalist bard par excellence. His poems where known for its fiery patriotism, though it need be pointed out that themes of patriotism was only minor part of his works but the force is such that it became a defining part of contributions.

Endru Thaniyum Intha Suthanthira Thangam? 
Endru Madiyum Engal Adimayin Mogam? 
Endremathu Annai Kai Vilangugal Pogum? 
Endremathu Innalgal Theernthu Poyyagum? 

When will this thirst for freedom be quenched? 
When will this slavish infatuation cease?  
When will our Mother’s handcuffs vanish?
When will our troubles end and become illusions? 

He avoids jingoism (if you put it in context of the time, it is quite remarkable) and works towards political utopianism with spiritualistic flavour –a mix of Vedantic thoughts and Shaivite Bhakti (unlike Vaishnava Bhakti –Gandhi being one of the proponent in modern India, Shaivite had much raw energy and vigour), that had a lasting impact. The reason why he still remains quite popular among Tamil communities across the world, including, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore so on. 

 I recall being taught about Subramania Bharati in school, the song Odi Vilayadu Pappa is quite etched in my memory. What was funny was this was taught by a Punjabi woman, who had no idea about Tamil, as she used to take singing classes! I too wasn’t aware of the meaning, and as is the case in schools everything was included as part of torture. Ironically the song spoke about freedom to children, that I came to know only recently. So much so for education system!!

Run, run and play around my little one,
You should never sit idle ever,
Play, play together with all, my little child,
You should never chide another child.

Like a little sparrow dear,
You should fly, come, my little one,
Seeing birds of varied colour, my little one,
You should fill your mind with joy.

That hen pecks and hurts, but my little one,
Join with it and play my little one,
That crow extends and steals, my little one,
But you should have pity for it my little one.

That cow rains milk and gives you, my little one,
That Cow is a good one, my little one,
That dog wags its tail and comes, my little one,
He is a good friend of man, my little one.

The horse which draws our cart, my little one,
The cow which works in the rice farm , my little one,
And the goat which lives depending on us, my  little one,
Should be all supported and cared for, my little one.

Study as soon as you get up, my little one,
Then sing songs which make you merciful, my little one,
And play all the evening my little one,
Make these a practice, my little one.

You should never tell a lie my little one,
You should never tell bad about any one, my little one,
God is forever for our help, little one,
And so nothing bad will come to us, my little one.

There are castes in this land, my little child,
Telling one caste is high and another is low,
Is very bad, my little one,
Those who are just, brain and education,
Are those who are great, my little one.

You must love all beings, my little one,
You must know that God is truth, my little one,
You must have a heart as firm as a diamond, my little one, 
And this is the way to live, my little one.

 (Translated from Tamil P.R.Ramachander)

 Subramania Bharati died at quite a young age, as a result of a mishap with an elephant in a temple. He died much before India attained freedom, he remained an idealist and optimist. Pondicherry was a place of inspiration for the poet Bharati, there were many solitary haunts that created an atmosphere of close communion with Nature. He also came in contact with Sri Aurobindo here, as also his reading of Swami Vivekananda and Upanishadic thoughts made him more inwardly.

Moonlight, the stars and the wind,
By placing them in front
And drinking the honey thereof-
A poetic frenzy seizes us;
That atomic thing called Mind-
We shall let it roam free.
Should one wonder at the bee that sings
While imbedded in a tasty fruit?
Oh, Mind! Go hence to join
The jewel of stars.

Panchali Sapatham 
Thou sky within sky, thou element 
Of the elements, earth, air, water, fire; 
Thou who lightest the hearts 
Of sages in deep meditation; 
Thou the first of all beginnings, 
Share and centre of all knowledge, 
Thou light of all lights
Krishna, thou flame of truth, 
Thou rich immaculate grace, 
Hear me, save me!


He constantly turned his attention on ills of society

Brother, mind is the world.
Arise, arise, arise,
Away, upwards, and far, far away.
Burst with laughter at the sight of
old superstitions, fools who are trying
to hold their positions by mean of ropes.
Let there be wings for you! Fly away !..

The Drum

The lord who tends to welfare of this world
has endowed womankind with wisdom;
which a few ignorant idiots have wrecked,
burying female brain in dust.

Of the pair of eyes given to us,
to stab one and spoil our sight –
does that make good sense?
Where we to cherish intelligence of women
ignorance would vanish from earth.  

I am putting only these translations here as there is dearth of good translation materials. Translation is a difficult matter particularly when it is from language that is used with much tenor and musicality as Tamil.

From my scribble pad…

The Window
Thunder a tumult, the retreating wind the vigor
And so the night was another affair
That hit the glasses of the window first
Hissing the gaps, going about the walls and roof
The outside world was playing the inside
And the inside was tightening in knots
You could tell it from the tremble of the little finger