doordarshan days

doordarshanIn those good old days of Doordarshan raj, I never had a fight with my wife for the remote, it being still a remote possibility when I had my first TV.  Otherwise also you could not fight as there was no alternate channel to switch to.

While watching the Bengali Movie Dhananjoy (with subtitles) a few days back, I was reminded of the Doordarshan Days when one of my favourite programs was the telecast of regional movies with subtitles. These movies, though not popular, were high on the cinematic art.

Ironically, the first Doordarshan telecast that I watched was the live coverage of the final journey of our Late PM Indira Gandhi. A TV station had started functioning in Berhampur a few months back. The college hostel where I was staying did not have TV. In front of our college hostel were the staff quarters of Berhampur’s only Government women’s college. A staff member who had a TV was generous enough to allow us to witness the telecast. I was lucky enough to be inside the drawing room through a connection while many of my hostel mates were jostling outside the door and the windows to catch a glimpse. It was 1984.

Subsequently our hostel got a TV set. But it was not untill I got married and had my own TV that I became a DD convert. From college Days till the days of bachelorhood in Indian Air Force the only serials I remember watching regularly were Ramayana and Mahabharat, which were of course hugely popular in those days.

Whatever becomes scarce or does not happen frequently, becomes fascinating. Thus was the case with the weekly feature films or, chitrahaar – the half hour show of film songs telecast twice a week.

malgudi days.jpgApart from the regional films, the serial Chanakya was one program that I eagerly waited to watch every weekend. Some of the other programs of my interest, as far as I remember,  were: Jaspal Bhati’s Flop Show, Malgudi Days, Zaban Sambhal ke, Bharat Ek Khoj, Tamas, World This Week,  Karamchand and programs on classical/folk  music & dance.

Even after the availability of a plethora of channels, I have not lost touch with DD. It is only on DD that one may get to watch programs on Indian classical dance and music. Some of the programs on DD Bharati, DD India and DD Kishan are quite interesting. If you want a wrap up of the important events of the day, I think DD news is still the best. On DD channels you may get to watch a lot of documentaries of interesting people and places. Some of these programs are far better than those shown on National Geographic.

Here I would like to make a special mention of a film that I watched on DD.  It was Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisala’. Later on I learnt that the film was a remake of an award winning English movie Twelve Angry Men. The movie is about the deliberations of a jury constituted to decide whether a nineteen year old should be pronounced guilty for killing his father. Eleven members of the jury are in a hurry to vote ‘guilty’ while there is a lone dissenter who succeeds at the end, in convincing the jury, after a lot of patient persuasions that they should not take decision based on popular opinion, or personal biases.

In my previous post, based on a couple of movies, I have touched upon the issue of fair trail that happens only in the world of fiction. Ek ruka hua faisala is one more such movie. But, it is an eye opener, provided the people who take such decisions watch and learn from this movie. In addition to immaculate direction, superb performance of all the actors in the movie (Pankaj Kapur, Annu Kapur, Aziz Kureshi to name a few) created such an impression in my mind that I remember the movie vividly even after three decades.

ek ruka hua faisala.jpg

 

 

 

 

I give you divine eyes

I was surprised at the logic of one of the bestselling authors of India.  He tweets that even though, India is well known for yoga and Ayurveda, it has poor life expectancy. His further elaboration indicates that he means to undermine the efficacy of yoga and Ayurveda.

I replied, ‘Sir, agreed that yoga and Ayurveda originated in India. But, how many people do practice it? If you want to know the efficacy of yoga and Ayurveda take the health record of those who practice yoga and use Ayurveda and compare it with the non-practitioners, whether they are Indian or not.”

He did not have anything further to say. Coincidentally, this author is famous for writing fiction based on Indian Mythology. It implies that he must have read the Indian scriptures, seriously.

There are a section of writers among Indians who write stuff just to please those western sensibilities that take pride in undermining Indian culture. It is sometimes driven by commercial interests as they think that it will appeal to the western and the westernized Indian audience.

I would not have been surprised if the author had told that in spite of being gifted with such things as yoga, Ayurveda and spirituality, neither do we practise nor do we take pride in these things. I would have been happier if the author, instead of merely limiting himself to bookish knowledge of Indian scriptures, had practiced yoga and meditation and tried Ayurveda.

These days, along with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (my spiritual master), spiritual leaders and yoga gurus like Baba Ramdev and Jaggi Vasudev are leading the movements to awaken the world to the ancient wisdom of India. Their popularity has also rang alarm bells for many who are not interested to see an awakened India. So, they raise pointless protests from time to time.

A case in point is the World Cultural Festival held on the banks of Yamuna River last year. Certain forces tried to portray Art of Living in a negative manner stating that it violated not only environmental norms, but also procedural norms. The press, which is always eager for such kind of baseless news also joined in. Of course now Art of Living has been cleared of all the allegations.  But, this does not make as much media buzz as the previous occasions when there were so many baseless allegations.

Similarly, the so called environmentalists are never seen when lakes are encroached and huge tracks of forests are destroyed by the Industrialists. But, when a Spiritual Leader raises a statue to create awareness about yoga, these environmentalists become alarmed.

Another incident that made headlines across India a number of years back was when the Shankaracharya of Kanchi was arrested. But when he was absolved of all charges, the news hardly made even to the corner of a fifth page in our newspapers. To a large extent, our media has been responsible for projecting a negative image about India and its heritage.

Coming back to the author, it brings out an interesting facet of human nature. Our ancient scriptures have been guiding lights to many for finding solution to their practical as well as existential problems. At the same time, some use the same scriptures to support their counter arguments.

Even Arjuna was not able to gain the insight that Lord Krishna had intended till Arjuna was given the divine eyes. It is very symbolic. One should have the eyes to see the gems in the scriptures. A yogeswara like Krishna can provide those eyes. Without those eyes, one will see dung heaps in place of the gems.

Even to get those eyes one should have a little bit of willingness and some basic eligibility. Arjun was willing, desperate and deserving to have those insights into the nature of truth.

But the propagandists and the activists that I am talking of are not interested in truth. Motivated by their narrow personal gain (which may sometimes include a promised better place in heaven), their ceaseless campaign is aimed at showing Indian spiritual and cultural traditions in poor light. Sometimes they may come in the garb of rationalists and humanists to hide their vicious agenda.

What kind of eyes can be given to them?

krishnarjuna

 

the sentinels of vishnu – part #3

continued from part #2

Waking_up_Kumbhakarna

In Treta Yuga, Jaya and Vijaya were born as Kumbhakarna and Ravana. Assuming that most of the readers are familiar with Ravana, I will skip writing about Ravana now. Along with Ravana, Kumbhakarna is also well known, so well known that one who sleeps too much is called a Kumbhakarna and one who has a very sound sleep (including sound making), is said to have a Kumbhkarna nidra.

Kumbhakarna is a very complex character. It is said that even Lord Indra was jealous of him. Once, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Bibhisana did penance together. When it was time to ask for the boon, by a twist of the tongue, instead of asking for Indrasana, Kumbhakarna ended up asking for Nidrasana. The twist of tongue was caused by Goddess Saraswati at the behest of Lord Indra. Lord Brahma said, “tathastu, so be it”. Later on when Ravana realized the mistake he pleaded for the reversal of the boon. Lord Brahma modified it and said that Kumbhakarna would sleep for six months and would be awake during the other six months.

In Dwapar yuga, Jaya and Vijaya were Sishupala and Dantavakra. They were both Krishna’s cousins.

Life is full of strange phenomena. Who knows when your benefactor becomes your malefactor.

Born with three eyes and an extra limb, Sishupala was an odd child. The prophesy was that when someone special takes Sishupala into his hands, he would be cured. But that special person will also be the cause of Sishupala’s death. In search of that special person, his parents invited many eminent persons to their palace and asked them to take him in their hands. However, nothing happened for a long time.

Once, Lord Krishna paid a visit to his aunt and casually took his cousin Sishupala into his arms. Sishupala was instantly cured. Seeing this, his mother was happy. At the same time she was reminded of the other part of the prophecy. So she begged Lord Krishna to spare Sishupala and forgive him in case he did anything wrong or insulted Krishna. Lord Krishna promised that he would forgive one hundred times, but no more than that.

sishupalaLater in life, Shishupala’s would be wife Rukmini was abducted by Lord Krishna. Of course, it was done at the request of Rukmini as she was in love with Lord Krishna and did not want to marry Shishupala. But this was cause enough for Shishupala to nurse a grudge against Krishna. The opportunity to even out with Krishna came during the occasion of Rajasuya yagna of Yudhisthira. Shishupala opposed the selection of Krishna as the chief guest of the function. Arguments followed and Shishupala began insulting Krishna. When the insults crossed one hundred, the Sudarsana chakra beheaded Sishupala. But it was also the moment of mokha for Shishupala and made him regain his place in Baikuntha.

Dantavakra was not only a cousin of Shishupala, but also a close friend of Salva whose death was also caused by Lord Krishna. In order to take revenge an enraged Dantavakra invited Krishna for a mace duel. Dantavakra got killed in the duel. Thus ended the earthly parts played by Jaya and Vijaya as part of Lord’s Leela during three of his avatars.

The stories of Jaya and Vijaya illustrate the oneness and the wholeness of the creation. The best or the worst, all are filled with the divine light and the whole world is a playground of the creator. You may hate somebody thinking he is bad or is villainous. But he is as much a child of the divine as you are. He is as close to the divine as you are. This is the key to unconditional compassion.