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

 

 

 

 

dhan ki jai

 dhananjoy.jpg

If you are monied and influential enough you go scot-free in spite of committing the most heinous crime. In India, we have got used to these kind of incidents. What is worse is – if, you are poor you may get convicted for someone else’s crime.

You have to be a strong believer of karma and rebirth to feel OK with the social injustice meted out on a poor fellow by the combined forces of the state and the media after watching the movie Dhananjoy, which is based on the real life trial and conviction  of Dhananjay Chatterjee.

Dhananjay Chatterji was held guilty and and hanged for raping and murdering Hetal Parekh – a fourteeen year old school girl – on 05 Mar 1990 at  her flat in  the apartment complex where Dhananjay was a security guard.

The media went on a frenzy to brand Dhananjay a rapist and murderer even before the trial began. As Dhananjay’s family could not pay the fees, his lawyer lost all interest in the case. Based only on circumstantial evidences Dhananjay was held guilty by the trial court. The verdict was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court. The pressure of vote bank from the influential Gujrati Community was so much that the wife of the then West Bengal CM Budhadeba Bhattacharya held public rallies demanding death penalty for the accused. Public opinion to paint Dhananjoy a monster was kept up through out the trial and his consideration of mercy plea by the president of India till he was finally hanged to death on 14.08. 2004.

Later on many inconsistencies in the so called circumstantial evidences surfaced. Three professors of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata did extensive research and published the details of the inconsistencies and a probable sequence of events based on their collection of evidences in a book. The movie- Dhananjoy- is based on this book.

If the inconsistencies mentioned in the book ( as I learn from the movie) are true, the probability of Dhananjay being innocent is very high.  Certain facts which were not taken into account while pronouncing the verdict are as follows:

  1. All the twenty one or so injury mark are only on the upper part of the body. If it was a rape some injury marks were expected in the lower parts as well.
  2. There was proof of sexual intercourse, but there was no conclusive proof of rape. Even the forensic report said so.
  3. When Hetal’s mother discovers her injured (already dead)  body, in stead of seeking medical help  as a first thought, the first thing she does is she shouts to know the whereabouts of Dhananjay.

There are so many inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses that even a layman (provided he is totally unbiased) would award Dhananajy at least a benefit of doubt. But, forget about a benefit of doubt, this poor security guard who could not afford a costly lawyer, was held guilty and hanged to death. (Contrast this with the recent case of a film director who hired a costly lawyer, Kapil Sibal in this case and got exonerated of rape charges from the High Court. This director is also well connected in the left liberal circle of Lyuten’s Delhi)

Even the communist government in power, that prides itself for standing for the poorest of the poor and social justice, sided with the moneyed Gujarti Community in this case and went overboard in demanding death penalty for the accused. Dhananjay’s karma was so poor that, the then president of India, who rejected his mercy petition,  himself hailed from a poor family.

Coincidentally, the previous day I had watched the  English movie – Jack Reacher. The base plot line of the movie thinly resembles Dhananjoy, except that in this Hollywood movie the innocent convict is saved by a powerful duo of an attorney and an ex-Army officer from Military Police. Another difference is that the movie Jack Reacher is not based on real life incidents.

Justice and fair play for the poor and the innocent happen after all. Of course, in the land of fiction.

jack reacher

 

 

 

subtitles for a sanskari audience

agoodman

“Hope you **** already know the **** target.”

“Ye. We have to get that ****  **** **** out of the **** hole.”

“*** those intel *** . Everything completely **** up, man”

“Ye. If I meet those ***** , I will **** the **** out of those *****”

“You. **** come with me with your *****. Do not forget to **** or else we all get ****”

“Now now, do you **** see those *** *** **”

“let me go and **** **** **** right through their **** ****”

“No, you are such an ****. you stay here and *****”

“Oh ***, Oh ***”

(First published in one of my earlier blogs)

P.S: No prizes for guessing the stars 😀

 

it was a great show

trapeze.jpg

Six hours of circus-

As usual the politician inaugurated it

And slept throughout the show

To wake up in the last hour

To proclaim

In words impeccable  and rehashed

The situation is under control

The guilty will not go scot free

And the victims will be compensated

 

The trapeze men thought they were

Fighting  a just cause

Going up and down without a safety net

So thought the green and yellow foot soldiers

Going up and down and down

 

Three dozen died

A few heads rolled

(Do we know their names?)

Some cried and

Some cried foul.

 

Far away

In another planet

Faces lit up

‘It was a great show’

They chuckled

And took a break.

desultory thoughts while sitting on a mall bench

Sitting here on a bench in a posh city mall, while my family and my friends are on the hunt for the best deals and some window shopping, I am cleaning my cell phone frantically of the deluge of religious and patriotic messages sent by my whatsapp activist friends. Today is Janmastami and tomorrow is the Independence Day.

The mall too is celebrating the Independence Day by organising a fashion show with a swadeshi theme and a lottery. The ground floor where I am sitting is abuzz with preparatory activities. Ironically,  all the shops on this ground floor where the swadeshi event will take place, sell western brand of clothing and other products.

The word mall has some strange similarity with the swadeshi word mela. White skinned Indic scholars and their supporters may say that the word mela is derived from the word ‘mall’. Indophiles and their swadeshi supporters may argue to the contrary.

I  am reminded of the village fairs of my childhood days. The atmosphere would be totally charged up with hustle bustle and noise. Sometime there would be a lot of heat and dust. A mall is protected from the seasonal fluctuations and the heat and dust of the Indian outdoor. And barring those occasional promotional events, it is so cool and silent. Like a funeral .

And nobody treated you at the entrance of a mela as a potential terrorist and groped you by your shirt and pant pockets. Of course, everything has two sides. While on one hand, the global expansion of terrorism has raised concerns of radicalization, on the other hand, it has given a big boost to the billion dollar security industry.

One thing is common between the mela and the mall. Both are places of milan – primarily for the potential buyers and sellers. Of course many other kinds open and clandestine meetings also happen.

Ironically, Indian movies have used the mela for family break up. How can we, the movie buffs of Amar Akbar Anthony era forget the most popular formula  – two brothers or an entire family getting separated in a mela to be reunited in a climax where the villain has bound the some key members of the family in chains.

Reference to mela abound in Bollywood movies and songs, with a number of movies even taking up the title. The word mela has festive connotations. But the ‘mela’ of 1948 starring Dileep Kumar is a tragic movie. The tragedy about the 2000 movie starring Amir Khan and Twinkle Khanna is that it was one of the biggest flops of the year.

Shopping and eating out not being my favourite pastimes I search for other avenues so that I don’t feel out of place here. I was a student of economics honours. Maybe, I should speculate on the macro economics of city malls. But, why to load the brain with the complicated theories learnt and forgotten three decades back.

I decide to go to the the electronics shop on the first floor to have a look at the latest developments in digital technology. A salesman is demonstrating a model of a home theater. The TV channel is belting out –  duniya hasino ka mela, mele mein yeh dil akela. But, the heart of the potential male customer is definitely not alone as he seems to be accompanied by his newly married female partner.

However,  it may be applicable to life in general. It is a different story that our hero cannot find a suitable girl to connect to his lonely heart. But, the author of the song sees the world as a fair ground of fairer sex.

 Basically we see, what we want to see. 

hear the saga of the common man

Hear the saga of the common man- the aam admi.

He is the ultimate hero, the fictional centre of the universe.

Some claim that their hands are with him.

Some have made name, fame and fortune out of his name.

Every religion champions his cause.

Every atheist has vowed to be by his side come what may.

Each page of newspaper is dedicated to protect him from other looters.

Every body from the king to the millionaire is in competition to be his most humble servant, protector and savior.

The world exists to fulfill his wishes and everyone of some reckoning has been working for him, since time immemorial.

Now this is the miracle:

In spite of so many well-wishers, messiahs and mass leaders,

he continues to remain poor, exploited,  helpless, be-fooled, baffled

fighting and killing fellow common man for the just cause.

Every hand is out to rob him.

Every elephant is out to trample him

Every sickle is out to cut his throat

And every hammer is eager to crush his head.

Every lantern burns out of his blood.

He bears the brunt of every broom.

His desperation and despair provides manure for every lotus to bloom.

The list would go on.

But, the saga of common man will continue

to be the same story of struggle and betrayal day after day.

 

be a light unto yourself

veda vyasa

It is the credibility of the gurus and the saints that makes an anti social element to don the garb of a guru or a saint so as to carry on criminal activities. Remember, even Ravana came in the garb of saint to abduct Sita?

Fortunately though, the kingdom of Ayodhya did not have the treta yuga version of deshi journalists and imported intellectuals who would condemn Ravana, Vishwamitra and Vashistha to the same categroy of godmen and frauds.

When Buddha was dying, Ananda – one of His foremost disciples – started crying and said, “What will I do now? You are leaving and I have not yet become enlightened.”

Buddha said, “Don’t cry, because I cannot make you enlightened — only you can do that miracle to yourself. “Be a light unto yourself — APPO DEEPO BHAVA.”

This has been misinterpreted by many to mean that a person does not require any guide or guru on the spiritual path. But Buddha said this to a disciple who had already evolved to a certain stage in the spiritual path. If He had meant that there was no need for a guide or guru in the spiritual path he would not have taken any disciple at all in the first place and the moment any body came for advice He would have turned them away saying, “APPO DEEPO BHAVA.”

A prominent person of India said in a recent interview, “…… Unfortunately today, with all the bogus spiritual gurus around, people are being misled. My advice is to look within. Meditate. You are your own best guru.”

For this eminent person, presence of some bogus gurus becomes reason enough not to seek a genuine guru. Applying same logic, will he not make any friend because a few friends turn out to be unfaithful? Will he not go to a doctor because a few doctors are engaged in fraudulent practices?

There  are lakhs of gurus and saints in India belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jaina and other dharmic traditions.  A few of them have been tainted with immoral and illegal activities. Even some of them had been falsely implicated as happened in he case of the Kanchi Seer.  Unfortunately, our media only highlights those cases where a criminal used the garb of a saint to cheat. While the saints who are genuinely engaged in pursuit of knowledge and other philanthropic activities do not find even a two line or two second mention in our sensation and TRP driven media.

Moreover,  why should the word guru be used in the spiritual context only? The ancient Indian seers divided knowledge into two broad categories: apara vidya and para vidya i.e knowledge of this world and knowledge of the beyond or,  worldly knowledge and spiritual knowledge. So, there are gurus for the worldly knowledge and there are gurus for the spiritual knowledge. While Vyasha, Vashishta and Vishwamitra are spiritual gurus, Dronacharya and Kripacharya are gurus in the art of warfare.

Of course such eminent persons and their ilk do not use the word guru. They may use words like ‘Godmen’ in a derogatory context to demean all Hindu spiritual leaders and figures and dare not say anything about the wrong doings of the religious leaders of Islam and Christianity.

There is reason to suspect the bonafide ‘humanist’ and broad mindedness of such intellectuals when they make a selective attack on the ancient Indian tradition of transfer of knowledge down generations in the Guru-Shishya parampara.

Recently a close aid of the Pope has been accused of serious sexual crimes. A Muslim religious teacher has been found to be raping girls as young as five.  There are black sheep among the religious leaders in every religion. But when it comes to targeting religious and spiritual leaders our media and a section of our elite society target only Hindu spiritual leaders.

It is not surprising that such intellectuals of dubious distinction and mala- fide intentions continue with their vicious agenda to malign Indian traditions. What is surprising is that a section of religious Hindus, who take pride in being experts in scriptures, make  light of the guru. (coincidentally, guru also means heaviness)

I have a friend who has been reading the Bhagavat Gita regularly for the last twenty years. The other day I was surprised when he argued against the guru shishya parampara. He became silent when I pointed out that the knowledge of the Gita is a dialogue between a master and a disciple. The knowledge comes when Arjuna is ready as a disciple to receive the knowledge. The advice did not come as long as Arjuna considered Krishna merely as his friend.

The 7th sloka in Chapter 2 reads: (Arjuan says)

Karpanyadoshopahata swabhavah
pruchhami twam dharmasammudhachetah,
Yatshreyah syannischitam bruhi tanme
Shishyasteham shadhi mam twam prapannam.

(With my natural traits overcome by a sense of helplessness and sin, and my mind perplexed regarding my duty, I ask You – tell me that which is definitely good for me. I am your disciple; teach me who have taken refuge in You.)

The  Bhagavat Gita is a part of  Mahabharata which is  composed by Veda Vyasa on whose honour Guru Purnima is celebrated.

Sant Kabir dedicated many of his couplets (Doha) to the glory and grace of the Sadguru. He assigns Guru with a higher pedestal than God. The inescapable need of a Satguru in one’s life is brought out by the following couplet :

“To find the Guru is a great boon:
without Him, you are lost,
As the moth attracted by the lamp’s flame
falls into it in full knowledge!”

Of course, it has happened in some exceptional cases, like that of Astavakra or Sri Raman Maharshi who attained to spiritual awakening without the guidance of a Guru in Human form. So, one has to examine oneself and see if, one is has already reached to that stage of spiritual maturity, why should one take the trouble to find a spiritual master?

Other than those few exceptions, whether in spiritual life, or material life, or any kind of education,  everybody needs guidance till a certain stage, after which one may go on one’s own.

It is said that when the student is ready the master appears. Maybe, the Master has no role to play when the disciple gains the ability to walk on his own.

Coincidentally, today is Guru Purnima. I bow down with deepest gratitude to each and every one who has played the role of a Guru in my life, in matters material as well as spiritual.

events galore in bengaluru

Indispire 176.jpg

Like any other metro city, Bengaluru is host to numerous events – literary, culinary, cultural, artistic, social & unsocial, open and clandestine. Much as am I tempted to attend many of the events, a person of not so affluent means like me is not only restrained from the financial angle, but also by the limited availability of leisure time after spending eight  hours on a job and four hours on commuting on a daily basis.

Even on weekends Bangalore traffic can be nasty quite often. In spite of all the constraints, I try not to miss the literary events, especially the literature festivals.  I have already shared my experience of Times Literature Festival and Bangalore Literature Festival  on this blog.

I was one of the invitees to the #BererXp Indiblogger meet Bangalore. I was eagerly looking forward to attend the event as it was an opportunity to interact with other bloggers from the city. However, an unexpected personal problem that popped up at the last moment ensured that I was deprived of this opportunity. Nevertheless, I had the vicarious pleasure of attending the meet by reading the accounts of the events shared by fellow bloggers.

There is a large Air Force Station where I stay.  As there are people from all over India, many cultural events of other states are organised here on a regular basis. These are kinds of religio-cultural events like Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and the car festival of Lord Jagannath. Alongside the puja rituals, there would be galore of cultural events everyday. Even though these are organsied by specific communities, people from all walks of life participate in the events wholeheartedly.

 It is only in Bengaluru that I have had the opportunity to watch many kinds of national and international sports events. My first stint in Bengaluru was from 1989 to 1995. Then I was serving in Indian Air Force. Whenever there was any international cricket tournament, the authorities sought defense personnel for security duties. I had the opportunity to attend a couple of international cricket matches as a security supervisor. Those days security duties were not that risky like in these days when every crowd gathering is a potential target for terrorist modules working in India. Moreover, as security supervisor one had access to all areas of the stadium.

The test matches were sleepy no doubt, the saving  grace being one had a chance to see the sport stars in flesh and blood. Even the pace of the One Day matches were not as frantic as the matches have been after the T-20 format came into  existence.

Since long I have stopped being an enthusiast of the game of cricket. During the last season of the IPL when a friend came up with a couple of complimentary tickets for the IPL, reluctantly though, I accompanied my family to witness the match. Oh boy, did I witness the match.

We reached the venue half an hour before the start of the match. The stadium was overflowing with people. Loud speakers, or should I say super loud speakers were blaring out music and the anchor’s shouts competing with the noise from the crowd. The decibel levels were so high that it would have turned the tender ears of a young kid deaf for life.

Then the match started.

Hardly had the ball escaped from the bowler’s hand when the spectators sitting in from of us stood up with flags in hand, shouting and waving. There was no way to witness anything that was happening on the ground. This happened again and again. We had to look at the giant digital screen for a replay in order to know what was happening in front of us, on the ground below. Finally I calculated that for the three and half hours that the match was played, we watched the match directly for half an hour and the spectators backs and flags and the giant digital screen for three hours.

I am reminded of a similar incident when I stayed back to attend the rock  concert organised to mark the culmination of a literary festival. The audience was a mixture of those who had come exclusively for the rock concert (The rock star’s young fans) and those who had actually come for the literature festival but stayed back out of curiosity for the rock concert (consisting mostly of middle aged and old fellows).

At the scheduled time, the rock star came, saw and went back. After some time an announcement came that the rock star was annoyed that the audience members were sitting in chairs. So, the organizers had no way but to remove the chairs so that the rock star would come back to regale the audience. A couple of volunteers came to hound out all the young and old, strong and weak occupying the chairs.

After the last one of the chairs was removed from the venue the concert began. Every one was standing and standing with their mobile in video mode, flash on, while those with a little short in height struggled to have a glimpse of the rock star. With so many flash lights on, the elaborate colour lighting of the stage lost its sheen.

The rock star sang one line and asked the audience to repeat the line ten times. It was obvious that his hard core fans knew all his songs verbatim. After some time the fans sang his songs even without being asked. The hall was jam-packed and there was hardly any space to move about. A section of the audience started to dance unmindful of causing any physical injury to their neighbors.

Confused, bewildered and feeling out of time and space, I fled.

Maybe, we are living in an age where ‘sound’ packaging is taking centre stage in all walks of life pushing the content to the sidelines.

 

 

faux pas – e- kabootari

pigeon kabootar

Thus went our distorted version when the Bollywood song- Kabootar ja ja ja – was at its height of popularity:

Kabootar ja ja ja

Pehle pyar ki

doosri chithi

teesre ko de aaa

Have you ever been the unintended recipient of a love message from another’s wife? Well, I have been. I recoil with horror when I recall the three days of the ordeal that followed after, unfortunately,  my wife discovered the message.

Well, more of that later.

Of course, you must have felt jealous when your spouse got flattering attention from another of your sex and you were a little sidelined. If you think it is only the ladies who get more jealous in these matters compared to men, you are thoroughly mistaken. Count me out of course. When my wife gets undue attention from a male member of the society I just end the matter with a gentle chide.

Social media (facebook in particular) have become vine yards to display ones’ vanity without any impunity. While young girls display the specialty of their pouts, ladies want to extract as much jealousy as possible from their friend circle by flaunting their latest acquisition of  jewellery or costumes. Let us not be unfair to the fairer sex. Men also have found numerous ways to flaunt their vanity on Facebook and make fellow men livid with envy.

You may also read:  If dogs could have status updates

Once it so happened that when I came across the frequent FB status updates of a lady who is a family friend, being an occasional mischievous fellow, I heaped exaggerated praises on her beauty and sense of dressing. This did not go down well with my wife when she discovered this and demanded an explanation. Of course all ended well when my friend’s wife  explained that she was well aware of the satire behind my exaggerated praises. Her husband too laughed it off when he came to know about it. Finally no damage was done either to my reputation or to our relationship.

But in another occasion I was not so lucky even though I was not the harbinger of any mischief intentionally or unintentionally.

One day I got a message from a friend’s wife through whatsapp, “Janu, I love you”.

Knowing my personal romantic history and capability I was dead sure it was not meant for me. But still then.. may be … who knows? So to confirm my hope against hope I messaged back, after two days when I had partially recovered from the shock,  “Are you sure?”

She was surprised, and asked back, “Sure of what?”

Then I became double sure it was not intended for me. Just to show off what a gentleman I am, I wrote back to the lady that I have received such a message from your mobile no and I am sure it is not meant for me. Please send it to the intended person, most probably your husband in this case and please take care in future to see that such messages reach the right recipient. Immediately, she apologized and the matter ended there.

Or, so I thought.

Being a fellow of casual attitude on such sensitive matters  I did not bother to delete the message and coincidentally my wife came to know of it. I could sense the storm gathering. She also wanted to clarify the matter. But, we had some guests in our house. So, it was only after three days that we could sit down and settle down the issue after due verification, confirmation and counter verification of all the facts. But, those three days. I lived with a feeling that any time an earthquake was going to happen.

The above is a mixture of what actually happened and what might have happened. However, here is my message to all frantic users of social media:

When you are feeling romantic, please take extra care so that the kabootar – e-digital doesn’t convey your romantic feelings to an unintended recipient with a sensitive spouse. Your lousy faux pas – e – kabootari has all the unintended ingredients to rock someone’s steady boat. 

dharmic nature of aggression

Are the non-aggressive, tolerant attitudes of Hindus a liability, so much so that many of them have become victims of apathy, conspiracy and forced displacement in their own homeland. Ref: Kashmiri Pandits, Col Purohit, Sadhwi Pragnya. #hindusvictimised – Thus goes the topic for Indispire Edition167

The premises are definitely wrong. I say this not only in the context of Hindusim, but also in the context of any other religion.

Indian BloggersIn the western media and intellectual circles, the liberal use of words like ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and ‘Islamophobia’ has become fashionable these days. It gives  an impression that any adherent of the religion must match such characteristic. Thus, the vast majority of Muslims who lead their life as normal responsible citizens get tinged with these negative characteristics. It also undermines the humanistic and mystic contribution of many liberal groups like the Sufis.

Terrorism and other aggressive means are used either by an individual or a group of individuals, quite often for their own vested interests. However, these individuals or groups associate themselves with a religion or a few selected tenets of religion (twisting the tenets out of context)  to give their activities a kind of legitimacy. This does not mean all the followers of that religion or ideology subscribe to such hardliner views.

In fact, it is India that has been the victim of ‘jihadi’ terrorism much  more than the west. Yet, in our country, neither in mainstream media, nor in intellectual circle do we use the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. It may appear this shows our maturity as a democracy.

But the double standards of our so called secular intellectual circles are evident. Of late, there has been liberal use of the word ‘Saffron Terror’ and ‘Intolerance’ to indicate as if the country is infested with Hindu Militants. Such double standards show that the mainstream media is subjugated to some forces that want to give an impression, ‘Look, this religion as a whole qualifies to be associated  with negative attributes associated with extremism and intolerance’.

In fact a campaign has already started to bring words like ‘Hindu Militancy’, ‘Hindu Phobia’ , ‘Hindu Intolerance’ and other such terms to mainstream narrative so as to tinge  the religion and all its followers with this negative connotation. It is in this context that I have used the hash tag  hidusvictimised.

Once again, to make my stand clear, I strongly feel that it is never the whole of the religion (let it be any religion) that is to be blamed because a few adherents of the religion, to fulfill their own megalomaniac tendencies and other human afflictions like excessive greed and lust,  use violence in the pretext of religion or some of its tenets.

This said, it is also worthwhile to examine specific allegations made against Hinduism to prove its nature of intolerance and tendency of  violence. Those who bring these allegations, like the proverbial elephant judging blind men hand pick a few partial events that suits their preconceived notions and ignore the vast body of evidences and  events that would depict a different story.

One important factor that should be kept in mind while making any evaluation concerning Hinduism is that it is a dynamic religion, or, what Rajiv Malhotra in his book ‘Indra’s Net’ calls a religion with an ‘open architecture’.  It means the tenets and practices of Hinduism are not frozen across time and space. Hinduism today is vastly different from the Hindu practices and principles that prevailed even a couple of centuries back. All the Dharmic religions (religions that originated in India), due to close interaction with one another, assimilated many elements of each other over a period of time and these religions still continue to evolve, discarding certain elements and taking up new ones.

If Chandashok was the epitome of violence, Dharmashoka was the epitome of compassion. Had there been no transformation of Ashoka in the aftermath of the Kalinga war, the war itself would have been forgotten being just another war of an ambitious emperor. Kalinga war gained prominence in history because of the transformation of Chandashoka to Dharmashoka.

How many rulers in history went through such transformation? Did it happen with the Alexanders of that era whose hunger for power continued till their last days. Did such transformation happen with any of the Islamic rulers  whose violence both at the time of conquest and during their rule surpassed all inhuman treatments imaginable.

The Hindu aggression that we see manifested in the form of Shivaji and other warriors of the Mughal era  was a secondary and defensive aggression in the sense that it was in response to counter the aggression and atrocities of the Mughal rulers.

It may be worth while to note that, during Military campaigns,  Shivaji forbade his soldiers to kill women and children and destroy Mosques.  This was in contrast to the aggression of the Mughals and their predecessors who killed indiscriminately and destroyed thousands of temples. In fact many of the Mosques that stand today have been built out of destroyed temples.

Same way, when events like Godhra are discussed, our so called secularists conveniently forget the events that led to the incident. To be specific, the incident of the burning of innocent Hindus in the railway coach is kept out of discussion, as if loss of Hindu lives do not matter. The issue of the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits and their displacement from their homeland is not given as much importance in our national narrative as the loss of lives post Godhra incident. Same way, the regular destruction of thousands of temples, post independence, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in our own country do not find mention even in the eighth page of our newspapers. These activities continues to happen even to day. On the other hand, the destruction of a dilapidated unused Mosque in a prominent place of pilgrimage for the Hindus, continues to drive the anti Hindu debate in our mainstream narrative.

Our journalists continue to target Hindu religious and spiritual leaders, blowing out of proportion any seeming error committed by them, quite often without even verifying the facts. Going by the trends in the last couple of years, it seems Bollywood too has joined the bandwagon of Hindu bashing. This is evident not only from the statements made by some celebrities, but also from the kind of movies being made. In some of the block busters of last couple of years, criminals, terrorists and Pakistanis have been shown to be somehow more humane than Hindu spiritual leaders.

Quite often the ground reality may be quite different from the picture attempted to be projected by a section of our intellectuals and  journalists.  No doubt these groups have their own vested interests clothed in secular ideals.  When the debate about intolerance was at its height of attention in the mainstream media, I went around the streets of India, like the jesting Pillate searching for truth. But, I was as disappointed as the Pillate of ancient Greece. I could not find any trace of intolerance among the common men in the streets of India.

I have put forth some facts and historical contexts to bring to light those sides of the events that we pretend to forget. Now, it is for the reader to decide – considering the tenets of Hinduism and taking into account its overall history, are the Hindus as intolerant as the so called secular intellectuals would like us to believe?