G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Chris Ware: "Being a cartoonist means you don’t consider yourself too fancy."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

After Getting Shot Through Eye, Buddha Still Smiles

MICHAEL KIMMELMAN (NYT October 13, 2007) commenting on attempts to destroy famous art says:

“…Thanks to its historic authority, the aura of Picasso’s “Guernica” has become like a bubble or halo that psychologically separates it from the gazing mobs, never mind that there’s no longer a glass wall. Standing before it, you can almost imagine that it has, historically speaking, passed beyond harm — that to attack it now would only make the picture a martyr, that it’s indestructible…”

Destruction of art always brings to my mind felling of the Bamyan Buddhas.

I have never been to Afghanistan but have often imagined what the sight must have been in Bamyan valley on a glorious winter morning few centuries ago. Perhaps a lot like Gomateshwara of Shravanabelgola, Karnataka who seems to be staring at us all the time, as you drive towards or away from him or even much later. He is here, there and every where.

Times of India wrote a great editorial on March 5, 2001 on the Taliban act.

“The Buddha would have been amused at the headlines describing the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statue by the Taliban. The Buddha cannot be blasted nor can he be bombarded. To mistake the likeness of the Buddha made by human hands and not to take part in a communion with the essence of the Buddha is to miss the message of impermanence, non-spirit and suffering of the Mighty Intellect.

The artist who visualised the Bamiyan Buddha would have first invoked, as per tradition, the moods of friendliness, compassion, sympathy and impartiality. He would not be driven by considerations of self-expression nor ideas of connoisseurship and aestheticism. The state of mind and the importance of the idea itself was all important.

All these virtues are sadly amiss in the hearts and minds of those who are breaking ancient monuments in Afghanistan as well as those who seem to be protesting about such vandalism.

In the Divyavadana, Upagupta asks Mara, who has the power of assuming shapes at will, to take the likeness of the Buddha. Upagupta bows in reverence to this figure, which shocks Mara. Upagupta says that he is not worshipping Mara but the person represented by Mara:"Just as people venerating earthen images of the undying angels do not revere the clay as such, but the immortals represented therein."

The least that can be said about the events in Afghanistan is that these are the triumph of the slave mentality, the main characteristic of which is the spirit of revenge. The ideal typical slave is incapable of forgetting, unable to love, admire or respect. Such individuals constantly impute wrong to others and perpetually blame the whole world for real and imagined wrongs. They cannot give or create.

In other words, there are Taliban-like organisations, individuals and symptoms within India which are as intolerant and brutal as their counterparts in Afghanistan. The sangh parivar for long has represented and actively promoted this negative strand in Indian society. Acharya Giriraj Kishore's reaction to the happenings in Afghanistan is indicative of the cult of hatred and mindless recriminations that the sangh parivar has promoted. Where were these self-righteous guardians of Indian heritage when the Babri Masjid was destroyed? If the statues in Bamiyan are `our' heritage, then so is the Babri Masjid. Instead, the Taliban and the sangh parivar have sought to divide the world into `us' and `them', between `friend' and `foe'. What is common to both is a very literal interpretation of Islam and Hinduism, without remotely understanding the essence of either faith.

Also, the sad state of our museums and monuments suggests that our concern for heritage is extremely superficial. What the Taliban has done in a couple of days is being systematically done slowly and steadily for the past fifty years…”


A fresco of Buddha defaced by a bullet at a temple in central Tibet