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!"
Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”
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."
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: "… इ. स. 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."
Thursday, April 02, 2009
The Battle of the Shivling: Bringing Down the Pride of Sovereignty to the Level of Petty Life
Maharashtra will see many sons, daughters, nephews of the high and the mighty contesting the Lok Sabha elections. Many will emerge triumphant.
If people are wise, why do they elect them?
Walter Bagehot, 19th-century editor of The Economist, has the answer:
“… people like to see a family on the throne because it brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life”.
Here is an example of that.
Business Standard March 28, 2009 has reviewed “MADHAVRAO SCINDIA: A LIFE Author: Vir Sanghvi and Namita Bhandare.
“…The Scindia shivling is a flawless emerald, the size of an egg. Legend has it that Mahadji Scindia would wear it under his turban when the Gwalior army went off to battle because it always brought good luck and victory.
That was many decades ago but since then it has always been part of the puja ritual performed by every reigning maharaja and maharani. The monetary value of the emerald is, of course, incalculable, but to the Scindias the emerald has always been a symbol of the family’s good fortune...
[A]s relations between the Rajmata and her son plummeted, the emerald became the focus of a new battle. Suddenly, Vijayaraje decided that she wanted it back. After all, it had been part of her puja when her husband had been alive.
No, said Madhavi Raje. It was her duty as Maharani of Gwalior to worship the shivling to bring good fortune to the Scindias and for the protection of her husband. In any case, the puja was made auspicious only when it was done by a married woman.
The stand-off persisted till Vijayaraje demonstrated that she was not only a Rajmata, she was also a politician.
Fine, she said, if that was Madhavi Raje’s attitude, then she would embark on a fast unto death. She would break the fast only when the emerald was handed over.
A worried Madhavrao decided that a fast unto death by the Rajmata would evoke [sic] too much public attention and embarrass the Scindias.
“Just give her the shivling,” he pleaded with his wife. “Do it for my peace of mind.” Reluctantly, Madhavi Raje complied, perhaps in the hope that it would eventually be returned to her or to her son as an inherent part of the family’s legacy. But after the Rajmata’s death, the shivling was taken into posession by Usha Raje, Madhavrao’s elder sister. Madhavi Raje says Madhavrao did ask Usha Raje to return the emerald. “Maybe if she had returned it, my husband would have been alive today,” she rues.”
Artist: R K Laxman, The Times of India, 11 September 2006
Artist: Everett Opie, The New Yorker, July 23, 1960