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: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

घुमट मशिदी मनोहर

For last few Monday nights, I have watched, on National Geographic Channel, six-part series 'Apocalypse: The Second World War'.

It's gruesome.

If there was any pride left in me at being borne a human instead of a cockroach, it's now purged. (I say a roach and not a spider. Why? Read here)

No wonder Stefan Zweig committed suicide.

Has all of Europe learnt the right lessons from the war?

Switzerland voters recently approved a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets on Muslim places of worship.

So technically, the Swiss can't have The Taj Mahal!

PETER STAMM wrote on Dec 5 2009 NYT:

"...We Swiss sacrificed our good standing as a multicultural and open-minded society to ban the construction of minarets that no one intends to build in order to defend ourselves against an Islam that has never existed in Switzerland..."

Some Swiss think minarets look like missiles.

Instead of Jaundiced eye, we should now say Swiss eye!

Although to our eternal shame, we Indians brought down the Babri Mosque in 1992, I am happy to note that no rabid Hindu fundamentalist has asked for something as crazy as a ban on the construction of minarets.

A lot of things are, these days, said and done to minorities, in the name of Shivaji, who was one of the most tolerant and cultured ruler the world has known. The capital of his kingdom was Fort Raigad and the temple of Jagdishwar is located there.

D G Godse writes: "Builders of Jagdishwar temple on Raigad did not feel shy of employing Islamic architecture in its construction..." ('shakti soushthav', 1972)

(द ग गोडसे: "रायगडावरचे जगदीश्वराचे मंदिरसुद्धा थाटघाटात यावनी दर्ग्याच्या घराण्याचे दिसते ते मंदिराला दर्ग्याचा घाट देण्यास, मंदिर बंधणारांना त्या काळी कोणताही संकोच वाटला नाही म्हणून..." 'शक्ति सौष्ठव', १९७२)

Jagdishwar Temple, Fort Raigad

The Taj (completed c1653) and Jagdishwar temple were built around the same time. In a letter to D G Godse, I asked him: "When Shivaji visited Agra in 1666, he most likely saw The Taj. If he did, what did he likely think of it?".

Godse felt The Taj and Raigad were very beautiful in their own way. A sensitive person like Shivaji would have appreciated the beauty of both.

For me, mosques and minarets were never eyesores. On the other hand, perhaps like Samarth Ramdas (समर्थ रामदास), I have found "domes, mosques pleasing" (घुमट मशिदी मनोहर).

My native Miraj had plenty of them.

In winter, at dawn, I liked azan (the Islamic call to prayer) as much as early morning devotional singing (काकड आरती) that was done in the nearby Vithoba temple or Bhakti-sangeet that my mother tuned into or the sound of train whistle that proved the Doppler effect.

Much before I saw the Taj, as a 13-year old when I saw Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur, I was awestruck.

Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur