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.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

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."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab' sounded like Garuda Purana...

Financial Times, June 7 2011 on events of June 4-5 2011 at Ramlila grounds, Delhi:

"(India's) Opposition leaders have compared the hardline response to the state of emergency implemented in the 1970s under former prime minister Indira Gandhi."

The Times of India, July 4 2011:

"...It’s not just mullahs and mahants—(Asghar Ali) Engineer says that even the progressives have failed the country. As a young member of the club in Mumbai of the 1960s and ’70s, he would actively participate in their meetings and befriended Urdu writers like Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi Azmi and K A Abbas. “But I lost faith in them in June 1975—this was when, after Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency, Jafri, Bedi, Abbas, Krishan Chander and a few others actually supported it in a letter to The Times of India,” he claims..."


36 years ago today The Emergency was declared in India.

The Emergency (25 June 1975 – 21 March 1977) hasn't gone away.

Rightly or wrongly, Anna Hazare's recent movement evoked images of Jayaprakash Narayan of early 1970's.

When I remember The Emergency days, I remember the song- 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab'.

It is a Hindi version of 'WE SHALL OVERCOME'.

(होंगे कामयाब होंगे कामयाब
हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन
हो हो हो मन मे है विश्वास
पुरा है विश्वास हम होंगे कामयाब एक दिन॥धृ॥)

Abby McGanney Nolan says about 'WE SHALL OVERCOME':

"Powered by its straightforward melody and generous procession of verses, "We Shall Overcome" has covered a lot of ground. Developing out of a Southern spiritual called "I'll Be All Right" into an international anthem of perseverance, the song has proved to be a potent unifying force for people in trying circumstances..."

(The Washington Post, March 3 2010)

Sadly, I became familiar with 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab' during "The Emergency" as it played on state controlled All India Radio's Sangli station, almost every day!

For a long time I thought it was a propaganda song created by Mrs. Indira Gandhi's spin-doctors! It made me sick.

It sounded like Garuda Purana.
(The second section of this Purana deals with issues connected with death, particularly funeral rites and the metaphysics of reincarnation. Portions of the Garuda Purana are used by some Hindus as funeral liturgy. Indeed, some consider it unlucky to read this text except during funerals.)

I always thought: No wonder the cult film "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro" shows Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani, in the end, going to the gallows to the tune of 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab'.

Even today, when I hear the song, I am reminded of one of the darkest chapters of independent India.

See the picture below.

There the vote is being taken to deplore Benito Mussolini. It's 15:1 against him. (For some reason, in American art, these days I feel, Mussolini is made more fun of than Hitler...Perhaps to counterweight 'The Great Dictator'.)

An open vote on Mrs. Gandhi, taken among leading Marathi intellectuals, during the Emergency, would have been 15:1, in favour of her, because most of them were either silent or crawling in front of her.

The lone opposing vote would have been of the likes of Durga Bhagwat (दुर्गा भागवत) .


Artist: Helen E. Hokinson, The New Yorker, Sept 28 1935

Paul A. Rahe:

In our time, the scholar, the writer, and the artist may not be parasites dependent on aristocratic patrons, but that does not mean they are truly free. The desire for applause tends to inspire servility in anyone subject to it—and it is a short step from flattering one's public to flattering monsters who wield influence and power.

(The Chronicle Review, March 15 2011)