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."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

प्रभाते मलदर्शनम...Was Vinoba Bhave being Funny but Blasphemous?

"कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मी:
करमूले सरस्वती ।
करमध्ये तु गोविंद:
प्रभाते करदर्शनम्।।"

[At the tip of the hand resides (goddess) Laxmi, 
At the root (goddess) Saraswati,
At the centre (god) Govinda, 
In the morning, catch sight of hand.]

The Hindu:

"Census 2011 threw up a malodorous statistic: people in 49.8 per cent of households have no toilet facilities and defecate in the open. In contrast, 63.2 per cent of households have a telephone connection, of which 52.3 per cent have cell phones; as for televisions, almost half of the country’s households possess one."

Jairam Ramesh: 

"toilets are more important than temples. No matter how many temples we go to, we are not going to get salvation. We need to give priority to the toilets and cleanliness" 

Economic & Political Weekly, October 20, 2012:

"But things will change only when Indians decide sanitation is not a dirty word; that
no one group of people is destined to clean up after other people; that toilets can be the temples of a modern, just and democratic country."


My father told us that  Vinoba Bhave (विनोबा भावे) used to say “प्रभाते मलदर्शनम” (In the morning, catch sight of your own feces). I thought it was very funny and very profound.

For me,  in 20th century, Vinoba was one of the greatest scholars of religion  in the world. His knowledge of all religions practised- yes including Islam and Christianity- in India was formidable. And his Marathi (मराठी) expression is so simple, beautiful and direct. I seldom read or hear such Marathi written in present times.

But by saying “प्रभाते मलदर्शनम”, was he- like Jairam Ramesh-  being blasphemous? Some religious fundamentalists would say so.


By building toilets, you will not have to sight somebody else's  feces!

Was Vinoba greeted by his creator in heaven like this:



Artist: Charles Barsotti, The New Yorker, 15 November 1993