मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

समर्थ शिष्या अक्का : "स्वामीच्या कृपाप्रसादे हे सर्व नश्वर आहे असे समजले. पण या नश्वरात तमाशा बहुत आहे."

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.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”

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);...”

सदानंद रेगे:
"... पण तुकारामाची गाथा ज्या धुंदीनं आजपर्यंत वाचली जात होती ती धुंदी माझ्याकडे नाहीय. ती मला येऊच शकत नाही याचं कारण स्वभावतःच मी नास्तिक आहे."
".. त्यामुळं आपण त्या दारिद्र्याच्या अनुभवापलीकडे जाऊच शकत नाही. तुम्ही जर अलीकडची सगळी पुस्तके पाहिलीत...तर त्यांच्यामध्ये त्याच्याखेरीज दुसरं काही नाहीच आहे. म्हणजे माणसांच्या नात्यानात्यांतील जी सूक्ष्मता आहे ती क्वचित चितारलेली तुम्हाला दिसेल. कारण हा जो अनुभव आहे... आपले जे अनुभव आहेत ते ढोबळ प्रकारचे आहेत....."

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."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Is Sulochana Singing to Singer?...सर्वभार घेतला असा समर्थ खांब तू

Leon Wieseltier, New Republic, May 28 2013
"For decades now in America we have been witnessing a steady and sickening denigration of humanistic understanding and humanistic method. We live in a society inebriated by technology, and happily, even giddily governed by the values of utility, speed, efficiency, and convenience. The technological mentality that has become the American worldview instructs us to prefer practical questions to questions of meaning – to ask of things not if they are true or false, or good or evil, but how they work..."

Martin Wolf, Financial Times, October 2 2012:

"The speed of travel went from the horse to the jet plane. Then, some fifty years ago, it stuck. Urbanisation is a one-off. So, too, is the collapse in child mortality and the tripling of life expectancy. So, too, is control over domestic temperatures. So, too, is liberation of women from domestic drudgery.

By such standards, today’s information age is full of sound and fury signifying little. Many of the labour-saving benefits of computers occurred decades ago. There was an upsurge in productivity growth in the 1990s. But the effect petered out.

In the 2000s, the impact of the information revolution has come largely via enthralling entertainment and communication devices. How important is this? Prof Gordon proposes a thought-experiment. You may keep either the brilliant devices invented since 2002 or running water and inside lavatories. I will throw in Facebook. Does that make you change your mind? I thought not. I would not keep everything invented since 1970 if the alternative were losing running water. 

What we are now living through is an intense, but narrow, set of innovations in one important area of technology. Does it matter? Yes. We can, after all, see that a decade or two from now every human being will have access to all of the world’s information. But the view that overall innovation is now slower than a century ago is compelling."

My in-laws have a sewing machine. Once almost every middle-class home I knew at Miraj used to have one.

I liked the sound it made.

Our home at Miraj, just like cooking gas, never had any. I don't remember seeing my mother even using it.  I always wanted us to get one.

Our neighbours at Miraj used to sell a brand of sewing machines at Sangli. I think they became prosperous in the process.

When my aunt Kumud-mavashi (कुमुद-मावशी) was widowed for the second time in 1971, one of the suggestions I heard was to 'empower' her with a sewing machine. 

Not just homes but almost every movie- Hindi or Marathi used to have one. Poor mothers- especially widows- brought up our heroes or heroines stitching clothes.

Just like NREGA today for rural poor, sewing machine once was thought to be a panacea for middle-class 'poverty'.

So far I have been talking about the 1960's and 1970's. But I did not know the status of sewing machine in 19th century.

"The sewing machine was the smartphone of the nineteenth century. Just skim through the promotional materials of the leading sewing-machine manufacturers of that distant era and you will notice the many similarities with our own lofty, dizzy discourse. The catalog from Willcox & Gibbs, the Apple of its day, in 1864, includes glowing testimonials from a number of reverends thrilled by the civilizing powers of the new machine. One calls it a “Christian institution”; another celebrates its usefulness in his missionary efforts in Syria; a third, after praising it as an “honest machine,” expresses his hope that “every man and woman who owns one will take pattern from it, in principle and duty.” The brochure from Singer in 1880—modestly titled “Genius Rewarded: or, the Story of the Sewing Machine”—takes such rhetoric even further, presenting the sewing machine as the ultimate platform for spreading American culture. The machine’s appeal is universal and its impact is revolutionary..."
Christian institution?

If only, in the then India, Jansangh had little more weight...imagine 'Hindu institution'...the ultimate platform for spreading Indian culture...Rathyatra with a sewing machine mounted atop!

1892 Singer sewing machine advertisement card, distributed at World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, showing six people from Zululand (South Africa) with Singer sewing machine.

courtesy: Wikimedia and the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division

 Evgeny Morozov continues:

 "Even its marketing is pure poetry:
On every sea are floating the Singer Machines; along every road pressed by the foot of civilized man this tireless ally of the world’s great sisterhood is going upon its errand of helpfulness. Its cheering tune is understood no less by the sturdy German matron than by the slender Japanese maiden; it sings as intelligibly to the flaxen-haired Russian peasant girl as to the dark-eyed Mexican Señorita. It needs no interpreter, whether it sings amidst the snows of Canada or upon the pampas of Paraguay; the Hindoo mother and the Chicago maiden are to-night making the self-same stitch; the untiring feet of Ireland’s fair-skinned Nora are driving the same treadle with the tiny understandings of China’s tawny daughter; and thus American machines, American brains, and American money are bringing the women of the whole world into one universal kinship and sisterhood."

 Matching that poetry and sisterhood is the following image:

 Indian actor Sulochana (सुलोचना) playing widow, operating 'Singer' and  'singing' a lovely melodious song written by G D Madgulkar composed by Sudhir Phadke using voice of playback singer Suman Kalyanpur  in a Marathi film "Ektee" (एकटी), 1968

"लिंबलोण उतरू कशी असशि दूर लांब तू
इथून दृष्ट काढिते निमिष एक थांब तू"

[ग. दि. माडगूळकर, सुधीर फडके, सुमन कल्याणपूर]

There is a line in the song: 'सर्वभार घेतला असा समर्थ खांब तू' (You are the capable pillar that endures all the pressure.)....Is she singing to Singer?

In 19th century India and earlier, women sang as they sat at the grinding stone. When used in 20th century around me, I liked the sound it made. Here is that machine:

Image courtesy: www.manipal.net

 Evgeny Morozov:

 "...And what of the almighty sewing machine? That great beacon of hope—described as “America’s Chief Contribution to Civilization” in Singer’s catalog from 1915—did not achieve its cosmopolitan mission. (How little has changed: a few years ago, one of Twitter’s co-founders described his company as a “triumph of humanity.”) In 1989 the Singer company, in a deeply humiliating surrender to the forces of globalization, was sold off to a company owned by a Shanghai-born Canadian that went bankrupt a decade later. American machines, American brains, and American money were no longer American. One day Google, too, will fall. The good news is that, thanks in part to this superficial and megalomaniacal book, the company’s mammoth intellectual ambitions will be preserved for posterity to study in a cautionary way. The virtual world of Google’s imagination might not be real, but the glib arrogance of its executives definitely is."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Sacred Geography? Maybe. A Sacred Geology?

Will Durant:

"Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice."

Norman Mailer:

"Well, nonetheless, nature still exhibits manifestations which defy all methods of collecting information and data. For example, an earthquake may occur, or a tidal wave may come in, or a hurricane may strike. And the information will lag critically behind our ability to control it."

बा सी मर्ढेकर (B S Mardhekar):

"असशील जेथे तिथे रहा तू,
हा इथला मज पुरे फवारा !"

I bought much praised, best-seller in India, Diana L. Eck's "India A Sacred Geography", 2012 in January 2013.

I did not find it very exciting unlike Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History", 2009. I thumbed through it and since then it remained on "to read" list.

Last night I went through its index for Kedarnath. It appears most between pages 226-33.

I read those pages. Not an inkling it gives that "June 2013" might happen there one day.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I think so today. Maybe such things have happened in the past but have gone unrecorded. Maybe I am having a stroke of  'cemetery-reclusion' (स्मशान वैराग्य) after reading and watching about the disaster...But  as long as I live, I will always associate Kedarnath more with the colossal tragedy that took place in June 2013 than Lord Shiva's abode,,,

                                          Kedarnath Temple in the high Himalayas

courtesy: Diana L. Eck's "India A Sacred Geography"

The book ends with these words:

"...We began this journey in Kāshī, often said to be preeminent among those places where one who has come to the end of this life can find liberation, crossing over to the far shore of immortality. As Shiva shows his beloved city to the goddess Pārvatī, he compares the city to a ferry boat, exclaiming:

Look dear! Look at Kāshī, a boat stretched out for the crossing …a boat not of wood and iron, but the light of illumination for all the people it ferries across the sea of  life.
And yet, in exploring the sacred geography of India more widely, we have learned that one might board this boat for the great crossing-beyond at any of the seven tīrthas of India said to be mokshadāyaka, “bestowers of liberation.” But even more—the claim to a crossing inheres in the very notion of a tīrtha. While the tīrtha may ferry one over the trials and tribulations of earthly life, the tīrtha is finally a ferry to help one cross over from the entanglement of repeated birth and death to the freedom of liberation. One just might board that boat anywhere. Taking a pilgrim journey to a distant place may be a necessary discipline, but not because the nearby place is not also a crossing. Tīrthas are plentiful—where the rivers meet, where the hill rises, where the temple flag waves. The south Indian poet Dasimayya writes that for the one who is truly awake to the reality of Shiva, “his own front yard is the true Banāras.” And the tīrtha just might be closer still. Lalla, a fourteenth-century devotional poet from Kashmir, wrote: “I, Lalla, went out far in search of Shiva, the omnipresent lord; having wandered, I found him in my own body, sitting in his house.”..."

Why should I go for "chardham" pilgrimage when he is sitting in his house? And even if he is not, as poet  B S Mardhekar says in the quote at the top: You stay where you are, for me sprinkling here will do !

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Genkhis Khan Has Branches In All Cities

Richard Dawkins:

“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.”
Indian media, for some reason, are rejoicing that the second-in-line to the British throne, Prince William,  is 1/256th Indian.

I too rejoiced something about my lineage when I saw this  program on National Geographic

"Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, may have done more than rule the largest empire in the world; according to a recently published genetic study, he may have helped populate it too.

An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today..."

"0.5 percent of the male population in the world"? That is 1 in 200...I have a good shot at being a member of that set.

Look at the following picture by one of my favourite artists the late J B Handelsman.

It's actually Mr. Khan, more than Mr.  Bonaparte, who should be introduced as having branches in every city and not just the major ones!

Artist: John Bernard "J.B." Handelsman, The New Yorker,  January 30 1984

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Body's Sex Organ Resides in a Tiny Place. So What?...शरीरात लिंग इवल्युशा जागेत असतं

Liel Leibovitz:
"It’s a perfect embodiment of (Philip) Roth’s foundational move. First, set up a lofty premise, imbued with suffering and meaning and art, a furnace of emotions, every bit as universal as the great masterworks. Then, talk about your dick..."
The Economist:

"The problem with penises, as Richard Rudgley, a British anthropologist, admitted on a television programme some years ago, is that once you start noticing them, you “tend to see willies pretty much everywhere”. They are manifest in skyscrapers, depicted in art and loom large in literature. They pop up on the walls of schoolyards across the world, and on the walls of temples both modern and ancient. The Greeks and Japanese rendered them on statues that stood at street corners. Hindus worship the lingam in temples across the land. Even the cross on which Jesus was hung is considered by some to be a representation of male genitalia."

Woody Allen: 

"My brain is my second favorite organ"
Jared Diamond:

"...Almost anyone would assert that the functions of the penis are to eject urine, inject sperm, and stimulate women physically during intercourse. But the comparative approach teaches us that those functions are accomplished elsewhere in the animal world by a relatively much smaller structure than the one with which we encumber ourselves. It also teaches us that such oversized structures evolve in several alternative ways that biologists are still struggling to understand. Thus, even the most familiar and seemingly most transparent piece of human sexual equipment surprises us with unsolved evolutionary questions."
The following appeared in Loksatta dated June 21 2013. I read it because it was highlighted in the bold.

सोनाली कुलकर्णी:

"किल लिंग! शरीरात लिंग इवल्युशा जागेत असतं. सर्वसाधारणपणे माणसाचं वजन साठ किलो धरलं- तर त्यात लिंगाचं वजन कितीसं असेल? ते सोडून उरलेल्या बाकी शरीराचं- माणूसपणाचं काय? लिंगभेद आणि चर्चा बास झाल्या आता..."

(Sonali Kulkarni:

"Kill Gender/ Sex-Organ! Body's sex organ resides in a tiny place. If one considers an average person weighs 60 kg- what is the weight of the organ out of it? What about the rest of the body- humanness? Enough of  discussions on gender / gender-divergence/ gender-discrimination.")

[Btw-  Loksatta seems to be fond of humanness (माणूसपणा). Recently its leader linked humanness with Everest climbing.]

I find the quote above very funny because size and weight have got nothing to do with sex-organ's relative importance.

Apart from begging to differ with Ms. Kulkarni on the tininess of the place  (इवलुशी जागा), I wish the late Vijay Tendulkar (विजय तेंडूलकर) were around to read her statement.

The thing residing in a tiny place has played 'disproportionately' huge role at least in two of his famous plays -'Sakahram Binder' (सखाराम बाईंडर) and 'Ghashiram Kotwal' (घाशीराम कोतवाल). 

I wish we could politely request Sakharam and Nana- the way Ms. Kulkarni argues- to look at their penises, realize how small and light they were proportionate to the rest of their bodies and ask them to just chill it. 

The end of play. 

 Wikipedia informs:

"Sexual tension is a common feature of plot and characterization in works of fiction. This longing is often suggested by incidents of intimacy; for instance, when two people or characters are alone and in close proximity (or actually touching), yet desire is never explicitly expressed. Another common theme is for characters to develop an interest in one another over the course of the plot, and if this is expertly done the audience can become aware of the growing attraction."

Needless to say which organ plays a large role in creating sexual tension. 

For me, sexual tension creates some of the most interesting art- Cinema, drama, paintings, novels, biographies, sculptures...I fully understand why a great writer like Philip Roth, as quoted at the top,  talks about "your dick" at the end. 

Look at the torment of Mahatma Gandhi in the following quote.

Andrew Roberts, review of Joseph Lelyveld's book 'Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India':

"...Gandhi's pejorative reference to nakedness is ironic considering that, as Mr. Lelyveld details, when he was in his 70s and close to leading India to independence, he encouraged his 17-year-old great-niece, Manu, to be naked during her "nightly cuddles" with him. After sacking several long-standing and loyal members of his 100-strong personal entourage who might disapprove of this part of his spiritual quest, Gandhi began sleeping naked with Manu and other young women. He told a woman on one occasion: "Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience."..."

What Ms. Kulkarni is perhaps trying to say on gender/ sex-organ (लिंग), is much better expressed by the late B S Mardhekar (बा सी मर्ढेकर) in just four lies:

 "पहा विचारूनि त्यांना कसली 

मैथुनात रे असते झिंग;

दखवितिल ते भोक रिकामे 

जिथे असावे मांसल लिंग."

"Try asking them what exhilaration lies in copulation, they will show you an empty hole (भोक)- vagina-  where perhaps there was a fleshy penis (मांसल लिंग)."

This is because when an untrained person is shown a human skeleton,  he/she can't say whether it is of male or female. (Read the entry Sexual dimorphism from Wikipedia. There are many differences between the male and female human skeletons. But no mention of sex organ.)

Isn't that a great gender equalizer or a gender neutral thing?

Artist: Claude Smith, The New Yorker, 13 December 1947

Friday, June 21, 2013

Are We Modern Humans Demon Taraka from Kalidasa's Kumārasambhava?

Karl Kraus:

"Progress celebrates Pyrrhic victories over nature. Progress makes purses out of human skin. When people were traveling in mail coaches, the world got ahead better than it does now that salesmen fly through the air. What good is speed if the brain has oozed out on the way? How will the heirs of this age be taught the most basic motions that are necessary to activate the most complicated machines? Nature can rely on progress; it will avenge it for the outrage it has perpetrated on it...Progress, under whose feet the grass mourns and the forest turns into paper from which newspaper plants grow, has subordinated the purpose of life to the means of subsistence and turned us into the nuts and bolts for our tools."

 (A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat. One of the meanings of pyrrhic- Of or relating to a war dance of ancient Greece. )

meteorologist Hans von Storch, June 20 2013:

" I'm not aware of any studies showing that floods happen more often today than in the past. I also just attended a hydrologists' conference in Koblenz, and none of the scientists there described such a finding."

Maharaj K. Pandit, The Hindu, June 21 2013:

"The catastrophe in the Himalaya is the result of deforestation, unchecked construction of dwellings and large-scale building of big dams...neo-religious movements, linked to changing socio-political developments in India, are responsible for significant human movement into the Himalaya beyond the region’s carrying capacity, whether it is Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Hemkund in Uttarakhand. "

In one of the most tender verses (is there anything non-tender there?)  in Dnyaneshwari (ज्ञानेश्वरी), Dnyaneshwar (ज्ञानेश्वर) 1275-1296 writes:

"आणि गंगा शंभुचां माथां।  संकोचली जेवि पार्था।
तेवि मान्यपदे सर्वथा। लाजनें जें॥" (16-203)

It describes the feelings of river Ganga as she lands on Lord Shiva's head on her way to the earth from heaven. She first felt very shy and then she blushed.

Was she shy ('संकोचली')  or blushing ("लाजनें जें") at Rishikesh in June 2013? 

Not quite.


  A submerged idol of Lord Shiva stands in the flooded Ganga at Rishikesh

According to the Central Water Commission, the water level in the Ganga had risen 1m above the danger mark.  Photo courtesy: AP  courtesy: The Hindu, June 19 2013

Weather, climate change, 'global warming' are largely not responsible for what happened in Uttarakhand.

We, and what we do in the name of progress, are and the bizarre picture above reminded me of  Kālidāsa's  epic poem 'Kumārasambhava' (The Birth of the War-god).

 The subject of the poem is the marriage of the god Shiva, the birth of his son, and the victory of this son over a powerful demon.

"प्रस्थानकालोचितचारुवेषः स स्वर्गिवर्गैरनुगम्यमानः ।
ततः कुमारः शिरसा नतेन त्रैलोक्यभर्तुः प्रणनाम पादौ ।। १३.१ ।।

जहीन्द्रशत्रुं समरेऽमरेशपदं स्थिरत्वं नय वीर वत्स ।
इत्याशिषा तं प्रणमन्तमीशो मूर्धन्युपाघ्राय मुदाभ्यनन्दत् ।। १३.२ ।।


कुमारसैनापत्याभिषेको नाम त्रयोदशः सर्गः ।"      (source: कुमारसम्भवम्/त्रयोदशः सर्गः)

In the thirteenth canto, as translated by Arthur W. Ryder:

"Kumara takes an affectionate farewell of his parents, and sets out with the gods. When they come to Indra's paradise, the gods are afraid to enter, lest they find their enemy there. There is an amusing scene in which each courteously invites the others to precede him, until Kumara ends their embarrassment by leading the way. Here for the first time Kumara sees with deep respect the heavenly Ganges, Indra's garden and palace, and the heavenly city. But he becomes red- eyed with anger on beholding the devastation wrought by Taraka."

 He saw departed glory, saw the state
 Neglected, ruined, sad, of Indra's city,
As of a woman with a cowardly mate:
  And all his inmost heart dissolved in pity.\
He saw how crystal floors were gashed and torn
  By wanton tusks of elephants, were strewed
With skins that sloughing cobras once had worn:
  And sadness overcame him as he viewed.

He saw beside the bathing-pools the bowers
  Defiled by elephants grown overbold,
Strewn with uprooted golden lotus-flowers,
  No longer bright with plumage of pure gold,
Rough with great, jewelled columns overthrown,
  Rank with invasion of the untrimmed grass:
Shame strove with sorrow at the ruin shown,
  For heaven's foe had brought these things to pass

Amid these sorrowful surroundings the gods gather and anoint Kumara, thus consecrating him as their general."

(Taraka in the following picture- from Ramayana- is a different figure than the one that appears in  Kumārasambhava.)


'Taraka vadh' by Artist: Raja Ravi Varma

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

H A Bhave, A Practical Idealist I Liked...ह. अ. भावे, मला आवडलेला हिशेबी आदर्शवादी

Mr. Bhave, a Pune based publisher of Marathi books, died on June 18 2013. Most of the books he 'published' were free of copyright.
 "creative commons vs copyright"

Artist: Marcelo Braga 

I will always remain in Mr. Bhave's debt for making it possible for me to buy a number of rare / out-of-print Marathi books. His best 'gift' to me would be Laxmibai Tilak's (लक्ष्मीबाई टिळक) unabridged "Smrutichitre" (स्मृतिचित्रे).  

I bought a number of books by visiting his showroom-cum-press. I had a long conversation with him on one of the occasions.

Once I wanted the entire writings of Rajaramshastri Bhagwat (राजारामशास्त्री भागवत). They were listed in his catalogue. When I asked for them, he said they went out of print long time ago. He had to sell them really hard. He of course was kind enough to offer the 'master' copy of it for me to photocopy it in the nearby photocopy shop.

Although his aims were noble, he probably never forgot that he was, in the end, running a business. I often felt he could have priced some of the books cheaper.

I wanted to ask him what he thought of the books- similar or the same as reprinted by him-  priced at Rs. 50 by  Samanvay Prakashan , Kolkapur (समन्वय प्रकाशन, कोल्हापूर). (Read more on that here.)

I understand almost nothing of the business of Marathi publishing but I always feel most publishers aim to sell to libraries ahead of retail crowd like me. I don't buy some Marathi books because I perceive them to be expensive.

Go well Mr. Bhave. I hope Maharashtra's future generations will keep producing practical idealists like you. 

Catalogue and price list of Mr. Bhave's 'Varada Prakashan' dated 2011

Today Baby Bump's Like a Jasmine Bud...आज टपोरले पोट, जैसी मोगरीची कळी;

Ian Mortimer, SPIEGEL Online, Dec 7 2012:

"...Rape could almost never be proved. It was the woman's word against the man's. If the woman became pregnant, this was taken as proof that the sex had been consensual because people in the Middle Ages believed a woman could conceive only when sexually aroused..."


Artist: Balbusso Sisters, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

B S Mardhekar (बा.सी.मर्ढेकर)'s very beautiful Marathi poem, what I call  'Hymn to a Journey: Girl to Mother':

"पोरसवदा होतीस
होता पायांतही वारा

आज टपोरले पोट,
जैसी मोगरीची कळी;
पडे कुशीँतून पायीं
छोट्या जीवाची साखळी.

पोरसवदा होतीस
थांब उद्याचे माऊली,
तीर्थ पायांचे घेईतों."

[Poem no 27 from 'Kanhee Kavita' (कांही कविता)]

("You're childlike
until yesterday or day-before;
there was wind beneath your feet
until yesterday or day-before.

Today belly has grown,
like a Jasmine bud,
from limbs falls at feet
a string of  tiny life.

You're childlike
until yesterday or day-before;
hold tomorrow's mother,
I drink holy water of washing of your feet.)

My apologies for poor translation...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hope King Shivaji Comes Back Without His Century! राजे तुम्ही परत जन्माला या, तुमचे शतक मागे ठेवून!

तुकाराम : "रात्रंदिन आम्हा युद्धाचा प्रसंग। अंतर्बाह्य जग आणि मन।"

Geoffrey Parker and Lesley M.Smith

"Writing early in 1643 some friends of the count-duke of Olivares, the disgraced chief minister of Philip IV of Spain, noted a global context for the failures of their hero in the apologetic tract, Nicandro: All the north in commotion… England, Ireland and Scotland aflame with Civil War… The Ottomans tearing each other to pieces… China invaded by the Tartars, Ethiopia by the Turks, and the Indian kings who live scattered through the region between the Ganges and the Indus all at each other’s throats."

('The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century', 1978)

रा भा पाटणकर :

"शिवाजीने रयतेच्या भल्यासाठी केलेल्या गोष्टी सर्वश्रुत आहेत. पण तरीही तेथील सामान्य रयत सुखात होती असे म्हणता येणार  नाही ."

(पृष्ठ 56, 'अपूर्ण  क्रांती',  1999)


"You and I and everyone we know are always living only a few weeks of food away from famine psychosis. Here’s how it goes. Deprived of meals, your body starts to consume itself. It uses up the glucose stored in your liver and body fats. It uses up the proteins in its own muscles and cells. Rapidly, your body starts to mock you: your belly swells as if you are becoming fat, because the breakdown of muscle causes the remaining fat to bunch there.
And then your personality is consumed. As Thomas Keneally puts it in “Three Famines”: “The victim becomes a new person. The fastidious become slovenly; the kindly become aggressive; the moral are caught up in the great amorality of famine. Fraternity and love wither. Judgment vanishes, and a hyperactive anxiety seizes the mind.” You are gripped by psychotic delusions. Sometimes you will eat your own children. You will become so insane you don’t even recognize food when it is put in front of you; rescued famine victims often howl for sustenance long after it is offered to them. And then you die..."

In Maharashtra, I have now seen a number of motor vehicles (and even other structures) that carry Shivaji's (1630-1680)  picture with an appeal.

The appeal in Marathi reads something like this: "राजे तुम्ही परत  जन्माला या." (King you be borne again.)

I believe people are so fed up with the current state of administration in Maharashtra that they long for what they perceive as the good administration: Shivaji's rule.

A commercially successful film 'Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy' (मी शिवाजीराजे भोसले बोलतोय), 2009  had the theme of return of Shivaji to the current times to address the so-called woes of middle-class Marathi speaking people in Mumbai.

I too wish Shivaji returned to rule Maharashtra with a small rider: He doesn't bring back 17th century along with him!


I recently read a review of  Geoffrey Parker's book "Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century". Review is done by Christopher Booker  for  The Spectator, UK. (The following words are based extensively on that review.)
All around the globe except in a few countries like Japan, 17th century was peculiarly cruel time to be alive.

"It marked the depths of that ‘Little Ice Age’ which saw global temperatures lower than at any time since the end of the last glaciation 13,000 years ago."

This change of climate would play a decisive role the way 17th century shaped. 

When we read popular history of 17th century Maharashtra, this fact seldom comes across. 

Not just that but I don't recall even D G Godse (द ग गोडसे) or T S Shejwalkar (त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर) or Setu Madhavrao Pagdi (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) mentioning it- little ice age-  in any of their great essays on Maratha history and culture.

It is a big miss because of what that huge climate change did to people of India.

"Everywhere from China and India to Britain and Ireland, droughts, floods, cold summers and freezing winters caused massive crop failures and economic breakdown, not only leading to widespread famines but making it impossible for impoverished and starving populations to meet those ever-rising tax demands."

Anthony Reid writes: "In India as a whole the worst years were 1630 and 1631, representing ‘almost certainly the most destructive Indian famine of the early modern era’, which killed about 3,000,000 people in Gujerat alone...In 1660–61 another appalling drought struck South India, and particularly Tanjore, where ‘famine has so increased that whole villages, towns and hamlets have been depopulated, and hardly anyone remains, the dead lying in dried-up tanks’."


Poet-saint Tukaram (1598 ? - 1650) was very much alive during 1630-31. His life too like most others was wrecked by the recurring droughts and famines of 17th century. 

Since self-rule started in 1947, the rain-gods have generally been kind to Maharashtra, planet earth has not seen anything like a little ice age and yet we have this huge water crisis in the summer of 2013.

How lucky we are that we don't live in 17th century and how lucky 17th century people were that they didn't have 21st century rulers!

Natives Waiting for Relief at Bangalore

The Great Famine of 1876–78,  the worst famine of the century, which claimed perhaps 5.5 million lives in the Deccan and the south

Artist: Unknown, The Illustrated London News , October 20 1877

courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
"It has long been familiar that the 17th century was also a time of extraordinary political turmoil right across Europe and Asia, from the Thirty Years War which laid waste vast tracts of Germany to the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China; from the murderous civil wars and revolutions which rocked Britain and France to the disintegration of the Spanish empire. As early as 1643 a Spaniard observed that it was ‘one of the epochs when every nation is turned upside down’. Voltaire noted, a century later, how many rulers had been murdered or executed, from the Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim in 1648 and Charles I in 1649 to the Mogul emperor Shah Jehan in 1658, calling it ‘a period of usurpations almost from one end of the world to another’.

Again and again we see similar patterns, as empires and kingdoms became drawn into a plethora of wars, requiring their rulers to raise ever larger sums of money in taxes. But again and again, as countries and whole regions were thrown into chaos by war, made worse by epidemics of disease, such as smallpox and the last recrudescence of that plague which had wracked Europe since the Black Death, we see how extreme weather events intervened to make the situation much worse.

 It is no accident that it was right in the middle of the 17th century that Thomas Hobbes included his heartcry in Leviathan that the life of man is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. Reading Parker’s painful accounts of how the general crisis tore apart one country after another, from Ireland to China, one can only think how fortunate we are not to live in a time as desperate as any in human history.

 In Szechuan alone, in the chaos surrounding the downfall of the 200-year old Ming dynasty, more than a million died. Vast areas of Europe in the chaos of the Thirty Years War lost up to a third or more of their population. The French civil war between 1649 and 1653, the Fronde, caused a million deaths. In Britain the various civil wars between 1638 and 1660 led to the deaths of seven per cent of the population, far greater than the two per cent who died in the first world war. In Ireland this rose to a fifth.

 By adding the vagaries of the weather to the overall equation, Parker is not suggesting that these were the cause of the general catastrophe. But what he does show for the first time, with his wealth of evidence drawn from thousands of sources, is how the climate seriously aggravated the effects of all those wars and other disorders which made the 17th century such a peculiarly cruel time to be alive... "

That is why I appeal to Shivaji: King you be borne again, leaving behind your century! (राजे तुम्ही परत  जन्माला या, तुमचे शतक मागे ठेवून!)