Thursday, September 27, 2007

10 years of...

Sep 27, 1997...... a month and few days before I turned 18... I think it was a Saturday... A bunch of folks at IIT Madras, trying to start a new student group ( well rather trying to semi-officialize an already existing loose network) organized a small talk by a Swamiji.... I was one among the may be 20 some audience...

It took me another year before I really started volunteering for the group, but I believe that day, 10 years before, some how initiated changes in my social life ... academically and careerwise whether that influenced my life - I donno..... I was told by my Father that astrologically I was supposed to have shanidasa (a bad period as I understand it) from like 18 to 36 or some such... I donno how that fits into the picture also, as even though compared to quite a brilliant academic record in the first 18 years ( State 10th 7th rank, state engineering entrance second rank, and IIT-JEE 141 ) , I may not have been able to do-all-I-wanted in my past 10 years, but it has not been any particularly bad either

Anyways, whatever that is... and around October beginning that year was when I first picked up a Bhagavad Gita also for myself........ and the 10 years, I have volunteered in my own small ways, for different organizations.... being instrumental in starting a few also.... educational, charity, social,student, non-student...... but memories about the first one are always special

In this post, I would perhaps post about just one experience - something which the organization never made much public, but I feel that its important that more people know about it.... A spiritual organization in the land of Periyar... it did not take much long after its initiation in 1997 that accusations of "Brahmanical propaganda" were hurled at us... in fact such a complaint was apparently lodged with the institute authorities about us

A bunch of young volunteers who never spoke about our "castes" among ourselves - suddenly we were forced to look at each other... for the first time in our 2 or 3 years of friendship, I was curious about knowing what castes my fellow volunteers belonged to.. Not that I would judge about the organization based on that, but just out of curiosity - thanks to the esteemed fellow who made the complaint based on his own fancy

And it turned out that out of the 7 vols from my batch , (as per the British defined system) 1 was a Brahmin, 1 told his caste as a vysya caste, I belonged to an "OBC", 3 belonged to SC and I don't know about the 7th fellow.....

and even if it were all Brahmins, what a stupid complaint that is.. If spirituality is what they equated to Brahmanism, then I would anyway don't mind being accused of being Brahmanical.. will take that as a credit !

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

woman and last rites - scriptural references ?!

1) July 2, 2007 - UP

Coimbatore/Allahabad, July 1 (ANI): While rallies were organised across the country to mark the 'National Day of Girl Child' on Sunday, a woman performed the last rites of her father-in-law in Allahabad, forbidden in the Hindu custom.Maya Mukti Upadhyaya set a precedent when she performed the last rites of her father-in-law.

http://in.news.yahoo.com/070701/139/6hl8f.html

2) July 22, 2007 - Bihar

A Hindu woman from Bihar has broken age-old Hindu traditions by performing the last rites of her husband, a ritual usually done by male members of the family, describing him as her dearest friend.Geetu Avinash, in her 50s, Sunday performed the 'shradh ceremony' (ritual performed after a death) of her husband Avinash Kumar at Ara, about 60 km from here.

http://www.indiaenews.com/religion/20070722/61943.htm

3) Sep 16, 2007 - Orissa

According to Hindu rites, women are not allowed inside crematoriums. But Shanti Behera, 49, spends most of her time inside the Sambalpur municipality crematorium. And whenever chants of “Ram naam satya hai” draw near, she knows that’s her cue to start preparing yet another funeral pyre...

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=0b55942c-165a-487e-94df-510e6db5e0fb&&Headline=Orissa+woman+prepares+pyres%2c+rewrites+rules

4) Sep 19, 2007 - Bihar, again

For the first time, women in Nawada village of Bihar have broken an age old tradition.
Sharmila Devi and Meena Devi carried their deceased father's body to the cremation ground though the bereaved family has three sons...... And surprisingly, even men support this call for change.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070026582

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lol... in their zeal to be the "first ones" to report an incident like this, each medium is claiming that the incident quoted by them is the first in history...... and a little google search showed me that there are incidents reported years before also and who knows, there may have been these incidents dating all the way back ...

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2003 - http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030914/herworld.htm#1

In Ujjain, Sandhya Chauhan, the only daughter of Mangilal Chauhan, lit the pyre of her father on the Shipra Ghat near the famous Mahakaleshwar temple. "I fulfilled my father's last wish that only I should perform his last rites,"

1993 -
This the account of Ms. Bandita Phukan. She is the first woman mechanical engineer in the State of Assam. When her father died in 1993, the relatives tried to find a son of a cousin to do the last rites (Shraddha), because her father did not have a son. Bandita revolted, and asked the priest to permit her to do the last rites. At the beginning, the priest refused. Last rites of a dead person can be performed only by a male member of the family, and never by a daughter. Bandita did not give up. At her insistence, one Brahmin priest came forward and allowed her to perform the last rites of her father.

The last article concludes with a paragraph

If married Hindu daughters could be allowed to perform the Shraddha cerimonies, concludes Phukan, their surviving parents would be happy to have a dear daughter as eligible as their dear son.

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Eventhough the declining female:male ratio in India may have multiple causes (social and financial more than anything else ) I strongly believe that anything in Hinduism that may even remotely cause people to justify infant girl-child mortality should be trashed.. I have so far never come across any shruti references justifying or asking sati ( the ones quoted by some leftist intellectuals from the Vedas turned out to be a clear misinterpretation ) and my gut feeling is that even this custom of last rites has nothing to do with the shrutis ....

if anything it might be mentioned in some smrithis... ( and for a small discussion on smrithis see http://www.geocities.com/satyawaadi/smrithi.html ) or minsinterpreted as is the case with sati and things like http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.com/2006/02/et-tu.html

I am now curious to know where the scriptural reference if any are.... might take me a while, as I will have to go thro' scores of internet references... meantime, if any of the readers know anything, my request is to kindly post in the comments section or email me

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ps: Even if it were a shruti injection, it doesn't surprise me that the customs can be changed, or that such an action would not invoke anything similar to a fatwa... Quoting Sri Aurobindo "Hinduism, which is the most skeptical and the most believing of all, the most skeptical because it has questioned and experimented the most, the most believing because it has the deepest experience and the most varied and positive spiritual knowledge, that wider Hinduism which is not a dogma or combination of dogmas but a law of life, which is not a social framework but the spirit of a past and future social evolution, which rejects nothing but insists on testing and experiencing everything and when tested and experienced, turning in to the soul's uses, in this Hinduism, we find the basis of future world religion. This Sanatana Dharma has many scriptures: The Veda, the Vedanta, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Darshanas, the Puranas, the Tantras:......but its real, the most authoritative scripture is in the heart in which the Eternal has his dwelling"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

blog getting older as bin laden getting younger !


Nov 11 last year is when I put a counter on my blog... so sep 11 its 10 months, easy to divide the total and get an average.. looks like its going to be closer to 600 a month... i.e average 20 a day.. assuming on an average 2-3 are my own, thats like 15+ a day.... not bad I guess .. of course sometimes there is like a 100 hit a day and sometimes 1 (that must be my own hit)


Interestingly the kind of google searches that fetches the blog max hits are "meera jasmine" and "beena antony" , "actress" and so on and so on, names which I had not mentioned for long time, and names which I mentioned in the contexts that the searchers hardly wud expect to see ..
If I were to market my blog better, I should be posting atleast one bollywood or cricket post for every 2-3 other posts, or atleast throw around some of those big names - oh well, why not now itself - amitabh bachan , abhishek bachan, aishwarya rai, sachin tendulkar ... lol i am so bad at this ....

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Meantime sep 11 also marks the 6th anniversary of 9/11 . Interestingly the much hyped come back kid Bin Laden starrer Al Qaeda Productions , marketed by Al Jazeera movie has ended up, apparently as a comedy even though the producers wanted it to be a suspense thriller... The very first line of B Ramans latest paper set me laughing

http://www.saag.org/%5Cpapers24%5Cpaper2365.html

1. Some of the Mullas in Pakistan are known to put on make-up in order to make themselves look younger.

and later

3.In Pakistani jihadi circles, it is this which is being discussed and not the meaning of his message. One understands that this has been so in some of the TV channels of the West too, with even many week-end TV jokes about his dyeing his beard......

photo courtesy: http://www.bloggernews.net/110018

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Teachers Day


Sep 5 may not be as "auspicious" as Guru Poornima, still, wish to thank all my teachers in my life.... starting with Ma Saraswati whom I accepted as a Guru at the age of 5 after a parrot picked up that card, Panikkathiar who taught me Malayalam, my father who used to
prepare sample exams for me even when I was in my first standard (which I was very much bent upon cracking every time), my mother who is a teacher by profession...... and the scores of others from school to college to universities to daily life !!!

If I have ever done anything right in life, its due to all of you...
Any mistakes, just mine ......