Update: Guys, I’m back to Nepal. It began raining cats & dogs when I reached Dharmashala. That means monsoon rains are coming. Also got cold diarhea. Was also not feeling well physically. That means time to rest.
Many people in India must be taking a sigh of relief that I’m back to Nepal finally. But plz note that I’ll keep on visiting India again & again. I still have to see many parts of India.
When I was entering Nepal, a staff at the border asked: Are you Indian or Nepali? Officially, I’m a Nepali citizen coz you’re supposed to have a country. Otherwise, I feel like I’ve gone beyond all traditional definitions.
Since I’m not making any notes these days, i’m posting everything from memory in short.
* A Meeting with the Kabir Panthees – Visited the Kabir Ashram in Dhaulpur, Rajasthan and stayed for a day there. Amrit Sahib is really a learned as well as spiritually grown person. See guys, my contact with spiritual people is growing, and they all want me to join them. He also explained that Kabir Panth is in the middle between the Argumentative Bramhans and the Silent Buddhists.
* People in Rajasthan respect the holimen a lot. Many people did me Namaste seeing my holy robes. And at the Ashram, not only the young people, but even a man older than my dad touched my feet. Guys, looks like I’m also becoming a holy man… After all, many people since my childhood have been predicting than I’d be a holy man. :lol:
* Met a soldier from Andhra Pradesh on the train. He was very friendly with me. He was also a devout Christian. It was a bit revealing for me that a person with a traditional Sanskrit name could also be a devout Christian who reads Bible before going to bed every night. He was also a very funny man. ‘You know, while I was reading the Bible, I felt an urge for sex’ he said. I told him to go to the toilet and release himself. He said: ‘No, I’m going to home now. I’m release it with my wife.’
* Another incident I forgot to mention: It was a Holi festival when I arrive in Bodh Gaya. A policeman gave me a lift for about 4 Kms. See guys, everyone wants to help me to achieve what I want. After all, it’s going to benefit the whole humanity.
*Ajmer: I found Ajmer more interesting than mentioned by the guides book, especially around the Lake area. And contrary to a traditional sounding name, the Ajmeris are a fashion concious people.
* Pushkar: Pushkar is really a quiet place surrounded by the desert mountains. A lesson to learn from Pushkar is that they have built a system of providing drinking water at various points.
* Right now I’m in Dharmashala. Will meditate if got an opportunity, otherwise will move further.
* After travelling this much, I’ve sensed that India takes security issues very seriously. So to undertand India, you must understand it’s security concerns. And that’s understandable. I’ve also sensed that security people are a bit concerned over my motive of travelling. They need not. India has been my second home since my childhood.
* Some people are wondering why I’m travelling like this. Guys, I’m not only travelling, I’m also becoming a travel expert on India. And that could be my next profession.
* A Note: May be I won’t blog for a long time. As I’ve said earlier, thinking interferes with meditation. So, please visit at your own risk.
Was into meditation again… but as long as I write blog columns, it’ll be difficult for me to do the concentration part of meditation…coz thinking interferes with concentration…moreover, thinking for blogging is also interefering with my other pursuits here… moreover, finding a cyber is really difficult… so, i’m ‘thinking’ of discontinuing blogging…so, don’t miss me guys, if you don’t see an update..
while meditating i see it vividly that i’m not a being but all the time i’m becoming… every moment the world is becoming and i’m also becoming… and i also see how people invite misery for themselves out of ignorance… personally, i’m happy, so i don’t need to meditate for personal reasons…but i admit that i still have to grow more spiritually…
A well-wisher colleague had once suggested that instead of blogging i should write books…i think i should also ponder over his idea… or may be i should write travelogues for magazines…that way i would also make some money for survival…
I’m amused to find that so many people in India are willing to help me… some have even given there adresses and have asked to contact them whenever i needed any help…
An interesting event: A man suggested that I should change my surname to a more polite one… coz it shows my ‘bramhinistic arrogance’…In fact, often I also find my surname a bit uncomfortable, although i’ve to use it that way officially…… so, in the Facebook, I’ve again changed my name to Divas Sapiens…
Even in India many people are wondering what course i’d take further… whether i’ll be social or i’ll take even more individualistic way…
A few people have suggested that a highly individualistic person like me should go to the Badri area and meditate there…they say that there’re many places and people like me there…but I’ve still to see many parts of India before that…
The Hawa Mahal(Pic from the net)
Arrived at the Jaipur Railway Station.
Was having some stomach problem for the past few days.
So was looking for the toilet to evacuate the bowel contents.
A police personnel of South Indian origin asked if he could help.
Told him that I was looking for a toilet.
And he took me to the toilet himself.
I was really impressed.
Later when I was lying outside near the ticket counter, the Tickect Checker or TT came with a few police personnel and demanded for the ticket.
Actually, sometimes I do cheat while on travelling on the train – for various reasons. Sometimes the line is too long, sometimes when I’ve a weak stomach, and sometimes I’m in a hurry. And sometimes just for the sake of fun – as the foreign tourists say.
However, when the TT catches me red-hand, I do pay the fines. And that’s some time much more than travelling with a ticket. But this time I didn’t feel like paying. So, I made some excuses. Coz I’d arrived Jaipur by hanging on the door, and many times i felt like it might be my last moment. So, instead of paying the fines, I thought it better to enjoy their scoldings.
The Railways authorities should increase the number of general or the II class bogies. Most of times the II class bogies are so crowded that it’s suffocating, especially during the summer months.
On Varanasi Experience: Looks like the real Sadhus Babas were not against me in Varanasi. Actually, I’ve sensed that many people including the real Sadhu Babas want to help me. Looks like the Ghat authorities and people who make a living out of it were unhappy with me. Coz I’d made a comment on improving the Ghat for the pilgrims.
Next time when I’ll be in Varanasi, I’ll spend my time on some isolated Ghat.
Jaipur is really a ‘Pink City’. Perhaps, the Pink City is the most beautiful planned settlement in India – in terms of architectural beauty. But, I wasn’t aware that Jaipur is also the capital city of Rajasthan. It’s also one of the major tourist destination in India.
An interesting incident: When I was standing in front of the Hawa Mahal, a Chinese looking female tourist (I call her Chinese coz she said ‘Nee-How’, I think that the ‘Namaste’ in Chinese) asked through gestures if she could take my picture. I was really amused. She was interested in one of the most narcissistic persons of our times. So I gave her a really philosophic pose. And she was happy to take my picture.
Pic from the net
Yesterday, a Naga Baba asked me to sit beside him. ‘I’ve been trying to talk to you for so many days, but you don’t pay attention to me. Are you angry with me?’ he asked smilingly. Actually, I don’t pay attention to anyone, unless I think it’s necessary.
Naga Babas are generally friendlier than other Babas. They ‘re also natural in their lifestyle. ‘Wanna take some chilum(marijuana)?’ he asked. I might have given company to Baba by taking one or more puffs, but I don’t know how to smoke from a chilum. So, I said no.
In fact, I don’t feel like taking any intoxicant. Why take any intoxicant when you’re already happy naturally? But people are people. Sometimes people insist for cultural reasons & also to show camaraderie - so sometimes I do take a few sips of alcohol for social reasons. But I neither drink nor smoke nor take any intoxicants. These days, I take only my anti-hypertensive medication, and my hypertension is inherited, not acquired.
Then another man came & asked Naga Baba a few questions on awakening the Kundalini. The Naga Baba was honest. He said that he’s been trying to awaken his Kundalini through Bhajans but hasn’t been successful yet.
I’ve also increased my meditation hours. While meditating I focus on sensations all over the body. Yesterday morning I felt like my Nabhi Chakra was active for some time.
Looks like cultural tensions much higher in India that I’d previously thought. I was enjoying my time in Varanasi and the people also seem to have accepted me. But some Sadhu Babas are unhappy with me coz I don’t follow their ways. So, I’m thinking of moving to some other place.
You guys might be wondering where I’m these days and what I’m doing. Well, I’m still at Varanasi. This place has been able to keep me here for several days. And for many reasons.
Varanasi, especially the Ghats around the Ganges, is a place for eccentric people like me. Even culturally you don’t feel an outsider here. In fact, I was a bit surprized to meet two Jyapu teachers from Bhaktapur Bode in the Nepali Dharmashala during my first visit. And the place is also filled with tourists from all over the world. Hence, the place is generally tolerant of unknown people. In fact, it’s a multi-cultural world.
You can swim in the Ganges whole day long and free of cost. The Ganges here is quiet and wide, and it remind you of Sholokhov’s ‘Quiet Flows the Don’. And I’m amused when I hear boatmen shouting: Par Jaaoge?(Wanna go the Other side?). Do they really understand what they’re saying?
I’m always around the Ghats, that too nearby Dashaswamedh Ghat. In the morning I sit on a cool berendah of a closed shop. Since it’s hot in the afternoon, I find a shaded place a sit there. Surfing the net is also easier here. Foods are also comparatively cheaper. And most importantly, you can sleep on the Ghats free of cost.
Although I don’t speak with anyone, I think people have begun recognising me. Even the security people are aware of me. A security personnel checked my hand bag the day before yesterday. And yesterday, another security personnel in plain clothes and with a sniffer dog checked my backpack. But they were very decent with me. I guess security people also know that I’m in India as a special guest of President Mukherjee and PM Singh. They just wanna make it sure that I don’t take a ‘wrong’ way. And I see them working really hard for my safety. Good job, guys!
Yesteday, I ate a free meal for the first time. I was roaming around looking for some cheap place to eat, and saw that ‘free meal’ or ‘Prasad’ was being distributed in front of the Biswonath Temple. Later I came to know that since it’s a Prasad, everyone takes it. And although I don’t participate in the rituals, I also enjoy eating Prasad.
I’m trying to keep my cost of living to a minimum. I eat basic foods like Idli, Puri, etc to save money. And I’ve started to drink plain tap water. In this way I can go on for a long time, even without begging.
And I’ve become even more introvert. Looks like I’m still ‘angry’ with some people from my past for their ‘unfair’ treatment, although I don’t get emotional. I avoid speaking as far as possible. I just wish people didn’t talk to me out of their curiosity. Coz speaking interferes with my observation. I’m thinking of hanging a placard on my neck with the message: Silence Please’.
In short, I’m happier and even more peaceful.
There are two ways of living. Either accept everything that life offers: both pain and pleasure, or ignore both and remain in the balance. Live your life anyway, that’s your choice.
Vipassana meditation is the second method of living life: ignoring both pain and pleasure. Mostly people do Vipassana when they’re in pain, I’d also done it in Kathmandu long way back. And at that time I was depressed. Actual I was depressed since my birth.
But this time, at Sarnath, I joined the Vipassana course not out of any pain. I was already in an elated mood, somewhat like what they say in a ‘Sat-Chit-Ananda’ state.
This time I joined Vipassana coz I wanted to grow spiritually even more. Ideally, I would like to do it alone in a jungle, but I’ve not yet found any such place where your basic material needs are also fulfilled.
Swami Ananda had also promised that he’d provide all the necessary arrangement. But for that I’d have to accept Swami Ananda as my Guru for which my ego was yet not that prepared.
And the Vipassana Meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka and his assistant teachers in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin do it in a very excellent manner, that’s why they’re more popular around the world even among various strands of Vipassana methods.
But, for a thinking person like me, the concentration part of Vipassana is abit difficult. Becoz, I’ve trained my mind in such a way that all the time I’m thinking of how to share my experience with world. However, the ‘Arya Maun’ or ‘Silence’ part is very suitable and natural for me.
But, after doing Vipassana, on the tenth day, when I sat to write my experience, I didn’t feel like writing anything. That’s coz Vipassana presuades you toward not thinking, but toward ‘nirbichar chitta’ or ‘thoughtless mind’. And I was also at a loss – now what to do next ?
I think I’ve really grown over the years. Coz most of times I was in Samata or Equanimity. Vipassana also helps you to discover ‘hidden’ facts. I also discovered how people play tricks. But life is really strange. It’s because of them, I’m enjoing this bliss.
I’d like to discuss more on the subject of meditation techniques and spirituality. However, right now, I would only describe the settings at the Sarnath Center. Since you have to apply online for a Vipassanna Course, and since I’m a ‘public’ figure , I sensed that the people there knew that I’m a blogger. But since I was in a cross-cultural dress-up of a ‘Swamiji’ and a ‘foreigner’, they were also confused about me. Guys, I know that you knew who I am, and I also know all your tricks . And I’m happy that my blog readership is growing.
The Teacher, Mr. Bijay Kumar Khanna, the mangers at the center, a jolly old man (sorry, I mean old looking jolly young man, I know you’re a pahalwan, a wrestler ), and a middle-aged peaceful man, and another middle-aged peaceful man with a mustache who did the most of the chores there were really spiritually grown people. You could see it. And they were happy to see me after the course. After all, doing meditation all the time and enjoying the ‘dawat’(treat) and service from others does make you even more balanced and less egoistic.
However, I missed to bid good-bye to the mustached man, please convey my good-bye and thanks to him.
And as Goenkaji says, one of the ways of sharing one’s merits is to spread the message of Vipassana, which I’m doing it here. Do Vipassana at least once in you’re life guys – you’ll be blessed, and the society will be more harmonious.
Btw, since I’m increasingly becoming famous, the number of my well-wishers is also growing, and I’ve sensed that they’re concerned for me. Don’t worry for me guys, the whole Indian establishment is taking care of me. And I mean it.
Guys, looks like i’ll disappear again for my inner journey, you people gonna miss me again. So, I’m writing some of my experiences so far in short.
Btw guys, I’m not into begging yet! In fact, I’d to pay double for the breakfast this morning also owing to my ‘foreigner’ get up.
One suggestion for everyone travelling to India: If you’re a budget traveller, be careful if someone approaches you for any ‘help’. Most of the times they will try to extract money from you.
Two suggestion for Varanasi Municipality: provide enough clean & safe drinking water and clean the moss on the ghats. Many people fall into the water due to the slippery ghats. Yesterday, a girl slipped and nearly drowned. Thanks to a man nearby her, she was saved. Also construct enough comfortable public toilets – for both sexes.
Thousands of pilgrims and tourists come to Varanasi everyday. And you guys make lots of bucks from them. Shame on you if you don’t make things better for the visitors.
However, remember that I’m not a cynic. Despite it beings a town of ‘crooks’, security is good in Varanasi – I’ve been sleeping on the Ghat for the last 3 days without any problem.
Can’t post my own photos, coz although I have a mobile, it doesn’t work.
When I was going to Darjeeling from NJP, the young ‘humanist’ soldier from Sikkim looked at my saffron colored handbag and said: It’s cold in Darjeeling.
In Darjeeling, an anxious looking man approached me and said in Hindi: Dost, pardon me if I disturbed you. But I saw you eating Roti at Dolly Didi’s place, and I see you again. So, I felt like talking to you. I hope you won’t mind.’
We shook hands, looked into each others eyes, and smiled.
Like in other parts of the North-East, cultural tensions are high in Darjeeling as well.
A couple were teaching their girl how to swim. The girl was scared. The parents insisted on taking a dip. I was observing them. They noticed that I was observing them. Then they looked at me and laughed. I also laughed.
But, perhaps they don’t know why I was laughing.
Hahaha…even a Banarasi Panda(priest) feels threatened by my presence. Yesterday, a Panda interrogated me, and warned: You’ll not be able to stay here for long.
I laughed and replied: I can stay anywhere if I wanted to. But the thing is that I don’t feel like staying at any place for long. And that’s my choice, not my compulsion.
Then the panda ran away.
Was walking in the narrow streets after the aftenoon swimming. A few youngsters greeted with ‘Namaste’. Saw a bundle of Rs. 500 notes lying on the way. Took the bundle and kept on walking. The boys yelled: ‘Hey man, that’s fake. April Fool. Hahaha’
I also laughed and thanked them for letting me see who I am.
A word for jealous guys: Travelling is not easy you assholes! Otherwise couch potatoes like you would also be doing it. But the insights you get while travelling and the joy of sharing your insights with the humanity makes you go through all the pains happily.
Btw, these days I’m swimming in the Ganges whole day in the sun. Also got sun burns. But, I’m happy that I’ve further honed my swimming skills. I’ve discovered that people who swim in the rivers are happier than those who swim in the pools.
Afterall, you’re the happiest when you’re closest to the nature!
Remember: I’ll disappear for don’t-know-how-many-days in my inner journey. But, keep on pondering over my lessons.
Guys, looks like India Govt is listening to me finally. They should. After all, I represent the voice of my age. After my complaint of excessive red tape in North East and on surfing the internet, they seem to have relaxed their grip a little. That’s good.
Have been bathing in the Ganges for the last 2 days with other small, big and old kids. An old man was so good at swimming that he could float on water without any movement. I wish I could also do that. And the kids call me Uncle jee.
You know what? After swimming, I was looking at how some old women pilgrims were making puri and sabjee for them. Seeing me interested in their culinary art, one old lady asked: Wanna taste the Prasad? I nodded. And she gave me haluwa and puri.
But, the I was attracted by the sabjee they were making – of alu and saag(potato and green leaves). It looked really tasty. ‘You want that too?’ she asked. I nodded again. And she gave me the sabjee as well.
I felt so grateful after eating what they gave me. By monetary value, what they gave me was not worth more than Rs. 5. But, they shared with me what they were making for themselves with such a good feeling that I was really touched by it.
I think that’s why spiritually enlightened people ‘beg’, although they’re not beggars. Otherwise, people who have attained higher level of consciousnesses are so powerful that they don’t need to beg. But, when you take something from others for free, you’re filled with gratitude. And owing to that gratitude, you happily extend yourself to help others.
As I was returning back from the North-East, I happened to hop on a compartment reserved for the army personnel.
Initially I was sitting in front of the door, and there were other ‘civil’ people as well in the compartment. In one statition, a man demanded to clear the space I was sitting on to keep his furniture items.
So I went inside the compartment and sat on a small vacant space on the upper birth. I was doing all these thing as any normal second class traveller does. But I was not aware that it was the ‘army’ compartment, and the security people sitting there were ‘suspicious’ of me.
An officer from Darjeeling asked me to get down and sit next to him. He asked me a lot of questions – in fact, I was being interrogated.
I sensed that the army personnel there were of mixed origins, and my presence there was creating a misunderstaing among the army personnels themsleves.
Some of them were of Nepali origin, others from Sikkim, Darjeeling and other India states.
The person who was interrogating me, Mr. K, was from Darjeeling. Seeing my interest in literature, he claimed that he can converse in poems. And he did answer me in a poem, when asked about himself. He was really an ‘ashu-kavi’.
Then he said: I feel like trusting you. But my profession does not allow me to trust you. Moreover, there’re my colleagues who don’t trust you. What’s in your that bag? Why’re you travelling like this? Why did you hop on an ‘army’ compartment? etc, etc
These days, I carry a saffron colored hand bag with an emblem of Shiva on it. I bought it in Haridwar during my last visit. I’ve sensed that security people are very suspicious of saffron colored bags.
I opened my bag and showed to him: See, there isn’t anything suspicious in my bag, just a watter bottle and a few paraphrenalia. And that I was not carrying the saffron colored bag for any ‘cultrual’ reason.
When he asked me what profession I was in, I replied: I’ve been to many professions, the last one was in the media. But, at present, I’m only a blogger.
Mr. K was not that well versed in internet. But his younger colleague, Mr. P, checked my blog on his mobile, and declaired: OK, he’s our friend.
The army personnel of Nepali origin felt obliged to support me coz I was from their country. And now the Sikkim man was also supporting me in the name of what he said ‘humanity’. Then the Darjeeling officer declaired: On my right side lies Sikkim, and on my left side lies Nepal. They both support you. Hence, I’m also obliged to support you.
Actually, he was saying all these things not to me, but to his other fellow personnel who were against my sitting in the compartment.
Then we shook our hands, and hugged each other. Then they asked me to take rest on the upper berth and Mr. P was assigned to ‘guard’ me.
When I was resting with my eyes closed, Mr. K asked: Is he sleeping? Others said: Yes. Mr. K: I hope I didn’t say anything wrong to him. I hope he doesn’t get a negative impression of us.
Others assured him: No, he’s positive. Didn’t he called you an ‘ashu-kavi’? That’s a great compliment.
They were right. I’m never against people on duty. I’m only against bloody politicians who make people fight with each other!
Btw, today I arrived Benares from Bodh Gaya.
I’d like to make some correction in my previous observation.
I think the warmth and openness that I sensed among the Mizo people in my abt 15 hrs stay at Izwal lies not in their religion, but in their tribal roots. Otherwise, until the 19th century, Christianity used to to be as oppressive and hypocritical as any other major religions of the world. And in some instances, it still is.
But why are the Christian missionaries so successful in converting the tribal people around the world, including the Mizo tribes who are so close to Hinduism and Buddhism – both historically and geographically? The success lies not only in their monetary power, but also in their acceptance of the basic tribal nature. In spite of the Christian influence, the Mizo people seem to have preserved their tribal instincts. And that was really a refreshing experience.
But the Mizos do not seem to have their own culinary variety. See, my taste buds are very sensitive. Most of the eateries in Mizoram sell either the bakery or the sweets. I guess, the art of making bakery came with Christian influence, and the art of making sweets from the Hindu influence later on. The only local variety I found was the broken rice pudding with pork curry. But, lemme confess, I was touched by the hospitality I received in Mizoram. And the girls at the restaurant charged me double for staring at their face.
While I was roaming around the town at night, a few ‘drug addict’ looking people approached me and later tried to ‘harass’ me. However, upon reflection, I’m almost sure that they were working for the state’s secret service. I think they were not harassing me, but they wanted ascertain if I was involved in narcotic or other ‘suspicious’ activities. Guys, I called myself a hippie not in that sense. In fact, back in Benares, I’d even declined smoking hashish and angered the Naga Baba.
After getting tired of walking along the Izwol streets, I lied down on an open space in front of a big govt building – my ingenious method of saving money and experiencing the night life! And without even talking to anyone, I was able to ‘sense’ the rivalry between the ‘center’ and the ‘periphery’.
Izwal is cleaner, less polluted and more fashionable than other cities in India. However, I’ve one complaint to make. I’d to pay Rs. 10 for doing aachee (loo) and Rs. 5 extra for washing my face. And that’s too much for me guys! :
Btw, I’m going to Benares again…to swim in the Ganges!
Was internet starved for the last few days. Could not find cyber cafe anyhwere. Even in a metropolis like Calcutta, I’d to make especial effort to find a cyber cafe.
Looks like there’re wheels on my feet. Don’t feel like staying at any place for more than a day. Just feel like travelling all the time.
No matter how low profile I keep myself, some people discover me. I’d post my encounter with a Tamil proffessor of economics at the Mizoram University – Dr. Easwaran, a young bengali lover boy in his early twenties – Mr. Mazumdar, and also meeting with India army personnel like Mr. K and Mr. P and others from Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nepal. I’m not disclosing their identity coz they’re security personnel But I’d a very unique experience with them about which I’ll write later.
This time, I’m going to write about my Mizoram experience.
Guys, looks like Indian Intelligence is keeping track of my movements. If I were like my fellow blogger Dr. Ruff, I might have written another article criticizing the India Govt. But, I’m happy if the India Intelligence is keeping track of my movements. After all, that’s why I leave my traces everywhere. That’s a training from me to the security people. Catch me if you can, dudes!
When the Tata Sumo arrived at the Mizoram check post, a security officer came running and asked: A Nepali national is coming to Mizoram. Is he in this vehicle? All the passengers including Dr. Easwaran pointed their fingers to me: Yes, there he’s.
The security officer asked me: Are you from Nepal? I said: Yes. Then he asked my name. I replied: Divas. Then he looked at me for a few seconds and said to other passengers: OK. all of you show your pass to enter Mizoram.
Wow! It was really a stately honor for me that while even Prof. Easwaran had to show his ID proof, and I entered Mizoram without any pass. Later I came to know that there’s a huge presence of Nepali speaking people in Mizoram.
However, I didn’t find anything exceptional about Mizoram capital Izwal, as my Mizo friend back in Kathmandu had claimed. “Visit my Izwol at least once, it’s so beautiful that you might even think of settling down there,” my Mizo friend of Kathmandu had proudly claimed about his homeland.
Instead, I found that for a person from Kathmandu, Izwol has very little to offer. Both Izwal and Kathmandu are mountain cities, therefore both cities are similar in many respects. There’s one difference, Kathmandu is a valley and Izwol is settled on mountain ridges. And yes, Izwol is more developed thatn Kathmandu.
There’s another differnce – cultural one. While Kathmandu has Hindu-Buddhist influence, Izwol is a Chritian capital. And yes, in a way my friend was right. The girls in Izwol are pretty, fashionable and less inhibited. Sometimes you do feel like settling down there.
And since the girls and women of Mizoram are less inhibited, they are mostly happy and enterprising. To be honest, I didn’t find any woman beggar in Mizoram – a common sight in Hindu and Muslim influence area. Like it or not, the girls and women from Christian and Buddhist background are much happier than their sisters from Hindu or Muslim background. And since the woman in Mizoram are happy and enterprising, men are also happier comparatively.
Hindu and Muslim social systems and values put so much bondage upon the girls and women that they find it very difficult to get out of the social trap without a man’s active support. I insist that instead of wallowing in arrogance or self-pity, cultures must interact and learn from each other.
My Mizo friend back in Kathmandu had also cautioned me: “But, don’t do anything bad there.” So, why stay in a place where you’re tempted and yet you’re not allowed to do anything ‘bad’? :
Arrived Cherapunzee at abt 8 in the evening. Came to know that town is also known as Sohra. Was looking for a place to eat and stay. A young man in his late 2os, Atanu, ‘kidnapped’ me, so what he says, and took me to his resort abt 2 kms away from the town.
Initially, I was reluctant to be ‘kidnapped’, but later we settled the deal in Rs. 2oo per night. And believe me, that’s really cheap compared to the place and facility.
Atanu is a nice guy from Assam. When I asked him: Are you a manager here? He replied: That’s what people say. But I was also travelling like you, and I ended up here. Atanu is also an intelligent boy.
I keep on remembering the comment from the American girl I met in Chilika: ‘You’re a man. Therefore, you’ve more options.’ Boy, she’s totally right. It’s because I was a man that I happily allowed some terrorist looking men to ‘kidnap’ me at night, put me in their Tata Sumo, and take me to their resort far away from the town.
The most interesting part of travelling is that, like in life, things suddenly turn unexpected. And I like that.
The weather is chillier in Cherapunzee, and awesome landscapes – perhaps much more beautiful and serene than Kathmandu in some ways. And the Cherapunzee culture is completely ‘un-Indian’. A refreshing experience.
The next day, met the resort owner, a local lady from Cherapunzee. Unlike in the ‘Hindu’ part of India, entrepreneurship is very strong among North-East women. From betel leaf vendors to restaurant and resort owners -you will find enterprising women everywhere.
The lady dropped me off to the town. She said that she had a friend from Nepal’s royal family while studying at Loretto in Darjeeling. And I told her that Nepal’s former royals are also in the tourism business. She asked me to visit often and refer other people to her resort.
There were also a few young adventure tour guides spending their time in the resort. One of them came to meet me when he learned that I was from Kathmandu. ‘So, you’re Kathmandu? My wife is also from Kathmandu, she’s a Tamang’ he said. I asked him how a boy from Meghalaya met a girl from Kathmandu. ‘oh..we met when I was working in Mumbai’, he disclosed.
I’m posting it from Shillong. Coz surfing the net is much easier and reasonable in Shillong.
Thinking of going to Mizoram side as well!
Meghalaya: the Land above the Clouds (pic from the net)
Guys, visited India’s all three North-East states – Asam, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.
I liked the name Meghalaya: the Land of the clouds. And it reminds me of a popular Hindi song: Megha re, Megha re…
When I was going deep into Assam through Nagaland, I missed the girls I met in Chilika. Especially, the American one. The landscape there was really rural and less touristy – just like she was looking for.
You know what, although it’s against my blogging ethics to provide details about anyone without their consent, I must say that I liked the American girl for her openness and friendliness. I’m a strong critic of American foreign policy. Yet, I find it easier to make friends with the American people than the people of other nationalities.
I think her travel partner, the Italian one, was scared that I might steal her friend. I found the Italian girl a bit what we say in Nepali, chhuchchee, or ‘jealous’. hahaha… Sorry, no offence meant girls!
And this happens with me everywhere, in the family, in the society and in the workplace. Everyone is scared of my genius, and people try to keep me in size or get rid of me. Often I wish to find a place where no one would be jealous of me. But what they don’t know is that a genius is always a genius. He’ll always find a way out.
But I agree with the girls in their observation that in India everyone tries to take advantage of you. The Japanese men I met a few days ago in Kathmandu had also similar opinion. Perhaps, that’s why the fishermen at Chilika were so nice with me. An example, I’ve bought two mobiles in the second hand market, but none of them works properly.
Can you guess from where I’m posting this entry? From Shilong of Meghalaya. I think Shilong is the most beautiful state capital of India. I also stayed one night at Jairampur of Arunachal Pradesh. But, didn’t feel like going further becoz of the excessive red-tapism there. Like the investors in India, I’m also put off by excessive beareaucracy.
Will go to Cherapunji today, the wettest place on earth. Also thinking of visiting Sikkim. Who knows I might meet my American friend again. But looks like like all pretty girls she too doesn’t want to meet me again. :)
Anyway, those who know Divas know it well that nothing really matters much to happy-go-lucky bindas Divas.
Chilika Lake: Pic from the net
In Puri, took bath on the sea beach. Nowadays, I take bath whenever I get an opportunity. Coz it’s hot here. The Puri beach is not as exotic as they claim in the guide books. The current there is very strong. Still, you’d see thousands of people bathing together.
From Puri, headed to Chilika Lake at Satpada. Chilika lake is one of world’s largest brackish water site. It’s being conserved as a Ramsar site. Arrived there in the evening. The next day took a 4 hours boat ride to Balugaon. But, didn’t see many birds, otherwise the lake invites millions of birds from the world over.
Met two foreigner girls in Chilika. Initially, was hesitant to approach them. The reason why I find it difficult to open up with girls lies in the my childhood. I wasn’t as good looking, handsome or smart in my childhood as I’m now.
In fact, I was so ugly that according to my grandma, my mom refused to nurse me after giving me birth. People say that my mom’s sister took care of me in my early childhood. And I think, I was very much attached to my mom’s sister in my childhood.
Thus I grew up as an ugly duckling, everyone used to tease me. The sense that I’m not good looking was deep rooted in my psyche until my mid-thirties. But, I’m not that image conscious about my looks nowadays. And I love to stare at beautiful faces. Once, a few day ago back in Kathmandu, when I was staring at two young girls, one of them exclaimed: Aachee, Kasto ghurer po herdo ra 6 tyo budho le” (My goodness, look at that old-man,and how he’s staring at us). So, do I look like an old-man now? But, I never felt like that.
Still, I feel awkward to approach girls. But I must break this awkwardness. Coz many females feel uncomfortable with me becoz of my this awkwardness.
So, I approached the two foreigner girls and asked for some relevant info. Both were traveling solo, but met at some hotel. So, they were traveling together coz they found it easier to do so in India.
One of them, the American one, looked a bit tired and frustrated. When I asked what was her impression about India, she sighed and said: “I think you need a lot of patience in India.”
Then they explained how everyone in India wants to take advantage of you. When I told them that I take the train journeys at night to save money, she said: “You’re a man, so you’ve more options.”
So, even an American girl of 21st century feels constrained by her gender while traveling in India. Thus, I started making sociological interpretations. After all, my one teacher had once proudly declared: “Our products are the best in the social sciences.” And i’ve proved that he was not wrong.
OK, this much of narcissism for today.
Mental Hospital: Where the Wrong Guys ‘Treat’ the Right People
hahaha…many people must be laughing after reading the title of this post… and they might be chuckling: Divas Jee, you’re at the right place now.
In fact, if I were born 50 yrs ago, people would have definitely brought me to Ranchi as they’d done to our Romantic Poet Laureate Laxmi Prasad Devkota.
And when I asked the auto driver that I wanted to go to Ranchi’s Pagalkhana(Mental Hospital), he looked at me top to bottom and laughed and said: To aap bhi aa pahuche, So, you too arrived here!
Btw, don’t get me wrong. I’m getting a lot of respect and attention in India. Some respect me as a filthily rich foreigner and others respect me as a Baba in the making.
What I enjoyed in Ranchi was that it’s the land of tribal people. I’d gotten fed with the arrogance tussle between Bramhin Chetris & the Janajatis back in Nepal. So, seeing the tribal people with earth colored face was really a refreshing experience.
There was a train from Hatia to Puri. I liked it’s name: Tapaswini Express. And thus arrived Puri.
You know what? My cellphone has been stolen at the Puri Railway Station. And I’m really sorry for and thankful to whoever stole it. Coz it had a very poor battery, and i was thinking how to get rid of it. The only thing is that with the cellphone my expired sims and a memory card with pictures and other data were also gone. Anyway, thank you very much Mr. Thief for providing me an opportunity to buy a new mobile phone!
But the pic is not mine, coz my cellphone is dead!
Guys, these days i’m freaking out in Benares or Varanasi, India.
Swam in the Ganges with other small and big kids. Enjoyed massage. Tasted various mouth watering food items.
And it’s so fun.
And surfing the net is also easier in Benares comparatively.
But the thing is that owing to my get-up everyone here takes me to be a foreigner and they charge me a hefty sum.
And in every noon and corner someone whispers to me: Hashish?
But, I’m happy that while enjoying myself I’m also able to provide employment to others.
Will move on to some other place soon!
If you wish to describe Benares in one word, it’d be ‘diversity’.
This cosmopolitan town is so diverse that in every nook and corner around the Ghats you’d stumble upon tourists, Sadhus, beggars, and cows and bulls.
Also been to Sarnath. But, like everything else in the world, Sarnath and it’s Deer Park are not as exotic as it sounds in the guide books – unless you’re an archaeologist.
To be honest, Nepal’s Lumbini is much more fascinating than Sarnath.
Btw guys, since i’m thinking of awakening my Kundalini at some proper place, I’m might disappear for several days without any trace. And if got opportunity, I’d also see if I could add laurels to my formal studies as well.
And don’t send a hunting squad in search of me. I appear and disappear at my own will.
Right now, I’m honing my swimming skills in the Ganges. Last time I enjoyed swimming in the river for several days was in the Narayani River at Chitwan some years back.
And I’m also studying Naga Babas’ that four lettered organ very carefully!
As I said earlier, Swami Ananda has attained a higher level of consciousness. And I’m not saying it on the basis of what he said. Any fool can talk wise – therefore, beware of wise sayings. But, no matter how wise you may be sounding, you cannot hide what you really are. That Swami Ananda has attained a higher level of consciousness is evident not in what he speaks, but in how he speaks, and in how he does things.
Still, everyone speaks from their own unique position. Even a Buddha speaks from his own limited point of view – and he cannot do so otherwise. So, Swami Aananda also speaks from his own limited perspective. I consider it my opportunity that Swamiji allowed me to observe him. And he also allowed me to write my impressions. And I’m really influenced by what he tried to convey to me through his being. Still, i’d say Swamiji doesn’t understand my perspective.
I’m saying ‘Aham Bramha’ to assert myself, but not to reject others. In fact, I’m one of the very few people in the history of mankind who accepts everyone unconditionally as they are. I don’t say anything to impress, to create a following, or to seek any sort of recognition. I’ve a very clear conscience. And I do and say whatever my Bramha or conscience dictates. That’s why Aham Bramha. And for me, there’s no difference between ‘Aham’ and ‘Sarvamidam’.
I’ve only one message to the mankind: do whatever makes you happy – whatever makes you happy is good, right and holy. Everything else is false. Coz I believe that only when you’re happy, you can do anything ‘good’ even from worldly point of view. In fact, when you’re happy and enjoying life, other people enjoy their life simply by observing you.
Swami Ananda deserves more mentioning. Just as Swamiji was observing me, I was also observing him.
Swamiji said, “Dekho Beta, many people are lost in this path, but I see that you’re going the right way. Your greatest quality is that you accept everything. But, you still need to travel a long distance on this path.”
Then he further elucidated his point: “I saw you sitting alone in the park. You could have been anyone – a murderer, a thief, a terrorist or a madman. Still, I invited you to my home. I still don’t know even your name, and now you’re in my bedroom. This is an approach of looking at others that you should also cultivate: Sarvamidam Khalam Bramha(The whole world is Bramha).
I said: I can also see that other people are trapped in their lifestyle. Swamiji said: Seeing is not enough, being happy for yourself is not enough, you should also help them out. Then he gave the examples of Buddha and Mahavira: They were helping other people until their last moment in their eighties. And I remembered Todke Baba of Shivapuri who once said: I’m happy. But now I feel like helping others in their pursuit of happiness.
I said to him: I also do not go to everyone’s house. I saw you and felt like there must be something in common between us. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come to your house: Aham Bramha.
Then Swamiji asked me to visit an Ashram in Madhavpur. “There’s my one disciple there, observe him how he does things,” he said. And when I was in the Madhavpur Ashram, I found that Swamiji was already there. “So, it was all your trick. I’d not imagined that we’d meet again,” I said. Swamiji said: Aisa hota hai, beta. I’d also not planned this visit. Ye sab ‘happening’ me ho raha hai(everything is just happening).”
Then he explained his method of choiceless awareness.
Swamiji had asked me to stay in the Ashram for at least 3 days. However, I didn’t feel like staying there. When I was leaving, Swamiji took my hands in his hands and said smilingly: I won’t stop you if you don’t want to stay here. But once I catch someone’s hands, I don’t leave them easily.” And I also said smilingly: Swamiji, don’t forget that I’m also holding your hands. And I also don’t leave anyone that easily.”
Swamiji said: Mai us raah ki baat kar raha hoon, beta. (I’m talking abt ‘that’ path, son).
I said: Mai bhi usi raah ki baat kar raha hoon, swamiji.
Swamiji commanded immense respect from his people. But I was talking to him just like a friend. And Swamiji also seemed to enjoy my informal manners. Then he said: You also know that Sarvamidam Khalam Bramha. But, you don’t seem to care for others’ feelings. Mahasoos karo, beta.
It’s not difficult to find a Swamiji in India and Nepal. But I found that Swami Ananda had really attained a higher consciousness. You could see it in his being. In the way he spoke, and in the way he did did things.
People often ask me these days: Why do you always go to India? Why don’t you go abroad?
Well, if I were as rich as former Crown Prince Paras Shah, I’d certainly love to spend time with a Thai girlfriend on some beach in Bangkok. But until I make enough money to travel abroad, I want to reach all corners of India. After all, India itself is a continent. Moreover, even if you went broke in India, you can still find something to eat and a place to lie down !
Below are some old and some new pics from my India travel.
One of the reasons why I go to India is coz I enjoy train journeys! Trains are the largest cultural classrooms in India.
A file photo: Remember my travel companions, the Gujarati and the Rajasthani? Here too culture shapes personality: from their outfits to expressions. But remember, culture is just another social trap!
Ahmedabad: I’ve seen men cart-pullers in Nepal. But never saw an old woman pulling a cart on a busy street before! Sometimes I think if I took some course in photography, I can also survive as a professional photojournalist!
This is how I impressed Swami Ananda and he took me to his home..
Besides human animals, I’m also fascinated by other animals’ behavior!
People enjoying tea in Dwaraka. The Dwarakans have their own way of drinking tea. They pour it on a plate and do suruppa.
The Dwarkan brand of tea has really a great taste.
The Sun also rises in the Arabian Sea.
This is one of the most famous temples in India – the Dwarakadhis Temple. Note Amitabh Bachchan promoting Dwarka Tourism. But there was a long line like that in our Pashupatinath. So, I didn’t feel like going inside. I also didn’t go inside the main temple in Rameswaram last year. As I often used to tell my friends in my 20s: if there’s a god, he knows me very well, I don’t have to bribe him. I’ve found that most people bow to a ‘god’ not to surrender their ego, but out of insecurity and guilt.
Instead, I was interested in this man in another temple.
And I was interested in this goddess… don’t get me wrong guys, i was interested in her for purely aesthetic reasons!
Remember the 92 year young freedom fighter? He prefers to be left alone, so i’ll not disclose his location. This man has eaten up all 18 Shastras several times. But his definition of Dharma is similar to mine: Follow your own nature!
And this is my true nature, to live life as naturally as possible. But, I’m only showing you a silhouette of my nakedness, to prevent you from any shock overdose!
This is another most famous temple, the Somanath. But, this time I went inside it. It’s really one of most aesthetic temples in India. I wish the people at the Pashupatinath Steering Committee visited Somanath to learn how you look after a World Heritage Site. But, what I don’t like about the Hindu temples everywhere is the high decibel noise they create during the Aarati prayers. A Hindu mind is so disturbed that only a high pitch cacophony seems to suppress it.
India is really a strange country. Gods and Satans live side by side. After all, they create each other. Stalin in Trivandrum, Kerala.
Hey assholes, I also met your one friend walking alone on the road!
Also took a Tonga Ride in Gonda…
Btw, this is a horse’s hole!
Been to Ayodhya as well. Again not for any religious reason, but for cultural reasons. I also wanted to visit the demolished site of Babri Mosque. I found Ayodhya more interesting culturally than I’d imagined. It’s really an ancient sleepy town.
I think the site at the former Babri Mosque is one of the most heavily guarded area in the world. After the demolition of the Mosque, the RamJanma Bhoomi Temple has been established. Interestingly, God there does not reside inside a temple, but inside a makeshift tent. The God is also waiting for the court’s final verdict.
The site is so heavily guarded than when i took the pic of this notice, i was scolded by a guide that i might be arrested. You walk through intricate barricade to reach the main site, and you’re thoroughly checked at several points. The site is guarded by devout Hindu security officials with surnames like Yadav, Chauhan, Rathore, etc. They also asked my name several times, and they were happy to know that I was from Nepal.
Also took a boat ride at the Saryu River. Although a little polluted, I found Saryu much bigger than I’d imagined. No wonder that every great civilization in the past prospered on the banks of a great river!
Ayodhyan Dogs – undernourished and unfriendly!
And this is not India. Buddha was born in Nepal, not in India. This is the famous Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini, Kapilvastu, Nepal. It was not a planned visit, but it happened to be on the Visit Lumbini Year.
And this is site inside the Temple where Buddha was born. Taking photographs is not allowed. But, who can stop Divas the Sherlock Holmes?
To be honest, I found this ancient pond and its surrounding more spiritual than the Temple itself!
My colleagues, friends, and relatives complain that I impose ‘silence’ upon them. But, see, i’m not alone to do so, guys!
Divas in his Favorite Yogic Posture!
Guys, my landlady says that I don’t keep my room tidy.
She’s not wrong, but I also pay her more rent than other flat-mates.
Still she complains.
So, I’ve decided to leave her room.
But before that I’ve to clean the mess.
Have you watched Amitabh Bachhan’s Satte pe Satta?
My room’s condition is exactly the same.
The bed has also broken down. I sleep on the floor.
Only a Hema Malini can clean up the mess.
What if I ran away from the room and later informed her to contact my dad?
These days people often ask me: Are you a vegetarian?
And my answer varies.
Sometimes i say: yes, i’m a vegetarian.
Sometimes i say: I’m a seasonal or almost vegetarian.
I’ve been a heavy meat eater half my life. And I’ve preached against eating meat in the remaining half. There was a time when I used to eat only fish and there was a time when I used to eat only eggs. And there was a time when I was completely vegan, I used to look down upon even those who consumed dairy products.
But, even Buddhism has to allow eating animal products when it goes to high mountains of Tibet. As the first Everest summiteer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa says in his autobiography:
“The reason we Sherpas have been so successful on climbing expeditions lie not only in our strong backs and legs, or in our love of mountains, but also in our eating habits. Most people of the east – Hindus, Moslems, Orthodox Buddhists, and almost all the smaller groups – have strict religious rules about diet, and it is very hard to keep them properly fed in the wilderness. But a Sherpa will eat anything – fresh, dehydrated, or out of tin – … our main food is apt to be some sort of stew, usually with potatoes as a basis and with meat or vegetable mixed in.”
(From Man of Everest – The Autobiography of Tenzing told to James Ramsey Ullman)
So, the Mahayana Buddhists from high mountains of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan do eat meat products, but they say that they don’t kill the animals. They say that they eat the meat of a dead animal, which fell from a precipice accidentally. And sometimes they leave the Yak and other animals on a high precipice and wait for it to fall accidentally.
So, whenever i consider it necessary, I do eat animal products even now. And still I’d love to call myself a vegetarian.
I don’t think that any human being can be called a strict vegetarian today, even if he/she does not eat meat.
Even if you don’t eat animal products directly, if you take modern medicines and medical services which are based on cruel animal trials, then you are in no way a vegetarian.
Moreover, non-veg items do taste pleasing to your taste buds!
And how can you call yourself a vegetarian, if you eat milk products?
So, my answer would be: yes, I’m a vegetarian. But, don’t get surprised if you saw me eating animal products.
Some even claim that Buddha died of diarrhea due to food poisoning after he consumed ‘Pig’s Foot’. Others say that ‘Pig’s Foot’ is not really a pig’s foot, but the name of a mushroom species. Whatever, I understand why most of the spiritual disciplines from the East, especially those which focus on meditation, advise a vegetarian diet.
Coz I agree with my one friend who used to say that eating eggs raises your testosterone levels considerably!
Dear Mortal Beings
As one of the most compassionate persons who ever visited this planet, I’d like to share with you all what I’ve discovered so far. Life offers both pain and pleasure, and my aim of taking Divas Avatar is to release mankind from their unnecessary sufferings.
Remember that I’m not preaching anything. I’m telling you everything from practical point of view. I know that most of the prophets before me have also said similar things. But, I’m saying everything from my own experience. Therefore, I can guarantee the authenticity of everything I say:
The most important four letter word: The most important thing in the world is that four letter word everyone knows. Come on you perverts, I don’t mean that one. I mean LOVE. Love is the most important thing in the world.
The Only Universal Thing: Everything changes. Change is the only universal thing in the world.
Responsibility: Your greatest responsibility is to be HAPPY. All other things are false. You’re not responsible for anyone else. But, only you’re responsible for yourself. Therefore, do whatever makes you happy. Whatever makes you happy is good, right and holy. Even from worldly point of view, you can do any good in this world only when you’re happy.
Live Dangerously: Live an adventurous life. Every adventure freshens your life anew, and you do not get bored. An adventurous person dies only once, but a coward dies thousands of times.
Two things to overcome: Fear and Greed. It’s difficult to enjoy life, unless you overcome fear and greed. Better die than fear. Fear is the root of all evil. Better live a single day fearlessly than living a long but fearful life. Especially, never fear another human being. Fear is the root of all relationship problems. Btw, I’m scared of ghosts…
Follow your own nature: You’re your own yardstick. No one knows why you were born.
Success: Success is not money. Success is not a position. Success is not a degree. Success is your ability to enjoy life. Do whatever you enjoy: read, write, sing, play, paint, travel, hike, blog, or fart.
Stop being image conscious: No human being deserves to judge you in any way.
Sense of Humor: With a sense of humor, you can takle any situation in life. Moreover, you’ll also learn to see the funny side of things.
Last, but not least, RELAX…N Take’t Easy: You’re not going to live forever anyway.
Remember that I’m not giving you any ‘lifestyle regime’ to follow. Everyone has to discover their own formula. I’m only giving you points to ponder. What I’ve said above covers all aspects of life.
Those who’ve been visiting this blog from the beginning know that like many other bloggers often this blogger also disappears for a long time…and nobody knows when he’d come back again. And blogging etiquette tells you to inform your regular visitors that you’re not going to update the blog for a long period of time.
If you’d like to visit when a new post comes, better leave your email like many other wise guys. The monkeys at the WordPress would send you an email whenever the blog is updated.
Btw, I know that you people are gonna miss me a lot. But, don’t worry; I’ll certainly be back whenever I’d discover a new thing. Till then, ponder over my previous lessons, and ENJOY LIFE.
Remember Again: I may not update the blog for a long time. Therefore, don’t visit any time soon… and if you do visit, don’t curse me if you don’t find a new post.
Take care, you wankers! :XOX :
Guys, I’d been to the mountain top again…look, i’ll be on the top of that peak…
Btw, i’m still on a well traveled trail…
Since the monsoon rains are not over yet, you get to see different wild vegetation. Can you identify this flower?
On the way in a Buddhist Nunnery…a nun there warned me not to walk into the wild alone…’ sometimes leopards visit even our place’ she said…poor girl, what she doesn’t know is that leopards are very innocent animals… i live in a concrete jungle with millions of fiercest animals around me…
It’s the monsoon season…and the rains are particularly active in this part of the Kathmandu Valley…so the trail turn into a small stream…of course, it’s a little bit nuisance when it rains cats and dogs for a long time…even my umbrella was useless…that’s why Buddha advised his disciples to remain inside the monastery during the rainy season…
Wow…a rare scene…the trail suddenly floods…
whoa…look, i’m inside the cloud…
Now it gets really wild…look at this gigantic tree…like the trees in Van Gough’s paintings…
Evening dawns…it’s time to seek a shelter to spend the night…but i won’t tell you where i spent the night…and you know the reason…i don’t want to see you there in my next visit…
Morning time…and finally, i’m at the top… look, the clouds are below me…
No…it’s not a scene from an airplane…it’s a scene from the mountain top…look at the Himalayas far away…
A bumble bee and a leech are trying to ‘suck’ me…i just hope the bumble bee does not sting me…
On the lower parts…village people are carrying a sick woman to the town hospital on an ‘indigenous’ stretcher…
See, i came from that Mountain Top…i’m really Great…
(The title of my thesis begins with ‘Harmonious Self for a Harmonious World: Quest for Self … ‘. I ‘ve also attempted to make a cultural analysis of the text with the hope of creating some cross-cultural understanding in an era of cultural assertiveness and arrogance. Although current European leaders from Merkel to Sarkozi are asserting that multiculturalism has ‘utterly failed’ in Europe, the cost of such a failure for countries like Nepal and India would be devastating.)
The early 20th century was also the era of cultural cross-fertilization. The industrial revolution promoted visits to far off places for colonial, commercial, and even just for curiosity. Development of steam and fossil fuel engines in the early twentieth century fueled the growth in the number of people travelling and settling to foreign lands. The interaction of different people also gave rise to interaction of different cultures. Hesse was aware that both the Eastern and Western cultures are going to misunderstand each other ultimately, since in their enthusiasm for finding the other exotic, in what Hesse saw as the West’s too ready embrace of the East, and vice verca, he “plainly detected too much unavailing flight into the exotic half-known”( Mileck 165).
Hesse seems to challenge both the Easterns and the Westerns to revalue their understanding of each other by overcoming all apparent contradiction and dichotomies through the realization of inner self. Hesse was aware of both the positivity and limitations of both the Western and Eastern ways, since he believed that “. . . basic truths about man and life were to be found behind the religious and philosophical trappings of the Orient and the Occident. . . (Mileck 165). All Hesse works seek to establish the individual’s multi-dimensional identity during the times of great personal and cultural crises.
Although Siddhartha is subtitled as an Indian Tale, Mileck calls Hesse’s protagonist Siddhartha not another Buddha from the East, but a Western Buddha or a “Western Possibility” (164). Hesse also seems to be making a criticism of Indian way of life as mired in too much pedantry and self-denial. The conflict of culture is latent in Siddhartha, since “Despite the Orient’s strong attraction, Hesse remained a Westerner” (Mileck 165). However, Hesse wants his Siddhartha to transcend the binaries of East and West as well. The setting looks eastern only because Hesse says so, but his depiction of the landscapes could be anywhere. The characters sound eastern only in their names, otherwise as Mileck observes, the figures do not evoke any physical or psychological dimensions.
In the words of Mileck, in Siddhartha, “. . . timeless substance (the human condition) found a consonant expression in timeless setting, characters, lives, and language. . .” (172). Thus, Siddhartha represents more of archetype than the actual people. Siddhartha’s opposition to all prevailing traditional paths seems Hesse’s call for rising above the trapping of all cultures regardless of whether one belongs to the Eastern or Western culture.
Mckay Jenkins, in his search for parallel ideas between Hinduism and Buddhism as seen by Salman Rushdie in the latter’s Midnight’s Children, alludes to Hesse’s Siddhartha as an example of cross-cultural text that shows human existence as nothing but a collection of diverse and fragmented identities. In his essay, “Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Meditation, and the Postmodern Conception of History”, Jenkins quotes a long passage from Siddhartha in which Siddhartha’s friend Govinda, looking into the face of his old friend Siddhartha, watches his friend’s face melt into the faces of countless other faces, “. . . each image representing another fragment in the psychological, historical, and cultural makeup of the ‘individual’ man.” (67).
Hesse’s concern in Siddhartha is not to establish the superiority of any particular culture over another. On the contrary, through the treatment different cultures in Siddhartha, Hesse shows his respect for the plurality of cultures. As Stelzig observes Hesse is a, “humanist and cultural pluralist for whom the microcosm of the individual self is integrally related to the macrocosm of history and civilization” (“Hermann” 270). Hence, Siddhartha can also be seen as a text by an author highlighting the need for celebrating cultural diversity and yet seek for the unifying elements among cultures.
(In this Chapter Divas shows how a perpetrating regime misrepresents a philosopher (like Divas ). Divas proves that one of the most influential thinkers of Modern History Nietzche’s Superman was falsely represented by the Nazi regime as an excuse for the Holocaust. Divas also makes it clear what Nietzche really meant by his symbol of Übermensch – the Superman. )
Although it’s difficult to give a precise definition, existentialism can be seen as the analysis of human situation with the individual at the center of all phenomena. Thus, existentialism may be called the philosophy of the individual. Existential analyses of human individual are found in the works of early literary writers and philosophers as well. Thomas Flynn claims that even Socrates (469–399 BC) can be called an existential philosopher for the latter’s practice of philosophy as “‘care of the self’ (epimeleia heautou)” (1).
Buddha has also been considered to be one of the early existential philosophers since he refused to discuss God and held the individual himself responsible for all the consequences. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) found fault with his times for ignoring the individual self with, “Each age has its characteristic depravity. Ours is perhaps not pleasure or indulgence or sensuality, but rather a dissolute pantheistic contempt for individual man” (qtd. in Stokes 145).
The Russian writer and thinker Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-81) whose works dramatize religious, moral, political and psychological issues is considered as an early existential novelist who portrayed his characters as anguished individuals struggling for their distinctive space in a harsh and hostile society. Hesse (1877-1962), too, who grew up during the last decades of the 19th century, is supposed to have been immensely influenced by his predecessors like Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche who were later identified as the forerunners of the existential movement.
Dostoevsky’s characters are involved in endless dilemma between right and wrong, good and evil and desperately struggle to free themselves from all societal bondage in quest of their own self. Coupled with his fine psychological insights into the anxieties and moral problems of the characters, Dostoevsky makes the existential point that human individuals can get salvation only by braving the intense suffering that life offers. Hesse seems to be very much influenced by Dostoevsky’s idea of salvation through suffering as Hesse himself makes all his characters including Siddhartha to go through intensely painful self-searching.
Both Dostoevsky and Hesse were anxious at Europe’s political, social and moral disintegration during their times. In his analysis of Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, Hesse reveals his admiration for the Russian novelist with, “It seems to me that European and especially German youth are destined to find their greatest writer in Dostoevsky–not in Goethe, not even in Nietzsche” (qtd. in Weber 248). Both writers believed that only a completely different kind of spiritual awareness was able to unite Europe emotionally once again. Two years before Siddhartha’s publication, Hesse wrote a review on Dostoevsky’s another novel The Idiot prophesizing, “The future is uncertain, but the road which he [Dostoevsky] shows can have but one meaning. It means a new spiritual dispensation” (qtd. in Girardot 303).While salvation was still a Christian idea for Dostoevsky, for Hesse, as Siddhartha shows, the new spiritual awakening was to come from Asia.
Another existentialist thinker, Nietzsche, who was to influence not only Hesse but generations of his posteriors called for a new species of human beings who could survive the God-less world. According to Stokes, Nietzsche wanted the individual to acquire, “what the existentialists would later give him, the power to be master of his own destiny” (147). In his allegorical work, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche makes his Zarathustra to proclaim that “Dead are all the gods: now do we desire the Superman to live” (51).
Nietzsche was indicating that the traditional theological systems and their morality concepts which centered on the idea of all-powerful God would no longer hold validity in the new world. Nietzsche’s Superman survives life’s miseries and profound unhappiness through his will to power and affirms life joyously by going beyond the traditional boundaries of good and evil.
However, that Nietzsche opposed the Judeo-Christian worldview does not mean that he was anti-Semitic in his opinion. On the contrary, Nietzsche was outraged the way his prophet Zarathustra was maliciously misrepresented as the messiah of the anti-Semitic ideology. Nietzsche, in a letter, repudiates his sister for associating his works with the anti-Semitic propaganda:
“You have committed one of the greatest stupidities – for yourself and for me! Your association with an anti-Semitic chief expresses foreignness to my whole way of life which fills me ever again and again with ire or melancholy . . . It is a matter of honor to me to be absolutely clean and unequivocal in relation to anti-Semitism, namely opposed, as I am in my writings . . . that in every Anti-Semitic Correspondence Sheet the name of Zarathustra is used, has already made me almost sick several times” (qtd. in Schacht 217).
Even during the World War I, the German government published Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra and distributed to every soldier along with the Bible as a source of inspiration. Nietzsche’s call for a superhuman character antagonistic to the Judeo-Christian worldview also inspired such deadly historic figures as Hitler and Mussolini.
The anti-Semitic Nazis propagandists collected Nietzsche’s works, manipulated and assembled them in such a way that the juxtaposition “wrongly gained the reputation of supporting Nazism, though his concept of the Übermensch or ‘superman’, is in fact closer to Aristotle’s man of virtue than the glorified Aryan hero” (Stokes 146).
Hesse himself was influenced by Nietzsche’s idea of equipping the individual with a magnificent “will to power” so that the individual could transcend his self and create the personal archetype of Übermensch – the Superman. However, Hesse was concerned over the way Nietzsche was being interpreted by the Nazi regime to brainwash German youths into racial war. Hesse published Zarathustra’s Return in 1919, just three years before Siddhartha. Zarathustra’s Return was Hesse’s own interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Zarathustra’s Return was written in the Nietschzean idiom to appeal to the youths who were influenced by Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra and were manipulated by the German State. Hesse made his Zarathustra to “reject German false gods, Kaiser, and the drill sergeant” (Galbreath 68) to awaken the hidden God residing within each individual. Hesse makes the protagonist of his Bildungsroman Siddhartha achieve the Nietschzean Superman status by rebelling against all Gods, prophets, and doctrines and asserting his individuality by following his own self.
(In this chapter, Divas contends that spirituality and religious dogmatism are two different and often contradictory approaches to life.)
All religions preach for the individual’s personal endeavor to free his self from life’s miseries, and still every religion binds the individual in its faith. All religions have their respective gods judging every human activity, and every person will either deserve the heaven or the hell depending upon their conduct in relation to the religion of their faith. The fatal consequences of religious and ethnic conflicts in the increasingly multicultural world have encouraged people to search for an individual spirituality free from religious fanaticism. It has been felt necessary to differentiate between the organized religions and spirituality. Spirituality is increasingly being seen as compassion, tolerance and understanding and contrasted with religious collectivism.
Hesse himself was born and brought up as a Pietistic Protestant. However, he does not associate the term Protestant to any particular variety of Christian faith, but as an individual’s resistance against institutionalized religious dogmas. In an autobiography written in 1925, Hesse recalls how the religions were used to perpetuate the war, “even so-called spiritual people could find nothing better to do than preach hatred, spread lies, and praise the great misfortune” (Michels 13). The hazards of religions’ control over the individual are also being felt in the 21st century world affairs in the form of religious extremism. Eric Hill justifies the reason behind adapting the dramatic version of Hesse’s Siddhartha at the Berkshire Theater Festival in 2004 as to protect the humankind from those who cling to, “gods and guns as a way of protecting religion from threats real and perceived”. Thus, the hazards of extremism in the name of religions have made the thinkers to refute that spirituality is necessarily a religious domain. Even Hesse’s contemporary and Austrian born philosopher cum scientist Rudolf Steiner founded a spiritual movement he named “anthroposophy” which was a philosophic and spiritual doctrine centered not on the gods but on the human beings.
However, as early as in the 6th century BC, Buddha had refuted the prevailing religious view that belief in some form of superior deity or the god was necessary for one’s enlightenment. He also rendered unnecessary all the rituals promoted by the then prevailing religion, Hinduism. Buddha rejected all prevailing doctrines and claimed that depending upon God’s mercy puts hindrance to an individual’s efforts on earning his own salvation. He also prohibited all philosophical discussions regarding the existence of god, afterlife, or Atman and insisted that the individual should discipline his mind through right conduct, right speech and right effort. Replying to a query by his disciple, Buddha once put forward his logic, “I haven’t taught the world is eternal or not, that it is finite or not, that the breath and the body are identical or not nor that a person after death will pass to future existence, or not, or both, or neither. . . Simply because these issues are pointless, unprofitable and a waste of time” (Kanekar 280).
Thus, Buddhism is also sometimes described not as a religion but as a spiritual method focusing on the individual’s quest for personal self. Hesse appreciates Buddha’s way in his lecture on Siddhartha, “Buddha’s way to salvation has often been criticized and doubted, because it is thought to be wholly grounded in cognition. True, but it’s not just intellectual cognition, not just learning and knowing, but spiritual experience that can be earned only through strict discipline in a selfless life” (qtd. in Freedman 233). However, the irony with Buddhism is that Buddha himself is worshipped as a God by most of his followers with no less ritualistic and no less dogmatic than what Buddha had accused of Hinduism. Hindus, too, worship the Buddha as one of their eight avatars.
Such tendency of deification of the individual achievement and humanization of the supernatural God exists even during the post-modern era when religions have been on their defensive side. The God theory has not lost its charm even while humanizing the God as, “His qualities are human virtues, raised to the nth degree. His interest in man remains even when, as in modern Barthian theology, he is described as the ‘wholly other’” (Niebuhr 34).
After the European Enlightenment period, perhaps Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was the first philosopher who contemplated upon discovering one’s true self without necessarily believing in any religious system or the Gods. Schopenhauer thought life for the individual as an unavoidable suffering. For Schopenhauer, all the experienced activity of the self is will and the ultimate reality is one universal will. In his discussion of the nature and scope of subjective element of aesthetic pleasure, Schopenhauer hopes for, “the deliverance of knowledge from the service of the will, the forgetting of self as an individual, and the raising of the consciousness to the pure will-less, timeless, subject of knowledge, independent of all relations” (498). Thus, Schopenhauer advocates for the anguished individual to seek for deliverance from life’s sufferings through artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness. Schopenhauer’s idea that the world is not factual but mere projections of our mind not only echo with Hindu and Buddhist vision of life, but as Baumann claims even his salvation philosophy “ . . . corresponds to the traditional ‘Tat tvam asi’ of the Upanishads and the Buddhist idea of salvation by overcoming ‘Thirst’ and egocentricity”.
Schopenhauer influenced many literary and philosophical figures including Nietzsche and Hesse. Hesse even sets the story of Siddhartha in Buddha’s time and makes Siddhartha the Brahmin boy hold a discussion with the Buddha. Hence, Siddhartha has also been considered as a mythical narrative based on Buddha’s early life. However, contrary to popular misconception, Siddhartha is not Buddha’s biographical story. Hesse’s Siddhartha who is awed by Buddha’s persona and yet denies taking refuge in Buddha’s Dhamma has a correlation with Hesse’s own initial admiration of the Buddha and later disenchantment with Buddhism’s too rationalistic generalization. While writing Siddhartha, Hesse seems to be influenced not only by Hindu and Buddhist views on life, but also by the religious philosophies of ancient China, such as Taoism. Hesse’s biographer Mark Boulby claims that Siddhartha is an amalgam of Vedanta and Tao philosophies with, the Indian-Hindu “letting oneself fall into life (tyaga)” and the Chinese-Taoistic “enlightened passiveness (wuwei)” (143).
In his autobiography for the Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Hesse discloses the reason why he could not accept the religion of Christian Pietism he was born into was because of its aim of, “subduing and breaking the individual personality” (Gale 349). And yet, his opposition to the institutionalized religions’ suppression of the individual self seems to contradict with his observation in a 1930 essay, “I myself consider the religious impulse as the decisive characteristic of my life and my work” (qtd. in Ziolkowski 106). The contradiction can be understood if one appreciates that Hesse’s “religious impulse” suggests an approach of consciously choosing one’s own way of life. If any religion that Hesse believed in it was humanism, as Zipes writes in his evaluation of the influence of fairy tales in Hesse’s works, “If there ever was a creed that he [Hesse] devoutly followed, it was the German romantic Novalis’s notion that ‘Mensch werden ist eine Kunst’- to become a human being is art” (241).
Thus, Hesse attempts to establish the significance of the individual’s personal quest for self through the interaction with diverse religions. Hesse proposes his own version of spirituality that dissolves the dichotomy of opposite pairs both within the individual and outside in the world, “For me, although brought up a Protestant Christian but then later educated in India and China, there do not exist all these twofold divisions of world and men into opposite pairs. For me, the first dogma is the unity behind and above the opposites” (qtd. in Herzog). Hesse’s interest in finding unity behind opposites can also be seen in Siddhartha, in which the protagonist appreciates religion as a method for self-realization and yet refuses to accept any religious doctrine insisting upon finding the unity behind all opposites through his own search for self.
(Philosophers from ancient to modern times have been discussing the idea of ‘enlightenment’ – both in the Eastern & Western traditions. In the pre-modern era, Immanuel Kant famously asked, “What is Enlightenment?”. Michel Foucault too asked “What is Enlightenment?” in the pre-postmodern era. Divas asks the same question, “What is Enlightenment?” in the post-postmodern era of 21st century.)
What is Enlightenment?
Humans seem to desire self-transformation in their cognitive and affective faculties. Both in the Eastern and Western traditions, there have been attempts of finding a peculiar state of mind which surpasses normal instinctual feelings. Being social animals of the highest order, humans have developed very complex societies. Creation of social systems has endowed the species superiority over other species. However, human individuals undergo intense anxiety in the course of their adaptation and survival in accordance with the complex social systems. The demands of the complex social life often become stressful for the individual.
Moreover, there is also the natural process of decay and disease. The natural and social demands often persuade an individual to seek for a peculiar state of mind which remains untouched by the anxieties and suffering of normal life-cycle. The viscidities of normal social and personal life make some individuals to seek for a state of mind that may be called “enlightenment”.
However, the concepts of enlightenment differ between the Eastern and Western traditions. Eastern traditions see enlightenment as a spiritual phenomenon, while the Western concept seems to relate enlightenment with the acquirement of knowledge. Enlightenment is also an intellectual movement in the European history known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. Despite the various strands of Enlightenment ideas of the 17th and 18th century Europe, there seems to be a common theme of, “a drive to break the power of dogmatic religion and throw off the shackles of superstition, appealing instead of the power of reason” (Stokes 93).
Kant famously placed his faith in human reason in his answer to the question of “What is Enlightenment?” with, “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage . . . Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’ – that is the motto of enlightenment” (15). Thus, while Eastern traditions see enlightenment as a mystic experience of an individual in the course of spiritual evolution, on the other hand, the Western focus on reason takes Enlightenment away from mysticism.
Enlightenment as a state envisaged in the Eastern traditions is an individual phenomenon. Perhaps, therefore, the phrases “self-enlightenment” or “self-realization” are also used in the Eastern traditions to denote the goal of every individual spiritual seeker. How and when enlightenment dawns upon a person differs from individual to individual. As Kupperman observes, “The Buddha provides only what amounts to a do-it-yourself kit for liberation, so that in the last analysis enlightenment is a matter of individual effort” (40). On the other hand, in the Hindu philosophic system, an individual must possess the knowledge of one’s Atman or real self, “both for enlightenment and for liberation” (Kupperman 12).
However, once an individual has achieved his enlightenment, for him the duality of this world and the other world as well as the stages of enlightenment or non-enlightenment becomes irrelevant. Whether an individual is enlightened or not matters only to others, but not for the person who himself gets enlightened. The individual’s enlightenment, “would seem real from outside – from the point of view of those who still think of the world in terms of distinct individuals and are not enlightened – but not from inside” (Kupperman 14). Thus, even the distinction made between Atman and Brahman becomes meaningless, for Atman becomes Brahman for the enlightened individual.
However, there is also opposition to the concept of enlightenment that transcends all miseries as deception or illusion. Although enlightenment is supposed to vastly expand the individual’s consciousness by getting rid of personal ego, the psychologist Jung who was immensely influenced by Eastern mysticism tried to convince the Hindus that “. . . it is impossible to get rid of the idea of the Ego or of consciousness, even in the deepest state of Samadhi” (Serrano 62-63).
Even the Western concept of Enlightenment that celebrates the triumph of human reason and rationalism has been criticized as deception. The European Enlightenment superiority promoted more sophisticated violence and warfare, along with the call for democracy and personal freedom increased bureaucratic control over the individual, the natives’ control over natural resources were robbed off in the name of free trade, and exploitation of the native population took place through the spread of European colonialism in Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas.
Even in the postmodern era of the 20th and 21st century, Foucault feels the need to re-investigate Kant’s question of “What is Enlightenment?” observing that, “From Hegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheimer or Habermas, hardly any philosophy has failed to confront this same question, directly or indirectly” (103). Foucault further warns not to confuse Enlightenment with “faithfulness to doctrinal elements” (113). Similarly, justifying Hesse’s model of aestheticism devoid of ideological dogmatism, Dollimore observes “In short, the Second World War confirmed, for many, the bankruptcy of Enlightenment humanism . . . not just of its inability to prevent barbarism, but its complicity with it” (39).
Thus, while the proponents and followers see enlightenment as a liberating phenomenon, critics claim the idea of enlightenment itself to be illusory and deceptive.
Whose Woods are these I Think I Know
Guys, I’d been to the wild again yesterday…my first visit into the wild after the monsoon rains…I wanted to enjoy the changes that monsoon brings…. aaahhhh….the smell of the rains over the leaves is so addictive…see the picture, isn’t it tempting?
This is the place where I take my bath… without wearing anything…totally naked….like Walt Whitman….heeheehee…. In future, people would call it Divas Falls….coz Divas used to bathe here… I’d promised my one day’s Italian girlfriend that I’d take her there….but like all pretty girls, she never came back again…. … but I won’t tell you where it is…I don’t want to see you there in my next visit…
And look, since it’s the rainy season, these blood sucking leeches are waiting for me…and look how many are they…one, two, three, four, five….
Ouuuiiiiiiii….there’s one on my belly as well…thank god, none of them could get into my private parts…just imagine, how painful it’d have been if any of them had managed to get to my balls…
Although they’re so small, they can get really bloody…look there, between my toe fingers….
I’m getting frequent gouty attacks these days… my dad has passed his gouty genes into me as well…looks like I’m getting old quicker than my dad…therefore, I’m thinking of visiting the woods as frequently as possible, before it gets too difficult for me to walk into the woods…
(Today I’m posting an excerpt from my thesis which is rotting in the university library with thousands of others. I was thinking of publishing my thesis on some journal, but then only a few scholars and research students would read it. Since my blog has worldwide exposure, i decided to post some portions of my thesis on the blog for the benefit of the public at large. Moreover, by posting it on the blog, i can also address all those people who have been eagerly awaiting for it.)
Humans are endowed with the capacity of reflecting upon the nature of their actions, feelings, and thought processes. Although it’s difficult to locate the self physically, every individual has a sense of the ‘self’ located at the center of their consciousness which is also the subject of all experiences of that individual. An individual is always in a dual conflict: with the society and with his own self. Being a component of the society he lives in, the individual is expected to observe societal norms and liabilities. The human individual often finds himself in a dilemma whether he should endeavor for the pursuit of one’s self or carry out the social responsibility of collective goals.
The study of the self is an essential part of psychological, philosophic, and religious studies. Self may be seen as one’s innermost nature or true essence, the referent of “I” – the ultimate locus of one’s identity. In psychology, the self is the representation of cognitive and affective aspects of one’s identity. In Jungian psychology, “The self is the master archetype . . . in a constant process of development which became fully realized when all aspects of our personalities are equally expressed” (Stokes 141). The self is both the agent and the knower involved in each person’s actions and cognitions.
Other terms closely related to and substituted for self are being, identity, personality, individuality, ego, soul, subject, and consciousness. One’s search for self may be seen as one’s search for personal identity. Since one’s self is a unique feature of one’s personal identity different from all ‘others’, the quest for self is also seen as an individual’s quest for his distinct individuality. Similarly, one’s assertion of individuality may also be seen as the assertion of one’s unique self. Thus the quest for the self is an individual’s quest for his uniqueness that makes him different from all others.
In the Hindu philosophic system, the Atman is an individual’s essence or soul, or an individual’s innermost or true self. Knowing the nature of one’s true self or Atman has been one prime goal among the practitioners of Hinduism. This Atman or true self remains constant while everything else remains in a state of flux. The goal of a seeker would be to discover how one’s individual Atman dissolves into the Universal Self or Divine Self, the Brahman.
Another idea regarding the self in the spiritual traditions is the idea of self-transcendence. The suffering an individual undergoes in the course of life results from their ego or self. Hence, to get rid of the suffering, one has to get rid of the idea of having a separate and constant self. Buddha through his doctrine of Anatta or non-self denied altogether the Hindu philosophy of the existence of a permanent unchanging self or Atman. The spiritual traditions focus on transcending the self or self-transcendence as an art of mastering one’s self. As Frifjof Capra states in his The Tao of Physics, one of the highest aims for their followers whether they are Hindus, Buddhists or Taoists, is to “transcend the notion of an isolated individual self and to identify themselves with the ultimate reality” (24).
In the Western philosophic traditions, Plato defined reason or Intellect as the true self of a being, while Aristotle took soul or the self not as a separate entity but as an activity of the being. Similarly, another Greek philosopher Diogenes preached a doctrine of mastery of the self or self-sufficiency. In the modern philosophical tradition, Descartes and Locke are credited to have begun the discussion on the idea of self. Since the Romantic period the erstwhile religious and theological concept of self became secular and the idea of “unique personal self became fundamental to aesthetics, religion, philosophy, social sciences, and to the general construction of identity” (Hess 1031).
The literary works too are accounts of the protagonists’ quest for self. The quest for self in literary works may be in the form of identity, individuality, or finding one’s unique existence in the society. The characters in quest for their self take an inward journey within and discover the true essence of their self based on their own intense reflections. The protagonists in quest of their self seem highly individualistic, thus take a bizarre path to self-discovery rather than following an ordinary social life. Often such individuals seem to challenge existing social norms, belief systems and authority while asserting the inner calling of their own self.
Of late, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to be ‘social’, I don’t feel like speaking with anyone.
However, even when you don’t speak, people won’t leave you alone.
They ask me: who is responsible for the problems that we’re facing right now?
And I ask them not to ask me such questions.
Coz I’ve found that people ask me questions, and when I answer their questions, they’re offended.
And they’re offended not becoz I offend them, I just state what I see, they offend themselves.
Therefore, I often ask people not to bother me with their questions.
And yet people keep on bothering me with their questions.
Someone again asked me: who’s responsible for the problems in the society?
And I replied to him: you’re responsible for everything.
And, again, another person offended himself with my answer.
I don’t see any problem in the society.
The problem is in the individual.
The problem with the individual is that s/he wants to take credit when something works.
And no one wants to take responsibility when something goes ‘wrong’.
When something goes ‘wrong’, everyone wants to transfer responsibility on others.
And this is the main reason behind all conflicts: from interpersonal to all social and political conflicts.
What people don’t seem to realize that everyone is equally responsible for everything that goes right or ‘wrong’.
The reason why people don’t want to take their share of responsibility is becoz people lack spirituality.
People have become too materialist.
Since people have become too materialist, they’re not doing what makes them happy, they’re doing ‘comparative’ things: what makes them smarter, richer, higher, bigger, more powerful,…etc so that they may look down upon others.
And since people are not doing what makes them happy, they’ve become sick spiritually.
Since people are sick spiritually, they don’t enjoy what they’re doing.
And since people don’t enjoy what they’re doing, they find fault with everyone and everything.
And thus they transfer responsibility on others when something doesn’t seem to work.
And this is the singular reason behind all conflicts: YOU transfer responsibility on OTHERS.
People often ask me: what are you? Rightist, Leftist, Capitalist, Communist, Socialist, Libertarian, Nationalist, Internationalist,….etc
And how can we solve the problems in society and in the world?
People ask me such questions coz they divide the world in two or more folds…they’re still materialists.
Materialists always divide the world in two or more folds, coz they must transfer responsibility on others when something doesn’t seem to work.
People don’t realize that there is yet another dimension, there is yet another approach of looking at the world.
I do not divide the world in two or more folds: for me all the world is one, everything in the world is interlinked.
And therefore, I cannot transfer responsibility on others.
And therefore, I do not fit in your definitions.
I cannot feed your ego by saying that someone else is responsible.
I will say that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.
I see that everyone is responsible when something goes right.
And everyone is responsible when something goes left.
And I can’t help if my answer doesn’t satisfy you – please don’t bother me.
And if you cannot be happy unless you transfer responsibility on others, transfer it on me.
Yes, I’m responsible for everything that goes right or left.
Insight Meditation – b.i.d.
Advice: Follow up after 1 year
Consultant: Dr. Divas Jekyll Quack
I’d recommend everyone to read M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled - one of the finest books that I’ve read recently…Well, the title also reminds one of Robert Frosts poem, “The Road Not Taken”. Such a profound insight…an interesting thing to note is that Peck wrote it when he was just 40, but he sounds much wiser than his age
Peck begins his work with the opening sentence, ”Life is difficult”. But then he goes on to say that once you accept that life is difficult, it no longer remains difficult. I was particularly impressed by his categorization of suffering into legitimate and neurotic.
Peck suggests that legitimate suffering is essential for one’s growth as an individual, but one should treat neurotic suffering with the advice from psychiatrist and psychotherapist. The hallmark of Peck’s writing is his focus on spiritual and mystical aspects of life. Equally interesting is Peck’s life. Looks like only after living an intense life can people come up with such a fine work of art.
Nepal Airlines: A Government Corporation that needs to be immediately Privatized
Yes, I support the private sector in Nepal. And I support the private sector not because I adhere to any ideology…I do not adhere to any ideology…for me, all ideologies, theories, and belief systems are just tools to simplify and understand the world…and since the world is changing ever faster than any time in history, all rigid ideologists and their followers, what we call in Nepali Jadasutrabadis, are destined to fail to deliver…I support the private sector simply because it supports me…it’s because of the private sector that i can survive in this world..
When people ask me why are you so eccentric, i ask them back who isn’t eccentric? Everyone’s as eccentric as any of their fellow….it’s just that people see the lice on others’ bodies but fail to notice the buffalo crawling on their own bodies.. and yes, private sector always welcomes me… ..that’s because private sector ignores your eccentricities and focuses on your value…of course, most of Nepal’s private sector are yet to be institutionalized…people still need to understand that even in the private sector, it’s the slow and steady who wins the race… and it’s also true that there’re more uncertainties and insecurities for those working in the private sector… That’s because the private sector itself is facing a lot insecurities and uncertainties due to uncertain political climate.. but they are trying to deliver…and over the years, I’ve seen that nepal’s private sector has managed to prove itself…
Therefore, in Nepal’s case, i fully support the view that government should give all businesses to the private sector… privatize all government ventures..the government can not simply run any profitable business in nepal…government owned corporations and businesses in Nepal are destined to drown because of their unsustainable, unprofessional, and corrupt practices..I’m not saying that government should close it’s eyes to all the anomalies in the private sector…the government’s role as the ultimate regulator cannot be ignored at the present day Nepal… however, government’s role should be limited to monitoring and regulation..
i earnestly believe that i’m changing the world for good by riding a bicycle. Well, you may call it my megalomania or narcissism, but i earnestly believe that i can change the world for good. What i want to show to the people of Kathmandu is that you can ride a bicycle and still be a respectable citizen of the country… these days, i even don’t care if someone calls me a psycho..in fact, beggars and psychos fascinate me more that the ‘normal’ people. whenever i see a beggar or a crazy person, i watch them carefully, and the more i watch them the more I find that they’re also like me…I could have been them, and they could have been me…and in fact, they’re me and I’m them…
i pity those whom the world calls successful, rich, and powerful…for i can see what they’re missing and what they’re going through to be what they’re…i even feel pity for those people whom I’ve criticized and ridiculed on this blog..for i can see what they’re going through written on their faces…I know that no one wants to be bad or hurt others..everyone wants to be good and liked by others… i don’t even judge those who’re convicted as criminals…for i can see that they’re just the scapegoats of the society they’re living in…
hence, of late, i’ve been thinking that perhaps there’re some milder ways to change the world…and one of them is riding a bicycle…and another thing i love to do is to share my experiences with the students…since I’m free for a couple of hours in the morning, I’ve been thinking of volunteering that time for teaching students… I’ve been a teacher for most of my life, therefore i know that it’s the teachers who can change the world for good with the least coercion..
Of late, I’ve gotten wakka (fed up) with writing & preaching on political matters, hence i’d like to share a bit of my personal life with the readers.
The news is that i’ve been riding a bicycle for the past two months. And i’ve gathered quite a bit of experience as a mountain biker.
The day i bought my mountain bike or MB, many people declared that it was another proof of my craziness. Although it was not the first time they were saying that to me. It’s simply unacceptable in bourgeois Kathmandu society for a respectable middle-aged man to ride a bicycle while commuting to & from his workplace.
But, as is my habit, which would not die anytime soon, i’d to break this fucking bourgeois status concept of the Kathmanduites. Besides, i’d to also fulfill the great responsibility of saving the humankind from the impeding climatic disaster. So, i did it again by riding a MB instead of a motorbike.
And i’m really happy to regularly ride a bicycle after so many years. In fact, riding a MB was one of my childhood dreams. When i’d just finished my school, MBs were still a rare possession even among the professional bikers. My one friend’s relative had brought an MB from Japan. And i used to wish that my dad would also buy me a similar MB.
But, as my dad was a civil servant and also a very very kanjoos or miser, he told me bluntly that he could not afford to buy me an MB. Instead, one not-so-fine day, he brought an Indian bike Atlas. Thus was how my dream of riding a MB shattered. And i promised myself then & there that one day i’d buy myself an MB with my own hard-earned bucks and cruise it on the main road.
What amused me the most was that from my dad to relatives, and from friends to colleagues, all were literally shocked to see me riding a bicycle. In fact, when i proudly posted the picture of my new MB on the Facebook Wall, only one of my several bosom friends clicked ‘Like’ on it. And he, too, went agape when he saw me riding a bicycle while commuting to & from my workplace.
And no one has congratulated me yet for riding a bicycle… not even the incumbent Environment & Climate Minister. Boo…. !
To be continued
*Authors’ Names Withheld on Request
We are the adoptive parents expecting a baby from Nepal. Nepal adoption process has been much delayed due to what happened recently. Several parents already withdrew from the process and switched to Ethiopia adoption program because they are tired of waiting (They had waited 3 years). We are still hanging in there, and we hope things will move forward in Nepal, and we really adore Nepali children. We are just wondering what is really going on with “Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare”. Are you familiar with this organization (www.mowscsw.gov.np)?
They are responsible to process all international adoptions from Nepal, and we are under the impression that one of the key positions in the department remains vacant, and nobody is really doing anything right now. If you know anything about current situation of this organization, We’d appreciate your help if you share your knowledge with us.
The parents adopting from Nepal are getting very desperate, rumors are circling around… We really don’t know who to believe. We are not supposed to get too much insider information during adoption process, but our fear is building up due to increased uncertainties. We hope all the children in orphanage are being properly cared, and the situation in Nepal will get better.
We are better off than many other parents adopting from Nepal. Lots of them have waited for over 2 years. We stay busy at work just to keep our mind off the adoption, because there is nothing we can do now to accelerate the Nepal adoption process. One of the other adoptive parents is flying to Nepal soon to personally find out what is really going on, I am afraid he is going to waste his effort, because situation will not change just because he is there.
We know Nepal government has a lot of other more important projects rather than taking care of international adoption. Whatever happens, we hope it will be the best for your people.
Nose Size Matters in Nepal Politics: They’re Bahun & That Corrupt is also Bahun
If you’d go through Nepal’s popular dailies including those I scrutinize everyday – the Kantipur, The Himalayan Times & The Kathmandu Post, and make a racist evaluation of the contributors, you’ll find that more than 80 percent of the authors there belong to Brahmin caste. Not only the authors and editors, most of the letter to editor writers are also Bahun. Scan the profiles of all high level government officials, the same statistics holds true there too. Bahuns consider the field of academics and scholarship as their innate profession. The same is true in politics – even the tirades against Bahunbad (Brahmanism) in politics have now become clichés. Many point at the irony that Bahuns hold the key posts even in the Maoist party which led the movement against Bahunbad in Nepal.
The Bahun halimuhali (hegemony) in Nepali life is sickening. I’m increasingly getting intolerant of Bahun leadership in everything in Nepal. To tell you the truth, I hardly read any article written by Nakchuchche (pointed nose) Bahun or Chetri caste – except if it’s by a Bahun physician writing on some health related issue. I do not even watch television these days fearing I might have to see the Bahun or Chetri faces of political leaders. So much so that, I even judge a roadside restaurant by its owner – I don’t want to eat anything from an arrogant Bahun or Chetri with pathetic culinary sense.
Some concrete reasons behind my Bahunallergy (Bahun Allergy). The election fever is getting its hold on the students of Nepal’s largest public university, the Tribuvan University (TU). Lekhanath Neupane who is a Bahun and also the leader of Maoist affiliate student union issued a warning a few days ago that they’d break the backbones of anyone opposing them like they did before. Bahun Lekhnath was countered by another Bahun Pradip Poudel of Congress affiliated student union who said that they’d also break the bones of anyone attacking them.
Instead of showing some examples of good governance by controlling corruption in politics & bureaucracy, the Bahun Prime Minister of Nepal Prachanda, Bahun Finance Minister Baburam, and Bahun leaders of Maoist Party CP Gajurel, and Dinanath have been warning of revolt unless they’re not allowed to govern. On the other hand, the Bahun Kangessi opposition leaders of the like of Shushil Koirala and Govinda Raj have begun counting the days for the downfall of the government. And please, don’t even mention the Bahun names like Jhalanath Khanal and KP Oli. Power seems to corrupt the Bahun more than others. The chics & bellies of Bahun swell very fast once they begin enjoying state coffers.
My argument is that the Bahuns & Chetris should voluntarily hand over the leadership to the people of other castes & races – that’s what Gyanedra’s retirement from monarchy symbolizes. The air is simply not in favor of Nakchuchche in Nepal these days. Go abroad, do some business, become professionals but please don’t show your names and faces on televisions and newspapers.
And if you’re choosing your leaders, whether in the upcoming student election, or in the Nepali Congress & UML Conventions, or in the local bodies, don’t believe in their official policies, for no one makes bad policies, look at their nose, and vote for a non-Nakchuche, or a Madisey.
Incidentally, I myself happen to be a Nakchuche…but do read this crap anyway … Boorchodikey
Nepal enters a sixteen hours daily load shedding schedule from today. The Government has already declared a nationwide power crisis. PM Prachanda & FM Baburam certainly realize the gravity of the situation – both have identified the electricity shortage as the single most threatening issue against their government, and even against the ongoing so called peace process. PM Prachanda in a “talk program” on the challenges faced by his government almost exasperated: Bijuli nai chaina, bhutro desh chalaune? (No electricity – how the hell can I run the government?) Therefore, while the ruling Maoists are busy on blaming past governments’ policies for the present power crisis, the main opposition NC & UML blame the Maoists for opposing such mega-hydroelectric projects like the Arun III, Seti, Mahakali, & Melamchi.
The country has some interesting experience to share from its existing 12 hours power cuts. Nepal Police says that incidences of robbery & petty crimes go up during the dark hours. Hospitals refuse accepting emergency & injury cases due to their inability to operate such vital machines like MRI & CT. Nepali doctors are adding laurels to their professionalism and ask for extra privilege & protection for their success in “Candlelight Operations”. Nepal’s radio & TV networks have officially announced a five hours’ closure of “informing the public”. The dailies publish students’ complaint letters lamenting how their exam & career are affected by continual load-shedding.
Personally, i pity at Prachanda & Baburam’s helplessness and my all sympathies goes to our comrades at the shattering of their New Nepal dream, but still find myself increasingly cynic & snobbish of Nepalese behavior. The Maoists can not just shrug off from their share of responsibility to their bourgeois counterparts in accepting past mistakes. While the past Panchayat, Kangressi, & “hijda” UML governments were certainly corrupt to their bone-marrows, the Maoists should not forget that they were also running a parallel government for the past 15 years. During their People’s War, the Maoists claimed to control all Nepal’s territory except Kathmandu and not only obstructed new development projects but also destroyed the existing infrastructures – a revolutionary method of weakening the “feudal governments” by forcing people into the Dark Ages. The Maoists even used to warn people not to expect any construction projects, as they were uprooting the remnants of feudalism.
And what to say of these Deshmara Rastrasewak government staffers? Have you ever visited a Nepal Government office? I once told my father that I’m ready to forego all claims on land & property that involves dealing with government officials. As a child of a government employee I was born & raised in various government offices across the length & breadth of this country, and I myself have worked for a government corporation for some time. Go & have a look, while the commoners in the countryside are dying of cold-waves and the nation is under a sixteen hour load shedding, i’m sure you’ll find the heaters in all government offices always on. When it’s not cold, you’ll find that all the fans are always on. And, often you’ll find that all the electric gadgets are always on – a staff may be drying out his washed clothes under a fan, enjoying himself by the heater.
There’s a saying among the masses that Nepalis will eat even alkatra (coal-tar) – the saying comes from an everyday observation of how the construction & repair works are hastily begun & completed during and only in the monsoon rains so that they could write in papers that bridges and roads were swept away by monsoon floods. From project directors to fuel stealing drivers, from ministers to halkara peons, all government employees are drenched to their neck in the guhu (feces) of corruption. Where else do you think the fifty years of foreign grants in Nepal has gone? How can a kharidar (clerk) build an enormous building in Kathmandu? Do you think these armed groups in Terai are fools that they target government employees for extortion?
Hence, to all Nepalis including Prachanda & Girija, to male, masaley, & mandaley, I’d like to do a Khuchching, ees kha. As for me, I’m excited with the thought of what would happen when the country goes for a 24-hour load shedding. But that seems unlikely – for Prachanda, finally surrendering to his Delhi Bosses, has asked for an immediate power supply. Why so much fuss anyway? More than 80 per cent of Nepal population never faces any load-shedding – access to electricity is still a luxury among the 20 per cent bhuifutta & basi basi khane (sit, sit & eat) Nepalis.
CLICK FOR LATEST/ NEWEST LOAD SHEDDING SCHEDULE Load Shedding Schedule (23 Jan 2009) Magh 10 Gate
|CLICK Here: Load Shedding Schedule (23 Jan 2009)|
Or, you can find the latest schedule (when it changes again) on Nepal Electricity Authority Website. Here:
When one stands at a certain corner near the Mahendra Pul at Naya Bazar in a clear morning, and looks north, it appears like Pokhara is wearing a snow-made Palpali Dahka topi.
The Fish Tail or Machapuchrre hovers so near that you can stretch your hands, and hug him.
If you wish to discover the place being your own guide, walk northward keeping the Tail in your focus. One hours walk from Chipledhunga, no matter which route you take, leads to the Seti at the upper Pokhara.
When one listens to the roaring Seti, & the echoes returned by the nearby boulders, one gets an eerie sensation of being alone in the midst of a large number of people from the past and present whispering together. The eeriness heightens near the Christian cemetery where you’d see the crosses like those in the horror movies.
That Hesse’s river was not fictional, & if one stayed there listening to Seti for a long time, there was the real danger of becoming Siddhartha. Hence, one longs for the city cacophony where one feels at home, & flees the laughing Seti which merges all voices into a single hum.
The Seti water is literally whitish as her name suggests, you wonder what gives the rivers their color – some are green, some blue, some brown, & some even grayish-white like Seti; as if she was the holy water mixed with ashes, & descending from Lord Shiva’s matted hairs. The clean water that looks medicinal due to her strange color tempts one to embrace her, but a minute’s kiss reverses the mammalian temperature – sending shivers that defy the scorching summer sun.
The contrast inside & outside the water makes one to contemplate at the strangeness of geographical variation – a perspiring tropical climate on the lap of one of the Earth’s chilliest Himalayan ranges. You raise your head to see the Tail again, and lo, it’s gone behind the surrounding clouds!
Pokhara mimics Kathmandu in everyway. Even the place names like Bagbazar, New Road, Budhanilkantha, New & Old Bus Parks, & the narrow street lanes of olden times near the only pet God of Pokhara – the Bindhabasini. Even the Sukhawati Buddhist Gumba resonates with Sastrartha noises ignoring the Buddha’s Samyak Bacha.
The stinking garbage strewn on the Seti banks at some places, & the people standing at their door with three or four large sacks from each house, waiting for the Municipality truck, caution the Pokhrelis not to be swayed by the Western notion of city that mutated once beautiful Kathmandu into a Garbage Valley.
So long Fewa, so long Fish Tail, & what did you say Seti – Bon Voyage? Thanks, so long, until next time!
“Lakeside, Lakeside, Lakeside,..” “Hello, I wanna go to Fewa Tal?”
“That’s where it goes, step in.”
“But you said Lakeside only. Which Lakeside do you mean? I heard that there’re many lakes here, & I wanna go to Fewa Tal.”
“Same dai, Fewa Tal & Lakeside are the same thing.”
“Anglicization of a place,” I begin brooding.
“Sorry, no Veg Momo in this Lakeside area. If you wanna eat vege Momo, go to Mahendra Pul. We get chelokhelo (enough) fish & meat in Pokhara, hence it’s rare to find veg items. Would you like to have Veg Chowmein instead?”
Indeed, the signboard proclaimed, ” Please visit us for tareko, bhuteko, jhol, jhinge varieties of fish, & for pure Khasi(a he-goat), Chicken, Buff Momo, Chowmein, tounge, the brains, liver, intestines, & for Dharan’s Black Pigs’ items.”
“And what not,” I remember someone chuckling; “they eat everything a Buffalo gives, except its droppings!”
Chowmeins remind me of the MSG. Aha, there, “Please give me those boiled meshed potatoes.”
“Mmm…the achar has been jhaneko with herbs like jimmu & timmur & it’s distinctly Pokhreli.“
“The people here are really more hospitable than that of Kathmandu”, I conclude. “And broadly speaking, except the foreigners, they’re of five types: the small and/or flat-nosed Hindu or Buddhist Mongolians, the medium-sized-flat/round-nosed Hindu Aryans, the bearded-long-nosed Muslim Aryans, the mustached-long-nosed Hindu Madhesis, clean-shaven-long-nosed Hindu or Jain Marwaris, & since I’ve also seen a Church, the hybrid-not-easily-discernable Christians.”
A tourist gal is bargaining,” Look, I’m an honest person. So, I expect you to be honest. Got it?”
Yes, Mam, Yes”, says the Man at the HIRE MOBIKES HERE!
I remember a columnist quoting some boat-driver: Even a buffalo from the Lake Side can speak fluent English.
A white-woman who I guess must be a Scanadivian asks the boat-driver to take her pictures: one here, one here, one here…., OK, thank you!”
I look into the mysterious Lake water: I see the fish camouflaging by taking the colors of the weeds, the small baby fish swarms which looked like the original inhabitants of the sea: they’ve taken hundreds of generations to adapt themselves to the Lake-weeds – I look like a Darwin in the Fewa water.
A UN chopper flies just above the Lake: so, the UN peace-keepers too need some peace of mind!
Ok, there is the Goa Restaurant. Pokhara is truly a multicultural place; I’m again reminded of the Folk-Laureate Ali Miya.
“Stop making hasty generalizations. People everywhere are the same.” I murmur to myself.
The whole of Pokhara’s Thamel comes to a halt suddenly; a swarm of mobikes thunder the area like one gets to see in Cowboy films: Baishakha pailo haptama, Maobadi Sattama.(Coming 1st Week of the Month, Maoists would be in the reign).
The procession at the speed of 25 Km/hr takes 10 minutes to complete. An elderly woman waves back at them. A girls laughs, “It’s the last day of CA election campaigning.” “The Maoists still have a good presence here,” wonders a shopkeeper to his friend. The buffalos straying on the road run for a help.
And just yesterday, I’d seen two Paharis on a mobike, announcing: “For a New Nepal, vote for the Nepal Sadvawana Party!”
And, I heard a Nepali of Japanese origin making his speech the same day. A Nepali version of Alberto Mujimori, lol!
“Even the dogs seem more relaxed here,” another American told his Nepali friend.
Van Gough: A Beautiful Depression
A research conducted by the BPKHF, Nepal points out three major causes for depression among Nepali women:
* Marital Conflicts
* Socio-economic Stress
* A family member with a serious health problem
The most vulnerable are the women of the age group 20-50, especially the pregnant ones.
Children & women are worst affected by the wars & social unrests.
The findings are strikingly similar to the researches conducted all over the the world.
This also shows the universal nature of human suffering.
No wonder that ‘like parents, like children.’
Reminds of reading somewhere that the greatest thing a man can do for his kids is to respect their mother.
However, it should also be noted that men’s violent nature itself is an indication of underlying mental disorders.
Therefore, looking at such universal psychological problems through the dogmatic feministic perspective would be equally fallacious.
Nevertheless, every life can always be prevented from ending up as a tragedy by some sort of positive interventions.
It’s also said the greatest sin is to worry, for a worried person creates a painful aura around him.
Mental disorders, especially depression – a major cause of tremendous sufferings and suicides, can be managed very efficiently if not cured.
Almost all sorts of negative & destructive behaviors like alcoholism, aggressiveness, addictions, obsessiveness, fanaticism, phobias, anxieties, apathy, mood swings, etc, etc, can be taken one or the other form of mental disorders.
* Psychiatric medications
* Psychological Counselling & Therapies
* A Spiritual Outlook
* Meditation Techniques
are the greatest discoveries made for the mental well-being of the human civilization.
A new report out today claims that over-protecting children stops them developing the skills and resilience they need to protect themselves. Do you agree? The report “No Fear” explores a number of key areas including children’s play, anti-social behaviour, adult vetting and fear of strangers, identifying the ways in which our preoccupation with eliminating risk is restricting children’s freedoms and corroding their relationships with adults.
“Although there is a widely held view that children grow up faster today, in fact their lives are far more controlled than they were 30 years ago,” says former government adviser and author of the report, Tim Gill.
People, while trying to make their offsprings perfect, are messing with nature’s mechanism of growth.
Children should be allowed to tread an unknown path; if parents really care for their kids grow out of fear.
They should be allowed to do things own their own; even if they may hurt themselves while doing so – that’s the only way how an organism learns in nature.
And there are no 100% safe practises even if one wished for.
One Response to “Are we over-protecting children?”
cyberpunk, on November 18th, 2007 at 3:29 pm Said:
I agree with this. I think parents are overprotecting kids nowadays.
We grew up with less “protection” from things and other people, but we did ok (fine, I’m not a good example, but you get my drift)…
Kids need to learn and think for themselves.
Should schools concentrate on testing, or on fostering a love of reading?
Reading standards have barely improved since the 1950s despite billions of pounds spent on trying to raise English levels in primary schools, according to a review.
Pupils feel increasingly stressed about school tests and are losing their love for books, researchers for the Primary Review project found.
But schools ministers dispute the findings, which form part of the largest review of primary education for forty years and say primary standards were at their highest levels. (BBC)
Home is the place where schooling begins. Kids love to imitate their first role-models: their parents.
A sense of humor can only make the kids engaged in their studies.
Most of all, respecting each child as an individual creates the necessary trust in teacher which is most essential if to get attention from students.
Besides, stuffing students’ mind with never-ending-homeworks and the ‘High Expectation’ from a very early age only make them worried all the time; sometimes leading to anxiety and depression.
Kids, especially, learn better when nature itself teaches its lessons. They should be allowed to take their adventures.
Teaching, like all things beautiful things in life, is more an art than only theories and information.
And, as the saying goes, what persuades people of all age to do impossible is, again, LOVE.
One Response to “How should we teach children to read?”
Michael B. Dycus, Ph.D, on November 10th, 2007 at 11:12 pm Said:
I agree with you whole-heartedly on your take on this subject.
In my opinion, you are 100% correct!
Thanks for this highly insightful post!
A complete ban on smacking has been rejected by British ministers, after a review suggested most parents opposed it.Laws on smacking in England and Wales were tightened in 2004 to stop parents and carers who assaulted children using “reasonable punishment” as a defence.
But children’s minister Kevin Brennan said laws would not be changed further, as new rules appeared to be working.(BBC)
My pa, now in his sixties and living with us two sons, still can’t understand why we ran away from home simply because he was ‘rough’ in his view for our well-being.
We as teenagers were so much fed up with our parents’ ‘wise’ scoldings that we were ready to anything to leave their house.
Although, in our 30s now, we have understood how their own background was affecting their behavior, and that parenting is really most difficut job, we still think much of sufferings would have been avoided with just a few nice words.
‘Hey Uncle, congrats!’
My friend was unashamedly ‘congratulating’ me.
It was his fourth baby.
The elder ones belong to the ‘fairer’ gender.
And i’ve many friends & relatives like him.
Hence, although i didn’t ask him, i was pretty sure that this must be the ‘unfair’ one…a boy.
I know about my friends perhaps more than a friend should know.
For example, I know that my this friend had aborted at one of the cases.
I mean abortion in its exact sense, no metaphors.
I know his wife very well. She’s a descent, sensitive, & also educated( besides other adjs).
I wanted to tease him why he was ‘congratulating’ me for a result for which i’d made no contribution at all.
Their girls are healthy, lovely, & playful.
They easily became freinds with me the very first day i met them…a rare thing indeed. Kids are generally afraid of my ‘villainous’ looks.
Whenever their kids won’t ‘behave’, my relatives threaten with, ‘Do this/that, or i’ll tell Buzi(Monster) Uncle, Mama, Thuloba,..whatever’
And even the devil himself won’t like being addressed like that by the kids.
So, i was naturally very happy when these girls started playing with me.
I told him,’Look after these kids carefully, so that they don’t have to suffer like us.’
Once, when i asked him why were they waiting for a boy, he said, ‘You don’t know, she wants it.’
Everyone knows that the social conditioning wants it.
There are many reports from India that millions of female fetuses are ‘killed’ after identifying them with the ultrasound.
There are no such studies here in Nepal, but anyone can guess with certainty.
Of course, they care for their kids like all parents do.
Yet i know it very well that things would never be the same with/for the girls.
No matter how much their parents would love them, they’d never miss to observe that things no longer remain the same as they used to be.
But, hey feminists & activists, it’d be equally fallacious to conclude that the boy would enjoy being an ‘apple of the eyes’.
Anyway, i’m going to congratulate them all in the boy’s Nwaran(the naming ceremony) tomorrow.
One Response to “i care for my baby,…black or white…”
illnaturedgr, on December 26th, 2007 at 9:27 pm Said:
I think that it’s a total tragedy for all humanity to still have gender issues 5 days before the year 2008…
It’s a reality though and we must face it… Don’t think that only India or Nepal have gender issues,it’s China (which has the biggest problem due to overpopularity),Thailand and lots of other countries (not all of them of the so called “third world”) to cut it short…
Contd from ‘One does not write for slaves’
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The girl, now married, came with her man yesterday. Though I donot talk to people that much, I was looking for some cue to know whether she’s happy or not.
My god, she looks completely normal. How easily she accepted everything, and made things easier for all in her family! This morn she and her man went to Daksinakali on her bro’s bike.
May be that she had two married elder sisters who frequently visit this place and her experienced parents have made things easier for her.
But still…I’d been to my one relative yesterday. I came to know that my cousin was pregnant. I talked to her, she too looks normal. Of course, her hubby seems to be a suitable match for her. But what about her being a mother, who isn’t that healthy herself? I doubt that she’ll give birth to a healthy baby.
I was tempted to put my views, but I restrained myself thinking that now that she was in an irreversible process, any negative comments would only hurt her.
I’ve come to agree with the view that either the economically higher or the lower class of the society can make free decisions about themselves. The middle class people, and the newly rich ones, who are the people I’m related to – I’ve started disliking their lifestyle and passivity.
Earlier I used to think that it was my shyness that was preventing me to socialize with them, but, nowadays I’ve come to the conclusion it’s the disagreement with their painfully ritualistic lifestyles and their impotency to rebel or live life in their own terms that puts me at odds with them.
I do not claim to have enjoyed my life better than others. Yet I feel proud to realize that I do not belong to the herd. Of course, I have encountered more difficulties and earned more criticism than the so-called ‘social’ people, to the extent that I was on the verge of collapsing once.
Still, I’ve recovered, and I feel that I’ve come out a winner! A very positive attitude is developing – goodwill and pity for others, and a stubborn conviction on living life in own terms. No Compromise, whatever…!
Contd from ‘Marriage is a private affair’
Monday, June 12, 2006
The girl’s mother, brother, and middle sister came yesterday. How quickly they finished everything. Just Now the mother was telling another woman that everyone praised it, noone said it was not good. The women said,” How can one say anything? One can not say either good or bad.”
That day I was tempted to advise them not to hurry on the matters of the daughter’s marriage. But my experience with my cousin’s marriage perhaps had made me wiser not to comment anything in other’s matters.
More importantly, in case of arranged marriage sorted out by the parents only – isn’t there a greater risk of dissatisfaction later? No girl is trained nowadays to revere her man like the god; the feminist approach of teaching and learning has instilled a different value on man-woman relationship. The guardians feel so much pressure for their grown-up girls that they find it better to make the decision as soon as possible.
It’s strange that everyone is worried about their false-prestige, while in fact, none has any prestige at all. I can understand these things, as I myself was caught in such foolish cycle once. What’s the solution then? Finding a suitable mate should the resposibilty of the individual, just like finding a suitable career.
If in case, the boy or the girl has made his/her career, and wants to settle down and still hasn’t found a mate, then others, including the parents, may come to help. The girls, too, should take active role in the decision of their marriage, rather than later cursing their guardians later when they are not satisfied.
One day, in our class, a teacher was discussing on a feminist writer, Simon de Beauvre. Nowadays, I commented, males are more interested in women’s liberation than the females themselves, at least while giving sermons. The females only wail, that they are not treated equally.
He said that, though scientifically it has been proved that females can do everything the males can do, still men are oppressing the women in the society. He asked why the most philosophers, writers, and scientists of the past are only males. Why don’t men give equal opportunity to the women?I discussed with the teacher fiercely. My point was it’s the women themselves, who are responsible for their suffering, especially the educated ones. I asked him why men should give their power to others. If the women are really capable, they should fight for their cause and snatch the power from the men.
He said to me, “your values are very orthodox, you’ll learn later when you finish the course.” We friends laughed at this remark he made, we, some senior students have classified some teachers as bhai(kid) sirs! Unless the oppressed people themselves, whether black, ethnic, or the women, instead of cursing the oppressor, fight for their rights and be ready to suffer for the price of dignity, there can be no true liberation.
In this regard I agree with the Maoists that sometimes one has to take up a weapon to assert one’s rights. Of course, the Maoists, made a grave ideological mistake by taking up arms for retaliation and personal vengeance. And we can use anything as a weapon for our self-defence, not only the arms.
Jean Paul Sarte, the great existentialist philosopher and writer in his essay “Why Write?”, holds the view: “ One does not write for slaves…it is not enough to defend them with the pen. A day comes when the pen is forced to stop, and the writer must then take up arms.”
5 Responses to “‘One does not write for slaves…’”
Boink Blogs, on November 3rd, 2007 at 1:52 pm Said: Edit […] is a private affair’ Part II DIVAS put an intriguing blog post on â??Marriage is a private affairâ?? Part IIHere’s a […]
www.learnhypnosiseasily.info » ‘Marriage is a private affair’ Part II, on November 4th, 2007 at 3:02 am Said:
[…] DIVAS placed an interesting blog post on â??Marriage is a private affairâ?? Part II.Here’s a brief overview:No girl is trained nowadays to revere her man like the god; the feminist approach of teaching and learning has instilled a different value on man-woman relationship. The guardians feel so much pressure for their grown-up girls that they … […]
Vanadiaum, on November 4th, 2007 at 9:27 am Said:
An interesting blog as always.
There are only two blogs I read regularily, yours and http://www.thethoughtsalesman.com
Yours usually seems to be more cerebral, but the thought salesman is usually more about practivle issues, I think it’d be worth it to check him out
A day in 2006
In fact, this is a story of a girl who lived with us indoors – we know about her, and her family almost as well as they know about themselves. We were looking for a dera, and providence sent us here. Two rooms, one of which is the size of a kitchen, were for us, the rest rooms were for them, in the ground floor. Since there is a single bathroom attached inside, we can not avoid each other’s company. The father, mom, son, a daughter, and a small girl of eight – who calls me a ‘chimpanzee uncle’ – from their first daughter whose husband has been to the gulf for obvious reasons.These lines wouldn’t have been written, had there not been a life changing incident. Not for us, but for the girl.
There came a proposal for her, which like almost all parents, they happily accepted. She has already completed her plus two, waiting for the result. The most amazing thing was that she did not say a single word in opposition. I was expecting a bellowing cry from her that she wants to complete her MA or, at least, BA before marriage, etc … but nothing happened of that sort. On the contrary, she was laughing while washing clothes yesterday when her bro made a funny remark that it was her last washing in their family. Today she is going to her hometown in the terai with her father and mom.
The fixing of her marriage was told to me by my cousin. He happened to hear the unavoidable talks next room – which is just a door’s distance. I teased him, “so lost another opportunity, I’d been telling you to marry her, and you didn’t care. Now, you lost her.” He retorted back, “so why didn’t u do then,…” I told him that I ‘d marry a foreigner only, and after all, I’d a generation gap with her age…Besides, her father is so naggingly talkative that no one would like to make him a father-in-law.
I heard her only brother, three years elder, somewhat not satisfied with the hurry the parents were in. “After all, it’s her life… etc” This guy is the only reasonable person in their family. Eight years younger to me, he is an energetic bread-and-other-things-winner for the family. Earns more than 25,000 from school and tuitions – an envious earning for a ‘kid’ of his age and profession. But he, too, could not go against his parents’ decision – another surprise.
I’ve nothing to do with her marriage, or whether she’ll get along with that Danthe or not. I can’t say that she is sad. She looks normal. Her middle sis has a querulous boy of three, and, still she is doing her Bachelor in Pharmacy – something I couldn’t do – bosses around everywhere, including her parents and that fool called her hubby.
No one can plan the future exactly – it’s only a guess – since everything in the world keeps on changing. Yet I find it odd that any educated girl from a Brahmin origin would be willing to marry a policeman – unless she is in love with one. Her to-be-hubby is a Sub Inspector. I suspect that her father, who is a sly person, is knowingly marrying her with a policeman working in the PM’s Office, for his own ‘practical’ reason – not for the girl. Once I’d heard him saying that what a person all wants is sex.It’s not even that I am undermining the boy or his profession. It’s the system of marriage, that I really hate.
The more I think upon it, I’m becoming surer of Chninua Achebe’s remark that ‘Marriage is a private Affair.’Meanwhile, perhaps, better for us, there seems another party in the offing!
(to be contd)
By DR. ABDUL RUFF
When confusion has been the hall mark of Obama policy for Mideast, Palestinians have benefits of doubts about US intentions on Palestine state, especially when Americans along with Israelis refused to recognize Palestine state in UN even as overwhelming majority in UN voted to support Palestinians demand of statehood. .
In spite of his earlier enthusiasm for helping the Palestine in establishing their own state President Obama like his predecessors had done, has gradually moved towards the Zionist bandwagon. Obama is yet to initiate any concrete steps to assure the besieged Palestinians of their right to exist and their security from Zionist fascist military.
But Obama went all the way to Israel to praise Zionist fanatic values and US-Israeli secret ties and assured the Israeli criminals of continued US support for Israel’s terror operations in Mideast.
Israel has succeeded in creating mistrust among Palestinians for Obama and USA..
Obviously with a view to obstructing any real peace in the region, Israel has been sending mixed signals on its internationally condemned settlement policy as Kerry pursues efforts to revive negotiations Palestinians quit in 2010 in anger over Israeli settlement building on occupied land they seek for a state.
Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in recent years in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was also captured (from Jordan) in 1967. About 2.7 million Palestinians live in those areas. The main issues that would have to be resolved in a peace agreement include the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state, the future of Jewish settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
The Netanyahu government is damn sure that Israeli courts must abide by Jewish agenda and boldly said it had taken steps in recent weeks to authorize retroactively four West Bank outposts built without official permission.
International community has condemned the Zionist settlement proliferation inside Palestine and crimes against humanity by killing the people of Palestine. Interestingly an e Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now is spearheading opposition to all illegal settlements inside Palestine. Peace Now field a case in the Israeli supreme court to stop illegal constructions.
Peace Now said in a statement that “The intention to legalize outposts as new settlements is no less than a slap in the face of Secretary Kerry’s new process and is blatant reassurance to settler interests.”
Last week, Peace Now and Israeli media reports said Netanyahu has been quietly curbing some settlement activity by freezing tenders for new housing projects, in an apparent effort to help the U.S. drive to renew peace talks. But Peace Now said at the time construction already under way was continuing, and Israel announced last week that it had given preliminary approval for 300 new homes in Beit El settlement as part of a plan Netanyahu announced a year ago.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the move. “Israel continues to put obstacles and to sabotage U.S. efforts to resume negotiation,” he said. “Our position is clear and that is all settlement is illegal and must be stopped.”
Obama seems to be keen to find a lasting solution to Palestine issue and Mideast peace and he has undertaken some steps to first placate the Zionists. Under pressure from Israel and US Jews, Obama visited Israel but refused to go to Gaza Palestine. This has generated both suspicions among Palestinians about Obama’s intentions. Most of them have shown indifference towards Obams’s Mideast policy. Kerry, due to meet Netanyahu and Abbas separately next week, has said he believes “the parties are serious” about finding a way back into talks. In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki suggested that a decision to legalize the four outposts would be counterproductive. “We don’t accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” she said. “Continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace.” Maybe US position is farce.
Israel knows, or at least think, Americans cannot afford to offend Jews.
Most the world deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, as illegal. Israel disputes this and distinguishes between about 120 government-authorized settlements and dozens of outposts built by settlers without permission.
Unfortunately Obama’s quality of statesmanship is worse than his predecessors.