Friday, December 23, 2005

Arcane arcade

In the oceanic vastness of Varuna
Or the infinite expanse of Virata
Is wrought the immense law of the Brhat
It is the quiet reign of Vaishwanara.

The puny intellect of human being
Even if it is stretched to its limits
Barely manages to amass a pittance
Rest he settles for mystery and wonder.

The immensities and complexities
Of the interplay of worlds and realms beyond
Are themes with which mythologies are made
But leave the human mind in enigma.

Dreams and visions and imaginations
Drive us to fathom incommunicable
Clutching on to hope and slender techniques
More often than not, we end up in failure.

Caught up in the existential concourse
Some other concern calls emergency
Once again it is the fire-fighting mode
Always eludes the illimitable.

The subtle, the subliminal and causal
Are beyond the net of our perception
But strive we must to gain access to them
For they belong to us, not mysterious.

[Thu- 300904]
  • The swadeshi movement was, from a Moderate point of view, a negation of the entire Congress project. As a partisan of the Moderates it gives me great satisfaction that Bengal’s greatest poet, Tagore, got it exactly right and her worst, Aurobindo Ghose, got it perfectly wrong.

Mukul Kesavan The Telegraph Sunday, May 29, 2005

  • We move on to Aurobindo, who, again, at times propagated ideas uncannily similar to Islam, as in the wish to return to a Golden Age where all was truth and righteousness. Then we come to Vivekananda, to this writer the most ambivalent, and hence most appealing, of the four.

Ramachandra Guha The Telegraph Saturday, April 17, 2004

These are unreasonable remarks from fairly reasonable people. And, similar impressions have gained wide currency over the years through such supposed expert comments. By ticking off the versatile legacy of Sri Aurobindo in just one sentence is certainly cruel to his memory. It appears that he is still standing before the bar of the High Court of History.

Everybody is eminently entitled to her views but what is questionable is the methodology. It has become a fashion, or almost a compulsion of sorts, to mention the name of Sri Aurobindo as an appendage to others. But, why bring in his name at all, if only to show him in bad light?

For the fact is that, the very project of comparision in this manner, is arbitrary. Sri Aurobindo’s work in the political sphere begins when Swami Vivekananda is no longer there. Tagore is almost a spectator in the sidelines and Gandhi is yet to enter into the picture. And again, the tenor of their work, so dissimilar.

Each of the great men like these has contributed to areas of specific significance which come to form our national mosaic. But in manufacturing the synthetic metaphysics of The Life Divine and composing the epic, Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s genius is unparalleled, not only in India but also in the whole world.

All writers may not be competent to perceive the nuances of poetry or philosophy. But then, they are expected to be honest enough not to beat someone with the wrong stick. It is only rarely that we read any independent assessment of Sri Aurobindo in the media. But his role is indispensable for the national regeneration everyone is hoping for.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Plurality, Diversity, Multiculturalism is the new Trinity.

Construed almost synonymous with democracy, the idea of plurality and choice is also lapped up by the market economy. The more the merrier, is the new refrain. But what about consensus, synchronicity and solidarity? Are they not equally significant? This war between the modern and the post-modern has forced upon us lopsided priorities and warped perspectives. The fact that the divergent concepts must be applied in their respective locus is easily forgotten, and the contra attempted to corner browny points.

Conversely, none would like to trade patriotism or nationalism for plurality. They are sacrosanct down to the level of winning a Cricket match or some Beauty contest. Then what about creating such a consensus on a particular knowledge system or a philosophy? Can’t it be attempted in an informed environment by employing dispassionate discourse? Or, at least, is it not worth striving for?

Fears are certainly there. For when simple stipulations like electoral reforms elude us ever, to tinker with societal norms is fraught with far greater hurdles. Nevertheless, a conflated manifesto for the human race as a whole, addressing its existential concerns should be a plausible pursuit. Just like, Einstein’s objection to uncertainty, God doesn’t play dice.

Another year is drawing to a close and what we observe in what can be called the national discourse is sheer ennui. There are many voices, old and new, and proliferating, no doubt, but everybody is speaking in quite expected and predictable lines. The Hindutva and cultural nationalism orchestra is not as enthusiastic as earlier nor the Swadeshi caravan. The secularism debate is groping in the dark and seems to have lost its way in the myriad bylanes of myth and culture.
All polemics concerning haves and have-nots, North and South, State and individual, human rights and technology issues appear to perish under the Juggernaut of Globalisation. Perorations by cheerleaders of both sides abound but bereft of any new insight. Continental commercial conglomerates are being tom-tommed as the panacea for the future. Everything is being weighed in terms of trade or tourist-traffic.
But that is not the model of a greater World Union what Sri Aurobindo and other great thinkers dreamt of. The ideal of human unity must base itself on the idea of culture and not simply commerce. Books like Savitri and The Life Divine can very well form the basis of an enduring inter-cultural dialogue. The evolution-intelligent design dichotomy and racial unrests from Paris to Australia, are perhaps the pointers of such a hunger.
Sri Aurobindo holds a unique position among the modern day thinkers of the world. He has lived through the tradition of the east as well as the west for quite a long time and has not only delved deep into the soul of both the cultures, but also written about them extensively in English with a universal sweep. The futuristic vision that has come out of his forty years’ spiritual retreat needs to be kneaded into all our socio-economic endeavours.
At a time when all our heroes and idols are gradually fading into oblivion, Sri Aurobindo must be invited to occupy the dominant consciousness of the nation. The poet-philosopher must be allowed to teach us so as to exorcise our ephemeral notions about national regeneration and Global citizenship. The contemporary confusion concerning the search for the wisest man ends here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Black and white

Is it not futile to find the square root of a sonnet?
Or to break a lyre to understand its liltings?
A vortex is not reducible to particles of water
A cloud knows not where it moves, how fast and why.

The whole is always more than the mere sum of its members
A hologram hoodwinks with dimensional shifts
The politician hides behind the cover of his image
If you have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

Asses, May God bless them, would rather have straw than gold
In arts as in religion, the best direction is backwards
Brands, a fascist state where we all salute the Logo
All that glitters is not gold, nor are diamond for ever.

Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach, alas!
Those who know, live, those who don’t, write about it
Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought
For, vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

Take out the H, and still a bit remains of habit
Life itself is a four-letter word, with if at its core
A nude turns vulgar, if appears to be conscious of it
Personal greed triggers an invisible hand of common good

An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less
We want more and more of less, is the motto of Downshifting
A dog biting a man is no news, but man biting a dog is
All light of the world is hidden behind the black letters of books.


Monday, December 05, 2005

The other worlds

Sri Aurobindo passed away 55 years back, on December 5, 1950. He is perceived as a great soul but his writings have yet to earn the reception they deserve. The vast body of his work and the difficult diction he employs, may be the reason to deter the common reader; but even the scholar is not enamoured enough of them. The most plausible factor that seems to be responsible is Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spirituality while discussing secular themes such as politics, poetry, the arts, or education.

The convenient demarcation between secular and the sacred suits the academic approach. But for Sri Aurobindo this is a faulty notion because the causal aspect is eclipsed. The linkage between the two is less of the manner of an umbilical chord and more in the nature of interpenetrating imbrications. If our sensory and scientific construct of the world fails to accommodate such a picture, it must be understood as a lack.

Astronomy as an ancient passion has helped us to know about the outer universe. Astrology, too, by talking of stars and planets attunes us to their subtle influences. The different abodes of gods as described by various mythologies, also, permit us certain familiarity of the other worlds. But we rarely take their effect on our lives any seriously. And the task of Sri Aurobindo is to hammer the modern mind so as to rid it from secular superstitions.

The inner and the other worlds are a consistent theme in his poem, Savitri. Composed through the years from Quantum mechanics to nuclear holocaust, this modern epic puts a stamp of authority on the unseen fecund worlds and their inhabitants who are inextricably linked to our motions and emotions. To recognize this reality seriously, is what Savitri demands from its readers.

The different parts of our being and consciousness, as delineated by Sri Aurobindo in his Integral Yoga system, are nothing but the other worlds. We can well imagine our plights as puppets when disparate worlds are very much in the play to pull the strings. Somewhat similar to the insight offered by Baudrillard that it is the object which uses and employs us and not the other way round that we ordinarily perceive. But then, how do we benefit by this concept in our practical life?

That there runs a perpetual consonance between the seen and the unseen, might seem, at times, hard to digest, but a poetic impression can be allowed to swim aloft. The process should further deepen in the realm of creative imagination leading to a faint intellectual recognition. Since the notion runs counter to our egoistic autonomy, it is bound to take a long time to percolate down to the distant and defiant impulses. And regular recitation of Savitri helps here; its mantric effect casting its reach down to our body cells.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Love and Knowledge

If you are such pure of heart and candid
To speak out the murky secret of your birth
Then be sure you are the son of a wise
And who can refuse your candidature.

So goes the parable when the sage of yore
Put his stamp of authority on a low-brow
Upturned a whole lot of norms and conventions
And heralded out-of-the-box truth perceptions.

Who the whore, who father and who’s progeny
Why the stigma, what enigma of love and sin?
The tussle of gene and gender astirs reason
And should learning be for a select only?

The wise anchored and vindicated uncensured
Even after his fall albeit pleasurable
And she has the birthright to rent her womb
Without any trace of shame to serve whoever

Teacher and disciple and master and maid
The wise and the whore and an unwed mother
Wives and families and the bliss of ignorance
Untruths, deceptions and mask of morality.

All are in ferment in this small episode
What to pardon and who to blame is not easy
From music to massage it has many masks
To hive off the safe-ways, must we legalize?

The son when grows up might follow his father
His hallowed education would goad him ever
Notwithstanding his occasional failings
Knowledge is a whip, good for all seasons.


At the end of umpteen performances
Once you realize one fine morning
That it is not an end in itself
And the real key is disinterestedness
You are born anew.

Thousand masks you have worn
Tossing a new demeanour every evening
Dishing out fresh imitations
But today is different and difficult
You must act yourself.

In the Sublime lies the real pretension
And true superiority in pure equality
Art is for ascension, an effort
You go through a thorough fitness regimen
That you can run naked.

Amidst crudities aplenty
And everyone angling for assortments
You can go on sampling endlessly
Trying to con the connoisseur in you
But one day one must wake to the call beyond.

There are no options in effect
Awareness signals the right track
One devours just by dispassionate observation
They also serve who simply wait and watch
There is but one way to stay.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Either or

The value of land is settled in the mind
Valaya shirts can cost 1500 to 15000
Share prices are a function of sentiments
What if the tribals live on mango kernels?

Paracetamol is new wine for Dispirin
History has two suitors, red and saffron
Barkha vs. burqa, war to publi-size
What’s wrong with tarot or parrots?

Race is biological caste cultural
Law overrides the people’s mandate
Satyagraha damned by the court supreme
What’s the objection against NDA inn?

School is seen as a form of prison
Democracy itself an irrational notion
Positivism no more a prized possession
What is madness, genius or a disease?

Starvation deaths despite of Amartya
Pimping is fair in public interest
People out to see a St. Marx’s order
What is our icon: Ambani or Dr Kurien?

What is politics if not populism
How to reconcile reforms with swadeshi
And teach patriotism to the fringe populace
Dilemma is as old as the Mahabharata.



That’s quite unsettling, especially
In these days of political accuracy
If somebody says something against
The supposed gender equality.

Although in the path of spirituality
Lauded are the traits feminine
But in the world of our own
Of weakness they are the sign.

Male is male, female female
The twain can never resemble
No wonder as symbols of morality
One is obligation and the other aspiration.

The female is earth-bound the male can fly
His trait is to migrate explore and go away
She is more acquisitive he distributive
Man is a nomad women a different breed.

From a room of one’s own to the second sex
There have been attempts to see with kindred eyes
And to compare and contrast only leading to
Varying degrees of exaggeration and over-emphasis.

But why juxtapose the opposites
And compare the chalk with cheese
Besides the biological dissimilarities
They are poles apart as social beings.



For a horse of a race marathon
To pretend to tend a kitchen garden
And feign running by jogging at a spot
It’s all a nice hide and seek game.

To run with the hare and hunt with the wolf
It’s rough and tough to live so dangerously
Yet to stay put is but the Hobson’s choice
For to know how to wait is a heroic trait.

While on the brass-tacks, at times it’s hard to take
That when all seems to be lost that all is saved
But what is this hue and cry, after all
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Platitudes galore, irritating and hard-nosed
It’s a dog-eat-dog world, un-humane
And the apparition of the future growing
Larger everyday and ever intimidating.

Of good and bad or art and beauty
Tomes abound by a plethora of authors
Then why is it that Truth Good and Beauty
Stay as distant as ever, the more we aspire.

Log on to love then rather than to logic
That is the cue since time immemorial
Give must not spur any give and take
The time-worn words are the life-giving props.



I am one with all others, though
And a mere ripple in the cosmic ocean
I am the one and only, the unique
All else is alien, none resembles me.

My thoughts and habits and temperament
Impulses emotions passion or action
Are peculiar to me and bear my stamp
None can betray them nor can I share.

My history and my destiny
Traverse a unique track
How many hurdles or how many ladders
The quota is uniquely mine.

The ideas and ideals of some other
Are absolutely specific to him or her
Howsoever I persevere to imitate
It would be surely a futile affair.

I can only tread my way, at my pace
And follow my bliss, as they say
Opportunities golden and visions sublime
Of what use they, if are not mine?

The private space of my consciousness
Must relish its own narcissism
And seek freedom and fulfillment
So as to say I am that I am.

[ Sat-110801]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Spies are eyes across the wall
Climb up a hill to a broader horizon
If only outlook mates with insight
Can a commander a leader become.

He and her men within the organic whole
Are a matrix and how does it perform
Is a question linked to its raison de etre
And hence handling people is so crucial.

Not to manipulate as if a mechanical being
But to see his intrinsic worth
Each person, a bundle of difficulty
Heralding the hope of what she can become.

Hurdles come and are meant to be overcome
In order to earn a sense of triumph
An innate urge of self-exceeding
Is the secret of success alone

Harmonizing the contraries is the key
And to unshackle resistance to change
To stoop to conquer by being a servant
And capable to pardon if to punish.

Games of adult or parent and child
By recognizing the other as nothing but you
To be a master of oneself, Swarat
In order to lord over the world, Samrat.

[Mon- 100901]

Friday, October 07, 2005


Man is the measure of all things
I think, therefore I am
The real is rational, the rational real
Man is something that is to be surpassed

To be is to be perceived
Existence precedes essence
The mind of a child is ‘tabula rasa’
The phenomenon manifests the essence

Know thyself, and you’ll know the universe
Flight of the alone to the alone
The incognito of the eternal
God is dead.

War is the father of all and king of all
The child is the father of the man
Man is born free, but he is in chains
Workers of the world unite!

Pleasure of the text, death of the author
Signifier precedes and determines the signified
Love is giving what one does not have
To somebody who doesn’t want it.

Conquer yourself rather than the world
Your action is limited, obviously, by your death
Man is free, but he is not master in his own house
There is no thought which embraces all our thoughts.


Myths and legends, fables and lullabies
Fodder for gossip, food for thought
Lilies and birds, wolves and lambs
Birds and bees, bulls and bears.

Fairies and angels, cabbages and kings
Batman Spiderman, birds of same feather
Whales and seagulls, cock and the crow
Mountain and squirrel, dog in the manger.

Tarzan and Phantom and the Trojan horse
Godzilla, Dinausers and Jurassic Park
Hound of heaven, tiger burning bright
A spider saves, another seduces a fly.

Sphinx and dragon, unicorn, centaur
Goat meets rat, fickle Mickey-mouse
God’s eye view, pre-thought life-world
While one bird eats, the Other looks on.

Jackal and black-cat, camel and lion
Two goats on a bridge for right of way
To bathe like a crow and contemplate crane-like
Vehicles, Avatars, Gurus and zodiacs.

The bat is a mammal, dolphin humanly
The parrot speaks, postal-pigeon, police-dogs
If a squirrel comes to collaborate with God
Why can’t man forget his animal past?


There are worlds after worlds, they say
Whether flying or perched it matters not
Imagination is an endless game
And so is creation as its outcome.

The magic-lights of the rain-soaked town
The lilting music from a broken pot
Are real, there in the worlds beyond
Like Rimina tip-toeing behind the mirror.

Colours splashed on a large canvas
May appear as cowherds or circus-tents
Or human forms quite weird and strange
But they exist by their own right.

Each tune is a town, each song a world
Each Raga a whole universe, delightful
Music beckons to wander in the wonder worlds
One sings and strays into worlds apart.

Truth and beauty and good and justice
Must be having their own home somewhere
So also pity and love and brotherhood
Radiating their virtues upon us.

Trees and flowers the sky and the moon
Should not bind us, we must see beyond
Fermions Bosons and the receding galaxies
Need not blind us, we should invade the unknown.


The countless words that the cosmos hears
Everyday and the numerous rehearsals
Are a text of proportions, mind-boggling
Reality is just another TV-channel.

Call it meaning or theory or truth
It’s all merely some interpretation
Oscillating between history and culture
And stirring conflicts and suspicion.

The dynamics of reciprocal reference
Is an elegant structural scheme
It is an arena of free-for-all
Bake your own text according to your sweet will.

Whatever is said or what remains unsaid
What is feigned, concocted or concealed
Are grist to the mill of games people play
Loose talk needed for inauthentic life.

And that is praxis and the lived-world
The word spoken walks in regal status
Whatever is scripted gets a bad name
Thus we return to the life of the nomads.

Granted that discourse is always uncertain
And communication tends to be tentative
Our existence is a construct of language
And life, a pretext to unravel a text.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005


When you throw tantrums
And I take umbrage
We forget it’s churlish
To crib and quibble about.

A tangled skein of lies
Or a slew of new demands
Is enough to bomb a day
The crater to fill takes long.

To punch your careful rationale
Just to break the humdrum
Is not taken kindly
The poor humbug wails.

A silly little thing
Is not worth ruing about
Why to fret and fume
It’s infinitely better to forget.

Meeting in the half-way house
Beneath the half-moon at midnight
Why ask for the plenary sun
Life’s always a half-cooked meal.

So let’s stop worrying and start living
Make friends and influence people
For if I’m OK, you’re OK
And shore up our EQ by positive thinking.



When you know that there are, to be sure
A hundred ways to look at a thing
Then you know that you do not know
And how difficult it is to take a stand.

It is surely impossible to know for certain
Just about anything or any petty affair
The truth is always at a discount
Invaded by falsehood and exaggeration.

How easy it looks to sail in a small boat
Well insured in its cozy comforts
But come the waves from a large vessel
You tend to panic and tumble and fall.

Little learning is a dangerous thing
That blinds and binds with rigidities
It’s knowledge and ideas that set you free
And leave you at the shore high and dry.

Whence you are unsure which way to go
Whether to say yes or no at any point
The thin demarcation between good and bad
Or true or false is obliterated.

When one thus enters a blind alley
And is driven to the wall of doubt
Then only it often dawns upon him
That only Grace can come to the rescue.



It’s a different game altogether
For the words-industry to prosper
Silence and solitude help
Huge output for the pen-pushers.

Armed with a calm without
And a tormented heart within
They write as if with their blood
Turned blue with anguish and disquiet.

Self-love turning a love for man
Suffused with utopian aspirations
Even when everything seems to be lost
They see light at the end of the tunnel.

A quiet resolve and certitude
To find a way amidst the darkness
With enough sagacity and fortitude
They essay on to write the right.

To write is again to fight
Against a host of hostile values
Tyranny of the contemporariety
Hedonism and the herd-mentality.

By cultivating the nation’s mind-space
They strive to make it more fertile
Be it commerce, economy or politics
All follow their edicts and their will.


Monday, September 26, 2005


I have the right to write
Good bad or worse
Poetry is foreign to me
I vote for the verse.

I am hardly bothered
Whether it makes sense or not
My task is fulfilled
If it subverts.

Vanity and righteousness
And all such idiot views
By shooting a couplet or two
If I enact a coup.

Words go abegging
For meaning and sense
If I sit them for a drink
Then three cheers for my verse.

Diverse forms of expression
Whatever is left to write
Many may come and many may go
But verse will go on forever.

For when I am alone
And I converse
With who else than myself
It’s but through verse.


Sunday, September 25, 2005


It used to trouble me that why can’t they
Say it, the essential, in a direct way
Why can’t we read and listen in clear terms
And learn of the things quite plain and simple?

If one employs an economy of words
And harnesses them in a logical order
To express what is barely necessary
Why shouldn’t a fine piece of writing come up?

But then I discovered the blemish myself
By tumbling upon the slippery synonyms
Which allure and entice to seduce us astray
Whenever you embark upon a straightforward journey.

Adjectival adornments athwart all the while
Idioms and phrases and proverbs lurk around
Clichés and catchwords and jargons galore
And you’re an Alice in the wonderland of words.

The work of thought too no play of innocence
It beckons and plays a thorough hide and seek
It exchanges words in the manner of coins
And is always unsure of what would come through.

The last nail is that what we call communication
Is impossible; there is only interpretation
The medium is the message, the reader is king
The icebergs of sub-texts offer no firm ground.


Friday, September 23, 2005


When Whitehead tells that the whole of philosophy
Is but a footnote to Plato, it's a great tribute
Nietzsche likewise says that it’s Dostoevsky
From whom he really learnt some psychology.

Aristotle is The Philosopher for Dante
Merleau-Ponty has been pedestalled by Blanchot
Bakhtin too is beholden to Dostoevsky
And Heidegger to Holderlin’s poetry.

Kierkegaard adorns a special place for Lukacs
Just as Leibniz enchanted Bertrand Russell
And Spinoza was the noblest of them all
Merleau-Ponty, a true disciple of Husserl.

Virginia Woolf spoke so highly of Proust
All his life Lacan unfolded Freud’s dream
From Althusser to Habermas, Marxists galore
Marx himself was a known Hegelian juggler.

Saussure was inspiration to Levi-Strauss
Nietzsche was a Schopenhauer admirer
Derrida is a sly pursuer of Heidegger
Ricoeur pushes on the project of Gadamer.

Bergson redefined Darwinian evolution
Lukacs reiterated Marx’s reification
Kojeve’s lectures on Hegel inspired many
And the Kantian Critiques have never ceased reigning.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Once upon a time to write was being exact
But since then much water has flown down the Rhine
To write at present is to be re-written
And seeing the world as ever transfiguring.

The framework of grammar and semantic system
What with dictionaries and poetry and fiction
The fortress of language seemed invincible
But meaning turned out to be the horse Trojan.

A word is a sign and a symbol and still more
A text has its sub-texts located in context
The artist and the work and Art are a circle
Borders of visible and the invisible.

Order and symmetry are a slippery track
Rhythm and rhyming are a feigning drapery
To unveil the fake and to walk straight to the truth
Is to unravel the meaning of the meaning.

The emotions may be same for the human race
But myriad are the languages to express
In addition the spice of interpretation
It is a tower of Babel, of confusion.

Where is the sound of the Word originary
Where to discover that state of pure absence
What is the clue to disinterested pleasure
And the way to unconcealment and disclosure.


Sunday, July 03, 2005


Desert spaces and the dull common days
Play hide and seek with our inspirations
Waiting patiently with the rod and line
For a big catch falling for red-herring.

Like sailing for months to see an island
Or combing the forest to spot a deer
Rummage around in the attic for toy
How the joy borders upon luck and chance.

Carrot and stick and chaos and fractals
Random lots and Fibonacci numbers
Lollipops and lullabies on the sly
Might lead to snowball a butterfly effect.

A thousand oysters wasted for a pearl
Once in a blue-moon comes the Midas touch
The old man and the sea is an old tale
Keep on tilling the field crave not for crop.

Oasis or rainbow is will-o-the –wisp
Kaleidoscope of false leads beckon
But the beacon of hope amidst the gloom
Is one’s intensity of emotion.

In emptiness of a jug has its use
So also the barrenness of a vale
Bartlebooth’s voyages are just not in vain
Recall Captain Ahab’s chase of the whale.

[Fri- 011004]


For want of a word in speech you stammer
And stumble while walking, without reason
When sailing smoothly pops up some hurdle
So goes the mystery of improbable.

Whether it is a play of hide and seek
Or just playing pranks upon the hapless
The stray events emerge from some secret
To teach a thing or two to unmindfuls.

For an unseen force calls the shots
But we are caught up in a transition
To a state of things devoid of discords
And therefore rise all these teething troubles.

Prick of imperfection is a lesson
To be aware that we are lacking in
Gripped by a sense of insecurity
We are forced to aspire incessantly.

Like a bottled up djinn, in other words
Restive to be uncorked and gain freedom
We too, wary of our mean finitude
Long liberty and lost autonomy.

An old story it is told recurrently
And yet the message is rarely brought home
The prophet proposes, alas! the death disposes
Perhaps the new dawn is still a long way.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Where’s the party?
The Congress is in power. But it shows no signs of life
Click here to read the article

Wanted, Overhaul

This shallow comment is quite unusual of Shri Mehta, whose insightful coloumns and reviewsare always intllectual treats. At a time when the Advani virus is likely to affect all political discourse and cause metamorphosis of all political parties, it is not fair to blame the Congress alone. Shri Mehta, in an earlier coloumn, has already pointed out that none of our parties are democratic in character. And strangely, there is no effort to plug this systemic lacuna. We are adoring a democracy in our country which is embedded in hypocrisy. A thorough reworking of our constitutional systems is the need of the hour. Let people like Shri Mehta take the lead in the matter.

Posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra, India, 30-06-2005 at 1953 hours IST

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I have come full circle
And I don’t see colour now
I look out through the window
It is a colourless world.

Cars pass by, labourers work
Sarees or shirts, either check or plain
Bricks or cement or iron rods
All there, but there is no colour.

The same bricks or the same shirts
When come in a picture or a painting
Acquire tantalizing hues
Stirring feelings sensational.

The tyranny of TVisuals
The chicanery of Sunday mags
The depravity of fashion scene
We are all colour-victims.


I was so fond of sweets
And now it’s the opposite
Why does the taste change
And how does it happen?

If taste-buds are the same
And dishes the same old
So, what was favourite
Why fails to appetise?

What we hear see or smell
Or touch does not change
Over a period of time
Why the taste keeps varying?

In view of its value
For upkeep of the body
Perhaps the food affair
Is little complicated.

The mind must foreplay
The eyes must agree
And the mouth consent
For full enjoyment.

Or taste remains the same
And we as persons change
Our likings and leanings
Get distilled with age?



The diversity observed in the human nature has always intrigued the thinkers. Writers of fictions and playwrights owe their popularity to this variety of human characters. Psychologists, from time to time, have attempted to categorise the human beings in a few manageable slots. These have certain veracity as well as utility, but their universal applicability becomes suspect.
In a realm as complex as the human psyche, any speculation is fraught with serious hazards. Nevertheless, prototypes, as foreseen in various mythologies, have been accepted as authoritative. In fact, nobody can quarrel with the creative imaginations of the mythologies, as they stand; especially, in an age when hermeneutics has acquired so much of respectability. But any absolutist or foundationalist posture may always be questioned.
So, allowing such contentious questions to simmer awhile, it would be advantageous to probe the issue of human types on the basis of current data coterminous with ancient cues. While the apparent divisions of humanity on racial, linguistic, nationalistic or such other yardsticks have to be borne in mind, on the one hand; the ultimate unity and universality of the humanity needs to be explained, on the other.
And this poses a formidable challenge. Genetic variations notwithstanding, equality has persisted to be a fascinating ideal from times immemorial. Besides, equality has been assumed as an underlying fact in consonance with the idea of common origin and common destiny of the human beings. However, it is worth the while to surmount the impasse obtained through such a scenario.
A look at the present day vocations might be of help. The modern urban society tempered by technology has thrown open complex and highly specialised professions the needs and nuances of which are widely dissimilar. Although, there is no reason to believe that people get to work in accordance with their aptitude, it is commonly observed that they develop a certain degree of competence as well as expertise in their respective professions. Because of the fact that their personal prestige and contentment also gets linked to their work, over a period of time; it is not unoften that a synchronicity of the behavioural with the professional is easily assumed.
Right man at the right place; being the most riddle-some affair for the management person, it is not surprising why he relies, more and more, upon ethnography and psychology. That each person is unique and his potentialities are different from others, is taken, almost, as an indisputable fact. In addition, the equations of age, gender, subaltern etc. remain perpetually tilted.
Coming down to a very practical level, the dilemma of a school-goer can be considered as to how he makes up his mind, much in advance, to join one of the three – Science, Arts and Commerce – streams. For, from there, in effect, starts a broad opting for a particular class of professions.
The rest is a sordid story of Herculean struggle for survival, hard-nosed bargaining and chicanery. What all that leads to and where it takes the individual, is a veritable snakes-and-ladders game of fate and free-will.Be that as it may, it hardly helps to be fatalistic. From actors to astronauts, the human situation is an elegant mosaic of multitudinous marbles. The kaleidoscopic symmetry is no less illusory than the chaotic complexities. Whether one, merely, mirrors the other or complements him is a conundrum. But the taxing task of ferreting out a reliable taxonomy remains ever necessary.
The overt and covert personality traits imbricated by practical compulsions to take recourse to hypocrisy, diplomacy and deception further complicate the scenario. Besides, humour, honour and image in consonance with the need for self-protection and positioning litter the landscape with more riddles. Age, education and emotions, too, take their toll as time passes by, thus obliterating historical stereotypes.
In the face of such drastic diversity, it is difficult to accept the Vedic notion of a universal aspiration encompassing the whole of humanity. That Light and Force, Delight and Harmony are the ultimate ideals for each human being and it is quite possible to attain them during the span of a lifetime, is something which is not easily accessible, intellectually.
Physiological, biological and psycho-somatic grip over human conduct results in a mechanicity in contrast to the freedom of intellectual flights. Differential powers of perception and convoluted tiers of cognition engender enough individual differences. Power structures obtaining in the society contribute to further fragmentation and alienation among persons. And the quest continues.......

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Abundance knows no order or symmetry
A précis or a summary is out of place
The summit is the only destination
Every thing spills over in all directions.

It won’t brook minimal miserliness
And betrays no semblance of being tidy
Caskets are busy running helter-skelter
Lavish prosperity is having a field day.

All symbols, icons and simulacra
Are run over by the juggernaut of plenty
All restraints whatever is thrown to the winds
But no chaos is it, simply anarchy.

Anomie or Onam, the carnival is on
El Nino brings the news of the El Dorado
Idioms of the past, get ready for Nano
Dance when it pours, in joyful abandonment.

All ugly and hideous now pass for art
Objects are multiplying, signs in short supply
Texts in demat, soon to claim the three worlds
Apologists of economy, Unclasp!

Once one qualifies for the oceanic vast
Worlds of plenitude swim in in plenty
Revel in the joy of beauty and beatitude
Why settle for the tiny, mean and puny.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Many a time I come across newspaper headlines which prove to be prophetic subsequently. I may recount a few of them. Hrithik Roshan should not be front page news, wrote Wilson John in The Pioneer edit page just to make the point that the terrorist killings in Kashmir deserve more attention of our mainstream newspapers than films or fashion. But to my surprise, anti-India riots broke out in Nepal over a reported repartee of Hrithik Roshan and he was adorning the front page for almost a week, just two or three months later.Similarly, Bhasker Ghosh wrote a feel-good piece on his visit to Kathmandu in The Hindustan Times edit page. And within a day or two the Royal carnage took place exerting a spine-chilling effect the world over.More recently, just two days before the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11, Dr G.S. Rajhans was dwelling upon the need to clip the wings of Taliban and its terrorist outfits, in Hindustan.Chandan Mitra recounted the shenanigans of Report Murdroch in destabilizing the media scene in UK in The Sunday Pioneer and in a matter of a few days the Tahelka pandemonium broke out.Yogendra Yadav wrote a stern piece on the food shortage and famine-like situation in many parts of the country in the edit page of Hindustan and laced it with a ‘Vikram Vetal’ quiz. And lo, when I open the Delhi Times, an ad splashes a picture of ‘Vetal’ escorting the king ‘Vikram’ to a Delhi restaurant.The same ad featured ‘Ravana’, the next day, his ten heads adorning the single neck. I was reminded of a letter to the editor of The Statesman complaining a few days earlier that the Ramayana depicts him as ‘Dasagriva’ as well, that is, as possessing ten necks and how it is difficult to imagine their position atop a set of twin shoulders.

Sri Aurobindo's extensive mapping of consciousness and his life-long endeavour to fathom the overhead regions through poetry and yoga are seminal contributions. His emphasis on attainability of highest possible perfection through sheer human efforts and by mere aspiration is a great message of hope.Further, the adventure of consciousness is not aimed at isolated spiritual salvation. Rather, a harmonious collective living is the ultimate destination. By translating this ideal to practical terms, Sri Aurobindo draws an elaborate blueprint concerning the ideal of human unity leading to the establishment of a World-Union.

Sri Aurobindo comes at a very crucial moment in the history of thought when Marxist materialism, Nietzschean nihilism and Freudian vitalism were popular and fashionable. Besides, phenomenology and existentialism had their run along-side him. On the whole, alongwith the new-fangled science and Theosophy,these new philosophical formulations fermented enough confusion among the elite.In a way, the disparate positions arrived at in western thought find their synthesis in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. By aligning them with the ancient Indian wisdom, he comes up with an integral vision that breathes universality as well as contemporarity.

Thus, Kant's sublime, Hegel's absolute, Schopenhauer's will, Kierkegaard's passion, Marx's matter, Darwin's evolution, Nietzsche's overman, Bergson's elan vital, all find their due representation in Sri Aurobindo's grand exposition. His thought successfully overarchs cultural as well as religious chasms. S.K.Maitra and Haridas Choudhuri are first among the academicians to discern the import of Sri Aurobindo's integral philosophy. D.P.Chattopadhyay wrote a seminal treatise juxtaposing Sri Aurobindo and Marx to examine their utopian prophecies.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Comment on this article
In praise of Thomas Macaulay
Indian Express

Sri Aurobindo

The fact that you have mentioned the epoch-making work of Sri Aurobindo on Vedic mysticism is of immense import, while debates on Macaulay or Jinnah are simply time-pass. It is the most original contribution of Sri Aurobindo to the modern knowledge systems and hence the primacy of Vedic discourse should incur our curiosity.

Posted by: Tusar N. Mohapatra, India, 12-06-2005 at 1733 hours IST

He will come tomorrow, the Alien
Who has the key to all our ills, the clue
To all our jigsaw puzzles and problems
In one stroke he will solve all our mysteries.

Why are we born in different skins
Why do we speak in different tongues
Why we sing and dance in divergent ways
Or what makes us write in many fashions.

He has the formula for words and things
He has the link for art and aesthesis
He will tell us the master-recipe
And bring with him the sure remedy.

Why do we worship disparate icons
Why do we believe in philosophies
What makes us fall for rival theories
Or why do we love to kill each other.

All computing are on his finger-tips
All the worlds show up upon his thumb-nails
No gadgets he needs for tele-talking
His palm is the archive for all texts.

Pathetic calculations of our maths
Thanks to him will be laid to rest for good
The tortuous aparatus of labs
Will mercifully be things of the past.