By Prof Surinder Bhatnagar
Ajmer based scholar & Hindi Poet
I love India and my heart bleeds when it is injured. Bharat celebrated Dipawali, its age old festival of lights – the day of Ram’s return. Restless like any human, Ram said to his brother, ‘O, Lakshamana- this land of Lanka, full of gold, does not entice me, for my mother and motherland are of greater measure to me, even greater than heavens’.
India still awaits the return of Ram, rather many Rams -the Ram of Shabri, the Ram of Nishad and the Ram of Ahilya. Incidentally, Ram’s all folk were poor and forsaken, who constitute most of the today’s Bharata. Dipawali was the day when Ram’s return was celebrated by the citizens of Ayodhya and today by all of us.
But we have forsaken Ram. For us, the day has become only to celebrate virtual Lakshmi -the black one; the day to celebrate Nara–Lakshmi rather than the Lakshmi of Narayana. Noted scholar Gulab Kothari has voiced almost the same sentiment with greater philosophical depth wishing India to live upto its founding ideals.
Man dies when the soul is dropped from the body and so the nation. A body may be working without spirit. But it would only be a machine working without feeling and emotion. But I am pained that this day of lights, has also taken a communal colour in the history of post-independent India. Like land, the day is also partitioned and it is celebrated only in the Hindu homes, to the exclusion of other religious communities.
There is a fashion to call India a Ganga – Jamuni culture, without thinking for the moment, that the Ganga meets Jamuna in the common waters. The separation of the two is rather impossible. Religion is one’s individual faith, but culture is a common creative pool of a living society where people meet and rejoice commonly.
I am seen by my friends as an India critic. Yes, for I don’t celebrate hate, one which is against all things which divides people on any pretext. Love is my God and anything which is not for love and nature, I hate. For this reason, I also hated the deformation of Indian geography, history, soul and conduct. I hated the geographical partition of common culture, which India created since its being. I also hated to become equal witness of the changing landscape and environment of India. Man changes through culture, for many good reasons. But you can’t change the climate of earth and its environment, which is a permanent endowment.
I hate India, getting wooden-grey, day by day, losing its live sap-green character. The erosion of ecology, education and ethics- rather the total collapse of all ethical conduct irritates me.
Why can’t, those who talk of oneness of God, also believe in oneness of humanity and a single earth paradigm, and allow each one his own chosen faith.
The real Dharmantaran is a change for better personal and social conduct. A better Hindu, a better Christian and a better Muslim, all humble and respectful towards each other’s faith. Will it not be better in the eyes of God? All books of God for all. Will it not serve the purpose of God and make man free for a better world? Why this impenetrability and impermeability in matters of religious discourse of God? Why can’t we open the doors of our temples, churches and mosques for all and make religious isolationism irrelevant?
This is not to forget the fact of India’s inner strengths that has survived for several millennia facing still worse times. In his book, ‘The difficulty of being good’ Gurucharan Das (2010) speaks of the moral failures. Talking about IT giant, Satyam, he asks, ‘how should a person (Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju) of such a palpable achievement who lacked nothing in life, turn to crime.
The other day a friend of mine was saying, ‘let India stop talking of morals for some time as millions of beggars in our streets are a shame and a testimony to our insensitivity. Why our senses do not respond to the more visible things around? Sex and nudity are accepted for the market reasons. Will India also accept corruption for a similar reason? I hate this India, one which has become the land of scandals and corruption. And as I hate India, virtually I hate myself to be a silent and moot spectator of the unfolding ugly show’
Happy Diwali alright, but for whom? My mother taught me to lit lamps everywhere, on the Diwali day. Even in dust-yards and places, which were long left and forgotten. Alas! We are unable to read our history and draw lessons from our tradition.
Light begets light. Love begets love, both are infinite and boundless.
‘Love is the reflection of God’s unity in the world of duality’, wrote Meher Baba. Happiness is an emotion that can’t be hidden or kept for few, to the exclusion of others. We have to share everything with everybody with gratitude to God. This was the spirit of our society, right from the Vedic times.
On this Diwali, the President of America, Barak Obama was with us. To most Indians, America has a different meaning. It is the land where Swami Vivekananda made his famous Chicago speech. Also the land, where Avatar Meher Baba chose to spill his blood for spiritual reasons. The other place where his blood spilled was India. In America, the place was Oklahoma, in India it was Satara. A spiritual blood relationship of some higher kind!
When in India, President Obama touched our every emotion, showed special respect to Gandhi and Ambedkar, referred to Vivekananda’s visit to his home town, Chicago, spoke a few words in Hindi at the beginning of his speech, made a firm commitment of lasting friendship with India and ended his speech with Jai Hind.
Soon after the US President left the Indian shores, the greater darkness of Indian realities prevailed upon our land. The face of ugly India became bare. Corruption and scams burst with big force, mocking at our democracy.
Should India think that moral heights are not to be scaled while running for development and excellence? For decades we were singing Meri lal topi Rusi. Now the Lal topi is gone. In its place has come Paisa topi. Market ethics has totally changed our life style. Diwali of ideas has become Diwala – bankruptcy- of vision.
Talking truths and taking truths are not same; it takes steady run for the achievement. Those who run for running exhaust themselves early and finally get fallen. Where we stand and where we go? We truly know not.
1ndia has two gods of riches, Kuber and Lakshmi- former stands for the saving, and steady state economics, the latter for credit cards, consumerism and market mobilization. I hate this India, one which has become the land of scandals and corruptions. And as I hate India, I hate myself to be a silent and moot spectator of this ugly show.
I am for India- the land of my fathers. The very name makes me nostalgic. I am reminded of a glorious civilization. – Syndicate Features