CLRI
CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA
– journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers
CLRI Print Editio...
February 2014
contents
POETRY................................................................................................
February 2014
Nataša Miladinović Reviews Susheel Kumar Sharma’s The Door is Half Open..................................31
...
February 2014
1
editorial
Digital medium is not simply a medium, it is a space to our life. All
its shortcomings stand tin...
February 2014
2
At one time poetry was a large part of mainstream readership.
The public seemed to lose interest with the ...
February 2014
3
1. A.J. HUFFMAN
The Rain Acted
like a spotlight, focused in
on the abysmal litter of her life.
Her cosmic ...
February 2014
4
Raindrops on Roses
amplify the intensity of colored petals.
White echoes inside itself, mournfully wallowi...
February 2014
5
Doing Laundry at Midnight
Because my mind will not stop
running itself in circles, I take
up basket and bl...
February 2014
6
2. MANDAL BIJOY BEG
The Mouse, the Frog and the Kite
Aesop's fable retold
Once two rivals - a mouse and a ...
February 2014
7
Mandal Bijoy Beg (MBB) is a poet, writer, author, editor, publisher and
patron of literature and human end...
February 2014
8
3. MERLIN FLOWER
Not in Vogue
decapitated in conditioning the
noises arrive, conclusive
the warnings seem ...
February 2014
9
Don’t Look for a Romantic Story
I tore the page of him from the life, now what?
The images flicker......lo...
February 2014
10
4. SHARVANI H S
The Shatter of Innocence
To my dear Papa, from your Munni,
Yesterday I was lost.
He said ...
February 2014
11
5. TATJANA DEBELJACKI
Too Late for the South
It seems that we're late.
There was no need to hurry.
The br...
February 2014
12
The Invention of Shadows
If love is just deception then it is really perfect.
I am not able to describe t...
February 2014
13
Arts
February 2014
14
6. DWARAKANATHAN RAVI
Title: “The earth laughs in flowers.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dwarakanathan has a dee...
February 2014
15
It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their
own head. Always. All the time. That story...
February 2014
16
7. KERSIE KHAMBATTA
Ferrari Spider
“Hey...mum...I’ve got a Ferrari Spider.”
Nathan bounded up the stairs....
February 2014
17
He would borrow for a start, and make the money grow.
He went to the nearest Westpac branch, and demanded...
February 2014
18
“Hey mate! I want to buy a Ferrari. Can you lend me the money?”
“How much?”
“Two hundred thousand dollars...
February 2014
19
He was thrilled.
“Can I drive? Please, mate! Just for a short while. On the open road.”
They went through...
February 2014
20
Weeks later, they took him to the police station, showed him a familiar face through a one-way
glass, and...
February 2014
21
8. RONNY NOOR
The Couple in the Tonga
Ronny in his story The Couple in the Tonga tries to recreate what i...
February 2014
22
Suddenly I heard the deafening roar of jets above. I looked out the kitchen window at the two
Sabres tear...
February 2014
23
9. TAYEB BOUAZID
Fate
Souvenirs remained souvenirs-this is a semi-fictional portrayal of a poor family of...
February 2014
24
Gold Ore as sensed through the dust where a rippling creek crossed. The ore seemed dormant
for long years...
February 2014
25
Days went by and Camelia gave birth to a young girl that her mother decided to name her
Rachel-a gift to ...
February 2014
26
Interview
February 2014
27
10. KHURSHID ALAM INTERVIEWS MD FEROZ QURESHI AN
EMERGING FILM DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER PAR
EXCELLENCE
CLRI:...
February 2014
28
3 PORTRAITS OF MOTHER INDIA 30
min SHORT
We are back in the century when the British
were ruining India. ...
February 2014
29
CLRI: Which film makers do you think you are influenced?
Ans: Jean-Luc Godard , Anuraag Kashyup, Steven S...
February 2014
30
I criticize by creation - not by finding fault.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
Book
Criticism
February 2014
31
11. NATAŠA MILADINOVIĆ
Nataša Miladinović Reviews Susheel Kumar Sharma’s The
Door is Half Open
Poetry Flo...
February 2014
32
every member of society turned to in the times of both prosperity and hardship.
Thus, the rituals of symp...
February 2014
33
spot located directly beneath the main altar of the basilica a small shrine was discovered.
Although ther...
February 2014
34
era, it was common practice to bury the family and household members underneath it.
Therefore it was not ...
February 2014
35
the sun passes morning and night. The “strait gate” is the central point of communication
between the low...
February 2014
36
show how to begin, progress along, and complete the spiritual path. First we need to gain
the realization...
February 2014
37
liberation, though a few return to earth again. The world of Mahah is located between
Brahmaloka and Bhuh...
February 2014
38
important in the Tantric practice of Phowa, or consciousness transference. At the time of
death, a yogi c...
February 2014
39
Mann-ay_Nanak_bhaveh_na_bhikh.
Aisaa_naam_niranjan_hoe.
Je_ko_Mann-ay_jaanai_man_koe.”
And the word-by-wo...
February 2014
40
The daughter of Sage Jahnu
The co-wife to Parvati and Lakshmi
The redeemer of Bhagiratha’s race
The atone...
February 2014
41
depicted in Indian iconography with a crescent Moon on his head, wherefrom a shoot of
water springs forth...
February 2014
42
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will.”
The grey-ha...
February 2014
43
afford firewood for cremation, a half-burned corpse is thrown into the water. A verse from
the Mahabharat...
February 2014
44
“From Kolkata to Gangotri
Just one scene —
Poverty, squalor, dirt, sloth and melancholy.
Everyone is weep...
February 2014
45
If the world can survive
Through penury
If the world can survive
Through discrimination
If the world can ...
February 2014
46
examined as political communities. In urban governments, all other forms of rule –
monarchy, tyranny, ari...
February 2014
47
sufficiency in food grains as a result of the green revolution. People vote for change
whenever a governm...
February 2014
48
…When the mothers in the homes
Are happy to abort female foetuses
In a clinic on the highway,
When the fa...
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  1. 1. CLRI CONTEMPORARY LITERARY REVIEW INDIA – journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers CLRI Print Edition ISSN 2250-3366 Rs.50.00 / $2.0 February 2014
  2. 2. February 2014 contents POETRY...................................................................................................................2 1. A.J. HUFFMAN ....................................................................................................................................3 The Rain Acted.......................................................................................................................................3 Raindrops on Roses ...............................................................................................................................4 Doing Laundry at Midnight......................................................................................................................5 2. MANDAL BIJOY BEG ..........................................................................................................................6 The Mouse, the Frog and the Kite..........................................................................................................6 3. MERLIN FLOWER ...............................................................................................................................8 Not in Vogue...........................................................................................................................................8 Don’t Look for a Romantic Story.............................................................................................................9 4. SHARVANI H S..................................................................................................................................10 The Shatter of Innocence .....................................................................................................................10 5. TATJANA DEBELJACKI ....................................................................................................................11 Too Late for the South..........................................................................................................................11 Kissing ..................................................................................................................................................11 The Invention of Shadows ....................................................................................................................12 ARTS.......................................................................................................................13 6. DWARAKANATHAN RAVI.................................................................................................................14 STORY....................................................................................................................15 7. KERSIE KHAMBATTA.......................................................................................................................16 Ferrari Spider........................................................................................................................................16 8. RONNY NOOR ..................................................................................................................................21 The Couple in the Tonga ......................................................................................................................21 9. TAYEB BOUAZID ..............................................................................................................................23 Fate.......................................................................................................................................................23 INTERVIEW..........................................................................................................26 10. KHURSHID ALAM INTERVIEWS MD FEROZ QURESHI AN EMERGING FILM DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER PAR EXCELLENCE .....................................................................................................27 BOOK CRITICISM...............................................................................................30 11. NATAŠA MILADINOVIĆ ....................................................................................................................31
  3. 3. February 2014 Nataša Miladinović Reviews Susheel Kumar Sharma’s The Door is Half Open..................................31 CRITICISM............................................................................................................58 12. A. TEMJENWALA AO AND N. D. R. CHANDRA ..............................................................................59 Valmiki’s Joothan and Nasrin’s Lajja as Literature of Protest ..............................................................59 13. H. N. PRASAD ...................................................................................................................................74 Rethinking William Shakespeare..........................................................................................................74 14. DR. NAZNEEN KHAN........................................................................................................................80 Women Resisting Patriarchy and Colonial Oppression: A Study of Mahashweta Devi's "The Hunt”..80 15. DR. SUKANYA SAHA........................................................................................................................86 The Stream of Consciousness in James Joyce’s Novels: A Study in Sentence Lengths....................86 16. SUKRITI GHOSAL.............................................................................................................................97 In Quest of Quietus...............................................................................................................................97 BOOK REVIEWS................................................................................................106 17. ROB HARLE ....................................................................................................................................107 Rob Harle Reviews Vinita Agrawal’s Words Not Spoken...................................................................107 BOOK RELEASES..............................................................................................110 18. BOOK RELEASES...........................................................................................................................111
  4. 4. February 2014 1 editorial Digital medium is not simply a medium, it is a space to our life. All its shortcomings stand tiny before its advantages. It is the best alternative to saving paper, thus to saving plants and forests. It is the fastest means of communication, you can fly your documents and files across the globe in no time and at no costs. You can share your heart and mind to the world without coming under any hammer. – Khurshid Alam, Editor-in-Chief, Contemporary Literary Review India Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers. CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI
  5. 5. February 2014 2 At one time poetry was a large part of mainstream readership. The public seemed to lose interest with the advent of gaming and the Internet, and now the Internet can be the avenue of restoration of this important genre of entertainment and enlightenment. – Jack Huber, Poet & Author, http://www.jackhuber.com Poetry
  6. 6. February 2014 3 1. A.J. HUFFMAN The Rain Acted like a spotlight, focused in on the abysmal litter of her life. Her cosmic footprint: an old teapot, mismatched coffee mugs, a hammer, no nails, but a crowbar. She wondered if she was using any of them properly. She didn’t sleep, couldn’t hang a single memory on barren walls. Haunting failures, echoing along with the tap tap tap of drops against the sill. She curled herself into a ball in the corner of an unsheeted bed. Closed her eyes and prayed for lightning to strike.
  7. 7. February 2014 4 Raindrops on Roses amplify the intensity of colored petals. White echoes inside itself, mournfully wallowing in the hollow depths of innocence. Red erupts in excruciating simulations of fire’s fierceness. Yellow vibrates the tangible code of mediocrity, clings to the medial line of tempered rebuke, the sting of unrequited terminology, the bastard label of friend.
  8. 8. February 2014 5 Doing Laundry at Midnight Because my mind will not stop running itself in circles, I take up basket and bleach, begin to sort: whites, darks, colors. The numbing of such chores is soothing. Slowly, I begin to decompress. By the time the spin cycle stutters to a stop, my head has grown temporarily hollow, granting my eyes permission to finally close. A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com. Creative Content Media Creative Content Media (CCM) provides content development services on wide area and purposes. Get your content developed by CCM. To know more, please visit: http://creativecontentmedia.blogspot.in
  9. 9. February 2014 6 2. MANDAL BIJOY BEG The Mouse, the Frog and the Kite Aesop's fable retold Once two rivals - a mouse and a frog Engaged themselves in an argument, so hot, On who was the master of the fen And many a fiery fights they fought. Hiding beneath the grass the crafty mouse, Upon his enemy sudden attacks he'd make Oft puzzling the frog at a disadvantage Who once forc'd his foe a challenge to take. Gladly accepted the summon the mouse, And the two champions on the appointed day With a point of a bulrush each armed Entered the field with faces beaming and gay. A kite chanced to be hovering overhead, Saw the silly creatures in a fight engaged Swooped down in a wink, seized 'em both With talons and to her young were carri'd.
  10. 10. February 2014 7 Mandal Bijoy Beg (MBB) is a poet, writer, author, editor, publisher and patron of literature and human endeavour in life. Author of two books of poems That Man (1997) and Evergreen Mirthfest (1998). He is a founder of The Home of Letters, India. Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers. CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI
  11. 11. February 2014 8 3. MERLIN FLOWER Not in Vogue decapitated in conditioning the noises arrive, conclusive the warnings seem tiny a series of finagling chances like a dragon divided among ants same scruffiness fashionable endurance bored indulgence idle lookabout, captain a finisher is fast and rich.
  12. 12. February 2014 9 Don’t Look for a Romantic Story I tore the page of him from the life, now what? The images flicker......lovingly The sound echoes.....fleetingly The smile flows........freely All with him in They torture me like crows masquerading as doves and smiling at Hmmm Mmmm Shhh You know, this scene will continue till I die Tuned on, tuned off The subject, though, may change-should. Merlin Flower is an independent writer and artist. Creative Content Media Creative Content Media (CCM) provides content development services on wide area and purposes. Get your content developed by CCM. To know more, please visit: http://creativecontentmedia.blogspot.in
  13. 13. February 2014 10 4. SHARVANI H S The Shatter of Innocence To my dear Papa, from your Munni, Yesterday I was lost. He said we weren't, but I know Far from home was his home so empty and peaceful, so nice He was so nice: Just like you Papa He laughed like you and walked like you. But then... He hugged me and wouldn't let go! He hurt me, Papa. I felt bad, but he seemed happy Was he happy that he hurt me? He carried me home in his arms Just like you, Papa. But why did he hurt me? I asked Mama but she only cried Do you know why he hurt me? Sharvani H S is studying an engineering course. One of my short stories was published in The Reading Hour while some poems have appeared with many online literary journals such as Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc.
  14. 14. February 2014 11 5. TATJANA DEBELJACKI Too Late for the South It seems that we're late. There was no need to hurry. The branch was thin and it shook all down to the trunk. The cars rushed down under. The snow covered everything. All of a sudden, a turtle-dove moved as if about to fly, and then it fell down under the wheels of a limo. The frozen male swayed on the branch Kissing Die of beauty You devil’s Emperor, From merciful sin Kiss these May cherries Green apples Pollen lips. You start kissing. Kiss white merry buttocks hips, navel, tip of the nose palms that clasp You start kissing. Kiss closed eyes Bitter tear Child of dawn, women of night, You start kissing. Kiss the moon of soul Kiss, emperor Kiss at the fifth side of the world.
  15. 15. February 2014 12 The Invention of Shadows If love is just deception then it is really perfect. I am not able to describe that to someone who Has never tasted something like that. LOVE is the animal appetite. Now I have a different view on that. His cigarette was burning, ashes falling on the floor, his hands were trembling when he poured the tea. His eyes glimmered like the eyes of the stuffed bird. I laid my hand on his shoulder. He twitched. I can't make recollection of one single moment which lasted through eternity. You loved me once? You have good memory You do not want that I stop loving you. It is winter, the snow is constantly falling. All the words were in vain, I looked as if I desperately needed a hug. I was scared. The pain became trivial. Your counterpart now owns your soul. Who am I now? Both of things you are now. Tatjana Debeljacki writes poetry, short stories, stories and haiku. She is a Member of Association of Writers of Serbia, UKS since 2004. She is Haiku Society of Serbia- Deputy editor of Diogen. She also is the editor of the magazine Poeta. She has four books of poetry published.
  16. 16. February 2014 13 Arts
  17. 17. February 2014 14 6. DWARAKANATHAN RAVI Title: “The earth laughs in flowers.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson Dwarakanathan has a deep passion towards capturing moments and cherishing the details in it. In this picture a flower vendor along the roadside has a basket full of flowers, but none for herself. She takes one flower and pushes it inside her grey strings of hair. But her smile was more beautiful than her flower: she was content with the way her day went.
  18. 18. February 2014 15 It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story. ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind Story
  19. 19. February 2014 16 7. KERSIE KHAMBATTA Ferrari Spider “Hey...mum...I’ve got a Ferrari Spider.” Nathan bounded up the stairs. “What’s a Ferrari Spider? I don’t want no creepy-crawlies in my house!” “Mum... Oh.....mum........you don’t know what a Ferrari is?........” “No! What is it?”. “It’s a super-car, mum! It’s great! Come and see it! I’ll take you for a ride! Come on, mum.....come on...” “I’m doing the cooking. I can’t come now!” “Just turn the stove off,....... you can do it later.” “All right! Okay! I’ll come. Give me a minute!” Anna closed the stove, and stepped out, wiping her hands on her apron. She was shocked when she saw the shining, blood-red car with an open top. “This is an expensive-looking car! Where did you get it from, eh?” “ My dream come true! I’m so excited!” “I asked you where you got it from, didn’t I?” .“No, mum, no! I haven’t stolen it......if that’s what you’re thinking.” “Cause if you have, I will skin you,....I will....” “My friend gave it to me”. “Your friend gave it to you, eh? You sure you are not lying to me, eh?” “No mum no. I wouldn’t ever do that. I swear!” Nathan had to lie! His father had died (from cancer) ten years ago. His mother had struggled through the years. They rented in a high-density area in Sydney. He was the only child. His friends were rich. He dreamed of a Ferrari Spider. What was the quickest way to make big money?
  20. 20. February 2014 17 He would borrow for a start, and make the money grow. He went to the nearest Westpac branch, and demanded to see the manager. The receptionist at the counter was not impressed. She asked him what he wanted. He said:- “Money. I’ve come to borrow some money”. She gave him an ugly look, and waved him to the sofa. He crossed his legs confidently. After a while, a smartly-dressed woman, with heavy make-up, and grey hair, old enough to be his mother, came up to him, introduced herself politely, and invited him into her cabin. He felt a wee bit nervous. A vague feeling that this wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought it would. “Now, what can we do for you, sir?” “I want to borrow two hundred thousand dollars”. She winced for the fraction of a second, but kept a straight face. She was superbly trained. “Sure. But we lend on security, you know”. “What’s security?” She raised her eyebrows. This fellow was too young. “People have houses, cars, they pledge as security for a loan. Do you own a house?” “Nope, I live with my mum”. “Well then, let’s see. Do you have an income?” “Na”. She was hungry,......and this stupid boy was keeping her from her lunch. “Not working?” “Nah! I just finished school”. “Well then, you can get a student loan from government for University.” “Nope. No way! I don’t want to go to University. I want a Ferrari”. “A Ferrari? Those cost a lot, you know! We don’t lend money to buy Ferraris.” “I’ll try elsewhere then”. He got up abruptly, hot under the collar. He quickly walked out. He could feel her glaring at his back. He went home dejected. He sat with his head in his hands, feeling very sorry for himself. He wanted that Ferrari. He decided to ask one of his very rich friends for the money. He had tons of it. That fellow lived in a mansion, with a swimming pool.
  21. 21. February 2014 18 “Hey mate! I want to buy a Ferrari. Can you lend me the money?” “How much?” “Two hundred thousand dollars”. “Fine! That’s no problem. How are you going to repay it? And when?” “Well, say, in about a year’s time. I will earn the money”. “You going to earn two hundred thousand dollars in a year? How?” “I don’t know how! But I will do it”. “Well then.....let’s see. Let me think........will you work for me, eh? Do what I say?” “Yeah. Yeah. I’ll do anything. Just tell me what”. “Okay. I’ll ring you in a day or two.” The call did come. “Sunday morning. Be at the international airport at 9am,... stand just outside the Air France counter. Take a suitcase with a few clothes. Someone will come to you. Just do what he says. And,..... go now, and get me a few passport-sized photos. You will be given a passport.” “But am I going overseas? I’ve got to tell my mum”. “Tell her what you want! Just be there. You will be back in a couple of days. Your trip will be paid for!” What was he going to tell his mother? Where was he going? When was he coming back? Why was he going? He lied that he was going on a short trip overseas with his friends. She was not too concerned. She had her own problems. But he did not go with anyone. He went alone. He was given a return ticket to New Caledonia, a packet to carry, warned not to open it, and ordered to hand it over to a person who would collect it from him at the destination. It was the first time in his life that he went out of Australia. He quite enjoyed it. He spent the next many months going, all expenses paid, to different places he had never even heard about. Not to large countries or big cities. Always to small airports, with little or no security. “Have you driven a Ferrari before?” “I’ve driven a Holden, mate.” “Idiot! Don’t you know the difference between a Ferrari and a Holden? A race-horse and a cart- horse? We will go for a long drive. Get in”. On the deserted, desert road, the sleek vehicle hit speeds of over two hundred kilometres an hour.
  22. 22. February 2014 19 He was thrilled. “Can I drive? Please, mate! Just for a short while. On the open road.” They went through small towns, slowing down a bit, but not enough to go un-noticed by the radar-equipped, black cars, parked in side streets. The message travelled ahead of them. The number and the description of the vehicle were relayed to the national computer. Fortunately the block where he and his mother lived had a lock-up garage, and he kept the Ferrari in it for the night. He could not sleep. He was so excited. He kept admiring it, saying to himself:- “My dream come true! My dream come true!”. He could not wait for sun-rise. He took it out while it was still fairly dark, wanting a fast drive on empty roads. He did not even notice the flashing lights in the rear-view mirror, so lost was he in his own thoughts. “Ah ha, son, nice car! Pretty expensive, eh?” “Yes, sir”. “Got a driving licence?” “Yes, sir!” “Give me the keys. Just sit quietly while I check the registration”. He was scared. Why had he been pulled up? He had been within the speed limit. “This car has been registered to some else. Not in your name. Mind telling me who the owner is?” He hesitated. He was not sure whether he would be doing the right thing by telling the officer who the car belonged to. But then he decided that the officer must already know that, so he did tell him. “You just drive quietly ahead of me to the address of the owner. I want to find out whether he gave you permission to take the car.” “Yes sir”. They parked in the driveway, and the uniformed officer knocked softly on the door. It was opened slightly, and then banged shut abruptly. The officer called for back-up. But a loud screech of tyres from the back of the house proclaimed very clearly that the occupant or occupants did not want to talk to the police. He was taken to the police station, and interviewed by plain-clothes detectives. They knew all about his overseas trips. They had the hard evidence of his involvement. They had not taken him in, as they wanted the big fish. They produced him before the court, and he was given bail.
  23. 23. February 2014 20 Weeks later, they took him to the police station, showed him a familiar face through a one-way glass, and asked him to identify him. He had no choice but to do so. They knew anyway. The stern, lady judge looked down at him through half-glasses, cleared her throat, and said:- “Young man, you have broken the law. That is a crime. You have to be punished. The evidence produced before me shows that there are others who are clearly the main culprits. They will get a more severe punishment if they plead guilty or are found guilty. I would have sentenced you to a term of imprisonment, but for your youth and your lack of previous convictions. I have come to the conclusion, on hearing both prosecution and defence, that in your case, a sentence of home detention is the least restrictive outcome, considering the deterrence aspect, and the mitigating factors. I hereby sentence you to a term of nine months home detention, at your mother’s house, which has been found suitable by probation for electronic monitoring. There will be the usual post-detention conditions. Lastly, let me tell you this.a fool and his Ferrari are soon parted! You may stand down!” Kersie Khambatta, a semi-retired lawyer in New Zealand, is a part-time writer of articles and short-stories. His writing is recognizable by his simple style, with short sentences and appropriate words. He has a diploma of Associateship of the British Tutorial Institute, London, in English, Modern Journalism, and Journalism in India, and a Certificate in Comprehensive writing awarded by the Writing School (Australia and New Zealand). His pieces have appeared in publications in Canada, New Zealand, U.S.A., India, and other countries. Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers. CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI
  24. 24. February 2014 21 8. RONNY NOOR The Couple in the Tonga Ronny in his story The Couple in the Tonga tries to recreate what is known as the most spectacular dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets in the skies over Lahore during the 1965 war. He lived there for a couple of years as a child. The Couple in the Tonga I was famished. I hadn’t tasted a morsel of food for a day and a half, surviving solely on water. The money order my parents had sent from Dhaka hadn’t yet arrived. “The postal service is irregular,” the fleshy clerk said apologetically whenever I went to the post office to inquire, “due to the war with India.” But I had run out of funds and didn’t know anybody so closely in Lahore to ask for a loan, having arrived in the city about four months ago, a young college student for whom there wasn’t even a job available to buy a square meal. Sitting at the reading table in my one-bedroom apartment, I cursed myself for deciding to fly over a thousand miles across India for an adventurous college life in the festive milieu of the renowned city of gardens. But it was the nineteen-sixties and the whole world was transforming with young people everywhere, not just in Pakistan, looking for new adventures in whatever way possible. Hippies, maharishis, pot abounded. How would I have known I would get caught up in a war, with air raid sirens bellowing night and day, making me sack out on a thin mattress under the bed lest I had to jump up from sleep and scurry for shelter? I was expecting the air raid siren to scream just before noon when all of a sudden, to my surprise, music came drifting in from the street. I walked up to the window and looked out. A tonga was steering down the street, decorated with papier-mâché flowers and varicolored balloons, drawn by a robust bay horse. A popular Nahid Niazi tune was wafting in the air. It was a wedding procession with crowds of people following the tonga, some dancing to the jingling tune and picking up the coins the couple was tossing out generously. They were flying up in fistfuls and showering down like the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Europe. Immediately I dashed down the two short flights of stairs and joined the jubilant crowd, picking up coins of all denominations from the dusty street. Once I had a pocketful of them, I went to the dingy eatery across from my apartment and ordered three fresh tandoori bread and some chum chum, when the air raid siren sounded. “Shut the door,” the manager told the fleet-footed waiter. So I grabbed my food from the waiter’s hand and ran across the street and up the stairs back into my apartment. Then taking my seat at the small rickety kitchen table, I began to dig into the bread and the sweets alternately. God! Food hadn’t tasted so good in my life.
  25. 25. February 2014 22 Suddenly I heard the deafening roar of jets above. I looked out the kitchen window at the two Sabres tearing through the air like giant birds, pursuing a pair of Hunters to chase them off. They were crisscrossing the sky, shooting up, swooping down, careening and pirouetting, with volleys of shots erupting as if hell had broken loose in the heavens. All at once a Hunter burst into flames and began tumbling down spewing smoke, followed by a Sabre on fire, while the others were still striving to hit their marks; but I did not scurry for shelter. My stomach full, I relished the aftertaste, passing my tongue around in my mouth, reaching out to every nook and cranny, and praying for the safety of the blessed couple that had unknowingly delivered me from starvation, providing me with the most delectable meal of my life. Ronny Noor is a professor of English and world literature at the University of Texas-Brownsville. His essays, stories, and poems have appeared in numerous journals around the world. He is also the author of a novel titled "Snake Dance in Berlin" (Orient Blackswan, New Delhi). Get Your Book Reviewed by Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers. CLRI prides itself to have a good number of review writers. We have different review writers for books of different genres. Our reviews are gaining recognition among the publishers, journals and academia for fair and high quality reviews.
  26. 26. February 2014 23 9. TAYEB BOUAZID Fate Souvenirs remained souvenirs-this is a semi-fictional portrayal of a poor family of modest income not overwhelming up to do-composed of a mother , her husband and two daughters of conservative original descent .The mother’s name is LAVINIA- 52 years old, she worked at home with a tenacious determined will to feed her breadwinners with sane income, prepared some earthenware utensils which she used to sell on market days. Her eldest daughter, RACHEL 23- a rather red skinned shy girl, of mean demeanor, self preserving in her attitudes and prepossessing. She rather appeared open minded with psychologically well balanced personality. She was a student in Archaeology. Her second daughter, CAMELIA 19 , she was seriously ill, deeply affected by her injuries that, in the course of time, she felt engraved in her heart. Their father MARCELL, was 64 years old. He was a handicapped person who fell from a windmill and got a back break. Since then, he had been lying in bed with little effort to deploy.His poor surrounding deplored his situation and he had no other living source to look to. Marcell had long been a hard worker well known in the vicinity by his manly adventures. In the nearby, there existed a rich landlady named Mrs. Joan. A well brought up lady of mid fifties known by her generosity and strong decisions- She possessed thousands of acres with a wide range of ranches, cattle and milking parlors. Mrs. Joan was a good mistress for her own property-she enjoyed this job since a long time and she as usual wanted to preserve her ancestors’ pre-occupation to raise livestock to sell milk to the village nearby. Andy who was aged 23, a dynamic ambitious and industrious youngster went to his aunt lady Joan’s farm to spend his summer holidays in the company of the breath taking greenish pastures amongst the shepherds and the herds and the multitudes of extended spruce forests. There, he met RACHEL and soon he fell in love with and soon he evoked his deep latent lot to her with plenty of affections and love sensuous feelings. Bit by bit and in her cozy company Andy grew mature and responsible. He grew in constant muse about his new company and soon he felt submerged in her social problems. Andy was affected by his girlfriend’s situation, so he went to his aunt and mediated for a promising job to her mother, LAVINIA to ,at least, overcome some of her hard living conditions. Andy went on recounting the family wretched living conditions stating the father deplored condition to his aunt. Aunt Joan was all ears and accepted to offer her services to the subsisting family. She soon appointed Lavinia as her assistant in the workshops of textile/pottery different sites. During their free time, ANDY and RACHEL made tours in the natural beautiful landscapes around the workshop. One day, and to their surprise Rachel discovered the first premises of a
  27. 27. February 2014 24 Gold Ore as sensed through the dust where a rippling creek crossed. The ore seemed dormant for long years then as nobody dared find it out. Rachel immediately contacted Lady Joan and soon a deal was met so that the secret remained a secret. Together, they mapped out to give air to the new project and promised Rachel to keep it a secret for her to exploit after her studies finish. Marcel’s life situation worsened and illness ailed his tormented spirit as it persisted through his weakened body. He succumbed after a long suffering. Now, the family situation was at its dire situation; Lady Joan and ANDY offered the miserable family a new lodging in the farm not far from the workshops to keep Aunt Joan company, facilitated the work and gave more chances for Lavinia to supervise.. Soon, LAVINIA was appointed staff manager to manage Aunt Joan’s + working affairs .Her daughter CAMELIA was sent to ORVILLE to be hospitalized- another page opened in the caring of Camelia’s Health care. RACHEL and ANDY had already separated as the school year had come to an end .ANDY who, studied economics at ORVILLE, heard about CAMELIA ; so he visited her from time to time and offered his services to appease some of her heart biting awes. Life went by and days constantly renewed and visits had become rituals. One day, CAMELIA confessed her love to ANDY ; an idea which he had never thought of. So he stood perplexed and could not believe his eyes and though he tried to make her understand that he had a love affair with her sister RACHEL, CAMELIA insisted on her love ; doctors had already stated that she was emotionally disturbed and she could risk her life in case of any love fluctuations. Hence, the matter got complicated, and Andy got confused. ANDY who did not know what to do, accepted his fate and day by day he grew in love with CAMELIA openly showing his heart felt emotions-He rather translated his outer feelings into latent direct intentions as he, from time to time, went on listening to her with a great care as if appointed to direct her meditative intentions. He felt no space to escape to; he was rather stuck in a quagmire. CAMELIA was recovered from her illness and she too was appointed assistant to her mother in the workshop. Rachel who was meticulously keeping eyes on Andy’s attitudes and motions, came to learn about the relationship between her sister CAMELIA and ANDY. She instantly chew the cud and became overwhelmed with craze. Her mind got divided against itself as whether she should help her sister emotionally disturbed state or continue her love with ANDY. A serious situation to deeply meditate up with careful reflection. So, at last, she prefered to help her sister and therefore she wished hearty success to the couple. Finally, ANDY got married with CAMELIA. LAVINIA achieved a great success in her enterprises in the various workshops. Rachel got engaged with her schoolmate. During summer holidays, Rachel and her husband visited JOAN’S farm to exploit the GOLD ORE. There, ANDY and RACHEL met near the creek for an evocative heart-throbbing souvenir. A souvenir that was knit under high strains of pure sacrifices and devotion-A souvenir that grew out of nothing to engrave its trails on both sisters’ hearts showing simply that love remains love and no one dared relinquish his own possessions to the other without Godly traced fate-Fate is in most daring time beyond our willing to change-accept it but never lump it-it is part of our existence.
  28. 28. February 2014 25 Days went by and Camelia gave birth to a young girl that her mother decided to name her Rachel-a gift to her husband to remain in constant love with the picture of the true Rachel that ever engraved his mind –a modest souvenir Camelia could genuinely offer to satisfy her husband’s lust and meet the wants of Rachel who was engaged to one of Lady Joan’s trusted clients at Orville. Now, Lavinia is no more distressed-both her sisters are nicely wedded-she was well satisfied and could devote herself more to Lady Joan and to her daughters’ young babies. And though she was widowed she enjoyed commuting between her daughters to see their lives embalmed with success-This is a genuine souvenir that the promising life could offer a depressed person and change his course from a down trodden wretched creature into well to do living being . This is another print in one’s life .Again fate is at the doorsill-accept it and never call it bad names. Mr Tayeb Bouazid is a graduate and postgraduate lecturer in the English Department University Mohamed Boudiaf, Msila, Algeria. He has an MA in psycho pedagogy and TEFL, a M. Ed (with specialisation in Environmental Education (UNISA) and a Teacher Trainer Certificate of Advanced Studies from Lancaster University. In addition, he is recently awarded a completion certificate with Middle East Partnership of the best practices in teacher training programs. Mr Bouazid is a freelance writer for the London School of Journalism and he is a fifth year doctorate student at the University of Batna, Algeria.the author has already contributed to many articles writing- Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, Vol. 26, 2009 , Arab Gulf Journal of Scientific Research, 27 (1&2): 59- 69 (2009), Per Linguam 2010 26(2): 33-49 Department of Curriculum Studies, Private Bag X1 7602 Stellenbosch, South Africa. Mr Bouazid contributed with a poem with CLRI july 2013.
  29. 29. February 2014 26 Interview
  30. 30. February 2014 27 10. KHURSHID ALAM INTERVIEWS MD FEROZ QURESHI AN EMERGING FILM DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER PAR EXCELLENCE CLRI: Can you tell me something about yourself? Writer/ Director/Producer (Short Films) Ans: I was born in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. I spent my childhood in Raigarh (Chhattisgarh) where I completed my schooling. For pursuing BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), I came to Pune, Maharashtra where I studied at the Pune University. While studying, I was attracted towards film-making and hence I completed a certificate course in film-making from IMI (Institute of Moving Images) under Mr. Pankaj Roy. I also completed my MBA from the Symbiosis University. CLRI: How many short films have you made till date? Ans: I have made many short films till date. COLOUR BLUE Is an Artistic video presentation of various famous paintings. RIGHT TO LIVE Hari's (23') wife is pregnant. They are worried "if a girl will take birth, then they have to face a very big problem ". His friend suggests him to visit a doctor. One day a doctor comes to his home with the report about the bad news and solves the problem by aborting the female child in the womb.
  31. 31. February 2014 28 3 PORTRAITS OF MOTHER INDIA 30 min SHORT We are back in the century when the British were ruining India. The story is about the conversion of a bad person into a good one. This film was an official Screening at Jaipur International Film Festival 2012 and official Screening at Imphal International Film Festival 2012). CLRI: In India short films are meant to be written, directed and produced by the same film maker, which is not the case abroad. What are the challenges in such a situation? Ans: Of course, there are a lot of challenges, which we come across, mainly the team is missed and the whole set up is on the shoulders of one person. CLRI: You have started an organization to promote new talents. Why so? While you should focus more on becoming a famous film maker yourself. I mean you should be more career oriented. Ans: I want my work to be famous than I. Basically I wanted to be a part of Industry and would love if people give credit to my films. As a filmmaker I would rather go for new talents which can come up with new prospectus. CLRI: Out of all short films, name few best ones. Ans: There are many which fall in the category of best ones. Naming few will mean being partial instead. CLRI: Have you ever made any feature film? Can you please share something about it? Ans: I am working on two projects based on two different concepts. Hope to get started soon. CLRI: What differences do you find between short films and feature films? Is there any career in short films? Ans: Short films are basically for setting a base and feature films make you the master at the end. As a starter you need to make short films, so that you can do different experiments on your thoughts.
  32. 32. February 2014 29 CLRI: Which film makers do you think you are influenced? Ans: Jean-Luc Godard , Anuraag Kashyup, Steven Speilberg, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese among others. CLRI: According to you, which film makers in India and abroad are some of the finest ones? Ans: Of course two from the above mentioned ones. CLRI: What projects are you working currently on? Any details? Ans: I am working on an Indie, a feature film titled, Hard to change the world, already done Devil's Paradise. Two other feature films are under pipeline for which we are working on the dialogues. Subscribe to Contemporary Literary Review India — journal that brings articulate writings for articulate readers. CLRI is published online per month, in digital versions occasionally, and in print edition (planned to be quarterly), its print edition has ISSN 2250-3366. Subscribe to our CLRI online edition. Our subscribers receive CLRI digital copies directly into their Inbox, get print copies free of cost whenever they come out during the subscription period, and are waived off any reading fee towards our print editions. You can become our subscribers any time you prefer. To become a subscriber, visit: Subscriber to CLRI
  33. 33. February 2014 30 I criticize by creation - not by finding fault. – Marcus Tullius Cicero Book Criticism
  34. 34. February 2014 31 11. NATAŠA MILADINOVIĆ Nataša Miladinović Reviews Susheel Kumar Sharma’s The Door is Half Open Poetry Flows – from nature to homes, through doors, to the silent singing of consciousness” Collective mind gathers symbols through time, transferring them from one culture to another. There are numerous fields of study trying to break the code of the meaning of symbols and similar archetypal phenomena, such as myths, religious, poetry and philosophy writings, from their earliest stages to the present date. Anthropology, ethnology, along with comparative mythology, sociolinguistics and its counterpart the sociology of language, to name only a few, stand at the forefront of this archaeological excavation. At the beginning of our existence, the physical aspect of human being was dependent upon the earth and its bearing of fruits. Due to the inexorable course of evolution, the omnipotent forces of nature presented themselves upon him and his peers. One can only try to imagine how deeply the underwhelmed minds of our forefathers were shaken after hearing a clap of thunder, or witnessing a flood. The being that had the ability to generate such a force was perceived as the more powerful one in the equation of existence. Susheel Kumar Sharma is a professor of English at the University of Allahabad, Allahabad-211002, India. Title: The Door is Half Open Author: Susheel Kumar Sharma Publisher: Adhyayan Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi. ISBN: 978-81-8435-341-9. Year: 2013. Pages 141 Price: Rs. 150.00/ US $ 10.00 /UK £ 15.00 What else could they do but choose the best among them who, in the behalf of all, was to use all his might in propitiating such supreme beings? Such outstandingly wise and insightful individuals started being revered together with their actions and words, and were named shamans, druids and prophets, who took on the roles of priests and teachers in the modern times. They became the saviours of societies, those to whose actions and words
  35. 35. February 2014 32 every member of society turned to in the times of both prosperity and hardship. Thus, the rituals of sympathetic or homeopathic magic became a part of religious rituals, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo. Religion was erected, on the foundations of magic and myth, and generated the human beings who started building up – word by word – the new realm of civilization within the walls of nature. The first places of worship and performing rituals were in the natural environment, at the sites considered to be ports between the mundane and spiritual world. Trees and rocks, rivers and springs were the first revered places serving as altars. These later shifted into the sanctity of a house where people performed rituals either at the centre of the building by the fire (which should under no circumstances be put out), or at the doors and thresholds. Since the number of people constituting a society started to increase, the first places of worship large enough to embrace all of the society members began to emerge – temples, churches and cathedrals became sacred in their own right. They were even built on sites previously considered sacred. The old Slavic faith was a system of belief which had similarities with other Indo-European religions. The old Slavs revered the deities of nature and supernatural beings and saw the evidence of their existence everywhere around them. After the Great migrations of Slavs in the 5th and 6th centuries, the Slavic system of belief split into several branches, and at the same time they started to accept the existing systems of the territories they settled upon. Since they were mostly exposed to the influences of the Holy Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Slavs began accepting Christianity in its Western and Eastern form. The Nestor’s Chronicle, written in the middle of the 11th century, speaks of the so-called Slavic dual form of religious belief – the simultaneous existence of paganism and Christianity among the Slavs. The Slavs unwilling to accept Christianity, who remained devoted to their original faith, were later forced to convert into Christianity. The Slavic shrines were demolished, and Christian churches were built at their sites. The statues of old deities were destroyed without exception since they were considered to represent “demonic” idols. After the conquest of territories by Byzantine Emperor Basil I, known as the Macedonian (867- 886), many of the old shrines and idols were demolished, apart from the Temple of Svetovid. The temple was “purified”, and the Church of St. Vid was erected on its foundations. By the end of the 12th century, under the rule of Stefan Nemanja, Christianity in the form of Serbian Orthodox Church was the only officially accepted form of religious worship. However, Serbs kept clinging to their old Slavic practices, and the last pagan temple was destroyed by the Emperor Dušan in the 14th century. There are numerous examples of single religious buildings being taken over by different cultural and religious members. Such is the case with the Basilica of St. Peter in Italy, The Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Córdoba in Spain, and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The Basilica of St. Peter is believed to have been erected over the spot where St. Peter was buried after his martyrdom in Rome around 64 CE. Over two hundred years later, in the early 4th century, Emperor Constantine erected a basilica dedicated to St. Peter on the Vatican Hill on the south side of the Tiber River. The basilica was erected with difficulty on the sloping side of Vatican Hill. Excavations undertaken in 1939 underneath the floor of St. Peter’s, uncovered a Roman cemetery which was considered to be a sacred place. At a
  36. 36. February 2014 33 spot located directly beneath the main altar of the basilica a small shrine was discovered. Although there was no indication other than location, it was claimed by some that the shrine was dedicated to St. Peter. Constantine’s basilica was demolished in the 16th century, and the present church was built on the same site. The Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Córdoba, in ecclesiastical terms the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption), and known by the inhabitants of Córdoba as the Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque–Cathedral), is today a World Heritage Site and the cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba. It is located in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. The site was originally a pagan temple, then a Visigothic Christian church, before the Umayyad Moors converted the building into a mosque and then built a new mosque on the site. After the Spanish Reconquista, it became a Roman Catholic church, with a plateresque cathedral later inserted into the centre of the large Moorish building. The Mezquita is regarded as the one of the most accomplished monuments of Islamic architecture. Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. The Streaming of Consciousness Doors, thresholds and gates are all symbolic entrances into new worlds. These entrances can be into a new life or they might represent communication between one world and another, between the living and the dead. The symbolism between gate and threshold is very similar. The symbolism of a gate, though, suggests more of a protecting and guarding aspect while that of a threshold suggests simply a passage from one realm to another. One of the characteristics of civilization development which significantly influenced the notion of human living was the invention of doors, for when the man put the door at his primitive shelters, he turned them into habitats. Namely, he ceased simply to shelter and possum himself, and started permanently settling within the building which represented his home. From the architectural point of view, the door is a movable structure, be it of simple or complex design, whose main purpose is to protect the people or assets in a closed building from the dangers lurking outside – by making it weatherproof, serving as protection from wild animals, enemies or burglars, but also as an entrance or exit from closed space into the open one. Apart from its physical characteristics, the symbolism of the doors was becoming ever more complex and enriched, together with its constituent parts, namely the threshold. Therefore, the door symbolizes the passage from one world into another, and the threshold stands as the borderline between those two – the outer, earthly one, and the interior, sacred world. The threshold is the meeting point of natural and supernatural, the place at which various rituals connected with the most important moments in family life, such as childbirth, wedding, or death rituals, are performed. Archaeology has revealed that, in the prehistoric
  37. 37. February 2014 34 era, it was common practice to bury the family and household members underneath it. Therefore it was not allowed to sit or step on it; when entering or leaving the house it was advised to jump over it – especially when a bride is entering the groom’s house for the first time; consequently she was carried in (this custom is still witnessed in many different cultures). It was also customary for the bride to spread honey on it and kiss the door frame. The practice of food, libations or objects offering was performed there, in order to protect the family and bring them prosperity. It was forbidden to shake hands at the threshold when welcoming visitors in. In many traditions, the threshold of a temple, a shrine or a mausoleum is considered to be sacred. Even today it is not to be stepped on, before it the believer falls on his knees in piety, and honours it by kissing. Since the doors were the core place of protective magical rituals, various objects such as knives, hayforks or pieces of a scythe, were put onto them at the exterior side, or symbols painted on it in order to protect the household members from the forces of evil. During the spring or summer rites, the plants with apotropaic effects were hanged on or above them. If needed, offerings were placed on the threshold. In A Dictionary of Symbols, J. E. Cirlot discusses temple doors and altars: “There is the same relationship between the temple-door and the altar as between the circumference and the centre; even though in each case the two component elements are the farthest apart, they are nonetheless, in a way, the closest since the one determines and reflects the other.” Cirlot notes that this is well illustrated in the architectural ornamentation of cathedrals where the facade is nearly always treated as an altar-piece. A closed door signifies rejection, exclusion, secrecy, but also protection against dangers and the unknown. A door, which is only half open or swinging in a draft, is something disturbing, since it symbolizes moral irresolution and lack of courage. Sometimes it may be our duty to open a door and to enter a room although it is evident that we shall encounter very disagreeable things by doing so. A priest, for instance, may have to visit a house in which a person is suffering from a very contagious disease. The Jews considered themselves unclean if they had entered the house of pagans. The ancient Romans thought that it meant a profanation of their soldiers if they marched out through the gates of Rome and fought with the enemy outside. For it was generally believed that what was within the walls of a city or of the individual houses was holy; whatever was outside the walls was considered profane and evil. Consequently the enemies with whom their soldiers fought were looked upon by the Romans as unholy and impure. When the soldiers came back from a campaign they had therefore to be purified by religious rites under the very gates of the city. Somewhat later majestic triumphal arches were erected by the Roman Senate that the “sanctification” of the returning army might be performed under them. In An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols, J.C. Cooper notes this guarding and protecting nature of gates. They are the “protective, sheltering aspect of the Great Mother.” Usually they “are guarded by symbolic animals such as lions, dragons, bulls, dogs or fabulous beasts.” C. G. Jung speaks of doors in the same manner, as the feminine symbol, and the antithesis of the wall. In Psychology and Alchemy, he noted that doors contain all the implications of the symbolic hole. At the gates of the House of Osiris a goddess keeps each gate, whose name has to be known. The Gates of the East and West are the doors of the World Temple through which
  38. 38. February 2014 35 the sun passes morning and night. The “strait gate” is the central point of communication between the lower and higher; the passage, in “spiritual poverty” for initiates or at death, leading to new life. In the Orient, for instance, in Palestine, the gate of the city was the gathering place where the king and the wise men of the land came to judge the people and to discuss political matters. In Christianity the Virgin Mary is the Gate of Heaven. She is greeted as a door, Salve Porta, in the antiphon Ave Regina Coelorum, and addressed: Maria, quae est coelestis porta, in the beautiful antiphon Adorna thalamum on the feast of her Purification. She was given the title of Janua coeli, door (gate) of heaven, in the Litany of Loreto. This can be seen further in the verse “A porta inferi erue Domine animas eorum— From the gate of hell deliver their souls, O Lord” in the Office of the Dead. But let us not forget that Christ refers to Himself as the door of His sheepfold. “I am the door. If any man enter by Me, he shall be safe”. His invitation is: “Pulsate, et aperietur vobis—And I say to you… knock, and it shall be opened to you. For to him that knocketh, it shall be opened”. Honouring the Forefathers The modern-day religious buildings keep their original religious symbolism. The First Kadampa Temple opened its doors on August 1, 1997. Venerable Geshe Kelsang gave an explanation on the way it was constructed, and the meaning of the symbols implemented. The designing of the building was based on the mandala of Buddha Heruka, who is the Compassion Buddha of Highest Yoga Tantra. The Temple has four doors, and is surrounded by eight auspicious signs which show us how to progress along the Buddhist path to enlightenment. On top of the wall, on each side, are two deer and a Dharma Wheel. At the very top there is a golden five-pronged vajra. The four doors symbolize the four doors of liberation. These are four different types of wisdom realizations that are explained in the Essence of Vajrayana. The four doors have the same symbolism as Heruka’s four faces. They teach us that if we want to attain permanent liberation from suffering we must enter the four doors, that is, develop four special wisdom realizations that understand the ultimate truth of things. The four doors therefore teach us the spiritual path. This Temple is surrounded by the eight auspicious signs: The umbrella symbolizes the umbrella of the Buddhist community and teaches us that those who have the sincere wish to progress on the Buddhist path to enlightenment should first enter the Buddhist family, which means taking refuge in the Three Jewels and becoming a Buddhist. The fish symbolize harmony and peace, and teaches us that under this umbrella you should always live in harmony and peace. The vase symbolizes wealth and teaches that Buddhist practitioners always enjoy the inner wealth of faith, moral discipline, study and practice of Dharma, benefiting others, the sense of shame, the consideration for others, and wisdom. The knot of eternity symbolizes an uncommon quality of Buddha’s realizations – his realization of omniscient wisdom – and the victory banner symbolizes an uncommon quality of Buddha’s abandonment – his abandonment of delusions and mistaken appearance. The last two signs together, the knot of eternity and the victory banner, indicate that through gaining the Dharma Jewel, the realization of the stages of the path to enlightenment, we shall attain these two uncommon qualities of Buddha. The Dharma Wheel indicates that having attained these two uncommon qualities of Buddha we now have the ability to lead all living beings to permanent liberation from suffering, principally by turning the Wheel of Dharma, that is, by giving Dharma teachings. This is our final goal. So the eight auspicious signs
  39. 39. February 2014 36 show how to begin, progress along, and complete the spiritual path. First we need to gain the realization of the stages of the path. Through this we shall attain the two uncommon qualities of Buddha; and through this we have the ability to lead all beings to permanent liberation from suffering by giving Dharma teachings, which is our final goal. Therefore the symbolism of This Temple being surrounded by these eight auspicious signs reminds you that you should put the meaning of these signs into practice and integrate them into your daily life. Above each doorway there are two deer and a Dharma Wheel, and at the very top of the Temple there is a vajra. Together, these symbolize the stages of the path of Highest Yoga Tantra. The eight auspicious signs symbolize in general how to progress along the Buddhist path, and the deer, Dharma Wheel, and top vajra teach us the stages of the path of Highest Yoga Tantra. The male deer symbolizes the realization of great bliss, the female deer the realization of emptiness, and the Dharma Wheel the union of these two. Through progressing in this union of great bliss and emptiness, finally we will attain the five omniscient wisdoms of a Buddha, which are symbolized by the top five-pronged vajra. In summary, the symbolism of the Temple is as follows: Through progressing in the basic practice symbolized by the eight auspicious signs and then progressing in the uncommon spiritual path of Highest Yoga Tantra that is the union of great bliss and emptiness, finally we will attain Buddha’s five omniscient wisdoms. Walking the Path The appearance of gates, thresholds and doors is common to all story genres. Usually the hero passes through them to symbolically mark the beginning of his journey. The name of our hero is Susheel Kumar Sharma. He was born in India in 1962 and works as an English language Professor at the University of Allahabad. Does it surprise you that he is a teacher? And a poet? He journeyed beyond numerous doors and gates, and skipped over many thresholds to meet Shakespeare, John Milton, Samuel Johnson, Bernard Shaw, W. B. Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, George Orwell, Miriam Waddington, Sandra Lunnon, Raja Rao, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Rabindranath Tagore, Arun Joshi and Anurag Mathur, and was kind enough to share his experiences by writing research articles and sharing them selflessly. One of his research books titled The Theme of Temptation in Milton was published in New Delhi. Fancy taking a stroll through his new book of verse? How kind of him to leave the door half-open. Which way the path beyond it leads? To heaven or hell? Or somewhere else? Christianity depicts heaven and hell in a fairly clear way. The Christian view describes these as permanent abodes, with the good going to God who dwells in heaven, and the bad rotting in hell for all eternity. But there is a different view on the matter. According to the Hindu Puranas, there are fourteen worlds in the universe - the seven upper and the seven lower. The seven upper worlds are Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah, Tapah, and Satyam; and the seven nether worlds are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. The region known as Bhuh is the earth where we dwell, while Swah is the celestial world to which people repair after death to enjoy the reward of their righteous actions on earth. Bhuvah is the region between the two. Janah, Tapah, and Satyam constitute Brahmaloka, or the highest heaven, where fortunate souls repair after death and enjoy spiritual communion with the personal God, and at the end of the cycle attain
  40. 40. February 2014 37 liberation, though a few return to earth again. The world of Mahah is located between Brahmaloka and Bhuh, Bhuuah, and Swah. Patala, the lowest of the seven nether worlds, is the realm where wicked souls sojourn after death and reap the results of their unrighteous actions on earth. Thus, from the viewpoint of Hinduism, heaven and hell are merely different worlds, bound by time, space, and causality. According to Hinduism, desires are responsible for a person’s embodiment. Some of these desires can best be fulfilled in a human body, and some in an animal or a celestial body. Accordingly, a soul assumes a body determined by its unfulfilled desires and the results of its past actions. An animal or a celestial body is for reaping the results of past karma, not for performing actions to acquire a new body. Performance of karma to affect any change of life is possible only in a human body, because only human beings do good or evil consciously. Human birth is therefore a great privilege, for in a human body alone can one attain the supreme goal of life. Thus, in search of eternal happiness and immortality, the apparent soul is born again and again in different bodies, only to discover in the end that immortality can never be attained through fulfilment of desires. The soul then practices discrimination between the real and the unreal, attains desirelessness, and finally realizes its immortal nature. “When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal becomes immortal and here attains Brahman.” – The Katha Upanishada When the chattering of an individual mind stops, as it does through Mudra, Bandha or Meditation, one’s perception can be projected through the fissure of the mind into Reality. Then one sees behind the scenes of what we unquestionably consider to be real – our day to day, mundane life of fears and worries. We realize the super sensory and the Transcendental Dimension of our Being. According to Hindu tradition, Sahasrara is the name of the seventh primary chakra. It symbolizes detachment from illusion; an essential element in obtaining higher consciousness of the truth. In the physical sense, Sahasrara is either located at the top of the head or a little way above it. There are also viewpoints arguing it to be located in either the pineal gland or the pituitary gland. Symbolically, it is depicted as 1,000 multi-coloured petals arranged in 20 layers, each of them having 50 petals. The pericarp is golden. Inside of it is an area with circular moon, and a downward pointing triangle. It is from this chakra that all the other chakras emanate. In Hindu literature, it is known as “the supreme centre of contact with God”. In Yoga, this psychic fissure is called the Brahma Randhra (Sanskrit, “brahma”, consciousness; “randhra”, fissure) - the Fissure into Pure Consciousness. In Yoga, it can be called the Brahma Dwara (Sanskrit, “dwara”, door) - the Door to Pure Consciousness. It is also widely called the Tenth Door - the other nine doors being the nine orifices (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, anus and sexual organ), which lead to the outside world. When these nine doors are closed through Yogic practices, then perception is obliged to go through the tenth door, the Brahma Dwara or the Door of Consciousness. The crown wheel is important within the Highest Yoga traditions of Buddhist Vajrayana. It is triangular, with 32 petals or channels that point downwards, and within it resides the white drop or white bodhicitta. Through meditation, the yogi attempts to unite this drop with the red bodhicitta in the navel, and to experience the union of emptiness and bliss. It is very
  41. 41. February 2014 38 important in the Tantric practice of Phowa, or consciousness transference. At the time of death, a yogi can direct his consciousness up the central channel and out of this wheel in order to be reborn in a Pure Land, where they can carry on their tantric practices, or they can transfer their consciousness into another body or a corpse, in order to extend their lives. In the West, it has been noted by many – such as Charles Ponce in his book Kabbalah, that Sahasrara expresses a similar archetypal idea to that of Kether in the kabalistic tree of life, which also rests at the head of the tree, and represents pure consciousness and union with God. Within the Sufi system of Lataif-e-sitta there is a Lataif called Akfha, the “most arcane subtlety”, which is located on the crown. It is the point of unity where beatific visions of Allah are directly revealed. The Silent Singing of Consciousness The true name of God in Sikhism is Ik Onkar in Punjabi, or Om in Sanskrit, meaning an isolated Shapeless God. The true name of God in Hinduism is Ishwara, meaning Supreme controller, lord. The true name of God in Buddhism is Four Noble Truths. Allah is the most frequently used true name of God in Islam. The Holy Trinity is the true name of God in Christianity. Guru Nanak Dev composed Japji Sahib, the language of pure silence of Shapeless God, which is the foundation of the Sikh religion, followed by many in the Muslim and Hindu community. Japji is written in the sutra or mantra form, like the ancient Indian sacred texts and contains concentrated thought expressed in the minimum words. It is this economy of words and brevity of expression which distinguish this composition from all others. The whole prayer concerns itself with the problems of ordinary. Its theme covers a suggested course of training for an average family-man that would enable him to attain spiritual perfection. It does recommend passive contemplation or living an isolated life. It favours man’s participation in the affairs of the world, combined with an integration of wisdom and selfless activity. In the very first verse, Guru Nanak states its whole theme in question form: How can one be a man of The Truth? How can one break down the wall of falsehood? He supplies the answer very briefly in the following line. The goal is to elevate ordinary people to the mystic vision of God. Prof. Seshadri explains it thus: “The quest is inward and the goal, God-realisation! The sacred shrine is within the heart of man, but the essential precondition for the success of man’s earthly pilgrimage is to overcome his own Ego. Hence the need for Dharma and the discipline of morality.” There is a constant inner urge of the human soul for Oneness with God, for every person has a Divine Spark within himself. Verse 15 of Japji Sahib proclaims that faith in the true name of God Shapeless carries us to the door of liberation. Punjabi script is as follows: Transliterated it looks like this: “Mann-ay_paaveh_mokh_duaar. Mann-ay_parvaarai_saadhaar. Mann-ay_tarai_tare_gur_sikh.
  42. 42. February 2014 39 Mann-ay_Nanak_bhaveh_na_bhikh. Aisaa_naam_niranjan_hoe. Je_ko_Mann-ay_jaanai_man_koe.” And the word-by-word translation sounds like this: “Mann-ay”: faith in the pure consciousness; “paaveh”: achieve; “Mokh duaar”: top of the door to nature of the true name of God Shapeless; “Parvaarai”: dynasty; “Saadhaar”: renovation; “Tarai”: protected; “Tare”: make protected; “Gur”: mantra; “Sikhs”: learners; “Bhaveh”: make any sense of love; “Bhikha”: begging; “Aisa”: such; “Naam”: name; “Niranjan”: purity without spot; “Hoe”: is; “Jaani”: to review; “Mann”: mind; “Koe”: lost. The 15th Pauri (prayer) stands for Kundalini Awakening. This final pauri promises the fruits of surrender: the 10th gate opens. We awaken, and in awakening we carry our family, our friends and their karmas with us as we cross the world ocean. One would never imagine that through the simple act of surrender we can manifest such victory, but that is the path of the Guru, the path of obedience, for in the seeds of surrender we generate the fruit of excellence and grace. The Divine Cycle Water has a central place in the practices and beliefs of many religions. Almost all Christian churches or sects have an initiation ritual involving the use of water. Baptism has its origins in the symbolism of the Israelites being led by Moses out of slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea, and from the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan. In Islam water is important for cleansing and purifying. Muslims must be ritually pure before approaching God in prayer. In Islam ritual purity (called tahara) is required before carrying out religious duties especially salat (worship). In Judaism ritual washing is intended to restore or maintain a state of ritual purity and its origins can be found in the Torah. These ablutions can be washing the hands, the hands and the feet, or total immersion which must be done in ‘living water’, i.e. the sea, a river, a spring or in a mikveh. Even in Buddhism where symbolism and ritual is pointless because they seek spiritual enlightenment – it comes from seeing the reality of unreality, water feature is used in funeral rites. It is poured into a bowl placed before the monks and the dead body. As it fills and pours over the edge, the monks recite ”As the rains fill the rivers and overflow into the ocean, so likewise may what is given here reach the departed.” Water in Hinduism has a special place because it is believed to have spiritually cleansing powers. To Hindus all water is sacred, especially rivers. There is a particular river in India which is the central point of worship and religious awe. It is the major river of the Gangetic plain of Northern India and the holy river of Hinduism. Its source stream is the Bhāgīrathī – a turbulent Himalayan river in the state of Uttarakhand. This river runs from the Himalayas all the way to the Bay of Bengal. The river is Ganga Ma, “Mother Ganges”. The name of the Ganges is known all throughout the land of India. It represents life, purity, and a goddess to the people of India. “O Ganges! The dweller in Lord Brahma’s kamandala The abider in Lord Vishnu’s feet The resider in Lord Shiva’s locks The sojourner in the Himalayas
  43. 43. February 2014 40 The daughter of Sage Jahnu The co-wife to Parvati and Lakshmi The redeemer of Bhagiratha’s race The atoner of Sagar’s progeny The mother of brave Bhishma O Ganga Maiya! Homage to thee. Accept my obeisance O Punyakirti!” (“Ganga Mata – A Prayer”, p. 1 ) Attracted by the sound of a prayer whose words fall on the water waves as lovingly as a lotus flower kisses the holy river’s surface, I turn my head and behold the grey-haired man. I listen to his words attentively. He was the kind teacher who left the doors half open, and the banks of the river Ganges is the place where we finally meet. I rejoice, for he speaks! We shall walk together down the banks for a while. It is written in the Shiva Purana that in order to assure the Earth’s salvation, the gods had to hasten the birth of Shiva’s son, who was the one destined to lead the divine hosts and to conquer the forces of darkness which had taken possession of the planet. But Shiva was in no hurry to make a son, and so the Gods found it necessary to steal Shiva’s seed by interrupting his love play with Devi (Parvati) at the precise moment when the precious bija was to come forth. Intercourse having been interrupted, the seed fell to the ground. Agni, in the form of a Dove, took the seed in his beak and made off with it. The Purana then describes the adventures of the precious bija in a series of twelve stages until it finally comes back to Shiva and Parvati, transformed into the beautiful youth Skanda. It is stated in ancient tradition that the white Dove is often transmuted into the Unicorn. But in itself, the Dove is a key symbol and has a very special connection with the worship of Shiva and Parvati. The two most important protagonists in the escapade of Shiva’s stolen Seed are Agni and Ganga. Agni is the element Fire; his colour is red and his geometric symbol - according to the Yogatattva Upanishad - is the triangle. He is more specifically Mars, which the Indian Veda confirms by allotting him rulership of Tuesday, or Mars Day, as well as the colour red. And this, it must be remembered, was the day of birth of the Son. Ganga, on the other hand, represents the Water element, and she is connected with the Moon, as the story of her birth reveals; and through the Moon to Saturn, in the form of Mahakala. The Vishnu Purana describes the birth of Ganga in the following manner: she is said to have issued forth from the big toe of Vishnu’s left foot. Dhruva, the Pole Star, received her in her descent and sustained her day and night on his head, while the seven Rishis (the Pleiades) performed their ablutions in her waters (because the Pleiades revolve around the Pole Star). Ganga then encompassed the orb of the Moon by her currents, which added to the luminary’s brilliance. Thereafter, having issued from the Moon, she alit upon Mt. Meru, and then flowed in four branches to the four corners of the Earth for the sake of its purification. The names of these branches are, Sita, Alakananda, Chakshu, and Bhadra. The southern branch, Alakananda, was held affectionately by Shiva on his head for one hundred divine years, and then was released from his matted locks. Hence Shiva is
  44. 44. February 2014 41 depicted in Indian iconography with a crescent Moon on his head, wherefrom a shoot of water springs forth. Thereafter, the southern branch of Ganga journeyed through India and divided itself into seven rivers which flow into the southern ocean. Hence the Alakananda, passing as it does through Bharatmata, is known as the most sacred of the four branches. Agni, unable to hold Shiva’s powerful bija in his beak any longer, dropped it in the Ganges. The river then carried the seed and when the time of birth arrived she deposited it in a sacred reed grove situated on her shores; and there Kartikeya was born. He is called Kartikeya because the Krttikas, Sanskrit for the Pleiades, took up the child and nourished him. They were six in number, wives of the six (or seven) Rishis, therefore the child is also called Shanmugam, ‘of six mouths’, having suckled at the breasts of the six wives. Ganga is India’s sacred Artery, through which the power of her Time courses. She is the carrier of the pulse of India’s soul/sun; she is the carrier of the Seed of Shiva, her beloved. Ganga is born of the Mountain, therefore she is, as it were, Parvati’s sister. Ganga and Parvati are said to be daughters or consorts of the same heavenly Father. Yet at the same time Ganga is said to have descended from heaven and fallen onto Shiva’s head, whence from his matted locks the Great God released her in a gentle flow upon the Earth. It is said that the Earth was spared the full impact of her power by this graceful act of Shiva, and that, had it not been so, the planet could not have tolerated the descent of Ganga in her full form. As soon as the day begins, devout Hindus begin to give their offerings of flowers or food, throwing grain or garlands of marigolds or pink lotuses into the Ganges, or let small oil lamps float on its surface. Every morning thousands of Hindus, whether pilgrims or residents, make their way into the holy water of the Ganges. All of them face the rising sun with folded hands murmuring prayers. As stated in “Banaras City of Light” by Diana L. Eck, “they may take up her water and put it back into the river as an offering to the ancestors and the gods”. In cupped hands they will also take the ritual drink of the Ganges and then fill a container to take with them to the temple. On great festive occasions, Hindus ford the river in boats, shouting “Ganga Mata Ki Jai!” (Victory to Mother Ganga!) Hindus consider the waters of the Ganges to be both pure and purifying. Nothing reclaims order from disorder more than the waters of the Ganges. Moving water, as in a river, is considered purifying in Hindu culture because it is thought to both absorb impurities and take them away. What the Ganges removes, however, is not necessarily physical dirt, but symbolic dirt; it wipes away the sins of the bather, not just of the present, but of a lifetime. A popular paean to the Ganges is the ”Ganga Lahiri” composed by a seventeenth century poet Jagannatha who, legend has it, was turned out of his Hindu Brahmin caste for carrying on an affair with a Muslim woman. Having attempted futilely to be rehabilitated within the Hindu fold, the poet finally appeals to Ganga, the hope of the hopeless, and the comforter of last resort. Along with his beloved, Jagannatha sits at the top of the flight of steps leading to the water at the famous Panchganga Ghat in Varanasi. As he recites each verse of the poem, the water of the Ganges rises up one step, until in the end it envelops the lovers and carry them away. ”I come to you as a child to his mother,” begins the Ganga Lahiri. “I come as an orphan to you, moist with love I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest. I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all. I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.
  45. 45. February 2014 42 I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine. Do with me whatever you will.” The grey-haired man, Susheel, shows an appreciation far deeper than the other bathers, who have come to wash their sins away. He has come before Ganga Mata, as a loving son comes before a mother to ask for love and protection. He stands there pouring his pure love in its waters, and through its magical power trying to appease her to create a place where he would dock and rest. The love expressed in his verse not only flows at the surface of water caressing the underwater creatures, but yearns for a permanent residence in its embrace. The poet knows that the river is the protector of life, and comes to present his deep respect. “I have come to your shore Not just to sharpen my nerves with your waves Not just to play with the fishes in you Not just to have a boat ride in the wee hours Not even to wash my sins And to be pure again; … I want a small moorage In an island created by you. Allow me to have my way, O Suranadi! Grant me my wish, O Girija!” (“Ganga Mata – A Prayer”, p. 1) Since Ganga had descended from heaven to earth, she is also the vehicle of ascent, from earth to heaven. As the Triloka-patha-gamini, (Skt. triloka= “three worlds”, patha = “road”, gamini = “one who travels”) of the Hindu tradition, she flows in heaven, earth, and the netherworld, and, consequently, is a “tirtha,” or crossing point of all beings, the living as well as the dead. It is for this reason that the story of the avatarana is told at Shraddha ceremonies for the deceased in Hinduism, and Ganges water is used in Vedic rituals after death. Among all hymns devoted to the Ganges, there are none more popular than the ones expressing the worshipers wish to breathe his last surrounded by her waters. Hindus from all over will bring their dead. Whether a body or just ashes, the water of the Ganga is needed to reach Pitriloka, the World of the Ancestors. Just as in the myth with King Sagar’s 60,000 sons who attained heaven by Ganga pouring down her water upon their ashes, so the same waters of Ganga are needed for the dead in the Hindu belief today. Without this, the dead will exist only in a limbo of suffering, and would be troublesome spirits to those still living on earth. The waters of the Ganges are called amrita, the “nectar of immortality”. And our poet sings: “Fire consumes sins. Fire consumes virtues. After purgation Nothing remains. Brahma is revealed.” (“Purgation V”, p. 83) Cremation anywhere along the Ganges is desirable. If that is not possible, then the relatives might later bring the ashes of the deceased to the Ganges. Sometimes, if a family cannot
  46. 46. February 2014 43 afford firewood for cremation, a half-burned corpse is thrown into the water. A verse from the Mahabharata promises, “If only the bone of a person should touch the water of the Ganges, that person shall dwell, honoured, in heaven.” No place along her banks is more longed for at the moment of death by Hindus than Varanasi, the Great Cremation Ground, or Mahashmshana. Those who are lucky enough to die in Varanasi, are cremated on the banks of the Ganges, and are granted instant salvation. If the death has occurred elsewhere, salvation can be achieved by immersing the ashes in the Ganges. If the ashes have been immersed in another body of water, a relative can still gain salvation for the deceased by journeying to the Ganges, if possible during the lunar “fortnight of the ancestors” in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin (September or October), and performing the Shraddha rites. Hindus also perform pinda pradana, a rite for the dead, in which balls of rice and sesame seed are offered to the Ganges while the names of the deceased relatives are recited. Every sesame seed in every ball thus offered, according to one story, assures a thousand years of heavenly salvation for the each relative. In the final verses of his book, Susheel makes a pilgrimage to Varanasi, and thus encloses the divine circle of life and death, leaving us protected in the embrace of the holy Mother Ganga. “I turn to you, O Varanasi, In the moments of anxiety When faith has been lost And love not found In the streets of London And democracy has been strangled On the pavements of Washington. Strolling on the roads A bull stares at me And a boatman beckons me. The calm water of the Ganges Tempts me to watch the floating lamps The morning mist enwraps me with music. The call of the gong from Shivalaya The enthralling shouts, ‘Har har Gange’ The exuberant dance, ‘Har har Mahadev’ The melodious violin, ‘Jai Bhole Ki’ The enchanting hymns in The rapturous holi Beckon me to your lap, O Varanasi!” (“Liberation at Varanasi”, p. 92) Unfortunately, with all the life the Ganges brings, pollution is also brought. Some of the worst waterborne diseases are dysentery, hepatitis, and cholera. Money is being raised by the government and other groups such as the “Swatcha Ganga” to clean the Ganges. None the less, the Ganges is still the purifying waters for the Hindus of India. Our hero doesn’t stay silent about this, and by chanting calls upon the awakening of his peers.
  47. 47. February 2014 44 “From Kolkata to Gangotri Just one scene — Poverty, squalor, dirt, sloth and melancholy. Everyone is weeping bitterly. Everyone is crying hoarsely. Everyone is worried knowingly. No one has a solution! Yes, India is one! United we stand, Divided we fall.” (“Ganga Mata – A Prayer”, p. 9) The Tehri Dam is a multi-purpose rock and earth-fill embankment dam on the Bhagirathi River. The Tehri Dam withholds a reservoir for irrigation, municipal water supply and the generation of hydroelectricity. The Tehri Dam has been the object of protests by environmental organizations and local people of the region. In addition to the human rights concerns, the project has spurred concerns about the environmental consequences of locating a large dam in the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan foothills. There are further concerns regarding the dam’s geological stability. The Tehri dam is located in the Central Himalayan Seismic Gap, a major geologic fault zone. This region was the site of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in October 1991, with an epicentre 500 kilometres (310 mi) from the location of the dam. Were such a catastrophe to occur, the potentially resulting dam- break would submerge numerous towns downstream, whose populations total near half a million. The grey-haired man stands at the bank of the tamed river and wonders why it puts up with the abuse knowing that its power surpasses the mundane problems of mortals. He sees the river as a prisoner of its own people, and as a rape victim, who suffers silently. Could it be that the mother, through the act of absolute love, willingly shares the suffering with her children who are in spiritual chains and spiritually raped? The river is a mirror in front of which the world stands and watches the reflection of its face. Being a conscientious child who reached full maturity, the poet begs the mother to react, believing that by doing so, she would bring salvation to her children. “Flow freely again Overflow again Dance rhythmically again Be not bound by embankments and dams. Let all power projects Be shelved for ever.” (“Ganga Mata – A Prayer”, pp. 4-5) It is sometimes believed that the river will finally dry up at the end of Kali Yuga (the era of darkness, the current era) just as with the Sarasvati river, and this era will end. Next in (cyclic) order will be the Satya Yuga or the Era of Truth. The poet waits piously in meditation by the river in Varanasi. “If the world can survive Through wars
  48. 48. February 2014 45 If the world can survive Through penury If the world can survive Through discrimination If the world can survive Through pollution If the world can survive Through pestilences If the world can survive Through ravages If I can just survive by meditation If I can just survive by ‘Shivoham’. It is a call to find answers On the banks of the Ganges and In thy narrow streets That brings me to you, O Varanasi.” (“Liberation at Varanasi”, p. 92) The Vicious Circle The harmonious circle of life and death has shifted from the caring embrace of the Mother Ganges to a circle created by a new kind of deity. New age is the age of materialism – the cruellest deity humanity ever came face to face with. It cannot be controlled by the acts of homeopathic or sympathetic magic. It cannot be propitiated by mantras or prayers, for it cares not for the spiritual ascent of humanity. This deity shrouds its daunting face with the veil of good intentions, and goodwill to free the oppressed nations; it plants the seeds of disunion and waters them with blood of the fathers and sons whose bones are often scattered across the continents far from their homelands. It waters these seeds with the tears of mothers and daughters whipped by the pain often being oppressed themselves. It writes its myths across the barren lands after deforestation, across the scales of dead fish and the feathers and furs of extinct animal species. Its voice can be heard in the rumbling stomachs of starving children. Hand in hand with science, as a child at leisure, it blissfully whistles with the sound of the A-bomb and artillery. Brave is the poet who stands before it. The Unveiling It is generally accepted that the concepts of democracy and constitution were created in one particular place and time – identified as Ancient Athens circa 508 BC. There is evidence to suggest that democratic forms of government, in a broad sense, may have existed in several areas of the world well before the turn of the 5th century. Within that broad sense it is plausible to assume that democracy in one form or another arises naturally in any well-bonded group, such as a tribe. This is tribalism or primitive democracy. A primitive democracy is identified in small communities or villages when the following take place: face-to-face discussion in the village council or a headman whose decisions are supported by village elders or other cooperative modes of government. Nevertheless, on larger scale sharper contrasts arise when the village and the city are
  49. 49. February 2014 46 examined as political communities. In urban governments, all other forms of rule – monarchy, tyranny, aristocracy, and oligarchy – have flourished. India laid its democratic foundations as early as the sixth century BCE in the form of the independent “republics” of India, sanghas and ganas. At the head was a monarch, usually called raja and together with him, a deliberative assembly. The monarch was elected by the gana and he belonged to a family of the noble K’satriya Varna. The monarch coordinated his activities with the assembly and in some states along with a council of other nobles. The assembly met regularly in which at least in some states attendance was open to all free men, and discussed all major state decisions. It had also full financial, administrative, and judicial authority. Today, Indian is the largest democracy in the world. It is a fascinating country where people of many different communities and religions live together in unity. Indian population is polygenetic and is an amazing amalgamation of various races and cultures. Our poet seems to confirm this when stating: “Believers of various faiths Users of so many tongues Eaters of countless varieties of food Dwell here in infinitum. Life in coexistence is Not an ancient slogan only But a mantra Practised by one and all.” (“A Poem for My Country”, p. 62) However, opportunism and corruption have crept inside politics and brought in many problems with them, and India is no exception to this. There is inequality in social, economic and political sphere. Illiteracy is only one of the problems. Even after more than sixty years of Independence, one fourth of the population today goes to bed with an empty stomach, live below the poverty line without access to safe and clean drinking water, sanitation or proper health facilities. Governments have come and gone, politics have been framed and implemented, the large amounts of rupees have been spent, yet many people are still struggling for existence. Casteism is still pronounced. Untouchability remains abolished only in theory with frequent newspapers reports of Dalits being denied entry to temples or other public places. Violence has been taken a serious turn in country – Bandhs, strikes and terrorist activities have become a common affair. And so, there are two worlds coexisting within the vast country, and the poet offers the visitor to take a look at the other not so democratic one: “The land offers you a sight of your choice -- A weeping child, destitute mother, naked faqir Hungry farmer, homeless engineer, Drug-addict father, free boarding house, Free langar beseeching an empty belly, A discourse on self and soul, this world and that world.” (“A Poem for My Country”, p. 63) But India, as a democratic country, has progressed in many aspects. It has archived self-
  50. 50. February 2014 47 sufficiency in food grains as a result of the green revolution. People vote for change whenever a government fails to come up to the expectations of the people. India has been a successful democratic country only because the people are law-abiding, self-disciplined and have the sense of social and moral responsibilities. Thus, feeling the urge to act, our poet wrestles with the core concepts of democracy, and wonders what will become of it: “In the beginning is my end. And yours, O democracy? You shout the people’s voice You proclaim the lowly’s rights You denounce the high and mighty You promise food and shelter You provide vote and choice You showcase quality and liberty.” (“Democracy: Old and New”, p. 70) To his mind, there are a number of questions waiting to be answered: “Where is the voice of Iraq? Where is the voice of Vietnam? Where is the voice of Afghanistan? Where is the voice of the multitude? Where have the arrows of Red Indians flown? Where have the Brahmins of Goa gone? Where is the Buddha in Bamiyan? Why are the poisonous cigars sent to Cuba? Why is Saddam allowed of bomb Kuwait? Why are the innocents killed in Hiroshima? Why has a Tony always to toe a Bush? Why are stories planted against Emelda? Why is a Mandela taken prisoner? Why is Ceauşescu killed overnight? Why is the UNO bulldozed? Why does the International Court of Justice Cease to be just?” (“Democracy: Old and New”, p. 70) Having found no definite answers and feeling overwhelmed by the questions of why the world democracy has taken such a dramatic turn for the worse, our hero “remains couched in his cushioned sofa, and ponders over the philosophy of democracy”. One can see the grey-haired teacher silently watching television in his living-room filled with book shelves, and piles of his students’ papers and daily newspapers on the coffee-table, while the storm of emotions and thoughts sweeps through his mind: “When the intact skulls of the Young innocent children are found In the big drain behind the house,
  51. 51. February 2014 48 …When the mothers in the homes Are happy to abort female foetuses In a clinic on the highway, When the fathers stop To keep a count of their children Playing in parks, When the old parents Come out displaying their bruises In the open courts, When the students Hit their teachers to their doom On the premises of their colleges, When the degrees Are rendered worth rough papers By those who award them, Be sure you’ve reached India, You have reached my abode, O Yaksha!” (“Nithari and Beyond”, pp. 56-57) The Nithari serial murders took place in the house of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in Nithari, India in 2005 and 2006. His servant Surender Koli has been convicted of four murders and sentenced to death. The police also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman. The two accused in the case were in police custody while the skeletal remains of the young children were being unearthed from behind and in front of Pandher’s residence. Young girls constituted the majority of victims. There were 19 skulls in all, 16 complete and 3 damaged. Surender Koli, the manservant, after strangling the victims, severed their heads and threw them in the drain behind the house of his employer. Both the accused Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surender Koli were given death sentence in 2009, but in 2011, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli. Pandher faces trial in five more cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings. The same day Pandher was acquitted, the Allahabad high court upheld the death sentence for Surender Koli. When it comes to children, India has the world’s largest child population, but they are faced with some very serious problems, such as illiteracy, forced labour, and high mortality rates. High cost of private education and need to work to support their families and little interest in studies are the reasons given by 3 in every four drop-outs as the reason they leave. More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enrol in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12. A study found that children were sent to work as domestic help by compulsion and not by choice, mostly by parents, but with recruiter playing a crucial role in influencing decision. Poor and bonded families often “sell” their children to contractors who promise lucrative jobs in the cities and the children end up being employed in brothels, hotels and domestic work. Many run away and find a life on the streets. Three million girls born in India do not see their fifteenth birthday, and a million of them are unable to survive even their first birthday. Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender

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