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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

And Partition Happened......

Ramchandra Guha wrote and describe it as follows :
"The literature on the Partition of India is driven by those who had to flee religious persecution, whether Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan or Muslims in India. In the Fifties and Sixties, the refugee experience resulted in a series of moving novels and stories, by writers such as Khushwant Singh and Bhisham Sahni in India and Saadat Hasan Manto and Intezar Hussain in Pakistan. The memories were too painful to set down in memoir or history, so they were camouflaged and perhaps made more evocative through the medium of fiction.

In subsequent decades, writers and poets continued to write novels and poems about Partition. However, they were now joined by writers of non-fiction. Historians wrote academic tomes based on archival research, explaining why and how the politicians failed to save the unity of India. Those with a more literary sensibility wrote books based on interviews, capturing the voices and sentiments of those who lost homes as well as loved ones in the bloody summer of 1947.

No event in Indian history has been so written about as Partition. And the books keep coming. Several very good books were published in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event. And some more good books have come out this year to mark the 60th anniversary.

Some writers have described Partition as India’s Holocaust. I would not go so far — for Hitler’s extermination of the Jews was a far more focussed act of State policy. And it claimed many more lives. Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II, as against an estimated one million who died in the riots in the subcontinent. Again, while colonial policy undoubtedly contributed to the violence, it was not as if the British divided India with an intent to murder. While they were callous and cynical in their dealings, they were helped along by the amorality of the Muslim League and the selfishness and shortsightedness of the Congress. And, in the end, it was ordinary Hindus and Sikhs who set upon ordinary Muslims, and were set upon by them in turn. Partition was a civil war, not a Holocaust.

Still, there are some parallels between the events in central and eastern Europe between 1938 and 1945 and in northern and eastern India in 1946-47. These parallels chiefly lie in how the events are remembered. Just as Jews themselves have contributed most richly to the literature on the Holocaust, the ‘first generation’ of Partition literature was mostly the work of refugees. And some of the best works in recent years have been authored by the children and grandchildren of refugees.

Another parallel lies in what is foregrounded and what mostly forgotten. There were other social groups whom Hitler also sought to annihilate — such as the homosexuals and the Gypsies. Yet far less has been written about them as compared to the Jews. Likewise, the literature on India’s Partition is dominated by the suffering of refugees from Punjab and Bengal. There is less work on the Uttar Pradesh Muslims who went over to Pakistan, and on the Sindhi Hindus who had to flee into India. The least written about are the Bihari Muslims, this despite the fact that they suffered not once but twice — first when British India was divided, and then again 24 years later, when East Pakistan became the sovereign nation of Bangladesh.

These forgotten victims of India’s Partition have, at long last, found their analyst and chronicler. The sufferings of the Bihari Muslims are the focus of Papiya Ghosh’s recently released book, Partition and the South Asian Diaspora: Extending the Subcontinent. Based on archival research in three continents, supplemented by many interviews and by the skilful use of evidence from fictional sources, this is an intensely human work by a very humane and empathetic historian.

The Partition of India became inevitable after the bloody riots of 1946-47. The violence began in Calcutta on August 16, 1946, sparked by Jinnah’s call for ‘Direct Action’. It then spread to the Bengal countryside, where the main victims were Hindus. This sparked a wave of retributive justice in the adjoining province of Bihar, where it was Muslims who had much the worst of the violence. As Ghosh explains, the riots in Bihar greatly strengthened the demand for Pakistan. For the province was run by a Congress government, some of whose members actively encouraged attacks on Muslims. The partisanship of the administration (mirroring, of course, the prior partisanship of the Muslim League government in Bengal) seemed to vindicate Jinnah’s claim that Muslims would never be safe in a united India where the Hindu-dominated Congress would be the dominant and ruling party. As one refugee wrote, “the blood of the Bihari martyrs provided the ‘foundation stone of Pakistan’”.
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Posted by Ajay :: 11:47 AM :: 0 comments

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Dead Mother Want To Live With Her Son

Kavita and her parents had a mystery and a disturbing one at that, on their hands. Kavita, and a little later, her mother, had distinctly heard Kavita’s father’s voice calling out from the bathroom when he was actually fast asleep. And then, both Kavita and her mother had seen Kavita’s father enter, but it had obviously not been him. A big and frightening question arose in their minds as realisations struck home: who was it who had entered the house and gone to the bathroom and where was he now? What was happening? First the voice, and then a figure… It is known of course that spirits can change either their voice or their form, or both. There are many stories on record where a beautiful young girl or a frail old person who appears to be in distress has lured unwary travellers or those out for a walk to a deserted spot and then changed form, much to their shock.

The purpose of the change of voice or form differs from case to case, but can broadly be placed in two categories: one, a good, valid purpose and two, a seemingly pointless unpleasant experience. But in the case of Kavita’s family, it was the first time in my experience of haunted homes that I was encountering a replication of both voice and form inside an urban house. Who was it and why was it happening? It was important to find out, both for the peace of Kavita’s family and for the soul of the ghost as there was little doubt that one was dealing with an apparition. The moment one advanced towards the rear of their house where the bathroom from which the voice had emanated and into which the form had disappeared, one could feel a palpable presence. It proved to be easier than in many other cases to establish communication with the mystery "voice and form" in Kavita’s home, partly because the "presence" was that of a good soul. When trying to open or maintain a dialogue with an evil spirit or a lower or not too evolved form, it is often a convoluted and at times a dangerous undertaking. But Kavita and her parents were lucky: the mystery voice and form belonged to a family member who had been loved and revered to an almost extraordinary degree when alive. Kavita’s father, Ravinder (not his real name), revealed that his father had "died barely two months after I was born. My mother, Sukhvinder (not her real name), brought me up almost single-handedly and that is a story of great courage that still moves me tremendously… the sacrifices she made for me — I still choke thinking back and recalling those years. Once I got married, my wife and I tried to do all that we could for my mother, who was ailing by that time. Unfortunately, her ailment was diagnosed as cancer and it was in the final stage by the time it was discovered. We, and my wife particularly, gave her love, care, everything that was possible but we knew it was a losing battle. In the last month, my mother’s pain and suffering became so great, we couldn’t cope and felt we were failing her though doctors assured us nothing more could be done. Then somebody told us about Shanti Avedna, a hospice for terminal cancer patients, and that’s where we took her. She didn’t want to go, but it was a good decision to take her there because she received the kind of expert care, cushioned in a compassionate, understanding approach that we would not have been able to provide despite our best efforts. Her agonised suffering which we couldn’t bear to see was definitely greatly reduced. It was at Shanti Avedna that she breathed her last — that was many years ago but it seems just like yesterday…"

After her death, Ravinder’s mother’s soul was naturally relieved to leave a body that had been causing so much physical pain. And while she was happy and grateful for all the special care and attention she had received when she was so ill and helpless, there was one factor that was interfering with her peace: the fact that she hadn’t died at home. Her home, though modest, had meant so much to her because that was where she had spent the happiest period of her life, it had been the home of her husband whom she loved so much but lost early, it was the home where she had conceived Ravinder… She knew of course that being taken to Shanti Avedna has been the best course under the circumstances, but the restlessness at not dying in her own home persisted and that’s what had brought her back to earth, to her old home, to Ravinder and his wife and daughter. And because her physical body had been so ravaged by cancer by the time she died, she found it difficult to manifest in her own form, which is shy she had appeared in Ravinder’s form and spoken in his voice — he was her son, had been part of her body and besides they had been and were still emotionally and spiritually close and therefore assuming his voice and form was not a complicated process.

However, having returned successfully to her old home, what she now wanted was certainly complicated. Because it was not just her attachment to her old home that had brought her back. Equally strong was the attachment to Ravinder and the fact that she had been unable to establish contact with her husband in the spirit world, perhaps because he had been reborn.

Whatever the reason, her desire now was to stay as part of Ravinder’s family and leave along with Ravinder when the time would come for him to leave earth.

Kavita was too young to understand all this fully but the situation left both Ravinder and his wife non-plussed. It was one thing to be living with your mother in human form but quite another to do so when someone, no matter how dear to one, was in spirit form. Was it natural? Would they not be interfering with the life-death traditions, norms, whatever? What would it entail? What effect would it have on their minds and current lives, particularly that of Kavita who was at a very impressionable age? And what would happen in after life? All these were very pertinent questions. And yet, Ravinder, ever the caring son, didn’t want to hurt his beloved mother in any way. He said, "She suffered a lot in her life time, I don’t want her to suffer in any way in her spirit form. In the end it boils down to this: she has come back to her old home, to me — her son, out of a deep love and bonding. How can I ask her to leave…? How can I tell her, ‘mother, you were fine in a physical form, but your spirit form is raising question marks’... after all, it is the spirit form that is supposed to be enduring and the physical form transitory." The above are all very serious questions and considerations. Ravinder and his wife are, to put it mildly, in a quandary.

Supposing they agree to the arrangement, there could, on the basis of what has already passed be considerable confusion at a practical level. How? Unable to manifest in her own form, Ravinder’s mother would obviously use his voice and form leading once again to duplication of voices and forms and the various results and effects flowing from two entities — one human, one spirit — using the same voice and form can be imagined. Is there a solution to this complicated, almost bizarre — even in spirit terms — situation?

Besides seeking guidance from my spirit guides, I have suggested that Ravinder and his wife consult a very wise Tibetan monk I have the good fortune and privilege to know in Dehra Dun. We’ll have to wait and see what advice Ravinder and his wife receive and what decision they take finally.

One thing is clear: the life-death "divide" as it is called is not always a divide and links can remain unbroken not just after death but even long after death.

Posted by Ajay :: 11:41 AM :: 0 comments

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When Porn Star Turns Pristhood

It’s difficult to believe a person’s transition from pornography to priesthood. But porn star Ronald Boyer did exactly that. After being a part of sex films for 30 years, Ronald has reportedly decided to seek priesthood at the Episcopal Church.

Boyer’s decision to take up Christianity was not sudden. It was a gradual pull towards spirituality that made him give up directing and acting in porn movies.

Says Babu Joseph, spokesperson, Catholics Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), "There are various circumstances that can bring about a conversion. It could be personal meaningfulness or a sudden religious persuasion. There are many people who show a gradual interest in knowing more about religion and understanding scriptures. Personal situations lead people to find solace in spirituality."

Those who have had a spiritual experience say that they had started feeling positive and enlightened. The experience doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and a thorough self-examination. Some opine that God led them to a pathway which required belief, discipline and patience.

Meenu Saxena, director, Prerna Niketan Sangathan, an NGO for disabled children says that a spiritual experience made her establish the NGO.

"I have been working at the Faculty of Management Studies for quite some time. However, I felt that we all are on this planet for a purpose. Anyone can work for money, but very few people can work for a cause. I felt that Sai Baba wanted me to work for these children and I set up the NGO where I educate these kids and make them realise that they need not feel inferior due to their disability. What matters is that they are mentally on the same level with an able-bodied person," she adds.

Some feel that spiritual transformation requires desire and the willingness to become holy and compassionate. Fighting the constant vacuum in life and doing something meaningful may require sacrifice and one should be willing to make it.

Prem Pillai is a member of Family Vision, a community that works to make lives better.

He attributes his association with the community to a spiritual experience.

"I had a job as a sales executive, but started feeling an emptiness within me. There was a need to do something meaningful with my life. To fill that void, I gave up my job and started working with Family Vision. It feels great when I integrate myself with children in the Tihar prison creche and teach them things which we take for granted all the time," he shares.

Posted by Ajay :: 11:36 AM :: 0 comments

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