Category Archives: Culture

Goodbye, Tipu Sultan

The Sangh Parivar has supported Tipu when it needed to.

Tipu Sultan

Ghatam Bhindyat, Patam Chhindyat, Kuryat Rasbharohanam

Yenken Prakaren, Prasidho Purusho Bhavet

(Break earthen pots, tear clothes, ride a donkey:

Men try to achieve popularity by any means.)

It was 2006 and DH Shankarmurthy, a nondescript swayamsevak, was handling the higher education ministry in the HD Kumarswamy-led coalition government suddenly hit the national headlines. The trigger was his unusual demand to recast history books in the mould of the Sangh Parivar. Especially his proposal to obliterate the great warrior Tipu Sultan’s name from the annals of Kannada history.

The proposal was based on the completely false pretext that Tipu did not give due importance to the Kannada language and promoted Persian language instead. Never mind that the Mysore state archaeological department holds in its possession more than thirty letters sent from Tipu to the shankaracharya of the Shringeri math, all written in Kannada.

Shankaramurthy wanted Tipu Sultan—who sacrificed his children to end the British rule—obliterated from Karnataka history on the spurious logic that the alleged neglect of Kannada language was reason enough. Even then, the demand had caused a national uproar cutting across party lines. At the time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal Secular (JD-S) were sharing power in the state. As a result, their plans fell flat. Much water has flown down the Kaveri, Godavari and every other Indian river and now a BJP-led government, holding power in the state of Karnataka and the centre has drawn up fresh plans to fulfill a task left unfinished.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/goodbye-tipu-sultan)

Still Life, Aflutter – Harold Bloom and an Old Incantation: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY

Harold Bloom had made it clear many times that his investment in the Greek literary critic Dionysius Longinus, writing in the first century AD, was a way to address and revisit the fundamental encounter of the sublime in our living. Commentators have noticed a remarkable ‘agon’ being played out in Bloom’s career: between his idealizing enthusiasm in romantic-messianic visions and his equal investment in gnostic wisdom and stoic classicism. This agon, or contestation, was his way of addressing a certain space of the uncanny in dealing with art and literature, in contrast to the modernizers and tropologists who, he believed, rejected subjectivity itself as a fallacy. Not Bloom—who had always claimed that the ‘strong critic’ is a kind of poet. As he saw it, literary criticism is an ongoing tussle between the pathos of the heroic will and the ‘literalizers’ who deal in tropes and textual juggleries. But has he been successful in strictly distinguishing the daemonic from the analytic? Are the uncanny and surpassing moments entirely separable from the sensory and the figurative? 

Here is a singular song, penned and sung by Suman Chattopadhyay (now Kabir Suman) decades ago. Continue reading Still Life, Aflutter – Harold Bloom and an Old Incantation: Prasanta Chakravarty

सावरकर को भारत रत्न देना आज़ादी के नायकों का अपमान है

क्या ऐसा शख़्स, जिसने अंग्रेज़ सरकार के पास माफ़ीनामे भेजे, जिन्ना से पहले धर्म के आधार पर राष्ट्र बांटने की बात कही, भारत छोड़ो आंदोलन के समय ब्रिटिश सेना में हिंदू युवाओं की भर्ती का अभियान चलाया, भारतीयों के दमन में अंग्रेज़ों का साथ दिया और देश की आज़ादी के अगुआ महात्मा गांधी की हत्या की साज़िश का सूत्रसंचालन किया, वह किसी भी मायने में भारत रत्न का हक़दार होना चाहिए?

Narendra Modi Savarkar Facebook

वक्त की निहाई अक्सर बड़ी बेरहम मालूम पड़ती है. अपने-अपने वक्त के शहंशाह, अपने-अपने जमाने के महान रणबांकुरे या आलिम सभी को आने वालों की सख्त टीका-टिप्पणियों से रूबरू होना पड़ा है.

बड़ी से बड़ी ऐतिहासिक घटनाएं- भले जिन्होंने समूचे समाज की दिशा बदलने में अहम भूमिका अदा की हो- या बड़ी से बड़ी ऐतिहासिक शख्सियतें- जिन्होंने धारा के विरुद्ध खड़ा होने का साहस कर उसे मोड़ दिया हो – कोई भी कितना भी बड़ा हो उसकी निर्मम आलोचना से बच नहीं पाया है.

यह अकारण ही नहीं कहा जाता कि आने वाली पीढ़ियां पुरानी पीढ़ियों के कंधों पर सवार होती हैं. जाहिर है वे ज्यादा दूर देख सकती हैं, पुरानी पीढ़ियों द्वारा संकलित, संशोधित ज्ञान उनकी अपनी धरोहर होता है, जिसे जज्ब कर वे आगे निकल जा सकती हैं.

समाज की विकास यात्रा को वैज्ञानिक ढंग से देखने वाले शख्स के लिए हो सकता है यह बात भले ही सामान्य मालूम पड़े, लेकिन समाज के व्यापक हिस्से में जिस तरह के अवैज्ञानिक, पश्चगामी चिंतन का बोलबाला रहता है, उसमें ऐसी कोई भी बात उसे आसानी से पच नहीं पाती.

घटनाओं और शख्सियतों का आदर्शीकरण करने की, उन्हें अपने दौर और अपने स्थान से काटकर सार्वभौमिक मानने की जो प्रवृत्ति समाज में विद्यमान रहती है, उसके चलते समाज का बड़ा हिस्सा ऐसी आलोचनाओं को बर्दाश्त नहीं कर पाता.

वैसे बात-बात पर आस्था पर हमला होने का बहाना बनाकर सड़कों पर उतरने वाली हुड़दंगी बजरंगी मानसिकता भले ही ऐसी प्रकट समीक्षा को रोकने की कोशिश करे, लेकिन इतिहास इस बात का साक्षी है कि कहीं प्रकट- तो कहीं प्रच्छन्न रूप से यह आलोचना निरंतर चलती ही रहती है और उन्हीं में नये विचारों के वाहक अंकुरित होते रहते हैं, जो फिर समाज को नये पथ पर ले जाते हैं.

फिलवक्त विनायक दामोदर सावरकर- जिन्हें उनके अनुयायी ‘स्वातंत्रयवीर’ नाम से पुकारते हैं, जो युवावस्था में ही ब्रिटिश विरोधी आंदोलन की तरफ आकर्षित हुए थे, जो बाद में कानून की पढ़ाई करने के लिए लंदन चले गए, जहां वह और रैडिकल राजनीतिक गतिविधियों में जुड़ते गए थे- इसी किस्म की पड़ताल के केंद्र में है.

( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/98705/vd-savarkar-bharat-ratna-indian-freedom-movement/)

Will Lynching in Bharat Be Called Vaddh?

The Sangh’s obsession with vocabulary is not innocent.

Will Lynching in Bharat

The speech by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) supremo Mohan Bhagwat on its foundation day (Dusshera) has now become an event, watched with interest. The speech itself has a long tradition within the organisation, which all its affiliated (anushangik) bodies look upon as a guiding light.

This year was no different. Donning the Sangh’s uniform, the top echelons of its organisations attended the event. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attended too, and wore the black cap and Sangh “uniform”.

Yet, the speech by Bhagwat itself had nothing seemingly strategic. Some analysts even felt that he could not show any new direction to the RSS and its affiliates; that it seemed to have made a weak defence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government that is ruling at the Centre and several states. “Have the tables turned on the Sangh Parivar?,’ The Wire asked, in its analysis of Bhagwat’s speech.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Lynching-Bharat-Called-Vaddh)

शौचालय: एक हत्यारी कथा 

Guest Post : Fact finding team of Communist Party of India ( CPI)

[पिछले सितम्बर की 25 तारीख़ को मध्य प्रदेश के शिवपुरी ज़िले के एक गाँव भावखेड़ी में दो बच्चों की नृशंस हत्या कर दी गयी थी।  मीडिया में कारण यह आया था कि उन्हें खुले में शौच करते देख उसी गाँव  व्यक्ति को गुस्सा आ गया और उसने बच्चों को मार डाला। 

सीपीआई का एक छः सदस्यीय जाँच दल मामले की तहक़ीक़ात के लिए 1 अक्टूबर 2019 को शिवपुरी और भावखेड़ी गया था।  ग्रामीणों और पीड़ित परिवार से तथा अन्य कर्मचारियों, शिक्षकों व बच्चों से बात करने पर हमारे सामने जो तस्वीर उभरी, उसके आधार पर तैयार यह रिपोर्ट]

The Open is No Place for India's Children to Go

मृतक बच्चे (फाइल फोटो दि वायर से साभार) Continue reading शौचालय: एक हत्यारी कथा 

India’s Answer to Brazil’s Ustra

The Hindu Right is analogous to Right-wing regimes elsewhere.

UstraComissao

As Brazil’s Far Right rises, army man Ustra (who died in 2015), who tortured hundreds, is becoming a cult figure of a kind. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The popularity of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which present female role models before young readers, has proved rather phenomenal. Within a span of three years, it has been published in 47 languages around the world and has sold more than a million copies.

The plan to render a Turkish version has met with a big roadblock. A board for the protection of minors from obscene publications of the Turkish government has found them offensive. It recently ruled that these books should be partially banned and treated like pornography.

The reason—they could have a ‘detrimental influence’ on young minds.

It is beyond comprehension what “negative impact” a book that promotes equality can have on impressionable minds, other than the fact that they take the idea seriously and extend it to other arenas of life. Erdogan’s Turkey is no different from Right-wing regimes elsewhere that are very particular about what children should read or not.

Jair Bolsonaro, the controversial Far Right President of Brazil, who is also known as the Trump of the Tropics, was recently in the news for similar reasons.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/india-answer-brazil-ustra)

Against Aachaaram : Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai on the veneration of Parasurama

This is the fourth in a series titled Against Aachaaram: A Dossier from Malayalam on Kafila. The note below is by J Devika. The excerpt from the essay by Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai is translated by UTHARA GEETHA.

The formation of the linguistic state of Kerala was the culmination of a long process of negotiation around Malayalam as a common cultural ethos for the new Malayali. It ultimately became a battle-ground on which the defenders and opponents of aachaaram clashed.  Aachaaram – and the brahmin-sudra nexus – had taken a sound beating when the avarna rose up against these in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, both these did not go under. Instead, they were transformed – aachaaram was put through the seive of Victorian values, and the part of it that survived this process was hailed as the ‘quintessence’ of Malayali Hindu culture. The brahmin-sudra social contract, long existent as the major axis of both exploitation and oppression in the Malayalam-speaking regions, was soon resurrected as ‘savarna Hindu’. This new elite defined itself in terms of the newly-recovered ‘ Malayali Hindu cultural essence’.

One important way this elite and this insidious cultural identity manoeuvred itself into public discourse was by depicting itself as the cultural core of the new United Kerala. However, the best of Malayali intellectuals of the time, especially the poets — Balamani Amma, Vailoppilly Sreedhara Menon, Edassery Govindan Nair, and even P Kunhiraman Nair – crafted a vision of Kerala that was still rooted in many ways in local culture, nature and ethos, but was removed from aachaaram and its despicable connotations. The degree to which they succeeded in this, and their level of commitment to the destruction of aachaaram varied, but there was a general effort to seek other cultural moorings for the New Kerala. The most prominent of the moves made in this direction was perhaps the resurrection of the myth of the Asura King Maveli and the reimagining of Onam around him, rather than Vamana.

In the excerpt below, Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai (1900-1971), one of Malayalam’s finest modern intellectuals and champions of free thought and unfettered conscience, makes a scathing critique of the attempts to sneak aachaaram back into imagination of new Kerala during the discussion about it as a unified cultural entity. He takes unerring aim at an image of the father-figure of aachaaram in Kerala, Parasurama, which was mounted at the entrance to a major conference on United Kerala, held at Thrissur in 1947.

[Kuttippuzha Krishna Pillai, ‘Parasurama chithram’, Kuttippuzhayute Prabandhangal Vol.3, Thrissur: Kerala Sahitya Akademi, 1990, pp.85-88]

The Image of Parasuraman

The newspapers have reported that an image of axe-bearing Parasurama has been installed on the tower at the entrance to the Aikya Kerala Nagar. It would be useful if the organizers explained what they mean by this image. The myth of Parasuraman, in sum, is a tale about his act of gifting the land of Kerala which he created by throwing his axe into the sea to Brahmins, to atone for his sin of having murdered Kshetriyakings twenty-one times. Do the organizers assign any value to this grandmother’s tale? Does this picture or this story contain anything that could inspire the creation of United Kerala in the future? Whatever that may be, there may not be many in these times of the twentieth century who will passively suffer the sight of the coffin of such made-up stories carried out and put on display. This image will only be perceived as a black flag symbolizing superstition and slavery by those who desire freedom. If we confer significance to Parasuraman’s history today, that means accepting ideas that besmear the face of humanity, free conscience and modern science. Let us see what all makes up the story:

  1. A Brahmin with supernatural powers strong enough to create land by drying up the sea with just a throw of his axe lived in India.
  2. The whole of Kerala belongs to the Brahmins according to the heirship granted by the donor.
  3. Redemption from sin is possible through making offerings to Brahmins.
  4. You can be absolved of multiple murders through such offering to Brahmins.
  5. Brahmins are the highest and finest caste and their lives are most valuable.
  6. As the whole of the earth belongs to the Brahmins, other castes are their mere tenants.
  7. Due to the same reason, the ruling powers are also Brahmin.

 

How many of those celebrating the United Kerala celebrations today at Thrissur believe the notions listed above? We ought to introspect on how these kinds of superstitions have pushed Malayalis, especially Hindus, into utter degradation, and about the many ways in which they were reduced to mere menials of the Brahmins. So many are the aachaaram-procedures and blind beliefs well-established over centuries, that this disgusting servitude has permeated the blood of the Savarna and is now dried up into an ugly stain. The blind aacharam of making offerings to the brahmins has cost the savarna Hindus so many lakhs of rupees! [And yet] isn’t this idiotic practice still embraced by many? Brahmin landlordism has its roots in this story of Parasuraman. How many lakhs of Keralites were exploited by the economic system built upon this! Have they attained freedom from this economic exploitation even today?

Even today, it is upon the slogan Go brahminaibhya shubhamasthu nithyam that the Hindu kings wield their sceptre. Good things should befall the Brahmins and the cows which provide them with milk and butter; to hell with others! Look how deep the Brahminical roots have sunk! Can’t you see its dark shadows on all aspects of a Keralite’s life? This image of Parasurama is in actuality the very slavishness of the savarnas to brahmins sunk deep in their subconscious raising its head. It is a disgraceful self-espoused flag of slavery even to them. When that is the case of the savarna, not to speak of the avarna!  They cannot bear it even for a moment. It is the veritable caste-devil which has given rise of six or seven lakhs of abjected and oppressed people. And this is just about the Hindus. Think about another side. Does ‘Keralite’ only refer to Hindus? What worth does this image of Parasuraman hold for the people belonging to other religions? Do not Christians, Muslims, Jews and other communities have an equal status in United Kerala? The utter inappropriateness of an image of a Brahmin clutching his weapon belligerently, reiterating Brahmanical control over the whole world placed in front of a hall in which the United Kerala conference is held for all Keralites irrespective of religion and caste, is surely worth thinking about. Such images do not encourage friendship among different religious groups. Rather, they sow the seeds of disharmony and competition. Some might strain hard to reinterpret this picture and confer new meaning(s), attempting to connect it to modern ideas. They should understand that the common people would still comprehend it with reference to existing meaning conventions. It is impossible to uproot centuries-old deep-rooted meanings and channels of faith with a new interpretation. Is it not evident that Mahatma Gandhi is failing miserably in his attempts to reinterpret the Varna system and the chanting of Ram’s name as he strives to advocate the unity of all religions and to develop goodwill among Hindus and Muslims? Aren’t the bloodbaths of North India today a result of his journey through this dangerous path for well over twenty-five years? Religion, in its everyday meaning and tradition, would culminate in collective insanity. Gandhiji’s toils only helped to inflame it all the more.

We should particularly remember that people trying to dig up the Aryan culture under new names and forms are manuring religious fanaticisms dormant in humanity. The display of monsters from the past, like this image of Parasurama will result in such ugly outcomes. I think there are already disputes and clashes regarding the same in the newspapers. Only images that inspire brotherhood among over the one and a half crore of Keralites should be exhibited. This image of Parasuraman which proclaims Kerala’senslavementto brahmins and blind belief in religion should hereby be removed immediately. It would be amusing to know how the non-violent followers of Gandhi view this representation of a man who committed murder twenty-one times. As it is, they who are the chief trumpeters of United Kerala. It is also very amusing that the very first sight that will fall upon the Hallowed Eyes of the Rajah of Cochin, who will arrive in honour to inaugurate the conference, will be of a Kshatriya-slayer!!

 

Uthara Geetha is currently an Erasmus Mundus scholar at the Centre for Women Studies, University of York.