Bharat Mata and her unruly daughters

Bharat Mata’s daughter? But the Hindutvavadi motherland produces only sons – Hindu, savarna sons – to protect their mother’s ever fragile honour.

Let us begin these reflections with a moment from Nisha Pahuja’s disturbing film the World Before Her, which tracks two young women – Ruhi, a beauty pageant contestant and Prachi, a trainer with the Durga Vahini, women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

While Ruhi and her fellow participants emerge as conventional and pallid, Prachi is fierce and questioning, independent minded. But towards the end of the film, you realize that for both women (and not for Ruhi alone), this period of training was only a small window that gave them a brief glimpse of broader horizons. It was only a brief moment of excitement and hope, and what seemed like freedom, before real life – the real lives of real women – closed in on them.

Throughout the film, Prachi has been telling the film-maker that she will never get married, she will live her life as a Hindutva activist. She emphatically rejects the ordinary life of a wife and mother. But towards the end, her father declares quite explicitly that this is out of the question. She can never be a full time activist. Of course she must get married. She has a womb, do men have wombs? Her responsibility then, is to bring up children. Initially in this sequence, Prachi argues against him vehemently, verges on the insolent, but gradually she falls silent. Her expression, still rebellious, but devastated, resigned, signals to us her recognition that the daughter of the Hindu nation is only in training to be a mother. That is the highest ambition she can have.

Continue reading “Bharat Mata and her unruly daughters”

Promoting Superstition – Everything Official About It !

Image result for superstition

Bhupendra Singh Chudasama, Education minister of Gujarat and his colleague Atmaram Paramar, who handles the Social Justice Ministry, were in the news sometime back- albeit for wrong reasons. A video went viral which showed them participating in a felicitation ceremony of exorcists in Botad. They were also seen watching how a couple of the exorcists were beating themselves with metal chains to live music near the stage.

Perhaps it did not matter to them that the Constitution frowns upon such activities and Article 51A (h) of the Indian constitution clearly says that it shall be a fundamental duty of all citizens “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.” Neighbouring state Maharashtra has even enacted a law (The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013) to rein in all such activities and it criminalises practices related to black magic, human sacrifices, use of magic remedies to cure ailments and other such acts which exploit people’s superstitions. And it was a culmination of a prolonged movement led by activists led by Dr Dabholkar – who even faced martyrdom for his activities. Continue reading “Promoting Superstition – Everything Official About It !”

Why Two Hundred Ordinary Hindus Did Not See A Dead Muslim Child On A Railway Station In North India

On 22 June 2017 fifteen-year old Hafiz Junaid was stabbed to death on a Mathura-bound train from New Delhi. He was traveling home for Eid with his brothers and two friends. A dispute over seats resulted in a group of men repeatedly assaulting and stabbing Junaid and his companions. The assailants flung their bodies onto the Asoti railway platform. A crowd gathered. At some point an ambulance was called and two bodies were taken away. Junaid is dead. His companions are in critical condition. While one person has been arrested the police investigations are running into a wall of social opacity since they have been unable to find a single eye-witness to the incident. Of the 200 hundred strong crowd that assembled on Asoti railway platform on Thursday evening, the police cannot find one person who can say what they saw. The police cannot find a witness because something very peculiar seems to have happened to those present at Junaid’s death. A report by Kaunain Sherrif M in the Indian Express provides specific details. When asked if he had seen anything that evening, Ram Sharan a corn-vendor whose daily shift coincides with the killing, Sharan said he was not present at the time of the incident. Two staffers who were sent to investigate by the station master were unavailable for comment. Neither the station-master, the post-master or the railway guards saw the event they were present at.

In this startling piece the journalist reports how the public lynching of a Muslim child becomes a social non-event in contemporary India. He shows the reconfiguring, and splitting, of a social field of vision. He reports all the ways in which people – Hindus- did not see the body of a dead – Muslim – child that lay in front of them. The Hindus on the Asoti railway platform managed to collectively not see a 15 year old Muslim boy being stabbed to death. Then they collectively, and without prior agreement, continued to not see what they had seen after the event. This is the uniquely terrifying aspect of this incident on which this report reflects: the totalising force of an unspoken, but collectively binding, agreement between Hindus to not see the dead body of a Muslim child. Hindus on this railway platform in a small station in north India instantly produced a stranger sociality, a common social bond between people who do not otherwise know each other. By mutual recognition between strangers, Hindus at this platform agreed to abide by a code of silence by which the death of a Muslim child can not be seen by 200 people in full public view on a railway platform in today’s India. Continue reading “Why Two Hundred Ordinary Hindus Did Not See A Dead Muslim Child On A Railway Station In North India”

धर्म का बोझ और बच्चे

आखिर जिन छोटे बच्चों को क़ानून वोट डालने का अधिकार नहीं देता, जीवनसाथी चुनने का अधिकार नहीं देता, उन्हें आध्यात्मिकता के नाम पर इस तरह जान जोखिम में डालने की अनुमति कैसे दी जा सकती है?

Aradhna Varshil

17 साल का वर्षिल शाह – जिसने 12 वीं की परीक्षा में 99.93 परसेन्टाइल हासिल किए, अब इतिहास हो गया है.

दुनिया उसे सुविरा महाराज नाम से जानेगी और वह अपने गुरु कल्याण रत्न विजय की तरह बाल भिक्खु में शुमार किया जाएगा, ऐसे लोग जिन्होंने बचपन में ही जैन धर्म की दीक्षा ली और ताउम्र जैन धर्म के प्रचार में मुब्तिला रहे.

बताया जा रहा है कि इन्कम टैक्स आफिसर पिता जिगरभाई शाह और मां अमीबेन शाह ने अपनी सन्तान को बिल्कुल ‘धार्मिक’ वातावरण में पाला था, उनके घर में टीवी या रेफ्रिजरेटर भी नहीं था और बिजली का इस्तेमाल भी बहुत जरूरी होने पर किया जाता था क्योंकि शाह दंपति का मानना था कि उर्जा निर्माण के दौरान पानी में रहने वाले जीव मर जाते हैं, जो जैन धर्म के अहिंसा के सिद्धांत के खिलाफ पड़ता है.

वर्षिल-जो अभी कानून के हिसाब से वयस्क नहीं हुआ है, जो वोट भी डाल नहीं सकता है, यहां तक कि अख़बारों में प्रकाशित उसकी तस्वीरों में मासूमियत से भरे उसके चेहरे को भी देखा जा सकता है- के इस हालिया फैसले ने बरबस तेरह साल की जैन समुदाय में जन्मी हैदराबाद की आराधना (जो चार माह से व्रत कर रही थी) के बहाने उठी बहस को नए सिरे से जिंदा किया है, जो पिछले साल खड़ी हुई थी.

( Read the full article here : http://thewirehindi.com/11503/monk-jain-bal-diksha-fasting/)

1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh

Guest post by GURPREET SINGH

It was summer of 1985 when we were visiting New Delhi, the national capital of India to attend a wedding in the family. I had a long hair back then and was aged 15. Both me and my uncle who were wearing turbans like other Sikh men were waiting at a bus stand for the next bus to go to our relatives. As soon as the bus arrived and we were about to climb in after other waiting passengers, the door was slammed on us.  When my uncle protested, the conductor shouted that there is no seat inside. Even as we pointed out at some empty seats, the answer was – “we have told you there is no seat.” Before we could argue the bus sped away.

The incident left me shocked but I wasn’t surprised.  Continue reading “1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh”

कट्टरता के खिलाफ अज्ञेय: वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

सच्चिदानंद हीरानंद वात्स्यायन अज्ञेय हिंदी के ही नहीं वरन समूचे भारतीय साहित्य में निरंतर जिज्ञासा और पाठकीय आकर्षण पैदा करने वाले रचनाकार के रूप में देखे जाते हैं। विभिन्न किस्म की दासता-वृत्तियों, परजीवीपन और क्षुद्र खुशामद से भरे मुल्क में उनका स्वाधीनता बोध जितना गरिमावान लगता है, उतना ही चौंकाने वाला भी। इसी स्वाधीनता बोध ने अज्ञेय की दृष्टि को भारत के लोकतांत्रिक मिजाज के अनुसार ज्यादा खुला व अपने रचना संसार को स्वेच्छा से निर्मित करने लायक बनाया। उनके इस स्वाधीनता बोध का प्रभाव व्यापक रूप से सृजन के बहुत सारे आयामों पर पड़ा है।

अज्ञेय के साहित्य पर लिखने वाले कई आलोचकों ने इस प्रभाव के मूल्यांकन का प्रयास किया है। जैसे कि निर्मल वर्मा ने स्वाधीनता बोध से उत्पन्न उनकी इसी खुली, व्यापक दृष्टि को उनके संपादन कर्म से जोड़कर देखा था। अपने द्वारा संपादित पत्र प्रतीक व दिनमान  में उन्होंने मुक्तिबोध, शमशेर बहादुर सिंह व सज्जाद जहीर को जोड़ा तो तार सप्तक के विविध खंडों में अपने से पूर्णतया भिन्न दृष्टिकोण वाले कवियों को। स्वाधीनता के प्रति तीव्र संवेदनशीलता को व्यक्तिवाद के दायरे में रखकर समझने की सरल चिंतन-प्रक्रिया साहित्य में बहुतायत से मौजूद रही है। ऐसा मानने वालों की सीमा प्रकट करते हुए निर्मल वर्मा ने कहा है कि स्वाधीनता के प्रति अत्यंत सचेत अज्ञेय के प्रति लोगों को झुंझलाहट उस समाज में स्वाभाविक थी जहां लोगों को हर समय किसी ‘ऊपर वाले’ का मुंह जोहना पड़ता है। इन ऊपर वालों में परिवार, जाति, रूढ़ि, पार्टी, विचारधारा, संगठन आदि सभी कुछ शामिल रहा है। यहां तक कि गांव में जातिवाद-परिवार की गुलामी करने वाले लोग जब शहर आए तो उन्होंने विभिन्न पार्टियों, संगठनों व विचारधाराओं की गुलामी को बिना किसी आलोचना के स्वीकार कर लिया। जिन्होंने नहीं स्वीकारा उन्हें कुलद्रोही, जनविरोधी, परंपराद्वेषी, धर्मविरोधी, व्यक्तिवादी आदि आरोपों का सामना करना पड़ा।

Continue reading “कट्टरता के खिलाफ अज्ञेय: वैभव सिंह”

Linger Like Moisture Within – On Viren Dangwal’s Pitr-Paksh: Prasanta Chakravarty

Guest Post by Prasanta Chakravarty

Pitr-paksh/ पितृ-पक्ष (also pitru-paksh) is the 16 day lunar period in the Hindu diurnal calendar when believers pay homage to their ancestors, through specific food offerings. Most years, the autumnal equinox falls within this period, that is, the Sun transitions from the northern to the southern hemisphere during this time. In Northern and Eastern India and Nepal, among the cultures following the purnimanta or the solar calendar, this period usually corresponds with the waning fortnight of the month Ashwin. The souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitr-loka, a realm between heaven and earth. Continue reading “Linger Like Moisture Within – On Viren Dangwal’s Pitr-Paksh: Prasanta Chakravarty”