On Cultural Revivals … and Gandhi!

Had a discussion about Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj“, and difference between western and Indian thought, and how good some old things were, and do we need a revival. And this came to mind:

उस सूखे ठूँठ पर नई टहनी पर नए पत्ते आए हैं।
यह उस पुराने, विशालकाय, छायावान पेड़ की याद नहीं दिलाते,
जो बुढे ज्ञानी बाबा के समान था, और अब ठूँठ बना खड़ा है।
यह टहनी तो आंगन में खेलती, छोटी, प्यारी बच्ची की याद दिलाती है।
पत्तों का आकार भले ही वैसा हो,
पर इस टहनी को फिर विशालकाय छायावान वृक्ष बनने मे समय लगेगा।
कितना ही गुस्सा, आंदोलन, तमाशा कर लो,
पर पेड दिनों मे बड़े नहीं होते।
ना ही ठूँठ अपनी पुरानी रौनक को लौटते हैं।
छाया फिर चाहिए,
तो वह छोटा-सा ठूँठ का तुकड़ा ढूंढो,
जहाँ अभी नमी बाकी है।
उसे सींचो,
और प्रार्थना करो कि वहाँ एक नई टहनी फूटे,
जो सालों बाद हि सही, पर छाया ज़रूर दे।
तब तक बुज़ुर्गों के सुनाए बूढ़े, विशालकाय, छायावान बरगद के किस्सों से ही काम चलाओ।
और तब तक,
कोई भी मिनटों मे ठंडे छायादार आराम का लोभ दे,
तो उस पर विश्वास न करो।

Experiments, with Truth

In the town, where i was born, lived a man, who sailed to sea…
and he told us of his life, in the land of submarines…

No, this has nothing to do with The Beatles. I was born in Sewagram. This is where Gandhi (the original one) lived for a substantial part of his life. And he did sail to sea, albeit not as a sailor; but as a student once and as a guru later. And he did tell us of his life in the land … well not of submarines, but of just marines. More interestingly, he told us of what he did on those trips. In the first one, he experimented… With truth. The most elusive substance on earth, and may be beyond. And somehow, we Indians, and especially the ancient Indians have been obsessed with this thing called truth.

Recently, i have been introduced to a new paradigm of experimenting with truth. It says that truth is not a substance, its a method, or may be an act… Like sex. It says that, don’t seek the truth, rather “do” the truth. Though grammatically awkward, it seems to work – while interacting with clients, co-workers, families and friends – “doing” the truth works. So how do you do it?

by just responding to the tiniest reality in front of you.

Here’s an example. One of your coworkers lied to you, yesterday, on an email. By the time you reach office today, you can conjure up a huge conspiracy theory of why he has lied to you, and who else might be involved in the conspiracy, on how this is going to affect your promotion to the post of CEO in 2029, and how the next increment may be affected and your wife might feel bad about not buying the second car you could have bought with the increased EMI capacity, and if you are not married how silly you would look to the blue-eyed girl CCed on that untruthful email.


you don’t think about the lie at all. You just go to the office – read what has been written – and respond to that line – just that line. And forget about it after you press send. If he replies with another lie (chances are, he wont; but in case he does), its a new experiment to respond then, tackle it afresh. Each response to the tiniest reality in front – is an experiment with truth.

I was advised to do something like this by a colleague recently. And he helped me do it – it was nice. Hope it works.

And, if we lack the temperament it takes to stick to this practice, consult the Buddha.

Aaj Bazaar Mein

I have posted ‘intesab’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz earlier. This is another one of his very popular poems. It was written during the rule of General Zia in Pakistan, and has a very distinct revolutionary fervor. It urges everyone who feels dejected of the happenings around him, to come out and get heard, inspite of the odds. And the feel is surprisingly similar to the spirit of Gandhi’s satyagrah, rather than that of call for a violent revolution.

आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौंला चलो।
चश्म-ए-नम जान-ए-शोरीदा काफ़ी नहीं,
तोहमत-ए-इश्क़ पोशीदा काफ़ी नहीं,
आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौंला चलो।
[जौंला == बेड़ी, shackles; पा-ब-जौंला == shackled feet]
[चश्म-ए-नम == eyes with tears] [जान-ए-शोरीदा == distressed soul]
[तोहमत-ए-इश्क़ == blame of love] [पोशीदा == hidden]

दस्त-ए-अफ़्शाँ चलो मस्त-ओ-रक्साँ चलो
ख़ाक-बर-सर चलो खूँ-ब-दामाँ चलो
राह तकता है शहर-ए-जानाँ चल।
आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौंला चलो।
[दस्त-ए-अफ़्शाँ == with swingin arms] [मस्त-ओ-रक्साँ == dancing merrily]
[ख़ाक-बर-सर == head to feet covered in mud] [खूँ-ब-दामाँ == with blood stained sleeves]
[शहर-ए-जानाँ == the beloved city]

हाकिम-ए-शहर भी, मजमा-ऐ-आम भी,
तीर-ए-इल्ज़ाम भी, संग-ए-दुशनाम भी,
सुबह-ए-नाशाद भी, रोज़-ए-नाकाम भी,
पा-ब-जौंला चलो
आज बाज़ार में।
आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौंला चलो।
[हाकिम-ए-शहर == rulers of the city (shall watch)]
[मजमा-ऐ-आम == flocks common men (shall watch)]
[तीर-ए-इल्ज़ाम == (so that you get) arrows of accusations]
[संग-ए-दुशनाम == (so that you get) stones of insults]
[सुबह-ए-नाशाद == (do so despite) depressing mornings]
[रोज़-ए-नाकाम == (do so despite) unsuccessful days]

इनका दमसाज़ अपने सिवा कौन है?
शहर-ए-जानाँ में अब बासिफ़ा कौन है?
दस्त-ए-कातिल के शायाँ रहा कौन है?
रक्स-ए-दिल बांध लो दिल फिगारो चल॥
फिर हमीं कत्ल हों आएँ यारा चलो।
आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौंला चलो।
[दमसाज़ == friend] [सिफ़ा == good reference, so बासिफ़ा == trustworthy]
[दस्त-ए-कातिल == murderer’s hands] [शायाँ == safe]
[रक्स-ए-दिल == heartbeat] [दिल फिगारो == with a broken heart]

For the whole last week, I have been haunted by Nayyara Noor‘s rendition of this song. You can listen to it here.