Gettin Jiggy With It


Seer tried to molest me: Tamil writer

By P C Vinoj Kumar in Chennai
Monday, 29 November , 2004, 19:35

In a sensational disclosure, noted Tamil writer Anuradha Ramanan has alleged that Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati attempted to sexually abuse her in 1992.
The 56-year old writer issued a five-page statement on Monday describing in detail how she got introduced to the Shankaracharya, and how he had allegedly attempted to abuse her.

According to the writer, she got an invitation from the seer in 1992 to visit the Kanchi math for discussions on launching a Tamil spiritual magazine. “At the first meeting, Jayendrar explained about the magazine and offered to make me its editor.”

Anuradha recalls that she happily agreed to the proposal. Subsequently, she claims to have gone to the math for discussions a few times along with another woman, who she has not identified. In the first few meetings the seer supposedly spoke about only spiritual matters.

However, she was shocked when at one meeting, he allegedly started talking in “vulgar” terms. “When I looked up from my writing, I was shocked to find the seer and the woman who had taken me there in a very intimate position.”

Anuradha alleges that the seer then approached her. When she protested, and began shouting at the seer, the other woman tried to convince her about her “good fortune.” When she tried to leave the place, the seer allegedly threatened her not to reveal about the incident to anyone.

Anuradha claims to have informed one of her friends, “a top lady police officer,” on what happened to her at the math. “The officer comforted me and asked me to give a written complaint. But I hesitated to lodge a complaint. I did not want to damage the reputation of the math, which was being held in high esteems by crores of people.”

The writer says that she had fallen unconscious even as she was speaking to the officer. “I was rushed to the hospital,” she recalls.

Anuradha also alleged that she received threats from the seer as well as promises of huge money to buy her silence.

Yes I was expecting this——first violence (murder) and then sex. But hey how do we know that the allegations have any speck of truth in them ? (this lady maybe a publicity seeking pyscho for all we know). Well for now I choose to believe her mainly because I love a good old scandal involving public figures….and if there is a trace of threesome/orgy in the mix.. well I am a believer !

There is something about morally orthodox religious figures and the sins of the flesh that seem to make them inseparable : the more the former fulminate against the latter , more are they driven to them. Rampant pedophilia among the Catholic clergy, homosexual excesses in religious orders of many religions, sexual peccadilloes of the Television Evangelists and now this scandal against the highest Hindu monk—-the more they tighten the screws on everyone else the more lax they themselves are. Besides Mullah Omar and my wife–both of whom have perfect parity between the orthodoxy they follow in their private lives and the orthrodoxy they impose on others I find all other moral figures of authority to be supreme hypocrites following two lines of behavior–one for themselves and one for others.

Well what can we do for the Shankaracharya? Christina Aguilera will be visiting India to discover her (yes you guessed it) spirituality. …and as she says “If you aint dirty you aint here to party”………..need I say more !


Las Ketchup


Just so god aweful funny ! A colonel paying people to pretend to be dead is a sad commentary on the way medals are won in the Indian army. Is the number of people you kill directly proportional to the number of medals hanging from your lapel? I understand that this fine officer was ultimately undone by the fact that the people he was killing never appeared on any terrorist list– but it must have been possible to squeeze in a fake death or two without arousing suspicion? (else why would the colonel do it? ) That he ultimately went too far and finished the bottle of ketchup was his Waterloo or should I say Ketchuploo (yikes !).

Whats even more puzzling was that when someone claims a “head” is there any doctor who actually checks to see if the guy is really dead? Doesnt anyone look after the disposing of bodies or do they just leave them there and watch them walk away? I would be more interested in the chain of command that certifies people as “dead” and what happens to them becuase of the result of these investigations.

I would think not much—now that the “saucy” perpetrator has been caught “red” handed.

All in all a “bloody’ shame.

It's All About Loving Your Loveys


Veer Zara” the latest epic love story from the Yash Chopra house of saccharine marketable emotions (yeah aren’t they all) was released last week (or was it the week before last?). I haven’t seen the movie but I have a fairly good idea about what it will be–after all how different will it be from the millions of Hindi movies churned out year after year every Friday with the inexorableness of an Indian batting collapse.

It’s all about loving. One word symbolizes the Hindi movie industry–love. Now lest this seem like a rant against love, let me stress that I am no mean-minded ogre who is anti-love, I do sincerely believe it is the noblest of all human emotions. What I do not appreciate is that almost all Hindi movies have to be about it–without fail.

And even this is not the entire problem. The problem is that what passes for love in Bollywood products is of an extremely immature variety, usually indulged in by school kids. And this juvenility is pushed down our throats for years on end till people actually start believing in all that eternal, endless crap thing. I have no problem with Yash Chopra, Karan Johar and their ilk marketing love as a “product” through Rose Day, Friendship Day and any other day Hallmark/Archies want to do business on—after all they know that money is more important than love even if we do not. What however is a concern is that otherwise sensible people take these movies to heart and start believing that “someone somewhere is made for me” or that when you meet the person of your dreams, Lata Mangeskar will warble in the background “La la la la la la” or that shooting star will streak across the sky !

Of course its not all sugar and spice. Besides this kind of “so-sweet” puppy love there is that other kind of love which is even more infantile —the “obsessive” kind. Here love is all about never having to take no for an answer and the amount of destructive wackiness and garbled stammering you can engage in is directly proportional to the fire in your heart. Again a horrible role model which unfortunately many take to heart.

But hey aren’t we making different kinds of Hindi movies these days? Aren’t we bolder in showing sexual desire? Actually no. If you look at these supposedly “bold” movies , besides offering some very watered down juvenile titillation they follow the Hindi movie stereotype to the “T”.

In kinder though less gentler times, sexual desire was the prerogative of the lascivious “Lolitaaaa” Shakti Kapoor kinda crowd (the underlying assumption is that physical desire is an emotion felt only by rapists )— the hero would be this virginal guy who would run around trees and have sex with the heroine only if her life was threatened by falling into ice-cold water and it was needed for her to survive (Aa Gale Lag Ja, Ganga Jamuna Saraswati)–definitely the most noble reason ever conceived for indulging your hormones. Those who had consensual pre-marital sex (Aradhana) based on pure physical desire usually met with tragic consequences (should teach you better than to be in a room with Sharmila Tagore in a towel).

Even worse than a “lusty” guy was a sexually liberated lady. They were usually the villain’s molls–Mona and Sona or the dusky cabaret dancer on whom the dejected hero wastes away his savings and his youth. The 90s brought about a change in that clothes and dance routines hitherto engaged in by vamps were now done by the mainstream heroines—but the moral code remained intact. Such sensual behavior was usually engaged in dream sequences , bumping and grinding was ok but sex was not, and it was exclusively the hero she was jiggying with–the only man who would ever occupy her heart and sarkailo khatiya.

Older men and younger women–a no no. Yes there was Lamhe but the love story between Anil Kapoor and Sridevi was extremely juvenile and improbable (it was a Yash Chopra movie) and lacked any kind of emotional depth. Even worse is the coupling between the older woman and the younger man—the older woman is invariably an unhappy alcoholic and must be mandatorily dead by the 15th reel ( Dil Chahta Hain). Extramarital affairs (with the exception of Shyam Benegal movies) are also looked upon as a fault of the scheming other woman (Biwi No 1) , a mistake (Silsila) or just plain prostitution(Aastha)—- it is never about guilt, loneliness, incompatibility or desire. (Noone would dare make “Bridges of Madison County” in Hindi–no sir !)

Alternate forms of sexuality are an object of gross comedy and/or downright hatred. Ever since Anupam Kher painted his hair green for the homosexual villain in “Mast Kalandar”, gay people have been portrayed as effeminate, neutered or plain vicious –marginal, damaged, visually distinctive people unable of having a relationship. The supposedly bold “Girlfriend” pandered to the worst stereotypes of lesbians (the lesbian angle was totally a titillation device) and had the patented Bush-approved message that love is only possible between a man and a woman.

Whether we like it or not, movies influence us more than we think they do. Hindi movies portray an unreal idealized rose-tinted view of life and love. I understand that Hindi movies are escapist song fests where people can get away from the horrible world raging outside the air-conditioned confines of the theatre. But with its monochromous harping on only one color in the whole spectrum of inter-personal relationships (loosely called “love”) Hindi movies close our eyes to alternative definitions and make us judgmental and intolerant of any kind of relationship that does not meet the norms the movie moguls set for us.

Price of Treachery


What’s the price of treachery? 30 pieces of silver? Well that was the going rate in the age of Christ. With inflation in 2004 it comes out to 240 billion rupees. Yes that’s what our beloved Prime Minister gifted to the state of Kashmir. The reason is known to us: it has been repeated ad nauseum by the liberal jhola crowd: Kashmiri Islamic terrorists are misguided youth—let’s create jobs (hand them money) and they will come back to the mainstream of society.

For successive generations we have been throwing money at the Kashmiri Islamic population hoping to buy their loyalty. We have given them privileges way beyond anything provided to Indians from other parts of the country. They have rewarded us with death and disloyalty: from celebrating Pakistani Independence day to the organized massacre and property-grabbing of Kashmiri Hindus their “misguided” efforts have shown no signs of abating.

Even as the Prime Minister doled out unbelievable sums of money Kashmiris by and large stayed indoors boycotting the Indian PM. But not his money !Oh no…on the contrary some Kashmiris (who I suppose were failed the physical endurance test at terrorist training camps) complained that they wanted “call centers” to be set up in Kashmir and desired a share of the development pie. In addition to of course the small amount of 240 crores.

In contrast, a year ago, the President visited refugee camps of Kashmiri Pandits where he went through the rigmarole of mouthing platitudes and promises. Of course he did nothing. It should be remembered that these Pandits, despite having lost everything, were proud enough not to ask for dole. All they wanted was justice.

And well this is justice for them. A gift of gargantuan proportions to their tormentors. Being a permanent member of the UN Security Council won’t make us a superpower. Being able to stand up to terror will. But for now we are bootlicking the Fidayen. India is shining ! Yes sir it is !

Saza-E-Kala Pani


The Shankaracharya is in chains. And what a triumph for democracy in India to be able to see one of the highest office holders of the Hindu order being made to walk the walk by the cops. If we could only now extend this concept of justice to political leaders and to the Islamic clergy in India then well that’s ramrajya for you.

If you follow Indian politics you know the deal. His Holy Lordship has been accused of plotting the murder of a Muth (his holy order)’s adminstrative official who threatened to expose him. It seems that the last time the Shankaracharya tried to visit China the said man filed a high court petition against his visit and in the ensuing controversy our Lordship’s trip got cancelled. The reason the official filed his complaint was one worth noting: evidently as a lead figure of the Hindu community he should not cross “kalapani” else the Shankaracharya would officially no longer be a Hindu. Well I don’t endorse murder or anything but any person who could come up , in all sincerity, with a such a ridiculous objection in this day and age deserved a lobotomy at the very least.

Of course I totally expected the moral indignation and fulminations of the extreme right VHP/RSS on this affront to Hinduism. What I couldnt fathom that this has been dubbed as a Dravidian conspriacy—-whats that? A conspiracy hatched by Rahul Dravid… wonder his batting has been under the weather of late. Take on a Shankaracharya and no wonder the ball gets between his bat and pads onto the stumps.

A Profile in Courage


One thing that characterizes role models is success and fame. Hence Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan and their ilk are the role models of today’s youth. These personalities symbolize success and power attained through some parameter of excellence (sublime batting and over-acting in these specific cases) and there is definitely worth in looking upto that. But are successful people, in the accepted sense of the word, the only people worth worshipping? I am sure all of us agree that that should not be the case. The worship of success to the exclusion of everything else is one of the fundamental problems of Indian society and such role models only affirm the “success is everything” paradigm. Success in itself is not the problem. It is just that the parameter of determining it is almost exclusively money and power.

So lets look at a true role model. He is not a politician. He is not an artist. He doesn’t flex biceps or bring crowds into the stands. He is not part of the “India shining” crowd of self-aggrandizing CEOs. In short, he does not meet the parameters of success which we have come to accept.

His name is Gopal Chandra Patra, principal of Baikunthapur Primary School, in West Midnapore district of West Bengal. Beginning his life as a daily laborer he got a job in a primary school in the backwaters of Bengal in 1974. If going from a laborer to a teacher wasn’t inspiring enough what he subsequently achieved is what makes him a giant among men. He set about creating a library and a science laboratory in his school. Where did the money come from ? It was his own; as a rule he donated half of his meager 8000 rupee salary back to finance facilities in the school he supervised.

He inspired a 70 year old illiterate man to learn to read, campaigned tirelessly against the ills of alcohol which plagued his village and organized health camps. Nine children with heart ailments were treated successfully due to his efforts. Of course he got no help from government agencies but then whets new about that ? His meager health and earnings atrophied but not the idealism inside him. He was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer but he carried on with the same fervor even as his life foirce seeped out of him. Ultimately recognition came to him from Amartya Sen’s Pratichi Trust and from the Telegraph which, in a star studded event with Sonia Gandhi as chief guest, recognized his contribution and his idealism. In an emotional acceptance he fought back tears as he accepted the award in his wheelchair and worried about what would happen after he is gone. The next day at the age of 53 he was no more.

In an age when many teachers have been reduced to becoming salesmen with reading glasses, Gopal Chandra Patra symbolized the true “acharya” or someone who instructs by his “acharan” (behavior). It is stories like Mr Patra’s which the media should be carrying for here was a life to live by. Unfortunately with the exception of newspapers based in Bengal, no other Indian newspaper carried anything about him. I suppose Shahrukh Khan turning 40, the re-release of Mughal-e-Azam, the never-ending death drama of a terrorist who won the Peace Prize and Uma Bharati’s tantrums are more newsworthy than the simple story of a man who symbolized courage and sacrifice.

Of course most of us are not going to change our behavior after reading his story. But maybe that is because this is just one story. We need more such stories. There are so many Indian heroes like this all over the country whose stories need to be heard. At the very least in an age of cynicism when we ascribe ulterior motives to all actions (mainly because there usually is one) it is humbling to see that there are people who do not follow the stereotype . People who can rise above the muck of our daily existence, people who show us how life is to be led, people who can bear unflinchingly what heaven sends. Which is how Euripides defines courage.

A tinge of sadness


Let me stress at the onset: I am no card-carrying leftist intellectual. I have nothing but the utmost contempt for champagne socialists, dogmatic Marxist ideagouges, bleeding-heart genteel liberals who have selective myopia on issues and self-flaggelating (often self-serving) “humanists”.

It’s not everyday you get to see history being made. An Indian batting collapse: common. A defining moment in human progress played out in full technicolor: not so. And that’s exactly what I witnessed on November 2nd with the re-election (or his first election–depending on how you interpret the elections of 2000) of George W Bush. It left me with a profound sense of sadness because the way I looked at it: this election symbolized the culmination of a world-wide process of conservative ossification that has been going on for the last twenty years.

It’s the same kind of sadness I felt when Narendra Modi won the elections in Gujarat after the Godhra riots. Narendra Modi’s policies and his role during the riots were alarming no doubt. However what was far more disturbing was the popular mandate he received after the riots which could only be interpreted as an resounding popular affirmation of what he did. The tragedy was not one facist at the helm: after all history has endured many worse specimens than Narendra Modi and shall endure many more too. The tragedy lay in the fact that his behavior was not considered aberrant and despicable: hence Modi’s re-election to the chief ministership in free and fair polls.

In a way I am comfortable with the Talibans of the world…a barbaric fundamental totalitarian terrorist regime that sustains itself on totally subverting the free will of the people. Such regimes do not last: history teaches us that. What is disquieting is a situation like Gujarat when people’s opinions have been so shaped by fear that the basic quality of collective humanity is lost.

The fear majority Hindus feel may not be irrational: after all proliferation of madrasas teaching the philosophies of hate, minorities who support our opponents whether in cricket or in politics, foreign-funded terror cells, publicly-espoused Islamic fundamentalist agendas emboldened by mollycoddling by the pseudo-secular intellegentsia affirm the notion that Indians are under attack. So it’s high time we stopped treating the problem with kid gloves and search for solutions.

What I dont believe in is the Narendra Modi-Bal Thackeray recipe for the solution: the notion of pre-emptive strike. The problem with the doctrine of pre-emptive strike is that it absolves us of the moral obligation of identifying the enemy. Which is what lay at the heart of the Godhra riots: some Muslim miscreants have set fire to a train so let’s go and massacre as many Muslims as we can so that such incidents do not happen again. That such “pre-emptive” stikes create more terrorists and miscreants is of course the main reason why Modi and Mullah Omar endorse these tactics. It creates more enemies and generates an even more convincing argument for fresher violent pre-emptive strikes.

The irrational, frenzy-driven fundamentalist crowd’s one point agenda is to get into our brains. Besides the “we are under attack so let’s attack” doctrine their other favorite is “back to roots”. That roughly translates to cultural and moral hooliganism: Navaratri celebrations being stopped by Shiv Sena activists on the grounds of vulgarity, Archies galleries being stopped from selling Valentine cards, Kashmiri terrorists making women cover their faces and stop screening Indian movies on fear of death, right wing historian rewriting history, no shorts in TIFR (yes sometimes they do have a sense of humor and aesthetics)… the list is endless. While a previous generation’s reaction would perhaps been to rise up against these moral strictures , it is perhaps a sign of this age that we cower to them and start accepting them whole-heartedly. Why this is so I do not know. Perhaps it is because liberalism and conservatism follow each other in historical cycles…maybe it is because the last generations were so liberal the new attitude is a rebellion against liberalism. That explains why most of India’s youth are more conservative politically than their predecessors for whom socialism and liberalism defined “hip”.

It is a continuation of this trend in the American elections of 2004 that seems to suggest that our entire human civilization has suddenly swung right. At the beginning of the twenty first century, the freest country in the world willingly elects someone who opposes stem cell research, the right to have abortions, endorses drilling for oil in Alaska and propounds the principle of pre-emptive strike. And it does not stop at that: 11 states vote to outlaw gay marriage effectively affiriming the conservative agenda that gays are not “normal” even when science says otherwise. People who would stand to lose most under GW Bush’s pro-wealthy tax policies overwhelmingly vote against their own interests because they feel his “faith-based politics” is more important to them than medicare. The only way this could have happened is because people sincerly believe that it “us” vs “them” where the “them” can be an Islamic fundmentalist, any foreigner, someone gay…the list is endless.

George W is someone I admire because he is someone who stands by his beliefs and makes clear stands on issues and in the world of politics thats something to admire. I welcome his election because I admire some of his foreign policy initiatives and always think that Republican foreign policy is always better than the knee-jerk liberalism of the Democrats.

However what does sadden and alarm me is the death of rationality all over the world and consolidation of the fundamentalistic agenda in favour of faith-based politics. His election is an affirmation of that trend.

Religion and politics dont mix together: the middle Ages is proof of that. Then why now in the age of “englightenment” have we forgotten this lesson ?