Monday, March 30, 2009

Take no offence.

"I do not wish to seem overdramatic but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me as Secretary-General that the Members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts. If such a global partnership is not forged within the next decade, then I very much fear that the problems I have mentioned will have reached such staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control." A troubled U Thant, whom The New York Times hailed as "this dedicaed man of peace" and who was a licensed "ham" as well as interested in UFOs, wrote this in 1969. If his guess about the timeframe was accurate, time has already run out for mankind. The way things are going lends credence to what he said. The more I think about it, the more inclined I'm to the view that the most important lesson parents can teach their children is not to take offence at the slightest (often imagined) of slights. That may be one little step in curbing the increasingly violent manner in which people respond to almost every event at present. It's no cakewalk to follow this naive advice, though, given that the parents' own upbringing has been in a context of "despise-the-other" and "never trust a stranger". The point is simply this: the root of humanity's problems is human nature. The Stanford Research Institute study funded by the Charles F Kettering Foundation, Changing Images of Man, shrouded in conspiracy theory and mind control rumours ever since, offers the propogation of a safe, officially-approved, neutred, materialistic religion - a sort of a "secular monotheism" - as a probable solution for the future salvation of man. Freemasonary ("true Freemasonary" to be exact) with its "one lodge, the universe - and one brotherhood, everything that exists" and each person having "the 'privilege of labor,' of joining with the 'Great Architect' in building more noble structures and thus serving in the divine plan" has been cited as an example. L Ron Hubbard's Scientology might well be its close running mate. It all smacks of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World to me. By the way, do read Changing Images of Man 2000 here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saint on earth.

For reasons I cannot fathom, Sant Tukaram has always fascinated me. As a child, I saw V Shantaram's eponymous movie. I don't remember being too impressed by it at the time. My latter-day interest in Tukaram prompted me recently to read Mahipati's Tukaram, a part of his Bhaktalilamrita. Its English rendering by Dr Justin Edwards Abbott, an American scholar who lived in India in the early twentieth century and contributed to the development of Marathi literature in his own way, retains the flavour of the original. It reminded me of the pothis my mother used to read, Shivalilamrita being one of them, particularly the eleventh chapter on Mondays. I'm not sure if what I read is historically accurate. What struck me, though, was that Tukaram as an enlightened person insisted on possessing nothing. There are repeated instances in the story I read of Tukaram inviting brahmins, mendicants and poor people to "loot" his home. This reminded me of what I had written earlier: In researching it, I had come across informed opinion that enlightenment ought to change a person for the better. Also, there is the Simony angle to the practice of sainthood, I reckon. Mahipati's account of Tukaram qua an avatar of Namdeo explicitly states that his protagonist was almost violently opposed to the Advaita way to enlightenment. He was all for bhakti. In other words, total devotion. This was a bit bewildering in that I could not imagine a gentle soul like him opposing any idea vigorously - especially if it had the sanction of the Vedas. The other puzzling bit is that, while all along Tukaram seems to be drifting away from his wife Avali who is cross with him for giving his total devotion to Vithoba and neglecting his family, at the time of his ascent to Vaikuntha, Vishnu's heavenly abode, he sends a message to her to join him. She, however, sends back a message that she is in the fifth month of pregnancy and cannot join him. How did it happen?

Bizarre behaviour.

I just finished reading David Pryce-Jones' Unity Mitford A Quest (Star, London 1981). It had been lying hidden in one of our cupboards until it caught my eye serendipitously one fortunate afternoon. Many of the events it covers took place before I was born and some, when I was a child. It is a difficult read what with all the Germans and other Europeans peopling it, German, Hungarian and Czech place names and, above all (or, uber alles, as Unity Valkyrie Mitford would probably have preferred it), the dry and clinical style of writing that Pryce-Jones uses. It's a psychological thriller in a sense. It scared me no end to enter into Unity's mind. It ticked like the mind of a latter-day groupie of a rock star or a movie star. She was a British aristocrat by birth and upbringing, related to Winston Churchill. Yet, she was a Fascist, anti-Semite and more Nazi than the Nazis. She followed Hitler, somehow intuiting his movements and whereabouts and managing to be in the right place at the right time to catch his eye. The Nazis thought she was a British spy. The book suggests she was an ardent fan of Hitler who apparently saw her as the perfect specimen of Aryan (Nordic) womanhood. There has of late been speculation if Unity had Hitler's love-child. and Pryce-Jones goes to great lengths to cite hearsay evidence to prove that there was nothing sexual about the Unity-Hitler link-up. Nor, according to him, did she have an affair with the Hungarian aristocrat and closet-Nazi Janos Almasy, the brother of of Lazlo (aka 'The English Patient"). Unity fervently hoped that Germany and England would be allies and jointly "police" the world. When they went to war, her inner world imploded and she tried to commit suicide. Weird!