Sunday, October 8,
Kabir as a rebel against caste oppression
dalit has finalLy arrived on the Hindi literary scene. And this
has become possible because Dr Dharamveer (born 1950). Precisely
by his book on Kabir, "Kabir ke Alochak"(Critics of
Kabir Vani, 1997), and then by a sequel to it — a trilogy on
Kabir titled "Kabir: Dr Hazari Prasad Dvivedi ka Prakshipta
Chintan" (Kabir: the interpolated thoughts of Dr Hazari
Prasad Dvivedi), "Kabir aur Ramanand: Kimvadantian" (Kabir
and Ramanand: heresays) and "Kabir: Baaj Bhi, Kapot bhi,
Papiha Bhi" (Kabir: Falcon, Pigeon and Papiha, all four
Dharamveer promises that his project on Kabir is still on, these
books are proof enough that the establishment of criticism in
Hindi has a stupendous work on hand. And why criticism alone?
The dalit point of view in literature obviously has to go
Right in our
social relations. Our perceptions of culture and religion.
Radically. As Dr Dharamveer puts it, "Everybody runs away
from the real Kabir. They have also been trying to stall
establishing the fact that Kabir was a preacher of some ancient
religion of the dalits, a precursor of a new religion. All of
them have one objective — namely to reject the possibility of
the dalits having a different new religion outside the Hindu
monolith" ("Kabir ke Alochak").
In reality it
means even more. If it proceeds well, the dalit point of view
which analyses Hindi literature may prove to be the biggest
subversive act the Hindi literary theory has ever seen. And one
which is entirely rooted in the "history",
"culture" and "sociology" of this land. In
fact, the humanitarian and revolutionary potential it provides
can go a long way in furthering the ongoing social cleansing in
Hindi heartland which dalit politics has already initiated,
though with a degree of confusion, contradictions and
expediency. In the process, Hindi may ultimately recognise its
true speakers, the dalits, from Bikaner to Balia, from Meerut to
1977, "Kabir ke Alochak" takes up all major critics of
Kabir in Hindi, and rips open the "brahminical"
content in them. They are all there, from Ayodhya Singh
Upadhayay "Harioudh" to Acharya Hazari Prasad Dvivedi
to ultimately Dr Ramnivas Chandak. But as we discover later in
the trilogy, his basic strategy is to reclaim Kabir from Dr
Hazari Prasad Dvivedi. It was Dvivedi who is believed to have
created sympathy and place for the medieval poet and saint Kabir
in the Hindi literary elite.
the book by Dvivedi on Kabir, first published in 1941, is
generally perceived as a classic in Hindi literary criticism and
research. Dr Dharamveer, himself a dalit, aims at demolishing
that reputation as vigorously as possible. According to him,
Hazari Prasad Dvivedi took a different approach to fight the
true Kabir philosophy. He has tried to destroy it from within.
presented Kabir in a manner that the Vedas and brahamanism could
face him. For him Kabir philosophy is a plaything — at best an
academic play. The basic aim of Dvivedi was not to understand
Kabir but to protray him as a Hindu and Vaishnavite ("Kabir
Dharamveer’s "project" on Kabir, dwells mostly on
Hazari Prasad Dvivedi’s "brahaminical" construct of
Kabir, picking up its major postulates, deconstructing them and
in the process giving path-breaking hints on the dalit
interpretation of history.
"Kabir: Dr Hazari Prasad Dvivedi ka Prakshipta Chintan",
consistently cries out that Dvivedi’s book is heavily based on
vani which is appended and hence full of
"mischievous illiteracy". One of the chapters of this
book makes a close study of Dvivedi’s language and writing
style. Though the study is quite insufficient and lacks a well
thought-out paradigm, his conclusions are boldly offending to
the customary adulation bestowed on Dvivedi in Hindi academia,
he opines that the language of Dvivedi is full of abuse and his
style is anti-Kabir — that is, while Kabir believed in calling
a spade a spade, Hazari Prasad Dvivedi works his style through
allusions and innuendoes.
Ramanand: Kimvadantian", the second book in the trilogy,
appears to be the most ambitious of Dharamveer’s works. He
produces a lengthy dalit antithesis to the common belief that
Vaishanav bhakta Ramanand was the guru of Kabir. Dharamveer,
through facts, interpretations of Kabir vani and an
ideological debate, using a better methodology than many earlier
critics of Kabir, shows how Ramanand was not and cannot be the
guru of Kabir.
In fact, he
tries to lay bare the "brahaminical" power politics of
such beliefs in Hindi literature which, he says, are mere
heresies. He rejects most of such poetry which mentions Ramanand
as Kabir’s guru.
In a forceful
style Dharamveer questions, again and again, whether a young
rebel like Kabir, who hit so hard at brahaminical hypocracy and
himself a sufferer, accept Ramanand as guru whose philosophical
beliefs and practices allowed untouchability! No, never!
Dharamveer concludes. "Mosquitoes and flies can be Kabir’s
guru, dogs and cats can be Kabir’s guru but not the Brahamin
Apart from some
other topics, this particular book also discusses a Dalit
interpretation of "Raikva Aakhyan", and Kabir on
rebirth and philosophy of action ("Punrajanam and Karmavad").
The third book,
"Kabir: Baaj bhi, Kapot bhi, Papiha bhi" is a little
repetitive as it takes up again the issues touched in earlier
writings of Dharamveer like in chapters "Kabir is not a
Hindu" or "Kabir is not a Vaishanavite" (chapters
I and II).
In a chapter
titled "Baaj bhi, Kapot bhi, Papiha bhi", Dharamveer
has vehemently tried to denounce Hazari Prasad Dvivedi’s
famous proposition that Kabir’s was an individual sadhana.
He says it was social in favour of the dalits. But one would
have to say that this and the content of the next chapter,
"Dalit is not a class", ("Alapsankhayak aur
Matbhed" — Minorities and the difference of opinion) need
further study and consolidation. That may be forthcoming as
Dharamveer’s final statement in the preface of this book
declares that his project on Kabir is incomplete.
The book, a
little more unabashedly, takes up the reality of Indian history
as caste reality. This will certainly raise many eyebrows but
Dharamveer would argue that only a dalit knows what it means to
be born as a shudra. At times this strikes us quite
violently but one remembers Franz Fanon, an Algerian, a
psychiatric by training and profession, who in his classic book
"The Wretched of the Earth" (1963) showed how violence
had a therapeutic effect on the colonised, dehumanised and
So, here enters
a full-fledged dalit point of view in Hindu literary thought by
a person who is not a career academician. For quite some time, a
few dalit creative writers and critics like Sheoraj Singh
Baichain, Kanwal Bhartai, Om Prakash Balmiki, etc. and little
magazines like "Vartman Sahitya" (edited by Vibhuti
Narayan Rai), "Hans" edited by Rajendra Yadav) and
"Yudhrat aam Admi" (edited by Ramanika Gupta) have
been trying to start and sustain a debate over dalit issues in
Hindi literary circles. Dharamveer has done it in one stroke.
Kabir studies anywhere in the
world will not remain the same after these publications. That is
Review by Himmat Singh
Teeth by Zadie Smith. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 462. Rs
this is the other thing about immigrants (‘fugees, emigres,
travellers): they cannot escape their history any more than
you yourself can lose your shadow." — from "White
London resident, Zadie Smith, has written her first novel
based on the lives of the Indian and West Indian diaspora and
also those from other far-off places. All former colonies of
are sometimes funny and sometimes serious, depicting the life
patterns of immigrants who once headed for this small island
to make it good for themselves and their children.
Set in the
second half of the 20th century, it traces the cultural divide
that sets apart the Iqbals, the Chalfens, the Joneses and
others who have made the suburbs of London their home and who
inspite of parading themselves as being more British than the
British themselves, rarely earn much approval from the
original inhabitants. It is an enticing first novel with
plenty of froth and fun.
style is direct and contemporary in tune with the age and
life-cycle of the young. Youthful Irie tells her granny
Hortense, "Gran, I haven’t come to find god. I just
want to do some quiet study here and get my head together. I
need to stay a few months — at least till the New Year.
Oh...ugh....I feel a bit woozy. Can I have an orange?"
talking of the die-hard, Muslim Millat, who is deadly opposed
to the genetic engineering experiments being carried out on a
mouse by the duo Marcus and Magid, Irie propounds a rather
funny theory to Joyce. "Joyce, he hasn’t got a
disorder, he is just a Muslim. There are one billion of them.
They can’t all have ADD." The ADD, of course, in the
language of the young and the bohemian in those days of the
story and the novel, shortened to mean attention, deficit
many actors in this crazy plot, named funnily and often
unconvincingly, like Samad Miah (Mian) Iqbal, Alfred Archibald
Jones, Mangal Pande (of the 1857 mutiny fame), Hortense Bowden
and the rather long Magid (Majid) Mahfooz Mushad Mubtasim
Iqbal. Leaving their philosophies aside, all of them are
either for or against Marcus’s creation of a man-engineered
mouse which can be genetically transformed in looks and
content for a fixed life span, opening up immense
possibilities for the creation and cloning of other kinds.
FATE, (fighting animal torture and exploitation), Hortense
Bowden’s Witnesses and the Bible Tract Society and Millats’
Keepers of the Eternal and Evin Society of the Muslim
Brotherhood are definitely against this invention of the
mouse, and will go to any length to exterminate either the
mouse or the man who has invented it.
The end of
this whole exercise (or the world’s greatest invention,
shall we call it?) is quite comical, where in a fight between
the creators and the disruptors, the mouse makes its great
escape from a glass case into an air vent and thus ends this
experiment and, of course, the novel itself.
well, but often sensationally and carelessly, unconcerned with
the hurt she might cause to people and communities. In her
attempt to be humorous, she often crosses well-laid boundaries
of sensible and mature writing. It is not, therefore,
surprising to see that Salman Rushdie, another of her ilk,
commends her debut as a novelist on a front page blurb.
Samad, a character in the book, talking to another character,
Jones, "You see, Jones," said Samad, "the real
mistake the Viceroy made was to give the Sikhs any position of
power, you see? Just because they have some limited success
with the Kaffirs in Africa," he says. "Yes, Mr Man
with your sweaty fat face and your silly fake English
moustache and your pagri balanced like a large shit on the top
of your head, you can be an officer....".
The Roman Empire declined and fell because Antony was having
it off with Cleopatra... Henry V triumphed at Agincourt
because the French were too busy admiring their own outfits...
And the reat Indian Mutiny of 1857 began when a drunken fool
called Mangal Pande shot a bullet."
it is possible that with this book the author and Penguin
Books will invite some attention from certain quarters.
points stand out in this novel. The immigrant bashing which is
very popular with western readers and a prolific use of
four-letter words throughout the book. Abuses and plain smut
may pass off as adding colour and flavour to the language and
the lives of the Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and other
immigrants described in the book (as Zodie sees it of course),
but the condescending attitude with which the author sees most
of her Asian immigrants in and around London only proves the
point that very few of foreign writers have dealt with the
Asian diaspora in the West dispassionately and objectively.
Yet there is
something so fresh and impish in Zadie’s lilt and style that
it is not tiresome going through the 462 pages of her social
satire and homely wisdom. Describing a marriage that has
failed, she writes, "Archie’s marriage felt like buying
a pair of shoes, taking them home and finding they don’t
fit. For the sake of appearances, he put up with them. And
then, all of a sudden and after 30 years, the shoes picked
themselves up and walked out of the home. She left."
about the huge 15-year-old Irie Jones and the advertisement,
"Lose weight to earn money, 081 555 6752" that
confronted her on a lamp-post, Zadie says, "The girl had
weight; big tits, big butt, big hips, big thighs, big teeth.
She was 13 stone and with 13 pounds in her savings account.
She knew she was the target audience (if ever there was one),
she knew full well as she trudged schoolwards, mouth full of
doughnut, hugging her spare tyres, that the advert was
speaking to her." She writes with little reverence for
anyone or anything.
long, long story about the subcontinental diaspora of the
1970s in England is bound to earn her a large readership.
Whether her outrageous writing about how the Indians and the
Pakistanis live out their lives there or her "writerly
ideosyncrazy", as Salman Rushdie calls it, is really a
true picture of life there of this society, or just a figment
of her imagination is altogether a different matter.
But then most good writers
really write for themselves, and not their reading public, and
Zadie falls in this category. Young in age and the world at
her feet, she seems to be saying, "Listen guys, this is
my story and this is my style. Take it or lump it."
made it big on other's shoulders
Review by Chandra Mohan
the Universe by Daniel J. Kadlec. Harper Collins, New York.
and acquisitions are a recent phenomenon in the Indian corporate
sector. Leveraged buy-out, its twin brother, is yet to appear. M
&A and LBO, as they were derisively called, were the hottest
thing on the global business scene when they first appeared on
Wall Street in the eighties. They were the first manifestation
of the power of the share-holders and realisation by mutual and
pension fund managers of their growing clout in corporations and
wider-spread of education, dispersal of equity ownership and
deepening public knowledge of corporate management, it was an
inevitable consequence. Corporate boards and managements could
no longer take share-holders for granted and eat the cake
not only demanded constant improvement in performance but also
asserted their right to increased returns on their hard-earned
investment. Mandatory publication of quarterly results by stock
exchanges across the world and deeper disclosure of information
in annual reports followed.
The wave of
M&A in the eighties was bitter, often dirty. Sharp-shooters
of the stock market hunted undervalued corporations and went for
their jugular. Every strategy and instrument was employed for
financial gains. Clandestine acquisition of substantial blocks
to secure seats on the board of directors for insider
information management control through junk bonds and
subordinated debt followed by asset stripping soon followed.
simple black mail to make billions was the sole motto. Millions
of small share-holders lost their shirt. Millions were also
thrown out of job in the down sizing which inevitably followed.
Blood was split all over. Many a crime a la Harshad Mehta but on
a much larger scale was committed. Drexel Burnham Lambert and
Michael Milken earned global notoriety after their indictment.
Silverman sums these sharks very neatly thus: "To beat,
pummel and trample, otherwise coerce, trump, outlast and outwit,
frustrate or aggravate into submission any foe with the express
intent of persuading that foe to put his wealth in your
pension funds lost billions of dollars. Since these funds were
backed by a government guarantee, the final tab landed in the
lap of American tax-payers.
But then all
M&Aand LBOdealers were not crooks and wheeler-dealers.
Kadlec in this book writes of masters with genuine interest in
raising share-holder value. They wrenched managements out of
lethargy and slumber, restructured enterprises for better
delivery, even took over direct management responsibility.
This book is
about those great artists in blow-by-blow action as they took
charge of some of the greatest names in corporate America and
turned them around into valued stars of share-holder portfolios.
They also made money for themselves; but money-making alone did
not rule their life.
$3.4 billion to take over Paramount Studios and later cable
network Viacom. He was the first to discover the colossal
potential of linking Hollywood with the small-screen and cable
network. Stephen Bollenbach rebuilt a dying Marriot into one of
the finest hotel chains of the world. Forstman gave a new birth
to dying Gulfstream and its fancy executive aircraft.
Gary Wilson was
great in rebuilding Northwest Airlines out of ashes to the star
that it is. Nowhere does one smell a corporate raider in his
words:"I perform best when I am in a corporation doing
transactions within the corporation to create share-holder
value. My bag is to create value by growing a real industrial
action-filled stories. Dramas on lines of some plots might soon
become visible even in India. Recent trailers which held promise
but never rose to height and fizzled in Act 1 - Scene 1 itself.
* * *
Patterns by Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison. Times Business,
Random House, New York. Pages 432.
revolutionary social and technological changes sweeping through
the business landscape at breathtaking speed, survival and
growth confront business leaders every day. There is perpetual
fear of powerful tornados, when and from which direction
unknown. A weird feeling is creeping in that the number two
stands no chance and it is the winner takes all. Jack Welch at
GEproclaims it from the housetop. The entire world appears to be
consolidating under behemoths: four-fifths for all cars; Intel
chips in every computer; Nokia's and Samsung to supply all
cellphones. Global leadership today holds no guarantee; one slip
and you lie dead. There are plenty of the likes of Nissan,
Daewoo and Rolls-Royce.
Patterns" provides a technique to see order beneath this
surface chaos; the ability to anticipate change and to reach the
spot ahead of competitors, by years if possible. Grabbing and
holding on to the minds of key customers, investors and talent;
Cisco, Intel and Amazon.com. style being the key issue. We have
now become a part of this cut-throat world of bewildering
One thing which
stands out is that the old middle route game stands no chance.
New opportunities lie at the extremities of the bell curve of
customer mind:high-profile Gucci to pander to individual fashion
or, low-prices, but again customised like Dell.
canning of the past just would not do. Search for chinks in the
present chain holds the key. Customer dissatisfaction with any
link could be your opportunity:need-product mismatch; poor
response; long deliveries; poor service. And, once that key has
been found, reviving it up full throttle with increasing
efficiency and at ever-improving price-value equation. Courtesy
the Japanese, 6-Sigma Quality is now taken for granted. Without
total customer trust in quality and integrity, e.commerce would
have been a dead duck.
This new quest
for accelerated understanding of patterns, and getting it one
year sooner than competitors, can only be led by CEOs.
l Learning the
pattern and mapping the strategic landscape;
l mapping lead
indicators: dysfunctionality; extreme variations; rapid
what appears wrong in the picture; and searching where to fix
It will mean a
shift from the snugness of a pattern which had delivered success
for years to a new paradigm. The task is certainly difficult and
full of risk. Enthusiastic takers are rare; what exists instead
is snugness in the past glory and cynicism against the new.
Visionary risks demanded can only be taken by CEOs who are bold,
clear and unambiguous. Decision taken, the organisation has to
be led to change on a broad strategic plan with conviction and
perseverance, but with a flexible mind. The process is more
intuitive. Opinions of established experts, super-analytical
modelling and fancy financial projections will kill it.
Names of the
game today are to invent new business designs to execute your
moves faster than competitors, hedge and make double bets. They
should also copy from someone else and improve or block someone
else and preserve your own opportunity. They should again use
your muscle power to take over someone else's opportunity, the
acquisitions and mergers of today. The prime task is to gain
strategic control, and fast.
Excellent guide for Indian
entrepreneurs whose battles for survival are getting rougher by
fires another salvo
Review by G.V. Gupta
Corruption and Restructuring Government by N. Vittal and S.
Mahalingam:Manas Publications, New Delhi. Pages 325. Rs 495.
preface to this book says, "The ideas and experiences
presented here are mainly those of the first author. The role of
the second author has been in terms of culling out the material
from innumerable talks given on various occasions in various
fora, and giving it a book form."
Since talks on
various subjects have been given the form of a book, the book is
largely in anecdotal form with profuse use of "I".
There is no bibliography and facts asserted have not been
referred to any authoritative sources. We have to take the word
of Shri Vittal for factual correctness of views attributed to
various authorities. There is no mention of the fora where the
talks were delivered and their dates. Obviously the authors don’t
regard it as material. Shri Vittal must have very valid reason
for not presenting it as a collection of talks. Perhaps the
talks were not individually delivered on specific subjects and
each one of them covered concerned itself with different themes
in one go. It also seems that some of the talks were delivered
extempore which lacked the discipline of a western speech.
collection could still be of significance of the editing was
tighter. The book is full of repetitions. For example, at page
23 he quotes Jairam Ramesh to enumerate types of responses
adopted by Indian companies to face the challenges of
globalisation. The same is repeated in the same order at the
boom of page 29. If the editor could eliminate overlapping, the
size of the book could have been considerably reduced, probably
to less than a hundred pages and the product could have been
The book has
eight chapters and subjects covered have a wide range.
Globalisation and privatisation; human resource development
managerial effectiveness; civil services in twenty-first century
and India in next millennium; all receive Shri Vittal’s
attention. of course, there is the chapter on "Tackling
Corruption: AStructural Approach’. Running through all as a
common connect is Shri Vittal’s panacea of Information and
Computer technologies for all the major ills.
Let us look at
the author’s structural approach to talking corruption. Vittal
attributes corruption to nexus between neta, lala, baby, jhola
and dada. He feels that lala’s ethics is to follow God’s
laws and not man made laws. He is happy if his tax burden is
reduced to 30% by evasion from 40% otherwise. Lala’s basic
problem is that in India, unlike in Thailand, corrupt don’t
return the money if they don’t perform. He evolves a
panchsheel approach. He enumerates five basic reasons for
corruption as lack of transparency, scarcity of goods and
services, red tape, archiac laws and law’s inability to
punish. He counts four agents of corruption. Here he excludes
the jhola. He has three point programme of preventive vigilance
i.e individual’s sense of values, socially accepted norms and
system of rewards and punishment. Lastly, two agents viz. Chief
Vigilance Commissioner and the citizen have to fight it.
As regards law,
he wants the authority to confiscate the property acquired by
corrupt means, even before the corruption is proved, invested in
the Vigilance Commissioner. Her also wants the authority to
enforce the Benami transactions law. The rest of the chapter
enumerates various instructions issued by the Commissioner to
eliminate corruption, examples of how he has successfully fought
the menace and how corruption in financial sector can be
eliminated with help of computerisation and information
technology. There are innumerable repetitions. He seems to
forget that an essential principle of civilised criminal
administration is separation investigator, prosecutor and judge.
For him there is no sanctity of the principle of the almost
unfettered right of the accused to defense. He is obviously
carried away by his enthusiasm of battle against corruption. His
analysis of corruption also does not place adequate emphasis on
the centralisation of authority, concentration of power with the
bureaucracy as an agent of change and growth, and inability of
our system to bring the bureaucracy to account.
Shri Vittal is
a prolific writer and probably a compulsive speaker. As a true
bureaucrat he is jack of all trades. This makes a bureaucrat
capable of making some general remarks on any subject. Because
of authority to access information normally not available to
ordinary people, he may also be able to make useful comments on
the subjects he deals with directly in official capacity. This
is proved in chapter 4 of the book dealing with Global
Communication flow. He has been Secretary in-charge of
electronics and telecommunication departments of government of
India, and his understanding of the general aspects of these
subjects will be useful for an interested person.
Indian book publishing industry
does not seem to discriminate between the valuable knowledge and
state authority. Some one becomes a cabinet secretary and
overnight he also becomes a poet worth four books in one go. The
publisher should have insisted on proper editing of this volume
even if he thought it academically useful.
again on Sufi path
Review by H.P. Sah
Silence. Pages 215. Rs 100. The Royal Way. Pages 216. Rs 100.
Both by Osho. Diamond Pocket Books, New Delhi.
according to its design. It cannot do anything for which it is
not built. Human beings work according to their will. Autonomy
of will distinguishes human beings from autometa. The
difference between man and machine is unquestionable to all of
us. But is this difference valid? We hardly ever feel the need
to raise such questions. While listening to the lectures of
Rajneesh (or Osho), you will definitely feel the need to raise
such a question because it helps you "see" that most
people behave in a mechanical way for most of the time.
Gurdjieff used to say that people pass their lives in sleep:
although they think that they are awake, in fact they are
asleep. Sufis also talk of "sleep" pervading our
life, and our waking state is often under the influence of
sleep. Osho’s lectures on Sufism published in a book form
under the titles "Singing Silence" and "The
Royal Way", give us a clear understanding of sleep.
In fact this
has been one of the themes on which Osho had spoken all
through his life. So there is nothing new in these two books
for those who knew him closely and listened to his lectures
frequently. But for thousands of persons who are too busy to
read Osho books or spare time to listen to his lectures, the
handy pocket book editions of Osho’s lectures will prove to
be a great help to acquaint themselves with the spiritual
dimension of life.
cannot be sung, but it can be heard. It can be felt, and on
occasion it is distinctly felt by all. So in one sense, we can
hear silence. Various sorts of external and internal noise
have so suffused the eternal silence that we are unable to
hear it. But yet we have not lost the capacity to hear it.
We can still
hear something other than noise also. That is why all of us
love to listen to good music. Music creates a space in which
internal noise is silenced for a while. But once the music is
over, we are back again in our noisy world without having any
awareness of the fact that it was silence in which we were
lost and the notes of music only helped in creating a space
within which silence could appear prominently.
developed a method — a "tariqa" — by which one
can become aware of the eternal silence, which is the source
of ecstasy. Sufis know the art of helping one hear silence:
they know the art of "singing silence".
upbringing, training and our approach to environment all have
conditioned us to respond to every situation in a mechanical
way. Stereotype roles are taught to us and we have formed
habits of acting accordingly. In all normal situations we act
guided by our habit. Only in moments of crisis we stumble and
become aware of the situation and of ourselves. But soon we
get used even to that situation and begin to respond
mechanically: we fall back to "sleep" again.
reality it is necessary to decondition ourselves from the
whole set-up of artificially cultivated mechanical responses.
We have to unlearn the old mechanical way of living and have
to become as innocent as animals.
word "suf" which is the root of "sufi"
means wool. Osho interprets suf as a symbol of animal.
He says that one can not enter the world of Sufis unless one
becomes innocent like animals.
One has to
throw away all masks that social and religious institutions
have given us in the name of civilsation and education. It
requires a great deal of courage. It is extremely dangerous to
stand against established norms. One has to be prepared to pay
a heavy price for doing what Mansoor or Sarmad did.
different interpretations, the word sufi is derived
from different roots such as sufia which means wisdom,
or sufa which means purity. Osho explains all these
meanings in his lectures in "Singing Silence". In
his view, all these meanings indicate one single fact that
Sufis dissociate themselves from the unreal world of borrowed
knowledge and have got up from the sleep to see the truth for
A scholar on
Sufism may find Osho’s interpretations to be against
historical facts. But Osho is not interested in scholarship at
all. In fact, he is not clarifying Sufism; he is trying to
give insights into the spiritual life of Sufis. He says:
"I will not be talking about Sufism. I will be talking
lectures are not grave, systematic and a consistent
philosophical discourse. He loves telling jokes of Mulla
Nasruddin and quotes philosophers out of context. Very often
he ridicules philosophy and philosophers. But he is serious
about parables and stories of saints’ lives.
story in "Singing Silence" reveals an important
truth about the character of a true saint. Once a person came
to see Sufi saint Bahauddin Shah. He tried to flatter the
saint by saying that he possessed many spiritual qualities and
his simplicity was the proof that he was a true saint.
In fact, the
person wanted to hear in response his own praise by Bahauddin
Shah. The person would be very much like us whose egos get
flattered by false praise and are hurt by true criticism. We
adopt all cunning measures to promote and nurse our ego and in
this process we don’t hesitate to fool a saint.
master, however, cannot be fooled. Complete dissolution of the
ego is the aim of Sufism and a Sufi saint does nothing which
may strengthen a person’s ego.
Shah, totally unaffected by the flattery, replied bluntly to
the person that he was pretending to have those high qualities
which he did not possess. The reply was contrary to the
expectation of the person. His ego was badly hurt. But that is
what a saint is supposed to do.
this story, cautions us against the wayword ways of our ego
and gives us a valuable insight into the nature of a true
saint. A true saint, whether he belongs to the Sufi tradition
or any other, remains completely untouched by praise and
criticism. That is exactly the nature of a "sadguru"
as described by Ramana Maharishi.
religions preach that one should have full faith in God. But
those religious traditions which aim to attain spiritual
experience, give more importance to the guru than God, or
equate guru to God himself. If divinity is not merely an ideal
but a living reality, it can be seen most clearly in an
enlightened master. The spark of the divine is distinctly
visible in a "sadguru".
where experience reigns over dogmas, the master is given the
highest importance. Without having contact with a living
master, one cannot enter into the world of Sufis. A disciple
has to surrender himself at the feet of a master. This is the
specific feature due to which sufism is distinctly different
from orthodox Islam, although it has emerged from the latter.
In Sufism the master is more important than the book.
* * *
the reason for this departure very clearly and boldly in his
lectures on Sufism collected under the title "The Royal
Way". He says books are dead and can be exploited both by
us and by the so-called religious authorities to serve petty
ends. A living master cannot be exploited or
"misused". Our domineering ego can interpret the
words of holy books to suit our convenience.
master does not allow it to happen. He is a vigilant witness
of the spiritual progress of his disciple and can see his ego
in all its disguises. Only he knows what will strengthen the
ego of his disciple and what will dissolve it. Books in the
absence of the master becomes useless; rather they become
comments on the holy books may sometimes appear provocative.
They are not. His comments are thought-provoking. Similarly,
his emphasis on the importance of surrender at the master’s
feet may be seen as an attempt to persuade his audience and
reader to surrender at his feet. It may be a matter of dispute
but his valuable insight into the world of Sufism cannot be
rejected due to that controversial argument.
these comments the reader will feel the need to decide for
himself which way he wants to form his opinion. No one can
remain indifferent about these comments and this is the power
of Osho’s words that involve the reader in the discussion.
Osho did it
through his lectures when he was present. Even years after his
passing away he continues to do the same by his recorded
speech and transcribed words.
"The Royal Way"on which everyone can walk. But the
way is not the same for everyone. If differs from person to
person to person depending on their psychic levels of
development. So an enlightened master is needed who can guide
each individual on his individual journey. Once the person is
initiated into the path of Sufism, it becomes the
responsibility of the master to look after the disciple on his
spiritual journey and help him at every turn till he reaches
the ultimate destination.
master passes away, he appoints his successor who could
continue to help his disciples on their path. Masters come and
go, but the "silsila" of the masters is always kept
alive so that the path of the seeker remains always lighted
and he can progress in his journey without any interruption.
indicates in one of his lectures that a Sufi master sends his
disciples to a different enlightened master if he finds that
the time of his withdrawal from world has come but none of his
own disciples has attained enlightenment. While "silsila"
shows how much care a Sufi master cares for his disciples, it
also reveals the complete egolessness of the master who lives
only to kindle new lamps to spread spiritual light everywhere.
of the death of Osho, it is heartening to see that some
publisher has brought out his lectures in a book form. The
price of the books is high for a paperback edition. More
people will read Osho’s books if the price is lowered a
It would be good if Osho’s
lectures on yoga, tantra, tao, etc. are published in a
paperback edition. More people would be able to know what Osho
actually said apart from what they hear from others as what he
shield against globalisation
Review by Kuldeep Kaur
and New Regionalism edited by Bjorn Hettnem, Andras Inotai and
Osvaldo Sunkel. International Political Economy Series.
Macmillan Press, London. Pages 270. Rs 475.
and the New Regionalism" is the first of five volumes
reporting on the UNU/WIDER (United Nations University/ World
Institute for Development Economics Research) project on new
regionalism. It deals with the concepts and meanings of the
"new world order" — globalisation and
regionalisation. These relate to each other as challenge to
response, globalisation of the world and regionalisation being
a social and political reaction. Leading writers in the field
have contributed thought-provoking and fascinating articles to
to new regionalism taken in this research project is
fundamentally different from the dominant one spearheaded by
the Bretton Woods institutions. According to these
institutions, new regionalism is mainly an economic
phenomenon, reflecting a trade promotion policy built on
regional arrangements rather than on the multilateral
framework. As such, this approach can constitute a threat to
multilateralism, reduce global welfare, and be considered only
as a "second best" solution. Regionalism today is
often considered "new" only in the sense that it is
a revival of protectionism.
denying the relevance of this analysis, this project defines
new regionalism as a comprehensive, multidimensional,
political phenomenon, including economics, security,
environment and other issues, which challenge nation-states
today. It is thus "new" in a qualitative sense, as
it is an integral part of current global transformation, often
called globalisation, and within an interdisciplinary
normative point of view, it represents a way of tackling
problems which cannot be dealt with efficiently at the
national level. New regionalism is still "new"
enough at the national level. The new regionalism is still
"new" enough to raise many questions.
In trying to
come to grips with the essence of regionalisation, the three
editors have rightly realised that the process of
regionalisation can only be understood within the context of
globalisation. To deal only with regionalisation would be to
miss the other side of the coin, which is globalisation. In
the Introduction, the editors spell out the issues referred to
as "the Berlin Agenda" in the prologue — that is,
the question of how the phenomenon of regionalism and
globalism are interrelated. To the extent that theorising
about globalisation takes into account the heterogeneity and
contradictions of the global condition; the phenomenon of
regionalism can be seen as an integral part of globalisation,
as one of its many manifestations.
however, has tried to distinguish the two processes, although
there are diverging views on their relationship and the
degrees of compatibility or incompatibility between them.
Basically they relate to each other as challenge and response,
globalisation being the challenge of economic and cultural
homogenisation of the world, and regionalisation being a
social and political reaction; the "return of the
Hettne this relationship is dialectical, regionalisation
appears to be a political corrective to globalised
market-driven disorder and turbulence, not only at the level
of the world but also in local systems.The dynamics inherent
in the regionalisation process itself, both in terms of
interrelated dimensions and in terms of levels of the world
system, the consequences of regionalisation in terms of world
order values are discussed.
against a Euro-centric bias in new regionalism approach (NRA),
Mittleman dwells on the diverse regionalisation paths using
South-East Asia and Southern Africa as the main empirical
cases. The strategy of transformative regionalism is developed
as a contrast to mainstream neolibral regionalism, which
serves as a stepping stone to globalism.
On the other
hand, Samir Amin regards regionalism as a response, the
"only efficient response" to the challenges of a
continuously deepening polarisation, generated by the
capitalist globalisation process. Monopolies over five key
areas of technology, finance, natural resources, media and
weapons of mass destruction are the expressions of
globalisation process. These monopolies prevent the
peripheries from achieving their developmental goal which
ultimately leads to polarisation. The regional level is seen
as the appropriate level from which these five monopolies can
be effectively combated.
An effort at
theorising the concept is done by Helge Hveem where
globalisation is defined as a basically economic process and
regionalisation as a political reaction, an attempt to direct
internationalisation with some political goal. Three
theoretical approaches — realist/neorealist,
institutionalist and cognitivist (constructivist) are
discussed as distinctive perspectives on regionlisation as
well as on globalisation. NRA is placed in the third category.
stone or stumbling block" debate is taken up by Percy S.
Mistry by showing that new regionalism may support the
emergence of a much needed new multilateralism. Strengthening
the plurilateral process in a framework would give weaker
nation-states some say in decision-making; rather new
regionalism may provide the necessary foundations for a better
functioning of the multilateral system.
of the importance of linking academic discourse to the debate
on economic policies going on in various regions of the world,
Bertil Oden discusses its relevance from the perspective of
the Southern Africa debate or regional cooperation. Oden puts
it in the words: " Will South Africa play the role of the
The impact of
the new regionalism on the theory of international relations,
in particular the mainstream realist tradition, is explored by
Kaisa Lahteenmaki and Jyrki Kakonen. Richard Falk takes a
normative perspective for exploring the relationship between
globalisation and regionalisation. How "positive"
regionalism can support "positive" globalism and
vice versa would depend on whether regionalism is negative
globalism (he adverse impacts of global market forces) or
mitigates pathological anarchism (the breakdown of order and
decency in fragile nation states).
This study is
inconclusive. The question of the two processes relating to
each other still remains to be explored by others. Are they
distinct; are they mutually supporting and reinforcing each
other; or are they contradictory? As James Mittleman puts it
,"Is regionalism a stepping stone or a stumbling block on
the path towards globalisation?"
profitable to quote Richard Falk on this:"How regionalism
of varying attributes fits within globalisation is a central
world order concern, for which evidence and interpretation is
necessarily inconclusive." Still there is a major
lies in the fact that the "regions" which are being
theorised are not well defined. They are an emerging
phenomenon, defining themselves, but ambiguously forming part
of the process of globalisation, supporting it according to
some, opposing it according to others. This ambivalent
relationship is thus the particular concern of this book and
some theoretical framework to handle it.
Yet one way
to think of regionalism is to see it as a way of overcoming
the contradiction between Westphalian and a post-Westphalian
rationality. By the former is implied an inter-state system
with the following characteristics suggested by Robert Cox:
the sovereign independence of states; each state motivated in
its international behaviour by a consistent national interest;
the inter-state system regulated by a balance of power among
the principal powers.
logic implies that the nation-state has lost its usefulness
and that solutions must be found in transnational structures,
global or regional. The confusion is sometimes intensified
even further by the presence of "pre-Westphalian"
attitudes and behaviour in areas where the nation-state always
was weak and superficial from the beginning, and it now
irreversibly breaks down.
But the main cause of
conflict and turbulence is probably the antagonistic
coexistence of Westphalian and post-Westphalian rationality,
to which and post - Westphalian rationality. This volume
elaborates on this. This provides a baseline for more research
in the years to come. it is an excellent provocative analysis.
poignant saga of Panchen Lama
excerpted from ‘‘The Search for the Panchen Lama",
Penguin Books, London.
Tibetan intellectuals feel that westerners view their country
as a kind of religious Disneyland, a place of pure spirit
unsullied by greed or personal ambition and untainted by
politics. Indeed, Tibet has proved a powerful myth in the
western imagination: it was difficult to access at a time when
the West was expanding eastwards in the 18th and 19th
centuries, and its remoteness bred this romantic — and
inappropriate — idea, later known as Shangri-La. Lhasa
became a trophy city for western adventurers and Tibetan
Buddhism a kind of spiritual playground for western whimsy.
of course, is different. As in medieval Europe, much of the
strength of religion in Tibet came from its close association
not with some kind of idealistic notion of commonality but
with power. The physical emblem of that power is the great
brooding mass of Potala Palace, built in the 17th century by
the founder of the state authority of the Gelugpa sect, the
Great Fifth Dalai Lama.
the Potala is a heart-stopping sight. I had my own first
glimpse of its through the dirty windows of a rattling bus one
freezing February afternoon in 1995. I was not in the best of
humour. I had read the early travellers tales of Tibet, the
adventures of those men and women who had forced their way
across high mountain passes and endured months of hardship to
reach the holy city. I had found the modern route to
Shangri-La in some ways more straightforward, but altogether
still not the easiest place to get to, though the obstacles
are no longer primarily geographical but political. There are
two main approaches for the foreign traveller — one by air,
through the Chinese city of Chengdu, a route easily strangled
when the Chinese authorities want to keep out present-day
intruders, and one by land, from the unprepossessing town of
Golmud, in the Chinese province of Qinghai. That route, the
Qinghai-Tibet highway, follows an old caravan trail down
through Nagchu. It takes between 30 and 50 hours, provided the
bus does not break down.
In the summer
months there is also an air route from Nepal, available only
to those who have had the foresight to obtain a visa in
advance, since the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu declines to
issue visas to individual travellers. It is also possible to
travel by road from the Nepalese border through Shigatse,
Tibet’s second city, to the capital. But when I first
visited Lhasa, it was winter. The flight from Kathmandu was
not in operation, the road from Nepal was blocked by snow and
the route through Nagchu extremely doubtful. That left the air
bridge from Chengdu.
the Panchen Lama wrote his plea for justice for his people, he
must still have had some faith in the wisdom and good
intentions of the Chinese leadership, the men in whom he had
placed his trust since childhood. He continued to believe that
if only Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai could be made to understand
the mistakes of the lower-level bureaucrats, those unworthy
instruments of policy whose actions had caused such suffering
to Tibetans, they would act to put the Tibetan revolution back
on course. The Promised Land was still attainable.
At first the
reaction appeared to confirm his faith in Mao and Zhou.
Meetings were called and reports were written in response to
his criticism. In the beginning of August, 1962, he returned
to Lhasa, where on instructions from Beijing even General Tan
Guansan seemed to have been galvanised into a response. The
Panchen Lama felt vindicated. Things were going to happen.
He would not
have been so confident had he been aware of the ominous
developments that were taking place within the Communist
Party. The failure of the Great Leap Forward, far from
sobering Mao’s vision, had merely convinced him that his
fundamental analysis was correct: class struggle was the
dominant problem. Conflicts over national or ethnic identity
and religious faith were all, he believed, manifestations of
reactionary class-consciousness. Mao had retreated from the
claim that Communism could be achieved in 15 years, but he had
substituted for it an assertion that the phase of socialist
transition would be long and arduous. His position in the
party was severely weakened, but he had begun his fight back.
As Mao started to identify his enemies and plot his revenge,
the shadow of his displeasure crept inexorably towards the
Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama thought he had made a reasoned
contribution to the party’s understanding of Tibet. Mao
Zedong came to believe that the Panchen Lama had exposed
himself as a true reactionary.
public displays of emotion that the Dalai Lama’s delegations
had provoked brought home to the Chinese government how far
adrift from reality the reports they had been receiving from
Tibet had been. The party secretary, Ren Rong, was sacked, and
in 1980 two senior members of the government, Hu Yaobang and
Wan Li, made a visit to Tibet. Hu Yaobang was surprised and
shocked by what he found. Instead of the prosperity and
contentment that had been reported to Beijing, there was
penury. The reports had spoken of the improvements that the
Chinese had brought. Hu Yaobang discovered that the local
economy had been ruined by collectivisation and the Chinese
cadres were utterly dependent on supplies from the mainland.
The Tibetans themselves could not have been more miserable and
As a result
of this visit, Hu dictated a new policy for Tibet: the
autonomous government should exercise its autonomy; Tibetan
farmers should be exempt from quotas and taxes; increased
subsidies and flexible economic policy would be introduced;
Tibetan culture would be allowed to revive; and the numbers of
Chinese officials in the TAR government reduced.
measures made an immediate difference. The land was
decollectivised, and the surplus permitted by the tax holiday
began to be spent, with great enthusiasm, on rebuilding the
temples that the Chinese occupation had destroyed. Once again,
Tibetans were allowed to cultivate their lands and rear their
flocks in the ways they knew best and Tibetan chubas
began to replace the Chinese Mao suit. Young women could, once
again, wear their hair long and, gradually, the ornaments and
jewellery beloved of the nomads began to reappear.
Lama, though not formally rehabilitated, was allowed a limited
participation in the new reformist mood. His wealth and his
status were partly restored and for the next 10 years he was
to use his position and his influence to save what he could of
Tibetan culture, language and religious practice.
improved materially and, perhaps, emotionally since the day in
1978 when he had first set eyes on Li Jie at Beijing’s main
railway station. "They lived well", recalled a young
Tibetan who had grown up in that privileged Beijing-based
elite. He remembered watching the couple arrive at a special
film show that had been laid on for important cadres — the
Panchen Lama, a huge man, dressed in a Mao suit, his wife
wearing a leather overcoat, high heels and an elaborate
hair-do. "Everyone called her Princess Wen-Ch’eng",
he said. ‘‘It was like royalty arriving."
play-acting over, we settled down to a formal interview.
"Who was the boy", I asked, "and how has he
Lama talked of the burden of trust that had lain upon him
since the death of the Panchen Lama in 1989. It had always
been like that, he said, but formerly it had been a burden
shared by the Tibetan government. There was an element of
personal obligation in this case, because the ninth Panchen
Lama had played a key role in his own recognition. He had
regularly consulted the Nechung and the Tsangba oracles and
had learned that the child had been born, but until the
beginning of 1994 neither oracle had said that it was the
right time to identify him. Then, a few days previously, the
list of names had arrived.
a divination, immediately", said the Dalai Lama. "It
pointed to one boy, a boy of six. When I looked at that boy’s
picture, I felt a warm feeling, which developed the more I
looked at it. Then, two days ago, I tested, on Monday morning.
I asked if I should make the decision today. The indication
was no. I tested again, and it seemed that Wednesday was the
right day — yesterday (January 25).
first thing in the morning I meditated. It was a special
meditation in which I remembered all the previous Panchen
Lamas and all out important teachers. I needed to have a clear
mind so I visualised the Panchen Lamas and the deity with
which they have a special relationship. "I meditated upon
interdependent nature. Then, I made a divination and the name
of the boy came. Then I repeated it and the name came again.’’
he beamed, "I feel relieved of a huge responsibility —
one stage of the responsibility. But because of today’s
situation, the next question is, how should this true
reincarnation be installed and have a proper education, proper
care? The problem is how to resolve this," he laughed,
"With our new masters. It’s all very sensitive. So one
worry is over, but another one begins.’’
I looked at
the photograph of the child. He started at the camera. His
head slightly tilted back, his lips parted. He seemed to be
sitting in one of those large, heavy brown-leather armchairs
that used to be the universal official furniture in China. He
wore a dark blue shirt with an orange tunic over it. His eyes,
widely spaced, betrayed nothing of whatever emotions he felt
as that photograph was taken. It was a photograph that was to
be reproduced thousands of times and come to adorn hundreds of
private and public altars, the object of devotion of thousands
of followers. He came from Nagchu, a remote district in
central Tibet. He had been born in the year of the horse,
April 25, 1989. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, almost six years old,
the eleventh Panchen Lama.
officials, all of them party members and therefore atheists,
emphasised their dominant role by taking their seats on
chairs, rather than sitting, as the Tibetans did, cross-legged
on the floor. They had not, as television audiences throughout
Tibet were to notice later, troubled to remove their shoes, as
tradition demanded. It was still only 2 a.m. when Luo Gan rose
to his feet to read a State Council document approving the
three candidates whose names were placed in the urn. Gyaltsen
Norbu then announced that the ceremony had begun.
ivory tallies inscribed with names were solemnly inspected by
all the officials and by the parents of the three children. Ye
Xiaowen, the director of the government’s religious affairs
bureau, pronounced them "correct" and gave Lama
Tsering, the new head of the Tashilhunpo democratic management
committee, permission to wrap them in yellow silk and place
them in the urn. Tsering shook the urn like an oversized
cocktail-shaker and placed it before the statue of Sakyamuni.
Bomi prostrated, then drew out a tally and handed it to the
"special commissioner", Gyaltsen Norbu, who read out
the winning name. The officials burst into loud cheers.
The boy who
had been chosen, no doubt coincidentally, bore the same name
as the TAR chairman. The Chinese government had its Panchen
Lama, or as the official media were to put it, with the
atheist’s sensitivity to religious sentiment, Gyaltsen Norbu
had the "lucky number".
haste they proceeded immediately to the tonsure — the first
step towards monkhood. The child was given the religious name
Jetsun Lobsang Chamba Lhundrub Choekyi Gyalpo Pe Zangpo. Bomi
Rinpoche was duly appointed to the key position of the child’s
teacher. To nobody’s surprise, the state council approved
the choice later in the day, a decision solemnly conveyed to
the child that afternoon by Luo Gan. He passed on to the boy
the congratulations of party leaders Jiang Zemin, Li Peng,
Qiao Shi and Li Ruihuan.
present Dalai Lama has often said that he might be the last of
the line, a prediction that seems, if anything, to have been
strengthened by the Panchen Lama dispute. I asked him why he
foresaw the end of the institution.
think it matters whether the institution of the Dalai Lama
stays or not," he replied, "It’s up to the Tibetan
people. If in twenty year’s time they feel it is irrelevant,
then there will be no more Dalai Lamas."
and continued, "Sometimes I think this present stupid
Dalai Lama, this Buddhist monk, may not be the best, but he’s
not the worst either. I think it might be better to make a
dignified farewell in case some other Dalai Lama comes along
and disgraces himself."
He burst out
laughing, then resumed. "But if there is another Dalai
Lama, I have made it clear that the next reincarnation will
certainly appear outside Chinese control."
If that were
to happen, though, without the authority of the Panchen Lama
to settle any potential dispute, how would the next Dalai Lama
Lama, he agreed, would normally have an important say in the
identification of the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.
"But under the present circumstances, without free will
and freedom of spiritual practice," he added, "it’s
As he looked at the
photograph of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, I asked him what he
imagined the child was feeling. He sighed. "I don’t
know. As a human being, he will feel frustration and fear, and
I think he will have a lot of questions. When I look at his
photograph, I feel very sorry that he should have become a
political prisoner through no fault of his own. I think every
human being has a responsibility to do something."