The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, October 8, 2000

Kabir as a rebel against caste oppression
Hindi literature Review by
Satyapal Sehgal

Denigrating Asian diaspora
Review by
Himmat Singh Gill

Those who made it big on other's shoulders
Review by
Chandra Mohan

Vittal fires another salvo
Review by
G.V. Gupta

Osho again on Sufi path
Review by
H.P. Sah


Kabir as a rebel against caste oppression
Hindi literature
Review by Satyapal Sehgal

THE 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 Vani, Delhi).

Though 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 further.

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 Muzzafarpur.

Published in 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.

"Kabir" 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.

Dvivedi has 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 ke Alochak").

The trilogy, 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.

Book one, "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 Dvivedi.

Throwing out 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.

"Kabir aur 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 Ramanand."

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 oppressed blacks.

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 for sure.


Denigrating Asian diaspora
Review by Himmat Singh Gill

White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Penguin Books, New Delhi. Pages 462. Rs 395.

"Because 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 Teeth".

A twentyfive-year-old 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 Britain.

The stories 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.

Zadie’s 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?"

Then again, 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 hyperactivity disorder.

There are 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.

Crispin’s 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.

Zadie writes 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.

Examples. 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....".

Another:" 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."

Like Rushdie, it is possible that with this book the author and Penguin Books will invite some attention from certain quarters.

Two other 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."

Or talking 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.

Zadie Smith’s 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."


Those who made it big on other's shoulders
Review by Chandra Mohan

Masters of the Universe by Daniel J. Kadlec. Harper Collins, New York. Pages 282.

mergers 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 their managements.

With a 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 themselves.

Shareholders 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.

Plain and 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 name."

Mutual and 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.

Redstone paid $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 enterprise."

Interesting, 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.

* * *

Profit Patterns by Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison. Times Business, Random House, New York. Pages 432.

With 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.

"Profit 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 style being the key issue. We have now become a part of this cut-throat world of bewildering change.

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.

Standard 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 movement.

l questioning what appears wrong in the picture; and searching where to fix the picture.

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 the day.


Vittal fires another salvo
Review by G.V. Gupta

Fighting Corruption and Restructuring Government by N. Vittal and S. Mahalingam:Manas Publications, New Delhi. Pages 325. Rs 495.

the 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.

Such a 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 more meaningful.

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.


Osho again on Sufi path
Review by H.P. Sah

Singing Silence. Pages 215. Rs 100. The Royal Way. Pages 216. Rs 100. Both by Osho. Diamond Pocket Books, New Delhi.

A machine works 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.

George 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.

Silence 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.

Sufis have 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".

Our 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.

To face 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.

The Arabic 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.

According to 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 themselves.

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 Sufism".

Osho’s 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.

One such 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.

A Sufi 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.

So Bahauddin 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.

Osho, through 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.

Most 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".

In Sufism, 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.

* * *

Osho explains 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.

A living 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 dangerous.

Osho’s 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.

By reading 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.

Sufism is "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.

Before a 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.

Osho 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.

After years 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 little.

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 said.


Forging a shield against globalisation
Review by Kuldeep Kaur

Globalism and New Regionalism edited by Bjorn Hettnem, Andras Inotai and Osvaldo Sunkel. International Political Economy Series. Macmillan Press, London. Pages 270. Rs 475.

"Globalism 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 this volume.

The approach 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.

Without 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 framework.

From a 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.

This volume, 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 political".

For Bjorn 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.

Warning 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.

"Stepping 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.

Taking note 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 benevolent hegemon?"

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?"

It is 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 problem.

The problem 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.

The post-Westphalian 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.


The poignant saga of Panchen Lama

This is excerpted from ‘‘The Search for the Panchen Lama", Penguin Books, London.

MANY 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.

The reality, 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.

Even today, 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 less romantic.

Lhasa is 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.


WHEN 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.


THE 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 demoralised.

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.

Hu’s 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.

The Panchen 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.

Life had 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."


The play-acting over, we settled down to a formal interview. "Who was the boy", I asked, "and how has he been identified?"

The Dalai 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.

"I made 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).

"So the 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.’’

"Now", 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.


the 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.

The three 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".

With unusual 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.


THE 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.

"I don’t 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."

He beamed, 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 be identified?

The Panchen 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 very difficult".

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."