Saturday, January 29, 2005

Khushwant Singh
Kingdom of God
Khushwant Singh

I have added two new words to my vocabulary: Thearchy and Millenarianism. Thearchy (as opposed to theocracy meaning government by priests) means rule by God. Millenarianism is belief in the end of the world in our lifetime. I suggest you add them to your lexicon because they are not, as you might think, of academic interest, but are of practical significance today and may have important roles to play in the future.

I came across these two words in an article in the September-October, 2004, issue of The Futurist. It is entitled: The Threat of Thearchy and A resurgence of demands for "rule by God". It deals with the widespread fundamentalist thinking which could bode ill for world peace. The author is Arnold Brown, chairman of a business firm in New York. Brown tells us that for the last 200 years, the western world has witnessed a struggle for supremacy between rule by men and rule by law. Now there is a third contender for supremacy, God.

Abandoned innocents
   January 22, 2005
Gem of a man
   January 15, 2005
Osho calling
   January 8, 2005
All that passed by
   January 1, 2005
Tomorrow yet to come
December 25, 2004
The truth about lies
   December 18, 2004
From Aryana to Afghanistan
   December 11, 2004
Goings-on in the name of god
   December 4, 2004
Of matters religious and erotic
   November 27, 2004
Faith should unite
   November 20, 2004
Fine art of party hopping
   November 6, 2004


He tells us that we have been so pre-occupied with the rise of Islamic militancy, re-fuelled by aircraft crashing into business centres and government buildings in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, that we have overlooked an upsurge of Jewish militancy in Israel, Hindu religious fascism in India and growing Christian hostility towards non-Christians, mainly Muslim immigrants in Europe and the Americas.

According to a Time/CNN poll conducted in 2002, over half of Americans believe in the Biblical prophecy of millenarianism, i.e. life in the world will come to an end in our life. Before that happens, Jesus Christ will re-appear in Israel to establish the Kingdom of God. They support Zionism and dismiss the United Nations as of no consequence.

The Rule of Allah is the driving force behind radical Muslim movements like Al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden. Their mentor, the Egyptian theologian Sayyid Qutb, who was executed in 1966, warned Muslim nations against the corrupting influences of the materialistic West, particularly the USA. He also maintained that there should be no separation between the State and religion: Most Muslim nations like Pakistan and Bangladesh describe themselves as Islamic Republics. The new government of Afghanistan is following their example by drawing a constitution combining human rights with Islamic tenets. This seems to be the pattern our Sangh Parivar wants to impose on secular India. Its concept of Ram Rajya is no different from the fundamentalist Muslims aim to establish Nizam-e-Ilahee.

The most significant contributing factor to the rise in the levels of intolerance in all religions is their justifying it by pointing accusing fingers at the others. Islamic fundamentalists warn Muslims of the corrupting influence of the Christian West and Hindu Islamophobia. Christian fundamentalists warn Christians of the menace of Islamic fanaticism and frequent calls for jehad. So do Hindu kattarwadis who portray both Islam and Christianity as alien religions gnawing at the roots of their Vedantic beliefs. You can add a third word to your vocabulary, Symbiosis: it is the capacity of organisms to live off each other.


Love poetry

In the anthology of selections of our (Kamna Prasad's and mine) favourite pieces of Urdu poetry on which I have been sporadically working over the last few months, the following verses of Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919-2000) remain permanently stuck in my mind as some of the best samples. I take the liberty of reproducing them in the original and my translation, in the hope that discerning readers will point out errors and suggest ways of improving it:

Mujhey sahel ho gaeen manzilein

Keh havaa kay rukh badal gaye

Teyra haath haath mein aa gayaa

Keh chiraagh raah mein jal gaye

(When I took your hands in mine

Winds began to change their course,

My destinations became within easy sight

Lamps along my route turned bright.)

The next verse reads:

Voh lajjaaye meyrey sawaal par

Ke utthaa sakey na jhukaa key sar

Udee zulf chehrey pe iss taraah

Keh shabon kay raaz machal gaye

(My question made her blush deep red

Embarrassed she lowered her head;

Her jet black tresses were such a sight

Revealing dark mysteries of the night.)

And finally:

Vahee baat jo na voh keh sakey

Merey sher-o-naghmon mein dhal gayee

Vahee lab jinhein main na chhoo sakaa

Qada-e-sharaab mein dhal gaye

(Words that she could not speak

Found their way in verse and songs of mine

Lips that I could not touch

Mingled in my goblets of wine)


VIP nuisance

Some time back I was in Oslo. My friend and I were at an Indian store to buy provisions. There came, unannounced, on a bicycle the home minister of the country with no security, and not even a cop in tow. No traffic was stopped. No routine of life was disturbed. I introduced myself to him, and had a brief tete-a-tete. This is in sharp contrast with what happens in India.

Here, whenever a VIP visits an area, cops are deployed in every nook and cranny for his security and hassle-free journey. Nobodies are made to wait on roadsides for the motorcade of 'somebody' to

A Very Important Person has now virtually become synonymous with a Very Inconvenient Person, or a Very Important Problem.

Once Reynolds, a painter of the 18th century and a wit of Dr Samuel Johnson's circle, was walking down a narrow lane of London. From the opposite direction ambled a tall, bulky Lord. Both met in the middle of the lane, which did not have enough space for both of them.

The question rose as who should give way, the VIP Lord, or commoner Reynolds. Piqued at the audacity of Reynolds, the Lord said, "I never give way to a scoundrel". "But I do, sir", retorted Reynolds. Obviously, the weak are always pushed against the wall, and 'nobodies' have to give way to 'somebody.'

(Contributed by C.D. Verma, Faridabad)