Archive for December, 2019

We The People

For the nation emerging from the shackles of a long and debilitating colonial rule and limping its feet in the sands of time bloodied by a communal carnage of colossal magnitude, the Indian Constitution  was the sanctified gospel, echoing the consecrated aspirations of half a billion people for a life that is just, liberal and free from prejudice. With 395 articles spread over 22 parts, the Constitution of India is the largest written document for governance anywhere in the world. It has, among others, adopted features from the British, American and French constitutions and thus resonates the values and principles that are universal, gained and refined through centuries of struggle. 

The guiding signposts for awarding ourselves with such an enlightened document, more so when the other country that simultaneously acquired independence opting for a highly sectarian and religiously bigoted statehood, are the timeless ethos of the Indian philosophical thought, enshrined in the Vedas and the Upanishads and etched deeply in the Indian psyche. The belief in the essential oneness of all human beings, in the idea that different sects are but limbs of the one Supreme Being formed the bedrock of an elevated idealism that translated into a workable political doctrine. And it stood the country in good stead!

The idea of equality of religions, for example, has its genesis in the Vedic dictum,” Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”,  meaning, that “the truth is one and wise men describe it differently. The acknowledgement of the fact that there could be multiple ways to inquire into the nature of truth, and that different religions are but varied pathways towards the same goal, paved to accept and integrate people of every religion into our mainstream politics. This principle afforded the state to treat every religion equally and confer equality to its practitioners, a salutary accomplishment that many nations still find hard to achieve. 

Again, the concept of justice, of social, economic and political, has its underpinnings in the Upanishadic verse “Isavasyam idam sarvam”, meaning that the whole universe is permeated with divinity and differential treatment of individuals is alien to our philosophy. This approach compelled the state to see poor and downtrodden as “ Daridra Narayanas” , worthy of special focus and targeted schemes to alleviate their poverty. At the social level, these “Harijans”, were seamlessly integrated through affirmative actions of the state, made possible only by the high ideals derived from our Vedic past.

The principle of fraternity that is embedded in the preamble of our constitution again can be traced to the Vedic roots which says :  Saha Nau-Avatu, Saha Nau Bhunaktu Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai” meaning “May we protect us both together; may we nourish us both together; May we work conjointly with great energy”. This idea of kinship and camaraderie, so essential for nation building, has fuelled us to conquer newer heights in scientific and technological advancements and thereby help resolve many a teething problems of a young nation.

It could thus be established that it is the glorious Vedic school of thought that we have freely drawn from to frame our constitution that inspire and instil a sense of awe in all of us. And it would indeed be unfortunate to tamper with its fundamentals and that too with the avowed objective of building a new “Rashtra” that is in variance to the idea of India that we know of and are justifiably proud of.

We could only turn again to the Vedas and pick a prayer so that better senses prevail:

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah 
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet 
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih 

Meaning: 
May all become happy
May none fall ill |
May all see auspiciousness everywhere
May none ever feel sorrow |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Yours 

Narayanan

December 23, 2019 at 1:06 am 4 comments

The Marriage of Cultures

The dangling string of pearls, the ‘Mundavlya’ , tied horizontally on the bride’s forehead gets entangled with the groom’s ‘Poonal’ as he bends to wipe her temple with his “Angavastram”. The ‘Kolapuri Saaj’, the crafted gold necklace, dazzles in the rays of the morning sun just as the glittering crimson tinged border of the ‘Panchakacham’ the boy is draped with. The three horizontal streaks of ”Vibhuthi”, the hallmark of a ‘TamBram’ male, gels effortlessly with the distinctly Marathi “ Maang Tikka” ,  latched at the centre of the  bride’s hairdo .  The ‘Navari’, bridal trousseau is as exquisitely elegant as the ‘Madisar Pudavai’ worn by the groom’s mother.  The marriage ceremony of the Tamil boy with the Marathi girl was at once unique and colourful, showcasing the intermingling of two divergent cultures, both rich and vibrant in their own ways.

Set in the backdrop of green carpeted hills that’s partially wrapped in the morning mist, the wedding of my nephew was solemn and serene, interspersed with the rituals of both the traditions.  With festoons in hues of gold, lily and strawberry pink, the tastefully decorated floral ‘Mandap’ was delicately subtle yet stately, quite reminiscent of the Maratha regality. The ‘Ganapati Puja’, worshipping the auspicious Lord Ganesha preceded the’ Punyavachan’, the ritual of seeking blessings from the august assembly which was showered in copious measure.  And the ’Antarpat’, the drawing of the curtain in front of the groom was as much fun as it was meaningful  as was the ‘Kanyadaan’ the ritual of offering the girl to the groom. The  “Mangalya Dharanam”, the traditional  knotting of the holy ‘Mangalasutra’ was conducted with the bride dressed up in the typical Tamil Brahmin “Koorai Pudavai”  to the raining of “ Akshadai”, the holy grain, and to the strains of  “Nadaswaram” , the South Indian Shehnai  . As the couple completed the marriage vows, the Gods above and the denizens below lavished their choicest blessings for a life of heavenly togetherness.

The Wedding feast was a thoughtful spread of the finest Marathi cuisine and to the many South Indian “connoisseurs of food” present on the occasion, it was an open invitation to gastronomic indulgence.  And as one relished the dishes one by one, the cravng to tuck in more was palpable and at the end of it all, none felt guilty… after all, it’s a marriage with a difference!

The event concluded with everyone wearing the “ Pagri”, the traditional colourful headgear that added to the bonding and the  bonhomie between two cultures. The “Namaskar” was exchanged with a warm “ Vannakam”.

Yours

Narayanan

December 1, 2019 at 9:11 pm 8 comments


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