The Curious Case of Im the Dim

The political fortune of Imran Khan started to change during the late years of General Musharraf’s rule. At that time, he had been in politics for a decade but wasn’t taken seriously. His first serious and what would rather be an unpopular endeavor in ‘any civilized country’ was siding with the Taliban in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas. This was the time of confusion in Pakistan. The distinction between good Taliban and bad Taliban had not set in. Good Taliban are those who do Pakistan’s bidding and bad are those who may turn around and bite their masters. Simply saying, those who attack Pakistan’s neighbor are good and those who attack Pakistan are bad. During the early years, the Pakistan army sent to fight the Pakistan Taliban – bad Taliban now, used to surrender without a fight believing it to be America’s war. A reason for Musharraf’s decline was this confusion. Publicly, his tussle with the judiciary and the media made him unpopular, but within the army establishment, his operations in tribal areas and against Lal Masjid in Islamabad were the reason which drifted his core commanders away.

Imran Khan voiced his opposition to the operations raising the humanitarian cost of the war and its legitimacy. The cost of the war on people although is good for rhetoric. It was questioning the legitimacy of war on terror which made him appealing to the conservative sections of Pakistani society and to its army. He had earlier supported Musharraf but now was seen as someone who can carry the conservative appeal and legitimize it. Pakistani Taliban were seen as disgruntled elements who can be soothed and used against Afghanistan and India. For this military action needed to be halted and American drone attacks stopped. He later maintained his position against American drone attacks but brushed aside the role of the Pakistan army against the people of tribal areas. It was all blamed on the illegitimate war, which Pakistan was forced into.

Pakistan’s army grudgingly restored the democracy but assassinating Benazir first – one of the two rivals, it saw. The era of military rule was coming to an end. The rule of Zardari- Benazir’s widower, was a period of global isolation of Pakistan which increased with Mumbai attacks. The same Taliban now under new leader Hakimullah, who was discredited as an Indian agent by many so-called analysts was cheered for offering 10,000 suicide bombers against India if war happens. Pakistan’s army had found a new arsenal in a conservative media, which believed in the prophecies of holy war and blasted radical ideas 24/7. If democracy cannot be derailed, it should be made unpopular. Someone who believed in radical views and will function under army control was needed. With this came the time to raise the dummy to the pedestal. With media and military support, Imran was propped as the new messiah, a ‘Prime Minister in waiting’ but Nawaz Sharif won the election in 2013. The Army knew it would be difficult to control Nawaz, who was earlier ousted by the army in a coup. Any peace with India will make the army lose its overreach in Pakistan.

Imran took to the streets alleging poll rigging, he was supported by another protest movement led by a religious cleric- Tahir-ul-Qadri. Pakistan’s army had brokered a deal between them. The idea was to make Nawaz leave Islamabad and flee. But, he stood the grounds, he knew that the Pakistani army cannot afford another coup. A compromise was worked out. The elected leadership abdicated all control over the defense and foreign relations. The army even took the role of the judiciary or started meddling with the judiciary as per its wishes. Pakistan army had a free hand to crush any regional strife. The army undertook operations in tribal areas, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi, and Balochistan. Using the proxy Jaish-e-Mohammad, India was attacked at Gurdaspur and at Pathankot air base. Meanwhile, the media continued its blitzkrieg against Nawaz, calling him corrupt and Modi’s Yaar (Modi’s friend). The Panama Paper leaks provided the army what it needed, a death blow to Nawaz’s popularity as an elected leader. His views on the army published in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper were now raised as ‘blasphemous’. After all, admitting the truth in a country where everyone lies is a sin.

Imran Khan’s character during these years took a complete 180-degree turn. Which he acknowledges as wisdom, in his own words, “If Hitler would have taken a U-turn and refrained from attacking Russia, he would have been successful.” His position on Pakistan army changed completely from what he held during his early years in politics. He realized finding electoral success criticizing the army will be tough, but with its blessings easy. In 2018, he became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He has been married thrice now. His latest marriage with Bushra Maneka, a ‘Pirni’ – loose translation can range from a female saint to a witch, proves his complete succumbing to religion. It was claimed by his supporters that Bushra had a vision in which Prophet asked her to leave her husband and marry Imran. She was married with three children to a corrupt official who readily agreed to divorce since it was in the interest of Islam and Pakistan. In any normal country, such marriage would have raised eyebrows, in Islamic countries reaction would have been even worse. But, with the army’s control over the media, the narrative was easily digested. Perhaps, people mistook a playboy for progressive. Even a playboy can be a bigot, more than a conservative bearded man because he may try to repent for the sinful ways of the past but remain conflicted. In his case, his return to faith has been weirder than expected for a playboy. He is like Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones, who murdered his own brother and child at the counsel of Red Woman. Here, he has murdered any genuineness that he may have offered, the expectation of a reformer he promised.

Post Pulwama attack, when Imran Khan addressed Pakistan and warned India of consequences in case of Indian attack, he started with gaslighting. Hinting a conspiracy, saying only an idiot will attack India in present circumstances. The same could be said when idiots attacked the Indian parliament, bringing the countries to the brink of war and only idiots will give refuge to Osama Bin Laden. Clearly, Pakistan is full of idiots, one is their Prime Minister now. His appeal for peace was the repeat of the ‘nuclear blackmail’ in the guise of humanity which Pakistan has been using to avoid the punishments of its conduct. He had a ‘Freudian’ slip when he said, if things escalate then it would not be under his control, accepting it’s not him, it is the Pakistani army which calls the shot; he is a mere puppet. His supporters want a Nobel Peace Prize for him, some want Nobel to be given to him so that Pakistan can be obliged into being good, not realizing Imran Khan is a powerless man who has sold his spirit to Pakistan Army.

Read somewhere: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

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Polytheism

Indians pray to many Gods. We pray what is manifested or yet to be manifested, known or unknown, figure or abstract. Everything is God to us. Yet, we say there is one God. In fact, what we are saying is there cannot be second. Claiming one God is confronting the possibility of others, whereas saying there can’t be second embraces the others. If there emerges the chance of duality or multitudes of God, claimant of one will have to deny or live in schism. But, a person who is of the belief that there is nothing but God, is at peace, all he has to do is to develop a habit of accepting all as one.

When we say everything is God, it can be misunderstood as everything is a part of God. Everything is God in entirety. There is no hierarchy as there is no part or division of God. If someone’s idea is God is the creator and us its creation, it does not mean that we are any different from God. In reality, we are the creator of the world we live in. It is our acknowledgment which makes the world real. So the self in me is God. Living with this belief, nothing should unsettle our conviction in our own being as God. Similarly, all other beings sentient or not have their own right to be God. So praying to them is actually a practice to reassert our oneness.

The simple act of folded hands in Namaskar or Namaste, when greeting others or praying to the Gods is a practice to see the divinity in another. With practice the little we identify with – the ego starts to collapse. Our aim is to proceed towards the infinite by not identifying with the bounding ego, but by settling in the unperturbed stillness of complete. What is to be bound and negated is our own ignorance until we realize the reality of oneness.

If a person holds to his ego, he will be bothered by the others as there is a conflict between his self and the other. If one lets go of his ego and identifies the others also with himself, peace settles in. He rejoices in the wellness of others, he is willing to sacrifice more and more as it only empties his ignorance and fills him with knowledge. The knowledge that there is nothing but God. Such a person lives his life in service by seeking less or nothing and gives more. The Sanskrit word for giver and God is Dev, in Latin its Deus. Rightly people worship such being as God as they serve and are in the knowledge of being no different from God.

Nature has given us everything that we enjoy, so nature is God, for it gives without seeking. Every form of nature is God. It is to be respected and worshiped. We worship it to remind ourselves of its divinity which is one with our own. And, what we worship, we respect. If we have to take something we should do it out of sheer necessity, not because of our greed. We are to enjoy without seeking, our own self is no different from enjoyment. With knowledge and devotion, every moment becomes afresh. There is no lingering to the past or anxiety of the future. We are the embodiment of happiness.

gau mata

krishna bal viratswaroop

Religion of India

The religious tradition of India on a whole can be called Hindu or Hinduism. It is not a particular belief system rather a way of life. The word Hindu is relatively new to our tradition.

The word religion doesn’t have an equivalent for Indian faiths. Sometimes Dharma is used for religion, but regardless of the mistakes of many religious leaders Dharma is not religion, Dharma cannot be exclusive. There cannot be Hindu Dharma or Buddha Dharma. It means the natural order of things. Nature is changing all the time, if things stagnate it starts to rot in nature. So if tradition becomes rigid, it takes away the beauty from it. This is the reason why it requires a push from time to time. Dharma taught by the Buddha or the Adi Shankaracharya may seem different, but necessary as per the time so that it doesn’t stagnate our tradition and society. Aptly the first sermon of Buddha at deer park in Sarnath is referred to as Dharmachakrapravartan – the turning of the wheel.

Some people use the word Sanatan Dharma for Hinduism. It is from the four Kumar, the first mind born of the creator – Bramha. They are eternal beings of eternal youth. They are called Sanaka (ancient), Sanatan (eternal), Sanat (ever young) and Sanandan (joyful). Their names are the allegories of what the religion of India is. The religion of India is eternal for it has no starting and no end, it is ancient as there is continuity from the past, it is ever young as it is flexible and sees new developments and, it is joyful for all that matters is to be happy.

sanat kumar


This blog takes from what I had earlier written in Understanding Hindutva.

Dissecting Religion

Religions consist of three essential parts – namely the object of faith, a supreme principle and preferred do’s & don’ts. The object of faith can be an abstract or a figure on which people believe in. It has not much to do with the truth expounded by religion. It is just a name and it is the focus of people’s belief. Most of the believers are content to a certain degree by believing in a God or power of some sort, to whom they can surrender their worries and ask for grace or guidance. If the nature of divinity is not benevolent, still there is surrender and grace becomes protection from its wrath.

supreme pripincle is a guide to the inquiry. It is for those people who are inquisitive and simply believing doesn’t satisfy them. Such people do not necessarily have the faith as strong as a believer but as they advance in their inquiry, more convinced they may grow in their faith. But, this may happen to few. Most will grow dissatisfied and only pretend to have faith. Knowledge complicates such learners since they can’t say to others that they aren’t sure of what they believe and they can’t even leave it. These are the scholars who pretend to know and are looking to convince others of what they themselves haven’t understood.

Do’s and don’ts are the disciplines that are to guide the practitioners. It is to make the individual worthy of the reward or realization which his faith promises. Practices of different faiths may appear similar but the realization that is sought is expounded differently. It is the intellectual convincing which tells the story of revelation differently.

A religious person requires all three parts to be in sync. He should have faith which makes him go ahead and not give up. He should not have doubts remaining so that the ever questioning mind becomes silent and should follow the required regimen with complete dedication. Religions have prescribed the stages in reverse order with discipline comes the ability to use the intellectual faculty rightly and with intellect, doubts are removed so that faith can set in.

I have not taken the scriptures into account as a distinct part as they are to expand the ideas around the three parts. Also, it is not necessary for every religion to have a book to guide its followers. Even if there is a book, it doesn’t necessarily mean popular adherence. People can be religious without having read their respective books.

People who are exposed to various faiths may be aided or conflicted by the exposures. They may be atheist but they may like the church bells, or, they may be Christian and do yoga, or, they may have faith in Hindu Gods but are more convinced with the Buddhist philosophy of impermanence. It is up to the individual to decide what he wants and to what degree. The degree of understanding of the three parts may vary for different people. Due to this variation of understanding, there are as many religions in the world as there are people. To avoid this confusion, it was prescribed by most religions to be true to one’s own religion. If religions are truly universal, the understanding of the other faith, although not required, may help an honest person in his faith.

Imaan mujhe roke hai jo khinche hai mujhe kufr,

Kaaba mire pichhe hai kaleesa mere aage.

Faith restrains me while I am tempted by infidelity,

Behind me stands the mosque, the church in front of me.

– Mirza Ghalib


This blog takes from what I had earlier written in Believer and Non-believer and Seeker and Believer.

The Ideal Refugee

A few Persians following the Islamic conquest somehow managed to escape to China and India. The Sassanid King along with his court lived in exile in China. A major part of China was ruled by the Tang dynasty. With the Tang help, they tried in vain to conquer back their land. On his death bed, the Persian King looked towards the west and is believed to have said, “I tried all for my homeland.” Turning towards the east with the Chinese Emperor in attendance, he said, “I am thankful to China my new homeland.”

In India, the followers of Zoroastrianism who came from Persia are called Parsis. By the same time when the Sassanids were given refuge in China, many Parsis landed on the shores of Western India. Indians back then followed the policy of not letting aliens enter their towns and villages. They were allowed to camp or stay at the rest houses on the outskirts. The arrivals were provided with supplies and watched. When there was no reason to doubt only then entry was given. The Hindu King of the place where they had landed, sent them the supplies with the word that they are already full and that there is no place for new people.

The Parsis sent back a glass of milk with sugar as an offering to King saying as the sugar is not visible in the milk, yet it adds sweetness; our presence will only add sweetness to your land. The King gave them entry with the condition of accepting local language and clothing. The Parsis asked for one more thing. Unlike Indians who don’t carry footwear in their temples, Parsis are required by faith to wear them – the King accepted. Parsis for more than a millennia now have lived in India. Iran, the place of their origin is now ruled by an Islamic theocracy. Of the 1.3 billion of the Indian population, Parsis are just 70,000 but they have made contributions to India in every field. They have lived true to the words of their ancestors. The goodwill of the community is such that when population rise is being checked, the Parsis are being incentivized to increase their numbers.

freddie

For a person who has left his land and moved to another, love for both lands should be a part of him. Leaving the country of origin is neither a divorce to it nor love for it is a reason to not assimilate in new lands. Both the identities can simultaneously exist. But, there is a conflict. People are not willing to leave the habits which failed them. Those who have failed are expecting the conscience of others to be conquered not by goodness, but by using the naivety of the hosts against them. This has made many citizens of the host countries apprehensive about those coming in.

Differences in society are increasing. Apprehensions are not unfounded and the wellbeing of people who already are citizen comes first before new people are settled. To be grateful and loyal to the land which gives refuge is the least it expects. People may originate anywhere but the land which gives shelter is their new motherland.

Lord Krishna had two mothers, one who gave birth to him and another who raised him. If the devotees of Krishna are asked the name of his mother, most at first take the name of the latter.

One cannot pick between the two eyes he has, he will not puncture one for another.

Do you know the way

Most of the people live incomplete lives, living such lives makes people negative. To live a complete life doesn’t mean to do it all, it means to give it all for what we want or what we believe. There are people who don’t know much, but the little they know complimented by their labour helps them succeed. There are many who know a lot but fail to achieve anything substantial. The more informed is distracted by everything, his commitment is lacking. Things worthy of achieving requires labour and perseverance, but since these people know more ways they are more than willing to be complacent. We want to be the jack of all trades, but being the jack of all trades comes with time. It cannot be claimed by the mind. After all, the proof is in the pudding. Because of the previous habits, the mind is anyways always looking to escape one’s control. For knower, all it has to do is to convince him intellectually to give up. Such people can justify inactivity and losses because they know more ways to do it. Many people have become critical of others before becoming responsible for oneself. Rarely we see people who excel in everything and such people have also grown one step at a time. It’s better to succeed in one by completely committing to it before bringing anything else in mind. The unfulfilled lives people live will eventually pull down the society and the nation.

Eke saadhe sab sadhe, sab saadhe sab jaaye.

‘Rahiman’ moolahi seechibo, phulahi phalahi aghaaye.

Excel in one you excel everything, you seek everything you lose all.

Just water the roots, flowers and fruits will bloom and ripe on their own.

Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana

v.m._doroshevich-east_and_war-student_of_university_of_madras

End of the world

Most people will say suicide is bad, but many will have no qualms talking about the end of the world. The death of one is sad, the death of all is acceptable. Religious books say so, Hollywood movies too – so what is to be doubted? Somehow cowardly men have made it fashionable that everyone will die. It is a way to safeguard one’s ego. Our ego will be unhappy with the idea of losing all to death. If death is to come it should be for all. We see many tragedies, but we in our memory have never seen a complete annihilation. Yet, we are sure it will happen. What we can be sure about is our own death. No one can refute it. Instead of accepting this humbly, we want death for all. It ensures injustice and arbitrariness. We can be cruel and conniving but assure ourselves it’s okay since the world will eventually end. Such liars want to die, life is not for them. But, they fear getting judged by others. So what if they die, others should die with them.

Religions have postponed the justice till the judgment day, religious folks have a lot of time to be immoral. Competition amongst religions have reduced the criteria of judgement, it’s just who bought the ‘true’ faiths subscription. Egotists, if scared can easily buy their get out of the jail free card. Pity! we are willing to lie in the name of God. If doomsday was not to happen many are hell-bent to make it happen.

Nahin ki mujh ko qayamat ka etiqad nahin,

shab-e-firaq se roz-e-jaza ziyad nahin.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the day of judgement,

It’s just that it won’t pain me more than the nights of separation.

– Mirza Ghalib

Is sensuality mind driven

At times we engage in sensual activities and justify our indulgences by calling them natural. As if nature means surrender, and it cannot be defeated. What remains a habit for long becomes our nature. If it is good and beneficial nature, it is to be appreciated. If it is weakening, putting limitations on us it is to be confronted.

Sensual pleasure gives us a temporary gratification. It creates a want, we want to make the temporary gratification into everlasting one. But, indulgence leads to a habit of seeking. When we seek we limit ourselves. We cannot transcend the limitations with what we know. This is what the mind does. It puts us into the prison of the known. What becomes unknown to us becomes too far from us since we have sold ourselves to petty pleasures. The mind works with what it has gathered, the bad gatherings need to be purged, This doesn’t mean sensuality is bad. But indulgences over which we have no control, which makes us less of a master of ourselves need to be reigned in.

In India emerged three ways for people to choose. One of celibacy, for those who can give up what they don’t require. Other of temperance, for householders so they develop the attitude of equivalence. They engage in sex in a healthy way. The third was for those who couldn’t control. Those who were most bothered made the problem itself the cure. They made sex a part of tantra, indulgence was mindful. It was to be used to transcend the limitations by not succumbing to desire, but by knowing thoroughly how it works. They experimented with it and came up with various ways to reign in the senses. What was unknown was revealed with awareness reaching new heights.

“To laymen, I speak in parables. To scholars in aphorisms. To yogis in tantra.”

Buddha

chinnamasta_ht21

What if one really doesn’t want good of others

We at times see people who are doing good or have done good for others turning bitter later. The lack of acknowledgment turn them gloom or maybe even antagonistic against those for whom they have done good. Any act a man does have some selfish motive behind it, but we masquerade it with lofty values and names. Even if one gets nothing in return, acknowledging the well-doer validates his or her effort. It is this validation we seek in return for any effort we take. We need to be remunerated for our labor, similarly for any kind gesture we expect the other to be obliged by us for our kindness. When this doesn’t happen, we doubt our effort. It either turns the person sad or makes him angry. If it is difficult to be selfless then it’s better to not do good at all. This doesn’t mean one should do bad, but be selfish in one’s action. Do good for selfish reasons. It may benefit you directly or indirectly. One may stop himself from doing bad simply because someone will do the same to him. A wise selfish person will not like to live in chaos where the possibility of things going wrong are high. This is the reason why people come together and form a society. It is an agreement to function in a cooperating way to best solve our problems. Here, cooperation is not selfless but selfish.

If we are in the habit of seeking then rarely we are going to behave selflessly. It is best to accept this with honesty. Trying to claim greatness in the name of ideals is hypocrisy and will make the person deluded. Only a religious person can be selfless and when I say religious, it is not meant for those who do good seeking reward from some divinity. These are those people who are moved by the suffering of another and do good without expecting any return or validation. Being selfless is the only criteria of being religious.