Friday, October 23, 2015

Should We Burn Ravana?

Please Note: This is a personal opinion with no intention of hurting anyone's sentiments and beliefs. Read with an open mind. 

It was Dussehra yesterday, which for the uninitiated is a festival on which, after 9 days of celebration wherein the Ramayana is enacted in different parts of India as "Ramleela", the effigy of the demonic ten- headed giant named Ravana is burnt; as it is believed to have happened long ago according to Hindu mythology.


The characters of this story have always amused me as I am sure it has many with a critical attitude. As my understanding of human nature grows I am in a conflict of what was told to me in stories by my grandmother. The chief conflict post reading many books and people now is, if there a possibility of an absolute white or dark of a man's nature or character? I know I am not the first person asking this question but I often ponder whether it is because the Kaliyuga that we live in that an absolute white of a person is out of our boundaries of imagination. But looking at the very characters we worship or burn more closely they do not appear to be white and black themselves. Infact Rama and Ravana are like humans today, just shades of grey. They have the very qualities we ourselves do, both the good and the bad, so why is it that only the Ravana is burnt? 

As Anand Neelakantan explains in his best selling book Asura, which is one of the texts that does justice to the wrongly understood character of Ravana (atleast in northern region of India), the ten headed demon showed his true character, each head a symbolic of one, and the :dashamukha" of the fact that he wasn't the one to hide his true self out of shame but express himself clearly, or what we call in a word as - straightforward. His true nature of feeling lust, greed, anger etc. all the emotions that all of us as humans feel and express only to a more or less extent was visible to all, a symbolic representation being the ten heads. 

While he did lay his eyes on Sita, abducted her, he never touched her or violated her in any way. He waited for her to love him for his valor instead of imposing himself on her. Now abducting her is wrong but what Rama did to her was any better? Think if in a parallel universe Sita did accept him for all his efforts, would her life not be better than being with a man who wouldn't even trust her enough to be with her for the rest of his life?  Also later on like a weak man just take away her sons and she being no longer capable of forgiving him, or his insult to her love and devotion; just leave her mortal form? I think with Ravana she would have been happy ever after. She would have been the recipient of all the love and respect from him. Call him dark for he kidnapped her, true; but why worship the man who abandoned her? Why burn only the man who fought till his last breath for her, keeping at stake all he earned with so much pain all his life and worship the one who was the reason wanted to be free of her mortal existence?

So basically both Rama and Ravana are shades of grey, in short-human. It is therefore injustice to make a man so learned and straight forward a symbol of "evil" while we choose to worship another. Its like adding a label, a wrong one, which when done to us, we hate it. If you wish to burn something as the marker of good against evil, Rama was not all white either. If we worship him, we should at least learnt to respect the goodness in other.

May be a more patriarchal world story was what you grew up with, but its time to open your eyes and think deeply what your actions stand for. A goddess suffered at the hands of the very man we have built temples for. A hope that someday we would not embrace people blindly but the goodness in them. Next time just burn the grey in you and try to make to make it white at no one's cost. 





Thursday, October 15, 2015

KLASS by Prita Yadav


Title:  KLASS
Author:  Prita Yadav
Publisher:  Self published
Date:  2015
Price: Rs. 180
Pages: 312


Jolene Jordan is a typical strong headed girl that you have encountered somewhere or another, a rough exterior and not a very fine work at that. One always knows there is so much more and a lot of reasoning, past life demons culminating in the fiery personality, her. Sadly more often it was that nobody cared and by her own father she hates to the core is sent to a school called KLASS, so as to be get rid off. She bearing the very same DNA wishes to over-rule the decision and gets herself suspended. Hence right from the beginning of the story she is shown to behave like a jerk with everyone, not even sparing her school principal. The first chapter where author introduces each character is the best one for she brings out an image for each one highlighting their typical behaviour.

However within the many layers of the exterior, buried deep down is the internal caring being, the one that comes out and therefore is revealed in parts when she tries to help the girl with best marks but low confidence Tejasvee(Teju) or the boy that weeps alone in the school passages at night, Jogesh. She is a tough but and though some develop a liking to that attitude instantly, some take time. Also, for some she slowly seeps into their hearts doing good for them, for her exterior is only a cover and the inner beings take over. Slowly Friendships develop with the most unlikely people. However, everyone who tried changing school knows outsiders aren't treated well, especially if they are smart or more popular than the people who prevailed before. Many students take a dislike to her and not leave a chance to insult.

But the greater mystery to this persona is her personal life which the writer tactically and slowly reveals in parts only to keep the reader more wanting. In a couple of mentions she understands her mother was known to one of her teachers and that her father paid a huge donation to a prestigious school and hence she was taken here. She who doesn't understand why her mother left her in an orphanage when small and why her father hated her, a hard that had given rise to s deep sense of dark emotions in her. Only when she is about to figure about the mystery behind her personal life and tackle the problems from people she had chosen to annoy at school, her mother passes away. 

It is time for her to know who she is, discover her true identity, her true being. Will she be able to know the truth about her parents and their relationship? Will she come above her life realities and rise like a star? Well read the book for that. A great mix of all kind of characters give the story a perfect tangy flavour. Right from the cheesy guy who flirts with every girl, the guy with looks to die for, the guy who stands by you, the friend who brings out the best in you at your worst to the rivals bickering each fine you pass by; this book is your school life in these pages.

The central character Jo is one you have either been or want to be. The writer as if effortlessly makes the entire school come alive with her mere words, as she develops not just the lead but each character in great detail that they vividly remind you of  somebody you can relate to from your school days. It engages you thoroughly before you realize and get hooked to this simple story gets you engrossed, perhaps for you will relate perfectly with each character. 

The debut writer Prita Yadav has a lot lying under wraps and reveals it slowly only making you think and want more. The writing and the flow is set so well that the book is unputdownable. The language is simple albeit for a few spelling errors. The editing could be a little, just a little stricter. As far as a debut effort is concerned the book deserves all the praises. The writer is one I certainly look forward to for more. I was upset when this book ended. Waiting for Part 2, 3 and many more for KLASS. 4 stars on 5.





Saturday, October 10, 2015

What Defines Us? A Doris Lessing Nobel Prize lecture

Have you ever thought what is the world, the one without books? It is your worst possible nightmare if you are addicted to reading. Yet not many of us cherish that treasure, for we have always had it around us. But imagine a school in a dusty desert of an under-developed nation. The schools there barely exist. Though the eyes are filled with dust and throat that is dry, the legs tired by walking endlessly just to fetch a quail of water, a woman's thirst is for a piece of paper that interests her beyond every other thing. It is her, that may define us someday, for we are non-existent, we the rich, the famous, the privileged or just the plain lucky.



This is one of the best ever Nobel Prize lectures I have ever heard by Doris Lessing. It speaks of that love for books and learning like never before. After listening to this donate a book, it might change someone's life.  Listen to it here.

http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/?id=777&view=4