Monday, 14 March 2011

Krishna-leela (antics of God)

I always enjoy reading the subtitles of Bollywood songs while watching them on television- I met you, my heart plucked up, what else do I need to live.......Nowadays my feet don't touch the ground, tell me have you seen me flying....or  Love Love Love...just a little love is needed...oh my darling, please agree to what I say..... But some are acutely funny and sound as incongruous as Sardarji Mika Singh would, performing in a Carnatic classical music concert. 

Similarly that day in the hospital, I started sounding off key, while discussing religion with a colleague. She was telling me how her wedding had cost next to nothing, because she is an atheist and had just had a registrar wedding followed by a holiday.

I found that very interesting and asked her what she had against religion. She said she did not like the fatalistic view which people who believe in religion have, and how they seem to have no control over their own lives as everything is blamed on God's will.

The karmayogi in me, jumped to religion's rescue.  I asked her if she knew what karma meant (she didn't, she thought it was something to do with mood) and went on to elaborate how in the story of what is like Bible to us i.e. The Holy Geeta, two sets of brothers are at war and one of the brothers refuses to fight against his brothers and other family. I explained how that seemed to be the starting point of the discourse by God, the charioteer.  God askes the brother to do his duty (the doing one's duty being karma) and shoot his brother.....

Well, may be I could have put it better, but the words from my mouth like the arrows from the quiver, had left their abode and I realized when I saw her shocked face- "So God asked him to shoot his brother?? I thought Hinduism was a non violent religion, so what happens, who wins the war, now I am really curious....?"

The confusion and perplexity was writ large on her face. I tried to make amends and she was pacified by having learnt what "karma" meant...a word so loosely used by the English like guru, mantra, pucca apart from garam masala, bhaji, naan, pilao, korma etc.

Quite perturbed, I then confessed to an Indian colleague about the incident and hoping to gather empathy and sympathy I complained about how wrong it sounded that Geeta was all about Lord Krishna asking Arjun to shoot his brothers. My Indian colleague then thoughtfully said that this seemed to be so only because it was not in context. Maybe I should gift a Mahabharat to our colleague.

You must be joking! I thought to myself, what with all the questions about the legitimacy of the birth of the Pandavas, a woman having five husbands, men losing their one and only wife to cousins in a game of I think her view of Hinduism is good the way it is without reading the context of the Holy Book.

After all Geeta's teachings are relevant today because it was written in Kalyug, the modern age. Excerpts are often quoted in management and self help books. That is because our Lord Krishna is God incarnated as a contemporary man. He is as cute as Brad Pitt, has twinkling eyes, is a huge flirt, is allowed to steal beautiful young women's clothes while they are bathing (Krishna karen to leela, hum karen to paap), is allowed to steal butter from the kitchen, is a cunning strategist in the war, is all powerful and last but not the least he is a favourite with women. His legendary devotees are beautiful young women....Now that is how every man would wish his facebook profile to be.

Lord Krishna would like us to live life to the full, never holding back and enjoying all the emotions, colours, seasons, tastes, smells and sounds, while maintaining the right direction. None of our Gods are saints. The saints are not Gods, either, but they help people realize their potential and thus come closer to God.

On a separate note, this incident has taught me how to make sure I talk about cricket, taxes and the British weather! So long!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Charity, Children and old age!

We had seen the dancing musical fountain in one of the famous Casino Hotels, Bellagio in Las Vegas and found it a wonderfully inspiring sight.

Yet, the jubilation in our hearts when we saw the tallest musical dancing fountain (I am not quite sure whether it was taller than Bellagio) next to the tallest building in the world (with scope to go up if anybody dares competing) in Dubai, was unmatched. Thanks to the traditional Bollywood music with ghungroo, dholak and bansuri, that the fountain was dancing to-Dhoom tana tan tanana dhoom tana tana tan..terana terana..kaise sss naino se nain milaoon sajna...

But everywhere in Dubai it was just like the fountains. Since the percentage of Indians and the Westerners is more than the locals, music at public places like malls, dhow cruises and fountains usually takes turns with English, Arabic and Bollywood....very heartwarming, I must say.

Back in the UK the theme of cuts to public budgets carries on. There is huge debate in the media about International Aid. Most people are aware that even after years of International Aid, no country's progress or turnaround can be attributed to the aid. It is more to do with the very fashionable- growth rate.

The broadcaster on Sky news was asking the question-"Why shouldnt India send us aid?" This was after he read out facts like- India has a growth rate close to 10%, spends billions on a space program, has a nuclear deterrant and has a 400 billion  defence budget, has more billionaires than the UK (many more starving people too, somebody pointed out), yet we send India "aid"?!

I wonder how many people do an annual budget presentation at home with comparisons year on year about deficits, outlays, spending on gadgets and clothes per person, holidays, education, charity, pensions etc. Would be interesting...and like the budget speech in parliament would never get past debate.... within the very few members of the household.

Talking about pensions, I recently met friends who are starting to worry about the cost of old age homes, rising incidence of dementia etc. This was more in context to the fact that they had no children to be there for them as advocates or financial managers.

I must say this is the first time I have heard a practical view about this. Most often we say we shouldn't have the expectation that our children will look after us in old age. But the very British friend's pragmatic views were that she wouldn't want her parents or in laws to move in with her, though, if they could live at the end of her garden, it would be handy...and therefore she was sure that if she had had kids she wouldn't expect physical care, yet she was worried that she would have nobody to speak for her when she would not be able to.

This is unfortunately a very real and ominous future ahead of us but is there any point worrying about it?....Not really! I think having children at least ensures you have no time to think about a future past school trips and "Take your daughter to work day".

Yes, I had to take my fourteen year old to work with me for a day to the hospital, where amongst other things like watching a baby's heart beat being monitored, holding babies, attending a video conference with another hospital for a multidisciplinary team meeting for cancer and sitting through a children's clinic, she also managed to see a baby being born by caesarean operation. Brave girl!

Outcome- "I want to do something interesting!" For instance? one may have said- but I said nothing. So long!