Published on October – November 2008, Craft Revival Trust
India.Bharat.Devbhumi.The woman, with a body that smells of the chandan, the vibhuti, the mango, the smell of the dust and the sweat exuding the dusky sensuousness, big black eyes that refuse to let you pay attention to any other part of her being, to take all of you within for a spiral spin, impossible to escape after just one hard look. Its hold, somehow, whether through one’s eyes, through the nose, through the throat or directly through the chest, the rib cage, is unbreakable, for it constantly and continuously insists on destroying or just displacing the foundation of every intelligent word, theory ,mind construct.
Other civilizations might be like rivers which tend towards gradual senility or mutual destruction but this one is the wild woman, the pure woman, the sensible woman, the queen and the sakhis, the goris and the sawlis dancing their garbha or leela within from which humans take the Rasa, living with the illusion that he is playing the flute, instead his tune, his breath is decided by the rhythm, the beauty and madness of the swirl around him. In the emotional torrents of so called blind faith fated irrationality, blood has mixed in the river but never touched the banks, the body-whether call it helpless acceptance or stupidity, awareness of death as a blasé reality. An ability of losing oneself in colorful respite, of Holi rang and bhang, of the melas, the conspicuous dressing up of stone gods and goddesses-our children and parents, our lovers and soul mates, we can all spoil together, cry to, hold close to our heart, hit our head against but try and make come alive, talk to us, tell us how fragile we are, how mortal we are and we leave, each one of us, a part of our piety, our traditionalized bhakti faith, sometimes the pain of the pure soul, in that ‘idol’, sometimes to snatch a pinch of that collectivized, eons old-feeling of “moksha”-taking leave of a sickening body. The moment later-the swaying hips of the village woman, barefoot with anklets, or leaning against her mud hut doorway entices the man into an earthy sensuality, providing frequent release but irresponsible breeding! It is said Kamasutra was written by Vatsyana in an age when due to strict moral control by Brahmins, population had in fact started decreasing. So who would follow Dharma if there was no manushya and so came the vision of unbridled sexual frission!
Irrepressible, the sadhu,the Sufi, in all the wanderer which kept bubbling time and time again reforming,preserving,destroying.Creating dreams of divine love and sacrifice from perception of a Bulle Shah, or renunciatory ordeals of-sick of materiality, regal sons like Buddha or Mahavir,or ordered, codified fully meaningfulised existences propounded by Shankracharyas,Madhavacharayas or math-rebels like Ramanujas.
This des learnt ishq, mohabbat and hyper-sentimentalized it so much that shers were written in medieval times like the 1950’s and 60’s melodramatic love songs of Hindi cinema becoming more and more beautiful in words but through which less and less real flowing emotion came through. With Islam came another tehzeeb and adab, the Mughals took to the paan and Hindus took to the hookah. They showed confidence then decadence with style, red stoned forts and marbleized makbaras, shabab, sharab, shaiyri and the heart lifting innocent mists of muslin behind which hid sharam.
The north was never spared the frequent visitations of tribes from Central Asia, which kept it boiling, the ethnic cauldron, oscillating between spice and gur, the chutney and the kheer – Sakas, Huns, Kushans, and many others became Rajputs, Jats , Meos, everyone changed someone somewhere and got changed on this mad lands spirit to make it a madder land.
Who was left but the cool Anglo-Saxon and his renaissance of objectivity, rationality and civilizing humanism clothed with Christianity, modernism, evolutionary progress to social and economic utopias guided by the free hand of enlightened selfishness or revolutionary pogroms- to give this woman, who used much less of her buddhi and too much of her other-worldliness a shock, as if to help the cold Siberian winds cross the mighty Himalayas. They thought it was too much of a complex masala and tried their best to make it as bland as possible. They united us into a country by giving us a new name “United India”, gave us a kick from their boots to get on with the work of plantations, laying railway lines and administrating, ruling, organizing us totally chaotic people. Lazy and useless. So we educated ourselves, becoming lawyers,babu-sahibs and worshipping firangi mem-sahibs. Our brahmanical heritage helped, long used to mystification and intricacies of words. Sanskrit, Persian and now English, the elite always spoke another language from the common people, who had their Buddhas, Kabirs, Nanaks and Meeras.
We became white-washed, foamed and cleaned. We gained freedom at midnight and took away from the imperial queen her biggest diamond, her largest maid-in-waiting.
Now while the vigyan of modernity struggles with paramgyan and parmartha of ancient India and the earth aches to find a solution, not of religious fundamentalism, nor of technology arrogance but one of a sustainable human-nature civilization.
In this maddest land amongst all we have myths of heart and now experience across the seven seas to begin creating a synthesis ,to imagine a goddess like Durga to kill Mahishasura,that demon which births a million demons wherever a drop of its blood falls. A Durga that was formed by the energies of all the gods, Shiva became the face,
Yama her hair, Vishnu her arms, Chandra her breasts, Indra her midriff, Varuna her thighs, Brahma her feet, Surya her fingers, three eyes from Agni, ears from Vayu and teeth from Prajapati.
From every land and every ideology, from every faith and theory we need to create a leap of imagination that creates in all our hearts a new world order based on ecological humanity so that all our emotional and spiritual mad nesses can thrive and be celebrated.