All posts tagged: India

What Would General Bhishma Tell Prime Minister Narendra Modi Today?

Five millenniums ago, after the Great War fought on battleground Kurukshetra between all but two warriors of Aryavarta, when King Yudhishthira asked Ved Vyasa about how he should go about rebuilding his kingdom, Vyasa told him to seek the advice of General Bhishma. Son of Ganga and King Shantanu, pupil of Guru Parashurama, administrator-warrior-thinker-strategist par excellence, this monument of a man lay on a bed of arrows on the battleground, consciously waiting for the opportune time to let his soul leave his body. With his death would go all wisdom, all knowledge, all perspectives about dharma, statecraft, kingly duties. And war. The ensuing discourse between Bhishma and Yudhishthira comprises the largest of 18 parvas, books, in the Mahabharata. At 12,890 verses the Shanti Parva holds little more than one-sixth of the entire 73,640-verse text of the Critical Edition. Broadly, this parva is divided into three parts, Rajadharma parva (law of statecraft, governance), Apaddharma parva (laws of emergencies, calamities) and Mokshadharma parva (law of salvation, metaphysics), although each influences the other, in a seamless blending, with …

Pondicherry Literature Festival – Wrap Up

Following the discussion on Bharat Shakti, the Lit Fest saw speakers such as Dr Makarand Paranjape and Swapan Dasgupta take the stage to discuss the Meaning of India. What does it indeed mean to us when we say “India, that is Bharat”. Are the two one and the same? Or are there nuances which ought to be explored further? The discussion dwelt on how the word Bharat went back many hundreds of years. The Bharatas were a Rig Vedic tribe which fought the ten kings in a battle of great antiquity. Bharat signified the holy fire associated with this tribe. Bharat is also the Bharat of Natyashastra and also the king Bharat who counted the teeth of a lion as a child! Later on in the day, a vibrant panel discussion titled “Dolls Divas and Devis”, moderated by Vivek Agnihotri was held. The participants were actresses Pallavi Joshi and Kalki Koechlin. They brought a wonderful counterbalance to the other discussions. Pallavi Joshi spoke about her days as a young teenager, starting off in the world …

Pondicherry Literature Festival – Bharat Shakti

Aurobindo Ghosh conceptualized his ideas about nationhood in a pamphlet called ‘Bhavani Mandir’. Bhavani, he says, is Shakti, that infinite energy which turns the wheels of the world for eternity. She is Durga, Laxmi, Kali and India is the Shakti of its millions. It is not a piece of land or a figure of speech or a figment of someone’s imagination. India is the collective energy or Shakti of her millions put together. Just as Mahishasura Mardini wielded together the power of the Gods, in a similar way Bharat Shakti, when fully realized, is the energy of India’s people. The second day of the Pondicherry Literature Festival commenced with a panel discussion on the title of the Lit Fest – “Bharat Shakti”, with a panel comprising of Sanjeev Sanyal, Bibek Debroy and Abhijit Iyer Mitra. Gautam Chikarmane moderated the discussion. Chikarmane began the discussion by looking at Bharat Shakti from three angles – Security, Economics and Civilization. What must be India’s approach to development and strength when viewed from these perspectives? Abhijit Iyer Mitra opined …

India At 71: Crises of Identity Amidst The Machinations Of Monopolists

It is a yearly ritual, since 1947, to ask both the simple and obvious questions of what independence has brought to and means to India, as well as pose the more probing interrogatories about identity, belonging, and seeking post-independence. Getting to a satisfying there where Bharat meets India, on terms that both the Bharateeya and the Indian can celebrate, seems to be a distant destination in this 71st year of India’s independence from colonial rule. Once colonized, the getting there is through a long, bumpy road that winds upon itself, tying us up in knots of the mind and the soul, and wearing us down with self-doubt about our place in the Sun. This identity quest, if indulged in for far too long, by the digging up of the dirt of history, can keep us stalled on that bumpy road or get us into the ravines of rage and regret. Colonized for long, humiliated, injured, and robbed of our precious legacies, and of our sense of self, we struggle to find our place in the …