Thursday, October 24, 2019

Colonising the Past and Kidnapping the Truth

Dear Learned People of the World (Especially the ones with an interest in history): 

People have always, throughout history, travelled, traded, intermarried, and migrated. Technological advancements have always gone from one place to another. Any human being who gets a genome test today will find that their ancestry comes from every continent on the planet and from all the 4 known races of humanity.

Get used to it. 

To stake a claim to the greatness of presumed ancestors is to take a very narrow and narrow minded view of the greatness that is the human past.

To squabble over perceived ancestry is even more petty - especially since one is uncertain of the ancestry and certain of the absence of a person's contribution towards that greatness - hell, you did not even contribute your genes to the creation of those geniuses. You assume you inherited those genes, and that is a hypothesis that I doubt very, very much.

But perhaps the worst thing about this is the colonisation of history. We are, essentially, cutting up the ancient world and staking claim to it - this was mine, this was yours. We are creating "Colonies" of ancestry with claimed ownership of each. The Sumerians were mine, The Egyptians were yours. The megaliths were mine, the Viscounts were yours. The Aryans? Wait, we are kind of fighting over who will get ownership of that one.
It does sound preposterous, doesn't it? IT IS.

To divide ancestors among the modern classes - The Sumerians Vs the Persians, the Egyptians Vs the Mesopotamians.. and closer home, the Aryan Invasion vs the Indic origin of Aryans.

Dear Egyptians: You may or may not have the same genetic stock. You definitely abandoned the cultural legacy and embraced other religions - the Roman, and now, Islam. You do not even remember the name of the religion practised by your ancestors. You cannot claim to have half the medical knowledge that your ancestors demonstrated. So what, exactly, is your claim to Egyptian empire fame?

Dear 'Aryans':  Whether the Aryans travelled East or West, is a question that should be investigated irrespective of where you live today - East, or West. The Aryan Invasion theory can not make the modern Caucasian proud of anything. Like I mentioned earlier - you don't know anything and you definitely didn't do anything to lead to that greatness. And Indians - The Indic origin of Aryans does not automatically make you Aryabhatta XIV.

Especially the modern Indians - Dear wise ones, from IVC to the British period, the measures of rural India, the cooking pots, and the cultural motifs remained UNCHANGED. Please accept our compliments for "developing" the rural Indian, "Educating" him/her, and insisting that they not use their native weights and measures. By doing this, you were able to annihilate the cultural knowledge embedded in the society for over 4 millenia. That takes some doing, and the genetic makeup of people doing that cannot be intelligent.

When you push an agenda rather than a search, when the results somehow contribute to your ego (HOW??), you are no longer a historian. You are a posturing Frigatebird. (The insult is absolutely intended for the human. The insult to the bird is unintended and cruel.)

Perhaps there was continuity from IVC to the Aryans. Perhaps there wasn't. Perhaps the Asuras were the Persian Ahuras. Perhaps they weren't.

Perhaps the Aryans grew here and then moved west. Perhaps they came from the West and settled here. Perhaps they started their lives as a homogenous race spread all the way from Europe to the Eastern Himalayas. As colonies grew, there was enough critical mass to create local customs and languages. As these local versions started, the distance between the various colonies grew more pronounced.

Either way, none of us had any part to play in that. The only thing we can do, and, imho, we should, is to stop colonising history (you do realise how preposterous that even sounds) and start looking for the truth. There is enough evidence both ways. There are reasons to take both ideas seriously. There are alternative theories that merit a serious discussion (Amish's theory in his Naga series is very plausible, as is the idea proposed by Ashutosh Gowarikar in Mohenjodaro).

So, dear people of the world: Let's stop staking a claim to the greatness of ancestors. We can safely say that in intermingling, trading, marrying, and migrating, and not squabbling over history, the ancients have proved that they were superior in more ways than one.

Credits: This piece is the result of a very enriching discussion with Sankalp Chawla. Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

रक्तबीज/ Raktbeej

गुलमोहर के पेड़ 
उग आते हैं 
यूँ ही 
गलियों  के मोड़ों पर 
बाग़ बाग़ हो जाते हैं 
अनाम सी गलियों के कोने। 
बच्चों को मिल जाते हैं 
मेकअप के नाखून 
और लड़ने के हथियार। 

कट भी जाते हैं 
आनन फानन में 
यूँ ही, 
बिला वजह 
बे  मतलब। 

मैं उठा लाता हूँ 
छोटी छोटी निशानियां। 
सुलगती लाल पंखुड़ियां 
किताबों में छिपाता हूँ. 
शाम को 
कली में छुपे anthers और मैं 
हँसते हैं 
लकड़ी काटने वाले 
पेड़ नहीं काट सकते। 

रक्तबीज होते हैं. 
The Gulmohurs
They grow 
on the corners
of unknown lanes. 
Unbidden, unencouraged. 

Desolate corners
light up 
with forest fires 
of petals. 
get  nail extensions
and micro weapons. 

The Gulmohurs
get cut 
just like that 
one fine day 
No rhyme or reason. 
The fire trees. 

I save up 
tiny souvenirs 
and bring them home. 
The red flames
I hide
among the books. 
The anthers and I 

Cannot cut trees. 
are Raktabeej. 
1. Children use the covers of the Gulmohur bud as fake nail extensions. 
2. Children also pluck anthers from the root and use them in a faux fight, where one anther is pitched against another and the one that gets plucked first is the loser. 
3. Raktabeej is a legendary asura with a boon that whenever a drop of his body touches the Earth, a new form of him would rise from that spot. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Hindi Muhavara on unfulfilled wishes

अरमान रह जाना
Armaan Reh Jaana

Meaning: A desire that remains unfulfilled.

Usage: मेरा तो अरमान ही रह गया, कि परीक्षा ख़त्म हो, और माँ हमें सीधे पिक्चर दिखाने ले जाए. 

Sanskrit Sukti on the importance of commerce and trade

वाणिज्य वसते लक्ष्मी: 
VaNijya Vasate Lakshmi:

In commerce resides Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth)

What to absolutely not miss on Netflix India

This is a list of hidden gems on Netflix India. The list that conclusively proves that human intelligence beats AI and algo driven recommendations any day.

Do Paise ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane ki Baarish 

This movie by Deepti Naval ji is that rare thing that comes along once in a million years. Away from all the hype and the hoopla, this is what pure excellence in story telling looks like.

Notting Hill
Absolutely Old Fashioned, famous, and lives up to the fame.