India and Liberalism

Map of India. Most of India is yellow (elevation 100–1000 m). Some areas in the south and mid-east are brown (above 1000 m). Major river valleys are green (below 100 m).

India has never been more ‘nationalistic’ in recent history. With the wave of elections and the upcoming big one in 2019, it is even more obvious that a string of jingoistic messages are being floated. In equal measure though, is the ‘liberal’ front of things questioning ideologies and far standing traditions. The term ‘liberal’ is a more recent concept in the history of time (earliest references are 17th century) wherein freedom of religion, a general acceptance of free thinking, open and transparent society are fundamental tenets. Traditionally India has been a unitized fabric of rulers and the ruled; and religion has been inseparable, as it is today. Mighty kings fought and expanded their vast empires stretching all the way from Afghanistan to parts of present day Burma even. Up until the 10th century, predominantly, three religions were practised: Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. I shall not get into the Aryan-Dravidian divide and shall discuss India as it stands. Let us start from the time when a coherent system of barter, metallurgy, pottery, politics, warfare and agriculture was developed. Religion and state were never separated and yet society prospered at various times and at other times there were setbacks. How has the country fared from the view of the modern ‘liberal’ tag during several phases of her existence?

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The desire for youth

Related imageYayati was a powerful and handsome king of the ancient times. On being cursed with premature old-age by a sage, Yayati loses all that his youth had been giving him – pleasure, fame and riches. He approaches his dutiful son Puru to exchange his youth for his old-age, to which the boy readily agrees. Thus Yayati indulges in excessive passion for over a thousand years. Eventually Yayati realises the fruitlessness of lustful excesses and returns his youth to his son and renounces worldly pleasures and turns into an ascetic. This story from mythology is a beautiful depiction of the futility of youth if not constructively used.

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United States in December – A Photo Essay

DSC_0180.jpgTraveling through peak winter in cold places is never fun. On a recent work cum holiday trip I was presented with two options – take pictures at -20°C or stay warm in rented rooms. Needless to say, I chose the former. Working my way through parts of Boston, New York, Colorado and Minneapolis over the course of just a little under 4 weeks, I managed to get some wintry snowy pictures with shaking hands. I leave a few here.

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Journey of Life


Who shall recall that I once walked the journey of life 200 years from now? Did my capricious mind ever face this question in the myriad of emotions it faced?

As I chased horizons with changing goalposts, little did I realise that I will never hold it within the folds of my palm. When I did, it granulated like sand and found its way through crevices.

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The little known Matha of Kanchipuram

Related imageKanchipuram has always been one of the most important religious cities of the world. Housing over a hundred temples, all at least a 1000 years old, it has been a confluence of Shiva, Vishnu and Shakta tracts of Hinduism. The capital of the Pallava dynasties for centuries, the city is sacred to many as one of the most potent centers for spirituality. It is one of the Sapta Puris or Seven Cities (Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Ujjain and Dwarka). These cities are the select places of high spiritual elevation and spiritual masters have time and again been born in these places. On one warm summer afternoon, I visited the matha (an institute of asceticism usually started by a spiritual master) of one such exalted masters, Upanishad Brahmendra.

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