Saturday, February 21, 2009

Should Taj Mahal be preserved?

Some years back I was watching this documentary in discovery channel about Angkor Vat temple complex in Cambodia. The initial pictures of discovery of the temple complex by the French showing a giant head peering at you through the thick canopy of tropical trees was breathtaking. Gradually they showed deformed edifice of temple heaving in sigh at the upheaval caused by the growing roots and branches of trees, the cracks in the walls with lush Peepul jutting out of those cracks making my imagination go wild. I wondered what the original temple would have looked like, awesome! Unfortunately the clinically restored temple did not meet my expectation, I longed to see that hidden piece of debris decaying gradually in the wilderness. I realized that restoring or preserving an historical monument is a bad idea.

We should let the Taj wither naturally. Let wild trees grow around it and in time let the minarets crumble naturally, its edifice turn and twist with every move of the roots of large trees deforming it irrevocably. Let the shining dome be partially hidden behind the thick foliage and snakes, scorpions make home in the cracks of those beautiful walls. The best strokes of genius are the strokes of nature and imagination always better than the real thing.

Let us allow these monuments live their natural life without any interference from us and then disappear. We will create new monuments in time and the cycle will continue. Every space deserves vibrant renewal.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Fossilized Minds

[There is enormous generation of wealth, stupendous growth in technology, exponential growth in knowledge, great strides made in philosophy, literature and medicine, an IT revolution going and general mellowing of mind, indeed we are living in exciting times. If there is also destitution, wide spread terrorism, mayhem and corruption, treachery and fraud and obscenely disproportionate distribution of wealth, it is no coincidence but only natural. It is human nature and latent animal instinct within us which is responsible for this mismatch. If still anybody thinks that there ever was a period in our history better than now, he must be a mad man. There are mad men in this world]

There are small coteries of largely geriatric men found in most society who look for inspiration in the past. They are generally soft spoken, articulate and scholars of ancient texts. Their needs are frugal and they set example in following the archaic moral standards. On their own they wouldn't harm a fly but can calmly order annihilation of societies. They are completely oblivious to reason and their world-view is completely focused on perceived ancient grandeur. They are the mullahs who would order amputation of limbs with complete sense detachment and they are Shankaracharyas who see no evil in sati. All windows of their mind are closed but the rear window. They peer through this window in distant past and see through impressionistic haze a glorious utopian society. They are concerned with the present moral degeneration and see salvation in the archaic morality and frozen wisdom in texts. They exist on the fringe and remain dormant like viruses, but when they do rise they explode on the scene like uncontrollable viruses and quickly lay waste a large portion of humanity and dissolve as quickly leaving a bewildered society to pick up the shattered pieces. The rise of Hitler in Germany and Ayatollah in Iran are just two examples.
They appeal to our baser instincts and play on our xenophobia, raising fears of insecurity and win our constituency. Masses, never doubting their sincerity fall for the promised windfall. In any case they appear morally straight in contrast to representatives of establishment who are perceived as corrupt and unfair. They are romantics therefore they do not encounter dilemma faced by pragmatists due to inherent contradictions in setting right today's problem with archaic means. The details never bother them, as they are happy with the big picture even though full of flaws. They brush aside all objections by shear numbers. Consider the designer shorts the RSS cadre wears in Shakhas. It reflects their rigid attitude to change.
The writings are already on the wall for anybody to see, yet the fatal attraction of any thing past, presented nicely wrapped up, blinds us to the pitfall of impending doom. If we remain passive spectators to fast rising numbers of converts to their mad logic, we shall perhaps not survive their present resurrection.


Monday, January 5, 2009

The Conversation

Once, while walking the desert sands,
I came across this dark man.
Curious, I asked,
“Good to see you around,
Pray, why you trail me,
In this god forsaken land?”
Amazed, he said,
“I thought it the other way round,
You’re trailing my footsteps,
Seeking company in wilderness.”
“Yes I fear the loneliness,
But do not seek togetherness,
Now I feel hunger,
Now I feel thirst,
You are lucky to have no flesh
Neither hunger nor thirst.”
“Strange to say this when hungry.
So what if I do not feel.
Nor the pleasure of flesh,
You enjoy a sumptuous meal!
Yet, I find your words so grave
Logic has a way with you,
Pregnant with deep sense.
Life being an accident.
Your words of wisdom
Weigh heavy on me,
My wit cannot defy you
No such qualms for me though,
Life I owe to the blinding glow
Sailing across the blue above
After all I am nothing,

But your shadow.

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