Monday, December 31, 2012



There has been a large scale outburst of public anger and angst at the brutal rape of a girl in the Nation’s capital and her ultimate death. The cry has been for the severest of punishment to be meted out to the culprits. My own outrage has been such that I felt the death penalty would only bring to end the life of the perpetrators and this will not serve the purpose. I wanted them to be maimed and castrated and thrown into jail for the rest of their lives. May be my feelings were barbaric but so was the act. This is a happening in the nation’s capital and it has received the attention it deserved but what about the happenings in the rest of the country where children are kidnapped, raped, murdered and the bodies thrown away to rot on the wayside. These are acts that keep on happening and what have the police and the politicians done to effectively bring down such crimes?

In a nation with a population of more than one billion and which carries with it a history so ancient that making it fall in step with the need to adjust to changing times is a herculean task. The gathering of so many people in Delhi to protest against this crime and demanding for immediate reforms and implementation in the setup of the judiciary and police is the need of the hour. But does this end here? These crimes will continue to be committed, some reported and others unnoticed. This is because we as a people are affected by a deeper malaise. I will not stop at that, because I feel that this is a global phenomenon. Does this not happen in other countries? It does, but may be the system of policing and detection is far more advanced. Who cannot abhor the dastardly act where a large number of school children in the US were killed in a mindless act of violence and this was not an isolated incident.

So is making stricter laws that bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes immediately going to put an end to crimes? It may act as a deterrent and may be, it is the first step, towards making people feel safe. But like I said earlier the deeper malaise lies elsewhere. It lies in every home. We are being subjected to what Alvin Toffler terms as the Future Shock. Our societies are fractured and our relationships have started becoming disposables. Consumerism is the order of the day. We make what sells. That is why we have movies which depict mindless violence because they sell and who is responsible for that, of course we ourselves. We want our adrenalin to flow and titillate our senses along with the action scenes on the screen.

The media has become one of the most powerful tools that has taken over the mindset of the populace. I am not saying that this is bad, for the media is also a powerful disseminator of information and knowledge. Its role can be constructive or destructive depending on the sensationalism that it resorts to garner popularity. We should admit that without the reporting of the gruesome nature of the crime that was committed, the gathering of such a large number of people in all parts of the country to protest against the ineffectiveness of the authorities would not have been possible.

When I said every home earlier, I meant that each and every citizen of this country should be made to realise his responsibility towards the society and the nation. This is very easily said but how does one go about it? We need educators, we need reformers and we need leaders with vision and with a fierce commitment to the country. But once again, where do we find such people? Is it true that we get what we deserve?

Let each one of us make a start at our own homes. Can we pay more attention to the emotional needs of our children rather than drive them up the intellectual ladder? Are we only bothered about how well they do in their material lives? This is a question each one of us as a parent has to answer for himself. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012



My friend asked me “Is’nt spirituality a very personal thing?” I did not pause to answer and I said “yes”. In an earlier posting of mine I had written that ‘Spirituality is not about God, it is not about religion though it forms an integral part of religious practices. I could not bring myself to define or describe spirituality, for me it was only an experience, an inward journey and how can you express it in words?’. When a person embarks on a journey of self discovery, to find the very essence of his being and to define the deepest values by which he is to conduct his life you can say that he is on the spiritual path and the very process may be termed as spirituality. Why does he embark on such a process is a question to be explored. This exploration is a lonely voyage and to each his own path and that it is why it becomes so personal. As to the question why he feels the need to embark on such a journey, we can only presume that he has come face to face with a Sisyphean situation and feels the need to break out of this stranglehold. It could be a fear of termination or the sheer futility of his everyday actions. Albert Camus in his critique of Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ says “to live knowing that life is pointless is what gives rise to anguish, and if you live against the stream, the whole of your being is seized with disgust and revolt and this revolt of the body is what is called Nausea”. This is perhaps the beginning of the journey inwards.

I guess that everyone, whether he believes in a God or not, is always on a search throughout his life. A search for perpetuation whether he believes in reincarnation or not. That is why Sartre a confirmed atheist and who says that there is nothing beyond the life we are living now, ends his book Nausea with the hero who in our parlance had undergone a spiritual experience in the form of Nausea, decides to go back and complete the book he was writing in order to bring about an authenticity to the life he is leading.

What is the experience that one undergoes and which we can term as a spiritual experience is very simply described by Hermann Hesse in his novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’ – “My awakening has a similar kind of intensified reality for me. That is why I have given it this name; at such times I really feel as if I had lain asleep or half asleep for a long time, but am now awake and clear headed and receptive in a way I never am ordinarily.”

So where does God come in to all this and what is the role of religion? If you ask me I would say- define your God and follow Your religion. If it helps you on your voyage of self discovery and helping you to chart your course in life, you cannot ask for more. The problem or confusion arises when we search for an external God to answer our questions. We may benefit from the experience of others but we have to find our own answers.

I do not like it when some one tells me that this is what one should do to attain salvation, I do not appreciate preachers but I do not mind listening and learning from their experiences. Belief in God and religion is an individual choice as long as your beliefs make you a better person.

Yes spirituality is a very personal thing – to quote Albert Camus once again before I end “ An awakening of conscience, no matter how confused it may be develops from any act of rebellion and is represented by the sudden realization that something exists with which the rebel can identify himself even if only for a moment.”