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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An idea of reincarnation

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi

 (As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.)                                                                                   - Bhagavad Gita 2.22

Is reincarnation true?

Didn’t you just read the sloka?

Yes, but I am not devoid of doubts.

Do you know who the father of our nation is?


The father of the nation. Though I am quite sure you heard me the first time.

Why? Gandhi of course!

As you know, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated some six decades ago, and still we deal with a lot of Gandhi material on a daily basis. There are umpteen number of roads, public parks, colleges, libraries all named after him. Then there are some who live on through what they stood for their whole lives. Our former president APJ Abdul Kalam was a torchbearer of technical excellence, and after he passed away governments are naming technical universities after him. Let’s bring back Gandhi once more, shall we? Often we hold our currency notes up against lights, and are assured they are genuine if we see Gandhiji smiling. You know what, here he reincarnated as integrity. I could keep giving a lot more examples.

Seriously! Are memorials of famous personalities your explanation for reincarnation?

Hear me out completely. And what I try to convey is only my idea of reincarnation. My perspective.

I was looking for an absolute view.

I think everything is relative. Absolution is fictional. There is my truth and there is your truth. But I am skeptical on the existence of universal truths. Physicists teach us the concepts of relative velocity, don’t they? When two objects move towards each other, the relative velocity adds up.

But one could always evaluate the absolute velocity from a fixed point of reference.

How fixed is your point when the planet is itself at motion and the entire universe is expanding?

Still there are some cases where absolute truth is a reality. For instance Gandhi is globally respected as a pious man, while someone like Osama Bin Laden is hated by all, right?

And yet Gandhiji met his end within a year of our independence, and that too at the hands of a citizen of free India. And regarding Bin Laden, within months of his death, a library came up in his name in Pakistan. They call it ‘Martyr Bin Laden Library’. Does it amuse you to notice that we observe martyr’s day on the day Gandhiji were assassinated?

So according to your idea reincarnation happens only to the famous, isn’t it?

Not quite. It is pertinent for commoners, too.

How so?

Please excuse me if this question is personal, but have you lost someone dear?

 The most painful memory is when my paternal grandmother passed away. I was only eight, yet it hurt me very much. She loved me, and used to prepare this sweet dish for me. We call it ada. I remember how I used to sit in her lap as she watched Kathakali. I have never watched the dance drama ever after…oh I see where you are going with this.

Your grandmother was a commoner, wasn’t she? Yet she is very much alive in your head. Ada reminds you of her, so does Kathakali. Your parents might have put up her framed photograph on the wall. Whenever some guests ask about her, your father would narrate incidents from his childhood with zest. In those stories, she is very much a living person as you and I are.

Very interesting point of view, I must say. If this is how you define reincarnation, I would like to hear your take on moksha, or salvation as well. Religion does say that soul keeps on taking new births until it attain salvation and rejoins with the supreme one, right?


Do you concur?

I am inclined to believe that moksha is very much possible in the same way I think of reincarnation. As I said, some people live on through what they stood for, and some others through the works of their lifetimes. Less known people also comes back in our memories. But there are some truly blessed, who attains salvation by their deaths and leave the world for good.

Really! Who are they?

How could I possibly know them? Remember, they are the ones who got salvation. That means they do not linger in anyone’s thoughts, or memories anymore.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

His Story of Virtualia

(This took place in Virtualia.)

“Good morning, sir!” shouted the students of class 6A as their class teacher announced himself at the front door of the classroom the exact moment when the minute hand of the wall clock touched 12, leaving the hour hand behind at 9.

With a wave of hand, he acknowledged their greetings and asked them to be seated. The class teacher also taught them history. The way he dressed seemed to suggest that he himself had come from the past.

“Does anyone of you remember where we had stopped our discussion yesterday?”

“Yesterday was a holiday, sir.”

“Yesterday means the last working day, smarty.”

“We had stopped at the thirteenth chapter, sir. The turn of the millennia, and the beginning of chaos.”
“Aah, very well. Let us pick it up from there. Thirteen, did you say? Like the number, the time period under question is widely considered as an unlucky phase of the history of our nation. As you might already know, Virtualia was at the zenith of prosperity during the last centuries of the previous millennium. We were a deeply religious people, with priests of the shrines enjoying royal status. Our rulers seldom did anything sans the blessings of Gods, and that reflected in every walks of our lives. Years went on, and the status quo was disrupted.”

“Are you referring to the rise of the liberals, sir?” asked an imaginative mind.

“Yes yes. Do not jump guns, dear. Let me complete what I got to say, and then we would discuss, alright?”

The head of the imaginative mind nodded, the mind still wondering about the incidents that happened about three hundred years ago.

“By the end of the millennium, there was a new set of ideology brewing. They based predominantly on logic, and questioned anything and everything they could not contemplate. Many young minds were impressed by this charade, and joined the new bandwagon. The very foundations of religion backed administration were at stake. A spree of feuds and battles eventually led up to an ultimate war for power. The once united citizens were now divided and up in arms against each other. The war that lasted almost a decade culminated in the fall of the faithful and to the rise of the anarchic, who denounced god and religion. Priests no longer enjoyed royal status, and people started pursuing science with a new earnest. The moral standards of the society degraded, often resulting in chaos.”

The teacher rambled on for some more time, and then asked his students to share their views. As expected, some rued the change while others defended it. Virtualia is a democracy today, and people were free to voice their opinions.

That evening, the teacher reached his home by five and switched on the television. The news reporter from one of those 24*7 news channel was debating on the outcomes of the just concluded parliamentary elections, the results of which were declared today.

‘Upholding the trends predicted by various exit polls survey, the leftist union has emerged victorious in the elections, effectively displacing the incumbent right wing government. Talks are going on, and a clearer picture regarding who is to head the new government is expected to emerge soon.’

A year later.

“Good morning, sir!” shouted the students of class 6A as their class teacher announced himself at the front door of the classroom the exact moment when the minute hand of the wall clock touched 12, leaving the hour hand behind at 9.

With a wave of hand, he acknowledged their greetings and asked them to be seated. The class teacher also taught them history.

Welcome back, children. Did you all enjoy the monsoon break?”

A collective yes rocked the class.

“Good. Since a new term begins today, let us start with a fresh chapter. Go to chapter ten and read the title aloud.”

Millennium 2: the age of reasoning.”

“Okay. I believe you would agree with me when I say that Virtualia is a democracy.” He paused for response.

Many students nodded in agreement.

“Virtualia was not always like this and some of the historical events that occurred around the beginning of the present millennium had a major say in shaping up our country the way we see it today. Like most of the countries to the south of the Mirage Ocean, Virtualia too had its laws and principles based on religious texts and words of the god-men. People attributed regards of the highest order to the commandments from the theological institutions, and lived their lives in accordance. A set of superstitions were prevalent at those times, and majority of the lot tended to lap those up without feeling for the need of verifying the truth behind all those. Even in such times, a few lived who could not blindly believe whatever was fed to them. Let us call them radicals, shall we?”

And he continued without waiting for any reply.

“This small, exclusive group was convinced of the significance of applying thought and deciding what was to be followed, and what was to be done away with. They knew they would have to rebel against the establishments some day. They maintained a low profile, and met regularly to decide upon agenda. Soon enough they started recruiting like minds, who voiced their supports for the cause they deemed noble.”

The teacher went on to explain how the rulers cracked down on the rebels, and how the protesters fought back, finally bringing the power wielders to their knees. What followed was the regime of the liberal forces, whose onus was centered on logic rather than beliefs. They started rewarding men of science while thinkers and philosophers replaced preachers as the new elite class.

He would have ignored the school bell and continued with the lecture, but the faces of his students indicated that they had enough for the day.

“Al right. Let us resume the discussion tomorrow. Have all of you completed the assignment on Napoleon Bonaparte?”

“Excuse me, sir?” the right hand of a front bencher shot up.


“Did Napoleon really say that history is nothing but a fable commonly agreed upon?”

“I cannot say for sure, but many seem to concur on that.”

(Remember I never said this took place only in Virtualia.)