~ There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance, no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than consultation ~
I would think the reason for my childhood fascination for people who stood in the middle of nowhere and pointed out the direction to a destination is rooted in the fact that I had lived in seven states before the age of ten.
*Aage se left.
*Chowk is right.
*Bas, seedhaaa le lo.
A therapist however might have looked deeper and dredged up a hidden desire to belong to a place, to a familiar spot & know enough to show the way to others, seeking their port of call.
So it is no wonder that one hot, summer night, in some little mofussil town, while watching what was then called a Forces Variety Entertainment Evening, swatting mosquitos on bare legs and trying to get the really tiny ones out of my eyes I was mesmerised by a wonderful but tragic dance of a proud vulture fighting to death with a ten-headed Ravan.
To the beat of haunting drums those feathers, that beak, the shudder of those clipped wings remained with me … forever.
And when Sri Ram with his brother Laxman found the loyal vulture, fatally wounded but holding on to his last breath, only so that he could whisper in his dying gasps the route taken by Ravan, the kidnapper of his wife, Sita.
I remember then it came to me yet again, the importance of people being there to indicate the direction, point out the way to victory and success – Jatayu Code.
Every civilisation, society and time needs men and women of calibre who can point to the way ahead. Not mercenaries and freeloaders, not sycophants who stick their tongue out to check wind direction, but people grounded to the soil, to its history and culture. Yet open in thought and to change.
For too long we have bartered that role to the intellectually dishonest, to the sold out, the apologists, the far removed and the deracinated.
Those who do not know who they are and probably because of that take an inexplicable pleasure in constantly bringing others down with them-
-Weep my country…
-If this doesn’t shame you…
-Shake your national conscience…
-This is not my India…
-Ashamed as a society…
Imagine the road trip to Shimla with these people giving directions.…
Imagine the story of Ramayan or even perhaps a different ending altogether with them showing the way.
In every age, Ram, Laxman, Sita, Bharat, Hanuman will be played by those destined for those roles. As will Ravan.
But to underestimate the importance of the little squirrels who built the bridge to Lanka, the monkey foot soldiers who then went on to win Lanka … and of course the instructions and guidance to get there – The Jatayu Code.
From the 50’s right through the 80’s, ideas were planted and nurtured in The Triveni Kala Sangam, Shri Ram Centre For Performing Arts, Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival, Prithvi Theatre, CP Art Centre & Foundation, India International Centre and other such places across the country.
An entire ecosystem of thought was assembled in these edifices by our beacons of society. Ironically even by industrial houses & their families, no doubt with the blessings of the governments in office.
For a still sleepy cultural revival to awaken, debates, discussions, books, films, literary festivals cannot be one off affairs but instead must constitute, regular features.
To expect government and it’s bureaucracies to intervene at every level is not only a Soviet construct but also makes the entire endeavour dependent on people in office.
Worse, we remain beholden to car, bungalow, sarkari perks, nepotism and mediocrity when it should be a long term plan, irrespective of the ideology and regime in power.
Bring in the sponsors, bring in the patrons to revive thought, medicine, science, art, architecture – traditional, modern, contemporary and conservative.
Private initiative and enterprise in culture & history must be encouraged and the idea actively sold.
The aim in fact should be to remove government hold and control not only over our places of worship, education, culture but also not to beg, cajole and hope to bring them into other areas.
Politics is a beast that thinks only till the next election, maybe two. The germination of thoughts and ideas, require a belief and dedication that spans generations. Political leaders can be that spark but its the people who must rise to make the change.
A vast majority of this country still has no idea of the inherent discrimination they face in so many spheres and plod on regardless not comprehending the glass walls they bang into every day.
Much must be done to inform and educate…
In finding that spirit level, relevant to the times, environs of culture and history will we discover who we are and what we are capable of.
If we are fortunate it might also unleash an extraordinary and distinct creativity which is unshackled to those who remain tied to a politically constructed history that had the sole purpose of shaming a vast majority into submission.
When introduced to him later, I did not recognise the Gurkha soldier without his Jatayu costume.
He probably went on to enjoy his tot or two and the Bada Khana thereafter. Most likely, completely unaware how his powerful performance had planted a thought, an idea, a beginning in so many wide-eyed, awestruck little children that evening…..
Show The Way…..
~A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history~ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi