“To survive is success” is a dangerous thought

After 1970 India basically gave up on fixing society and got busy finding ways to survive. I don’t mean change did not happen, just that there was no longer any real hope that social problems could be fixed. Two enduring movies bear me out on this. One is Mere Apne 1971. The other is Jana Aranya 1976. It is a disorienting look at the past which is still our present. Rotary telephones and sideburns and none of the tech we take for granted but all the issues the protagonists grapple with, they remain entrenched even today. It is bizarre beyond belief.

Mere Apne directed by Gulzar has the broader canvas. Jana Aranya directed by Satyajit Ray limits itself to just Somanth’s scrabble to find to a way to live and is the harsher in many ways for that. But the issues are all the same. Educated young men with no hope of employment, a society that is rotting and corrupting itself with disdain, and societal breakdown of the family structure. Meena Kumari plays the initially naive old lady who is exploited as a nanny by people who claim tenuous family ties in quite savage cynicism. She learns to her surprise that an ayah for children is a high value commodity and begins to dictate terms in self defense. it is a remarkable thing to see.

mere_apne_1971_-_gulzar_-_love_and_violence_-_www-filmkailm-com_

Somnath on the other hand is in a loving family but they are ineffectual in being able to do anything for him. They cannot help so the father takes refuge in pious homilies and the brother in snide assertion that things were always the same. Somanth is on his own and he is a burden. It is even more remarkable to see how this dawns upon him and his trauma.
The young men of Mere Apne become petty thugs for hire to the local politicians who mouth all the usual platitudes and act with complete and utter self interest at all times. As the Mehmood character says – “Yeh Demo Kursi hain aur hum apna kursi kabhi nahin chodenge.”

What is frightening in both movies is the unspoken assumption that to be corrupt and collaborate in this system is the only way to survive. Both the lead characters have the girls they love married to somebody else and it is regarded as inevitable. The unemployed do not have a right to love or marriage. Mere Apne, being a masala movie has a sequence where Vinod Khanna is about to give a beating to a guy and then discovers he is the man who married his girl and lets him off. That is supposed to show his essential decency or something but it is just Gulzar being a romantic pussy as always.
Ray, being a genius includes a harrowing scene that is rarely commented upon. Somanth is being commiserated by his Boudi, his sister in law. who assures him that the girl loved him and must have wept copiously when getting married. And in one of the most elegant shaftings of social mores in cinema, Somanth muses ” You know Boudi I just recalled that you wept a lot also when you got married.”

ghoshnemai0487But Somnaths grief is not enough. He has to lose self respect also. To land an order that will secure his financial future he has to pimp a girl to the man who signs. And the girl is his best friends sister. We keep waiting for him to back away, he makes the right noises too, but the girl is not having any truck with such foolish sentimentality and in the end he caves in. He has survived. And that counts as success.
Which is our problem even today. We have not found a different social narrative as yet.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is the Founder of the Arya Yoga Sangha. He is not very happy about choices India has been making for a while….

 

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Caveat Emptorium

There are two components to India’s dismal economic state. The first is the government which lives to hinder obstruct and delay. And worst of all is the fact that almost ANY government department that has any contact with permissions has become a massively sophisticated shakedown mechanism. Not the telephone department curiously. Wonder why. The second and more serious problem with the economy is that we run our society on the operating principles of thugs, bandits and looters. Price gouging and slapping of additional charges has become second nature to everything; it is no longer instinct, it is mandated company policy and employee survival depends on peddling a script of lies and dishonesty to the customer.

Every retail outlet and business may as well follow Rhett Butlers advice to Scarlett O Hara, name the store Caveat Emptorium and be done with it. If you are a customer, the very greedy majority sees you as a lion sees an antelope, something to be shredded apart to tide over today. Tomorrow will provide another prey. The less greedy view you as the parasite does, keep the host functioning.   Every single interaction they have with you is founded on nudging you into agreeing with something that they can now charge you for. It is beyond disgusting. Now at the airport they will let you jump the check in queue if you pay a fee. I had a new fridge purchased and the ‘service call’ made on me was a wonder to behold. There was a litany of things that could go wrong, all of which could be fixed with additional purchases. When the person tried to sell me breathable plastic bags to hold fruits and veggies in so that the “shelves are not damaged” I finally had enough and had to ask. “If your product is so worthless why is it in the market?” The poor fellow was following a script and did not deserve that, but come on, have some shame. It is a brand new machine and you act like it is on life support.

Legally you are not allowed to sell a product that you cannot repair. Most people do not know this but such is the law. If the warranty period is over, the repair can be charged for, but products are not allowed to be sold with no facilities for repair. This is very disturbing for business but they seem to have got together in a grand conspiracy and found a way to follow the letter of the law without having to waste time and resources on actual, you know repairs. Take any product back to the store and seek to get it repaired. You are given an estimate of 25 days. If it is something you use daily naturally you will bite the bullet and buy a replacement, which is the point of this charade. Businesses maintain one central repair shop, instead of all over the country. That satisfies the legal requirement and cuts costs massively. They want you to buy anew, not repair. I had a briefcase and something went wrong in two months. You should have seen the flat out panic when I said okay, if it takes 25 days it takes 25 days. Apparently that a product was actually sent back for repair will be held against the employees and the store at the next performance review. It also took 35 days to be back in my hands not 25. This level of malfeasance has become automatic. Courier companies will call and flat out lie that they did not find you at home when you haven’t budged for 48 hours out of doors. They do not want to send somebody out to a low traffic area. Trick questions are hurled at you over the phone in rapid fire, so that comprehension is impossible. All they want to hear is something like a Yes, and from next month additional ‘service’ is being tagged onto your bills. This treating of the larger public as the host body for the parasites of business this has to stop.

It is not only investments and opportunities that are lacking. Basic integrity has been abandoned as a frivolous luxury, an impediment to gouging. Why provide value when you can lie and cheat? To follow up with consumer forums and court cases is time consuming and who can afford to spend that time when survival is an increasingly difficult job. The problems with the economy are not merely socialist mindset and incompetence. There is a bone deep dishonesty that will derail us as a people in the end. I have said this before and it bears repeating, it is my belief that the gross corruption and dishonesty of India is the Indian people’s unconscious judgment on their future. They do not believe there will be a future, so the looting instinct that precedes complete collapse has kicked in.

I want to be wrong on this. But I am a yogi and evidence is evidence, and always beats wishful thinking.

Sarvam Shivamayam!

N.B. – Caveat Emptor… “let the buyer beware” is an old Latin saying.

Sri Guru Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

He can be contacted on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/aryayogi/

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

http://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

https://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

The doctor wife of a gay doctor commits suicide… some thoughts on a Indian social catastrophe…

India is a strange place where people at every stage of social and psychological levels jostle together in mutual incomprehension – and tragedies like this result. A few links to set the context first…

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/aiims-doc-suicide-priya-vedi-for-a-gay-husband-10-things-to-know/1/431098.html

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/aiims-doctor-suicide-he-is-gay-she-was-in-love-he-couldnt-change-she-couldnt-live/

1.So the doctor male is gay, or so his dead wife says. Remember this is only an allegation she has made, though she claims to have found gay materiel on his computer. Which means she was a snoop but that is another story. Indians do not feel their family deserves privacy; in fact the very notion is an affront to most. This man, if gay, allowed his family to bully him into getting married. What the devil? You are a frigging doctor, you dumbass, but you are also an invertebrate. Why get into such a position? The usual reason is – money from the family that he did not want to give up. He simply could not tell his family to back off or even tell them the truth – which is the most harrowing and sad part of this mess. And another family is dragged into this swamp and now a young girl, a doctor no less, is dead. Such is the reality of what it means to be gay in India for all but a minor strata of society.

2. The family is ignorant of the fact, or consciously chooses to ignore the fact, that their pride and joy bats for the other team and gets him ‘settled’. As a spiritual mentor of sorts I get regularly dragged into this scenario. The child, male or female, is gay; the parents do not comprehend it, will not comprehend it, and as I was once told by a parent- “What does that have to do with getting married? It is a social duty I have to fulfill. They will learn to ‘adjust’ like we did in our time” I wish I was making this shit up….

3. How shit happens when such parents get involved….Here is the boy’s father – When asked if his son was a homosexual, the father was non-committal. “These things are more common today so we do not know why our daughter-in-law was so disturbed. Of course, he did not tell me he had these problems. In fact, the marriage was fixed only after he met her and gave his consent,” the father told Newsline.

4. And here is the girl’s father – Mothers of course do not count. “He said, she being a “traditional Indian woman”, should have tried to make the marriage work rather than let it fall apart.” But this is the classic instinctual life, where all life actions and stages of life are performed by rote, and there is no thought, no agency, no responsibility in any of them. If that crushes the innocent, well that is too bad

5. Here is my question. Who lets such people breed? Modernity has not been a colossal failure in India only because it never took root to begin with. Education provides employment opportunities and does not touch the psyche in any way. Under the skin lurks the rustic… but we as a people cannot afford this indulgence much longer. God this is depressing….

6. The girl was also a doctor. Her education has been a waste for she had been acting in the most regressive, stupid manner,  a combination of snivel and drivel.  It is a disgrace, the amount of nonsense she was willing to put up with because of some romantic illusion that is dearer than life. Read the text of the articles; where on earth do people get such barf inducing notions of life? The movies of course. This girl was not living in any sort of functioning reality – it was a hopeful dream that proved a nightmare. What exactly is wrong with people? Do families not care when you are in trouble? Do friends not help? Why does one put up with such rubbish when you are educated and have a profession that will give you a reasonable living? To live alone, to accept that a relationship did not work out, death is still seen a a better option. This insanity is pervasive which is why it seems like normality not insanity.

7. She thought she could ‘turn him around’. Pray away the gay perhaps, or just basically the usual feminine delusion that they are so irresistible, they can turn a gay male to the straight and narrow? Yes its a terrible pun and no I dont feel bad about it. This girl was a doctor and should have known better. She had also brought into a peculiar mindset – or at least she has communicated that pov – that many Indians mistake for morality and virtue. Bad people need sex, good people need only love. Film maker Mahesh Bhatt had pointed out once how pervasive this notion was – that bad people are the sexually active. Good people live in chaste love.

8.He apparently ” again promised he would not indulge in homosexual activities” How many gay men have to lie like that to buy some temporary peace in their lives? But why? Why were these two clowns set in living out a small town fantasy of harmony? Social norms of idiotic nature grip people like a hungry octopus and they think that is something wonderful.

9. She is mentally disturbed enough to take her life. Naturally the police arrest her husband. Understand this – as a man you will be held culpable for the fact that your wife is insane! She just had to throw out the magic word ‘harassment’ and his ass was grass, for when it comes to the pure snowflakes that are women, men are held to be guilty because accused.

10. Given the legal climate which is murderously biased against men, why on earth, hell or heaven would a guy, gay or otherwise, get married? There are cheaper, quicker ways to hang oneself or get snipped. To get married in the current legal framework is evidence of insanity when it comes to men. You have to be out of your goddamn mind or pathetically ignorant – which is the same thing I suppose – to even consider matrimony.

11. We seriously need to grow up as a society.

Rohit Arya is a Yogi , Author and Polymath, being a Spiritual Mentor, a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. He is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation corporate training outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He founded the Arya Yoga Sangha in 2013 and leads multiple meditation circles each week.

The videos of his talks on various subjects can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAryayogi

His blogs can be accessed here

http://aryayogi.wordpress.com/

http://actpersistintensify.wordpress.com/

http://creativeaye.wordpress.com/

https://zestandgrit.wordpress.com/

What do women really want? Sir Gawain tries to find out…

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As a mythologist I spend more time than I should in collecting tales from around the world and reflecting on what they teach us about the mad and wonderful business of being human. One such tale was from the perennial fount of wisdom which are the legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. It seemed to be a perfect story, one that illuminated the agreeable new-age delusion that the past had more wisdom in living life than we do nowadays in the relatively miserable present. Recently however, I came across the older version of that tale and it has suddenly darkened in tone, become much more complex and perplexing. It is almost as if the Shadow of this tale was waiting to ambush my simple conclusions. Let the reader judge.

The story as it exists in today’s post feminist literature is the crushing answer to Freud’s loftily pained query, “What do women really want?” This was asked before and answered in a manner that he could perhaps never have anticipated, though it seems strange that with all his knowledge of myth Freud missed this one.

The core story skeleton is simple.

Sir Gawain, favouite nephew of Arthur, and the most handsome man in the kingdom is out riding with his uncle. They are accosted by a giant with a grudge against the king and the inclination to work it off right then. However the giant is also a knight and will not fight unarmed men. So he offers them an equally serious medival alternative – a challenge of wits. They have one year to find out the answer to the burning question, “What do women really want?”

To be unable to answer would constitute a moral defeat, far worse than a physical one so the two men are in a real dilema. Arthur, with the kingly instinct of delegating responsibility when in trouble, tells Gawain it is his duty to find out. Arthur would have liked to do so too but he had responsibilities – ruling the kingdom, fighting tournaments and watching Guinevere and Lancelot like a hawk. Gawain rides off, resigned to noblesse oblige and holding the can at the end of the year if he cannot find the answer.

The poor knight begins a humiliating journey accosting women at all places and demanding form them the answer to his puzzle. Since he was very good-looking most of them did not scream and run, but gave him some self serving pap as their take on the question of the ages.

He was accumulating a real data bank of possibilities but he instinctively felt that none of them would do. “To punch up her brother,” is a real feeling but not the answer. Nor was “Somebody to do the housework and bring me nourishing soup. “He was also reasonably sure that the giant would not accept, “A rich man who is great in bed”. Nor was the advice given by a passing strumpet very useful or reassuring, “Lancelot knows, and if he wont tell you, ask your aunt – she taught him”.

Finally he enters the Forest of Inglewood, rumored to contain a magic well and a feminine guardian who knows everything. At the well he meets the most horrifically ugly female has ever seen and he falls off his horse in shock. She is known, with typical medieval understatement, as The Loathly Lady. However this apparition says she has the right answer, and he has to promise to marry her to get her to open up. Summoning his knightly fortitude for reasons of state he agrees.(The marriage turns out well and she turns out to be beautiful too but that need not concern us here).

sirgawain

At the end of the year, the giant gets his answer. “What women really want is – freedom.” He goes away muttering about the state of things where even the deepest secrets are now available in the public domain and how England was surely going to the dogs since the glory days. In some versions of the myth the answer is that “What women really want is sovereignty. “Which does not alter the fundamental idea that the woman wants to be her own person, controller of her fate, and not answerable or dependent upon Men. It is a magnificent plea for the innate value of people being free, and is a properly most-modernist sentiment. So all in all, a terrific myth, and one that has immediate value to us in our modern life too.

Then I came upon the older myth and the value system turns upside down.

In this version Gawain is the nephew of the king and only too aware of his consequent privileges. Like the other brutes in armour of the time he has a pretty low opinion of women. Coming across a young girl in the woods he casulaly rapes her. Normally not a great problem, but this young girl was of noble blood and she was a virgin to boot. Since “by very force he took her maidenhead” he was sentenced to lose his head in a macabre tit for tat.

The ladies at court raised an uproar. He was so very handsome and this girl was after all only a nobody, even if of noble blood. Anticipating Shakespeare, they demand, “Is a man to be hanged(or have his head cut off) for the rebellion of a codpiece?” The queen too throws in her plea for clemency and Arthur is only too pleased to grasp at any straw. So that it will not be too easy, and so that he sweats blood a bit and learns the value of restraint, Guinevere sets him the same question. In this version however, the question is subtly altered, “What is it that women most desire?” He gets the answer from the same hag, but this answer is totally different from the first.

“A woman wants the self-same sovereignty over her husband as over her lover”.
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The queen and the ladies enthusiastically acclaim the answer as the right one and he gets to live. In the first myth when he marries the hag he gives her the freedom to choose whether she will remain half-ugly/half beautiful by day or night alternately. In giving her the freedom of choice she becomes beautiful all the time. Here however the choice is more drastic. An ugly, faithful wife or a beautiful one who will cuckold him every chance she gets. Utterly beaten he admits her sovereignty over him, whereupon she transforms into a perpetually beautiful and faithful wife.

Now the two are not the same answers nor are the conclusions the same. In the first case it was the freedom to be her own self that liberates both of them. In the second case it is her freedom to be a bully, to dominate and take away his freedom that gets them the happy ending. Simplistic solutions to this dilemma will not do, it is not a case of male chauvinist impotence versus the truth. The second myth has a darkly disturbing power and the very fact that it exists as an answer shows that it must have been seriously considered to be the correct answer. To deny the impulse of the bully and tyrant to women is to deny history and the plainest common sense. It is that dangerous road of rendering them powerless by putting them up on a pedestal, leached of all human impulses.

So the whole debate has been thrown wide open once more. We now have two answers like two horns of a very serious dilema. Once again I am astounded by the power of myths to confound you, to force you to confront disturbing aspects of your psyche, to look beyond the beguiling surface to what writhes and roils below. These myths are Yin/Yang in their perfect juxtapositioning, each the same and yet the exact opposite. Myths do not give any easy answers but they surely expand the possibilities of the mind. The jury is still out on this question, but we have some really remarkable answers to work with.

 

Rohit Arya is an Author, Yogi and Polymath, being a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker.  He has written the first book on Vaastu to be published in the West, {translated into five European languages} the first book on Tarot to be published in India, co-authored a book on fire sacrifice, and is the creator of The Sacred India Tarot {82 card deck and book}. He was the Editor of The Leadership Review, and on the advisory panel of Indiayogi.com, the first spiritual portal in the country. Currently he is the Director of Pro-Factor, a leadership and change facilitation outfit. He has been an arts critic and socio-cultural commentator for over two decades. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga. He leads the Ka Sangha meditation group, as well as The Integral Space meditation circle each week.

You cannot gift the world to your children, but parents keep trying

after earth

Pondering the catastrophic blunder that is After Earth, you feel somewhat sorry for Will Smith. The guy parses every beat of success, he has a system and it worked enormously well for over a decade, but now he has floundered into Godfather III territory and it is just as ugly now as it was when Coppola tried. It doesn’t work, never has worked, but parents are rendered stupid when they want their kids to begin at the peak. Sofia Coppola recovered from her inauspicious start but Jaden seems to have engendered too much ill will. When times are hard people applaud extra hard for the deserving, but they flatten the ones perceived to be entitled.

Rich people can teach their kids to manage wealth and how to choose managers if they don’t have a natural turn for it. That is maintenance, not creation, not originality. In fields where performance has to be validated by public and unforgiving parameters, inheritance cuts no ice. India is a kinship society and this particular fiasco is a familiar one. Cricketers and film stars get a disproportionate slice of the financial pie for they are perceived as genuine and authentic successes, not the consequence of lucky genetic combination. Strangely enough in the classical performing arts, where success and fame are not entirely at the mercy of public perception, the kinship and succession principles endure. {Visual arts, they try – and fail!} The perpetual embarrassment that was Anushka Shankar is the prime example, but too many dancers and singers and musicians are skating along on inheritance principles. This spills into spiritual circles too, but since most gurus were renunciate, it never got out of hand. But the tension between the gurus’ family and the disciples. who are almost inevitably more spiritually deserving. never really goes away.

Will Smith looked invulnerable, but in the end he too is victim to the forlorn stupidity that seems wired into human genetics – the pleasing delusion that we can spare our kids from effort and the authentic, independent discovery of their true selves.

Rohit Arya is a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has been an arts and cultural critic and social commentator for two decades. Rohit is the author of 4 books and been published in 5 European languages. He is an Author, Yogi, Polymath. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Personal regard cramps empathy

rico-cavallo It is always disconcerting and familiar to realize, yet again, that we really care only about ourselves.  Emotional maturity ensures this is not displayed openly, nor even articulated. Shame and honesty teaches us it is a wrong attitude. It lurks however, just under the skin, and it can confront you abruptly.

A few days back I was taking the mid afternoon Harbor line train to town in Mumbai. Just before Vashi station the train slowed down and then halted for a while. It was the usual story. Somebody had fallen off, or jumped, onto the tracks and the train did the rest. It is such a common episode it is not even reported in the local papers any more. The response and cleanup have become rote and efficient – there is so much familiarity with it. A young man got up to see the sight; the rest of us, more squeamish, hardened, remained sitting.  A seat in a local train is a precious accomplishment, not be squandered for curiosity, not even for Death. The young man returned soon. It was obviously his first real sight of an accident that shears limbs off and he was distraught.

He babbled a bit about blood and the distance of the leg and arm from what was a living being just minutes back. Faces began to twitch in the anxiety that the presence of Death provokes. Then he said, “ He was a middle aged man, at least 35.” It was nervousness of course but almost all of us who were over that designated age of decrepitude had a smile on our faces. The extreme simplicity of youth, its belief in its own lasting vigor, it was touching. Heads were shaken and grins exchanged; the experienced ones, the survivors, finding the proclamations of youth to be amusing.

It struck me instantly that there was more authentic reaction to that statement than the fact that somebody, at least 35, had died. We do not like to be classified as old at any age; middle age too is not exactly a welcome state; 35 is just ignorance. Fortunately youth is not an incurable disease.  But unless we are very aware or very evolved, we view each situation that arises from the prism of self -regard. How does it affect me, my views, my notions, my carefully constructed personality? At the core of the personal regard that is our instrument to interact with the world, it is more important not to be thought middle-aged at 35 than to empathize with the man who perhaps found life intolerable or just had unbelievably bad luck that day.

Rohit Arya is a writer, a corporate trainer, a mythologist and a vibrant speaker. He has been an arts and cultural critic and social commentator for two decades. Rohit is the author of 4 books and been published in 5 European languages. He is an Author, Yogi, Polymath. Rohit is also a Lineage Master in the Eight Spiritual Breaths system of Yoga

Inspirational Posters

These posters are quite inspirational. Some of them are funny. Some are blunt. All ask you to make an effort to create the life you desire. None are mawkish. The Princess Bride quote could have been from the Buddha himself – “Idam Khopana Bhikkave Dukham Ariya Saccham” – “Now hear this O Bhikkus, Suffering is the First Noble Truth”. They make you think and then act. You’re welcome!

 

 

Rohit Arya is a writer , speaker and corporate trainer. He has been a cultural critic and social commentator for two decades. Rohit is the author of 5 books and been published in 5 European languages. He is an Author, Yogi, Polymath.