Category Archives: Religion

Sarathi-Baba-wallpaper

The Rise and Fall of Sarathi Baba

I’ll be honest with you.

I have always wanted to be a Baba. I have the long hair, and the ability to talk for hours. I also possess the innate ability to sound profound while discussing the difference between urad daal and masoor daal.

On a deeper level, growing up in an ashram exposed me to the works of a number of spiritual gurus such as Jiddu Krishnamurthy, Osho and UG. I have giggled at some of their teachings, read through some over and over again, and gaped in wonder at the simplicity of some of their preachings.

So the desire to be a Baba was always there.

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The last few years haven’t been great for Babas. There was Nityananda, who raised a symbolic leg in a private chamber with his devotee. There was Asaram Bapu, who has been convicted of raping two teenage girls. There is of course, Sant Ram Rahim Singh Insaan who has decided to inflict cinematic torture on the world through his films. And finally, that dude in Haryana whose guards started shooting at the police when he was wanted on murder charges.

But these might seem like minor hiccups, as the Baba industry is the second oldest profession in the world. It is only a matter of time before Indians latch on to another Baba.

Sarathi Baba knew all of this.

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Sarathi Baba was the first big mover in the Baba market in Odisha. The market had been fragmented by Satya Sai Baba, Asaram Bapu, the new-age secularism of Shirdi Sai Baba, and the Silent Sect of Sisters – the Brahmakumaris.

However, it was a case of local connect. These were all Babas preaching in Hindi/English. There was a need for local flavour, to activate local language settings. The suave, English speaking Babas like Sadhguru or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar do not attract too many people in Odisha.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

And that’s how Sarathi Baba shot into the limelight.

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Sarathi Baba spoke in Odiya, dressed up in yellow clothes, and bellowed from the television set every morning. While Babas are supposed to stay away from worldly pleasures and generally adopt an ascetic waistline, Sarathi Baba looked like he ate four katoris of gajar halwa a day.

When people dug into his past, it was found that Sarathi Baba used to sell paan in his village and gradually transformed into a yogic guiding light of the state. This gave me a lot of hope for a number of reasons.

Sarathi Baba cooler

You may achieve enlightenment later, but right now, you need Symphony Air Cooler.

Apart from spiritual reasons, one of the reasons was that I kinda look like the dude on the left after a chicken biriyani

The picture on the left is me after a Sunday afternoon chicken biriyani.

In a few years, his devotees began to increase. He released MP3 albums in his Phata Mangeshkar voice, his devotees wore lockets and bracelets with his pudgy face on it. Sarathi Baba opened new branches of his ashram in nearly every city in Odisha, with his main attraction being a cement cow that could give milk!

Please watch the video at your own discretion. It shows honey flowing out of Baba’s feet. Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted about its authenticity. 

 

While most Babas like to stay away from familial bonds, Sarathi Baba proclaimed to have a son. This young man (quite literally) threw his weight around, and was partially responsible for the earth slipping from its orbital axis.

Life was sailing smoothly for Sarathi Baba, when like most Babas, he decided to take a break.

The plan was simple, he would come to Hyderabad for a few days with a lady friend, chill out in an unknown land, monetise the benefits of being a Baba with all those tax cuts, and return to his holy land. Except for one crucial point.

ALL WAITERS AND BARTENDERS IN HYDERABAD ARE ODIYA.

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It happened before you could say the word ‘motey’. A curious waiter with a smartphone clicked a few pictures of a portly man who bore a striking resemblance to Odisha’s most famous Baba. In the picture, Baba was seen watching TV in the hotel lobby, ordering beer, and biting off chicken with aplomb.

Sarathi Baba Hyderabad hotel photos

It didn’t take long for the pictures to spread like wildfire. The hotel records were thrown open, and it was found that Sarathi Baba had ordered three Kingfisher Strong beers, and chilly chicken. That Baba was not only spreading his wisdom, but also his sperm. The 22 year old girl who had travelled with Baba immediately told the world (from behind a red handkerchief) that she had been harassed and forced to travel with Sarathi Baba.

When Baba travelled back to Bhubaneswar, he was arrested at the airport. It was a sad end to a colourful yellow career that held a lot of promise. Baba’s son was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate, and as can be seen from this Pulitzer-winning news byte, often engaged in vices like eating mutton pakoda and looking like Ramesh Powar.

 

Sarathi Baba’s ashrams were seized. Odiya people went back to the much safer Baba Ramdev and his Anulom-Vilom. Sarathi Baba got trolled by Odiya people in strange, weird ways.

Sarathi Baba Audio CD

 

 

 

 

 

 

sarathi-baba-cartoon

Caption says: ‘Whatever people say….DHHO!’

Sarathi Baba protest Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi wondering what he did this time!

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While it might seem comic, the story of Sarathi Baba taught me a few important life lessons. 1. If you become a famous Baba, always go to 5 Star hotels. Or to houses of rich devotees. Not Hotel Sunshine in Gachibowli, Hyderabad. 2. Never order three Kingfisher beers. Nothing good can come off that.

Meanwhile, the Baba market in Odisha sees a Sarathi Baba sized hole, waiting for me to fill it.

JAI SARATHI BABA!

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The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

Word of the Month (March’16) : Anti-National

The word has often given me a lot of trouble.

But before I go on to dissect it, I would like to clarify a few points so that we are on the same page (I love that phrase – Hey, are we on the same page? Yes, but it’s a different book. Oh, shit!)

What does the term ‘Nationalist’ really mean?

The dictionary defines it as an unwavering, unfaltering devotion to the nation’s cause, a firm belief in the fortunes of the nation. But here, I’d like to raise a question. Does believing that ‘India is the best country’ constitute nationalism?

Also, how does one go about this loyalty? Are we all by default expected to believe that the nation we were born in is the best nation in the world? By that logic, people in Syria must also believe that theirs is the best nation in the world. As must people in Burundi, Niger, and Malawi.

My second question is this – how is a nationalist supposed to view the nation’s faults? In the event of a nationalist being displeased with an aspect of the nation, how does he/she express it? Is a nationalist allowed to criticise the nation? Or does one’s nationalism blind one to the faults of the nation?

Is a Nationalist expected to only speak of the nation’s positives? If at all a negative aspect was mentioned, does one cease to be a Nationalist? For eg, two people who have lived all their lives in Dubai, are asked about their opinion on the place.

The first person, a man, says that he loves Dubai as it has the best hotels, swanky cars, and the glitziest malls in the entire world. The second person, a woman, says it’s all good, but she hates the fact that she isn’t allowed to drive a car or go for a walk by herself.

Is the man the Nationalist? Or the woman Anti-nationalist?

Why is it that when a doctor points out a problem with our bodies, we pay the person respect and money. But if someone points out a problem with the nation, he/she is automatically anti-national? Is the doctor considered anti-human??

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If I ask myself the above questions in a completely objective manner, I don’t think I qualify as a Nationalist.

For one, it was a matter of chance that I was born in India.

I mean, I didn’t choose to be born here. It wasn’t destiny or any of the bullshit that films and songs make us believe. The fact is, I was born in India without my choice. Does that mean I am forced to believe that my nation is the greatest? So people in Bangladesh must believe that there’s is the greatest nation in the world as well, right?

So is this Nationalism a ritualistic phenomenon? Is it religious in nature?

Do I feel proud of being born in India? I am not very sure.

I am proud of things I did, I achieved, I created. How can I be proud of something I had NO role to play in? I was born on a Friday, and I’m not really proud of it; it just happened.

I feel a sense of silent pride that we as a nation haven’t descended into chaos. Look at all our neighbours, and you get the sense of chaos that we could have descended into. I am proud of the fact that India managed to uphold its basic constitutional principles for so long. It gives me great satisfaction that we have (in most ways) managed to live with each other in spite of our differences and diversity, that we have kept refueling the engine of democracy that keeps our nation chugging along.

But I’m not proud of EVERYTHING about our nation – that would be lying. I hate the fact that we as a nation still believe in the caste system. In spite of all our Ekta and Shobha, behind the curt smiles and folded hands, our parents still shamelessly subscribe to the system.

I hate the fact that in most parts of the nation, women can’t walk around freely. That as an average citizen of India, you’re given shitty government amenities, and your entire life is a race to earn enough to bypass the need for government services like education, food, water, housing, and healthcare.

I like a few things about my country, and a few things make my blood boil. So where does that place me?

Am I a nationalist? Am I an anti-national? Or semi-national?

The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

                The only film title to have TWO grammatical errors in it.

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Which brings me to the issue of Kanhaiya Kumar in recent times. When he was branded an anti-national and asked to leave the nation. It’s been a trend of sorts. Chipmunks with access to internet and a keyboard, asking people to leave the nation – whether it is Kanhaiya Kumar, or Aamir Khan, or Javed Akhtar.

Firstly, WHO THE FUCK are you to ask someone to leave the nation?

Did you do a tapasya for a thousand years to gain the rare privilege of being in India? Nope!

Your parents had sex, some random sperms traveled from Point A to Point B, and you were born here. So shut the fuck up! You can’t ask everybody with a different opinion to leave!

This is a nation we are talking about, not fucking Bansal’s Chemistry Coaching Classes!!

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I don’t believe India is the greatest nation in the world. If you believe it is, you’re either supremely dumb, or you blindly consume the stuff that fat politicians and psychotic journalists peddle on television everyday. A few things about our nation are awesome, and a few things suck donkey balls. That’s just the way it is, and my loyalty to my nation doesn’t change those basic facts.

If I look at where I stand in terms of the above questions, I realise I am certainly no nationalist.

And neither are you, dear orangutan with a keyboard and an internet connection. You have absolutely no right to ask someone else to leave the nation, because you’ve done ZILCH to earn the right in the first place. A few thousand kilometres this way or that, and you could’ve been born in Pakistan or Bangladesh. So shut the fuck up about your patriotism already!

You didn’t choose to be born in India. Neither did Mahatma Gandhi, or Narendra Damodardas Modi. It just happened that they were born here, that’s all.

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I’m sorry, but blindly believing that your country is the greatest in the world doesn’t amount to nationalism.

There’s a term for it – Jingoism.

North Korea tells its citizens that they live in the greatest nation in the world, and they all firmly believe it. At one point, a certain someone worked on the same principle – that Germany is the greatest country in the entire world.

The fact is, every great movement in the world was at some point anti-nationalist. The fight for civil liberties in the USA, the fight to end slavery, the fight for equal rights, they were all concepts seen as being ‘against the nation’s interest’ at some point.

Every single political hero in the world – be it Gandhi, or Mandela, or Che, or Malcolm X, or Ambedkar – they were all hawking ideas that were seen as ‘dangerous’ to the nation’s ‘fabric’ at some point of time. But shutting them off because they dared to question the status quo would have been foolish, wouldn’t it?

Should we follow Nationalism as a religion, then? Should it be sacrosanct, unquestionable, unshakable, like Isl  the world’s favourite religion?

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I have mixed feelings about being an Indian.

I have some hope, and some despair. And frankly, active citizenry is not about chest-thumping and sharing shady links on Facebook. It is about raising uncomfortable questions, and trying to find solutions for them. To blindly believe ki hum best hai, no matter what – is not nationalism. It is a flavour of religious fanaticism.

If you ask me to shut up and leave the country for criticizing India, you need to go enroll yourself in Bansal’s Chemistry Coaching classes.

They need people like you there!

PK controversial Shiva scene

How the Right Wing is inadvertently converting Hinduism to Islam

I was watching PK on television in a hotel today.

Watching a film for the second time is a wonderful experience. You notice things you didn’t in the first place, read subtexts, and can revel in the experience of the film without the pressure of analysing it as a newly released film. (Read my review here).

But the one thing that saddened me about the film was all the controversy that the film created for insulting Hindu Gods.

It is an argument that was whipped up with great frenzy across social media. In many ways, it was the beginning of the nation’s hatred against Aamir Khan. Before PK, Aamir Khan was ambassador for Indian hospitality, tourism, culture, and behaviour.

From a person who tearfully informed the nation about its shortcomings, public perception of him transformed into a monster who uses Hindu gods and themes to make his point. Which is an absurd point to make because PK was essentially a humour film. Just a few years ago, Akshay Kumar starred in a film which brutally questioned idol worship and Baba cults. The film was well received, people raved about it, no questions were raised about Akshay Kumar’s loyalties.

Was Aamir Khan targeted because he is Muslim? I suspect, yes.

But this is India, and Aamir Khan just needs another film and the entire nation will laugh and cry with him.

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But what irked me more was why the film should run into controversy.

The infamous scene of Shiva running about to save himself from a mad stalker (PK) was what got the nation infuriated. But what is so offensive about the scene?

India in general and Hinduism in particular has a long history of debate, discussion and provoking of the gods. There are countless stories where rishis curse gods, rebuke and ridicule them. In my opinion, it is beautiful that Hinduism allows us the freedom to worship gods, and live with them. We have idols of gods in our houses, images on note books, calendars on walls. Travel to villages, and you’ll find plays and folk-songs where performers mimic and use gods in their songs. Some of the songs target gods, make fun of their habits, their appearance, their vaahans – what is the big fucking deal?

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is still considered a cult masterpiece today, and its most famous scene is the one where a botched up Draupadi Vastraharan results in absolute chaos.

Can you imagine such a scene being shot today, without morons taking to their Facebook walls and crying about ‘sentiments being hurt’?

Or, check out this scene from RK Narayan’s legendary Malgudi Days, where a Christian teacher tries talking to the class about how they must all follow Christ, and not ‘bekaar Hindu bhagwaan’. (Watch from 2.03)

Can you imagine a scene like this on national television today?

Highly improbable. Sadly, as time passes and one expects a nation to march forward towards a society that is open to questioning beliefs, we have degenerated into a nation that loses its cool at the drop of a hat.

The saddest part of it all is that the Hindu Rightwing claims to be working for Hinduism. In their speeches and Facebook posts, they criticise and rebuke Islam and its regressive practices. However, without noticing the classic irony staring back at them, they are converting Hinduism – a multicultural way of living – into what they consider their biggest enemy – Islam.

Look at each and every argument that has been made in the last few years, and you’ll assume you’re talking about mullahs in Iran rather than a secular democratic country. They have a problem with a stupid Deepika Padukone video where she says it’s her choice who she wants to sleep with.

They have a problem with the representation of God in daily life, exactly what you’d expect a regressive, conservative Muslim to believe.

They have a problem with young women wearing modern clothes, visiting pubs, or walking in parks holding their boyfriend’s hand. I’m sorry but these are classic signs of a regressive Islamic cult, and not of Hinduism.

And slowly, I am afraid we are slipping into the skin of a nation that cries at the drop of a hat.

The Rightwing is slowly transforming into their biggest fears – Islam and Pakistan – a nation that has no tolerance for an opinion that isn’t part of the mainstream.

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What is wrong with a person dressed as Shiva running around, if it is written as a gag in a film? If you believe in Lord Shiva, you should know that he is the lord of the universe. You seriously think that he would take offence to a film by Rajkumar Hirani? He doesn’t care, it’s idiots like us who get pissed off. Shiva is probably smiling right now, wondering when he should open his eyes and do the Taandav and destroy this dumb fucking race that he created.

Are we a nation with the IQ of drunk mules, that we cannot take an image in its context? And when does this end?

Do we also adopt a censorship on the use of god’s name and image? Will we also reach a day when some Hindus enter a building and shoot journalists for a harmless cartoon? Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? That only happens in Islam, right?

But where did it all begin? It began exactly like this. With a bunch of dudes who decided to decide for everybody else what is offensive. With protests, and effigies burnt, and slogans, and people with no real work in life protesting on the roads.

That’s how it all begins.  Always.

caste_system

Why don’t we talk about Caste?

 

Why don’t we talk about caste?

As a nation, as we get together to discuss issues that perturb us, how do we manage to skip out this system that has existed in our civilisation forever?

A system that imprints itself on your name, your title, your identity, your family. A tag that you carry down the tunnels of time, generation to generation, never able to break free from?

Why doesn’t news of a Dalit’s hands being cut off, or being stripped and paraded naked, or beaten up for reaching out to their basic rights, anger us? Why don’t we speak about a system that has crept into our mainstream – into our marriages and proposals, into our websites and matrimonials?

Why don’t we talk about Caste when we mock Islamic countries for their rigid rules? Why doesn’t Caste seem as appalling to us as a 10 year old boy in Syria forced to behead another man? Why doesn’t it shock us that our parents still adhere and abide by a tradition that existed even before the idea of India was born?

But hey, there are cool parents, yours and mine. We dare not think about such things. Let’s discuss the weather, may be?

 

Why don’t we talk about caste with the same anger and furore as we discuss a Gangrape?

I mean, look at the word – GANGRAPE.

Look at all that it carries with it – a bunch of lecherous men feasting upon a crying girl, tearing her flesh. Look at the word – strutting around and demanding our attention like a tramp.

And then look at this word – CASTE.

It signifies nothing. An old, dusted discussion, fleeting memories of that Amar Chitra Katha comic of BR Ambedkar, and how ‘millions’ of Indians were relieved from thousands of years of misery. The word is an old cow, loitering about in the wild till it dies an insignificant, lonely death.

 

Why don’t we talk about caste when it blatantly stares at us in every sphere of life? On our birthdays, and festivals, and weddings, and funerals. Why don’t we talk about caste in our places of worship, our temples of love and compassion?

Why are our Gods biased? 33,000 crore Gods in our nation, why do they watch stone-faced and silent, as this inhumane discrimination is openly propagated in their places of worship?

Why doesn’t it disgust us that a cruel system, whose earliest remains date back to the first script ever written in Hinduism, still exists today? A system that cruelly discriminated upon people for no fault of theirs. A system that relegated you to be a cobbler or barber or sewage-cleaner, year after year, generation after generation?

Why don’t we talk about Caste?

 

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We don’t talk about caste because it’s not cool, yo!

It embarrasses us. Like a stain of menstrual blood on a pure white, silk saree, Caste is a blot on our glorious past as the beacon of the world.

We don’t talk about caste because it doesn’t exist in the world we grow up in. It never did.

Raj and Simran never discussed their caste. Neither did Prem, or Amar, Akbar, Anthony before him. Caste doesn’t go with our idea of modern India.

The one we see in PPTs and news briefs. How do you place that dark elephant of an issue on sparkling flyovers? It doesn’t look good on spotless roads or among fair, shiny kids in blazers smiling in front of their colleges. It doesn’t fit in, bro.

We don’t talk about Caste because it’s not really a serious problem. Nope. Serious problems are Illiteracy, Unemployment, and Gender Sensitivity. Yup, we’re talking about Gender Sensitivity now, but it doesn’t shock us that 80% of the country is divided into four imaginary divisions that began thousands of years ago.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because we don’t believe in the ‘Ugly, cruel caste system’ that we learnt about in Social Studies. We follow a cleaner version of the Caste System.

We don’t beat up Dalits. But we’ll eat and breed among our own kind. We will look for matches within our incestuous little group and find a ‘match’ for our children. We follow the ‘good caste system’. The harmless butterfly version of the ugly black snake that exists out there, in the wilderness somewhere.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because our parents never questioned it. And on never questions one’s parents’ beliefs in anything. Cos bro, Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, yo!

Also, look at India today. We have left all that shit behind, brother. We are marching forward towards progress and growth and glossy cars and shiny roads. Why bring up something from so far back? Do you know that Mark Zuckerberg wears the same kind of T-shirts every day? Ha, thought so!

 

We don’t talk about Caste because we have never questioned our beliefs.

We will invest our money in hedge-funds and manage our accounts on our smartphones, and yet, we will invite a Pundit and Pujari to do our poojas. Because you see, God is Almighty and All-knowing and All-powerful, but he has a little soft corner for people who were born in a certain caste only.

We know all the prayers, they’re a click away on our glitzy smartphones. But we will pay this man to sit shirtless in front of us and chant them out, because God likes them prayers when they come off his lips. Of course, he’s God. But we all have our weaknesses, and Brahmins are God’s weakness. God is trying to wean off the habit, but it’ll take some time.

 

We don’t talk about Caste because it embarrasses us.

Like the uncle who touches a 12 year old girl between her thighs one summer afternoon, and then meets her ten years later at a family function, we are filled with dread and guilt. We don’t want to talk about it.

I’m not going to talk about it.

And I know you aren’t, either.

10848780_10152674143846977_3578961904789828491_o

This Messenger of God apparently can’t take a fucking joke!

Unless you live under Hard Rock, you’d have seen comedian Kiku Sharda in a number of roles. He is the guy cross-dressing as Palak on Comedy Nights with Kapil, doing dim stuff like dancing to item numbers and trying to kiss male guests on the show.

It’s all unfunny and weird and fucked up, but that’s what makes the nation laugh, I guess.

I have been following Kiku Sharda since his stint at the Great Indian Comedy Show, where he teamed up with other funny men Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak and Suresh Menon to great effect. I don’t personally like his drag act on Comedy Nights, but I’m nobody to comment on other’s work.

 

However, it was shocking to find out he has been arrested for offending the sensibilities of the devotees of Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan Ji. Apart from a few comedians who raised their voice, there was barely any coverage of the news.

Our galaxy of Bollywood stars – entitled coke-zombies with IQs of table spoons – who regularly jump to the defence of their pagan gods Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, have nothing to say about the issue. Not a word. Isn’t that shocking?

Not really.

For you see, a comedian gets as much respect as a nose-picking, crack-snorting, child murderer in our country. And when we need to shut someone down, we turn to a gift that the Britishers left for us, archaic laws that they left for our lawmakers to fuck with us centuries later.

Of course no BJP leaders are going to protest in any way. Half of them – from the PM to your friendly neighbourhood Barang Dal activist who resurrects every Valentine’s Day – spend a good part of a year kissing the ass of these asshole gurus and religious leaders. Name any tainted guru, and you’ll find our beloved PM has taken a few pics, and touched their feet, and sought their blessings.

When our political leaders are ready to go down on their knees and gag themselves on these gurujis, how can you expect any serious action? Obviously archaic laws will be used whenever it seems necessary.

This is a trend that I like to refer to as the ‘Talibanisation’ of Hinduism.

These assholes who foolishly assume they are protecting our religion and culture, have taken it upon themselves to reduce 5000 years of debate and discussion in Hinduism into a murky, rigid Taliban-like interpretation.

For if they actually had the fucking brains to read any Hindu scriptures, they’d know there has existed a long culture of dissent and debate in Hinduism long before any of these assholes’ ancestors got their first hard-on.

There exist slokas and stotras where the author rebukes God for his actions, bemoans his lack of access to devotees. If you travel to the interiors of India, you’ll find indigenous interpretations of the epics, where everybody from Lord Rama to Hanuman are mocked, mimicked, and brought down to a human level. People laugh, have a good time, but they go back to their houses without getting offended.

Something that seems unimaginable in urban India today.

And who triggers this kind of shit? Politicians and their followers, mostly. Remember when Bal Thackeray passed away and a school girl was arrested for a Facebook update? Remember when Jayalalitha pressed sedition charges against a folk singer who sang songs against Her Hugeness’ antics?

It is a trend that is disturbing as hell. And as a writer-comedian who plans to earn his livelihood by making fun of people, it is extremely worrying. We have clear lines on who we can mock, and whom we can’t.

Rahul Gandhi is OK, but not Narendra Modi. It is OK to crack jokes on Gandhi, but not Shivaji. It is alright to crack jokes on Lord Shiva, but not Allah You Know Who. We draw these lines for ourselves and happily frolic about inside them, thinking of ourselves as cool, liberated, open-minded people.

 

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And honestly, who are we talking about here?

Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan has been embroiled in controversy for decades now. The man has not one, but three charges of rape and sexual exploitation in his name. He has been accused of forcibly castrating about 400 men in his town of Sirsa, and also for the torture of devotees who dared to speak up against His Assholiness Sri Sri Gurmeet Singh Sahib Insan Ji.

And seriously, the guy was born so that comedians could write jokes. Have you seen the guy?

10848780_10152674143846977_3578961904789828491_o

He is walking-talking material for comedians. If humorists suffer from Joke Menopause, you can show them Babaji’s videos, they’ll walk out of the room with a complete 1 hour set.

The most common argument in support of these asshole Babas is – ‘Have you seen the number of social movements he is running? He has X number of schools and Y number of hospitals?’

So what, you dimwits?

Don’t you get it? That’s the modus operandi. Unless you build hospitals and schools, people aren’t going to flock to you. How else are you going to dress up like Santa Claus on Cocaine and sing asinine songs like ‘You Are My Love Charger’?

Engaging in social activities gives you no right to trample over people’s rights and expressions. Even the ISIS runs social movements in the areas they have captured. And we all know how benevolent those guys are. They put the ISIS in CRISIS.

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At the end of the day, it is just going to be another episode in our nation’s bejeweled history.

We will quickly move on to other matters of national importance. Like how many nipples Katrina Kaif’s new dog has. After having traumatized the daylights out of an honest man who was earning his living, we’ll move on with our dream of being a developed, progressive nation when our Prime Minster takes another selfie with tribals in Honolulu. Because, that is the route to true development.

If this joke of a Guruji is the Messenger of God, God must be using a shitty app on a shitty phone. But then, I wonder if God has a sense of humour. Look around at the world, and you’ll know God really has issues he needs to solve.

Does God have a sense of humour?

I doubt it. From where I’m standing, he seems like an insecure dude to me.

It’s time I had a word with God. I’ll probably ping him on Messenger…of God.

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yakub memon

How We Made a Criminal into a Martyr

The ruckus behind Yakub Memon’s hanging had me baffled.

For someone who updates social media on issues, I was truly clueless about the entire hullabaloo. People had begun calling it an ‘injustice’, some others a travesty and a few others had gone to the extent of calling it a ‘shame to a democracy’.

Somewhere amidst this noise, I had to sit back and scratch my head. What did I really miss??

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I can understand the call for abolishing death penalty.

That is a debate that has existed for long. Most nations that consider themselves ‘evolved’ or civilized have abolished it. I am not erudite enough to comment on the issue, I can’t claim to know the nuances of the debate.

What I do know, and am fully convinced about, is belief in the law of the land.

In a way, I was proud of the fact that a criminal was even given debate and discussion on a national scale. In most of our neighbouring countries, he would have been chopped to salad, and nobody would even know when it happened.

Of course, I do not endorse it, I’m merely stating the facts. The entire debate and discussion probably reflected our civility as a nation.

 

What disturbed me, however, was how nobody seemed to speak of his crimes anymore.

The only point of discussion was of him ‘helping’ Indian intelligence authorities in their investigation. This, apparently, ought to have gotten him a pardon, made him above the law of the land, which had spent 22 years to run its course. The other argument was that he was being hung for the crimes of his brother.

 
The intelligence in that statement can be gauged by the fact that it was echoed by Salman Khan, that well-read intellectual from Bandra.

 
Also, the last time we showed mercy on criminals and kept them in jails, here is what happened. The Kandahar hijackers demanded the release of Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.

What did these dudes do after they were released?

The World Trade Centre attacks of 9/11, the kidnapping, and beheading of Daniel Pearl. And oh, remember the Mumbai terror attacks? Those too.

 

Strangely, whenever Yakub’s activities were spoken about, it was in an off-handed manner, like an accepted theorem – ‘Yes, he did commit those crimes, BUT – ’

As a media student, I think most of it is to do with public perception of an incident.

Let’s compare this with another incident that provoked the nation’s fury in the last few years. Ram Singh & Co.’s rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in December 2012.

The same liberals who poured their heart out on my wall last week, had been crying hoarse – ‘Hang the rapist’.

That was because the facts were out there in the public. They had beaten the girl black and blue, broken her bones, inserted a rod into her vagina, kicked her till her intestines came out – the gory details were all out in the public. There was a face to the victim, a name (even though it wasn’t out for long). At the same time, there was a face to the criminals too – they had names, faces, homes.

But the Mumbai blasts of 93 were more or less faceless.

Except Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, no faces or names floated in the minds of the public. It was just that – Bombay Blasts. A sad incident where people lost their lives. Like they do on trains everyday. Or if there is a stampede at a holy river.

The Mumbai blasts had no face.

 

That, and the fact that decades have passed since the incident, softens our stand. We begin to look at the peripheries, the tangents, and miss the gaping black hole in the middle.

Well, Yakub Memon wasn’t an innocent victim of circumstances.

Duryodhana was the more evil among the brothers. Doesn’t mean Dushasana was a saint!

 

To all you people who cried, spoke your voice, and pasted links to articles on my wall, here’s what Yakub Memon did.

He was a sharp student. After securing his Chartered Accountant’s degree in 1991, he was fudging accounts for his brother Tiger Memon by 1992.

Yakub Memon managed the funds for his brother. He arranged the money to buy bombs and guns. He fudged accounts to ensure they weren’t traced back to him.

He bought the cars and scooters in which the bombs were planted. Flats owned by him were used to plan the whole conspiracy. He supervised and distributed the guns and weapons, saw to it that they were well-hidden.

He bought and arranged air tickets for the accused to escape away to Pakistan, joining them when he thought it was a safer option for his family.

 

Perhaps reading The Times of India everyday has made us dumb.

Yakub Memon lived in Pakistan, enjoyed the luxury of their hospitality along with his family for nearly a year. By then, the investigation in India had picked up pace. All the signs were hinting towards Pakistan’s involvement.

By any shred of common logic, Pakistan wasn’t going to be feeding and keeping him safe. He only returned to India when he was a liability. When his family was in danger.

 

The blasts killed more than 300 people.

Innocents died. Hawkers who would stand under the sun and sell and earn peanuts. Employees who were on their way to earn an honest living. Common people who were neither communal, nor conniving with Bal Thackeray.

Just regular people going about their lives, were blown to bits. And Yakub Memon was at the epicenter of it all.

He was no saint. He was a sneaky, conniving bastard who ran away after engineering the blasts, and returned when he realized it was the safest option.

 

And what did the debate result in?

More than 35,000 people congregated at his funeral. Political parties like AIMIM claimed it was a conspiracy against Muslims.

Yakub Memon had set out to die for the cause of Islam. He failed, but we made sure he succeeded in the end.

We made a criminal a martyr.

Congratulations, India!!

******

 

Why are we apologetic about Islamic terror?

Hundreds of children shot dead as they were reading their books. A woman beheaded in Mecca in full public view. Thousands of people slaughtered by Boko Haram.

All these have happened in the last ten days, and the only common thread among them was that the perpetrators screamed ‘Allah O Akbar’ when they killed innocents.

The response of the Indian intelligentsia circuit was predictable as always. On how we are falling into the trap laid out by the terrorists. That they want us to feel angry and lost, and moments like this require us to delve into our deep, humane side. While the terrorist delves into his pocket and pulls out a Kalashnikov.

Why is the whole gamut of rational-atheist-intelligentsia silent about Islam? Why is there always a gigantic blanket of apology over the issue? Why are we embarrassed to talk about Islam and its problems?

The other surprising fact is that the same bunch of people raise a hue and cry when a book is banned. Remember Wendy Doniger’s book? How many people actually read it? How many people did it affect? Were lives lost? Did blood flow?

I understand the common argument – that oppression is not necessarily physical. That suppressing free speech could be as heinous as any other crime. I get all of that. But what about when people are getting slaughtered in reality? What about when gunmen (who are supposedly fighting the cause of Islam, but do not possess the balls to show their face to the world) enter a building and shoot journalists? What about the freedom of speech then?

Most apologist arguments about Islam tread four main lines, each argument a hollow, half-baked dump of an idea. Let’s see what they are:

  1. Not every Muslim is a terrorist: I get pissed off when I read this. Who said that every Muslim is a terrorist? Did anybody say that? Could you show me one book, newspaper, film, or paper that calls every Muslim a terrorist? Nobody does that, not even the Hindutva bigots that you so hate. Relax!
  2. One cannot expect to offend a religion while calling oneself ‘liberal’: Really? How many children died due to the cartoon of Prophet Muhammad? While we constantly call on our brethren to reform themselves to new ideas and times, why should Islam be allowed to continue abiding by laws that were written thousands of years ago?
  3. It is a young religion, and has gone through trials and tribulations inflicted on it by the Western world: Another classic liberal-bullshit liner. Yes, what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan was wrong. But the world doesn’t exist in black and white. There are gigantic shades of grey. What about Boko Haram, then? Did the US bomb people there too? How long are we going to keep blaming the US for all of Islam’s problems?
  4. Violence is always political, Islam is being used by bigots to secure their own motives: Yes, but isn’t it worth discussing what makes Islam so vulnerable to such hijackings? Why don’t other religions (some of which are younger, and are practiced in regions that have witnessed worse horrors) come in the news for killing innocents?
  5. (And this is my favourite) Islam is actually a religion of peace: Yeah? Then how come most Muslims in the world have died in the hands of fundamentalist Muslims themselves? How can you be a religion of peace? The concept of religion in itself doesn’t allow for peace, more so one that considers non-believers as infidels. If it really is a religion of peace, why don’t the followers of this very peaceful religion raise up and condemn it?

Since the last two weeks, opening up the news has become a chore. I am a student of Journalism and understand that news images are not biased and fair. And yet, how long are we going to fall back upon these claims? How long are we going to blame everybody else, because we do not have the courage to look the problem in the eye?

And every time there is some incident, the upholders of wisdom in the country (Scroll, Kaafila, Caravan) begin their bullshit-doling. Every statement begins with ‘Tuesday’s attack was horrific, however (random bullshit argument follows).

Or, ‘While one’s heart is pained by the loss on Sunday, one must remember that (some other chutiya explanation).

It is almost to say that Yes, we understand that people are dying, but listen up to our lofty idea now.

Since I live on a university campus, my wall is inundated by such sort. Those who see red when a book is banned, and yet talk you down if you say anything against Islam. Anything at all. Which is surprising because everytime I crack a joke on any other religion (as I firmly believe that there is only one true God – Jackie Shroff), everything is fine.

This has often baffled me. How can our intelligentsia, our best-learned, our most competent, be so myopic? Why don’t the same people who flood your news feed with articles not raise a single murmur of protest as children are shot in the head, as masked men scream ‘Allah o Akbar’, and pump bullets into innocent heads?

And that is when it struck me.

Because they’re all rich. They are artists, and poets, and journalists, and influential people whose opinions are sought after. They are rich – their children will never attend schools that do not have machine gun toting security guards. They will never use public transport, to buy vegetables from the local market.

An act of terrorism is another incident to them, to sit on their high pedestal and tell us lesser mortals about how we need to base our understanding of the world. About how we must not crib and complain about Islamic terror because it is not the right thing to do.

Well, dear intellectuals. You can go fuck yourselves.

Islam is a very problematic religion.

I have known Muslim friends all my life, and it would have been incomplete without them. And yet, I am not blind to the fact that they read the same Quran that the dudes at ISIS do. They worship the same God.

Whether their ideologies are the same or not, it is Allah’s name that is uttered when a head is slit.

I don’t know if Allah exists. But if he does, I imagine he’s sitting up there, looking down at us. His eyes permanently welled up with tears, his heart broken.