Friday, July 31, 2009

The Addiction of Power and Treachery...

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This chain of thoughts started while participating in an online discussion on Indian history on topic pertaining to Prithviraja Chauhan and Jayachandra of Kannauj. I am presenting the gist of that chain here..

The Story of Prithviraj and Jaychandra

The invasion of Muhammad Ghuri on India in 1192 AD and defeat of Prithviraja Chauhan in second battle of Tarain resulted in fall of Delhi and Islamic occupation of Delhi and North India for next 5 centuries. This particular incidence has become a legend in Indian folklore and given the propensity of Hindus of remembering their defeats more vividly than their victories, the melodrama of this incidence has increased million-fold.

Prithviraja Chauhan was a Rajput ruler of Delhi and Jayachandra was ruler of Kannauj. Jayachandra was ally of Prithviraja's kingdom since the days of his father. Jayachandra had a beautiful daughter called "Sanyukta". Beautiful woman with rather beautiful name... Sanyukta means a lady with all the desirable characteristics (Physical, mental and spiritual). Anyways, Sanyukta (in some places, she is referred to as Sanyogita) was beautiful lady and loved Prithviraja. The king too was young and unmarried and loved the princess. Her father, Jayachandra, intended to marry his daughter to some other kings of India. However, Sanyukta eloped with Prithviraja and married him. Jayachandra felt insulted by this dishonour and swore revenge against Prithviraja. He invited Muslim king of Ghurid empire in northern Afghanistan to invade Delhi. Prithviraja defeated Ghori in first battle of Tarain and pardoned him. Ghori defeated Prithviraja in second battle of Tarain and beheaded him and established the first Islamic dynasty in India. Since this incidence the name of Jayachandra is eternally associated with treason.

Whether or not this story about Jayachandra inviting Ghori is true is debatable. This version is narrated in a ballad known as "Prithviraj Raso" composed by a bard called Chand Bardai. Although debated by historians for its accuracy, this version of the story is very popular amongst common men since its composition. Other historical evidences suggest to disprove this version of the story. The value of this narrative and its tremendous impact on social life of Indians, however makes it difficult to ignore. In spite of opposing historical evidences, Jayachandra continues to be invoked by layman upon any instance of treason, be it personal or national.

Categorisation of political treason

When speaking in historical context, treachery/betrayal/treason amounts to political backstabbing. Now, in his space and time, Jaichandra was simply following Chanakya's principle that enemy's enemy is one's friend. For some reason, however trivial it may be, after his daughter eloped with Prithviraja, Jayachandra was practically an enemy of Prithviraja.

Transcending the barriers of space-time, it is seen that this act of Jaichandra proved to be disastrous for entire Indic civilization. Jayachandra failed to understand Islam and the costs associated with inviting a dangerous foreign entity to settle trivial internal disputes.

However, in Jayachandra's defence, one can say that the concept of religion was alien to Bhaarat then. Jayachandra could have assumed that all this will remain strictly business and nothing personal and religious. However, it can be argued that, Mehmood of Gazni had invaded Bhaarat 180 years ago. Jayachandra should have remembered what Mahmood did with Somnath. And he should have remembered how his ancestors forged an alliance of 17 Rajput kings and massacred Masood Gazni and his army of 150,000 men in 1033 at Battle of Bahraich. As a king he should have remembered the history of his own kin.

This led to categorizing the interactions of small kings with respect to central dominant power of the region.

1. if small king asks for help of some dominant power to defeat another small king, it can't be called as treachery of King A towards King B. If the big power happens to be indigenous and/or considers itself as indigenous, then it is not at all a treachery. In fact, political unification helps the stabilization of civilization if the central power is just and considers itself indigenous.

2. Inviting a dominant foreign power to defeat another small king is treachery of King A towards entire nation/civilization.

3. Inviting a dominant foreign power to defeat indigenous dominant central power is a treachery towards central power and nation/civilization as well.

Jaichandra's behaviour falls in category 2. This is because, history is not just facts. The way ordinary people choose to remember their own past is also very important facet of history, which marxist historians choose to ignore.

In his space-time, Jayachandra was, according to him and circumstancial evidence, in category 1 and not a traitor. However, looking beyond space-time barrier, it seems that Jayachandra was myopic, foolish, and unintentionally treacherous towards Bhaarat and not towards Prithviraja.

The Power-Treason relation

Treachery in itself is not good or bad.. Good and bad are the consequences of the deed. Treachery by Pushyamitra Sunga against Brihadratha Maurya saved India from Menander. Treachery of Mir Jafar against Siraj ruined India. Furthermore, the words like treachery are extremely relative. One man's traitor is another man's freedom fighter. So it becomes extremely dicey to be judgmental while viewing a larger picture of events without being hindered by space and time constraints.

In this process of free-thought, just remembered one quote from Movie - The Matrix reloaded.. The character of Oracle states,
" What do all men-of-power want? more power.... "
There is nothing wrong in wanting more power and those who have desire and strength and luck, they claim the power. Another thing about power is that, it has to be acquired and earned. The power cannot be bequeathed or inherited. Men-of-power understand this intricate relationship and are prepared to make sacrifices, to different degrees, while in the process of earning power. And the process of acquiring power invariably comprises of overthrowing the incumbent power by all possible means. Some times, this amounts to treachery if the supplanting king does not show the acumen of understanding the complex equilibrium of vested interests between polity and common people.

Afterall, if traitor is successful, he writes the history according to his world-view in which he was the liberator and his former master was oppressor or worthless. This same rule applies to individual politics in any corporate establishment and also to nations and nation-blocks competing with each other and withing themselves for more power.

Nothing is more addictive than power, not even drugs. Because a drug addict is viled by society and this public denigration pursuades him about his fallacy. A successful power-addict is widely praised by the society and actively encouraged to seek and desire more power. He does not have to justify his actions and deeds performed while acquiring the power; the society does it for him most of the times. Memetically, power-addiction is one of the successful traits scene in almost all higher animals and most prominently in humans. The survivability of this trait is exceptionally high, thus making it virtually impossible to be eradicated from human psyche.

The definition of power differs a lot from person to person and time. For some, control is power, for few others liberation is power. For some, fame, money is power. Whether or not he choice of power-usurption is branded as treachery or hailed as liberation by people depends immensely on timing of the execution and impact it has on environment. Without the support of rest of people (related or unrelated), the usurption of power cannot be legitimized and risks of being branded as treachery. Overall, it seems to be a complex equilibrium of vested interests. If somehow the equilibrium and subtleness of vested interests is understood, it can sometimes be shifted such that at least the immideiate surrounding recognizes the person as liberator and not as a traitor.

Long ago, I wrote an article on power and bliss. It began with two famous sayings which are widely quoted independently. I always quote them together...

"Ignorance is Bliss and Knowledge is Power"
And then comes the famous quotation from the movie The Matrix -
"The problem is Choice !!!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

माझे मृत्युपत्र - Maajhe Mrityupatra - My Final Testament - by Veer Savarkar

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माझे मृत्युपत्र - My Final Testament

वैशाखिचा कुमुदनाथ नभात हांसे
यच्चन्द्रिका धवल सौधातली विलासे
घाली स्वये जल जिला प्रिय बाल खासे
जाई फूले चिमुकली नटली सुवासे ll १ ll

The moon in the summer-night is smiling in the sky
The Snow-white stars are brightly shining too
The flowers in the garden of my home blossom
As the children water them in the evening ll 1 ll

आले घरी सकल आप्त सह्रद जिवाचे
आनंदमग्न कुल गोकुल काय साचे
आदर्श दीप्ति-शुचिता-धृति यौवानांचे
पाहून जे तरुण मंडल कीर्ति नाचे ll २ ll

All the members in my family have assembled
Atmosphere as happier than Vrindavan of Krishna
The beautiful, ideal and chaste youthfulness
of people is resonating all over the place ll 2 ll

प्रेम हृदे विकसली नव-यौवनाच्या
गंधे सुवासित उदात्त सुसंस्कृतिच्या
दिव्या लता तरुसी जे गृह बाग़ झाला
ज्यां पौर हर्षित वदे जन "धर्मं-शाला" ll ३ ll

Affections reigned in the hearts of young people
Spreading the fragrance of rich heritage and civilization
My home was a fragrant and heavenly tree which
people referred to as "abode of righteousness" ll 3 ll

स्वयंपाक त्वां निजकरें कुशले करावा
प्रेमें तुझ्या अधिकची सु-रसाल व्हावा
संवाद सर्व मिळुनी करितां नितान्त
जेवावयासी बसलो जईं चांदण्यात ll ४ ll

I savored the food prepared by you
the taste of which was further enriched by your love
how we used to dine together
chatting and relaxing in calm moonlight ll 4 ll

श्री रामचंद्र वनवास कथारसाला
कीं केवीं देश इटली रिपु-मुक्त झाला
तानाजिचा समरधीर तसा पोवाडा
गावा चित्तोडगढ वा शनिवार वाडा ll ५ ll

how we listened to the stories of Sri Raam's exile
and the ballad of brave Tanaji
or those of Chittorgarh and Shanivaar-Vaada ll 5 ll

झाली कशी प्रियकरा अपुली अनाथा
दुर्दास्यखिन्न शरछिन्न विपन्न माता
शोकें विवंचुनी तिच्या जईं मोचनाचे
केलें अनंत तरुणा उपदेश साचे ll ६ ll

How was our beloved (land) orphaned and defiled
saddened by the slavery and poverty was our mother (land)
Saddened by her penury, how we
counselled the youth to alleviate her off her misery ll 6 ll

तो काल रम्य मधुरा प्रिय संगती ती
ते चांदणे नवकथा रमणीय रात्री
ते ध्येय दिव्या निज मातृ-विमोचानाचे
तो उग्र निश्चयही ते उपदेश साचे ll ७ ll

Ah!! that time spent in the company of beloved
that spendid moonlight brightening those beautiful nights
that heavenly desire to liberate the mother
And that firm resolve, I remember everything... ll 7 ll

झाल्या तदा प्रियकरा सह आण-भाका
त्या सर्व देवी वहिनी, स्मरति तुम्हां कां ??
"बाजीप्रभु ठरू" वदे युव संघ सर्व
"आम्ही चित्तोड़ युवती" युवती सगर्व ll ८ ll

The vows exchanged with the beloved
do you remember them, Oh Vahini *
"Will fight like Bajiprabhu" resolved the young men
"Will sacrifice like Padmini of Chittorgarh" resolved the ladies as well ll 8 ll

कीं घेतले व्रत न हे अम्ही अन्धतेने
लब्ध-प्रकाश-इतिहास-निसर्ग माने
जे दिव्य-दाहक म्हणोनी असावयाचे
बुद्ध्याची वाण धरिले करी हे सतीचे ll ९ ll

Blindly have we not made this resolve
But in the light of history and the laws of nature
Whatever is luminous and scorching
Have we purposefully held the robes of a sati in our hands ll 9 ll

ज्या होती ते प्रियजन सह आण-भाका
त्यांते स्मरोनी मग सांप्रत हे विलोका
नाही पूरी उलटली जरी आठ वर्षे
तों कार्यसिद्धि इतुकी मन का न हर्षे ?? ll १० ll

It has been eight years, since then
and we have achieved so much
In spite of all those vows taken and fulfilment of some of them,
why does not the heart feel the joy ??? ll 10 ll

आसेतु पर्वत उचम्बळला स्वदेश
वीराकृति धरित टाकुनी दीनवेष
भक्तांचिया रघुपदी झुलतात झुंडी
जाज्वल्य होयही हुताशन यज्ञकुंडी ll ११ ll

From Himalayas to Ocean, the nation has risen
have assumed the valor, giving up the stance of deprivation
The Yagna-pyre initiated is burning vigorously,
but so is the resolve of devotees.. ll 11 ll

तो यज्ञ सिद्ध करण्यास्तव उग्र दीक्षा
जे घेती येई तइं तत्कृतिची परीक्षा
"विश्वचिया अखिलमंगल धारणाला
बोला असे कवण भक्ष्य हुताशनाला ?" ll १२ll

Those who undertake responsibility of the Yagna's fulfilment,
are tested immedietely for their resolve
"For benefit of mankind and this planet
Who is ready to burn first in this pyre??" ll 12 ll

आमंत्रण प्रभु रघुत्तम सोडितां हे
दिव्यार्थ देव !!! अमुचे कुल सज्ज आहे
हे साध्वी !! गर्जुनी असे पहिल्या हविचा
हा ईश्वरी मिळविला अम्ही मान साचा ll १३ ll

As soon as Sri Raam set up this open invitation
Our family rose with unflinching resolve
"Your holyness!!!" roared our kin
"this divine right belongs to us" ll 13 ll

धर्मार्थ देह बदलो ठरले नितान्त
ते बोल-फोल बालिश नचि बायकांत
ना भंगली भिउनिया धृति यातनान्ना
निष्काम कर्मरति योग ही खंडिला ना ll १४ ll

For upliftment of righteousness, our sacrifice was decided
These words weren't uttered in childish manner
nor were we flinched by the prospects of torturous road ahead
our yoga of desire-less action continued unflinchiingly ll 14 ll

ज्या होती तैं प्रियजना सह आण-भाका
केल्याची सत्य कृतिने अजि ह्या विलोका
दीप्तानलात निज मातृ-विमोचनार्थ
हा स्वार्थ जाळुनि अम्ही ठरलो कृतार्थ ll १५ ll

By all the vows exchanged with loved ones
We fulfilled them all today
In this raging fire, for the sake of liberation of mother,
We burnt ourselves and became immortal ll 15 ll

हे मातृभूमि तुजला मन वाहियेले
वक्तृत्व वाक्-विभव ही तुज अर्पियेले
तुंतेंची अर्पिली नवी कविता वधूला
लेखां प्रति विषय तूची अनन्य झाला ll १६ ll

Oh Motherland! I have dedicated my intellect to you,
To you I have dedicated my oratory,
To you I have dedicated my new poem,
You have become the sole subject of my prose ll 16 ll

त्वत्-स्थंडिले ढकलिले प्रिय मित्र-संघा
केलें स्वये दहन यौवन देह-भोगा
त्वत्कार्य नैतिक सुसंमत सर्व देवा
तत्सेवनीच गमली रघुवीर सेवा ll १७ ll

At your altar, have I sacrificed my friends
sacrificed the pleasures of youth, myself
Righteous is your cause and blessed by all gods
Serving you, I realized the supreme truth ll 17 ll

त्वत्-स्थंडिली ढकलली गृह-वित्त-मत्ता
दावानालात वहिनी नव-पुत्र-कांता
त्वत्-स्थंडिली अतुल-धैर्यनिष्ठ बंधू
केला हवि परम कारुण पुण्यसिंधू ll १८ ll

At your altar, I sacrificed my home, wealth and property
IN this raging fire did I sacrifice my new-born son and wife
At your altar, did my Elder brother go
the one who was embodiment of courage and dignity ll 18 ll

त्वत्-स्थंडिला वरी बळी प्रिय बाळ झाला
त्वत्-स्थंडिला वरी अता मम देह ठेला
हे काय बंधू असतो जरी सात आम्ही
त्वत्-स्थंडिलीच असते दिधले बळी मी ll १९ ll

At your Altar, did my younger brother go as well;
Now, it is my turn....
Even if we were seven brothers in family
All of them would have been sacrificed at your Altar, oh Mother !!! ll 19 ll

संतान ह्या भारतभूमिस तीस कोटि
जे मातृभक्ति सज्जन धन्य होती
हे आपुले कुल ही तय मध्ये ईश्वरांश
निर्वंश होउनी ठरेल अखंड वंश ll २० ll

India is mother to 300 million children
All of them are our brothers, truthful and motivated
our family, but a small drop in this vast ocean of humanity
Even if it dies out, our line will continue ll 20 ll

कीं ते ठरों ही अथवा न ठरो परंतु
हें मातृभू अम्ही असो परिपूर्ण हेतु
दीप्तानलात निज मातृ-विमोचनार्थ
हा स्वार्थ जाळुनि अम्ही ठरलो कृतार्थ ll २१ ll

In spite of success and failure, Oh motherland,
our resolve still remains unbroken..
In this raging fire, for the sake of liberation of mother,
We burnt ourselves and became immortal ll 21ll
ऐसे विवंचुनी अहो वहिनी !! व्रताते
पाळोनी वर्धन करा कुल दिव्यतेतें
श्रीपार्वती तप करीं हिम-पर्वती ती
कीं विस्तवात हसल्या बहुराजपुती ll २२ ll

After saying this, dear Vahini,
Follow this divine pledge throughout your life
Just like the torturous penance of Parvati
Just like the burning resolve of rajput princess ll 22 ll

तें भारतीय ललना-बल-तेज काही
अद्यापि या भरतभूमित लुप्त नाही
हें सिद्ध होइल असेंच उदार उग्र
वीरांगने !! तव सुवर्तन हो समग्र ll २३ ll

That luminous feminine strength
has not yet disappeared from Bharatbhumi
Prove these words, Oh brave lady
may your life be a guiding star for the rest ll 23 ll

माझा निरोप तुजला येथुनी हाच देवी
हा वत्स-वत्सल तुझ्या पदी शीर्ष ठेवी
सप्रेम अर्पण असो प्रणति तुम्हांते
आलिंगन प्रियकरा मम अंगनेते ll २४ ll

I bid you good-bye, Oh divine lady,
This brother of your's is bowing in front of you, one last time
The affections and love shall remain in my heart forever;
ardently convey this message to my beloved (wife)... ll 24 ll

कीं घेतले व्रत न हे अम्ही अन्धतेने
लब्ध-प्रकाश-इतिहास-निसर्ग माने
जे दिव्य-दाहक म्हणोनी असावयाचे
बुद्ध्याची वाण धरिले करी हे सतीचे ll २५ ll

Blindly have we not made this resolve
But in the light of history and the laws of nature
Whatever is luminous and scorching
Have we purposefully held the robes of a sati in our hands ll 25 ll

This is one of the most heart-wrenching compositions of Veer Savarkar. Written in highly sanskritized Marathi, he composed this when he was sentenced 50 years of rigorous imprisonment (Kala-Pani) at Andaman cellular jail when he was accused for his revolutionary activities against British Empire for independence of India.

He went to England to finish his education in law, however returned to India with sentence of 50 years on his head. The sensitive poet in him has given many beautiful poems to Marathi literature. This one, in particular, is my personal favourite. The agony of a talented young man, who is patriot to his core, when he sees his life ahead being virtually destroyed without achieving the goal (of Indian independence), and yet, the courage with which he consoles his family saying,"Everything will be fine".

The metaphors of Savarkar's poems are extremely difficult to translate. The profound reference to Indian history and mythology is seen in his poetic compositions. This makes it extremely difficult to translate and yet preserve the meaning (as much as possible). Although I am not a very good translator and I know that I have not done complete justice to this beautiful composition while translating it in English, it was my ardent desire that this poem should be put forth in its fullest, for all the readers of my blog. And since this poem has not been translated in English previously, it will also attract non-Marathi speaking people towards literature of Veer Savarkar.

* Vahini - Sister-in-law (Bhabhi) - Yesuvahini or Yesubai was wife of poet's elder brother. Savarkar's mother died when he was young. Since the death of his mother, his sister-in-law (Vahini) took care of him affectionately. He grew extremely close to her with time. This final testament of Savarkar is addressed to his beloved Bhabhi, whom he refers to, at various places in this composition, as Vahini (bhabhi), Divine lady, Brave woman.