Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Monday, July 12, 2004

Whistleblower will be rested for a while

Thanks to one and all for taking an interest in this blog. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I will not be able to post anything as I will be concentrating on a project that would demand my wholehearted attention and time. It might take months or years, but I assure you I will be coming back once it gets completed. Meanwhile, I will be occasionally writing for the www.e-pao.net, though with lesser frequency. I will be happy to get in touch with all of you through mails during this unspecified period. Take care and cheers!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Nirvana for Rs 250!

By His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Edited by Renuka Singh
Price: Rs 250
Pages: 181

Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it can't be remedied?
- Bodhicharyavatara

Many Ways to Nirvana is a nifty little book that you can read while commuting to your office. It is the succinct narrative of the wisdom of His Holiness the Dalai Lama culled from different discourses he delivered to his legions of faithfuls over years.

The book, through the Dalai Lama’s words, reveals the key to incorporate spirituality into our hectic lives, which at first seems like a contradiction. It also proves the timelessness of Buddhist texts written hundreds of years ago.

Followers of other religions would be struck by the similarities they may find in the Buddhism with their own faiths, underscoring the fact that all religions are basically rooted in some common precepts. By the way, is there any religion which does not preach the message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, discipline and contentment? Perhaps fascism.

Nonetheless, the real world is not always an epitome of goodness. In spite of (or because of) being a home to many great religions, the world in which we live in is riven by violence and hatred. What is ailing the world; what is fueling terrorism; and why is there no peace in this world? His Holiness blames it on men's weaknesses, their negative emotions and lack of resolve. According to him, the only way to counteract them is by developing a disciplined mind which exudes love and compassion.

And at the root of all our suffering lies our attachment with illusory cravings. According to the Four Noble Truths, sufferings are of three types: Suffering of suffering, which refers to things like headaches, i.e., physical discomfort. Even animals want to be free from it. The second is suffering of change: this refers to our everlasting quest for change. We are never contented; we will buy the trendiest car only to drool over another model three months later. Then there is the all-pervasive suffering induced by our desire to put an end to the first two categories of sufferings.

So how will we end this vicious cycle of suffering? The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation by Langri Tangpa, which is the Buddhist equivalent of the Moses' Commandments, shows us the way. In case you are puzzled by some of these injunctions– and sure you will be - visit the nearest bookshop and get one copy of this book for yourself, because each of them is elaborated further by His Holiness in this little ‘tome’.

In this age of fast food, fast life, fast everything…this is a book perfectly tailored for the modern readers on the lookout for instant nirvana.

I am only half joking.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Few thoughts for Ratan Thiyam

Ever since my humble opinion about you and your fantastic works was posted at the e-pao.net, I have been deluged with angry mails from your legions of fans. Some of them are so outraged by my temerity to criticise you, that they call me names even as they sling mud at me to tarnish my professional integrity and competence. I am not sure if anyone of them does indeed have your blessings, but to respond to them will be akin to stooping down - and worse, promoting and legitimising the kind of vicious personal attacks they are indulging in. I abhor their tactics. In a public discourse in a polite society, we don't use slanderous terms or resort to childish arguments that target one's age or abilities. I wish they had more discretion. I support contest of ideas, not hurtling of innuendoes back and forth. That's why I am writing this to you directly, to clarify further my thoughts and motives.

In my piece, I admitted that I had never seen any of your plays, a fact, which your fans have exploited, as a stick to punish me for my "irreverence" towards you. Never did they realise that I did so because I didn't want to dupe the readers into believing something that I am not. I was being honest. Being transparent. Being ethical.

But this doesn't mean that I didn't make any attempt to see your works from a close range. In fact, the whole idea came to me after watching "Some roots can grow upwards," an exceptionally well-produced documentary on you.

Despite what your supporters say, a fact cannot be wished away, and that is: Your works are bereft of any genuine Manipuri theme; and by that I mean non-hybrid, undiluted, untampered and pristine traditional influence. You seem to be so much obsessed with reaching out to Indian audience that you have given your roots the boot. How often do you perform for the Manipuri audience in Manipur in a year? How often have you allowed the local journalists to visit you and take a glance at your craft? Kavita Joshi, the director of the documentary boasted that she and her production crew was the only group that has been allowed such close access to the Chorus Repertory Theatre in ages.

Sir, lest I be mistaken as chronically cynical person, allow me to offer you a few suggestions. One of the arguments trotted out in your defense is that, had you not co-opted the Hindu themes in your plays, you would have never reached where you are today; you would have been a nobody, an unsung director. One of your fans say that is what "smart strategising" is all about; another points out that you are a good "businessman". I can't agree more.

I am not totally against your riding pillion on Hinduism to promote your works. What I am sugesting is that since you are already past the threshold of obscurity to being a world famous director, you can now afford to show your gratefulness in earnest to your roots. I am realistic and won't put all my eggs in your basket, but I and the rest of your less gifted Manipuris would appreciate you much if you make an attempt towards this direction. Please give us something that is truly Manipuri, like a trendbusting play with Laiharaoba theme. Can you turn original Manipuri tradition into a globally appealing genre of theatre? Can you globalise the Kuki-Naga-Meitei-Pangal cultural lore?

Now, all your fans are fans of globalisation too, and I count myself as one, but not at the expense of my own history. While globalisation is a fashionable thing to talk about, it is foolish to completely cut ties with the local tradition. Smart companies and marketing companies are now realising the value of combining local flavour and preferences with their global plans. "G-local-isation" has arrived, and it is an idea whose time has come. Never has an opportunity for you to experiment with Manipuri themes presented itself to you more favourably than now. Grab it. Don't miss the glocalisation bus.

Hope you don't mind my impudence. Keep up the good work. And all the best.

Ranjan Yumnam

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All your fans