General ravings, Potshots

Yoga for Indian Left-Liberals

With International Yoga Day coming up on June 21st, yoga enthusiasts the world over are stretching their muscles and metaphors of peace with increased agony and zeal respectively…even as Indian Communists, Socialists and affiliated Left-Liberals are twisting their slogans and bending their lips in increasingly sulky slants.

I do believe this is because the Left always feel a little Left out when it comes to yoga, which they mistakenly associate with something that only those nasty Hindus and Hindutva-types do when they are not plotting how to construct Ram temples on every square centimeter of India that is Bharat.

May I hence recycle an execrable article on yoga (with a few slight but necessary amendments) that my late and lamented alter ego Ghatotkacha wrote over five years ago to bring mirth and the Satori of Shavasana to his dear Communist/Left Liberal friends.

P.S.: Mystery surrounds the sudden disappearance of Ghatotkacha soon after this article was first published; he was last seen attending a yoga retreat in Kumarakom, Kerala. Some conspiracy theorists link his disappearance with the publication of this article. However, I am convinced that Ghatotkacha achieved yogic dematerialization – his most ardent wish – while standing on his head and chanting the three sacred syllables…

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury has come under much flak from yoga-lovers because he humorously compared the movements of yoga with the movements made by a typical dog. [click here to read]

All yoga exercises can be noticed in a dog’s body movement,” said Yechury while speaking at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Communist ideologue Harkishan Singh Surjeet in Bhubaneswar. “When a dog gets up, it stretches its front and rear legs and takes a deep breath. That’s yoga!”

Now, a Communist with a sense of humour is a rare and beautiful thing. 

Yechury is among the last members of this exotic and greatly endangered species, and hence we urge yoga-lovers to take his canine comparisons without howls of protest or baring of fangs.

Also, unconfirmed reports from usually unreliable sources suggest that at a secret CPI(M) capacity-building retreat in an undisclosed resort in Kumarakom, Kerala, Yechury urged his fellow-traveller Communists to appreciate and apply certain simple yoga techniques that would bring immense benefit to their brains, gonads, and other secular organs.

Excerpts from Yechury’s presentation, provided by our sources:

1. Incantation.

Hindu and Buddhist yoga performers across the world chant ‘Aom’ [thus: Aaooooooooommmmm]. 

Muslim yoga performers chant ‘Ameen’ instead of ‘Aom’ [thus: Ammmmmmmeeeeeeeeenn].

Cadres of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chant  “Gow’  (meaning Holy Cow’) [thus: Gowwwwwwwwwwww]

Communists rightly regard  ‘Aom’ , Ameen’ and ‘Gow’ as communal or Gowmunnal incantations. Hence, in keeping with our ‘secular’ credentials, we Communists could instead chant ‘Aom’ but in another way, as ‘Mao’ [thus: Mmaaaooooooooooooo]

2.  Postures.

(i) Upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana).  This posture relaxes and tones the muscles around the jaws and mouth. It is especially suited for Communists, who often strain their facial muscles and jawbones through constant chanting of the Sacred Jibe so beloved of Communists:  “Running dogs of capitalism”.

(ii) Wind-releasing posture (Pavana mukta asana).  This posture is excellent for releasing pent-up gases that might otherwise affect the secular organs of the Communist body-corporeal. It is particularly recommended for the campus-orators, who will take the Revolution forward and who may not always be able to afford Pudinhara and other medicines that are manufactured by the MNC pharma companies and their affiliated Braying Donkeys of Capitalism.

(iii) Plough posture (Hala asana). This posture is highly recommended for Communists, as it symbolizes our identification with the humble agricultural worker who wields the Plough. Besides, it is symbolic of the Plough Constellation, also known as Big Dipper, which Communists fondly associate with Boris Yeltsin, the Big Vodka-Dipper ex-president of Russia – the Holy Land where Communism was born. 

(iv) Son salutation (Surya namaskaar). This set of postures provides all-round health and vigour to the body. Unfortunately, it has lately come to be associated with the Son-worshipping Congress Party. Hence, barring the ‘Upward Facing Dog’ pose (see above) it should be avoided by the Communist Yogi.

Let us not be cowed down by the Gow-worshippers! Let us not be misled by gods and angels – instead, let us be inspired by dogs and Engels!” Yechury allegedly yelled at the conclusion of his speech.

He was greeted with thunderous cheers of “Workers of the world, unite in Communist head stands…we have nothing to loosen in our brains!”

Jai Hind!

Beastly encounters, Potshots

Cow’s laughter

Cow's laughter 001

Ah! Recycling is such a joy, for the environmentally aware citizen as well as the struggling writer. Buoyed by this ignoble sentiment and by the nationwide brouhaha over divine bovinity (bovine divinity?) and whether it is right to hog beef, I dust off and present an ancient piece carried by The Times of India on 15 April 1999 under the title ‘Cow’s laughter’.

“What do you feel about cow slaughter?” asked the chairman of the interview board.

“Well,” I began confidently, “the issue’s unfortunately been clouded by religious sentiment…”

“Indeed, we know cows have religious feelings,” interrupted the chairman, “but what do you feel about the issue?”

Mercifully, the interview was terminated soon thereafter. Yet the true significance of the chairman’s remarks struck me – literally and rather forcefully – only many years later. I was in an auto-rickshaw, and my driver, like so many of his tribe in the Great City, was knowledgeable and voluble. Having discoursed at length on rising prices, falling morals and the urgent need for a Truck Driver Eradication Programme, he turned to the subject of cows.

“Ah! What a creature!” he breathed reverentially, swerving us towards a passing dog and missing narrowly. “She gives us milk, from which we make butter, cheese, curds, ghee…her strength pulls the cart and the plough, her very dung fertilises the soil…”

“And her meat is rich and nutritious!” I cried, caught up in his enthusiasm. “Her hide makes footwear, and her…” but I stopped short at his cry of horror. Indeed, so agitated was he at my remarks that he accelerated and braked at the same time, and our chariot executed a series of skips and jumps before shuddering to a halt. He turned to me.

“Sacrilege!” he whispered hoarsely. “To speak of eating cow’s flesh. But then you, sir, are undoubtedly a product of inadequate spiritual education, and therefore ignorant of the divine attributes of the cow. Let me tell you…”

At that moment, disaster struck. A dappled cow had been grazing contentedly on the grassy divider nearby. A passing truck sounded its horn; the cow jumped out of her skin; and the next instant she was charging straight towards us, mooing plaintively. I yelled in alarm; the driver twisted around, but too late. The cow lowered her horns instinctively before hitting the windshield, which disintegrated with a splintering crash. Stunned by the impact, I watched as the cow – not a bit put out by the incident – poked her head through the gaping hole where the windshield had been.

“Moo?” she inquired softly. But the driver, who had assumed a foetal position on his seat, did not reply; and so, with an apologetic nod at me, the beast withdrew her head and trotted off briskly down the road.

I disembarked and joined the interested crowd of sidewalk ghouls which had gathered. At length, the driver uncurled himself, a limb at a time, and lurched to his feet. And then, he began to curse.

We were awestruck by the flow and fluency of his expression. He began with a general character assassination of the impugned cow, went on to cast ghastly aspersions on its antecedents and parentage, and finally dismembered it with ritualistic slowness. “It should have been strangled at birth!” he cried, and demanded to know what the government was doing in the matter.

At this, a bystander chided him gently for speaking ill of divine bovinity.

“Rubbish!” the driver yelled. “That was no Bharatiya cow! I saw the spots on it: it had foreign blood in it. It was a foreigner, I tell you, a foreigner…”