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!

General ravings, Musings, Potshots

Corona Virus, Evolution and Revolution

However much we dread the Corona Virus, we cannot mask ourselves against the truth that the virus reflects the spirit of true Indian Secularism in the way it infects all people irrespective of their race, religious belief, caste or class.

Covid-19 might not be good for one’s constitution, but in its own humble way it respects the Indian Constitution. It shows us that we are all truly One.

Which, for no apparent reason, brings us to the question: how can one teach Evolution to Indian schoolchildren?

Now, you might think the answer’s simple. You might answer as follows:

“Just write up – or better still and in true Indian tradition, plagiarize—a simple summary of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’; enrich Darwin’s ideas with Gregor Mendel’s insights into inheritance of characteristics; lead on to Erwin Schrodinger’s insights into the molecules that must make up life, and explain how his ideas and the work of Oswald Avery, Linus Pauling and others inspired the discovery of DNA’s structure by Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick and James Watson…sparking off a vast amount of research and expansion in our knowledge of how all life on Earth is linked, so that we know today that all humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.”

Of course your answer is correct, O learned reader. Alas, translating your answer into action is not simple, because nothing’s simple in India. It’s especially hard to introduce the flavours of Truth and Rationality, seasoned with Scientific Temper and Honesty and laced with a few dashes of Fun and Adventure, into the horrifying tasteless khichdi that masquerades as our Education Policy.

Consider, gentle reader, two of the simple statements just made up there somewhere:

  1. All life on Earth is linked.
  2. All humans are descended from the same ancestral mother who lived somewhere in the African continent.

Now, imagine that we propose to set out these statements as the Learning Outcomes of the chapter on ‘Evolution’ in the NCERT textbook for, say, Class 10. Assuming further that we are not lynched on the spot by an all-party delegation of MPs and MLAs, these are the kinds of responses we might expect from two of our political parties, the BJP and the CPI(M):

BJP: It is quite correct to state that all life on Earth is linked. But our textbooks must also emphasize that these so-called discoveries of Evolution by these Darwins and Sharwins, Watsons and Whatnots, were actually made 11000 years ago by our Vedic ancestors who summarized their insights into the concept of ‘vasudaiva kutumbakam’ – One Great Family. We must also mention that Indians ruled the entire Earth in ancient times, for which evidence is everywhere to see, in our ancient epics as well as in today’s world. For example, Argentina derives its name from Arjun-Sthaan, clearly evidencing that Arjuna, the great warrior of Mahabharata, had visited this South American region in his search for divine weapons…

CPI(M): In very simple words, we see this attempt to introduce Evolution into our school curriculum as nothing but another manifestation of Brahmanical Hegemony masquerading as pseudo-rationalism to preserve and strengthen the existing class-hierarchical model of social exploitation ; a diabolic and communal attempt by bigoted Hindutva-worshipping self-styled scholars to saffronize our school curriculum and brainwash young and innocent minds into believing the despicable lie that all Indians are equal—thereby denying the hundreds of millions of underprivileged Backward Castes, Minorities, Dalits, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women and other oppressed communities their just rights for reservation of jobs, educational quotas, subsidies and other forms of affirmative action under the various reservation policies. We will oppose this Hindutva proposal tooth and nail; we shall leave no stone unturned or Molotov cocktail unflung in our peaceful street marches calling for Revolution against Evolution…