Sunday, 16 December 2018

Geeta Iyengar: The passing of a Yoga Giant

Geetaji passed away this morning in Pune at home. She was looking radiant and bright the last few days. She had concluded a mammoth 12 day programme, the BKS Iyengar Centennial Celebrations at Balewadi Sports complex. She liked to complete things and was up and about, meeting people till 7.30 the previous evening.

My first memories of Geeta Iyengar are of her glinting eyes. Magnificent orbs that noticed everything and missed nothing! Her voice had a baritone quality that made her students rise up above the routine of practice to higher highs and deeper depths in both Yog asanas and spiritual endeavours. Her presence would invoke a flurry of activity and a hush would descend on the hall. A hush of premonition. A hush of anticipation. And for the tardy, a hush of fear.

She could run a fiery mega class of a few thousand or tenderly adjust a student in therapy. Periamma was not just aunt but mother to not just her family but to thousands of students from the Iyengar Yoga community; old, middle aged, young and infirm! 

A worthy hand and an able successor to her father, Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar leaves behind a huge legacy and a void that will be hard to fill for her students. In Abhijata Iyengar, the Iyengar Yoga community sees a worthy successor albeit with a heavy burden to carry forward their legacy to the future. 

Geeta Iyengar completed her teaching, her swan song, and tribute to Guruji BKS Iyengar
at the recently concluded BKS Iyengar Centennial programme where over 1200 students from 56 countries received insight, knowledge and even sometimes, a rebuke wrapped in the aphorisms of Patanjali.

Many will miss her and everyone will be sad but her crowning legacy lay in carrying Iyengar Yoga forward along with her distinguished brother and senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Prashantji. Her voice will remain the conscience of Yoga Sadhakas, who will find the blessing of spiritual honesty in her memory. 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Celebrating the Approach of Winter

And so it begins, that feeling 
Slowly it creeps up into your subconscious 
A feeling in the bones 
An aura in the early morning light

The march of the seasons still continues
Slower then faster, and then slow again
Autumn; when the leaves fall
That’s when reflection dances with memories 

The wisdom of a lifetime
So many hats
Houses that you lived, and loved in
Time passes both in success, mediocrity and in failure 

Why is winter special then?
Do you brood in the summer?
Celebrating the ability to feel
The luxury of thought 

Thursday, 13 September 2018


It is subtle
It is the forgiveness of your friend
It is the thoughtfulness of your colleague
The nod of the harried bus driver

In a world gone insane. 
Somewhere between the knife edge of money
And the blunt hammer of ego
There is a hidden refuge called decency

It will surprise you 
When all is lost
It will make love to you
When you feel unworthy 

Is it an element or a compound?
What atoms constitute decency?
A thoughtful childhood
Or a value system beaten frame. 

I see you
Our eyes exchange a fleeting hint
In my mind, I am grateful 
And someday, I will repay it when you least expect it. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Walk away, walk away!

In the amber, angry at the world
Hazy eyes, resentment at the callous
Grouses and steeping anger
Yelling, screaming and then lapsing into a stupor

Your heart is broken, and your self esteem shattered 
Struggling to ignore disrespect
Working harder to dull the humiliation 

It is the loved ones, that hurt you the most because you let them
Relatives and colleagues, lovers and spouse
When does self respect stop chasing pity?
When does clarity beat tunnel vision of the scorned. 

Taking your consciousness back
Walking away from anger
Withdrawing from grief and denying negativity 
The realisation gong 
And shitty spaces in between 

Thinking about peace, and moksha
Burning pride, forsaking the ego
The external is finite, what is infinite is within 
Walk away, walk away!

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Enigma in the Backstreet

Dark are the orbs of those eyes
Little hints, then nothing
‘Try not to think about it’, is how the conversation ends
Then turn your back on me.

Sizing each other up
Unstable interactions, smiles and then blank
Hiding knowledge in poker faces
But the past always finds a way to the surface

Exotic names and misunderstood smiles
Self conscious enigma of forced silences
When is it too much effort
When is it time to drive off

Do I know you?
What do we seek?
In being mindful, the missing memories
Incomprehension of what seemed once well known.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Preserving Our Cultural Heritage

The very first days of the new year have seen a macabre and explosive spectacle being played out in front of the eyes of the country’s hapless citizens. A complete non-issue has been carefully orchestrated by some opposition political parties to mutate into a major national-security issue. Two major cities in Maharashtra have been taken over by a supposedly spontaneous crowd, which is actually playing a role that has been fine-tuned and refined by forces that have nothing to do with this trivial matter.
What we are seeing is a meticulously designed build-up to the 2019 national elections on the part of the forces that were decimated in the hustings in 2014 and later in a number of state elections, the most important being the UP contest in March 2017. Just after the momentous event, this writer assessed the significance of what had happened in India’s most populous state, and suggested that the “Hindoo” had finally woken up and had asserted her/his rights and dignity, usurped long ago by the Gandhi-Nehru-Gandhi (GNG) oligarchs (
When the NDA regime took over in May 2014, Narendra Modi and his team did not really factor in the challenges they would have to face, despite the overwhelming mandate they had got from the Indian electorate. They could never grasp the fact that the Congress and its allies were not people who would roll over quietly and play by the rules of the game, as laid down under our Constitution and our legal framework.
The scorched-earth policy of all departing oligarchs is well-documented in numerous studies, but our new rulers, wet-behind-their ears, took some time to fully understand how grim the scenario was. The insidious elite in New Delhi’s Lutyens Zone (LZ) had honed its skills for decades after 1947 and indeed for many hundreds of years earlier, under the Muslim raj and then under Pax Britannica. I must hasten to clarify that the LZ denizens do not merely comprise folks who are inhabitants of this small municipal zone in the nation’s capital. LZ wallahs include all those who subscribe to the ethos and “values” of the ideology spawned here.
To give just a few examples, the LZ mafia have in their fold the media honchos (particularly in the English MSM), the jholawallahs from all over the country, the Muslim-Christian clergy, the erstwhile comrades who are now confined to two backward enclaves of the country, and assorted “intellectuals” from universities, academic / research institutions and other talking shops, specially in the JNU and similar cesspools. The other large component in the LZ cabal is made up of the beneficiaries of the loot and corruption of the Indian economic system that was designed and run by the GNG trio.
These two components are mutually dependent and supportive; they reinforce each other’s efforts. To give a simple example, the money bags support the other groups when they oppose the new regime in the streets or in the various “intellectual” platforms. The “intellectuals,” in turn, provide fig leafs for the economic and industrial barons, and the humongous crimes and offences they have committed and still continue to commit.
The first common attribute they all share is that they have drunk deeply and prolifically from the wells of corruption and graft that were dug by the Congress and its allies for nearly 65 years after independence. The second characteristic is their visceral animosity to this country’s ancient culture and civilisation. 4000 odd years of glorious achievements and accomplishments of this land and our Indic civilisation in numerous fields have all been brushed under the carpet and made to disappear.
This essay is an attempt to analyse and assess the LZ coterie, specifically its 4th Estate component. There are only a handful of writers in the Indian Fourth Estate or in the country, for that matter, who can take on the gang of “secularists” and “liberals”. These “sarkari secularists” (SS), as I designated them many years ago, had a simple modus operandi. They covered up their abysmal knowledge of India’s history, civilisation, ethos and culture, only through their command of English vocabulary and prose.
These hacks are word-meisters and spin-doctors, but serious writers, never. More on this tribe later. This brings me back to the lonely brigade of Indic culture empathisers in the nation’s Fourth Estate, both in the print and the electronic varieties, and in the Indian academic and intellectual world as a whole. This does not mean that there are not enough “Hindu Internet Fanatics,” as one TV anchor contemptuously characterised them. Mercifully, there are a huge number who rush to defend their history and perceived socio-cultural psyche when these are distorted and insulted.
However, this intrepid group is made up of mere foot soldiers. They need their colonels, brigadiers and generals, to guide them and help them win the war. Make no mistake — it is a war out there. The most prominent figures in the desi media and the academic world are ardent “secularists,” whose raison d’être is to mock, trivialise, distort and undermine our ancient heritage and civilisation. Backed by the formidable financial clout of the large print and TV organisations, bolstered by the political power of the Indian state under the GNG trio, these Gunga Din types were in action almost every day, sprouting their sordid agenda. If their venom against their own roots is spewed out before an  international (read “Western”) audience, the more is their zeal. The LZ coterie has, if anything else, become more strident and shrill after their patrons lost their gaddi in May 2014.
What makes these characters behave the way they do? One explanation attributes their behaviour to the “Macaulay indoctrination”. This refers to the spread of English education in the country, starting with Bengal in the mid-19th century. Along with the growth ofEnglish-language educational institutions in urban India, there was a corresponding decline in the institutions that primarily used Indian languages. This inevitably led to young Indian minds forgetting their own culture and history, and losing their ancient civilisational roots. However, this thesis is clearly facile.
To start with, until recently, the initial years of schooling for most Indian children, even in urban India, were in Indian languages. The passage to a full English curriculum took place in late middle-school, around the age of 11-13. Unless, of course, you were in one of the so-called convent schools, where the medium of instruction was English throughout. These, then, could possibly be the culprits. Here again, we may be generalising.
Many illustrious members of the Bengal renaissance were groomed in convent schools. One of the most powerful poets in the Bengali language, Michael Madhusudhan Dutt, was from this milieu. Poet Tagore, also went briefly to a missionary school. Netaji Subhas Bose and Sri Aurobindo graduated from Cambridge, where they nurtured their Indian roots. As an aside, we should note that the excellent academic performance of these two titans rankles with the GNG gang and the SS lot, since their own icon Jawaharlal Nehru’s academic record in Cambridge was disastrous.
No, we will have to seek the causes of the “secularist” malaise elsewhere. One of the definitive studies of the mental and psychological make-up of colonised populations was done by the Franco-West Indian scholar Frantz Fanon, whose iconic work The Wretched of the Earth is well-known in India and the English-speaking world. It is however, his earlier book Black Skin, White Masks (1952) that contains the most perceptive analysis of the issue we are discussing here — the feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem that colonised people display vis-à-vis their erstwhile conquerors and colonisers.
In this pioneering study, Fanon looks at black people who had lost their indigenous culture and had embraced the civilisation of their occupiers. They ape the norms of the colonisers fervently, while running down their own indigenous roots. This trait, according to Fanon, is particularly widespread among the upwardly mobile and educated blacks.
This is the crux of the entire disease. We have a near-perfect parallel to what is on display among the LZ glitterati. After 800 odd years of Islamic and British rule, the Indian elite and intellectuals are copybook examples of the Fanon phenomenon: living, breathing purveyors of a sordid ideology. Their make-believe world is that of the Mughal conquerors and the English overlords; it is through these prisms that they look at their own pre-colonial civilisation and heritage. Denigrating an ethos that is about 4000 years or so is what gives these people their daily high.
A cousin of mine, a nuclear physicist by training, who divides his time between Europe and California, and shares with me the same Vedic monotheistic Brahmo Samaj upbringing, was livid when he read an eulogy of Husain authored by one of these secularist storm-troopers. He E-Mailed this ex-Calcuttan and castigated the fellow for still living in the “make- believe planet of Billy Bunter and Battler Britain, Enid Blyton and Wodehouse,” while the real bhadralog, who had also gone through the same English convent-school route, had never adopted this factotum’s mind-set. Ouch, this must have hurt. Or possibly not — the SS gang has notoriously thick skins.
One can understand what drives the press hacks, the politicos and the Page 3 slickers. But the “intellectuals,” the “buddhi-jeevis” as we call them? Justifying the destruction of the Somnath temple and eulogising genocidal maniacs like Tughlaq, Aurangzeb, Babar and Khilji? Let us remember the outrageous stand that the gang took on the Padmavati issue. A parallel outrage would be if a powerful coterie of French intellectuals takes it upon themselves to denigrate Joan of Arc or purvey the canards that the English spread about her.
Our secularist intellectuals clearly practise what the American playwright Lillian Hellman spelt out so well. Our “buddhi-jeevis” can “tell themselves anything, sell themselves any bill of goods, which is why they are so often patsies of the ruling classes”. They are always selling snake juice to the public. It is a no-brainer to understand that an individual has no right whatsoever (under any platform, whether legal, constitutional, moral or philosophical) to depict the deities of 1 billion people copulating with animals. It hurts when it is done. It outrages when it is defended and it provokes when it is encouraged. Husain and people like Bhansali are guilty of all three, while their camp-followers in the LZ gang are guilty of the last two.
The LZ mafia should also be reminded of some basic legal and constitutional frameworks that all civilised countries follow. We should all note that freedom of speech and liberty of expression are always circumscribed in these places. The landmark judgement of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (pronounced many decades back) that no one has the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre when there is no conflagration (in other words, disseminating a false warning under the umbrella of free speech) is a cogent analysis of the limits to freedom of expression.
The relevant part of the Holmes judgement is: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent. (United States Supreme Court,Schenck v. United States, 1919).
In our Republic, the same norms apply. Some of our basic freedoms (i.e. Freedom of Religion under Article 25, and Freedom of Expression under Article 19) are all subject to public order, decency and morality. A recent judgement of the U.S. Supreme Court extends the boundaries of the Holmes verdict when it stipulates the following: “The First Amendment, however, does not protect certain limited categories of speech that are “utterly without redeeming social importance” (Free Speech Coalition Case, 1999). (Emphasis added)
The SS and the LZ lot have got away with murder and mayhem simply because the Indic civilisation forces have been too mealy-mouthed and defensive with them. It is high time that India’s serial offenders are tackled resolutely. It is no good emulating gentlemanly behaviour in a war without mercy, when an entire patrimony of thousands of years is at stake.
Some historical parallels are in order. In the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745, the French commander, following the norms of chivalry prevalent in those times, asked his English opponents to shoot first. Now, this was an accepted convention in the wars of that age and the other side was not expected to take this exhortation literally. However, the English, being what they are, violated this code of honour and started firing without warning. The French took heavy casualties initially but recovered to win the battle convincingly.
In the present context, there are no such guarantees of eventual success when confronting evil venality. The LZ and the SS groups are in a state of open warfare against this country’s existential roots. The Indic civilisation forces must not let their guards down even for a moment.
Jay Bhattacharjee is a policy and corporate affairs analyst based in Delhi who has worked in the corporate and banking sectors. He studied Economics, Finance and Sociology at Calcutta and Cambridge and is a student of Indic civilisation, history and military affairs. 
This Article was earlier published in The Salute.

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