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When the Wheels came off Mahagathbandhan

This article was first published in the July edition of ‘The EDGE’ as a cover story. You can read the story and other articles here.

It’s been more than a month, since the declaration of results of the General Elections for the 17th Lok Sabha. NDA came back to power with a thumping majority bettering its previous tally from 2014 and in the process BJP too capturing more seats and crossing the majority mark on its own.

The opposition is still sulking from the rout and yet to come out of the shock and analyze what hit them. Many experts and psephologists didn’t even predict this kind of a win for the NDA. A bigger ‘Modi-wave’ hit them, which is popularly being termed as ‘Tsunamo’.

There were many alliances formed, at the national and regional level to take on the might of the juggernaut known as Modi-Shah. The wave has had a far-reaching impact. It is one thing to win an election with a majority and it is another where you end up decimating an entire opposition to the extent where they begin to self-doubt and self-criticize that might eventually lead them to implode.

The cracks in the alliances are beginning to surface. The blame game and mudslinging is at its peak. Nobody wants to own up to their failures and just wants to take the easy way out by pointing faults in others. The wheels have come off the much-hyped ‘Bua-Bhatija’ Samajwadi Party & Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in UP. Mayawati has already made it official that moving forward they would be contesting all elections on their own without any alliance, especially not the current one with SP.

Uttar Pradesh was BJP’s biggest bastion during the general elections of 2014 where they bagged 71 out of 80 seats. The Mahagathbandhan of SP-BSP was touted as a potent force to provide resistance to the wave, though the results tell a different story.

The Mahagathbandhan failed miserably, but the same cannot be said about Mayawati. BSP went from 0 seats to 10 seats from the 38 contested while keeping its vote share intact compared to the 2014 elections. Many experts are of the opinion that SP’s voter base helped Mayawati achieve this, while the same didn’t reciprocate for SP. Mayawati openly lashing out on Akhilesh for not being able to safeguard Dimple Yadav’s seat and criticizing him for the loss paved way for the split-up of SP-BSP alliance.

Irrespective of the result, this alliance would not have lasted long. It is the way BSP has been, it is the way politics of Mayawati is. She rode to power first on the support of BJP, then she shook hands with UPA when they came in power and when she realized that her politics is about to fade and BSP might go extinct, she jumped on the boat of their archrivals SP. Everybody from the political spectrum is aware of what are the events that led to the enmity between both the political fronts.

The formula of ‘Mahagathbandhan’ worked tremendously well in Bihar where the once archrivals, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav, came together to form an unthinkable alliance along with Congress. Mathematics for the coalition was worked around and it defeated the first Modi wave and Nitish Kumar came back to power, hence laying down foundations for many of such alliances.

Some of them were based on chemistry some simply based on arithmetic but all had one common agenda of defeating BJP and more importantly Modi. Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party tried to use the same formula and formed an alliance along with Ajit Singh’s RLD, which was termed as UP’s Mahagathbandhan.

The common masses believed that Akhilesh Yadav as CM of UP (2012-17) did decent work and his performance was better than previous regimes but his fallout with his own uncle on the eve of UP Assembly elections didn’t go down well with their core voter base. The same base would turn up on the name of Mulayam Singh Yadav and vote blindly for them for the past two and half decades. Now the people would see him as someone who went against his own father’s wishes. The largely conservative rural voters would not approve of this any day.

During the same period, Mayawati was fighting an existential battle. BSP failed to secure a single seat in the General Elections of 2014. Don’t forget that the same Mayawati was eyeing the PM’s chair via a third front. The results of UP assembly elections 2017 came as a reality check for both SP and BSP where SP went from 224 seats in 2012 to a mere 47 seats and BSP went from 80 seats to a paltry 19 seats.

What mislead them were their vote percentages. BSP and SP both got about 22% while BJP single-handedly touched 40%. As per their simple calculations, 22 plus 22 would convert into 44, which was anyway more than what BJP secured; what they didn’t take into consideration that alliances and votes don’t work on mathematics. They work on ideologies.

The followers, party workers, and cadres go by how and what their leaders say or is it? For more than two decades Mayawati and Mulayam Singh spat venom on each other and so did their party members and workers at all levels. Now to expect that all of a sudden the same antagonism would evaporate in a day was an idea little far fetched.

The topmost people of two political parties might get up one day and decide to shake hands and appear to become friends doesn’t necessarily mean that same would transpire among grassroots level party worker leave alone voters. It is literally difficult for them to become friends and work shoulder-to-shoulder with someone, whom they abused and badmouthed for the past twenty years.

When the Lok Sabha by-elections happened in UP after the assembly elections of 2017, the verdict was more or less against Yogi than against Modi. But when it came down to the general elections, the Modi-Shah duo was successful in converting it into a presidential format of election where it was all about a single personality of Narendra Modi. A personality that they have successfully marketed into a towering figure against which no other figure from the opposition stands tall.

As the dates for voting approached, Mayawati started openly batting herself for the prime position of PM that didn’t go down well with the voters. I met people who claimed that they voted for BJP because they didn’t want somebody like a Mayawati to be the PM. She might command respect and support from her community in UP but the same is not the case when it comes to other states of India, whereas Narendra Modi since 2013 has successfully catapulted himself as a national leader.

I am sure how Mayawati worked her way around Akhilesh in gaining their support and in the process bagging more seats, he would not have objected when she would have put her name forward for the PM’s chair.

Both, SP and BSP’s ideologies are caste centric, which made it even harder for their bases to align together. The last time when Mayawati came to power was when the upper caste voted in her favor. That is not the case now. She has even started losing the support of non-jatav dalits and hence the slow decline in BSP’s vote share.

The same worked this time in BJP’s favor where a majority of Hindu votes consolidated in their favor. Of the alliance’s 15 winning candidates, 11 were Muslims, Yadavs and Jatavs. Many reports suggested that this verdict is against caste politics. Well, it is not. BJP was smarter in fielding their candidates. NDA fielded about 34 upper caste candidates and 28 non-yadav OBCs.

In 2014, Mulayam Singh Yadav won by a margin of 3.64 lakh votes from their bastion of Mainpuri, which got reduced to 95,000 votes signifies that the vote transfer didn’t take place on the ground despite Mayawati campaigning for him.

Rajan Pandey, a journalist who co-authored a book on elections in UP highlighted, “BSP claims it is a party of Dalits but it has been reduced to be a party of Jatavs and even not all Jatavs are with it.” The alliance only considered their core voting communities and completely disregarded the non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits.

Surprisingly, they even fielded 20 odd candidates from upper castes when contrarily they were propagating a 2% tax on elite upper castes. In the reserved seats, BJP fielded as many as 15 non-Jatavs and only 2 Jatavs.

BJP played smart in constituencies where their incumbent MPs performed poorly and the general vibe was against them. Like in the case of Menaka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi – they simply swapped their constituencies. The Nishad Party candidate who won the by-poll from Gorakhpur constituency was also easily poached and he joined hands with BJP right before the elections leaving the alliance looking foolish.

The rebellion from Shivpal Yadav and BJP forming strategic alliances with smaller parties like Apna Dal and Nishad party too helped them. Presence of Shivpal in Firozabad ensured that his nephew Akshay Yadav lost.

The fielding of wrong or weak candidates too catalyzed this drubbing at the hands of NDA. Ajit Singh’s RLD fielded 3 candidates out of which 2 were from their family clan and still lost in their traditional Jat belt. Similarly, in Phulpur where the alliance won a stunning by-election by fielding a Kurmi candidate changed its candidate this time around with a Yadav candidate. Phulpur having a Kurmi majority helped BJP’s Kurmi candidate to win by 1.71 lakh votes.

Now, when the alliance has been called off, it is easy to claim that the caste-based politics didn’t work for the Mahagathbandhan but it was the consolidation of other Hindu votes in sync with the ideology of Hindutva against these three core community votes that led to the debacle of the promising alliance.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

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R – Ram Temple | #AtoZChallenge

R – Ram Temple | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Any political discussion is incomplete in Indian politics without discussing the Ram Temple issue. Elections after elections, government after governments and manifesto after manifesto…the matter or the dispute more or less remains where it existed. I didn’t find any substantial evidence but I am sure the British would have got a great clue to divide the country along political lines when the first riots broke around 1850 regarding the same issue.

The ideological parent of the current ruling party brought the subject into the mainstream, which became the flag bearer of all the issues for the party since the 1980s. They grew from a dismal 2 seats in the Lok Sabha to a resounding 282 seats on the back of the Ram Temple dispute.

I was around seven years old when the issue reached its tipping point in 1992 following a ‘Rath Yatra’ from one of the founding members of the party. The horrifying blood bath that followed is still fresh in my memory. I just need to close my eyes and I can still see those open skulls, burning screaming souls and charred bodies.

Nearly three decades later, the ones who were in their twenties during the riots are now in their fifties and the ones carrying out the yatra are breathing their last…but the issue is as alive as ever with no resolution in sight.

That sowed the seed of hate forever in so many Indians against each other. We are killing each other for a treacherous act of an invader. For a heinous act committed five centuries ago, what sanity it is, to keep burning humans so that you can justify your agenda.

Let me tell you, no soul ever finds solace by killing another.

I wonder if anyway Lord Ram could see all this – Don’t forget he gave up that throne and land for keeping the words of his mother, I am sure If he would have been alive, he would have given up now too. How can one slash the womb of a lady, take out an unborn and chop it into pieces in front of her and that too on the name of Ram? No lord would want so much hatred and kill on his name.

The irony is that the so-called followers of Ram, do not follow the ideologies of him. To be honest these Ram-Bhakts have started to betray him and become the Bhakt of some other hate spewing supreme commander.

This was the perfect opportunity for BJP to at least start the construction of the Temple rather than just use it as a gimmick once again to trivialize the sentiments of the followers of Ram. With them being in power at the center as well as state, this opportunity might never return for them. Forget about making the country a Hindu rashtra, they can’t even make a temple.

The fallacy in the logic of, that the Jews have their Jerusalem, the Muslims have Mecca, what have Hindus got. As per the Hindu religious texts, there are so many Gods and so many sacred places linked to each one of them. How will you decide which one is the most superior of all? We already have the dhams, the jyotirlings and the shaktipeeths, what would one less or one more temple to do the religion. It’s all in the mind but for that it requires sanity.

The people who have been to the birthplace of Lord Krishna, they would recall that there is a mosque just adjacent to the temple; in fact they share a common wall. Since the beginning of mankind and their arrival in this land, everybody lived in harmony because there was acceptance of everyone.

The people are too blind to see how mercilessly they are being used for their political gains. They claim that there was a temple long before Babar demolished it and constructed a Mosque, a place of worship. It was an unpardonable sin – but wasn’t he a barbaric invader, what else can we expect of him. That in no way justifies you again destroying a place of worship claiming to be the protectant of a religion, which is considered to the most peaceful.

I sometimes think, Did Ram take birth in a temple? Ideally, it should have been a palace given the fact that his father was a king. If that were the exact location of birth then somebody would have destroyed the palace too, to make a temple.

If the court decides on logic and merit some people are ready to burn it…if they simply discuss it as a ‘matter of faith’, they lose their credibility forever. The court itself is caught in a tussle to maintain peace and harmony and somehow give a verdict that pleases every party.

I am banking on the current and future generations that they would evolve above all this and won’t let themselves get divided on religious lines. But sadly a process has been created where people are kept uneducated and jobless so that they are always ready to pick up arms so that they can fight for the religion, whether it is any religion.

It is like the Kashmir conflict; the moment it gets resolved you would not have another issue to invoke your nationalism card on. Similarly the day the temple gets built, the privilege to use of the religious card would also get neutralized.

The best solution lies in creating a facility on the land that serves everyone irrespective of any religion – construct a hospital or school or anything but not a religious structure. The land has seen enough violence and blood and it shouldn’t take another five centuries to resolve the issue. Make sure when you vote, you vote for the future of your child.

For all those who believe the conflict will never be resolved,

For all those who want peace,

For all those who feel all this would have aggrieved Ram,

And

For all those who believe in the ideologies of Lord Ram…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 18th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit on monday for the next post with letter ‘S’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

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P – Political Candidates | #AtoZChallenge

P – Political Candidates | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

In continuation with the yesterdays’ post, I will discuss the political candidates and candidature of the country, when we discuss what are the options and whom to choose from it is a lot dependent on us. Some might say we vote for what is available, I believe its how and whom we vote decides the kind of candidates being fielded.

A terror accused, against which the NIA has admitted that they have sufficient proof, gets a ticket to contest the election. I wonder if any other party would have done the same, the whole world would have gone berserk saying that they are anti-nationals and supportive of such forces.

It is high time that we as voters start thinking about the kind of candidates we want to see. If we vote for the current lot whether from any party, not based on the kind of work they have done but just some sloganeering then we don’t have the right to blame anyone else.

Whether it is a dynast or a megalomaniac, no one is purchasing a seat in Lok Sabha. They are all contesting and it is the majority of the people that vote and send them in. So the elections should be on issues that directly concern us. Even if we can’t choose the candidates, then at least we can pose the right questions to the ones already contesting. Aren’t they answerable?

There is a comical trend that has emerged that highlights both the hypocrisy of a party as well as its supporters. A person is accused of so many things only and only if he or she is a part of the opposition. The same candidates when they are in the opposition party are looked as criminals but the moment they join the current ruling party, a halo emerges around them signifying their innocence and it is then loudly proclaimed that they were criminals only till they were in the opposition.

The candidature of a candidate should be immediately barred or canceled as soon as they migrate from one party to another after a particular election has taken place. People voted for a symbol and the ideology he represents but then a mockery of the system is made, when the next day the candidate jumps to the other side. Election after election we are seeing this and it is a huge cause behind the current horse-trading scenario of politicians.

The much hyped ‘Joota Kand’ that took place between two gladiators of the ruling party. Did anyone try to listen to the charges that they were making against each other? Everyone got lost in counting the number of times one has honored the other with the shoe rather than focusing on the grave accusations made by both on each other. That’s a live proof that nobody is a saint even if they are under the flag of a particular color.

I grew up with a notion that whether you do good work or not but to have criminal inclination is a necessary quality if one has to succeed in politics and that’s the sad reality. Look at the kind of charges against candidates. There are a wide variety of serious charges against them including rape, murder, terrorist activity, and sedition and so on. The system even corrupts the ones who start clean with good intentions. Try to remember the time when we were in school and the teacher used to ask what do you want to become when you grow up…and nobody answered a politician.

Why to only blame the politicians when we ourselves are at fault on so many accounts? The moment our relative or someone close comes to power as a politician or a bureaucrat or even a government official, we try every possible bit to get our work done through them however illegal it may be.

Even the Supreme Court intervened in the matter but with no result. The percentage of tainted candidates who won in the last election was around 35% and it is definitely on the rise in 2019. Everyone from the BJP to Congress, from DMK to AIDMK, each and every political party is a culprit of that.

The political class has played with the law and rules in such a shameful manner that you will be shocked to know that currently, a person who has served less than two years in prison can also contest elections.

We are so dumb that the moment a movie celebrity joins politics and becomes a candidate, everyone blindly votes for them, knowing that they will hardly visit their constituency forget about visiting Lok Sabha and raising the people’s issues.

Nobody questions the returning candidates on their previous performance. Forget questioning, the candidates themselves know that they can’t highlight their own work otherwise they will be shown the mirror royally and hence they play divisive tactics.

I am not saying that every candidate is a criminal but somehow the Good Samaritan gets lost in the glitz, glamour, and influence of a criminal. A Nobel man would never be able to generate the amount of cash and muscle power required to win an election and hence the illicit and immoral will keep coming back to power. The political parties will do everything possible to keep it corrupt, the latest electoral bonds is a prime example of it.

The fallacy lies within us. Till the time we are going to vote for such much-acclaimed candidates the political parties will keep fielding them. We need to look beyond caste, creed, family, lineage, religion and focus on the issues that directly are of concern otherwise the future of your kids’ education will keep going into the hands of those educational ministers who lied about their educational qualifications under oath.

For all those who are fed up of the current lot,

For all those who vote for tainted candidates,

For all those who vote for celebrities,

And

For all those who want a change in the political candidature…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 16th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘Q’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

6

K – KASHMIR | #AtoZChallenge

K – Kashmir | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Post World War II the British were left bankrupt. They started abandoning and leaving the colonies and in the process giving them independence. Lord Mountbatten arrived in February 1947 and was supposed to take till June 1948 to come up with the proposal of how India would be divided. He invited Cyril Radcliffe, a barrister who had never set foot in India before then and only gave him five weeks to do so.

He did it in a hurry and within two months a line was sketched on a map of the then India dividing in on the basis of the religion of the majority that resided in that area. Everyone knows that came at a price of more than a million lives and fifteen million displaced.

Maharaja Hari was a Hindu ruler of a Muslim majority princely state at the time of partition and he was to make a call whether they want to join India or Pakistan or remain independent. A kind of civil war broke out where groups of both religions want to eradicate the other one. The Maharaja then wanted help from the Indian government to fight the Pashtuns. The help was promised at a cost.

Though the politicians can claim and say that Kashmir was forever a part of India – it was not. It came under a signed agreement to side with India, so that India could send their military to fight the Pashtun infiltrators. The UN interfered and slowly by 1949 the war came to an end but the vote with which side Kashmir would finally go never took place. The UN then established the LoC, which was formalized in 1971 – India controls 43% of the land, while Pakistan and China 37% and 20% respectively.

If you go into the history of Kashmir, infiltrators forever ruled it whereas the original people of the land never got to rule it. I believe they were the most secular around the 14th century where all the three religions coexisted and lived in harmony.

The killing of Kashmir Pandits was a sad event which led to their mass exodus but equally horrifying was the killing of Muslim after independence which continued for more than a year resulting in a massacre that amassed somewhere close to 100000 deaths. Nobody knows how over the years the fight against a small group of Pashtuns has become a fight against the local people of Kashmir.

The current dispensation mentioned in their 2014 manifesto that they would look after rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in their original land. I have hardly seen a single family being brought back. The irony is they were in power there for a decent number of years to at least show their will to do that rather than just slogans. Even shocking was the way they came in power, aligning with a party that is completely opposite to their core ideology.

I feel the ruling party, when they gave the mantra that they want to eradicate a complete political class from the nation, just focused on forming governments. They used any method possible to form a government whether it was Goa or NE states or even in Kashmir. What they don’t know is, after they have staked claim to form the government, how to govern it then.

The condition has been continuously deteriorating since they came into power with stats showing an exponential rise in terrorist attacks and people joining militancy.

After the recent terrorist attack of Pulwama, there was an outcry to boycott all the Kashmiris from India. Many of them fled back to their natives. Isn’t this hypocrisy of the highest order that you want Kashmir to be a part of India but do not want Kashmiris?

They stirred the nationalist sentiment and got the backing of a lot of people when a senior leader in the government announced that they will stop water to Pakistan. Honestly, that is a joke. As per the Indus water treaty, India can only at most stop 20% of the water that is flowing. Currently, there is no practical measure to even stop that much but you cannot simply change the natural flow of a river against gravitation. No one knows how many decades it will take before India can make enough dams to even contain 20%.

For the past seven decades under all the governments, there were conflicts. For some period it dies down but then it again aggravates. Nobody wants to understand the root cause of why the local common people are willing to pick up arms. Some say education is the cure but haven’t we seen even the educated do that. More than the education they require Inclusion and until that happens they will continue to keep doing so. It suits politicians on both the sides of the LoC that the conflict keeps simmering – if the issue itself will die what will they ask vote on?

My opinion is this issue will continue to boil. Even if Pakistan decides not to pursue it any further, China will not allow it. And if a day comes when China decides to leave Kashmir alone then also the western warmongers who just want to sell their weaponry on the name of national security will not let the conflict die away. Do one thing every time there is an attack in Syria, Palestine, India, and Pakistan or anywhere in the world, just check the stock prices of the arms manufacturers. They simply shoot upwards.

After decades of bloodshed, three wars, lakhs of deaths, millions of human rights violations that continue on a daily basis, whether India wins or any other country, the biggest sufferers and losers are the real people of the land of Kashmir who continue to live each day as if it is going to be there last.

Someone said that Kashmir is a heaven on earth, but I say if this is how heaven is, better call it hell and there might eventually be peace.

For all those who believe Kashmir belongs to India,

For all those who believe the killings should stop,

For all those who believe there is no winner in a war

And

For all those who believe there should be peace in the Kashmir Valley…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 11th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘L’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

22

What if there was NO Religion


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

The definition of ‘Dharma’ or ‘Dhamma’ when this word came into existence was related to the true virtue or the duty of a thing or a person. For example, the dharma of fire is to burn irrespective of what it is on the other hand. The fire never distinguishes what is good or bad, right or wrong, it just does its job of consuming everything that comes in its way and turns it into ashes.

Over the period of centuries and generations, the words have lost their real meaning. On many occasions, they have been consciously made ambiguous and on other, the lack of understanding of its origin and usage has lead to this unawareness.

During this transition, the propagators have successfully managed to delusion dharma into a synonym for ‘Religion’.

The moment we hear the word dharma the mind triggers in recalling the faith that either we are born into or we follow and practice.

The Early man started with worshiping nature, the sun, and the moon because of its fear or simply it was too complex for his naïve brain to understand. It all started with the unknown and the curiosity to conquer it. What was left unexplained was termed as GOD.

Millenniums passed and humans started to become civilized and molds of societies were beginning to form. Each community and tribe came up with their own story about the origin of God.

People with the same faith, same virtues, same beliefs, and same behavioral patterns collectively would form a religion.

I believe that in the beginning there was just one religion. Then there would have been someone who would have challenged the existing establishment, who would not have surmised in the existing belief system giving rise to the second belief system and with his set of followers would have set out on his journey.

Let me remind you, nowhere it is documented or mentioned that any God said that he is God. No Ram, No Prophet, No Jesus, No Buddha, No Guru Nanak said that they were God. It is always the followers who kept on promulgating the so-called learning.

Slowly the world was full of religions and even more followers.

What if there was no religion? – think think.

Each of them preached only one thing – that there is only one God with the objective of spreading love, peace, and harmony and in the process connecting a mere ordinary soul to the almighty.

Have the religions served their purpose? I don’t think so. I consider religion is a very personal thing and one is free to practice the faith they believe in. But the recent history is marked with instances of violence in the name of religion. From genocides to war, from invasion to wiping off humanity – the name of religion has been used to carry out atrocities and the only thing it is spreading is hate and venom.

People are beginning to hate their neighbors with whom they have spent their childhood just because of the faith they believe in. In numerous instances, religion is the root cause of discrimination. Year after year the men in power exploit the belief and faith of so many and the sad thing is year after year people get exploited because somehow they are convinced that it is the supreme thing and there is nothing beyond it.

Our nation was partitioned because of the underlying hate for the other religion, which the foreigners were able to exploit. We always blame others for their policy of ‘divide and rule’ forgetting that they took advantage of the cracks that were already present.

Countless people including children have been sacrificed on the pretext of illogical rituals. I wonder what would they call Raja Ram Mohan Roy if he had been alive to witness the psychosis surrounding religious sentiments. Animals, till date, meet the same fate on the name of religion and festivals.

Somehow these so-called modern day messengers of God have successfully instilled the fear, even in the literate and educated class, that their religion is endangered. The symbolization of a majority and minority wouldn’t have taken place on the lines of religious beliefs.

The most beautiful valleys and rivers; have turned red just in the quest of proving the supremacy of one particular faith over the other. Nothing has been spared…No one has escaped.

There wouldn’t be any reservation system if there were no religion. There would be lesser conflicts. I am telling from my personal experience that I have seen many people never utilizing their full potential just because they were busy in the rituals of religion whereas their own life and family was in tatters.

Rather than feeding the poor, the longest queue of these deprived and underprivileged class is outside the religious structures. Isn’t it ironical?

The WOW Prompt

Everybody is in an insane race to prove that their religion is superior and rest all are mere illusions. But when every religion preaches the same thing – that there is only ‘One God’ then automatically it should be complemented with only one religion or better…No religion.

For all those who believe in God,

For all those who are averse to the concept,

For all those who think a lot of hate is linked to religion

For all those who believe in religion

And

For all those who believe Dharma and Karma…

It’s not a Goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Note – I respect all religions 🙂

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

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Reminiscences of a Seeker – Book Review

Reminiscences of a Seeker

Reminiscences of a Seeker – cover page

Book Review:

Book: Reminiscences of a Seeker

Author: Kapil Kumar Bhaskar

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Angel Books Publications; First Edition edition (2017)

Price: 365 INR

Pages: 300 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 8193359909

ISBN-13: 978-8193359907

Language: English

My rating: 3/5

India is a country full of diverse beliefs and traditions arising from various cultures that have settled in this varied land. Many of such beliefs and traditions give birth to a lot of rituals and sometimes even superstitions. It’s our faith and experiences that usually guides which spiritual path one pursues.

Most of us are usually content with our simple monotonous way of connecting with the higher being. But some of us go the extra mile in search of their true master…what’s their purpose here…and following their process ultimately to bond with the supreme almighty.

Kapil Kumar Bhaskar’s Reminiscences of a Seeker is the journey of such a seeker of spiritual enlightenment. As per the author this debut novel is a true account of what all he encounters during his pursuit. The rational and practical ones might find it illogical and at times really hard to believe what all he experienced. But many of you, who have experienced the supernatural in their lives, will definitely correlate to a lot.

The story revolves around Kapil’s initial two Gurus; one being a tantric and other an aghori. The story is a roller-coaster ride of his journey with the mystic…some of them explainable…but some of them really bizarre. In fact for many of the readers, because of scarce material in these types of topics, this might be a turnoff. The book starts with a photo of Kapil’s Guru under whose blessing he continued on his spiritual path, which made me curious and I was compelled to turn the pages just to see whether there are more of such pics and I succeeded in finding one of Sai Baba’. Honestly, the blurb at the back cover or on other sites that you will find while purchasing doesn’t give you a complete picture about what this book is all about.

Back cover with blurb

The vocabulary is very simple and it surely assists in it being a fast read. Kapil tries to justify everything he wrote about experiences with smaller stories and unnecessary introduction of characters, which drags and derails the plot at times.

The book digs deep into the world of spiritual masters, tantrics and aghoris. It gives a detailed description of their practices and rituals. It also showcases the darker side to this so-called ‘white world’. How these spiritual gurus can go to any extent to keep their followers and how they feed on the fears and weaknesses of seekers. How they lure the innocent and then themselves create havoc in their lives so that they are forever entangled with them.

The basic premise of any form of spirituality is that it teaches detachment in its most fundamental element. What this book clearly highlights is, how these gurus once they become powerful, knowledgeable and enlightened (at least they believe so) cannot let go of the ‘detachment’ that comes along and remain intoxicated with power, money and above all followers.

This is a good debut effort with an effortless fluency to the book. You definitely get hooked onto to the narrative after the few initial pages and would reach the end in no time. Kapil masterfully crafts and brings the story to an end in a way that it leaves the reader gasping for the sequel.

The ones who love the mystical arts or are curious about occultism will definitely like it. I am going with 3 out of 5 for ‘Reminiscences of a Seeker: Dark face of a White World’. The uniqueness of the subject makes for a good page-turner that you should not miss. Do watch out for that sequel.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Grab a copy of the book here: Goodreads and Amazon

5

The Tree Bears Witness – Book Review

The Tree Bears Witness

Cover – The Tree Bears Witness

The Tree Bears Witness

Book Review:

Book: The Tree Bears Witness

Author: Sharath Komarraju

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: Westland (17 November 2017)

Price: 350 INR

Pages: 250 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 9386850443

ISBN-13: 978-9386850447

Language: English

My rating: 3.5/5

Keeping in sync with the author – reviewer relationship I again get an opportunity to review Sharath Komarraju’s work, his latest, The Tree Bears Witness’. This time it’s the publication Westland’s marketing team, which is taking the initiative – all kudos to them.

Every childhood in India has encountered an ‘Akbar Birbal’ story at some stage or the other – who can forget the epic ‘Birbal ki Khichadi’. After successfully biting into the Mahabharata with his Hastinapur series, Sharath Komarraju now tries to reincarnate the duo with his spin of storytelling to the tales. ‘The Tree Bears Witness’ is his second novel in the Birbal series.

The story revolves around real characters from Emperor Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodha’s life, which gives it a very real feel and makes you think on several occasions whether this story is actually true or not. Frankly speaking I am not sure myself. The main plot is shrouded around the mysterious death of the newly wed Jodha’s brother Sujjamal. Sujjamal, along with other royal guests, was still staying back in the palace after Akbar and Jodha’s marriage when the unfortunate event takes place.

Emperor Akbar, as is in the case of every mystery escapade, entrusts his most intelligent ‘Navratna’…Mahesh Das aka Birbal to come up with the answers. The mystery is heightened by the fact that the eyewitnesses to the murder are a couple of guards, who at the time of murder were in an inebriated state. They both have blurry conflicting versions of the murder, which makes the plot even murkier. Birbal has to finally rely on a Tree to serve as a witness…yeah you read it correct…The Tree is the Witness here.

Sketch of Palace Garden

Sketch of Palace Garden

Like his previous work Sharath doesn’t waste much time and straightaway gets into top gear. By the 10th page we encounter the murder and the story never runs out of breathe from there. It has a commendable pace, which keeps the reader hooked-on all throughout the book. I completed the book in flat eight hours, which is the fastest for me. The pace is also helped by the vocabulary which is neither too naïve nor too complex. I was really impressed how Sharath has given a sketch of the palace garden in the beginning of the book, where the actual murder takes place. It really helps the reader’s curiosity in trying to figure out the killer.

You can tell that a murder mystery is good from the simple fact that you have multiple suspects, each with a strong motive of their own. Here Sharath very masterfully incorporates this where we have many suspects including Sujjamal’s own blood relatives. It goes to an extent where it doesn’t even spare Emperor Akbar, who is in a way responsible to get the mystery solved.

The character sketching is also great. The writer has smartly given a peek into everyone’s mind where you encounter political intrigue, personal enmities and hidden rivalries.

The only negative I found was, if you read attentively you will be able to guess the murderer by the time you reach two-third of the book. In fact the fun in ‘The Tree bears Witness doesn’t lie in that. The ride is exhilarating from the fact how Birbal uncovers ‘how’ the murder was committed. Because when the murder happens Sujjamal was in full view of the two guards and he was standing alone.

I would take this opportunity to congratulate Sharath where he has successfully teleported his career from a 9-5 corporate job to full time writer. He is skill-fully mastering his craft and continuously coming up with good work.

The narrative is fluent, crisp and without too many subplots. From the first page till the last the writer never loses focus and keeps the reader engrossed and engaged. I am going with three and a half out of five for ‘The Tree Bears Witness’. Do grab a copy of this wonderfully crafted royal tale of murder and deception.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

My side of the bargain for an honest review. Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon