Certainly Uncertain

Ka lynti ka kylluid
Ka mon ka laitluid
La me kwah ban long briew
Ne me kwah ban long ksuid

The path is wide, the will is free, whether you wish to be a human, or you wish to be a demon.

Mawphlang, 27 May 2020
They were playing outside their hut, and little Daphi was dangling from her father’s arm. It had been pouring for days. The picturesque village of Madan Bitaw was gloomy beyond words, but still, the joy of a father and a daughter filled the atmosphere with an air of lightness. It rained incessantly, and the rumbling of clouds muffled some unmistakable omens. Suddenly they heard a massive thud and turned back to discover that a part of their house, was lying in the gorge below.
Beirut, 4 August 2020
Merged in himself, Zuhair was gliding his fingers through the piano. Initially, he did not notice that the clock was unusually jittery, and the small statue of Buddha on his table came to life with a sudden shudder. As the eerie movements continued for a few more seconds, he fell back on his musical mood and tried hard to ignore them. But soon, he failed not to see the curtains blowing up, and the room strewn with glasses with a bang and a dazzling light, only to be cursed to darkness right after.
If we struggle to go beyond the confines of certainty, we reach an elusive expectation of regularity. The rhythm of life that we have got used to over the years of going through the ruts, with our repetitive thoughts, actions, and even dreams, gets a jolt when something unusual happens. It happens in imperceptible forms in our daily lives, but seldom does it take the shape of the present crisis humanity has been going through. The pandemic has made us stand in front of the precipice of uncertainty. With everything slipping from our hands, we are clenching our fists against anything floating by. Is it in anger or desperation? We do not know.
Heisenberg tells us that the basis of the universe is uncertainty at the micro-level. But still, even at the cosmological scale, Nature displays perfect regularity. As if it is testifying to an oxymoron! Being the conscious centres of it, we have an immense opportunity to explore the mysteries and to find ways through the mire of incongruence – an incongruence that bewilders us.
Standing in front of the yawning chasm of death we wonder what this inchoate life means. We turn our eyes inwards, and as we go towards the centre of the revolving wheel, we start discovering a peace that permeates all our actions. We open our eyes, wondering how we missed the underlying symphony in a world full of apparent discord and in this flux of events, we learn to hold on to the stream that flows steadily through us.
Tip briew, tip blei. To understand man is to understand the Great Divinity beyond. The One who is beyond the world of sorrow and uncertainty.

The Leech: A Khasi folktale

Once there lived a young cowherd, in the rolling lush green hills of the Khasis. As in olden days, and even in today’s village life, every member of a family are allotted certain duties to perform on a daily basis2.

U Bahep (a nickname given to the cowherd by his family and known to everyone in the village) was a very lazy young man. Every day by sunrise, there would be hustle and bustle in the village, as most of the people would be up and about doing their daily chores.

All, except for Bahep; who even after being roused several times by the shrill voices of his mother and sisters; though awake, would still laze in bed. He was always the last person to get out of bed, and also the last one to start his daily chores and this was known to everyone in the village.
It would almost be noon, by the time he took his cattle out to graze in the open pastures. Upon reaching, he would let his cattle loose and climb onto a nearby tree branch to have a bird’s eye view of his cattle grazing.

On more than one occasion, he would have to climb down the tree, to look for a cow that had strayed, and he knew he would be held accountable for any missing cow, which bothered him, as he intended to relax and nap on a tree branch without any disturbance.


He pondered over the same, and came up with a solution that if one did not see a thing happen, then one cannot be held responsible for such incidents. Therefore, to maintain a clear conscience, he devised a way to remove his eyeballs from his eye sockets, which he then wrapped in a leaf, and tied with a length of vine and hung them on a nearby branch. This became a daily habit of his, and at dusk, satisfied with his nap would reach for his eyeballs and put them back in his eye sockets. He would then round up his cattle, and drive them back to their shed. One many occasions, when one or more of the cattle would be missing, and he would be scolded by his father, Bahep would delegate the task of looking for the lost cow(s) to his younger brothers and cousins by bullying and threatening them.


One afternoon, ‘U Khlieng’ a kite, perched upon the tree Bahep was napping on, looking for insects to feed on, and spotted the eyeballs in the leaf hanging by the vines on one of the branches. Thinking it was some sort insect; the kite picked them up and flew away. When the dusk set in, U Bahep started to grope in the dark for the vines in which he had strung his eyeballs in, but alas!! it was all in vain. Bahep, frantic, fell off the tree on the ground below, and desperately kept on groping around in the hope of finding his missing eyeballs.

Days, nights, weeks and months passed, and his search continued amongst the pastures and the trees he used to frequent. In this search he strayed and was lost in the middle of nowhere. As time passed, he shrunk in size little by little, as he had little or no food to sustain him, and this took a heavy toll on his entire being, which to adapt, evolved and metamorphosised into a leech without eyes and only a mouth, which he used, to attach himself to the cows to feed on their blood when they grazed in the pastures.
Moral of the story: Don’t be lazy! The cowherd was a strong, healthy and able bodied young man, but due to his laziness he shunned all his responsibilities and was completely careless. His irresponsible and irrational behavior reduced his whole being from a full-fledged human who once herded cows out to graze on the green pastures, to being a leech, which clings to the grasses and latches onto the same cows to feed himself. According to Khasi Folklore this is how a leech, one of Nature’s Creations, came into being.

Does Humanity Have a Future?:The Need for a Philosophy of Universal Acceptance

Jeffery D. Long
With each passing day, it seems that our world becomes a more dangerous and frightening place. There is of course the coronavirus, as well as the wider environmental crisis that has given rise to it. And then there are conflicts between human beings of different religions, nationalities, and ethnic groups. One may be tempted to ask if humanity has a future, given all of these many, very serious problems that we all face. One might even go further and ask if humanity deserves to have a future, given that we have ourselves created the problems that we are experiencing. For young people, especially, who did not create these problems, but are inheriting problems that are the result of poor decision making by older generations, the issue of survival is particularly urgent.


Yet, in the midst of all of these problems, we see cause for hope. The coronavirus is a very serious issue, but, like all the diseases that have ravaged humanity in the past, it will one day be cured or managed. While our environmental issues are also quite grave, there are also innovative technologies being developed and new ways of organizing ourselves economically that are being imagined which have the potential to show the way out of this dire situation. And in the midst of even the worst conflicts across communities, one finds pockets of sanity, in which members of one community will rescue members of the other community from the violence that threatens them. In my own country, the United States, where there are, as I am writing this, massive protests against racism and violence carried out by the police, there are also police who support these protests, so long as they are peaceful, and who themselves wish to see a society free from racial prejudice.
There is reason for hope because, if human beings have created the problems that we now face, it is also human beings who will develop the means for solving them. We are a species with great potential both for creation and for destruction. We have been tremendously destructive, but have also been tremendously creative as well. It is our positive creativity, which, in the Vedanta tradition is seen to be a manifestation of our inner divinity, that has the ability to save the day.
Focusing specifically on conflict across belief systems and ethnic and national groups, two of the greatest visionaries of history, who had the capacity to perceive how we might all learn to co-exist, were Swami Vivekananda, and his teacher, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Swami Vivekananda, or Swamiji, who was the first Indian spiritual teacher to travel to the Western world in the modern era to share the wisdom of Vedanta with Americans and Europeans, taught a vision of what he called “universal acceptance.” In his famous welcome address, given at the World Parliament of Religions, which was held in Chicago in 1893, he proclaimed his pride in belonging “to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”1
Two important things need to be noted about Swami Vivekananda’s teaching of universal acceptance. First, there is the distinction between acceptance and tolerance. Secondly, there is the question of what it means to accept all religions as true.
I have asked my students on many occasions, “If your friend, or a beloved family member, said to you today, ‘I tolerate you, ’ how would you feel?” Tolerance is, of course, much better than intolerance. If someone is intolerant, it means that they cannot even stand our existence. They are so hostile to us–perhaps because of our beliefs, or our appearance, or our language, or our ethnic origin–that they truly wish that we did not exist. They cannot tolerate the fact that there are people who are different from themselves.
But tolerance is not the highest ideal to which we can aspire. If we are tolerated, it is as if we are merely being allowed to exist. It does not mean that our existence is a cause for rejoicing. It is more like the person who tolerates us would rather we were not there, but they are not going to act on that feeling. Swamiji understood this very well. He said, in another one of his lectures, “Why should I tolerate? Toleration means that I think that you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live?”2 Who am I, and who are you, to say that one person or another deserves to live, or does not deserve to live?
Tolerance, again, is better than intolerance. It is certainly much better to ‘allow’ people to live than not to allow them to live: to murder them. But even this sense of ‘allowing’ another to live falls far short of the highest ideal which we are capable of achieving. Can we not do something more than not murdering others? What is this ideal? This is the ideal which Swami Vivekananda calls acceptance, saying, “I believe in acceptance.”3
What does acceptance mean? Swamiji elaborates upon it as follows:
I accept all religions that were in the past, and worship with them all; I worship God with every one of them, in whatever form they worship Him. I shall go to the mosque…I shall enter the Christian’s church and kneel before the crucifix; I shall enter the Buddhistic temple, where I shall take refuge in Buddha and in his Law. I shall go into the forest and sit down in meditation with the Hindu, who is trying to see the Light which enlightens the heart of every one. Not only shall I do all these, but I shall keep my heart open for all that may come in the future.”4
Acceptance, particularly in regard to different religions, involves seeing different paths not as rival ways of being with which one is in competition, but as many paths to the same ultimate goal. This is rooted in the teaching of Swami Vivekananda’s guru, Sri Ramakrishna, who himself practiced a wide array of spiritual disciplines, drawing from many diverse traditions, and found that each of the paths that he followed led to the experience of samādhī, or absorption in the divine:
I have practiced…all religions–Hinduism, Islam, Christianity–and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths…Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion…But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Śiva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Āllāh as well–the same Rāma with a thousand names.5
How is it possible, though, to accept many paths as true, given the real differences amongst the world’s religions? Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, for example, believe in rebirth, while in the Christian and Islamic traditions, this idea is denied. How can both understandings be true?
Universal acceptance does not mean that one necessarily must believe everything taught in every religion. This is clearly not possible, given the contradictions among religious worldviews. It does mean, though, that one is open to the particular perspective on truth which a given religion expresses. Each religion captures a different aspect of reality, much like the different parts of the elephant grasped by the various blind men in the famous Indian metaphor of the blind men and the elephant. The important thing, according to Sri Ramakrishna, is that the practice of any religion can be effective in helping one advance toward God realization. This does not mean the religion has to be true in every single respect, but that its core values and its basic orientation toward infinite Reality enable the practitioner to be transformed: to overcome ego and to realize the true, divine Self within.
Does humanity have a future? This will depend on our choices, in the present moment and in the years to come. We need to reduce our greed and attachment to material comfort and work for an ecological state in which all beings, and not only human beings, can thrive and flourish. We need to change many of our habits, and move from a state of ego-centeredness, or even national-centeredness (which can be a mere extension of the ego), to a state of cosmic consciousness. And we need to see one another’s religions and perspectives as alternate paths, alternate views of reality from which we can learn, and ways to realization in their own right, and not as rivals.
If the philosophy of universal acceptance taught by Swami Vivekananda–and lived out to its fullest extent by Sri Ramakrishna, with his practice of many paths–were to be widely adopted worldwide, then there would be good reason to hope for the future of humanity and a peaceful world.
References
Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works, Volume One (Mayavati: Advaita Ashrama, 1979).
Swami Nikhilananda, trans. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (New York: Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center, 1942).

Jeffery D. Long is a religious studies scholar who works on the religions and philosophies of India, particularly Hinduism and Jainism. He is a professor of religion and Asian studies at Elizabethtown College.
Dr. Long is associated with the Vedanta Society, DĀNAM (the Dharma Academy of North America). A major theme of his work is religious pluralism. Dr. Long has authored several books.

How the Dog Came to live with Man (A Khasi Folk-tale)

Illustrations: Dr Bhogtoram Mawroh

In the happy olden days, when the animals lived together at peace in the forest, they used to hold fairs and markets after the manner of mankind. The most important fair of all was called “Ka Iew Luri Lura”(the Fair of Luri Lura), which was held at stated intervals in the Bhoi (forest) country. Thither gathered all the animals, each one bringing some article of merchandise, according to the decree which demanded that every animal that came to the fair should bring something to sell. No matter whether he was young or old, rich or poor, no one was to come empty-handed, for they wanted to enhance the popularity of the market. U Khla, the tiger, was appointed governor of the fair.
Man was excluded from these fairs as he was looked upon as an enemy. He used to hunt the animals with his bow and arrows, so they had ceased to fraternise with him and kept out of his way. But one day the dog left his own kindred in the jungle, and became the attendant of Man. The following story tells how that came to pass.
One day U Ksew, the dog, walked abroad in search of goods to sell at the fair. The other animals were thrifty and industrious, they worked to produce their merchandise, but the dog, being of an indolent nature, did not like to work, though he was very desirous to go to the fair. So, to avoid the censure of his neighbours and the punishment of the governor of the fair, he set out in search of something he could get without much labour to himself. He trudged about the country all day, inquiring at many villages, but when evening-time came he had not succeeded in purchasing any suitable goods, and he began to fear that he would have to forgo the pleasure of attending the fair after all.
Just as the sun was setting he found himself on the outskirts of Saddew village, on the slopes of the Shillong Mountain, and as he sniffed the air he became aware of a strong and peculiar odour, which he guessed came from some cooked food. Being hungry after his long tramp, he pushed his way forward, following the scent till he came to a house right in the middle of the village, where he saw the family at dinner, which he noticed they were eating with evident relish. The dinner consisted of fermented Khasi beans, known as ktung rymbai, from which the strong smell emanated.
The Khasis are naturally a very cordial and hospitable people, and when the good wife of the house saw the dog standing outside looking wistfully at them she invited him to partake of what food there was left in the pot. U Ksew thankfully accepted, and by reason of his great hunger he ate heartily, regardless of the strange flavour and smell of the food, and he considered the ktung rymbai very palatable.
It dawned on him that here, quite by accident, he had found a novel and marketable produce to take to the fair; and it happened that the kindly family who had entertained him had a quantity of the stuff for sale which they kept in earthen jars, sealed with clay to retain its flavour. After a little palaver according to custom, a bargain was struck, and U Ksew became the owner of one good-sized jar of ktung rymbai, which he cheerfully took on his back. He made his way across the hills to Luri Lura fair, chuckling to himself as he anticipated the sensation he would create and the profits he would gain, and the praise he would win for being so enterprising.
On the way he encountered many of the animals who like himself were all going to Luri Lura, and carrying merchandise on their backs to sell at the fair: to them U Ksew boasted of the wonderful food he had discovered and was bringing with him to the market in the earthen jar under the clay seal. He talked so much about it that the contents of the earthen jar became the general topic of conversation between the animals, for never had such an article been known at Luri Lura.
When he arrived at the fair the dog walked in with great consequence, and installed himself and his earthen jar in the most central place with much clatter and ostentation. Then he began to shout at the top of his voice, “Come and buy my good food, ”and what with his boastings on the road and the noise he made at the fair, a very large company gathered round him, stretching their necks to have a glimpse at the strange-looking jar, and burning with curiosity to see the much-advertised contents.
U Ksew, with great importance, proceeded to uncover the jar; but as soon as he broke the clay seal a puff of the most unsavoury and fœtid odour issued forth and drove all the animals scrambling to a safe distance, much to the dog’s discomfiture and the merriment of the crowd. They hooted and jeered, and made all sorts of disparaging remarks till U Ksew felt himself covered with shame.
The stag pushed forward, and to show his disdain he contemptuously kicked the earthen jar till it broke. This increased the laughter and the jeering, and more of the animals came forward, and they began to trample the ktung rymbai in the mud, taking no notice of the protestations of U Ksew, who felt himself very unjustly treated.
He went to U Khla, the governor of the fair, to ask for redress, but here again he was met with ridicule and scorn, and told that he deserved all the treatment he had received for filling the market-place with such a stench.
At last U Ksew’s patience wore out, he grew snappish and angry, and with loud barks and snarls he began to curse the animals with many curses, threatening to be avenged upon them all some day. At the time no one heeded his curses and threats, for the dog was but a contemptible animal in their estimation, and it was not thought possible for him to work much harm. Yet even on that day a part of his curse came true, for the animals found to their dismay that the smell of the ktung rymbai clung to their paws and their hoofs, and could not be obliterated; so the laughter was not all on their side.
Humiliated and angry, the dog determined to leave the fair and the forest and his own tribe, and to seek more congenial surroundings; so he went away from Luri Lura, never to return, and came once more to Saddew village, to the house of the family from whom he had bought the offending food. When the master of the house heard the story of the ill-treatment he had suffered from the animals, he pitied U Ksew, and he also considered that the insults touched himself as well as the dog, inasmuch as it was he who had prepared and sold the ktung rymbai. So he spoke consolingly to U Ksew and patted his head and told him to remain in the village with him, and that he would protect him and help him to avenge his wrongs upon the animals.
After the coming of the dog, Man became a very successful hunter, for the dog, who always accompanied him when he went out to hunt, was able to follow the trail of the animals by the smell of the ktung rymbai, which adhered to their feet. Thus the animals lived to rue the day when they played their foolish pranks on U Ksew and his earthen jar at the fair of Luri Lura.
Man, having other occupations, could not always go abroad to the jungle to hunt; so in order to secure a supply of meat for himself during the non-hunting seasons he tamed pigs and kept them at hand in the village. When the dog came he shared the dwelling and the meals of the pig, U Sniang; they spent their days in idleness, living on the bounty of Man.
One evening, as Man was returning from his field, tired with the day’s toil, he noticed the two idle animals and he said to himself—“It is very foolish of me to do all the hard work myself while these two well-fed creatures are lying idle. They ought to take a turn at doing some work for their food.”
The following morning Man commanded the two animals to go to the field to plough in his stead. When they arrived there U Sniang, in obedience to his master’s orders, began to dig with his snout, and by nightfall had managed to furrow quite a large patch of the field; but U Ksew, according to his indolent habits, did no work at all. He lay in the shade all day, or amused himself by snapping at the flies. In the evening, when it was time to go home, he would start running backwards and forwards over the furrows, much to the annoyance of the pig.
The same thing happened for many days in succession, till the patience of the pig was exhausted, and on their return from the field one evening he went and informed their master of the conduct of the dog, how he was idling the whole day and leaving all the work for him to do.
The master was loth to believe these charges against U Ksew, whom he had found such an active and willing helper in the chase: he therefore determined to go and examine the field. When he came there he found only a few of the footprints of the pig, while those of the dog were all over the furrows. He at once concluded that U Sniang had falsely charged his friend, and he was exceedingly wroth with him.
When he came home, Man called the two animals to him, and he spoke very angrily to U Sniang, and told him that henceforth he would have to live in a little sty by himself, and to eat only the refuse from Man’s table and other common food, as a punishment for making false charges against his friend; but the dog would be privileged to live in the house with his master, and to share the food of his master’s family.
Thus it was that the dog came to live with Man.
Bhogtoram Mawroh is a freelance Cartoonist and Artist. He works as Senior Associate, Research and Knowledge Management at North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society


Man was excluded from these fairs as he was looked upon as an enemy. He used to hunt the animals with his bow and arrows, so they had ceased to fraternise with him and kept out of his way. But one day the dog left his own kindred in the jungle, and became the attendant of Man. The following story tells how that came to pass.
One day U Ksew, the dog, walked abroad in search of goods to sell at the fair. The other animals were thrifty and industrious, they worked to produce their merchandise, but the dog, being of an indolent nature, did not like to work, though he was very desirous to go to the fair. So, to avoid the censure of his neighbours and the punishment of the governor of the fair, he set out in search of something he could get without much labour to himself. He trudged about the country all day,
inquiring at many villages, but when evening-time came he had not succeeded in purchasing any suitable goods, and he began to fear that he would have to forgo the pleasure of attending the fair after all.
Just as the sun was setting he found himself on the outskirts of Saddew village, on the slopes of the Shillong Mountain, and as he sniffed the air he became aware of a strong and peculiar odour, which he guessed came from some cooked food. Being hungry after his long tramp, he pushed his way forward, following the scent till he came to a house right in the middle of the village, where he saw the family at dinner, which he noticed they were eating with evident relish. The dinner consisted of fermented Khasi beans, known as ktung rymbai, from which the strong smell emanated.
The Khasis are naturally a very cordial and hospitable people, and when the good wife of the house saw the dog standing outside looking
wistfully at them she invited him to partake of what food there was left in the pot. U Ksew thankfully accepted, and by reason of his great hunger he ate heartily, regardless of the strange flavour and smell of the food, and he considered the ktung rymbai very palatable.
It dawned on him that here, quite by accident, he had found a novel and marketable produce to take to the fair; and it happened that the kindly family who had entertained him had a quantity of the stuff for sale which they kept in earthen jars, sealed with clay to retain its flavour. After a little palaver according to custom, a bargain was struck, and U Ksew became the owner of one good-sized jar of ktung rymbai, which he cheerfully took on his back. He made his way across the hills to Luri Lura fair, chuckling to himself as he anticipated the sensation he would create and the profits he would gain, and the praise he would win for being so enterprising.


On the way he encountered many of the animals who like himself were all going to Luri Lura, and
carrying merchandise on their backs to sell at the fair: to them U Ksew boasted of the wonderful food he had discovered and was bringing with him to the market in the earthen jar under the clay seal. He talked so much about it that the contents of the earthen jar became the general topic of conversation between the animals, for never had such an article been known at Luri Lura.
When he arrived at the fair the dog walked in with great consequence, and installed himself and his earthen jar in the most central place with much clatter and ostentation. Then he began to shout at the top of his voice, “Come and buy my good food, ”and what with his boastings on the road and the noise he made at the fair, a very large company gathered round him, stretching their necks to have
a glimpse at the strange-looking jar, and burning with curiosity to see the much-advertised contents.
U Ksew, with great importance, proceeded to uncover the jar; but as soon as he broke the clay seal a puff of the most unsavoury and fœtid odour issued forth and drove all the animals scrambling to a safe distance, much to the dog’s discomfiture and the merriment of the crowd. They hooted and jeered, and made all sorts of disparaging remarks till U Ksew felt himself covered with shame.
The stag pushed forward, and to show his disdain he contemptuously kicked the earthen jar till it broke. This increased the laughter and the jeering, and more of the animals came forward, and they began to trample the ktung rymbai in the mud, taking no notice of the protestations of U Ksew, who felt himself very unjustly treated.


He went to U Khla, the governor of the fair, to ask for redress, but here again he was met with ridicule and scorn, and told that he deserved all the treatment he had received for filling the market.
At last U Ksew’s patience wore out, he grew snappish and angry, and with loud barks and snarls he began to curse the animals with many curses, threatening to be avenged upon them all some day. At the time no one heeded his curses and threats, for the dog was but a contemptible animal in their estimation, and it was not thought possible for him to work much harm. Yet even on that day a part of his curse came true, for the animals found to their dismay that the smell of the ktung rymbai clung to their paws and their hoofs, and could not be obliterated; so the laughter was not all on their side.


Humiliated and angry, the dog determined to leave the fair and the forest and his own tribe, and to seek more congenial surroundings; so he went away from Luri Lura, never to return, and came once more to Saddew village, to the house of the family from whom he had bought the offending food. When the master of the house heard the story of the ill-treatment he had suffered from the animals, he pitied U Ksew, and he also considered that the insults touched himself as well as the dog, inasmuch as it was he who had prepared and sold the ktung rymbai. So he spoke consolingly to U Ksew and patted his head and told him to remain in the village with him, and that he would protect him and help him to avenge his wrongs upon the animals.
After the coming of the dog, Man became a very successful hunter, for the dog, who always accompanied him when he went out to hunt, was able to follow the trail of the animals by the smell of the ktung rymbai, which adhered to their feet. Thus the animals lived to rue the day when they played their foolish pranks on U Ksew and his earthen jar at the fair of Luri Lura.
Man, having other occupations, could not always go abroad to the jungle to hunt; so in order to secure a supply of meat for himself during the non-hunting seasons he tamed pigs and kept them at hand in the village. When the dog came he shared the dwelling and the meals of the pig, U Sniang; they spent their days in idleness, living on the bounty of Man.
One evening, as Man was returning from his field, tired with the day’s toil, he noticed the two idle animals and he said to himself—“It is very foolish of me to do all the hard work myself while these two well-fed creatures are lying idle. They ought to take a turn at doing some work for their food.”
The following morning Man commanded the two animals to go to the field to plough in his stead. When they arrived there U Sniang, in obedience to his master’s orders, began to dig with his snout, and by nightfall had managed to furrow quite a large patch of the field; but U Ksew, according to his indolent habits, did no work at all. He lay in the shade all day, or amused himself by snapping at the
flies. In the evening, when it was time to go home, he would start running backwards and forwards over the furrows, much to the annoyance of the pig.
The same thing happened for many days in succession, till the patience of the pig was exhausted, and on their return from the field one evening he went and informed their master of the conduct of the dog, how he was idling the whole day and leaving all the work for him to do.
The master was loth to believe these charges against U Ksew, whom he had found such an active and willing helper in the chase: he therefore determined to go and examine the field. When he came there he found only a few of the footprints of the pig, while those of the dog were all over the furrows. He at once concluded that U Sniang had falsely charged his friend, and he was exceedingly wroth with him.
When he came home, Man called the two animals to him, and he spoke very angrily to U Sniang, and told him that henceforth he would have to live in a little sty by himself, and to eat only the refuse from Man’s table and other common food, as a punishment for making false charges against his friend; but the dog would be privileged to live in the house with his master, and to share the food of his master’s family.
Thus it was that the dog came to live with Man.
Bhogtoram Mawroh is a freelance Cartoonist and Artist. He works as Senior Associate, Research and Knowledge Management at North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society.

Stability, Unity and Progress

If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed punyabhumi (sacred land) … the land where humanity has attained its highest towards gentleness, towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality it is India

-Swami Vivekananda

India has a unique culture and civilization which we should preserve with utmost commitment. Though
many civilizations have dwindled with the passage of time, our culture and civilization have been resilient.
Despite facing rough weather, they remained solid for several thousand years. This is because there is
something unique about our culture and civilization.
Ideas that influenced Indian culture the most– truth, justice, love, peace, harmony, and so on. Swami
Vivekananda believed that social changes should uphold Indian traditions and not hurt them. So long as India remained true to those traditions, she is safe.
As India celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of independence under the yoke of British rule,
perhaps we may look at the past. Among the south Asian countries that emerged from colonial rule in the last 75 years, ours is a country that has maintained stability.
As the future is built on the foundations of the past, the successes and failures of post-independence has
provided an impetus to address the challenges of the days to come. There is no better time than today to
remember the brave heroes who sacrificed their everything for the nation. In the present issue, we offer the episodes of U Tirot Singh, U Sib Charan Roy and Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Golakganj.
As we read about Khasi traditional home remedies (Khasi), Traditional Medicine: its importance and
protection (English). we feel that not only our history but even the customs and rites can instill the spirit of patriotism in us.
Hindi Articles display an array of authors, most of whom hail from a non-Hindi-speaking part of our
country. Again Hindi writing of North East India ‘Khwahishon Ka Asma’ is held in esteem by an author of
Gujarat Tulika Shree. Srutimala Duara in her compelling narrative takes us to the village of Arunachal.
Dr Jeffery D Long’s personal account featured in the Across boundaries section will leave a lasting effect
on the readers.
Let us accept and admire our past and create. Create bridges that bind past and future, bridges that bond
heritage and innovation

The Golden Casket

Melban Lyngdoh
The Golden Casket
Bloom of a new light,
Gold - as precious as diamond.
Box full of new mystery.
Open it and you will be swallowed,
Ignore it and you will be chased.
Wonders that were never seen
Time and day will fail to cease.
Dark as the starry sky you see,
Feelings that were never heard or felt to spell
You may see it but fail to be felt
You cannot get out until you answer it,
You cannot hear it until you question it.
Once you answer it day will come
You will forget it all, and it will vanish.
You won’t find it,
You won’t see it.
The secret will be revealed for once and forever,
Days will start again from where it stopped.

Luminous

Manphika Surong
She hides herself, when she’s most beautiful.
She clothes herself, with luminous grace.
Her lustrous desires never ceases,
As she peeks on every face.
She hears the young ones cry,
And the soft moans of the sky.
To her,
Every secret is known.
Every pain unveiled.
She sees the wounds of the little women;
The romantic dates of young lovers.
Some days, it’s murderous attempts.
She can save, not a single soul.
She hears the silence of the city,
And the roar of a man’s heart.
To her,
Every desire is revealed.
Every soul is uncovered.
As she clothes herself with luminous grace.
https://kajingshai.rkmshillong.org/2022/09/06/the-golden-casket/

आजादी अमृत महोत्सव

हेमलता गोलछा, गुवाहाटी
आजादी की उमंग दिलों में जगाने को
नव स्वर्णिम युग का उत्थान हुआ।
बिगुल बजा विकास का भारत में
चहुँमुखी उन्नति का सूत्रपात हुआ।
तोड़ पराधीनता की बेड़ियों को
जीवंत लोकतंत्र का निर्माण हुआ।
ग्रामीण विकास योजना की नींव रखी
संविधान के आदर्श स्वरूप का निर्माण हुआ।
शिक्षा को मिला आधार स्तंभ
‘बेटी बचाओ, बेटी पढ़ाओ’ की धारा का प्रवाह हुआ।
खंड खंड में बंटे भारत को अखंड बना
370 धारा का सफाया कश्मीर से हुआ।
आतंकी हमलों का मुँहतोड़ जवाब दिया
सर्जिकल स्ट्राइक का कीर्तिमान नाम हुआ।
मिटाने को भ्रष्टाचार उठाए ठोस कदम
नोट, वोट और खोट में नव चमत्कार हुआ।
सैन्य का सीना चौड़ा, महाशक्ति मिसाइल से
अंतरिक्ष में छलांग से प्रगति क्षेत्र को मकाम मिला।
स्वच्छ भारत अभियान है जोरों पर
‘नमामि गंगे’ से नदियों का जीर्णोद्धार हुआ।
देश विनिर्माण में कड़ियाँ जोड़ दी लाखों
आत्मनिर्भर भारत के स्वप्न का संचार हुआ।
पारदर्शिता है चुनौतिशील है राष्ट्रीय नायक
तीन तलाक मिटा ‘सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः’ का आग़ाज़ हुआ।

आजादी अमृत महोत्सव

मुझे बोनसाई नहीं होना

केसरिया

कठपुतली

To The Awakened India

Swami Vivekananda
Once more awake!
For sleep it was, not death, to bring thee life
Anew, and rest to lotus-eyes for visions
Daring yet. The world in need awaits, O Truth!
No death for thee!
Resume thy march,
With gentle feet that would not break the
Peaceful rest even of the roadside dust
That lies so low. Yet strong and steady,
Blissful, bold, and free. Awakener, ever
Forward! Speak thy stirring words.
Thy home is gone,
Where loving hearts had brought thee up and
Watched with joy thy growth. But Fate is strong—
This is the law—all things come back to the source
They sprung, their strength to renew.
Then start afresh
From the land of thy birth, where vast cloud-belted
Snows do bless and put their strength in thee,
For working wonders new. The heavenly
River tune thy voice to her own immortal song ;
Deodar shades give thee eternal peace.
And all above,
Himala’s daughter Umâ, gentle, pure,
The Mother that resides in all as Power
And Life, who works all works and
Makes of One the world, whose mercy
Opens the gate to Truth and shows
The One in All, give thee untiring
Strength, which is Infinite Love.
They bless thee all,
The seers great, whom age nor clime
Can claim their own, the fathers of the
Race, who felt the heart of Truth the same,
And bravely taught to man ill-voiced or
Well. Their servant, thou hast got
The secret—’tis but One.
Then speak, O Love!
Before thy gentle voice serene, behold how
Visions melt and fold on fold of dreams
Departs to void, till Truth and Truth alone
In all its glory shines—
And tell the world—
Awake, arise, and dream no more!
This is the land of dreams, where Karma
Weaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughts
Of flowers sweet or noxious, and none
Has root or stem, being born in naught, which
The softest breath of Truth drives back to
Primal nothingness. Be bold, and face
The Truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease,
Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams,
Which are Eternal Love and Service Free.

Mahatma Gandhi at Golakganj, Assam

Before 1901 there was no place called Golakganj. The place was known as Tokrerchara and was in fact pretty insignificant. It was not even a proper market but largely for the chhara or the water body. Other than paddy, the place also used to produce jute and that was one of the major attractions of the small-time merchants to sail upward in their boats from the downstream of the river Gangadhar and buy jute from the farmers. Till the late nineteenth century many sailors used to come to this place to do their trade in the nearby haats of Materjhar and Pratapganj which were the major markets in the western part of the zamindar of Gauripur, who used to be called by the laity as the Raja Bahadur. As typical of the markets, Pratapganj and Materjhar attracted many merchants including the Marwaris. The Marwaris used to come to the district of Goalpara since the mid-18th century. Among the early Marwaris to Pratapganj were the Kanhailals of Pratapganj. Kanhailal had first arrived at the Dhubri port which was the district headquarters of Goalpara, but the main place was Gauripur which was the capital of the Raja Bahadur of Gauripur. In fact, it was Raja Pratap Chandra Barua who had donated the land to the British to set up their district headquarters at Dhubri. Raja Pratap Chandra Barua shifted their capital from Rangamati to Gauripur in 1850. Pratap Chandra was the descendent of Kabindra Patra who was the first zamindar of Gauripur and was one of the trusted generals of Chilarai, the legendary Koch warrior. His son Raja Prabhat Chandra Barua was an illustrious ruler. Golok Barua was one of the sons-in-law of the Gauripur Rajbari who was given the western part of the estate to look after which which comprised some of the major haats like Materjhar, Pratapganj, Tamarhat, Harirhat, Paglahat, Agomani and others.
Assam Railway and Trading Company under the British had introduced the railways in Assam in 1881 in upper Assam between Dibrugarh and Margherita. The purpose of the track was primarily to ferry timber and other forest resources and coal. Assam was not yet connected to the rest of country by railways. It happened in 1901 when they had opened a line to Assam through Golakganj. As per the railway plan to take the line from Lalmonirhat, Gitaldaha, Bhurungamari in Rangpur subdivision (now in Bangladesh) to Assam they had chosen the small village Torerchara as the Gateway to Assam. But then to lay the line they needed a considerable amount of land. At that it was Golok Barua who had agreed to offer land with the conditions that the railway track would be laid on the land he would provide and the railway station at the Tokrerchara village must be named after him. The British Railway company had agreed and named the station as Golokganj junction as it became the point for the track to divert to Dhubri and towards Fakiragram. In 1901, with the coming up of the station, the place came to be known as Golokganj and the otherwise insignificant village began to grow as an important place. That was the time when many Marwaris too began to come to Golakganj as it grew as a major trading centre as communication became easy to reach markets at Bhurungamari Lalmonir Hat and other places in Rangpur district, and more importantly Calcutta came closer to Golakganj. Under the Gauripur estate, the Golokganj became an important part of which Jogomohan Prodhani was the jotedar who was locally called the zamindar.
There were many stories about Golokganj railway station. The famous Bengali author, Bimal Mitra, they say, was here at Golokganj as the Station Master for some years. Golokganj gained importance because it turned out to be the first railway station of Assam through which trains entered the Assam territory. But the station has became famous for the arrival of two major figures of India’s freedom struggle- Netaji Sbhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi.
Netaji Subhash came to Assam in 1938 after he became the President of Indian National Congress. He had come on the invitation of Bishnuram Medhi and Gopinath Bardoloi to Assam to save Assam from being a part of Pakistan as the Muslim League had carried out a massive campaign for that purpose. Sir Sadulla, a Muslim Leage leader from Assam was to become the chief of Assam at that time. He went to Guwahati and met the Congress leaders and came to Dhubri. On October 31, 1938 Subhash had arrived at Golakganj at around 7am to a big crowd gathered there to welcome him. From he had proceeded towards Dhubri to stay there for the next two days.
One of the most significant events in the context of the Freedom Struggle was the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Assam. He had come to Assam thrice- 1921, 1926 and 1934. Since he came by train, every time he had to travel through Golakganj Junction. The train to Guwahati would invariably wait about an hour at Golakganj railway station.
Mahatma Gandhi’s visits to Assam were well recorded. During his first visit to Assam his train, Darjeeling Mail, reached Golakganj on 18 January, 1921. He was received by Nabin Chandra Bardoloi, who later became the General Secretary of the first Assam Pradesh Congress Committee. In1920 following the resolutions at the Nagpur session of Congress, Gandhi had launched the non-cooperation movement. Assam too became a part of the movement after the annual session of Assam Association held in 1920 at Tezpur. In March Gandhi had set a target to raise rupees one crore for the ‘Tilak Swaraj Fund’ and enroll at least one crore new members for Congress for four anna each. Accordingly the target set for Assam was Rs. 1, 30, 000 when the population of of Assam at time was around 4 crores 70 lakh (excluding the Surma valley). On 17 January 2021 Mahatma Gandhi came to Assam and reached Golakganj in the morning by train from Calcutta by Darjeeling mail. There was a huge crowd to have a glimpse of the Mahatma as though they had heard so much about Mahatma Gandhi, they never saw him. Besides, there were many tales doing the round among the common masses about his supernatural power turning him into a kind of a mythic figure for the general people. Nabin Chandra Bardoloi was among the major leaders from Assam to have welcomed him at that the station.
In 1926 Gandhi had come to Assam to attend the Congress Session held at Guwahati when the population of Guwahati was just about 16000 only. He began his journey from Calcutta to Assam on 23 December 1926. This time too he had stopped at Golakganj station to receive the warm welcome of a mammoth crowd. His last visit to Assam was in the year 1934 when he had come to Assam to raise funds for his movement against untouchability. On the morning of 10 April, 1934 Mahatama had arrived at Golakganj who was greeted by the Congress leaders like Omeo Kumar Das, Devendranath Sarma, Garhmuria Goswami, Kailash Chandra Prodhani, Bhuban Chandra Prodhani and others. On that day Mahatma went to the Kachari Ghar of zamindar Kailash Chandra Prodhani to take rest and address a gathering. Kailash Chandra Prodhani was the eldest son of Jagomahan Prodhani who was a major jotedar under the Raja of Gauripur. In the meeting Kailash Chandra Prodhnai had donated a pouch of gold coins to the Mahatma. In the evening Mahatma Gandhi along with other Congress workers went to Rupshi and spent his night there at the zamindar of Rupshi where the people had donated an amount of Rs. 1000 to Gandhi. He then went to Gauripur and Dhubri where zamindar Kumar Jagadindra Narayan Choudhury had delivered the welcome address.
These episodes were significant historical events which are reflective on how the general multitudes actively took part in India’s freedom struggle. This is part of the micro-history which has immense value to know and discover many untold stories of India’s freedom struggle which had made tremendous impacts even in the small, nondescript places like Golakganj

References:
Hazarika, Sanjoy. “Subhas Bose and the ‘special’ case of Assam” , The Sunday Guardian, http://www. sunday-guardian. com/analysis/subhas-bose-and-the-special- case-of-assam. Accessed on 19 March 2022
Passah, Wandell. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Shillong (June 12, 1927) in The Shillong Times. 28 January 2022
Saikia, Chandra Prasad. Ed. Asomot Mahatma. Guwahati: Asom Prakashan Parishad. 2007 (First edition, 1969)
Special correspondent. “Netaji’s visit to Dhubri remembered on his 120th birth anniversary” in The Assam Tribune 15 Sep 2010 5:30 AM https://assamtribune. com/netajis-visit- to-dhubri-remembered-on-his-120th-birth-anniversaray. Accessed on 21 April 2020
Dr Jyotirmoy Prodhani, a professor at English Department, NEHU he writes on different areas ranging from short stories to ethnicity of North East India. On the literary front he is a member of North East Writers Society and Asom Sahitya Sabha. He also is the president of North India East Association for Human Sciences (NEIAHS), Life Member of the forum on Contemporary Theory (FCT), Baroda. Hauthored several books that are both immersive and informative