Seng Khasi – An Oath to the Truth

The Khasi people reside in the central and eastern part of the state of Meghalaya in North East India. They are known to be one of the oldest inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent and a significant number also live in the state of Assam and in Bangladesh. The word Khasi includes the various sub tribes of this pristine part of the world: Pnar, Bhoi, Khynriam, Maram, War, Nongtrai, Muliang, Lyngngam. The language and dialects spoken by the Khasis belong to the Austroasiatic family of languages (Mon-Khmer) at their root, but words derived from Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian are found in common usage and have enriched the language. Anthropologists and scholars have offered many theories as to the origin of the Khasi people but no single theory has been accepted conclusively. However, there is no dispute as to their mythological origins. According to Khasi mythology they descended from the celestial abode of the Divine Creator, U Blei. The foundations of the indigenous faith ‘Niam Khasi- Niamtre’ are lodged deep in the story of these origins. The spiritual truth of the faith shines within the inner meaning of the legend of ‘Ka Jingkieng Ksiar halor U Lum Sohpetbneng’ (The Golden Bridge at the Navel of the Universe).
All religions of this world convey their meanings through parables and so too does our religion. 1
(H.O. Mawrie)
The story begins at the dawn of consciousness, when the Sun and the Moon were young, and the world was silent and calm. Sixteen families of Man (Ki Khadhynriew Trep) lived in the celestial realm beyond the visible sky, beyond the stars, in cosmic harmony with the Divine Creator (U Blei). The Earth remained quiet and desolate until, Mei Ramew (Mother Earth) and U Basa (Guardian spirit of the World) were blessed with three children- Air, Water and the youngest, Fire. With time, the world began to grow. Rivers flowed, mountains grew, birds sang, flowers bloomed, the creative fires of Biskorom grew brighter- Natures song had begun. The deafening quiet was replaced by the sound of life bursting open. However, Mother Earth would need help in governing the chaos that ensued, so she pleaded to U Blei and she was answered. It was decreed in a Grand Assembly of the Gods (Dorbar Blei) that Seven families would be entrusted with the sacred task of nurturing life on Mother Earth. The seven – U Hynñiewtrep – are believed to be the progenitors of the Khasi people.
Before the seven families descended to begin their sacred duty they were blessed by U Blei with their own Way of Life and Worship (Ka Niam ka Rukom), and they made an oath to never lose their spirituality. They traversed the two worlds through a Golden Bridge (Ka Jingkieng Ksiar) that stood at the summit of the sacred hill, U Lum
Sohpetbneng – the Navel of the Universe. The bridge was a divine link that connected Man, Mother Earth and the Divine Creator. This period of harmony and unison is known as Ka Sotti Juk (Age of Purity) or Ka Aiom Ksiar (Golden Age). But, the clear conscience of the Hynñiewtrep would soon be gripped and swallowed by greed and envy (U Thlen). Man grew distant from himself, his fellow man and his sacred duty. The Golden Vines (Tangnub Tangjri) were severed. The seven had grown in wealth and numbers but they had also grown distant from their spiritual bond. The joyous soul was broken.
If they were to rebuild the divine connection they would have to look within, guided by the three tenets of Ka Jutang Sohpetbneng. The Golden Bridge (Ka Jingkieng Ksiar) now resides within a Golden Heart (Mynsiem Ksiar)- a place where the limitless energy of a joyous soul grows with and in, Truth. U Lum Sohpetbneng, stands witness to this heritage and to the spiritual reality of the ‘Hynñiewtrep’. It is the unshakable foundation of the indigenous faith, Niam Khasi- Niamtre, and a light for all to find true inner peace.
The Khasi way of life, worship, philosophy, spirituality, identity are all tied to Lum Sohpetbneng and the three tenets of the indigenous faith:
• Kamai ïa ka Hok
• Tip Briew Tip Blei
• Tip Kur Tip Kha
‘Kamai ïa ka Hok’ means to earn righteousness. Only a path of Truth brings Divine Blessings. It is stressed in the teachings that righteousness can not be given or taken – it must be earned.
‘As nothing material can be carried to the House of God, the emphasis is on earning righteousness, which is the only thing that can be associated with one forever. Hence living on Earth is a blessing as it offers greater opportunity to earn righteousness’. 2
(Sib Charan Roy jait Dkhar Sawian)
Tip Briew Tip Blei’ literally translates as ‘Know Man Know God’ but there are an infinite number of interpretations. However, they all converge into the wisdom that in order to reach the Divine, one must first search within oneself and strive to understand our fellow man. An understanding of one without the other is to fail at self-realisation.
‘Tip Kur Tip Kha’ stresses the importance of knowing both Matrilineal (Cognates) and Patrilineal (Agnates) lines. The religion is practiced based on knowledge of these relationships. The descent system is matrilineal but knowing and understanding both lines are crucial, particularly in matters pertaining to Marriage. Graceful manners are imbibed as one follows this system of respect.
The tenets weave into and greatly inform the conduct of Khasi rites, rituals and ceremonies especially in:
Ka Jer Ka Thoh- Khasi Naming Ceremony
Ka Poikha Poiman- Khasi Marriage Ceremony
Ka Ïap Ka Duh)- Cremation and last rites of the deceased.
The Khasi identity is tightly bound to the traditional faith, and the social systems, traditional forms of governance, custodianship and kinship all sprout from its foundations. Niam Khasi-Niamtre is a spirituality, philosophy, a way of life, guided by Truth – it leads, and it stands above all. A single word of Truth is greater than all untruths put together.
“Ieng ka Hok ka Shi Kyntien khyllem ka Pop Shi Byllien” (Motto of Ka Sengbah Nongshat Nongkheiñ Hynniewskum Hynñiewtrep)
“To revive the true faith of our forefathers; to understand the true meaning of conscience and truth as handed down by them, which were being neglected, misled and blinded by the teachings of foreigners”. 3
The need to protect and preserve the ancient yet timeless wisdom and knowledge of the land led to the formation of the Seng Khasi on November 23rd, 1899 by sixteen young Khasi men, all under the age of thirty. The Khasi way of life was being uprooted and replaced at a rapid rate by the imperialists who had gained control of most of the land by the latter half of the 19th century. Initially called ‘Khasi Young Men’s Association’ it took shape as the custodians and protectors of Khasi religion and culture under the guidance and mentorship of U Jeebon Roy Mairom, a pioneer, social reformer and spiritualist, described by many as the “Father of Modern Khasis”.
The Seng Khasi movement is driven not only by the aim to protect and preserve ones roots but also to progress with them intact. The founders wished to instill a true sense of pride in the Khasis, for their unique way of life and worship. They foresaw that this would bring confidence, clarity and strength to the lives of future generations. It is said that a divine thread connects the culture, traditions and values that have developed over centuries. The sixteen understood that for the religion to survive, and for peaceful and positive growth to be achieved, then this thread must be kept intact. The strength and resilience of Seng Khasi is drawn from this belief.
The last century saw a large decline in the population of Niam Khasi-Niamtre faithful. The most significant factor contributing to this fall is the proselytisation that occurred with the advent of Christianity in these hills. It began in the mid 19th century, when the British colonists ruled India and it flourished under their aegis. It continues to be seen in present times. High rates of conversion were achieved using this method in conjunction with a control over education. Education leads to material betterment in any society and in this field there was a clear monopoly. Not only was there a monopoly, a cap was kept on the level of education given. The motive for imparting education, in the early years, was to teach the natives how to read the holy book of the colonial masters.
Efforts by Seng Khasi to establish schools of their own met several hurdles. Funding was often denied unless their curriculum conformed to the ideology of the mission schools. A circular written by the first Seng Khasi Chairman, U Rash Mohon Roy Nongrum, decrying the bias in allocation of funds even reached the hands of Mahatma Gandhi, who published the circular in his magazine ‘Harijan’ and concluded with this statement:
“If what is stated here is true, it enforces the argument often advanced by me that Christian missionary effort has been favoured by the ruling power. But I advertise the circular not for the sake of emphasising my argument. I do so in order to ventilate the grievance of the Secretary of the school. Surely he has every right to object to teaching proselytising literature prepared by the missionaries. It should be remembered that the School has been in receipt of a grant from the Government. It is not clear why the question of the missionary books has now cropped up. It is hoped that the school will not be deprived of the grant of the Secretary’s very reasonable objection ”. 4
(Mahatma Gandhi, Harijan Magazine, 9th March, 1940)
As proselytisation through education progressed swiftly, the aspirations of those who had converted began to also change quickly. Khasi beliefs were deemed backward and a harsh rejection of the traditional culture and its values set in. This seed planted in the days of divide and rule has not fully withered, but the work of Seng Khasi and its sister organisations has awakened younger generations to the beauty of their ancestral faith and its universal wisdom. Self discovery through the prism of ones own culture has magnified the uniqueness as well as revealed similarities with other cultures in the subcontinent, diminishing significantly the sense of alienation and distance from fellow countrymen.
Abandonment of the traditional faith was also caused by the de-stabilisation of the unique traditional family structure, with the arrival of external forces of change and the onset of urbanisation. In the traditional set up, the eldest uncle (U Kñi Rangbah), is the caretaker, the mediator of the family, and the youngest daughter (Ka Khatduh) is the custodian of family property. The ancestral home is a place that upholds the sanctity of the lineage. It is in this home that all important family matters are discussed and religious ceremonies performed. As families relocated, maintaining this system posed many challenges, subsequently leading to a breakdown in the completion of important rites, rituals and ceremonies. This caused a withering in spirituality and in the understanding of the deeper meanings within the teachings of the religion.
By the late 1960’s, as calls for statehood started to resound, so too did a non-secular political ideology. A Christian state was envisioned by some in the chambers of power. A political wave energised by religious fervour disregarded the sentiments of the population who still belonged to the indigenous faith of the land. Even today, it is not uncommon to find articles and letters in local newspapers projecting and claiming Meghalaya as a Christian state, while simultaneously defending the need to keep India secular and decrying anyone or anything that may suggest otherwise. The existence and growth of Seng Khasi always serves as a gentle reminder that there is a religion born of this land that carries a universal ethos and fosters co-existence. This was eloquently described by an outstanding leader of Seng Khasi, U Hipshon Roy Kharshiing: “The world of religions is a garden of flowers and each religion with all its settings blooms with all its beauty and fragrance and each adds to the beauty and glory of the whole garden. Theirs is to supplement and theirs is not to supplant”.
The last 122 years have seen active steps taken by the Seng Khasi to address these issues.
Several working bodies and committees have been formed over the years that have all helped to keep the movement and its spirit alive. Today there are over three hundred branches of Seng Khasi in the Khasi Hills. In the field of education a great milestone was achieved this year as The Seng Khasi Higher Secondary School celebrated its centenary.
The working bodies of the Seng Khasi, armed with greater spiritual understanding and organisational power, have been able to revive ancient rituals and mass movements.
Amongst the most successful and powerful of revivals is the annual pilgrimage to the sanctum sanctorum at the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng (Kiew Pyneh Rngiew), held on every first Sunday of Ferbruary. On June 18th, 1989, U H. Onderson. Mawrie, who was president of Seng Khihlang at the time, wrote a letter urging U Dipshon L. Nongbri to conduct a survey of the summit of Lum Sohpetbneng, for the purpose of holding a gathering there for the Niam Khasi Niamtre faithful. Thus began the process of securing the sacred hill. Respected Seng Khasi elder, U Sumar Sing Sawian, one of the greatest Khasi minds, through his writings, brought great clarity to the origins of the faith which are found in the legend of this sacred hill. With the combined efforts of these individuals in particular and countless other, who cant all be named here, the first pilgrimage was held on 20th February, 2000. Thousands climbed to the top of Lum Sohpetbneng on that day and now even greater numbers continue to participate, growing with each passing year. The pilgrimage has created an awakening that has strengthened the spirituality of the followers of Niam Khasi Niamtre. With Lum Sohpetbneng secure under the guardianship of Seng Khasi, the indigenous religion ‘Niam Khasi-Niamtre’ it can be safely said, will never be lost.
The Seng Khasi and its sister organisations follow a philosophy of preservation through practice. The fruits of which are showing in the growing participation in religious festivals. ‘Shad Suk Mynsiem’ (Dance of the Joyful Hearts), a spring dance festival held across the Khasi hills, is witnessing increasing numbers of participants on the grassy fields. The dance is a form of public worship where peaceful souls exhibit love for their culture and offer gratitude to the Almighty. Behdeiñkhlam and Chad Sukra, organised by Seiñ Raij (a socio-religious organisation focussed on the spirtual awakening and preservation of the traditional faith in the Jaintia Hills region) are celebrated by thousands. Indigenous festivals banned by the British and kept supressed after they departed are steadily being revived.
Beginning in the late 70’s, a mass contact programme was initiated by Seng Khasi. Dynamic and fearless leaders such as Hipshon Roy Kharshiing, H.O. Mawrie, and R.T. Rymbai, toured all over the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, lecturing about the ideology of Seng Khasi and the philosophy of the traditional faith. They wanted to instill a sense of pride in religious identity by awakening the people to the wisdom and beauty of the ancestral faith. In 1981, they founded Seng Khihlang (The United Endeavour Society), a branch of Seng Khasi which comprises of members of Seiñ Raij too. Two invaluable pieces of literature on Khasi religion, traditions and the history of Seng Khasi were commissioned by its Executive Committee: ‘Where Lies the Soul of our Race’ and ‘The Essence of Khasi Religion’. Another congregation aimed at inspiring and educating the future generations is Ka Lympung ki Khynnah (a gathering of Seng Khasi and Seiñ Raij youth). Ka Sengbah U Nongshat Nongkheiñ Hynñiewskum Hynñiewtrep (Grand Organisation of Diviners) was also born out of the mother organisation and their contribution in keeping the religion alive especially in the rural areas is outstanding. The social and spiritual aspects of the ancestral faith, deeply entrenched in the teachings of its forebears, have stayed relevant to each generation due to such congregations. All these branches stem from the mother, Seng Khasi Kmie, and each one strives towards the same goal, encapsulated in the slogan “Im Ka Niam, Im Ka Jaitbynriew”, which carries the message that if the religion survives, so too will the Khasi.
“The founders of the Seng Khasi, however were firm in their resolution and steadfast in their aims and objectives. So also, in their thoughts, words and deeds. They took up the leadership with an amazing unique statesmanship to establish the organisation in a humble way. They had in their simplicity, a deep concern for the future of the Khasi race – its traditional faith, its social structure, its moral ethics; its cultural heritage and highest of all ‘Human Right’ as a Khasi”. 5
Inspired and guided by the great work laid down by those who have come before, a revival grows energised by a positive philosophy directed at awakening the spiritual truth of the land. The internal strength drawn from this has brought spiritual upliftment and community progress. Niam Khasi Niamtre, will continue to bloom in a harmonious garden of flowers, growing in strength with the spirit of Mother India. Khasi spiritual knowledge is gaining recognition as a treasure of humanity and the Seng Khasi momentum set into motion on November 23rd, 1899 grows stronger into the future.

Always take heed
O ye elders, you the youths,
All around keep vigil,
The wisdom of forebears,
Remain visible like the Sun
For Truth to ever prevail;
Cling to the Roots
Blessings from Divine Creator would shower (Poem by Sumar Sing Sawian)
The article was scripted and compiled in consultation with: Sumar Sing Sawian (Author and Scholar on Khasi Culture), Paia B. Synrem (Secretary, Seng Khasi Literary Committee) and elders of Seng Khasi (Kmie).
Bibliography

  1. H.O. Mawrie: “The Essence of The Khasi Religion”. 1981 Edition.
  2. H.O. Mawrie: “The Khasi Milieu”.
    [Translation of moral commandment in “Ka Niam ki Khasi”- Sib Charan Roy Sawian.
  3. Introduction. Pg 11]
  4. Seng Khasi Series No. 2: “Where Lies the Soul of Our Race”.
    Selections from the Sneng Khasi English Supplements on Khasi Culture and Religion. 1982. Page 11.
  5. Seng Khasi Series No. 2: “Where Lies the Soul of our Race”. Selections from the Sneng Khasi English Supplements on Khasi Culture and Religion, Page 17.
  6. Sweetymon Rynjah- “The Living Patriotism: A Khasi Thought” Seng Khasi Centenary Celebration Souvenir. (1899-1999). Page 126.
Hammarsing L Kharhmar, President of ‘Ka Tbian Ki Sur Hara’, a Performing Arts School of Seng Khasi (Kmie)

Ramakrishna as Example, Guide and Presence

I am a Western secular adherent or aspirant, and my talk was based on reading the many accounts of Ramakrishna. In addition, I want to comment on the presence of Ramakrishna which is part of my meditative practice and everyday life. We have many written accounts but we each only have our own everyday experience.
I find that the written and the everyday experiences penetrate each other. Without the written, the everyday loses its context, substance and logic. But without the everyday, the written is more abstract and less meaningful. Both are necessary. I suggest that one can’t meditate using the process of the Ramakrishna tradition without being exposed to his life in whatever detail makes the most sense to the aspirant.
For the non-Hindu Westerner, however, there are two aspects of his life that are puzzling: his devotion to Kali, and his status as an avatar. His devotion to Kali is the source of his understanding of himself and of his realisation of himself as God in a man’s body. His devotion explains many if not all of his actions and the basis of his discrimination. Was this devotion necessary for him? Scholars may debate this. I can say that I had a powerful very brief moment at Dakshineswar walking by statue, which had a resonance unlike other holy objects at the compound. As for his status as an avatar, I believe this is specific to Indian tradition and foreign to Westerners, and perhaps to those in some other countries with meditative traditions. For example, Tibetans (and Buddhists in general) have a belief in incarnation but not in god in man in a repeated way. One could say that the role of an avatar is to induce devotion and help mankind become more spiritual. Christianity thinks of Jesus in this way but would not use the word avatar to characterize him. These two aspects of Ramakrishna are therefore somewhat alien and perhaps outside the core of his meaning for Western aspirants.
For me Ramakrishna has three roles: an example, a guide, and a presence. Let me discuss these in turn.
I will start with Ramakrishna as an example. To illustrate this, we can use four of his well-known characteristics, his austerity, his rejection of false reasons for devotion, his openness to all paths to God and his personal renunciation.
As for austerity, there are many stories. He spent six months in thrall being fed by an itinerant monk, who struggled to relax him enough to stuff some food in his mouth by force. Ramakrishna experienced long periods of nirvikalpa samadhi. And he went through a range of rituals over twelve years (Tantric, Vedantic, Vaishnaic and Islamic) leading to extraordinary experiences.
He also rejected false reasons for devotion. First, he had a visceral opposition to anyone who came to him seeking siddhis and used them as a test. In a well-known story about Narendra, Ramakrishna asked whether he was interested in powers or God and was pleased to hear that Narendra was focused on God only, a good and right answer. Finally, Ramakrishna was averse to anyone trying to fulfill a wish through him. He could feel the wish in any gift he was offered and rejected it.
Regarding his catholic attitude towards the path to God realization, he was markedly inclusive. His path included the realisation of God through Kali, the practice of rituals in a wide variety of spiritual traditions. He experienced Jesus and Buddha and sensed the location of Chaitanya’s temple under water. My guess is that if something else had come up, he would probably have tried that too.
Last, he strengthened his personal character through renunciation. He was able to attach his mind to whatever was apparent to him at a particular moment. He therefore focused on his own personal achievement as an individual.
Next, Ramakrishna is a guide. He was devoted to anyone who was devoted and provided direction for future aspirants.
As for his openness to different degrees of devotion, there are three examples ranging from the most disorganized to the most organized individual. The most disorganized was Girish Chandra Ghosh, an actor in Calcutta who came to see Ramakrishna wanting to build a spiritual practice.
Girish asked Ramakrishna: what should I do? Ramakrishna told him to just keep doing what he was doing and think of God in the morning and at night. Girish said – I can’t do that, my schedule doesn’t allow me to have a morning and a night practice. So Ramakrishna said okay, how about thinking about God when you eat and when you go to bed; and Girish said, I’m sorry I can’t do that, I eat at different times and I sleep at different times, so it’s too confusing for me. Ramakrishna then said just give me your power of attorney, basically meaning that he himself would be the way. And that worked. Girish said alright – you’ll just take over my life.
Then, moving up in terms of an organized life there is the example of Hriday, his cousin and factotum. Hriday was not known to be a spiritual person but the more time he spent with Ramakrishna, the more interested he became in ecstasy. Ramakrishna put him off repeatedly, saying – serving me is all you need. But Hriday was persistent, and one night Ramakrishna went out to meditate and Hriday followed him. Hriday looked at Ramakrishna and saw that he was luminous. He then looked at his own body and saw that it too was luminous. This caused him to panic and he started yelling. Ramakrishna became upset with him because Hriday might wake everybody. In one telling of this story, Ramakrishna rubbed Hriday’s chest to calm him down, reducing the pain of the ecstasy he was feeling.
Finally, an example of the most organized spiritual aspirant is Gopal Ma, an elderly woman who lived in Kamarhati near Calcutta and worshipped Gopala – Krishna as a child. Gopal Ma had become attached to Ramakrishna and one night had a vision of him. The next day Gopala appeared at her house, and for two months she played with him in delight. The young god had been manifested by Ramakrishna. After their sojourn together, Gopal Ma and Gopala went to visit Ramakrishna and she saw Gopala enter into Ramakrishna’s body and come back out. Gopala then vanished, and Ramakrishna told Gopal Ma that her sadhana had been completed. She didn’t need to repeat japa any more and so on. She was upset about that but he was quite clear.
Thus, there is the spectrum from Ghosh through Hriday to Gopal Ma in terms of daily discipline and God focus. Ramakrishna was there for each one of them in a different way. I think that is important because when you think of him as a guide you need to understand that he is there for you in the same way, no matter what your life may be at a particular moment.
Also associated with Ramakrishna as a guide are two lists of directions – in a sense – for life and meditation – the eight tethers and the five moods. The eight tethers – to be conquered – have been listed in several ways, but a composite includes: shame, hatred, fear, pride, good conduct, ego, fame, hesitation, secretiveness, and grief. When you read the list, you see that it comprises what you face in meditation. The five moods are part of the Vaishnava tradition: peace, parenting, the role of a lover, friendship, and being a servant. These moods are obviously not be conquered but describe the emotional tenor of the mind, singly or in combination, when you are meditating at any particular moment.
In contrast to Ramakrishna as an example or a guide, his role as a presence is perhaps more straightforward since it involves current personal experience. In an interesting way, he is a constant in a calm, attractive way that induces trust and acceptance in meditation. He can also be present exterior to meditation, an awareness that is however inextricably linked to meditation itself. For me the meditation creates the presence that can be called upon in daily non-meditative life, but his presence can also be involuntary.
Ramakrishna talked about his bite as like a cobra, not a non-poisonous snake. I think that is a good metaphor for his insertion into a particular life. It’s not something you can get better from. You are either bitten or you are not. There is no half-way.
Finally, I would like to present some valuable instruction that exists on a panel outside Ramakrishna’s room at Dakshineswar, which you have likely also seen. The panel is called Om Tat Sat – the absolute truth. I don’t know who wrote this panel, but probably not Ramakrishna, although he conceivably inspired it. The panel contains a list of principles in threes. I will present them in order:
In human life we should not have: embarrassment, pride and fear; worth pride: compassion for living beings, respect for elders, love for God; worth respect: love for justice, humility, equanimity; worth praise: helpful to others, good behavior, good company; worth happiness: beauty, simplicity, freedom; worth love: knowledge, wisdom, dispassion;
worth disgust: saying ill of others, backstabbing behavior, ingratitude; temporary: wealth, life, youth; things that will certainly happen: disease, loss, death; deliver us from: lust, anger, greed; things we should give: kind words, forgiveness, good treatment to others; worth defending: truth, friendship, self control; worth removing: sloth, overactivity, decadence; worth suspicion: sycophancy, deception, untested friendship; worth wishing for: health, positive disposition, good character; worth interacting and living with: a saint, good books, good thoughts; scarce things: humanity, desire for higher goals, and the blessings of great men; worth praying for: respect for god, love, peace.

Prof Gordon Walker, is Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Group at the Cox School of Business at SMU. His executive training programs include senior management seminars at SMU, the Wharton School, Yale University and INSEAD. He has been listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World. He was named among the best Business Policy teachers in the U.S. in 1994 and 1998 by Business Week magazine and received the President’s University Teaching Award in 1999 at SMU. He is closely associated with the Vedanta Society, Providence.

To Be Or Not To Be

Eternity by Shubhojit

Ironically the song “Be yourself”, is sung by a group called “Audioslave”. The track released in 2005, has great emotional appeal and was loved by many, including both my children; the elder one singing it very well and with great passion. Its repeated exhortation is “be yourself, is all that you can do” even though one maybe “separate or united, healthy or insane” and even if one “may win or lose”. It is an assertation of individuality. Modernity places great value on individuality and freedom of choice. But established societies value conformity, often going out of their way to stamp out individuality, frequently seeing it as something akin to a rebellion.
It would be worthwhile to point out that the path of individuality came to be better defined, since the European Age of Reason or Enlightenment (1685 to 1815). Its main tenet called rationalism, emphasized the idea that we should use reason to acquire knowledge, as opposed to the old thought that the scriptures and the Church, were the only fountainheads of facts. It is in this era that philosophy and science (together with its close cousin: technology), replaced religion or the “word of God” from its pivotal position in society. “God is dead. God remains dead. We have killed him, ” wrote Fredrich Nietzsche a few decades later. It would not be unfair to say that it was this shift of emphasis on reason as opposed to that on belief, that heralded the Industrial Revolution (1760 to 1840 according to Arnold Toynbee) as also the American Revolution (1765-83) and the French Revolution (1789-90). This shift is best symbolised in the statement of Rene Descartes who said ‘I think, therefore I am.”
The political and lifestyle changes brought about by this movement were many: including the emergence of the nuclear family, the rise of large factories and cities, the emphasis on individuals’ political rights and liberty, the increased mobility of people due to mechanized transport and the spread of diverse ideas aided by the invention of the printing press. But in short what this did was, to place the individual at the forefront of society, freeing him from the ages-old subservience to feudal structures, monarchy and church. Man, now became not just the master of his fate, but also the captain of his soul: free to decide on his career, on where to live, openly voice his world view, reason about religion and even elect a government of his choice.
Individualism got a major boost from this period onwards and a number of great discoveries and inventions are the result of individual effort and creativity. Ayn Rand is quoted to have said: “Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.” But if you notice all the invention she mentions, happened in and around this period.
Individuality though bestowing upon man (or a woman), great freedom and creativity, nevertheless places inordinate responsibility on the person. It is certainly not easy being an individual. More than a century ago the poet A E Housman wrote a poem, “The Laws of God and the Laws of Man” affirming the same message, in the words “let God and man decree Laws for themselves and not for me; And if my ways are not as theirs Let them mind their own affairs.” But even he confessed to being “a stranger and afraid. In a world I never made”. Being the master of your fate is a lonely business, considering the fact that every choice has to be made by oneself. One is also left to face the music alone, if one chooses unwisely. In a fast-changing world that we live in today, it is not easy to make decisions and always make the right ones. And with globalization offering a mind-boggling array of careers, services, options and goods, choosing itself takes a lot of our energy and time.
For the common man, individuality largely means a freedom of choice. But is choice always such a good thing, and is choice necessarily good for individuals, in all societies? One would be inclined to say yes. But Professor Sheena Iyengar who did a comprehensive study on how choice affects outcome, points out that this is not the case. She says, “Americans tend to believe that they have reached some sort of pinnacle in the way they practice choice. They think that choice as seen through the American lens best fulfills an innate and universal desire for choice in all humans. Unfortunately, these beliefs are based on assumptions, that don’t always hold true, in many countries and many cultures. At times they don’t even hold true at America’s borders.” Her study found that “the assumption that we do best when the individual self chooses, only holds true when that self is clearly divided from others” such as the American populace is. But when it came to first generation Asian Americans her study brought forth a surprise. It demonstrated that in closely knit Asian communities where “two or more individuals see their choices and outcomes as intimately connected, then they may amplify one another’s success by turning choosing into a collective act. To insist that they choose independently might actually compromise both their performance and their relationship.” Yet, as she points out, “that is exactly what the American paradigm demands. It leaves little room for interdependence or an acknowledgement of individual fallibility. It requires that everyone treat choice as a private and self-defining act. People who have grown up in such a paradigm might find it motivating, but it is a mistake to assume that everyone thrives under the pressure of choosing alone.” In other words, assuming that mere individuality is responsible for success universally is a mistake.
Sadly, individuality also carries with it a heavy psychological cost. Ernest Hemingway once said, “happiness in educated people is the rarest thing I know” Education and individuality are closely connected. It is the educated person who is the most discerning and judgmental as far as relationships are concerned. It is thus quite common for the educated westerner to be unhappy in most relationship and continually seek newer ones. The high divorce rates in the West are proof of that. Individuality in a way, cuts us off from other people, making us often feel lonely and depressed. In more advanced nations, where individuality is worshipped, loneliness and depression are rampant. According to a 2017 report by Jo Cox commission on loneliness, Britain suffers a serious problem with loneliness, with more than nine million people often or always feeling lonely. The very next year the country saw the appointment of a minister for loneliness. In February this year, Japan too appointed a minister of loneliness, in a bid to tackle the rising rate of suicides. According to Word Health Organization’s earlier estimates depression was to have become the second biggest disease in the world, by last year itself.
In India we are still torn between tradition and individuality. This struggle happens in many parts of the world but is somewhat more obvious if one happens to live in India and especially in the Northern and North Eastern part. The conflict appears to be between development and retaining one’s cultural identity. People on one hand desire the latest lifestyle changing goodies that capitalistic society brings to their door but at the same time are not comfortable stepping outside the threshold of tradition. The struggle appears in my forms. It can be seen as a struggle between individualism and tribalism, or between egalitarianism and capitalistic hierarchy, between modernity and conformity, and between social stability and progress. It is a conflict which is quite visibly tearing societies apart but what is often missed is the psychological conflict that lies at the heart of most human beings. It is apparent in a young tribal woman who wears skin tight jeans, has her hair dyed blond and yet is part of the agitation demanding steps to preserve their ancient culture. It was equally mystifying to see, during the ongoing farmers agitation, one of my countrymen driving a BMW SUV to the protest site and joining protestors, demanding that the old socialist MSP system be not just retained but reinforced. On another level it is also quite apparent in the city bred tourist looking to destress by spending his holidays in a completely rural setting. To borrow Randy Newman’s words, “it a jungle out there” with ideas and counter ideas co existing in conflict.
If this article leaves you confused about the benefits and dangers of being individualistic, I am truly sorry. As with most problems in life there are no easy answers to this dilemma. I think the only practical solution emerges through experience as we walk with awareness on this confusing road to individuality. And as with everything we do it is important that we retain our balance and resist the temptation to be overly swayed by either side.
To begin with we could start our journey by listening to Rudyard Kipling who said: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
And perhaps end in agreement with Swami Vivekananda who said:
“Some people are so afraid of losing their individuality. Wouldn’t it be better for the pig to lose his pig-individuality if he can become God? Yes. But the poor pig does not think so at the time. Which state is my individuality? When I was a baby sprawling on the floor trying to swallow my thumb? Was that the individuality I should be sorry to lose? Fifty years hence I shall look upon this present state and laugh, just as I now look upon the baby state. Which of these individualities shall I keep?”
I began this piece by referring to a popular sad song and would like to end it on a happier note with a bit of a laugh. So here it goes:
Descartes went to McDonalds to buy a Big Mac. The cashier asked if he wanted fries with it. He replied “I think not.” And poof, he disappeared.

Individuality though bestowing upon man (or a woman), great freedom and creativity, nevertheless places inordinate responsibility on the person. It is certainly not easy being an individual. More than a century ago the poet AE Housman wrote a poem, “The Laws of God and the Laws of Man “affirming the same message, in the words “let God and man decree Laws for themselves and not for me; And if my ways are not as theirs Let them mind their own affairs.” But even he confessed to being “a stranger and afraid. In a world I never made”. Being the master of your fate is a lonely business, considering the fact that every choice has to be made by oneself. One is also left to face the music alone, if one chooses unwisely. In a fast-changing world that we live in today, it is not easy to make decisions and always make the right ones. And with globalization offering a mind-boggling array of careers, services, options and goods, choosing itself takes a lot of our energy and time.
For the common man, individuality largely means a freedom of choice. But is choice always such a good thing, and is choice necessarily good for individuals, in all societies? One would be inclined to say yes. But Professor Sheena Iyengar who did a comprehensive study on how choice affects outcome, points out that this is not the case. She says, “Americans tend to believe that they have reached some sort of pinnacle in the way they practice choice. They think that choice as seen through the American lens best fulfills an innate and universal desire for choice in all humans. Unfortunately, these beliefs are based on assumptions, that don’t always hold true, in many countries and many cultures. At times they don’t even hold true at America’s borders.” Her study found that “the assumption that we do best when the individual self chooses, only holds true when that self is clearly divided from others” such as the American populace is. But when it came to first generation Asian Americans her study brought forth a surprise. It demonstrated that in closely knit Asian communities where “two or more individuals see their choices and outcomes as intimately connected, then they may amplify one another’s success by turning choosing into a collective act. To insist that they choose independently might actually compromise both their performance and their relationship.” Yet, as she points out, “that is exactly what the American paradigm demands. It leaves little room for interdependence or an acknowledgement of individual fallibility. It requires that everyone treat choice as a private and self-defining act. People who have grown up in such a paradigm might find it motivating, but it is a mistake to assume that everyone thrives under the pressure of choosing alone.” In other words, assuming that mere individuality is responsible for success universally is a mistake.
Sadly, individuality also carries with it a heavy psychological cost. Ernest Hemingway once said, “happiness in educated people is the rarest thing I know” Education and individuality are closely connected. It is the educated person who is the most discerning and judgmental as far as relationships are concerned. It is thus quite common for the educated westerner to be unhappy in most relationship and continually seek newer ones. The high divorce rates in the West are proof of that. Individuality in a way, cuts us off from other people, making us often feel lonely and depressed. In more advanced nations, where individuality is worshipped, loneliness and depression are rampant. According to a 2017 report by Jo Cox commission on loneliness, Britain suffers a serious problem with loneliness, with more than nine million people often or always feeling lonely. The very next year the country saw the appointment of a minister for loneliness. In February this year, Japan too appointed a minister of loneliness, in a bid to tackle the rising rate of suicides. According to Word Health Organization’s earlier estimates depression was to have become the second biggest disease in the world, by last year itself.
In India we are still torn between tradition and individuality. This struggle happens in many parts of the world but is somewhat more obvious if one happens to live in India and especially in the Northern and North Eastern part. The conflict appears to be between development and retaining one’s cultural identity. People on one hand desire the latest lifestyle changing goodies that capitalistic society brings to their door but at the same time are not comfortable stepping outside the threshold of tradition. The struggle appears in my forms. It can be seen as a struggle between individualism and tribalism, or between egalitarianism and capitalistic hierarchy, between modernity and conformity, and between social stability and progress. It is a conflict which is quite visibly tearing societies apart but what is often missed is the psychological conflict that lies at the heart of most human beings. It is apparent in a young tribal woman who wears skin tight jeans, has her hair dyed blond and yet is part of the agitation demanding steps to preserve their ancient culture. It was equally mystifying to see, during the ongoing farmers agitation, one of my countrymen driving a BMW SUV to the protest site and joining protestors, demanding that the old socialist MSP system be not just retained but reinforced. On another level it is also quite apparent in the city bred tourist looking to destress by spending his holidays in a completely rural setting. To borrow Randy Newman’s words, “it a jungle out there” with ideas and counter ideas co existing in conflict.
If this article leaves you confused about the benefits and dangers of being individualistic, I am truly sorry. As with most problems in life there are no easy answers to this dilemma. I think the only practical solution emerges through experience as we walk with awareness on this confusing road to individuality. And as with everything we do it is important that we retain our balance and resist the temptation to be overly swayed by either side.
To begin with we could start our journey by listening to Rudyard Kipling who said: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
And perhaps end in agreement with Swami Vivekananda who said:
“Some people are so afraid of losing their individuality. Wouldn’t it be better for the pig to lose his pig-individuality if he can become God? Yes. But the poor pig does not think so at the time. Which state is my individuality? When I was a baby sprawling on the floor trying to swallow my thumb? Was that the individuality I should be sorry to lose? Fifty years hence I shall look upon this present state and laugh, just as I now look upon the baby state. Which of these individualities shall I keep?”
I began this piece by referring to a popular if sad song and would like to end it on a happier note with a bit of a laugh. So here goes:
Descartes went to McDonalds to buy a Big Mac. The cashier asked if he wanted fries with it. He replied “I think not.” And poof, he disappeared.

Paramjit Bakhshi has worn many hats. Starting out at the National Defence Academy, Pune which he had to leave, after two years training on account of an illness, he has been a tea planter, a consultant, an entrepreneur. He also writes poems, columns and short stories.

The Goddess who came to live with Mankind Illustrations:

On a certain day, when the lads came as usual to the familiar rendezvous, they were surprised to see, sitting on the top of the rock, a fair young girl watching them silently and wistfully. The children, being superstitious, took fright at sight of her and ran in terror to Mylliem, their village, leaving the cattle to shift for themselves. When they told their news, the whole village was roused and men quickly gathered to the public meeting-place to hold a consultation. They decided to go and see for themselves if the apparition seen by the children was a real live child, or if they had been deluded by some spell or enchantment. Under the guidance of the lads, they hurried to the place on the hill where the rock stood, and there, as the boys had stated, sat a fair and beautiful child.

The clothes worn by the little girl were far richer than any worn by their own women-folk, so they judged that she belonged to some rich family, and she was altogether so lovely that the men gazed open-mouthed at her, dazzled by her beauty. Their sense of chivalry soon asserted itself, however, and they began to devise plans to rescue the maiden from her perilous position. To climb up the face of that steep rock was an impossible feat; so they called to her, but she would not answer; they made signs for her to descend, but she did not stir, and the men felt baffled and perplexed.

Chief among the rescuers was a man called U Mylliem Ngap, who was remarkable for his sagacity and courage. When he saw that the child refused to be coaxed, he attributed it to her fear to venture unaided down that steep and slippery rock. So he sent some of his comrades to the jungle to cut down some bamboos, which he joined together and made into a pole long enough to reach the top of the rock. Then he beckoned to the child to take hold of it, but she sat on unmoved.

By this time the day was beginning to wane, yet the child did not stir and the rescuers were growing desperate. To leave her to her fate on that impregnable rock would be little less than cold-blooded murder, for nothing but death awaited her. They began to lament loudly, as people lament when mourning for their dead, but the child sat on in the same indifferent attitude

Just then U Mylliem Ngap noticed a tuft of wild flowers growing near the cave, and he quickly gathered a bunch and fastened it to the end of the long pole and held it up to the maiden’s view. The moment she saw the flowers, she gave a cry of delight and held out her hand to take them. U Mylliem Ngap promptly lowered the pole and the child moved towards it, but before she could grasp the flowers the pole was again lowered; so, little by little, step by step, as the men watched with bated breath, the little maid reached the ground in safety.

U Mylliem Ngap, with general consent, constituted himself her champion. He called her “Pah Syntiew”, which means “Lured by Flowers”, for her name and her origin were unknown. He took her to his own home and adopted her as his own daughter, cherishing her with fondness and affection, which the child fully requited.

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.

Ka Jingwan Iuhkjat U Swami Vivekananda Sha Shillong

U nongthoh poetry ba radbah bad ba pawnam ka ri India u Rabindranath Tagore u la ai ka jingim ba shijunom ïa ka jing itynnad bad jing pyniapmat ka jaka jong u Lumshyllong bad ka sor bah jong u ha ka poetry ba u la thoh ha u snem 1928-29 kaba kyrteng ‘Ka Shesher Kabita’. Une u nongthoh poetry bad ruh u ba dei u riew khraw pyrkhat ula juh wan iuh kjat teng ha kane ka jaka rilum, ka sor Shillong ha u snem 1919 bad ula sah la kumba lai taiew eiei, bad ruh ha u snem 1923 u la wan poi biang bad u la sah la kumba ar bnai eiei. Hynrei ha shuwa jong kane ka jing wan iuh kjat u ne u Nongthoh bad riew khraw pyrkhat sha kane ka jaka ruh, ha u snem 1901 uwei na ki riew khraw ka Ri bad u ba dei ruh u riew ieid ri bad Riew khraw pyrkhat u ba baroh shityllup ka sla pyrthei ka ithuh bad ka burom, uta u dei U Swami Vivekananda, u ba la wan ban kham pyn kyntang shuh shuh ïa kane ka khyndew ba kyntang jong ka nongbah Shillong da kaba u la wan iuhkjat ha kane ka sorbah ha u snem 1901. Kane ka jaka kaba la shong ha pneh ka khasi bad ka jaintia hills (ha kaba mynshuwa la tip kum ka Assam, Northeastern province of India), ka sorbah ka la ju long bad kaba dang iai long ka jaka ki lum ki wah kaba don ka bor pynkoit pynkhiah bad ki briew na kylleng ki jaka ki ïa wan ban sah kai pyngngad, ban pyn jahthait ialade bad ruh ban wan ioh biang ïa ka jingkoit jingkhiah jong ki sha kane ka jaka; ki juh sngew tynnad eh ruh ban ïa lehkai golf ha ka madan ialeh kai Golf kaba pawnam ha ka pyrthei baroh kawei, kaba la plie lai snem ha shuwa ban wan iuhkjat une u riew khraw ka Ri u Swami Vivekananda, kaba don kumba khatphra tylli ki thliew ialeh kai golf, kaba la shna lane pynwandur ha kaba ïa syriem bad ka St. Andrew jong ka ri Scotland. Tharai lada u Swami Vivekanand un iohi ïa kane ka jaka ialehkai golf un da lah kynmaw tharai ïa ki por ba u ialeh kai golf ha ka sien ba nyngkong bad ka sien ba khatduh, kata ha Ridgely Manor ha Stone Ridge, kaba don ha New York ha u snem 1899; ha kata ka por ula ioh ban pynrung saw thliew ha ka hole-in-one on a par-four hole- ka badei ka “double eagle” ha ka Golf’s lexicon. 1
Ha u snem 1901, ka nongbah Shillong ka dang hap ha ka Administrative Headquarter jong ka Assam, kaba la pynlong pura kum ka Chief Commissioner’s province ha u snem 1874. Kaba don kumba 5000 feet eiei ka jing jrong na ka sla duriaw, kane ka nongbah ka long kawei na ki jaka jngohkai lane ka hill station kaba pawnam tam ha ri India. Ha ka jingsah kynmaw, Ki nong Bilat kiba lah juh sah teng ha kane ka nongbah ki shait khot ieid ïa ka “Ka Scotland Of The East” kata ka Ri Scotland Jong ka thain Mihngi, na ka jing itynnad jong kane ka jaka kaba lah ban pyn shohbiej ïa kino-kino ruh ki khmat bad ruh ka jing itynnad ki lum kiba ïa ker ba da ïa kane ka nongbah. Haduh u snem 1972 kane ka jaka ka la long ka nongbah jong ka Assam, bad hadien ba lah ioh ïa ka state lane ka Jylla Meghalaya ka sor Shillong ka la long ka nongbah jong kane ka Jylla bad ka Gauhati kaba la tip mynta kum ka Guwahati kala kylla long ka nongbah jong ka Jylla Assam.
KABA SDANG
U Swami Vivekananda hadien ba u la wanphai na ka jingleit jngoh kaba ar jong u sha ki ri Sepngi, ha u bnai Nohprah, 1900, u la pynlong tang kawei ka jing leit sha Mayavati ha shuwa ba un sdang ïa ka jingleit iaid jong u sha East Bengal (Bangladesh) bad sha Assam. Kane ka jingleit jngoh jong U Swami Vivekananda ka long ruh ka jingthrang ba shida jong u ban ioh leit ialam iala ka kmie sha ka pilgrimage, kum ka kamram bakhuid kaba u khun rangbah u hap ban pyndep kat kum ka jing bthah ha ka rukom ka lariti ki Hindu. Ha ka Shithi kaba u la thoh sha ka Mrs. Bull ha ka 26 tarik u kyllalyngkot, u la thoh – “La shem taiew ngan leit ialam iala ka kmie sha ka pilgrimage. Ka lah ban shim por da ki bnai ban pyndep ïa kane ka jing leit pilgrimage. Kane ka dei ka jingkwah kaba khraw bad kaba kyntang eh jong ka briew Hindu ka ba la sah wei briew. Baroh shi katta nga lah ai tang ki jing sngewsih bad jing diaw suda ïa ki briew lajong, nga dang pyrshang ba la kumno-kumno ngan lah ban pyndep ïa kane ka jingthrang jong i mei jongnga”. 2
Hynrei kane ka jingpyrshang jong U Swamiji kam lah satia ban urlong haduh ba ha ka 24 tarik u Lber, ka kmie jong U Swamiji ha ryngkat bad kiba ha iing jong u bad u Swami Sadananda (Gupta Maharaj, U nongbud) kila ïa mih na Calcutta ban leit iakynduh bad U Swamiji ha East Bengal, ban leit sha ka jing iaid pilgrimage. U Swamiji u la don lypa ha Dacca naduh ka 19 tarik u bnai Lber ha ryngkat bad katto katne ki nongbud jong u; kumba ngi la ioh ban tip hadien na ka dairy jong u Swami Brahmananda, U Swami Nityananda (Nitai) bad U Nirbhayananda (Kanai) ki dei kiba la don ryngkat bad U Swamiji ha Dacca. 3
U Swamiji u la ïa kynduh bad la ka kmie ha ryngkat ki ba haiing jong u ha Narayanganj bad kila ïa leit sum ha ka wah Brahmaputra ha Langalbandha, lane Langalbandh. {Footnote: Lah ban ong ba Dei ha Rajghat ha kaba U Swamiji Bad ki ba haiing jong u kila ïa shim bynta ha kane ka jing ïa sum ba kyntang ha kane ka wah. (T.Acharjee, Mahatirtha Langalbandh (Toma Prakashan, Dhaka, 2004, Page no. 85)} kaba don kumba khatar mile shaphang shathie phang mihngi jong ka Dacca, kane ka jing ïa leit sum ba kyntang, ka lah ban iadei lang bad ka sngi kha jong u Buddha ( 8 tarik u bnai Hindu ha ki bnai Lber-Iaiong), kaba hap ha ka 28 tarik u Lber 1901. Da ki Phew hajar ngut ki riew ngeit ka niam Hindu kila ïa wan ban shim bynta ha kane ka jing ïa sum ba kyntang kaba la tip kum ka Astami Snan, kaba juh long manla u snem ha kata ka sngi.
Hadien kata kila leit phai biang sha Dacca bad ha ka 5 tarik u Iaiong kila leit sha Chandranath kaba don hajan Chiitagong. Bad ha kaba khatduh sa sha Kamakhya Dham ha Guwahati. Baroh ar kine ki jaka ki don ka jing iadei bad ka Riewblei Sati, ka bynta ba shiteng jong u Blei shiva (Lord Shiva’s Consort). Bad kiba la ithuh kum ki Shakti peeth. Ha ka lynti iaid jongki sha Kamakhya, Baroh ki ïa sahmiet katto katne sngi ha Goalpara bad Gauhati. Don katto katne ruh ki jing ngeit ba U Swamiji Ha ka por ba u dang leit sha Kamakhya, U la leit iuh kjat ruh katto katne ki jaka kiba don ha rud ka wah Brahmaputra.
Shwa ba U Swamiji un pynkut ïa ka jingiaid jong u na Dacca bad leit sa sha Assam, U la sah kumba ar taiew eiei ban ïa kynduh ïa shibun bah ki briew bad ai shi bun bah ki jingkren, haduh ba Ka koit ka khiah jong u ka la sdang ban hiar stet. Ka long kaba eh bad kaba jynjar bha ïa U namar ba shuwa ba un leit sha Kamakhya ula sdang ban ioh sa ka jingpang dap shadem, kumba la tip kum ka asthama. Hamar hangta ula pyrkhat ban leit sha Shillong (Halor ka jing ai jingmut lang kiwei ruh), ha kaba u tharai ba un ioh jingiarap na ka jinghiar ha ka koit ka khiah jong u. 5 kumba ngi lah ban iohi, lehse ki don kiwei ruh ki daw kiba la pynurlong ïa U Swamiji ban wan iuh kjat sha Shillong.
Ka long kaba la tip shai ba, ban bud dien ïa ki Khnapkjat jong u Swami Vivekanand, ki shithi jong u ki long kiba la ai shibun bha ki jing iarap. Hynrei naduh ba u la mih na Dacca ha ka san tarik u Iaiong haduh ka khatar tarik u Jymmang ba u la leitphai sha Belur Math, hadien ba u la pyndep ïa ki jing leit iaid pilgrim jong u sha East Bengal bad Assam, u khlem la thoh iwei ruh i shithi. U Swamiji ula ioh ïa ka kyrteng kum U “Cyclonic Monk” na America, na ka daw ka jingiad iad lynti ba khlem shong thait jong u ha East Bengal lyngba ki lynti kiba ha khyndew bad ruh ki lynti sla um, haduh ba um shym la ioh por shuh tang ban thoh iwei ruh i shithi; kane ka jingai kyrteng kala pynskhem shisha ïa kane ka jingsnewtynnad shang jong u ha kine ki jaka. Na kane ka daw jong ka jing bym thoh shithi U Swamiji, khnang ban tip ïa ka tarik kaba u Swamiji ula wan iuh kjat sha Shillong ngi hap ban shim jing iarap bad pynshong nongrim halor ki katto katne ki tyllong jingtip kiba ngi don, kiba katto katne ki dei kiba shisha, katto katne ki dei tang ki jingtip hamsaia, bad katto katne kiba don tang ki sur ka jingshisha. Kaei kaba ngi lah ban tip bniah ka long ba, U Swamiji u ai jingtip shaphang ki arngut ki shipara kiba dei naka jait panda “pandas of shri Kamakhya Peetham” ryngkat bad ka shithi ai jing iaroh kaba la thoh ha ka khat Hynniew Tarik u Iaiong, kaba don ka jing thoh “Gauhati” ha jrong jong ka. Ka shithi ka ong kumne :
Nga dap da ka jing sngewkmen kaba khraw eh ban pynshihsa ïa ka jing jemnud, ka jing sngur mynsiem bad ka mynsiem ai jing iarap jong kine ki para, U Shivakanta bad U Lakshmikanta, kiba dei ki Pandas jong ka Shri Kamakhya Peetham. Ki dei ki briew kiba kloi ban iarap shibun bad ki bym juh thait ban ai jing shakri. Khlem da don kano kano ruh ka jing artatien nga tyrwa ïa ka jingkloi jong kine ki ar ngut sha ki Hindu kiba wan peit wan jngoh ïa kane ka jaka lehniam kaba kyntang.6
Kat kum ka jingtip ba ai u Khun ksiew jong U Lakshmikanta Panda uba dei ruh u khun jong u Ramdas Panda, U Niranjan Panda; u la ong ba U Swamiji ula sah la kumba lai sngi eiei ha iing jong kine ki para (Shivakanta bad Lakshmikanta).7 Kane ka lah ban long kaba shisha namar kat kum ka riti dustur, kito kiba wan iaid pilgrim ki shait sah haduh lai sngi ha Kamakhya ban pyndep ïa ki rukom leh niam leh rukom.8 U Niranjan panda u ong ruh ba U Swamiji u la wan sha Kamakhya lyngba ka Parbatipur, Amingaon bad Pandughat. Kane ka jing ong jong U Niranjan kam lah ban long satia kaba shisha, namar ka jing bymdon ka lynti rel kaba pura ban pyniasoh ïa ka East Bengal bad ka Asam ha kita ki por. U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki ba haiing jong u kila wan lyngba ka Chandranath shaduh Pandughat (hajan Kamakhya) Da ka kali Um (Steamer), da kaba iaid lyngba ïa shibun ki jaka ba syndah jong ka wah kiba don shaphang sepngi jongka Gauhati.* {Footnote: Ngim lah satia ban lap ïa ki dak ban pyn shisha ba U Swamiji u la wan lyngba ka Parbatipur (East Bengal). Ka Parbatipur ka jngai kumba hynriew phew mer shaphang sepngi jong ka Dhubri, Bad U Swamiji ula wan sha Gauhati lyngba kane ka Phang. Ka long kaba jngai bha na Ka wah Brahmaputra kaba dei ka lynti iaid jong ka Kali um(Steamer) jong u. Watla katta ruh ka Parbatipur kam dei ka jaka kaba la juh tip kum ka jaka Pilgrimage. Tharai ka lah dei ka Pandughat kata ka jaka rung jong U Swamiji sha Kamakhya (Shaphang sepngi jong ka Gauhati). Lada U la leit beit sha central Gauhati ka jaka rung jong u kan lah ban dei ka Sukreshwar Ghat, sha kham shakhmat shaphang Mihngi jong ka Pandughat.} Kat kum ka jingtip jong nga, ka lynti rel kaba nyngkong eh kaba pyniasoh ïa ka Parbatipur(East Bengal) bad ka Dhubri(Assam) la sdang ha ka 1902, Bad la pynjrong shaduh sha Amingaon ha u snem 1907.9 U Niranjan Panda ula pyrkhat tharai ba u Swamiji Ula wan sha Assam da ka Lynti Rel.
Ka long kaba suk eh ban ong ba u Swamiji ula ialam nyngkong eh sha Kamakhya ïa ki ba haiing jong u, khamtam na ka bynta ka kmie jong u. Hynrei ban ong pat ba kila poi mynno hangta ha jaka, ka long kaba eh. Na Pandughat ban poi sha Gauhati la hap iaid lyngba na Kamakhya. Ka shithi kaba u la thoh sha ki shipara ki panda, kaba dei artat tang kawei ka sakhi kaba ngi don, ka lah ban long ba u la thoh ïa ki hadien ba u la poi sha Gauhati. Lada dei ka shithi kaba la thoh na Kamakhya, te u la thoh hi hajrong jongka “kamakhya” lane “Kamakhya Peetham” ha ka jaka ba un thoh “Gauhati”. Ha kawei pat ka liang, ka Kamakhya ka don ha Gauhati. Tharai na kane ka daw ruh u lah ban thoh ha ka shithi “Gauhati”.
Lada ngi ngeit ba u la thoh ïa ka shithi na Kamakhya hi, da kaba thoh Gauhati hajrong jong ka, ngi lah ban ong ba lehse U Swamiji u lah ban poi ha Kamakhya ha ka khatsaw Tarik u Iaiong bad u la sah ha iing ki shipara ki Panda lai sngi bad ha ka khathynniew Tarik u Iaiong u la mih noh sha Gauhati. Ki briew barabor ki shait thoh shithi ha ka sngi ba ki mih na ka jaka ba ki sah, hadien ba ki lah ioh ban mad ïa ka jingleh sbun bad jing iarap na kata ka iing. Ha kane ka rukom ngi ruh ngi tharai ba U Swamiji ruh ula leh kumta hi. Ha u snem 2001, katba ka jing rakhe ïa ka jingdap shispah snem ka jingwan iuhkjat U Swamiji ha Kamakhya Ka dang iaid, ngi iohi ïa ki jingthoh ba la shim na ki shithi jong u kiba la tyngshain ha ki iing.
KA JING LEIT SHA SHILLONG
Hadien ba la sah bad la ai jingkren ha Gauhati kumba lai ne saw sngi, ha kaba la suba ba u la sah bad u wei u Brahmin uba kyrteng u Padmanath Bhattacharya u ba la tip ruh kum u Padmanath Saraswati, U Swamiji la mih noh ban leit sha Shillong ha ryngkat ka met kaba shitom. U Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das bad U Jatindra Nath Basu, kila wan ialam ïa U Swamiji sha Shillong ha ryngkat bad ki nongbud bad ki tiar ki tar jong u. Ha ryngkat Ka jing jngai kaba la don la kumba Hynriewphew saw mer lane shispah ar kilometers eiei. Ka la shim por ïa ki kumba ar sngi ban poi sha Shillong da ki kali kulai, bad kila ïa sah miet sha rud surok da kaba shna da ki iing trep ba shipor. U Kailash Chandra Das bad U Jatindra Nath Basu kila shu ïa iaid kjat narud-narud ka kali kulai naduh Gauhati shaduh sha Shillong. U Rai Saheb Kailash u la pdiang sngewbha ïa U Swamiji ha ka iing jong u kaba don ha Laban, baroh ki jait bynriew Bengali kiba sah marjan bad ki paralok jong u, kila ïa sah lang hangtei baroh ki por ba u dang don ha Shillong.10
Kat kum katei ka jingkdew haneng ngi lah ban ong ba U Swamiji u la wan poi ha ka 23 Tarik u Iaiong ha sor Shillong. Ka la long kaba eh bha ban pyrkhat ba kila lah ban poi Shillong tang hapoh ar sngi ha ryngkat ki ar ngut ki nong ialam ba shu iaid kjat bad ruh ka kali kulai kaba kit ïa ki kynthei bad U Swami Vivekanand uba don hapdeng ka met kaba tlot. Halor ka lynti kaba kiew lum bad ruh ki kulai kiba donkam shongthait manla ka por lane ba hap bujli kulai naka por shaka por. Tharai lai sngi ka la long kaba sngew dei eh ban shim por ïa ki ba kin poi sha Shillong. Watla katta ruh U Swamiji ula ioh teng ban mad, ban iaid kum kine ki jait lynti balong lum da ka kali kulai kaba la tip kyrteng kum ka ‘Deligences’, ha ka por ba u don sha Switzerland ha u snem 1896.
Ha ka kot ba la thoh da u Prof. Shyamadas Bhattacharya (1931-2017) kaba kyrteng ‘Shillonger Bangalee’ lane ‘Ki Bengali Ha Shillong’ *{Footnote: U prof Shyamadas Bhattacharya u dei u nonghikai History ba la shongthait, ha Lady Kean college kaba don ha Shillong naduh u snem 1956 haduh 1991. U dei u nongthoh, Nonghikai bad u briew u ba ieid bha iala ki riti-dustur bad u ba don burom bha. U dei ruh U ba la ioh pdiang ïa ka khusnam na ka Sorkar India, ka “Bharat Jyoti” ha u snem 2001, na ka bynta ka jingnoh synniang bapher-bapher jong u ha kiba bun rukom na bynta ka roi ka par jong ka Jylla Meghalaya baroh kawei.} Ngi lah ban shem ïa ka jingthoh shaphang ka jingiaid lynti jong U Swamiji na Gauhati sha Shillong.11 Ha ka jingthoh kaba u la ai kyrteng ka “Shillong pahare Swami Vivekananda” lane “ U Swami Vivekananda ha U lum shyllong”, U professor u la pynphuh rong da la ki kyntien ïa ki jingshisha ha kaba u thoh shaphang kane ka jing iaid lynti jong u Swamiji, kane ka rukom thoh jong une u nongthoh ka la pynlong ka jingeh ïa ngi ban pyn iapher ïa ka jingshisha bad ki rong ba u bet ha ki jingthoh jong u ban pyn sngew tynnad ïa ki nongpule. Ka la long ruh kaba sniewbok ïa ngi namar ba u ne u nongthoh u khlem lah iathuh eiei shaphang ki tyllong jingtip jong u kiba u la thoh ha kane ka kot, hynrei u la shu thoh kyllum lang ha kaba kut jong kane ka kot, tang ïa ki kyrteng jong ki kot bapher-bapher kiba u la pule khnang ban ioh jingtip ban thoh shaphang kane ka kot. Kane ka la wahrah ka jing eh ïa kito ki nongpule kiba kwah ban tip bniah ban pyn iasoh ïa ki jingthoh jong u bad ki tyllong jingtip ba u ioh. Watla katta ruh kine ki jingthoh jong une u nongthoh kila iarap shibun ban ai ïa ki jing donkam kiba lah ban pyniasoh lang bad kiwei pat ki jingtip kiba la don lypa, khnang ban shna biang ïa ka jingiathuh khana kaba lah ban long kham shajan ïa ka jing shihsha. (Lehse une u nongthoh u la thoh lane pynbeit pynbiang ïa kine ki jingthoh jong u hadien u snem 1997, namar une u nongthoh ula jer kyrteng napdeng ki tyllong jingtip ba u shim jingiarap, ïa ka Diamond Jubilee Souvenir jong ka Shillong Ramakrishna Mission kaba la rakhe ha u snem 1997. Ka kot jingthoh shaphang kane ka jingrakhe la pynmih ha u snem 2004).
Ngin shu ngeit ba Ka kmie jong U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki saw ngut ki ba haiing jong u ruh kila sah lang bad u shi lynter katba u dang don ha kane ka jaka, watla khlem don kaei-kaei ruh ka jing pynshisha kaba lah ban batai shai shaphang kane ka jing sahlang jong ka kmie bad ki ba haiing jong u. U prof. Bhattacharya u la thoh tang shaphang kawei ka kali kulai kaba la pyndon kam ban kit ïa U Swamiji bad ar ngut ki nong synran kiba la ïa wan poi lang sha Shillong. Lada shim ïa kane kum ka jingshisha, te kita ki ar ngut ki nong synran kilah ban dei U Swami Sadananda bad U Swami Nityananda (Nitai) lane U Swami Nirbhayananda (Kanai). Watla katta ruh ka jingthoh shaphang ka Jingim jong u Swamiji ka kdew ba “U Swamiji ha ryngkat U Swami Sadananda, ka kmie jong u, ka para jong u, ka aunty jong u bad ka lok jong u Ramadas kila wan phai na Shillong sha Calcutta ha ka 12 tarik u Jymmang.”12 Lada kine ki longkmie kim shym la don ryngkat bad U Swamiji ha Shillong, te kila ïa leit shaei baroh shi katta ki por? Kat kum ka jingtip ba la ioh na ka khun jong u Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das, ka Dipanjali Majumdar, ka la iathuh ba; “U Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra Das Bad U Jatindra Nath Basu kila wan ialam ïa U Swamiji bad kiba bud ïa u sha Shillong”, hynrei kam shym la iathuh ba kidei mano kita kiba la wan bud ïa U Swamiji sha Shillong.13 Kat kum ki jingtip ba la ioh lum shaphang ka jing leit iaid U Swamiji sha East Bengal bad sha Assam, Halor ka bynta kaba u Swamiji u la leit ban pyndep ïa kata ka jing iaid “Pilgrimage ba pura” na bynta jong ki, ka la thoh khyndiat eh shaphang ka kmie bad ki ba haiing jong u.
Ka jingthoh jong U prof. Bhattacharya shaphang ka jing iaid lynti U Swamiji ka kdew ïa ngi ba U Swamiji ryngkat bad ki kynhun jong u, kila wan synran da uwei u Ophisar Phareng uba Kyrteng U Mr. Norton. Bad ba kila sahmiet shimiet ha kawei ka shnong Umiam kaba jngai kumba khatar mile eiei na Shillong. Tharai, kala jia ba U Chief Commissioner ka Assam ha kata ka por u Sir Henry Cotton, U la iawer ïa U Swamiji ba un wan long u Guest jong u sha Shillong, ba un wan ban ioh biang ïa ka jingkoit ka jingkhiah kaba pura jong ka met jong u ha Shillong. Ka dei artat halor ka hukum jong une u Sir Henry Cotton ba u Mr. Norton ula wan ban synran ïa U Swamiji sha shillong. U Swamiji U la ai khublei ïa ka jingkhot sngewbha jong u Sir Henry Cotton, bad u la ong ruh ba ki briew jong u kila pynkhreh lypa na bynta ka jing wan sah jong u sha Shillong.14
HA SHILLONG BAD KI NONG SHILLONG
Kat kum ka jingthoh jong u Prof. Bhattacharya, la don bun bha ki briew kiba la wan ban ïa kynduh ïa U Swamiji ynda u la poi ha Shillong, ha Laban ha ka iing jong u Rai Saheb Kailash Chandra. U la thoh ruh ïa ka jing don ryngkat u Deputy Commissioner U Capt. Herbert hangta ha iing, khnang ban pynbeit bad ban khmih ïa ka jing bun ki paidbah kiba la wan ban ialum ban iohi ïa U Swami Vivekananda. U capt. Herbert u la iathuh ïa U Swamiji ba u Doctor Civil Surgeon un sa wan ban peit ïa u ha ka por mynsngi bad ba u Sir Henry Cotton pat un sa wan ban ïa kynduh ïa u ha ka step ka ban wan.15 Kat kum ka FIBIS (Families in British India Society) kaba don ha London, U capt. Herbert, I.C.S., U dei u Deputy Commissioner jong ka Shillong ha kata ka por. U ta pat u Doctor Civil Surgeon, Uba u Sir Cotton ula bthah ïa u ban sumar ïa U Swamiji, La tip kyrteng kum U Major Robert Neil Campbell, U ba dei ruh u Civil Surgeon jongka Shillong naduh u snem 1896-1897 haduh 1906; U la bat ïa kane ka kam naduh u snem 1897 ha ka por ba u la wan u jumai ba radbah ha Shillong (Assam) ha u snem 1897. 16
Katto katne ki riew rangbah kiba la ïa don ryngkat lang ha kata ka sngi ban pdiang burom ïa U Swamiji ki dei, U Rai Bahadur Sadaya Charan Das, U Rai Saheb Prasanna Kumar Bhattacharya, U Upendranath Kanjilal, U Bishnu Prasad Barua Bad U Munsi Mohammed Amatullah. Tharai U Swamiji u la don ki jing ïa kren bad kine ki riew rangbah namar ba, ha ka step kaba bud kine ki riew rangbah kila ïa poi biang ban ïa kynduh bad U Swamiji. U Hormurai Diengdoh, u dei u wei na kine ki nong wan kynduh bad U Swamiji. Kine ki riew rangbah kiba wan ban ïa kynduh bad U Swamiji kidei kiba trei na bynta ka Imlang-Sahlang lane ki kam kiba iadei bad ki kam niam. U Rai Bahadur Charan Das ha kata ka por u dei u Secretary jong ka Brahmo Samaj kaba don ha Police Bazaar.
U Sir Henry (John Stedman) Cotton(1845-1915) u ba dei U Chief Commissioner jong ka Assam, bad ka Office Jong u ka don ha Shillong ha kata ka por. Ïa une u saheb la kha ha South India ha ki kmie-ki kpa kiba la wan long briew ha india hi (Indian-Born British Parents). Hynrei u la pyndep ïa ki jingpule jong u naduh Elementary haduh ba un dep ïa ka jing pule Indian Civil Service Examination na England. U la sdang trei naduh u snem 1867 ha kylleng ki jaka jong ka Bengal ryngkat bad ka Calcutta. Naduh u snem 1896 pat une u saheb ula wan trei noh ha Shillong bad U la trei ha ka kyrdan kum u Chief Commissioner haduh u snem 1902. Namar ka jingdon mynsiem sngewlem jong u ïa ka jing ialeh laitluid jong ka Ri India, la jied ïa u ba un long kum u President jong ka Indian National Congress ha u snem 1904. Hadien nangta ula leit phai biang sha England bad ula long u dkhot jong ka House Of Commons.
U Sir Henry u la thoh kawei ka kot kum ka dak jong ka jing sah kynmaw ïa ka Ri India, kaba u la ai kyrteng, ka “Indian and Home Memories”, kaba la pynmih ha u snem 1911. U la thoh-“Sha ka Ri India kaba nga la ai ka jingshakri, ka jingim samla bad jingim rangbah jong nga. Nga dap da ka jing babe bad jingsahnud kaba jurbha. Hadien ka jing pynkut noh ïa ka jing shakri jong nga kaba la kot kumba laiphew san snem eiei.” 20
U la thoh shibun shaphang ka jingwan jumai bah ha u snem 1897 ha Assam, ha kaba, ma u bad la i kurim kila shu ialait salit na kane ka jingwan u jumai bah. Tangba halor ka jing lyngngoh, shaphang ka jingwan iuhkjat jong U Swami Vivekananda pat u khlem la thoh eiei ruh em. Ha kane ka kot jong u, u la buh khnang kawei ka Lynnong kaba kyrteng “Men I have Known”, ha kaba u la thoh ïa shibun ki kyrteng ki riew donnam donburom jong ka Ri kiba u la iashem, ïa khana ha kipor ba u dang don ha India. Napdeng kita, U Bunkim Chunder Dutt, Robindro Nath Tagore, Arabindo Ghose, Mohendra Lal Sircar, Keshub Chunder Sen, Romesh Chunder Dutt bad kiwei de ki riew donnam, tangba u khlem la thoh pat ïa ka kyrteng U Swami Vivekananda. Kane ka la long kaba pynlyngngoh bad kaba pyn kyllain jingmut bha bad kaba pyn sngewsih bha ïa ngi. Kane harum ka dei ka jingthoh naka kot ba la thoh shaphang ka jingim jong U Swamiji, kaba batai shaphang ka jing ïa kynduh jong u bad u Sir Henry:
“U la juh ioh sngew shibun bah shaphang U Swami Vivekananda bad u la kwah eh ruh ban ioh iakynduh bad u. Halor ka jing kyrpad jong u hi ba U Swamiji u la ai ka jingkren ha khmat ki ophisar bilat bad ruh kiwei pat ki kynhun nong India. U Sir Henry Cotton, uba la sngewtynnad eh iaki jingkren U Swamiji, u la iakynduh bad U Swamiji bad kila ïa kren bad pyllut por ban ïa kren shaphang ka Ri India bad ki jingeh jong ka kum ka ri baroh kawei. Haba u iohi ba U Swamiji u khlem da sngew khlain, ula bthah ïa u Doctor Civil Surgeon ba un ai ki jingiarap ban sumar bad ban pynbiang katba lah ïa ki dawai kiba iadei bad ka jingpang jong U Swamiji. Katba U Swamiji u dang don, une u Chief Commissioner ula phah kylli man la ka sngi ïa ka jinglong-jingman jong ka koit ka khiah jong U Swamiji. U Swamiji u kren shaphang jong u kum u briew uba sngewthuh ïa ka ri India bad ïa ki jingeh jongka kumka ri, u ba don ka jingsngew ban trei na bynta ka jingbha bad jingroi jingpar jong ka India kum ka ri baroh kawei. U la long u briew u ba donhok ban ioh ïa ka jingieid jong ki nong India kumba ki ieid iakiwei.” 21
Une u Sir Henry u la long u briew uba don jing sngew synei ïa ka jingbha jong ka ri India bad ïa ka jing ieid ri jong ki nong India, bad U Swamiji u la shem ba une u ophisar u don ki shkor kiba kloi ban sngap bad ba burom ïa ki jingkren kiba iadei bad ka hok. Lehse kila ïa kren daka ktien Bengali namar une u Sir Henry u la long uba nangbha ban kren bad ban pule ruh iaka ktien Bengali.22 U Swamiji bad u Sir Henry ki ïa don ha kajuh ka madan ha ki ba bun ki liang. Baroh arngut hi ki ïa don kane ka jing pyrkhat ba ka jingpule kadei kawei ka phang kaba kordor tam. Ka Cotton College kaba don ha Gauhati, kaba la long ruh ka college kaba la rim tam napdeng ki college kiba don ha katei ka thain shatei lammihngi ka ri India (Norhtheast India), la seng da une hi u Sir Cotton ha u snem 1901. Kane ka college ka la ioh ïa ka kyrdan University (Cotton University) ha u snem 2017. U Sir Henry u la wan iakynduh bad U Swamiji ha ka Iing ba don ha Laban; u ju kylli khubor ruh manla ka sngi shaphang ka jingkoit jingkhiah jong U Swamiji.
The English version of the present Article can be found in
https://unknownsylheti.com/2021/03/17/swami-vivekanandas-visit-to-shillong/

Ehsing Khiewtam: Author, Poet, Senior Research fellow, Hindi Dept, NEHU

Bizarre & Beautiful

“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” – Plato.

Perhaps nothing has been more enigmatic in history than beauty. It has created and destroyed empires. Its charm allured scientists to explore new vistas. Art has crowned it as the goal to strive for and philosophy cringes if it loses this. Yet, we hardly know why a particular array of lines, shapes, colours or abstract ideas is more appealing to us than others. Why an ugly face suddenly becomes divine to us? For of most human history, these questions have been answered with logic and speculation, but in the last few decades, science steadily advanced to provide us with a better understanding; even a new branch called neuroaesthetics has emerged. It has paved the way to appreciate the underpinnings of beauty.
Most people never stop to think about why they find something beautiful. Because it is something, they just know. Maybe we find beauty in the same places, but do we process beauty in the same way even if we disagree? These things are pretty intuitive. But scientists have been working to see if there’s a universal way that humans minds analyse beauty. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but researchers have discovered that our brains all behave similarly when beholding. They found a pattern in certain parts of the brain that become more active when perceiving something beautiful. Having said this, we must admit that perceiving beauty is an intricate affair. Scientists may claim to have deciphered the mystery, but it hardly can explain the whole of it. While studying the response and the stimulus, we completely miss out on our mind, which tinges on an everyday experience. Sometimes a grotesque figure excites us; again, sometimes, we find an otherwise beautiful face insipid. This is quite bizarre. We know, there is more to the subject than breaking emotions into neurochemical signals or simply studying encephalograms.
What is the attraction? Why does an ugly face look charming, an old shabby street alluring, or the smell of grandpa’s books – torn and shattered, other-worldly? We who appreciate the beauty in some apparently outlandish things take, as it were, the idea of beauty, which is in our minds, and project it on those; and what we see and worship is not those objects but our ideals. These objects are only suggestions, and on that, we throw our ideals and cover it, and it becomes deified.
As Swami Vivekananda, points out, “All that we see, we project out of our own minds. A grain of sand gets washed into the shell of an oyster and irritates it. The irritation produces a secretion in the oyster, which covers the grain of sand and the beautiful pearl is the result…. The wicked see this world as a perfect hell, and the good as a perfect heaven. Lovers see this world as full of love, and haters as full of hatred; fighters see nothing but strife, and the peaceful nothing but peace.”
Appreciation of beauty is a journey. We grow with our experiences and finally reach the source from where all beauty springs.

शिलाँग मे मेरा प्रथम वार्षिकोत्सव

शिलाँग के संस्मरणों की यह एक किस्त पेश कर रहा हूँ। प्रथम किस्त में केवल वहाँ के पेहले दिन की स्मृतियाँ शब्दबद्ध की थी; इससे ऐसी आशँका न हो कि मैं वहाँ के प्रत्येक दिन की स्मृति एक एक लेख में प्रस्तुत करने जा रहा हू। पाठकों पर इतना अत्याचार करने का मेरा कोई इरादा नहीं है। इस किस्त में प्रारम्भ के दस दिन की कुछ विशेष स्मृतियों को लिपिबद्ध करने का प्रयास कर रहा हूँ।
जीवन का हर अनुभव कुछ शिक्षा लेकर हमारे पास आता है। मेरे जैसा कोई साधारण व्यक्ति भी पीछे मुड्कर बीते दिनों पर नज़र डालता है तो देखता है कि छोटे छोटे प्रसंग भी बड़ी सीख देने की क्षमता रखते हैं। प्रसंग विस्मृत होने के बावजूद भी उस्से प्राप्त शिक्षा भीतर बनी रहती है।दूसरे दिन से श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी और आश्रम के अन्यान्य संन्यासी-ब्रह्मचारी मुझे वहाँ का काम समझाने में लग गये। कई कार्य मेरे लिए बिल्कुल नये थे। नागपुर में रहते समय हिसाब-किताब रखना मैंने कुछ हद तक सीख लिया था, किन्तु वहाँ कोई सरकारी अनुदान नहीँ मिलता था। ऐसे अनुदान का प्रस्ताव ठीक शासकीय पद्धति के अनुरूप बनाना होता था। उसका जमा-खर्च इत्यादि भी, जो सारे सरकारी नियम थे, उसी ढाँचे मे डालने पड़ते हैं। मेरे लिये यह कुछ अजीब सा मामला था, थोडा हास्यपूर्ण भी। उदाहरण के तौर पर – वहाँ साफ सफाई का काम करने वालें दो कर्मचारियों को “लाइब्रेरियन” के नाम से तनखा दिखानी होती थी। इसके पीछे क्या कारण हैं मुझे यथावकाश समझाए गए। कल औपचारिक रूप से कार्यभार ग्रहण करना था।
आश्रम के कई भक्त, संचालन-समिति (Managing Committee) के कुछ सदस्य, कर्मी और स्वयंसेवक मिलने आ रहे थे। कई फ़ोन भी चल रहे थे। यहाँ के भोजन के विशिष्ट गंध से भी परिचित होना मेरे लिए सहज नहीं था। विशेषकर ‘शूटकी’ पकाने की गंध। यद्यपि आश्रम में ‘शूटकी’ शायद ही कभी बनती थी, चारों तरफ से वह गंध (जो मेरे लिए अति दुर्गन्ध थी, अन्य लोगों के लिए वह कोई परेशानी नहीं थी; कुछ ऐसे भी थे कि उस गंध से वे बडे खुश हो जाते थे, मुँह में पानी आ जाता था। इससे यह सिद्ध होता है, कि कोई भी गंध, या कोई भी इन्द्रियानुभव अपने आप में अच्छा- बुरा नहीं होता; हर व्यक्ति की रुचि भिन्न होती है)। नाक को भर देती थी, और फिर भोजन करना एक प्रयास बन जाता था। शिलाँग में रहते रहते ऐसे गंधों से मेरा नासिकेंद्रिय परिचित हो गया। मैं माँस, मछ्ली इत्यादि कुछ नहीं खाता था – मुख से; किन्तु नासिकाद्वार से वह मेरे भीतर प्रविष्ट हो रहा था। ‘घ्राणेन अर्धभोजनम्‌’ यह उक्ति कितनी सार्थक है !
दूसरे दिन, अर्थात गुरुवार, २८ मार्च १९९६ को श्री रामकृष्ण का दर्शन कर मैं और रघुनाथानन्द जी दफ्तर में आए। अन्य साधु – छात्रावास के छात्र भी उपस्थित थे। मैने अनुमति पत्र (Letter of Acceptance) पर हस्ताक्षर किए। अब इस औपचारिक कार्यक्रम से इस आश्रम के सेक्रेटरी का भार रघुनाथानंद जी से मुझपर आ गया। हंसते हुए उन्होंने कहा, “अब बाघ की पूँछ तुम्हारे हाथ देकर मैं मुक्त हो गया।” मुझे इस कथन का तात्पर्य समझ में नहीं आया। तब उन्होंने केरल देश में प्रचलित कहानी सुनायीः
“एक नंबुद्री ब्राह्मण (ये लोग अपनी जिज्ञासु वृत्ति, चतुराई, तीव्र बुद्धि के लिए जाने जाते हैं) जंगल की एक पगडंड़ी से गुजर रहा था तो उसने देखा कि किसी शिकारी ने लगाये हुए पिंजरे में एक बड़ा बाघ फँस गया हैै। कौतूहलवश वहाँ जाकर उसने बाघ को एक टहनी से नोचा। गुस्से में आकर बाघ ने टहनी को खींचा, नंबुद्री ने भी खींचा दोनों की खींचा-तानी मे वह टहनी की अटकनी लगी और पिंजड़ा खुल गया। बाघ बाहर निकल ही रहा था कि बुद्धिमान नंबुद्री ने पिंजडे के बाहर निकली हुई बाघ की पूँछ कसकर पकड़ लिया। अब बाघ बाहर निकल नहीं सकता था। पर कितनी देर वह सारी शक्ति लगाकर पूँछ को पकड़ कर रख सकता था? कुछ थोड़े ही समय में वह थक गया; किन्तु पूँछ छोड़े तो बाघ बाहर निकलेगा और फिर…?
जान की बाजी लगाकर वह पूँछ पकड़े हुए वह बै्ठा था तब उसने पगडंड़ी से गुजरते हुए एक व्यक्ति को देखा और उसे पुकार कर कहने लगा, ‘यह बाघ मेरी पकड़ में आ गया है; बस अब इसे राजा के पास ले जाऊँगा और बहुत बड़ा इनाम पाऊँगा। तुम मेरी थोड़ी मदद करो तो तुम्हें भी कुछ हिस्सा मिलेगा; एक मिनट यह पूँछ पकड़ो, मैं अभी पेशाब करके आता हूँ। ’ उस मूर्ख व्यक्ति ने पूँछ पकड़ते ही नंबुद्री जी तो तेजी से भाग निकले। ” इतना कहकर रघुनाथानंद जी और हम सब हँसने लगे। उन्होँने मुझे बाघ की पूँछ पकड़ा दी है, इसका प्रमाण चंद दिनों में ही मिला। वह प्रसंग बाद में इसी किस्त के अंतर्गत बताऊँगा।
श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानंद जी ने फिर एक सुन्दर सा कोट निकालकर मुझे दिया। ‘मेरे पूर्ववर्ती सचिव देवदेवानंद जी ने दस सालों तक इस कोट का इस्तेमाल किया और फिर मुझे दिया; मैंने भी पिछले दस साल इसका उपयोग किया और अब तुम्हें दे रहा हूँ। मेरी इच्छा है कि तुम भी दस या अधिक साल उसका उपयोग कर फिर अपने उत्तराधिकारी को दे दोगे। ’
उनकी इस इच्छा को मैं पूर्ण नहीं कर सका। मात्र चार सालों के तुरन्त बाद ही मेरा शिलाँग से तबादला हुआ और मेरे उत्तराधिकारी श्रद्धेय स्वामी जगदात्मानंद जी को यह कोट (और बाघ की पूँछ भी) सौंपकर मैं शिलाँग से निकल पड़ा। जगदात्मानंद जी का कद उस कोट की लम्बाई से अधिक ऊँचा था, बाहें भी लम्बी थीं। उस कोट का उपयोग उन्होंने शायद ही कभी किया हो। उनके उत्तराधिकारी श्रद्धेय ब्रह्मदेवानंद जी को उस कोट की कोई जानकारी भी नहीं थी।
शुक्रवार, २९ मार्च १९९६, ठीक सढे नौ बजे संचालन समिती की मीटिंग शुरु हुई। श्री आर. टिं. रिम्बाई, मेघालय के जयंतिया जनजाति के एक प्रमुख व्यक्ति, इस समिती के सम्मानीय अध्यक्ष थे। आने वाले दो-ढाई सालों में उनके साथ मेरा धनिष्ठ संपर्क रहा। मीटिंग में उपस्थित सभी सदस्यों से वार्तालाप हुआ। इन सभी का आंतरिक सहयोग आश्रम की गतिविधियाँ सुचारु रूप से चलाने हेतु आवश्यक था। विगत दो महीनों का लेखा-जोखा और मीटिंग का इतिवृत्त (minutes) सारा रामकृष्ण मिशन के मुख्यालय को भेज दिया गया। श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानंद जी को बिदाई देने का (send-off) बड़ा समारोह करना होगा इसपर भी सभी ने उत्साहपूर्वक सहमति दर्शायी।
रामकृष्ण संघ के परमाध्यक्ष पूज्य भूतेशानन्द जी, उपाध्यक्ष रंगतानन्द जी, गहनानन्द जी इन्हें पत्र लिख्कर आशीर्वाद याचना की।
इसके दूसरे दिन रामकृष्ण मिशन चेरापुंजी (जिसे अब सोरा नाम से जाना जाता है) जाना था। बचपन से ही चेरापुंजी का नाम सुनता आया था – जहाँ दुनिया की सर्वाधिक बारिश होती है। जीप गाड़ी से सुबह निकले; शिलाँग में तो सुनहरी धूप निकल आयी थी। चेरापुँजी तक का लगभग ४० कि. मि. का पहाड़ी रास्ता पूरा करने को पूरा एक घण्टा लगा। शिलाँग से १५ कि. मि. के बाद ही दृश्य बदल जया। बायी और गहरी घाटी से घने बादल भी हमारे साथ मानो चेरापुँजी चल रहे थे। ‘देखो, अब आप की समझ में आएगा कि चेरा में इतनी बारिश क्यों होती है। ये सारे बादल जल से पूर्ण है। इस घाटी से गुजरते हुए वे चेरापुँजी के ऊँचे पहाड़ से टकरा जाते हैं। इतना सारा पानी का वजन लेकर ये बादल पहाड़ चढ़ नहीं पाते तो सारा पानी बारिश के रूप में वहीं फ़ेंक देते हैं’- हमारे एक सहयात्री, जो कि इस प्रदेश में कई साल रह चुके थे, बना रहे थे। उनका यह कथन मेट्रॉलाजी की दृष्टि में कितना वैज्ञानिक था, ये बताना मेरी औकात के बाहर होने पर भी बड़ा ही रोचक प्रतीत हुआ। आनेवाले कई वर्षों में उनका यह कथन मैंने कई बार नवागतों के सामने (कुछ अधिक मिर्च-मसाला डालकर) दोहराया है।
चेरापुँजी के रास्ते पर विभिन्न ग्रामों में रामकृष्ण मिशन, चेरापुँजी द्वारा संचालित कई स्कूल दिखाई पड़े। उन स्कूलों के बच्चे हमारी जीप को (जिसपर रामकृष्ण मिशन, शिलाँग लिखा था) देखते ही ‘खुब्लेई महाराज’ का घोष लगाकर अभिवादन करते थे। हम लोग भी गाड़ी जरा धीमी कर उन्हें ‘खुबलेई शिबून’ कहकर आगे बढते थे। रास्ते में दोनो तरफ कहीं कोयले के और कहीं बालू के ढेर लगे थे। कई ट्रक उन्हें उठाकर विक्रय के लिए अन्य स्थानों पर ले जाते थे। इस सम्बन्ध में पूज्य भूतेशानन्द जी महाराज एक विनोदपूर्ण किन्तु शिक्षाप्रद घटना सुनाया करते थे। उसे बाद के किस्त में लिखूँगा।
चेरापुँजी आश्रम के प्रमुख स्वामी इष्टानन्द जी मेरे साथ ही बेलुड़ मठ स्थित ‘प्रोबेशनर्स ट्रेनिन्ग सेन्टर’ में दो साल थे और हमारी अच्छा मित्रता थी और अभी भी हमारी आपसी मुलाकात और वार्तालाप आज भी जारी है। मेरे अमेरिका आने के कुछ महीने पहले वे भी यहाँ पहुंच गए थे और इन दिनों सेण्ट पीटर्सबर्ग, फ्लोरिडा में स्थित रामकृष्ण मिशन के वेदान्त सेंटर के प्रमुख बने। एक कार्यकुशल संघटक और अच्छे वक्ता के रूप में इस देश में भी सुख्यात हैं। हम दोनों एक-दूसरे से मिलकर बड़े हर्षित हुए। वहाँ का मंदिर, स्कूल, छात्रावास इत्यादि देखकर बहुत आनन्द हुआ। पिछले 20 सालों से से इस आश्रम के स्फूर्तिशाली इतिहास को मैंने गौर से कई बार पड़ा था, और मराठी मासिक पत्रिका ‘जीवन- विकास’ (जिसका प्रकाशन रामकृष्ण मठ, नागपुर से होता था) मैंने उसके विषय में प्रबन्ध भी लिखे थे। वहाँ अब मैं जब प्रत्यक्ष रूप से सब देख रहा था तो कितनेही पवित्र, ‘त्याग और सेवा’ इस स्वामी विवेकानन्द जी के मन्त्र से प्लावित भावतरंग मन में उछलने लगे थे। अच्छा खासा भोजन हुआ। वहाँ की संचालन समिती के एक सदस्य के रूप में मुझे सम्मिलित किया गया। उन की मीटिंग भी सम्पन्न हुई और शाम तक हम लोग शिलाँग आश्रम आ पहुँचा। चेरापुँजी के संस्मरणों को किसी अगली किस्त में लिखूँगा।
इसी बीच मुझे व्याख्यानों के लिए चंडीगढ़ जाना था। शिलाँग में तबादला होने के कई दिन पहले ही यह कार्यक्रम निश्चित हुआ था। ४ अप्रैल को शिलाँग से रवाना हुआ और वहाँ का व्याख्यान इत्यादि कार्यक्रम समाप्त कर १० तारीख को सुबह ७ बजे शिलाँग लौटा तो एक बुरी खबर मेरा इन्तजार कर रही थी।
वहाँ विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर (क्विण्टन हॉल) में दो लोग निवास करते थे – एक भक्त – स्वयंसेवी और एक वेतन कर्मी (उनके नाम यहाँ नहीं दे रहा हूँ)। इनमें जो वेतन कर्मी था वह मानसिक-पीड़ा से त्रस्त था और स्वयं वो भक्त से सख्त नफरत करता था। पूर्व रात्रि को उसने उस भक्त के मस्तक पर हँसिया से वार किया। वह लहुलहान अवस्था में भागकर जान बचाने में किसी प्रकार सफल हो गया। पुलिस ने उसे अस्पताल में भर्ती किया और हमलावर कर्मी को जानलेवा हमला (Attempt to murder) करने के जुर्म में गिरफ्तार कर लिया।
क्या करूँ मुझे कुछ समझ में नहीं आ रहा था। ऐसी परिस्थिति से सम्मुखी होने का प्रसंग मेरे जीवन में पहले कभी भी नहीं आया था। आश्रम के मेरे सहकारी साधुओं के लिए भी ऐसी जटिल समस्या का कोई अनुभव नहीं था। एक अच्छा समाचार इतना था कि उस भक्त की हालत ठीक हो रही थी, जीवन को खतरा नहीं था, पर पूर्ण रूप से स्वस्थ होने में अभी काफी समय लगेगा। उस प्रसंग के कारण पुलिस स्टेशन में और वकील लोगों के पास कई बार जाना हुआ। फिर अब विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में अब काम कौन करेगा यह भी एक बड़ी समस्या थी। यह हादसा क्यों हुआ और इसमें दोष किसका है इस बारे में भी साधुओं में मतभेद था।
कुछ महिनें के गुजरने के बाद यह समस्या समाप्त तो हुई किन्तु उससे काफी शिक्षा भी मिली। यहाँ इस घटना से सम्बन्धित एक बात लिखना चहता हूँ। जिनसे मैंने कार्यभार स्वीकार किया था वे श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी इस सम शिलाँग में ही थे। उनसे जब मैंने इस बारे में सलाह पूछी तो उन्होंने हँसते-हँसते कहा, “हाँ, अब बाघ की पूँछ तुम्हें सौंप दी है; मैं फिर से पकडने की मूर्खता नहीं करूँगा। ”
और उसी दिन आश्रम का वार्षिकोत्सव शुरु होने जा रहा था। किन्तु आज भजन- गान होने वाला था, किन्तु गायक-वादकों का दल – जो दिग्बोई से आनेवाला था- वह नहीं आ पाया – उन लोगों में जो मुख्य थे, उन्हें चुनाव के कारण छुट्टी नहीं मिल पायी। यहीँ आश्रम से सम्बन्धित कुछ गायकों ने भजन किया।
उत्सव में सहभागी होने हेतु काशी से स्वामी शुद्धव्रतानन्द जी और तपनानन्द जी पधारे थे – दोनो रघुनाथानन्द जी के घनिष्ट मित्र थे; वे तीनो १९६० के दशक में शिलाँग आश्रम में लगभग एक ही साथ ब्रह्मचारी के रूप में प्रविष्ठ हुए थे।
शुक्रवार को दोपहर ३.३० को उत्सव का दूसरा कार्यक्रम हुआ। आश्रम के ही एक स्वामीजी ने कुछ और गायक-वादकों के साथ ‘गीति-आलेख्य’ (गीतों के माध्यम से श्री रामकृष्ण के चरित्र का आख्यान) सादर किया। फिर श्रीमती दीपाली चक्रवर्ती, शुद्धव्रतानन्द जी, तपनानन्द जी के सारगर्भित व्याख्यान हुए।
अच्छा भक्त- समागम हुआ था। उत्सव और दो दिन तक चला। बड़े अच्छे व्याख्यान और भजनादि हुए। एक बड़ा कार्यक्रम विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में भी हुआ। श्रद्धेय रघुनाथानन्द जी को ‘विदाई पार्टी’ (send-off) भी इन्हीं दिनो दी गयी। शिलाँग आश्रम में मेरा प्रथम व्याख्यान भी हुआ। बहुत सारे भक्तों से वार्तालाप हुआ। प्रायः सभी भक्त मेरे साथ बांगला में और आपस में सिल्हेटी भाषा मे बात करते थे, जिसे समझने में मुझे काफी कठिनाई होती थी।
अगला दिन रविवार, १४ अप्रैल बांगला सालगिराह ‘नोबो बोर्षो’। प्रातः काल से ही भक्तों की बड़ी भीड़ लगी थी। उन सब के साथ मिलना हुआ, परिचय हुआ। सुबह- शाम विवेकानन्द कल्चरल सेंटर में उत्सव का अंतिम दिन मनाया गया। एक विख्यात गायक का सुंदर गायन सुबह हुआ और शाम को कई स्वामीजी लोगों के सुंदर व्याख्यान!
शिलाँग पहुँचकर मुझे केवल १२ दिन हुए थे, (उनमे से ६ दिन चंडीगढ़ की यात्रा मे खर्च हुए) किन्तु लग रहा था कि मैं यहाँ कई बरसों से हूँ।

स्वामी योगात्मानन्द वेदान्त सोसाइटी आफ प्रोविडेन्स के मंत्री एवं अध्यक्ष हैं। ये 1976 में रामकृष्ण मिशन में शामिल हुए और 1986 में संन्यास की दीक्षा ली। 20 वर्ष तक रामकृष्ण मिशन नागपुर, में कार्य करने के उपरांत रामकृष्ण मिशन शिलांग मेघालय, के अध्यक्ष के रूप में कार्यरत रहे। तदुपरांत आप सन् 2001के ग्रीष्म ऋतु में अमेरिका में वेदांत सोसायटी आफ प्रोविडेन्स के मंत्री के पद पर आए।


(पुस्तक समीक्षा)

पुस्तक- मिथक और लोककथा गारो पहाड़ियों से

लेखन- श्रीमती सी. टी. संगमा

अनुवाद- डॉ अनीता पंडा

प्रकाशक- सन्मति पब्लीशर्स ऐंड डिट्रीब्यूटर्स, हापुड़ (उ.प्र.)

मेघालय में अवस्थित गारो पहाड़ियाँ और उनसे उपजे मिथक आज भी जुबान पर थिरकते हुए अनायास ही अपनी ओर खींचते हैं। इसको शिद्दत से अनुभूत किया अवकाश प्राप्त राज्य प्रशासनिक अधिकारी, मेघालय सरकार और ख्यातिलब्ध लेखिका श्रीमती सी.टी. संगमा ने। तत्पश्चात शिलॉंग (शिवलिंग) में तीन दशकों से शिक्षण/प्रशिक्षण, शोध और लेखन में अग्रणी रहीं डॉ अनीता पंडा ने श्री मती संगमा द्वारा लिखित “Myriad Colours Of North East – 1,2,3” को आधार बनाकर चिंतन के ताने-बाने से वितान बुना। डॉ अनीता पंडा जी ने राजभाषा हिंदी में न केवल अनुवाद किया बल्कि स्वाध्ययन, अवलोकन एवं जनश्रुतियों द्वारा प्रत्युत्पन्न निष्कर्ष से कथा-विन्यास विकसित किया।

इस पुस्तक में पौराणिक एवं मिथक, शौर्य कथाएँ, लोक कथाएँ, प्रेम कथाएँ तथा रहस्यमयी कथाओं सहित 5 अध्याय निहित हैं। लेखिका ने सदैव अनुवाद की मूल संचेतना को सुरक्षित एवं संरक्षित रखा है। प्रो. दिनेश कुमार चौबे ने अनुवाद के बारे में बहुत स्पष्ट मत रखते हुए कहा है कि अनुवाद का मतलब परकाया में प्रवेश है। दूसरे शब्दों में ‘एकात्म’ हो जाना अनुवाद का आवश्यक गुण एवं आवश्यकता है। अनुवादक लेखिका ने इसके प्रति सजगता का परिचय दिया है। यद्यपि भाषा के रूप में हिंदी व्यवहृत है तथापि स्थानीय जीवन, संस्कृति, गाथा एवं मिथक के साथ तादात्म्य में कमी नहीं आने दी गई, जो अनुभवी लेखिका की कुशल लेखनी की पुष्टि हेतु पर्याप्त है।

मिथक क्या है? जानना महत्वपूर्ण है और आवश्यक भी विशेषतः इस पुस्तक के संदर्भ में। मिथक परम्परागत या अनुश्रुत कथा है जो किसी अतिमानवीय तथाकथित प्राणी या घटना से सम्बंध रखती है। विशेषतः इसका सम्बंध देवताओं, विश्व की उत्पत्ति तथा विश्वासों से है। यह एक ऐसा विश्वास है जो बिना तर्क के स्वीकार किया जाता है। प्रसाद जी की कामायनी के मूल्यांकन से हिंदी साहित्य में मिथक पर विचार का प्रारम्भ माना जाता है। दूसरे शब्दों में लेखन को एक मिथकीय प्रक्रिया के रूप में स्वीकार किया गया है। जैसा कि डॉ नगेन्द्र ने कहा था कि ‘……नये कवि वर्तमान के अतीतत्व और अतीत के वर्तमानता में विश्वास करते हैं’, डॉ अनीता पंडा ने अनुवाद करते समय मिथक की इस विशेषता को पूर्णतः सिद्ध करते हुए संरक्षित किया है।

बंदर, मकड़ा, सियार, जुगनू, हाथी, लंगूर, सूअर, कुत्ता, मुर्गी और मेंढक आदि जीव-जंतुओं और कुछ लड़के/लड़कियों के चरित्रों के माध्यम से सुदक्ष लेखिका/अनुवादिका ने लोककथा को नवजीवन और नूतन कलेवर प्रदान किया है। बंदर की नकलची प्रकृति और फलस्वरूप असफलता की ओर भी बारम्बार इंगित किया गया है। लोककथा किसी मानव-समूह की उस साझी अभियक्ति को कहते हैं जो लोककथाओं, कहावतों, चुटकुलों आदि अनेक रूपों में अभिव्यक्त होता है। इस पुस्तक में पैनी नजर और बेबाकीपन से इसका अनुपालन किया गया है। डॉ अनीता जी ने गारो पहाड़ियों की मूल संज्ञा को हिंदी शब्दार्थ के साथ सजाया है जिससे पाठक बिना भटकाव के सटीक एवं वांछित छवि बना सके। बाल्पक्रम की खूबसूरती, चमत्कार, किंवदंती, मिथकाधारित लोककथा पर लेखनीचलाते हुए अनुवादिका ने देखी और सुनी बातों में फर्क के प्रति पूर्ण सजगता का परिचय दिया है।

यह पुस्तक लेखिका श्रीमती संगमा और अनुवादिका श्रीमती पंडा के सान्द्रित शोध का सकारात्मक परिणाम है। पाठकों के चक्षु – पटल पर गारों पहाड़ियाँ जीवंत हो उठती हैं। संस्कृति, सोच और दिनचर्या सजीव हो जाती हैं। पुस्तक का आकर्षक आवरण और सुरुचिकर विषयवस्तु पाठक-हृदय को संतृप्त करते हैं और अतिरिक्त गहन शोध हेतु प्रेरित भी।

पुस्तक- मिथक और लोककथा गारो पहाड़ियों से

लेखन- श्रीमती सी. टी. संगमा

अनुवाद- डॉ अनीता पंडा

प्रकाशक- सन्मति पब्लीशर्स ऐंड डिट्रीब्यूटर्स, हापुड़ (उ.प्र.)

प्रकाशन वर्ष- 2020

पृष्ठ-114

मूल्य- रुपये 135/-

Catch 22

Catch 22
All they kept saying was ‘Catch-22, Catch-22.’
“Didn’t they show it to you?” Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. “Didn’t you even make them read it?
“They don’t have to show us Catch-22,” the old woman answered. “The law says they don’t have to.” “What law says they don’t have to?” “Catch-22.”
……..
If you are wondering what under the sun we are blabbering about, here it is.
Published in 1961, in the backdrop of World War II, Catch 22 is a satirical war novel by Joseph Heller. It was often conceived as one of the most impactful novels of twentieth century. It stripped open governmental loopholes that squeezed people to the last drops to meet its ends. Heller’s novel follows the exploits of a bombardier, and in doing so throws a light on the relentless and circular bureaucracy of war and wartime governments. The term is introduced to describe the apparent loophole that prevents a pilot from asking for a mental evaluation to determine if he’s fit to fly. A pilot who wants to be grounded, being unnerved by the inhumane war situation, finds himself in a catch. To ask for approval of his insanity is to establish his sanity. The conundrum continues.
Catch-22 appears several times in the novel, always invoked to explain a contradiction or an inescapable paradox caused by the rule itself. It has filtered into general English to refer to a dilemma, a confusing situation, or a problem in which the problem itself denies the solution.
It is not only in the surreal world of an author’s randomly firing neurons but also in everyday life that we find ourselves in such situations. Finding a solution is to embrace the problem, where the compulsion is presented as an option.
What do we do then, at an individual and a collective level?
While it is not under the purview of this discussion to provide solutions to individual ethical dilemmas, we can search for a general principle or a basis, sticking to which we, as individuals and society, can escape such situations.
Swami Vivekananda, gives the seed of the solution in just two words. Eternal self-abnegation. He adds, “Ethics always says, “Not I, but thou.” Its motto is, “Not self, but non-self.” The vain ideas of individualism, to which man clings when he is trying to find that Infinite Power or that Infinite Pleasure through the senses, have to be given up — say the laws of ethics. You have to put yourself last, and others before you. The senses say, “Myself first.” Ethics says, “I must hold myself last.” Thus, all codes of ethics are based upon this renunciation; destruction, not construction, of the individual on the material plane. That Infinite will never find expression upon the material plane, nor is it possible or thinkable.”
‘Good of the many, welfare of the many’ – is not mere rhetoric. A certain body part cannot be healthy, if other parts are not. When we get to the bigger picture of the world, we understand unselfishness is key to our survival, and learn to see the selfish actions as just aberrations.
From a collective perspective too – be it of any level of the hierarchy – we begin to appreciate what Kant had in one of his Categorical Imperatives, “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.”
‘Reich de Zwecke’ or the Kingdom of Ends, where everybody prioritizes others and treats them as ends in themselves, may sound elusive but remains a beacon to strive for. It can be a direction-point of our behaviour, for it is capable of giving order and integrity.

The Music of the Brahmaputra Valley.

An appreciation of culture helps immensely if we wish to understand a people, a society. For the person who comes newly to a region, or a State, several aspects of the ways of life of a place are often so novel that she finds herself exposed to a different world view altogether. This is the reason that well travelled people find such delight in the cultural richness and diversity of the state of Assam.

Geographical location is undoubtedly the single most important factor in shaping culture. It is geography that determines how accessible a place is, and this in turn, determines whether it is accessible to migrants from different lands, people who bring with them the influences of their own cultures, and their own ways of life. Geography also determines to a great extent how attractive a place is for potential migrants. Is the place well watered, is the climate suitable for agriculture and for living?

The location of Assam is unique in the sense that it is situated at the cusp of two great civilizations, the Indian and the East and SouthEast Asian. It is therefore inevitable that it should reflect the influences of both of them in various spheres. Till the other day, Assam, bound by heavily forested hills, and one of the biggest river systems of the world, was largely inaccessible to the rest of India, as well as to the lands to its east. But these fertile valleys that bask in the mellow sunshine of a moderate climate could not fail to attract migrants from great distances. The difficulty of the terrain leading into this golden land however ensured that historically, these migrations have taken place slowly. These migrants brought with them the culture of the lands of their origin. Because of the slow pace of migration, the assimilation process of each of these influences threw up newer creations, while retaining the flavour of the original. Over time, these mixed and melded with the local culture, to produce something that remains unique to this day. So whether it is cuisine, dress, textiles or literature, music or indeed the many other facets of traditions that manifest themselves in our everyday life, there is always something distinctive about the cultural markers of this land.

The musical ancestry of migrants is often a kind of race memory of the land from which they have come, even centuries after the actual migration has taken place. Music is the nostalgia, the recollection that migrants carry with them as remembrances of the land they have left behind for ever. In Assam, the various strands of its rich repertoire of music, both the vocal and the instrumental heritage, glisten with those memories. The melodies of this land are a seamless intermingling of the airs of the rest of India, particularly Northern and Eastern India, and also, on the other hand, of the many tribal cultures that surround the valley, in the hills of the region. There is also the Oriental aspect. These two latter influences are seen in the more staccato nature of the melodies of this part of the world, compared to the music of the rest of India, which is based on “meends”, or glides. Also, the melodies of the ethnic music of Assam are usually based on a descending scale, unlike the folk and Raag based melodies of much of the rest of the country. The mingling of the influences over the centuries has ensured a composite melodic end product that is as attractive as it is unique.

The music of Assam is rich in both the traditional as well as the folk kinds. Both these categories are often an accompaniment to dance, though they are also performed without this pairing. Among the most luminous of traditional music forms are those that spring from the Sattriya culture. These Sattras, or monasteries, were established by the great Vaishnavite saint, Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568) and his primary disciple, Madhabdev (1489-1596) Sankardeva himself wrote many works of devotion, among them the Kirtan Ghosa, Bhaonas and Naats (dramatic works) and so on. The Borgeets, or Great Songs that he wrote are performed with great piety even today. These are effulgent with devotion, and are based on Raags whose nomenclature is different from both the Carnatic and Hindusthani systems, and also a complex system of Taals or rhythmic patterns. The lyrics are in the sweet language known as Brajawali, a mixture of the Assamese of the time, and the language of Braj. The accompanying instruments of the time were the khol and the taal, or cymbals, but today, recitals of Sattra music are accompanied by the taanpura, violin and flute as well.

It is not the Vaishnavite faith alone that has beautiful devotional songs. Several other deities are worshipped through music. The Mother Goddess, in various forms, has always been very important here. Ai Naams extol her virtues and glories, and are usually sung by women.

Another category of traditional songs are the OjaPalis, where a group of men, and, these days, women too, divided into the main singer/narrator and the accompanying chorus, play out a dramatic musical narration, complete with basic dance steps and hand gestures. Small cymbals accompany the songs.

Muslims have their own songs of piety and devotion in Assam, known as Jikirs. These often sing of moral values and are accompanied by hand claps.

Assam is very rich in folk music, of which there is a large variety to be found here. In the Westernmost districts of the State, in Goalpara and Dhubri, for instance, one finds the luminous Goalpariya folk songs. These are related to the river songs of nearby Bangladesh and North Bengal, though their melodic development and vocabulary is different. These are the regions of the great wandering elephant herds. It is no wonder that “elephant songs ”have such a distinctive position in the folk music of this area. Boatmen’s songs from these musically rich districts are also very evocative in both their melodic and rhythmic schemes.

The adjacent districts also have a rich repertoire of folk music, Kamrupiya Loka Geet being highly melodious. There are also some intriguing categories, such as the “Moh Kheda Geet”of Barpeta which is sung by groups that fan out with burning torches, to chase away mosquitoes. The boat songs of Barpeta “Nao Khelor Geet”sung during boat races, are vigorous and energetic. There are several other categories of folk music, heard up and down the valley. These include the Tokari Geet, the Bongeet, the soothing lullabies or Nisukonigeet. Besides, there are the group songs such as Biya Naams (wedding songs) which are often extempore. These can be sad, as well as merry.

The best known folk form of Assam is the Bihu, an expression of joy and merriment, which is today a dance that is synonymous with the people of Assam. It is a dance celebrating fecundity and fertility, and is part of the Bihu festivals of April and January. The Bihu of Spring, especially, is a joyous one, with dancing and singing galore. The songs that accompany these dances are an integral part of the whole performance. The rhythm encompasses a vibrant double beat that is guaranteed to set feet tapping, and bodies swaying. The lyrics are often quite risqué, and depict the boy wooing the girl, and the girl’s teasing reply. Indeed, the whole tone of the songs is lighthearted, with lots of teasing and double entendres, guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of the audiences. These songs are full of stunning descriptions of nature, evoking the lush beauty of the fields, the rivers, the trees and foliage all around. An intriguing aspect of these lyrics is the fact that they lend themselves to extempore creations quite readily. Many events of a contemporaneous nature are often incorporated into these short stanzas, as are teasing references to the audiences, especially if they are too inhibited to join in the dancing and singing!

Indeed, every tribe of Assam’s multi-ethnic community has its own distinctive music The Bodos celebrate “Baishagu”with song and dance. The Bagurumba dance, accompanied by song, describes the beauties of Nature. Every tribe celebrates Spring in its own way, with its own songs and dances, which enrich the composite culture of Assam. The Adivasi people of the tea gardens have their lively and graceful Jhumur dances and songs.

Among the traditional instruments of Assam are the flute made of bamboo, which is ubiquitous in the rural areas. There are, besides, the stringed folk instruments such as the Ektara and Dotara, which yield tunes that are resonant with feeling. There are also instruments such as the pepa or pipe, sometimes made from the horn of a buffalo, and the gogona or Jew’s harp. Among the percussion instruments are the khol, mainly used for music of a religious nature, and the more secular dhol, the nagara, and the bamboo clappers. It is to be noted that these are all made of material found in abundance in nature. The Ciphung Bahi of the Bodos is a long bamboo flute, played during festivals.


Contemporary music in Assam draws on this solid musical foundation. The amalgamation of various categories, and also more contemporary influences from outside the region, has resulted in some beautiful outpourings of music. Renowned artistes such as Bhupen Hazarika, Zubeen Garg, Papon and Kalpana Patowary, who have been nourished by the musical streams of this land, owe much to this rich heritage, which has nurtured their genius to produce their remarkable musical outpourings.