Sunday, July 1, 2012


Simplicity has been the darling of many. Infatuation if you like. Obsession.  Leonardo is supposed to have said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Einstein was always sniffing for her everywhere he went. On Google you will find the following words of his: 

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

He also allegedly cautioned people against too much of it, when he says: “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

Why single out poor Simplicity, did Aristotle not say “Everything in moderation”(including moderation, ha,ha,ha!): ‘Everything’- not just Simplicity I sayyyy…

Einstein believed that “God does not play dice with the Universe” and disliked Quantum Theory based explanations of the origins of the universe. He would rather think backwards-start with a paradigm- and relate it to observation. Like using the Lorentz Transformation for explaining the observation that the speed of Light always remained constant. 

Anybody remembering that charming catch word: SIMPLIFLY! ? Great! That was the word that launched a thousand…curses?...Capt. Gopinath’s basic air carrier Air Deccan! Capt. Gopinath went the way of all good things, but that word left a stamp on one’s heart!

Barse bundiyan saawan ki,                        Kanhaa… Kanhaa tori, johata reh gayi baat’
Sawan ki mana bhawan ki!                         Johata reh gayi baat!
Sawan me umgyaon mero mana,               Johat johat ik pal thaadi, Kalindi ke ghaat!
Bhanaka suni Hari aawana ki!                    Kalindi ke ghaat!
Umadaghumada chahudish se ase aayo,    Jhooti preet kari manamohan, ya kapati ki baat,
Damini damake jharajhawana ki                Ya kapati ki baat!
Nanhi nanhi boondana neha barase,          Meera ke prabhu, Giridhara nagar, de gyo brij ko chaat,
Sheetala pawana suhawana ki                   de gayo brij ko chaat!

(NB: some vowels sacrificed in interest of Radeef ji and Kafia ji)

You listen to an elegant composition in Rajasthani Hindi, metre consisting of but four syllables, ordinary words, held together in a magical concoction, and you bet, it’s polished off with “Meera ke Prabhu, Giridhara nagar” That  familiar ring! Meerbai does with an “iktara” what others cannot do with a Vichitra Veena!

And maaind you haan, we won’t be so crass or stuppid as to proffer a translation, it has to come without …or within..! If you are stranger to the language…so sorry…(for so am I)! The Nobel Prize Committee supposedly learnt Bangla before plumping for Gitanjali.

Well….we  never were greatly enamoured of that genre of literature called Historical Fiction, ‘History’ being actual or notional-  that would bring into the ambit of our blog treatises like  ‘Saket’ or ‘Mrutyunjaya’,  based as they were on Ramayana or Mahabharata. It appears to us to be a sort of ghallughara of creativity- a massacre. For lazy authors.  Reminds one of our slim-slim childhood books which gave the sketches of monkeys or donkeys or flowers, and all we were required to do was to fill in colours, that too with the crayons provided to you with the books. 

The drawbacks of the genre are many. In order that all may not appear airy-fairy, one has to pretend that the works are rooted in realty, and thus fiction tends to masquerade as fact, just to provide a strong foundation to the castle in the air. Goes on to strengthen delusions of the alleged greatness of our  civilization… It can be interesting in the hands of an Arthur Conan Doyle or a Bertrand Russell, or a Ranjit Desai.., but look at the way the serial Rani Laxmi Bai or something by someone called Sanjay Khan on an Indian TV channel panned out. It ultimately ended in the insanity of the producer, and the viewership…!

Meerabai! Was she Really real? Well, for one, the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of Meerabai make her seem real. Take for instance her wry remarks about herself: 

sadhu sang baithi baithi lok laaj khoyi,

something like “Meera got into the company of sadhus and lost her social senses…”  Ok?

Coming from a Bhakti poet, such self-deprecatory remarks are rather startling…uncommon. Had a ghost writer been behind that name, we would see more of such in the original works of Jane Doe, but there aren’t any such remarks elsewhere.
This pic conforms to our 'sense'or lack of it on Meerabai.
Chalo man Ganga Jamuna teer
Ganga Jamuna nirmal paani                                                     
sheetal hot sharir

bansi bajavat gaavat kanha
sang liyo balbeer
chalo man ganga jamuna teer

mor mukut pitambar sohe
kundal jhalkat heer
chalo man ganga jamuna teer

meera ke prabhu giridhar nagar
charan kamal parseer
chalo man ganga jamuna teer

Another gem!

Clicking , you read the usual biography, which we all know broadly:

“Though there is some disagreement about the precise details of her life, it is generally agreed that she was born in 1498, the only daughter of a Rajput chieftain and landlord by the name of Ratan Singh, in the neighborhood of Merta, a fortress-city, founded by her grandfather Rao Dudaji, about 40-50 miles north-east of Ajmer. Her mother died when Mirabai was only four or five years old. Mirabai is said to have been devoted to Krishna from a very early age, and in one of her poems she asks, "O Krishna, did You ever rightly value my childhood love?”

The author is Vinay Lal, writer of a blog called “Lal Salam” on Wordpress, now a Professor of History at the Delhi University, after decades overseas, in Indonesia, Canada, at the University of Chicago, Columbia University- and has written for the EPW. These details are not by way of hero worship, but simply to indicate why we are accepting his version as history. Question of credentials.  About having written for EPW, that’s a sort of thumb rule YF has - if he or she has been published in the EPW, he-she can mota-moti be considered credible.  It's a sort of Hallmark of Scholarship. We haven’t got the chance to write for the EPW so far presumably because our address hasn’t been stable for the last few years, and presumably their requests have not reached us, ha,ha,ha. As we told earlier in one of these blogs, Chabiwala Bank, if it read the writing on the wall, was bound to send us from the capital of Assam to that of Meghalaya, and that has happened, we are glad to report to our invisible readers, he,he,he!

That brings us to another important academic question. On the basis of records and relics, Lord Buddha or Emperor Ashoka are clearly Historical figures? The same cannot be said about Rama or Krishna? On the basis of written records and gospels, notwithstanding the absence of physical evidence, the Christ appears to be a Historical figure, though many myths naturally surround him, they even surround YF. So also for Prophet Muhammad. Can the same be said for Meerabai or Tulsidas or Surdas? To couch our curiosity in a different manner, could there be a process by which history is authentically propagated on basis of oral or social tradition alone? DD Kosambi tried his hand at drawing inferences about the history of say…culinary practices, from the way ladies use a pestle and grinder in parts of Maharashtra. But that’s like extracting oil from sand, as cowbeltwallahs say. Miniscule output to input ratio. That’s how the efficiency of an engine is defined.

There are ways to do that, we are happy to report. But more of it later.


Talking of simplicity in verse, the following stanza from a Lata song from the movie Bandini is always quoted by us to our hapless audiences:

Badari utha ke chanda, chupke se jhaanke chanda,
Tujhe Raahu laage bairi, muskaaye jee jalayike,

Mora goora ang lai le, mohe shyam rang dai de…

We always thought very highly of the author till we took the trouble to find who that was. That’s the first Hindi movie song written by this haaaaighly over-rated shaayar. We always had reservations about his qualities, but independent corroboration came from Akhtarbhai, our Guardian Angel, and the last word on many things, particularly shaayari. Alas there are only three persons who know this secret, yeh nacheez, Akhtarbhai, and the subject himself, of course. To leave with a hint, his name is six lettered, begins with Gul and ends with Zar. 

for the two first bhajans. If you have not heard them mince someone apart from our usual 5 readers has stumbled upon this lonely blog. God bless you!

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