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Sonia Gandhi, too, should share the blame for sweeping the post-Kargil scams under the carpet. She, as not only the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament at the time but also the President of the country’s oldest political party, had woken up too late to the “mess” that Fernandes had created in the wake of the Kargil conflict and, then too, her approach had been lackadaisical.
Sonia, or her party, did not try to find out if the “mess” was the result of incompetence or design. Defence Minister George Fernandes, the former socialist-turned-trade unionist, had, by his own admission, worked for the West German intelligence agency during India’s Emergency. He might, who knows, still be on the rolls of a foreign intelligence agency not exactly operating in the best interests of India when he was holding charge of Defence portfolio.
His role during the Kargil crisis was inexplicable. His utterances had created so much problem for the Government that the National Security Council (NSC) held its first meeting on June 8, 1999 to discuss the matter and was constrained to ask Fernandes to keep his mouth shut.
On crucial days from May 6, when the first confirmed news of infiltration from across the Line of Control was reported to him, Fernandes was busy holding rounds of confabulations with Chandra Shekhar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Pawar, amongst others, for new political alignments. On May 8, he left for Mumbai to celebrate the silver jubilee of the 1974 railway strike led by him.
Fernandes took a moralistic stand after the Tehelka expose, resigned from the Government and declared that he would not rejoin it till he was cleared of the allegations. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who must be knowing Fernandes inside out, was also taken in because he declared in his Address to the Nation: “In the highest traditions of the country, to safeguard the morale of our forces and the security of the country, my esteemed colleague, a stalwart of the NDA, George Fernandes, has left office”. Within a few months, Fernandes was back at his position. No one knows if it was some foreign pressure that compelled Vajpayee to take him back, giving a blow to the “highest traditions of the country”, “morale of our forces” and “the security of the country”.
Sonia betrayed the people by forcing an anti-climax to the Congress party’s signature campaign launched with a great fanfare in the wake of the Tehelka expose. It was said that Sonia, accompanied by all PCC presidents, would hand over the signatures to the President and seek action. One can imagine how it would have galvanised the party and sent a positive message to the people. But when the time came, Sonia pushed off to the US, leaving it to some AICC functionaries to present the truckloads of signatures to President K R Narayanan.

Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in the latter’s fortified hideout inPakistan raises some pertinent questions.Vaidik claims that he metSaeed as a journalist but Vaidik’s activities of late have been less of a journalistic nature and more of a freebooter Modi soldier. Was he included in the three-member delegation toPakistan in his capacity as a journalist? If yes, which news organisation does he represent?

The 64-year-old Hafiz Saeed is not only listed on NIA’s “most wanted list” but the United Nation had also declared Jama’at-ud-Da’wah a terrorist organisation and Hafiz Saeed a terrorist as its leader. Besides, in April 2012, the United States announced a reward of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed, for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Vaidik (Right) with Hafiz Saeed

Vaidik (Right) with Hafiz Saeed

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed had, along with Abdullah Azzam, founded in1987 Markaz Dawa-Wal-Irshad, a group with roots in the Jamait Ahl-e-Hadis. This organization spawned the jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1990 with the help of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) officers.

Lashkar’s primary target is Jammu and Kashmir. Saeed is often quoted as saying, “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

After the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, India submitted a formal request to the UN Security Council to put the group Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on the list of individuals and organizations sanctioned by the United Nations for association with terrorism. India has accused the organization and its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, of being virtually interchangeable with Lashkar-e-Taiba. India said that the close links between the organisations, as well as the 2,500 offices and 11 seminaries that Jamaat-ud-Dawa maintains in Pakistan, ‘are of immediate concern with regard to their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate terrorist activities.’ On August 25, 2009, Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice against Hafiz Saeed, along with Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, in response to Indian request for his extradition.

Hafiz Saeed lives in Lahore in a ‘fortified house, office and mosque’ that is guarded by Pakistani police and his supporters and closely watched by ISI officers. It is said that no one is allowed nearSaeed’s ‘fort’ without the approval of the ISI. How did Vaidik get clearance of the ISI? On his own ‘authority’? With the help of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)? On personal intervention of Modi through Nawaz Sharif? These are some of the questions that need answers.

Vaidik has not revealed the full contents of his ‘interview’ with Hafiz Saeed. It is Hafiz Saeed who has revealed that Vaidik ‘asked if we would protest Modi’s visit to Pakistan, on which I replied we don’t participate in such politics and protests. Perhaps it says much about Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed!

PS: A source, who takes keen interest in Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, feels Vaidik may have gone to give ‘hush money’ to Hafiz Saeed to ensure that he does not create any trouble during Modi’s visit to Pakistan.

There are roughly three reasons why one becomes a sannyasi or sadhu or mahatma or whatever you want to call. One and the only valid reason is that one has thoroughly enjoyed life and now feels detachment from the worldly things. Bhagavad-Gita lays down: na karmanam-anarambhat naishkarmyam purushoshnute (No man shall ‘scape from act; By shunning action; nay, and none shall come; By mere renouncements unto perfectness. Nay, and no jot of time, at any time, Rests any actionless; his nature’s law; Compels him, even unwilling, into act; [For thought is act in fancy]. He who sits; Suppressing all the instruments of flesh, Yet in his idle heart thinking on them, Plays the inept and guilty hypocrite; – translation by Sir Edwin Arnold).

No school of Indian philosophy permits sannyas or renunciation without going through the worldly requirements. Sage Patanjali defines yoga as complete mastery over feelings and sensations (yogashcittavritti-nirodhah). Bhojadev, the king-scholar who is believed to have reigned from 1019 to 1054 AD, has authored a lucid commentary on Sage Patanjali’s Yogasootram. He explains how desires and feelings such as anger, jealousy, hunger, sex urge, etc. will continue to haunt one who takes to sannyas without fulfilling all his desires. Yogic kriyas, which some of the godmen flaunt to claim their divine power, are merely forms of physical exercise aimed at making the body fit for the rigours of sadhana which is required to attain sublimation.

Once I met at Rishikesh an elderly gentleman. The tranquillity and compassion on his face had attracted me to him. I had a few meetings with him during my stay. He had, he told me, retired as the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in a town in West Bengal, had saved enough for a comfortable retired life, and his children were married and well settled. His wife had expired a few years earlier. He gradually felt his interest in the worldly things waning. Then he decided to move to Rishikesh and concentrate on meditation and the study of the scriptures. He never went to his place but his children and grandchildren occasionally visited him at Rishikesh. He was, he said, at peace with himself.

In the second category are those who out of sheer frustration or for some other reason renounce the world and take to sannyas. They start it with complete honesty. Then after some time the unfulfilled desires and ambitions take the better of them and they spend the rest of their lives hovering between the two forces. Swami Karpatriji can be cited as an example of this category. Born as Harinarayan Ojha in a Pratapgarh district village, he left his home, wife and a small daughter at the age of 17, went to the Himalayas to perform penance, and was accepted by Brahmanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath, as his disciple and given the name of Hariharanand Saraswati. He went to Varanasi where he spent most of his time in meditation and the study of the scriptures. He was spending an ideally austere life. Once in a day he would go to some house, spread his palms before the housewife, eat whatever his palms could hold in a single serving and return to his place at Mirghat to continue with his penance. That was how he got the name Karpatri which means one who uses his hands as utensil.

As his reputation spread, the rich and the influential were attracted to him. Soon the swami was trying to play the king-maker. He formed a political party comprising mostly the former princes and princesses. In the first two general elections, the party had won a few seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas in the Hindi belt. In his later years the Karpatri was living among the affluent, all strident believers in ancient Indian values. The days of austerity were left far behind.

The third reason for becoming a monk is the calculated design to con the gullible people for enjoying all the good things of life without doing a day’s honest work. An extremely large majority belong to this category. There is a play in Sanskrit with the title Dhoortasamagam’. It was written by Jyotirishwar in the 13the century. Its main character, Vishvanagar, is unable or disinclined to earn his living through honest means and becomes a sannyasi. During his wanderings he meets his female counterpart Suratpriya who had also taken to sannyas to enjoy life. The play is about how they con the people to enjoy dainty food and sexual orgies.

These self-styled godmen build up their halo over the gullibility of the people. What, however, is surprising is the manner in which the educated persons, quite rational otherwise, block their critical faculty before such a godman even when the godman has been proved to be a crook. Asaram Bapu is the most well-known example of this.

August 2014
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Ignorance is bliss!

How much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.

--- MARY SHELLEY in Frankenstein

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