The popularity of the Congress was on the decline during the latter years of Digvijaya Singh’s second term as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. A senior IAS officer, who was in the good books of Digvijaya Singh, advised him to play the Dalit card in the 2003 Assembly elections. With the blessing of the chief minister, the IAS officer, himself a Dalit, organised a two-day conference in which the Dalit problem was dissected from various angles by experts invited from different parts of the country and a ‘Bhopal Declaration’ was adopted.
To the disappointment of the IAS officer and the chief minister, the media did not go gaga over the momentous deliberations taking place in Bhopal. At the end of the conference, the IAS officer took some of his trusted friends from the journalist community to the rooftop of a private hotel where they were treated to premium whiskeys and dainty dishes. The resident editor of an English daily had one peg too many and had to be virtually carried to his car. The editor, however, decided against calling it a day and retiring to his bedroom. Instead, he instructed the driver to drive to the office so that he could finish the day’s work. His by-lined story appeared on the front page of his newspaper the next morning.
I called up the IAS officer to congratulate him on his getting such a good display. But he said in a pathetic voice: ‘Sharmaji, I have read this piece five or six times but I have not been able to decide whether he has praised my efforts or pulled my leg’.
The judges today are competing with politicians and bureaucrats in excelling in corruption. As the judiciary is the last resort of the aggrieved persons fighting against injustice, the corruption in the judiciary can harm the society much more than corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
Then Chief Justice of India (CJI) R C Lahoti had suggested over a decade ago “complete overhaul of the judicial system”. He said at a workshop in Bhopal that numerous commissions and committees had in the past five decades or so been set up on various issues but no commission or even a high-powered committee had been set up to review the judicial system and recommend changes suited to the Indian conditions. The workshop was organised by the Madhya Pradesh government.
A year later Justice B K Roy, as he was relinquishing his charge as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, lamented in an interview to a newspaper that he saw “some Judges trying to get selective cases listed before their Benches despite the fact that the cases did not fall within the purview of the roster assigned to them. Even after I changed the roster, many Judges kept files relating to such cases with themselves and did not return them. Finally, I had to order the Bench Secretaries to return the files so that the cases could be listed before appropriate Benches,”
Hansraj Bhardwaj, one of the great jugglers the Congress party has presented to the nation, was first inducted by P V Narasimha Rao into his Council of Ministers as Minister of State (Independent charge) for Law, Justice and Company Affairs. A meeting of law ministers of the States was convened by Bhardwaj at Bangalore in October 1992 — within a few months of his taking over — where a blueprint for legal reforms was prepared. This was followed by another meeting of law ministers and law secretaries in Panaji in Goa in April 1993, which was followed by another meeting at Pachmarhi a month later, and so on and so on. The Congress government went out in 1996 but the implementation stage for even the decisions taken at the first meeting never came. How he wasted the nation’s wealth on the salary and perks of the Union Cabinet Minister of Law and Justice (which he had become) in the first Manmohan Singh government (2004-2009) is another story.
In Manmohan Singh’s second term, Bhardwaj was replaced by Veerappa Moily. Jugglery is not in the temperament of Moily. He is rather a silent non-performer. On taking charge of the Law Ministry, Moily promised “expeditious judicial reforms”. He did not resort to gimmicks like those of his predecessor but did nothing in the field. In the meanwhile, the country heard empty noises of Arun Jaitley as Law Minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s NDA government.
While the Executive dilly-dallied on judicial reforms, the Hon’ble members of the higher judiciary literally held the people to ransom. A Judge of a High Court was among the numerous petitioners challenging the validity of the Land Ceiling Act of the State and to obtain stay against the operation of the Act; the Judge and his family members owned the land much beyond the prescribed ceiling. The matter eventually went to the Supreme Court which upheld the Constitutional validity of the Act. Consequently, the stay orders obtained by all the petitioners were vacated barring the one issued in favour of the Judge who had by then become the Chief Justice of the High Court. After he was elevated to the Supreme Court, he was known to have acquired lands in another State also.
Corruption in judiciary was virtually given legitimacy by a judgement of the apex court — by a three-member bench presided over by then CJI K G Balakrishnan. An Additional District and Sessions Judge of Uttar Pradesh was charged with accepting illegal gratification for granting bail. An inquiry was held by the vigilance wing of the Allahabad High Court and it came to light that the respective courts had rejected bail applications of the accused twice on merits. It was alleged that the Additional Judge had granted bail on the third application in utter disregard of judicial norms and on insufficient grounds and it appeared to be based on extraneous considerations. The full court of the Allahabad High Court imposed a punishment of withholding two annual increments of the judicial officer with cumulative effect and subsequently he was reduced to a lower rank. His writ petition challenging the punishment was dismissed by the High Court. He then went in appeal to the Supreme Court.
What the three-judge bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta and Justice D K Jain ruled was incredible, to say the least. It said: “this court on several occasions has disapproved of the practice of initiation of disciplinary proceedings against officers of the subordinate judiciary merely because the judgements/orders passed by them are wrong. The appellate and revisional courts have been established and given powers to set aside such orders. The higher courts after hearing the appeal may modify or set aside erroneous judgements of the lower courts. While taking disciplinary action based on judicial orders, High Courts must take extra care or caution.” The bench set aside the Allahabad High Court judgement and directed that the appellant be immediately posted to the cadre of district judge and paid all monetary benefits due to him.
Yoga in Sanskrit never meant physical exercises. Only illiterates use Patanjali’s name with Asanas.
Sage Patanjali lived the life of an ascetic a few centuries before Christ and preached the philosophy of self-discipline aimed at keeping the temptations for worldly possessions under check. Today the name of Patanjali can ensure plenty of cash and land if one is smart enough to sell Patanjali as the author of the Yogic Asanas (with which the Sage had nothing to do).
How and when did the Indian “genius” associate the name of Patanjali with physical exercises is a mystery. Those exploiting the name of Patanjali do not hesitate even in claiming that the “Paatanjala Yoga Sootram” (the treatise authored by Patanjali) contains the details of the Yogic Asanas. A majority of the Indians feel happy (and more willing to pay) if something mundane can be given a divine aura and shown as if having been preached by the Rishis and Munis long ago.
The fact is, Patanjali had nothing to do with the Yogic Asanas and this is not, even remotely, the subject matter of the Paatanjala Yoga Sootram. The word “yoga” in Sanskrit does not even mean physical exercise. Its more common meaning is adding up or joining. It also means earning, as in the LIC motto “Yogakshemam Vahamyaham”. Yoga and Kshema have been defined as “alabdhasya labhah yogah, yogasya samrakshanam kshemah – to earn what is not already in one’s possession is yoga and to preserve what has been earned is kshemah.
Yoga is also a branch of Darshan (philosophy) and Sage Patanjali was the exponent of this branch. Darshan, or the Hindu philosophy, has six schools or branches: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Poorva Mimansa and Uttara Mimansa (which is also known as Vedanta). All these schools or branches have only one final object, the emancipation of the soul from future birth and existence and its absorption into the supreme soul of the universe known, otherwise, as moksha.
Paatanjala Yoga Sootram contains sootras (short rules or aphorisms as was the practice in ancient times). The first sootra is: “Atha Yogaanushasanam” (now the explication of Yoga). The word anushasanam at that time meant explication or elucidation. In the second sootra, the Sage briefly defines Yoga as “Yogashchittavrittinirodhah”, which translated broadly, means: the Yoga is a check on the wanderings of the mind. This can be achieved, the Sage says later on, by practice (abhyaas) and freedom from worldly desires (vairagya).
The reference to the word “asana” comes in the twenty-ninth sootra of Sadhanapaada where the Sage delineates the eight steps which help achieve the final goal. These are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahar, Dharana, Dhyan, and Samadhi. The Asana here simply means sitting in a comfortable position (Sthirasukhamaasanam).
The use of the name of Sage Patanjali for setting up commercial institutes or Vidyapeeths or organising camps is, thus, an injustice to the exponent of the Yoga school of Darshan and also a distortion of the history