Monday, May 04, 2020

This is not a rant...

Arjuna and Krishna rock! Absolutely nuts about this duo!

This is not a rant... But maybe it is. I love hearing back from viewers and readers. It is always lovely when people engage with you through their response to your art and it helps sustains the lonely artiste given to grappling with the solitude that is the result of spending too much time wandering around your own head. Unanimous love or hate for anything put up on the public sphere is rare and it is weird how the exact same things can provoke vehement, polar opposite reactions in individuals. For my series on Youtube, #MahabharataWithAnuja the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I am more thankful than can be adequately expressed. But of course there is bound to be criticism - constructive as well as the other icky kind.

Over the years it hasn't become any easier to deal with the bouquets or brickbats, vulgar dms and other mixed responses. Which is why sometimes, I put up a blog post and get it out of my system. A recent trend has been the resurgence in the popularity of Indian mythology. I am not complaining since I have written a few books in the genre and I am happy that so many love the ancient texts as much as I do. As a counter response, there has been a wave of bitter criticism against the misogyny, casteism, etc. which are admittedly present in mythology when viewed from a certain angle. The liberal left can be particularly vicious and unforgiving when it comes to anything that 'glorifies' Indian culture and tradition with the view to strengthen the so - called 'Hindutva' narrative that is supposedly being foisted on us. In other words, folks like me tend to get accused of being little more than foot soldiers in the Bhakt/Sanghi army (as someone, whose Hindi vocab is limited to a few words, I am not even sure what Sanghi means. I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with Ashwin Sanghi or does it?) and pandering to the whims of those who would try and rob India of its secular character.

To these people, all I can say is that India is a proudly secular nation and there is nothing wrong with her Hindu citizens being proud of and embracing their religious roots in the same manner as their brothers and sisters who worship other Gods. It is not done to attack the religious beliefs of those belonging to other faiths or calling out their God without proper context. In the same way, it is not okay to keep attacking Hindu Gods and accusing them and their worshipers of all manner of morally dubious conduct. It is definitely not done to call Rama a chauvinist and a cheater or accuse Krishna of womanizing and villainy. Seriously, please quit it. Every once in a while do make the attempt to recognize that other people's beliefs and feelings are every bit as important as your own. Pretty please!

As for the hot - headed right wingers, a blind belief in our glorious culcher and tradision without any nuance or proper understanding of the essence that may or may not be contained in our scriptures is foolish and dangerous when taken too far. There are certain evils like the caste system which have been deeply ingrained in the lore that has been passed down to us thanks to the vested interests of an elite few and it sucks that so many were and continue to be denied quality education and opportunities for advancement on the basis of their birth or gender. Please don't bother sending me lengthy comments or emails justifying such awful practices based on your personal take of the ancient texts. You are not going to convince me that only 'the deserving' ought to get an education or that the caste system has any merit. We ought to hang our heads down in shame for having failed to surgically extract it from our identity as Indians. But I will not stop dreaming of a future when no one in this country is required to own a community certificate. For it is a beautiful dream and one worth striving tirelessly towards to make it our collective reality.

Then there are those who call me out for my Arjuna bias. That is cool. But the thing is, I have never hidden the fact that I love Arjuna. Krishna is another favorite as well. I certainly am not blind to some of the unethical stunts they have both pulled but that does not mean I am ever going to like them less. It is fine to agree or disagree with someone about various aspects of a beloved epic like the Mahabharata and I have nothing against people who love Karna and Duryodhana. To each their own. However, it sucks when people point out a certain flaw in a beloved character, cherry pick ugly episodes and then use it as an opportunity to diss the great epics and all of Indian mythology while insisting that those who peddle these myths and sharing these dearly beloved stories are corrupting the youth, supporting sexism, perpetuating hatred, throwing in their lot with the jingoistic, fanatical brigade and the rest of that rigmarole. Please people! Be reasonable! Why insist on throwing out the baby with the bath water? And why hate those who do not subscribe to the same viewpoint as you do?

There, I am done with my rant which is not actually a rant right? I am merely pointing out the obvious. For those who feel I am being unnecessarily defensive, you may be right but I am extremely proud and protective of Indian mythology and no, I refuse to feel bad about it. Thank you for understanding. And if you don't, that is fine too... as long as you don't flood me with hate mail, or cuss me out in a dm.

P.S: Are you watching #MahabharataWithAnuja ? If you haven't watched it yet, please do check it out right here.  And be sure to tell me what you think! Even if it is to make your case for why you think I haven't a clue :) 

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