Divide and rule

(A reflection on current political environment in India and world. Poetry in Hindi followed by translation in English)

Divide and rule
इतना विदेशी नहीं 
जितना बताया गया 
धर्म और जाति के नाम पर 
इंसानियत बाँटने वाले 
आज भी सत्ता पर विराजमान हो रहे हैं 

Invitation card
पर किसी और का नाम है 
और अंदर कोई और मेज़बान है 
सत्ता का खेल है भाई 
कल तू देश से खेला 
तो आज मेरा एक प्रांत तो बनता है 

Nationalism
के नाम पर कितना खेलोगे भाई? 
आज इतना समझ आने लगा– 
नेताओं का nation जनता से अलग होता है 
उनकी परिभाषा में तो 

हम बस उनकी सत्ता और स्वार्थ के ग़ुलाम हैं 
पर ना जाने कब ये मदहोश जनता समझेगी 
Nationalism एक national-illusion है! 
जनता के अनजान डर पर पनपता
ये उसी “divide & rule” का वंशज है
और इंसानियत को बाँटने वाले -isms का बड़ा भाई

यदि दिल की खिड़की खोल के देखें 
धर्म के जड़ों को झँझोड़ के देखें
सम्प्रदाय के बेड़ों को चंद पलों के लिए तोड़ के देखें
और तकिए के नीचे से सत्य का पन्ना पलट के देखें
तो एहसास होगा कि हर लिबास के पीछे मैं हूँ
और समाज का विभाग कर के राज करने वाले खेल का 
सबसे बेख़बर मुहरा और सबसे बड़ी मात भी मैं ही हूँ 

— दिल की गहराइयों में क़ैद एक आवाज़ 
………………

Divide and rule
(English translation)

“Divide and rule” 
Is not that foreign 
As we are taught
Those who divide humanity
On name of religion and caste
Are still rising to power 

Who invites us to the show
Is way different from who rules 
So is the game of power 
Yesterday, you played the nation 
Dare not stop me from playing this faction 

Nationalism 
How long will you play this chord?
We can see now–
Nation defined by political leaders 
Is different from the ones they serve 
In their definition, 
Their ego & power is the center 
And we are their dumb slaves 

Wonder, when will we the intoxicated people realise 
Nationalism is a national-illusion
Thriving on the unknown fear of its people
Running the bloodline of same old “divide & rule” 
It is the big brother of all other “isms” that fragment humanity 

If we open our hearts 
Shake the roots of religions
Break the bounds of caste and creed
And pull out the truth hidden below our pillows 
We will know..
The one hidden in any costume is “me”
The one who gets played this dirty game of divide and rule 
And the one who looses the worst…
Is also “me”

— a voice prisoned in depths of our hearts!

from the Sacred Well
@sacredwell.in
(Manish Srivastava)

Image from https://m.downloadatoz.com/two-cats-and-a-monkey-story/com.storybook.catsmonkey/

We the celebrated slaves of social media

We pledge to let the propaganda roll…
Much before the penny hits the ground
Or logic intervenes for better
Or curiosity questions the hidden agendas..
We would broadcast your message to millions!

slavesofsocialmediaWe feed on rhetoric.. especially the one dressed in fear
Hit us under the belly and we would chant a nuclear reaction
Consider us, yours best mass media advertisers!
Often we are the krill unaware of the whales feeding on our big numbers…

For we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We are a bunch of nerves
Buzzing on surface, transporting million bytes every second
Who cares for where it came from
And what impact will it leave

As long as it’s fun
We will accentuate and spread anything
that catches our attention
We traded our intelligence and palette
For few extra emoticons by Mark Zuckerberg

Cause we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We work for free and proudly
In exchange of an illusionary freedom
We became the mini-news-producers
With 140 characters on our plate
We could shift the global debate

And that too with no accountability
To validate or verify, any fact or reality
We defend and offend but rarely repent
Unaware of the big games played at our expense

Try us, we are the celebrated slaves of social media

Give us any complex issue
And we will turn it into black and white
It’s worth only determined by number of likes
Who has patience to scroll down for nuances and minority voice
When we can reach conclusions by scanning digital headlines

When you have burgers and pizza at your doorsteps in less bucks
Why care for hunting, gathering, farming, cooking and cleaning
Screen is our buffet, our pride
Who cares about lives on other side of the digital divide

Indeed we are the celebrated slaves of social media

We conserve energy and boycott effort
Reducing activism to fingers tips and clicks on small screens
While farmers toil the earth, masons bear the heat, rest of the world walk the street,
We click, swipe, like, react, forward, comment, tweet but we never log off…

Our thumbs cries for mercy
Head low and lost in virtuality
While the real world dances and dies
A million deaths and resurrections
We wake up to the sound of new notifications

We… wait for it… are the celebrated souls of social media!

 

Manish Srivastava
http://www.sacredwell.in

Are we appreciating or idolising our leaders? 

There is significant difference between appreciating and idolising.

When we appreciate, we acknowledge the good in someone as we do it in ourself. We are at same plane. We learn from them. We honour both.

When we idolise, we put the other on a pedestal. We project all our good on to them. We make them demi-gods and rob them of any capacity to err like human. We free ourself from any responsibility to learn or to hold either of us accountable. 

Idolising quickly turns devotees into advocates of the one (or what) they idolise. As if they have an unconscious contract with their idol. 

Appreciation on the other hand, leaves room for inquiry. There is curiosity that’s open to both “how did you do that?” and “what happens if that does not work?”.

In appreciation there is a field of “and“. We see the gold in our leaders and we see their limitations. We see their strengths and their vulnerability. We can praise them and we can criticise them. 

In idolising, we get stuck in an “either-or” field. We assume that one can either support our leaders or be against them. We can’t see their faults and we refuse to hear any criticism of their decisions. There is no place for nuances. It’s all black or white!

Humans and societies evolve when they learn to appreciate the grey. The nuances. The field between and beyond “either-or”. When they can tolerate an alternate view and see the value even if it’s radical to the mainstream. When they are not threatened by criticism. They don’t have to defend. They resort to child-like curiosity, innocence and acceptance. 

Diversity is not merely a threat but an opportunity to learn and integrate. 

While idolising, we glorify our leaders and ignore their shadows. If they also promote the same (as most politicians end up doing), sooner than later, we have disasters, failures and corruption. 

When we are out of the spell of idolising, we fall flat on earth. Feeling cheated, exploited and used. Desperately looking for another pedestal…

from the Sacred Well
(manish srivastava)
24.10.2016

India- Its time to own our own shit!

This poetry-prose is triggered by recent uprising of dalits (permanently untouchable low castes) as a response to increasing atrocities and injustice they have faced in recent times. Indian society is at another verge of evolution. This is an opportunity for us to clean years of shit that we had conveniently put under our archaic carpets!


It’s time for those
dancing on white marble floors–
To know where our shit goes,
who wipes our streets,
and mops our floors
Cause those who were
systemically condemned
to live in hell,
have awakened
and won’t do it anymore!

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

While we dipped our fingers
in sandalwood with care,
They were neck deep
in our gutters and sewers
While we donned our white kurta
and self-righteous ego
They were stripped of their shirts
And dragged naked in streets…

Now the dirt inside
is staining the white

It’s time for all of us
to own our own shit!

As long there is a task in our mind
that we look down upon
And a part in our psyche
that we shudder to own
Or a longing in our vanity box
Thats too comfortable with low-cost helps…
There will be untouchables!

Untouchability is a social innovation, created by & for, all of us!

Ensuring guaranteed supply of cheap slaves generations after generations!

High castes download it as their birthright. Finding nothing weird in expecting a fellow human being to live on leftovers, forever. Neo-rich and middle-class play another game. On surface they try to look good by giving their used clothes and old electronics to their domestic helps (not very different from skinning dead cattle). However, deep down they also enjoy the convenient and low-cost labour that cleans their shit and supports their life while they pursue their big dreams. Thus they also collude with the existing system that cares nothing about equality, education and progress of dalits.

Lets face it…
Are we providing employment benefits and respect to maids, drivers, cleaners just like employees in business or public organisations?
Can we imagine them sitting on same table for dinner with us?
Why are the jobs like cleaning, sanitation, service, least valued and least compensated?
Why do we strive so hard to gather and show the power and influence but absolve ourselves of any responsibility to change the life of those living in slums and streets? Are we really curious? Or too quick to justify their condition as not our business?

We need to look within..
Each one of us
To shift the paradigm
From our homes, to our streets and the state

(Watch this video and read more below or click on this link)

 

A quarter of India is Untouchable
A quarter of India is systemically oppressed, dehumanised, suppressed–
to serve rest of us,
to clean our shit,
skin our dead cattle,
from generation to generation..
Keeping their mouth shut!

A quarter of India
Is excluded from the GDP growth saga
A quarter of India
Is not counted in great story of Indian compassion and humanity

This quarter of India is 300 million people.
As large as entire population of USA.
This quarter of India is boiling right now
Gathering like a human tsunami
Asking for justice
for generations of atrocities
Calling the facade off our faces

They have thrown the wrench
They are showing the mirror
and awakening the conscience of our country
its another service
This time they are helping us
clean our conscience!

Wake up India!
Its time to clean our own shit

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.sacredwell.in
manish srivastava
03/08/2016

—–

Some references:

Who are dalits? 
An assault on Dalits may have triggered the biggest lower-caste uprising in Gujarat in 30 years
Dalits pledge not to lift animal carcasses in Gujarat
Descent into hell: Mumbai’s dehumanised sewer workers 

 

 

Million Drops of Love

Humanity stands at a new threshold
Rising hatred, sinking hope
For every spark of hatred
Let’s rain million drops of love…

million drops of love

Just before the dawn of new humanity
A massive wave hit the hearts
A relapse of sorts
Intense tribal fear kicked in
The world started walking backwards
Sliding back into their caves
Of nationality, caste, class, religion and race
Whatever be the label
The stone on mouth of each cave read “fear”
Fear of being loved
Fear of being lost in eachother
Fear of breaking the old
And letting the newer and higher emerge
Irrational fear
Beyond all logic and education
Living unchecked in each heart
Only manifested by some lone wolves…
Before we scapegoat them
Let’s look within, our own caves
This is our time…
History of evolution is being created
Each of us stands at the threshold
Of our caves…
Either we step out,
Dissolve the boundaries that divide us
Embrace the other
Co-create a new world
Or we step further in,
Our comfort zones that separate us
Continue the war of “us vs them”
That has destroyed civilisation again and again
The wall that’s reinforced to protect
Also isolates and stifles the one within
The gun that’s fired to eliminate
Also kills the one who holds it
The hatred that justifies righteousness
Burns the one who lives within
Once again, we are in a divine tug of war
manthan within every heart
What would sustain us?
Who will we be at the other end?
What will we tell our children?
It’s our test as humanity…
For every act of violence,
Let’s take million steps of peace…
For every cave that’s closes,
Let’s open million hearts with hope…
For every spark of hatred,
Let’s rain million drops of love…
Manish Srivastava
Sacred Well
18 June 2016
(artwork by Manish on Moleskin app)
 …
rising hate

होली के सूखे आँसू  (dried tears of Holi)

 

सोच रही हूँ इस बार
लातूर की होली कैसी होगी?

सुना है दो रोज़ पहले, जल दिवस पर,holi ke rang
सरकार ने धारा एक सौ चव्वालिस* लगाई थी..
डर रही थी कि कहीं पानी के टैंकर के पास
प्यासे लाचारों की कोई टोली बवाल ना मचा दे !
मैं भी सूखे आँसू रोई..
मेरे ही बच्चे मेरे ही जल के लिए तड़प रहे थे
पर आज होली है
आज तो पूरे भारत में
बावलों की टोलियाँ पानी से खेलती हैं
आज, लातूर की होली कैसी होगी?
चलो एक दिन ही सही
कम से कम होली पर इंसान विभिन्न रंगों से खेलता है
मैं तो रोज़, प्रकृति के हज़ारों रंग
उस पर न्योछावर करती हूँ
पर वो अनजान सिर्फ़ काले रंग का धुआँ
मुझ पर फेंकता जाता है
दोपहर का वक़्त है
सब थक कर घरों में सो रहे होंगे
मेरे तन पर कई रंग और
अनेक प्लास्टिक पैकेट बिखरे हुए हैं
काश ये फूल होते
ख़ुशी या माहतम के
मुझ में समा जाते
— धरती माँ–
(मनीष श्रीवास्तव)
————————————————–
English translation…
I am wondering, this year–
How would they celebrate Holi in Latur?
2 days back on the world water day,
Government enforced section 144*
Fearing that thirsty mob may go wild
around limited water supplies
I also cried dried tears
for these are my children suffering draught
Well, today’s Holi
Whole India will gather in mobs
And go wild with water and colours
Wonder, how would they celebrate in Latur?
 …
Even if its just for a day,
Atleast they celebrate various colours of life
All through the year,
I offer so many from nature
And they give me back just one
Black carbon smoke…
On Holi afternoon,
They might be tired & sleeping
Leaving so many colours
and plastics on my body
Wish they had left flowers
of joy or funeral
and let those dissolve in me
————————————————-
 …

The Alchemy of Writing

A pen knows the language of the land.
One dipped in soul, activates many…

Writer is an artist with a form–
that sings with the music of heart
and flows fearlessly on the canvas of imagination
Writing can be as subtle as the breath…
and as literal as the word.

What’s even more magical is the shape-shifting of creative writing
When a soul’s longing transforms itself
in word, on paper, in print,
travels readily across the oceans, infects the field,
meets another eye, ear and heart–
shifts back into fire, water, spirit–
rekindles many souls and the earth…
and hibernates to be rediscovered in future…

Writing is alchemy
Its an ancient discipline of transforming
unformed emotions into shining words
After each para… I am born anew

Writing is healing
It channels wounds
A secret passage for tears and scars
To find their salvation

Writing is a great sacred ritual
When I write, I am dancing with my soul
With the discipline of a samurai
and surrendering of a devadasi

Do I write or am I written…
By the great pen of life
Filled with deeply felt experiences
On the paper called humanity

All arts are great expressions
Soul yearning a creative from
Writing is special for here the masterpiece
Is the writer himself (herself)!

 

— manish srivastava
(the sacred well)