Thursday, June 4, 2020

Popular Front of India - What is The Organization All About?

Image Courtesy (DNA)

As the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet in the court with respect to the mayhem resulting from the Delhi Violence, the name of the organization Popular Front of India (PFI) has come up once again. Given this context, I decided to look at the PFI and its history, and found a disturbing picture of Islamist supremacy emerging, with uncomfortable questions on its activities within India, its troublesome origins, and promoting religious bigotry.

Troubling Origins of the PFI
As per the website of the PFI, the organization came into existence after the merger of the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) of Karnataka, National Development Front (NDF) of Kerala, and Manitha Neethi Pasarai (MNP) of Tamil Nadu) among other after the a National Convention on Reservation in Higher Education was organized jointly with All India Milli Council at New Delhi on 29th August 2006. Once the leadership of these organizations decided to merge for better coordination among themselves, a joint meeting of the Secretariat of South India Council and representatives of KFD, NDF and MNP was held on 22nd November 2006 at Calicut where the PFI came into existence.

The Vision Statement from the PFI’s Constitution reads like a typical liberal manifesto. Sample this extract:

Since independence, the ruling establishment has empowered the big business houses and the urban and rural elite, as it ignored the basic needs of the people below. The traditionally dominant social groups have hijacked the democratic process. They work hand in glove with neo-colonial, fascist and racist forces. The dalits, the tribals, the religious, the linguistic and cultural minorities, the backward classes and the women are denied their cultural and social space, making India one of the most backward countries in the world. The development models being used by the establishment is pro-rich and promotes ecological destruction. Resistance against exploitation and deprivation now is mostly local and isolated with no coordination and pooling of resources at national level. This organisation is a move towards coordination and management of such efforts for the achievement of socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of the deprived and the downtrodden and the nation at large. It will try to establish an egalitarian society in which freedom, justice and security are enjoyed by all.

However, this has been a very clever veneer. In 2010, Times Now had reported the seizure of documents by police in Kerala from the PFI office that showed the aspiration of PFI to convert India into an Islamic state.


This was again revealed by another front organization of the Popular Front of India, Sathya Sarani, which has been accused of promoting love jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. As a sting operation of India Today had revealed, the intentions of the PFI very amply clear when Zainaba A.S., head of PFI's woman wing accepted the fact that PFI's sister organisation Sathya Sarani has carried out massive conversions.  


A matter of concern remains that a large chunk of its membership originally came from the NDF of Kerala. As documented by V Govind Krishnan, NDF was essentially a spill-over of the members of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) after it was banned. Gaining popularity on the pretext of promoting religion, the NDF seminars were found to be promoting a rhetoric of jihad. Krishnan quoted Nasser Faizi Koodathai, then joint secretary of the state committee of the Samastha Kerala Sunni Students Federation (SKSF) (EK Sunni Group), who had accused the PFI of leading Muslim youth down the path to religious extremism.

“Since its formation, PFI has presented a democratic façade, but the ideology remains the same as in the days of NDF. In the years following Babri, a number of extremist groups became active in north Kerala, exploiting Muslim anxiety. After ISS, Jama Iyyathul Ihsania, Sunni Tigers, SIMI, etc. were banned or became inactive, NDF was the most active group. It went by no name in the beginning. It secretly held classes in playgrounds, school buildings, and in the guise of martial arts training. It was mainly young people who attended. No outsider had any idea who the members were in any area,” according to Faizi.

Charged with Running a Terror Camp in Kannur

In 2013, the Kerala Police had conducted a raid on the property of a certain Thanal Foundation Trust in Kannur in North Kerala. Arms and ammunition were discovered, even as people ran away at the sight of the police. The NIA was called in for investigation, and eventually more than 21 people were arrested, all of whom had conspired to participate in a training camp for terrorist acts, on 23rd April, 2013 in Kannur district. Convicted by the NIA Special Court in its order dated 20th Jan, 2016. Quoting from the judgment:

On 23.4.2013 at about 12.15 hours, A1 to A21 were found engaged in arms training inside a buirding owned by Thanal Foundatlon a religious and charitable trust run by PFI at Narath. A1 to A21 attended the training inside the building in weapons and explosives. A22 and A23 were guarding the building and on seeing the police party they ran away. On getting information the then Sub lnspector of police, Mayyil Police Station, Kannur District, reached the spot, detected the offence, arrested A1 to A21 at 16.30 hours, seized the articles such as sword, lathies, country made bombs, raw materials for making country bombs, pamphlets etc and registered the case as crime No.276/2013.

The Gory Activities of the PFI

Behind the veneer of the vision statement however there are several disturbing incidents and events that the PFI and its members have been associated with for long.

Activists of the PFI had chopped off the right hand of Prof T J Joseph on July 4, 2010, when he was returning along with his family members from the Sunday mass near his home in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district. PFI was reportedly was upset after Joseph - a Malayalam teacher at Newmans College Thodupuzha, Idukki - in the Malayalam question paper that he had prepared for an internal examination at his college, had inflammatory remarks on Prophet Mohammed.

In 2015, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) court in Kochi had found 13 guilty and acquitted 18. Of the 13 people convicted, 11 were implicated on charges of attempt to murder and conspiracy. Ten of them were also found guilty under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. 

However, the attitude of the PFI has been ambivalent to it at best. In 2017, while dissociating itself from the attackers, Anis Ahmed, the National Secretary of PFI downplayed it by calling it a local incident involving local criminal elements, and clearly underlined that ‘there was no love for that teacher’ among the PFI members.


Two other murders where the PFI has been indicted or alleged to be involved have also seen investigation from the NIA. On 02.11.2016 the Karnataka State Police in 2016 along with the NIA arrested five people - Irfan Pasha, Waseem Ahmed, Mohammad Sadiq, Mohammed Mujeeb Ulla, and Asim Sheriff - all of whom were members of the PFI and its affiliated political organization, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). As the 2017 NIA press release making the announcement on the chargesheet mentioned –

None of the accused had personal enmity with the deceased Rudresh. He was killed solely because of his leadership/membership to a particular organization. Investigation has established that the killing was a clear act of terror with the intention to strike terror among a section of the people. This was achieved by the broad daylight murder of a RSS member in uniform using a lethal weapon on 16 October 2016.

The other murder, currently under investigation, is the murder of Ramalingam of Tamil Nadu. As per the details shared publicly by the NIA on the case, Ramalingam was allegedly murdered by Rahman Sadiq, son of Mohammed Ismail, Administrator to DAWA activities in Thirubuvanam area and Muhammad Ali Jinna, son of Saji Muhammad, who is the District Secretary of PFI in Thirubuvanam district of Tamil Nadu along with other accused persons.
PFI members have been accused of moral policing in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Kasargod districts as well as in parts of Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. They have attacked Hindu and Muslim couples seen together in public as well as subjected Hindu men fraternising with Muslim girls to physical violence, much to the ignorant bliss of mainstream media despite coverage in local press. Krishnan interviewed Naveen Soorinje of local Mangalorean channel BTV, who clearly accused of large-scale moral policing by PFI in Mangaluru. He told Krishnan that the PFI was very clever about the way it especially attacked Hindu boys seen with Muslim girls, due to which very few FIRs get registered against them. He recalled a horrifying episode of moral policing in 2011, where PFI activists beat up and kidnapped a Muslim girl and boy eating together at Swagath hotel.

“They handed over the girl to her relative but kept the boy captive at a PFI office for several hours. When I called the PFI president in Mangalore over the phone, he admitted it brazenly,” Soorinje said.

In another case that had surfaced in 2018, the media had highlighted the case of one Harison who had married a Muslim woman being targeted and threated by SDPI, the PFI’s political wing. Death threats were issued against him and his family.


Religious Bigotry at the Heart of the PFI

Anti-Hindu rhetoric and religious bigotry is a continuing theme of the PFI’s rhetoric. In a speech from the 2017 National Convention of the PFI, a female delegate amid cheers and claps could be heard talking derogatorily about Hindus. “We are not like Hindus. We are born here, and we are buried here. In contrast, Hindus are ungrateful, for their ashes flow in to the ocean,” said Siraj.


One important face of the organization is Umar Shariff, head of an organization called Discover Islamic Education Trust (DIET). In a public lecture 4 years ago, Shariff had said that beef eating was very much the norm in ancient India, and that there was no substance to Hindu claims, and said that a majority of the people eat beef in India. In the speech, he also poked fun at the ‘hypocrisy’ of Hindus on eating meat.

“Cow is your mother, so is the bull your father?” Shariff mocked Hindus during the speech.


The group has been very careful to not let its anti-Hindu rhetoric come to the fore. However, the Athira case involving brainwashing by Sathya Sarani clearly highlighted the anti-Hindu mindset. In 2017, Athira gave a statement to the media post the high tension drama, where she reconverted back to Hinduism, where she clearly stated the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the PFI front. Athira told the media after converting back to Hinduism in 2017 about the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the group and its affiliates in detail.

“They told me it was stupid to worship a stone as an idol and that Hinduism has many Gods while Islam has only one Supreme God. They instilled this doubt in me. When they said that, I felt very curious about it and when I thought about it, I felt what they said was right. I was attracted to Islam through my college-time friends. They first told me about the evils of polytheism practiced by Hinduism. (They) prompted me to listen to religious sermons by Muslim scholars and gave me books about Islam. Siraj, brother of my friend Aneesa, was the key force behind my conversion. It was Siraj who prompted me to leave my home and embrace Islam.”


With piles of circumstantial evidence against the PFI on various fronts, nothing less than a thorough investigation on the organization must be undertaken by relevant authorities. The organization has a lot of questions to answer, and the sooner it is done, the more safe people would feel in general.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

पद्मावती

तेरे शौर्य की है ऐसी गाथा
तेरे सौंदर्य पर वो भारी पड़ी
तेरी चिता की राख की गर्माहट
ज्वाला से भी बहुत अधिक रही
करें कोटि प्रयत्न चंद तुच्छ मनुष्य
तेरी छवि को आज मिटाने की
पद्मावती, तू बस एक रानी नहीं
जीवन पर्यन्त तू अमर हुई।

तेरे हुकम रावल रतन की आँख
का तारा केवल तू नहीं रही
तू दूर आकाश में ध्रुव तारे
सी जग में यूँ तू ज्ञात हुई
तेरी वीरता से ख़िलजी थर्राया
तू वीरांगना श्रेष्ठ कुछ यूँ हुई
तू बस एक सुंदर रानी नहीं
मेवाड़ का अनमोल इक रतन हुई।

वो छल पारंगत क्रूर आक्रांता
जिससे बन लोहा तू भिड़ ही गई
तेरे प्राप्ति के हर संभव प्रयास को
तू आँधी बन छिन्बिन करती रही
तू बन चरित्र परिभाषा नई
हर पथ को प्रतिष्ठित करती चली
तू बन सिंहनी कर चली जौहड़
बनी आत्मसम्मान की नई गिरि

मरुथल में खिलते नहीं हैं पुष्प
तू बात असत्य कुछ यूँ कर गई
इतिहास स्वयं साक्षी था वहाँ
स्वयं धर्म बना तेरा अनुयायी
तेरी स्मृति महक रही आज भी है
तू भारत की ऐसी वीर हुई।
पद्मावती, तू बस एक रानी नहीं
जीवन पर्यन्त तू अमर हुई।

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Lost Story of Bihar's Industrialization


Image


Today, this tweet came up to my knowledge, as I was walking through on the top trends on Twitter for a brief glance. What caught my eye was the image that was inserted in the tweet. Contrary to perceptions about Bihar being some agricultural rustic land, one saw some big plants having been named in the list. The tweet had an angry tone, and was asking that people are wanting to re-develop Bihar's industries so that the migrant labourers do not have to ever leave their state again. Ironically, while this topic rages on among the tweeters of Bihari origin, the topic seems to have hit a stonewall of silence, as if no one wants to talk about the story behind these pictures.

https://twitter.com/25kumaranup/status/1263031899993198593


Migrants are not able to get work within Bihar has always been a major driver of the migrant exodus from the state. In 2015, when there were state elections, there was a detailed discussion after perhaps several decades in the news media about industrialization in Bihar. Perhaps it was a necessary question - more than a decade back Nitish Kumar had stormed to power with the promise of transforming Bihar. However, when one talks to the Biharis outside Bihar, one only hears from them about what I call the Patna mirage - the minute one steps beyond Patna, things are bleak as ever. What was ironic was that in places like Fatuha, a supposed industrial town that saw some industries working with government support, local people barely got any employment.




A classic example of the situation was a company called Lumbini Beverages. A plant for manufacturing soft drinks for Pepsi, the plant that had been operational since 1997 actually shut down in September 2019. Thousands of people, full time and contractual, lost jobs overnight, and they came on the streets. Ironically, the reason behind the closure was that Lumbini could not strike an agreement with Pepsi, and subsequently there were talks with Coca Cola, which also did not materialize. This news got buried under a host of Youtube videos that propagated the various mega projects that have announced investments in Bihar.






Now it has been a lazy argument that Jharkhand, once part of Bihar, was a big hub of industries, and somehow continues to remain so to an extent. However, it was never the case that other parts of Bihar did not have industries set up, which is where the picture raises a genuine question - what really happened?

A big factor of course would have been the fracturing of law and order in Bihar, courtesy Lalu Prasad. However, the story would have started much earlier - just like Bengal's industry decay can be traced back to 1977, one can certainly trace back a similar trajectory to the times of such leaders as Karpuri Thakur, who was continually sabotaged by his own partymen, particularly Lalu and Nitish, for 'failing to meet the people's aspirations'. Lalu too was a Nitish choice to sideline every other faction, and yet, despite being Minister for some time, he decided to part ways.

Of course, in general, the entire socialist ilk must bear responsibility for the fate of Bihar. In a write up for Uday India, long time Communist student leader and economist Mohan Guruswamy, who was friends with the slain Chandrashekhar Prasad, had detailed how everything, even economics, was seen as a casteist conspiracy, ably supported by the likes of Mohammad Shahabuddin and Sharad Yadav. To quote Guruswamy's words:

Lalu recalled some of the statistics in it and rattled off things from it like the credit/deposit ratios, the investment in irrigation and rural development, and the destructive freight equalisation policy. He had a somewhat different take on it though. He said it was an upper caste/class conspiracy to keep the people of UP and Bihar poor and backward. Sharad Yadav had no interest in such things. On the way back, Sharad Yadav told me that he had introduced me to the next CM of Bihar. VP Singh was curious to know what Sharad had to say. Among us Sharad Yadav, who had an infinite capacity for intrigue, was referred to as Mamashree, inspired by the portrayal of Shakuni in the then popular Mahabharata serial. I told him that Mamashree thought of Lalu as a future CM to take the place of the great Karpoori Thakur. VP Singh gave me a quizzical look, as if to say are you for real?

However, that is not the raison d'être alone. A significant period has passed since then, and many people perhaps are simply thankful for the fact that Bihar has not seen the crime wave that it became infamous for on that scale again for a long period of time. Even then, there are questions that remain, which never get answered. For instance, the 2019 Economic Survey poses some facts that make one wonder why there is not more industrialization in the state while questioning the policy adopted by the state in general:

  • Though Bihar contributed only 1.5% of the total industries in the country in 2015-16, the growth rate of such industries in the state was 10%, much higher than the national average of 4%.
  • Bihar has relatively lower productive capacity, which translates into low capital and labour returns. For instance, the average size of fixed capital per factory in Bihar was only Rs 3.39 crore compared to Rs 14.70 crore at national level in 2015-16.
  • Labour absorption capacity has also been very low in Bihar vis-à-vis other states. In 2015-16, the total employment in industries in Bihar was 1.19 lakh, mere 0.8% of the national average.
  • Similarly, the number of workers per factory was only 41 against 75 at all-India level. Interestingly, wages, salaries (including bonus) per person annually in factories in Bihar has not been particularly low. In Bihar, wages, salaries (including bonus) was Rs 1,19,305 per person annually in 2015-16, increasing from Rs 97,790 in the previous year.

With the varying questions in mind, I wish to find more answers to the problem. Hopefully, I will get guidance on the subject from those who know me and also find out more as I try to write (if I get the time on this subject)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

COVID Relief Package - What Other Countries Have Done


Courtesy: The Hindu
COVID-19 has impacted economies across the world, forcing people to seek government assistance in times of desperation. India already announced the PM Garib Kalyan Package and there are talks of a package to help the besieged Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector. Reserved Bank of India (RBI) too has announced a host of measures along with Ministry of Finance to ease compliance issues and infuse liquidity in the hands of the people to tide over the crisis. 

Interestingly in India, a debate has also started on the very need of a stimulus package given its potential impact on fiscal credit, led by Ila Patnaik and Haseeb Drabu. This section is advocating that instead of fiscal package, states should rather be allowed to raise funds on their own, an ability they lost with the implementation of the GST.

While the Indian government is working towards resolving the economic and human crisis in the most appropriate manner, we take a look at other countries and their economic packages during this period.

United States of America
The United States of America (USA) Senate passed a stimulus package of USD 2 trillion. The package was announced in the form of specific sector wise allocation announcements:
  • USD 532 billion for big business; USD 377 billion for small businesses, loans and grants to them.
  • USD 290 billion direct payment for families.
  • USD 290 billion to cover up for revenue lost due to tax cuts.
  • USD 260 billion unemployment insurance.
  • USD 150 billion for various states.



United Kingdom
With the Prime Minister of United Kingdom Boris Johnson temporarily out of the picture after being afflicted by COVID-19, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the stimulus in 4 packages:

  • Budget- First economic package of £12 billion allocation was announced during the budget delivery on 11 March.
  • On 17 March, he followed up with a £350-billion Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for government-backed loans and £20 billion of grants and tax cuts for struggling companies.
  • On 20 March, he announced Coronavirus Job Retention Program of £7 billion of extra welfare spending. Government would pay 80% of salaried employees’ wages capped at £2,500/month. This was extended on 26 March to also cover additional employers. 


Germany
Germany announced a €750 billion stimulus package, comprising a mix of direct support and loans to specific sectors. Announcements were made using a mix of approaches:

  • €400 billion for securing corporate debt on the verge of default.
  • €100 billion for public sector bank KfW for giving out loans.
  • €100 billion to prevent hostile takeovers of companies by foreign entities
  • €50 billion to help small businesses and people affected by it including €15,000 Euro direct cash transfer to firms.


Australia
Australia has announced a 3-step fiscal stimulus package, using targeted approach:
  • AUD 17 billion fiscal stimulus package was announced on 11 March, targeting small business, welfare recipients and low-income households. 
  • On 23 March, the second fiscal stimulus of AUD 66 billion was announced. This included AUD 46 billion worth of direct government spending for individuals and businesses and AUD 20 billion loan guarantee. 
  • On 30 March, a AUD 130 Billion Jobs Plan was announced. Government will pay wage subsidies of AUD 1,500/employee every two weeks to help struggling businesses retain employees.


Japan:
Japan announced a two-step fiscal stimulus worth $1.1 Trillion on April 7, using a combination of targeted and broad category approach announcements. The announcements were in continuation of the $121 billion fiscal stimulus announced in December of 2019 by the Japanese Prime Minister
  • Payment of ¥100,000 for every citizen
  • Government backed loan programs.



Singapore
Singapore has announced three stimulus packages totalling to almost SGD 60 billion. The package is a mix of broad category announcements, targeted approaches and economic approaches:
  • SGD 6.4 billion allocated from the Health Ministry funds. This is targeted aid for sectors like tourism, aviation, food alongside household cash handouts.
  • SGD 48 billion announcement that provided for scrapping of property tax for hard-hit sectors, wage support for businesses and freezing of government fees.
  • SGD 5.1 billion allocation for extension of wage subsidies and foreign worker levy waiver, and raises cash handouts.



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Seva and Karma – The Dual Helix of Causality and the Mandate to Engage





It is interesting to observe the idea of seva or service in the Indic darsanas. Whatever be the outlook towards life, the importance to service of others is given a lot of importance. This definitely arises from the intertwined helical relationship between karma and seva. A succinct example of the depth of embedding of seva in the philosophy of karma can be be found in the Srivaishnava sampradaya’s understanding of the Advaita marga as put out first by reformer saint Sri Ramanujacharya, who lived in the 12th century AD. As Mohan Sagar had elaborated in his short piece on Ramanujacharya’s darsana[1] highlights some important facts:

·   Each and every aatma or soul in a crude translation is in its essential nature, its svarUpam, a simple receptacle to the Lord's Grace, and a humble instrument to His Good. This nature of servitude is not only limited to the soul, but is indeed the nature of matter, as well.

·     Consequently, the Lord is likened to the Soul of the Universe, with all the myriad of souls, the bodies in which they reside, and the matter that are their material possessions, being likened to His Body, dependent wholly upon Him and serving as Instruments to His Good. It only stands to reason then that when we seek to love and serve God, we must be willing and able to serve what is His, namely His Body, this Universe.

·        When we go beyond the things that separate us, when we know that each and every one of us exists solely because of the Grace of God, and when we know that all living beings are in their True Nature servants to Sriman Narayana, we can begin to operate from this mood of serving the world as a means of expressing love and servitude to Him, nurturing and caring for each other such that we can serve Him better.

The nature of seva is also defined in its impact, both on the physical level and the metaphysical. It is well recognized that the conflict of what constitutes seva, the boundaries within which it gets defined, and its connection to karma are all limited in how individuals and societies relate within themselves and with other systems of belief and forms of social setups. Scale is appreciated, but not at the cost of the bhava or the sense of devotion that drives it. A classic example can be found in the parable surrounding Sri Rama’s affection for the chipmunk who brought tiny stones to build the bridge that would help Sri Rama’s vanara sena (monkey army) across the ocean to Lanka. As a rendition states Rama telling the vanaras, who made fun of the squirrel[2]:

“Always remember, however small, every task is equally important. A project can never be completed by the main people alone. They need the support of all, and however small, an effort should always be appreciated!”

This seva bhavana in turn helps to therefore fulfil both at the physical and the metaphysical requirements of humans, and has driven philanthropic efforts in India for millenia now. 

Seva does not go unrewarded in the matrix of religion, and does become ever more important as it is always about karma. The end goal of seva is not to gain heaven – rather, the end goal of seva is to ensure that your aatma gains mukti from the cycle of birth and death and become one with the Maker, a factor that makes the idea of service distinctly different from Abrahamic ideology of service to mankind, which is driven more by the idea of achieving heaven and coming closer to God. In this, the instructive guidance comes from the Dharmashastras, which clearly underline the need for people to be engaged with society through karma, which also includes seva. This can be seen in the way shastras talk about seva in improving the karma of humans. That philanthropy is dictated is a matter of fact reference for such scholars as P V Kane, who in a detailed note had this to say when criticizing the narrow view of missionary scholars of the West on the Dharmasastras[3]:

Every house-holder was called upon by the Hindu Śāstras to offer food according to his ability to students, ascetics and to all beings including the untouchable candālas and even dogs and crows. Every brāhmana who could teach had to do so without demanding any fee beforehand, Maṭhs were established in all parts of India for expounding religious books, feeding students and the poor. There are annasatras even now where hundreds are fed every day. No necessity arose throughout the ages for a Poor Law in India with its attendant evils well portrayed in Dickens' famous master-piece 'Oliver Twist’. The above were some of the different aspects of philanthropy and charity which are now dubbed social service.

Kane, in fact, goes on to further elaborate on the ancient nature of this sense of service, tracing it back to the Yajur Veda, which mandates the donation of cows to the sick people, and then finding evidences to the same in the Mauryan emperor Asoka’s reign, whereby hospitals were established even for beasts.

In the Buddhist and Jain realms, donations are extremely equally important. Service is again playing a major role in attaining moksha. In his introduction to the Niyamasara of Acharya Kunda Kunda, Uggar Sain had clearly enumerated hows every Jaina house-holder is supposed to perform six daily duties, one of which is Dana or charity, comprising of giving of food, knowledge, medicine, or protection[4]. Similarly, in Buddhist literature, one sees references to the importance of service and charity, as shown in the various Jatakas[5] or stories of the Buddha’s previous birth lives where he identified himself with the one who would engage in generosity, compassion and charity, and building many structures of service.




[3] Kane. P.V., HISTORY OF THE DHARMA ŚĀSTRA (ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL LAW), Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona 1941, viewed at https://www.australiancouncilofhinduclergy.com/uploads/5/5/4/9/5549439/history_of_dharma_sastras.pdf
[4] The Sacred Books Of The Jainas: Niyamsara (The Perfect Law) of Shri KundKund Acharya, Jagmander Lal Jain Memorial Series, Vol V, 1931 Central Jain Publishing House, viewed at https://archive.org/details/Niyamsara/mode/2up
[5] Tales of the Buddha retold by Ken & Visakha Kawasaki 1995, viewed at https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kawasaki/

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Purushartha, Karma and Its Import in Indian Society


Whatever be the darsana, the emphasis on purushartha has always been significant. Barring perhaps the charvaka system, each attaches a degree of importance to the ideas of dharma, artha, kama and moksha in varying degrees. The eventual goal of the varying darsanas is not even moksha; rather it is mukti, or liberation from the bonds of the world in their entirety. However, it is not that mukti is to be sought independent of the four purusharthas; rather, the four serve as a sequential process towards the same, somewhat similar to the conceptualization of an algorithm that forms the underlying principle of any software.

The concept of purushartha is different significantly from the conception of the Calvinistic and Lutheran thoughts on the relationship of man and God and man and society that eventually serve as the source of all individualistic and libertarian principles. Purushartha defines your relationship with yourself and the society that surrounds you, as it defines your duties rather than your rights, as Atul Kerde had summed up[1]. According to Kherde:

It was the prevalent belief that you would achieve moksha only by fulfilling your duties, regardless of how the world treated you. Your duties were your obligations which you owed to the world. The duties involved:
  

·        Following your dharm (profession),
·        Generating income (arth) ONLY out of your dharm, and
·        Enjoying that arth (taking kaam) only after clearing all obligations would lead to
·        Freedom (moksh) from the worldly concerns and give you peace of mind.

Purushartha, as Coomaraswamy had noted, forms the standard of social ethics which take into account the whole man[2]. It serves as a yardstick for measuring the utility of a given activity in total or in individuality or groupings without detriment of the others. The significance of purushartha arises in the pursuit of the ideal world, and helps us realize exactly how we are different from any other living creature on the planet. As the philosopher M Hiriyanna had noted[3], the Aitareya Aranyaka elaborates how man alone says what he has known, and sees what he has known, and is aware of the other world beyond the ony immediately in front of him, and also conceives an ideal world fixed and independent of it. As Hiriyanna wrote,

In this feature of man’s activities, that they are consciously directed to an end, we find the criterion of 'human values'. They are values in the fullest meaning of the term; and we propose to confine our attention in what follows to them, which are described in Sanskrit as purusharthas or ‘what are desired by man.’

The importance of striving towards an ideal world therefore becomes increasingly evident as a system of values, working to ensure that the various duties are fulfilled with due significance attached thus to each of them. Acting through the proper conduct and working towards the generation of prosperity and well-being in society in various ways is not just meant for the individual alone – this puts into perspective several things, including entrepreneurship, the relationship of the individual and his/her wealth with that of society, and the values of ensuring an attitude of contribution. Indeed, the role of purushartha therefore serves as the root of the concept of seva or service, in addition to the philosophy of karuna or the attitude of karuna towards the others.

The significance of purushartha in the societal sense is not appreciated enough. The fact that such texts as Kamasutra, Arthashastra and Dharmashastra exist and the philosophy of purushartha are therefore testament to an important fact – that Santana Dharma is not an escapist religion, and does not put undue pressures on its adherent to renounce the world. As pointed by Shyam Krishnakumar[4], the significance of living in this world, in this society and contributing to it can be gauged by the fact that texts would begin by stating which of the purusharthas they aim to fulfil. For instance, as the Ramayana states, “kamartha-guna-samyuktam dharmarthaguna-vistaram” meaning “it deals with the worth of kama and artha and treats in extension of dharma and moksa.”

With this emphasis on purushartha, it becomes evident that karma is essential to the performance of duties when in the fold of Dharma. Karma is however deeply driven by the belief in aacharana or conduct that is essential to upholding Dharma. Of course, it must be qualified that this is in no way unique to Hinduism; rather, the philosophy of karma and its essentiality to the concept of ensuring Dharma in society is invaluable for all Indic thought systems. The Buddhist Dhamma Sasana as elucidated by the Buddhist canonical literature delve deep into the belief, with the right conduct playing an important role. For instance, the Madhura Sutta is instructive[5], as it highlights important things – while Kshatriyas are Bkept above Brahmins, the reaffirmation of the actions of the various constituents of society is essential to maintaining order in society and upholding Dharma, or doctrine as Robert Chalmers spelt it out. Similarly, Jaina darsana also emphasize significantly on right acharana and karma in society, detailing the conduct similar to other Indic darsanas for various constituents of society.

Karma as a philosophy is layered and more complex than just present day conduct. By defining its relation with time, a whole set of categories are created. However, it is not that one category is independent of the other – good karma as practiced by a person has the power to nullify, even supercede the effects of bad karma that one may have undertaken. The importance of karma is evident in the fact that it is considered as one of the yoga margas or ways to achieve mukti from the cycle of birth and death. Of course, it is made more than clear that controlling your karma all the time is very difficult, as observed in the dilemma of King Janaka when donating to rishis despite a cow being slaughtered; however, there is clarity in canon that there is an attempt to look at your actions in sum total, and not necessarily individuality. Walking the path of Dharma is never considered easy; however, its importance is necessary when put in the larger context of what your duties are as an individual, and what it would take to achieve the four purusharthas in life.

Past actions determine what you can be born as or into; however, it does not in any darsana stop you from becoming what you can by achieving your maximum potential. Mahabharata refers to two particular tales, which also form two Gitas of their own, that make for important case studies to understand the Dharmic view of karma and how action and conduct determine your stature and path to mukti.

Ashtavakra Gita: Ashtavakra was born a cripple out of a curse from his father for having corrected his uccharana while still being in the womb. He is called Ashtavakra out of the fact that he has eight vakra (twists) in his whole body. However, through his karma, Ashtavakra wins a critical debate in King Janaka’s court, and goes on to even give upadesha about the relationship of aatma with Brahma, which forms a critical part of Advaita canon literature.

Vyadha Gita: A sannyasi who has achieved great yogic powers is humbled by a simply vyadha or butcher, who gains enlightenment by his sincerity and adherence to karma. Moreover, the butcher also advises the sannyasi, which goes on to also espouse an important philosophy, as pointed out by Swami Vivekananda in one of his lectures – that karma is what determines your stature and respect in society, and will free you from all bondages.
Another important aspect of always adhering to Dharma and practicing karma accordingly can be seen in the popular text of Ramyana. In its various Indic adoptions – be it the Hindu versions, Jain version, Buddhist version, or the version as told in Guru Gobind Singh’s Dasam Granth, there is more than ample clarity on not giving up on man’s Dharma under any circumstance, for it is the true path to mukti. The end results often vary; however, the commonality in the understanding of Dharma across the various Indic darsanas are indisputable.






[1] Kherde, A., Purushartha and Punishment, Pragyata September 2016, viewed at http://www.pragyata.com/mag/purushartha-and-punishment-245
[2] Coomaraswamy, A., What Has India Contributed to Human Welfare? Athenaeum 1915 London
[3] Hiriyanna, M., Indian Conception of Values: Purusharthas, reproduced by Prekshaa, November 2016 and viewed at https://www.prekshaa.in/indian-conception-values-purusharthas
[4] Krishnakumar,S., A Week With the Purusharthas, Indiafacts October 2018 viewed at http://indiafacts.org/a-week-with-the-purusharthas/
[5] The Madhura Sutta concerning Caste. By ROBERT CHALMERS, Journal Of Asiatic Society 1894 viewed at https://www.sacred-texts.com/journals/jras/1894-14.htm

Sunday, April 26, 2020

एक और अवसर - एक कहानी

सिंगरौली में गर्मियों का मौसम बहुत ही मुश्किल से बीतता है। श्याम तो खासतौर पर बहुत ही सकट गर्म होती है, मानव की सूरज जाते-जाते अपनी गर्मी रात को उधार दी क्या हो। वैसे ही शहर में पावर प्लांट की कोई कमी तो है नहीं उनकी गर्मी भी शायद इस बेइंतहा गर्मी में कुछ ना कुछ योगदान करती होगी। बहरहाल जिस तरह यह मौसम बीत रहा था, उसमें कुछ नवीनता तो नहीं थी हां इतना जरूर था के लोगों के अंदर बारिश के लिए एक अजीब सा उतावलापन पैदा हो रहा था।

हाल ही में नवीन दिल्ली से आया था अपनी पोस्टिंग संभालने के लिए। दिल्ली की गर्मी की तो उसे बहुत जानकारी थी लेकिन उसके ख्यालों में भी उसने ऐसी गर्मी के बारे में सोचा तक ना था। दिनभर पावर प्लांट की झुलसती गर्मी से बेहाल हो कर वह जब शाम को अपने क्वार्टर पहुंचता था तो दरवाजा खोलने पर अंदर से आती गर्म हवा के थपेड़ों से लिपट जाता था। किस मनहूस घड़ी में उसकी तकदीर लिखी गई थी, यही सोच सोच कर घर में ऐसी चलाता और एक घंटा बिना कुछ करे बस वही सोफे पर सो जाता। ना जाने कब रात आ जाती, एक का एक उसकी नींद खुलती, कभी खाना बनाता अपने लिए और और कई बारी भूखे पेट ही सो जाता। हां, लेकिन एक चीज जरूर थी जो रात को होती थी। एक पेड़ था उसे घर के बहुत ही करीब- शायद रात की रानी का पेड़ था। उसके फूलों की सुगंध किसी तरह हवा के तार पर बंद कर उस तक पहुंचती और वो अपनी क्वार्टर की बालकनी में खड़ा होकर उस भीनी भीनी सुगंध का आनंद जरूर लेता। न जाने क्या कशिश थी सुगंध में जो उसे अतीत में ले जाता था, एक ऐसी दुनिया में उसे पहुंचा देता था, जहां यह गर्मी, यह धूल, यह कोयला और यह छोटे से शहर का वही पुराना पन कहीं पीछे छूट जाता, और रात के अंधेरों में खो जाने के बाद उसे आखिरकार सुकून की नींद आ ही जाती है।

कुछ ही साल हुए थे नवीन को नौकरी शुरू किए। पहले दिल्ली में ही मुख्यालय में नियुक्ति थी। अचानक एक दिन उसे खबर दी गयी के सिंगरौली के प्लांट में विस्तरिकरण का काम आरम्भ करना है, और प्रोजेक्ट मैनेजर उसे नियुक्त किया गया है। दो साल के लिए। बस जी, फिर क्या था - बाँधे बोरिया बिस्तरा और चल पड़े सिंगरौली की ख़ाक छानने! हाँ, तनख्वा में वृद्धि का लालच उपयोगी सिद्ध हुआ - दिल्ली छोड़ कर जाने का कुछ तो भुगतान बनता ही था।

उस रात बहुत अजीब सा सपना उसकी आँखों के सामने चला। एक अजीब सी धुंध चारों ओर फैली हुई थी, ठीक वैसी जैसे दिल्ली में सर्दियों में अक्सर दिखा करती थी। पर धुंध का रंग एकदम काला! कुछ समझ सके, उससे पहले ही धुंध छंट जाती है, और काला अँधेरा, जिसे चीरती हुई चाँद की मद्धम रोशनी सब ओर से घेर लेती है। वो फिर भी सतर्क सा महसूस करता है, पहचानता है के ये रोशनी भी उधारी की है, एक छलावा है। असल में तो सिर्फ़ घना अँधेरा ही रात का साया है, और वही एक सच है।

आँख खुली, तो पाया कर मोबाइल में लगे अलार्म की घन्टी पुरज़ोर बज रही है। इस घन्टी के बजने से सिर में एक अजीब झन्नाहट हो रही थी, पर यही होश दिला रही थी। किसी तरह अपने शरीर को मनाकर उठना हुआ, और दिन की तैयारी शुरू हुई। आज वैसे भी बहुत लम्बा दिन था, बहुत ज़रूरी दिन था - प्लांट की जान, उसका बायलर आज  लगने वाला था। एक भी चूक, और महीनों की मेहनत एक क्षण में बर्बाद। ऑफिस पहुँचते पहुँचते नवीन के अंदर एक दृढ़ निश्चय बन चुका था - जो भी हो जाए, आज चूक नहीं होने दी जाएगी। कड़ी मेहनत और लम्बी मशक्कत के बाद, आखिरकार काम ख़त्म हुआ, तो ध्यान आया के दिन ढल चुका था और शाम भी रात का रुख अपना चुकी थी। इस बीच चाय और समोसे लगातार सारी टीम का पोषण कर रहे थे। ज़रूरी भी था - एक पल का विश्राम करोड़ों की मेहनत को मिट्टी में मिला सकती है। नवीन इस मण्डली का लीडर, तो उसकी ज़िम्मेदारी भी सबसे अधिक थी। बस, और क्या था। अपने अभी तक के सारे अनुभव को दांव पर लगाकर, जब काम दिन का पूरा हुआ, तब चैन की साँस भर नवीन अपने मनपसंद होटल जी एस ग्रैंड के रेस्टोरंट में खाना खाने वो निकल पड़ा। यूँ तो कुछ सहकर्मी से अच्छी बातचीत थी, पर किसी से भी इतनी मित्रता कभी बनी ही नहीं। और वैसे भी, नवीन को कुछ चीज़ें अकेले करना पसन्द था। खास तौर पर जब उसे अपने मन की थकावट मिटानी होती थी।

"नवीन! तुम यहाँ कैसे?" सहसा एक आवाज़ पीछे से आई। नवीन ने मुड़ कर देखा, तो नीली रौशनी से खेलती पीले बल्ब की रोशनी में उसे वही चहरा दिखाई दिया, जो जाना पहचाना था, जिससे उसका एक पुराना रिश्ता रहा था। हाँ, उसके मन ने उससे कहा, यह वही है।

तविषि वहीं खड़ी हुई थी। उसके साथ एक और सज्जन था। सम्भवतः पहचान का होगा कोई। नवीन हल्के से मुस्कुराया। "आप यहाँ कैसे?"

"__ पावर प्लांट का निरीक्षण करने आयी थी। हमारा काम है आजकल पर्यावरण अभियंत्रो के लिए पैरवी करना। शायद भूल गए तुम।" अपने साथ खड़े सज्जन की ओर संकेत करते हुए फिर बोली, "मेरे सहकर्मी, प्राणेश। प्राणेश, ये नवीन हैं, हमारे कॉलेज के मित्र। कभी सोचा भी न था के इससे यहाँ, ऐसे भेंट होगी।"

हाथ मिला लिया, तो तविषि यह कहकर चली गयी की वो कल बात करेगी। पर नवीन की मन की शांति भंग हो गई थी। यही एक चीज़ उसे पसन्द नहीं थी, पर समय और परिस्थिति आपके वश में नहीं होते, आज फिर उसे संज्ञात हुआ। खाना पूरा कर वो चल पड़ा अपनी बाइक पर प्लांट की कॉलोनी में आवंटित क्वार्टर की ओर, पर पहुँच के भी उसके मन को शांति नहीं मिल रही थी। नींद ने भी साथ देने से जैसे मना कर दिया हो उस रात को। बस, स्मृतियों की एक निरन्तर बहती धारा उसे डुबोए जा रही थी, और नवीन को समझ नहीं आ रहा था के वह उससे कैसे अपने को सुरक्षित करे।

***************

वह दिन थे इंजीनियरिंग के। तीसरा वर्ष था, और कठिन वर्ष था, पर पढ़ाई की आपाधापी में भी समय निकल ही आता था वह सब करने के लिए जो अधेड़ उम्र में लड़के-लड़की अपने यौवन को पहचानने में। और भी अनेकों रुचियाँ होती हैं युवकों-युवतियों में, और वह सब भी मान्य हैं - संगीत, अभिनय, कला, खेल-प्रतिस्पर्धा। दरअसल नवीन था कॉलेज की फुटबॉल टीम का कप्तान। इंटर-कॉलेज प्रतियोगिता थी, और वह दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के उत्तरी कैम्पस के __ कालेज के विरुद्ध खेलने गया था। हार तो बहुत बुरी हुई थी, लेकिन उस पराजय के बहाने उसकी भेंट तविषि से हुई थी। पर्यावरण विज्ञान में रुचि रखने वाली वह रसायन शास्त्र की छात्रा को भी कुछ अनुभूति तो हुई थी उस दिन, और दोनों के बीच सेलफोन पर मैसेज के माध्यम से वार्ता आरम्भ हुई थी। मैसेज कब घंटों लम्बी चलने वाले फ़ोन काल में बदल गयी, पता ही नहीं चला। पता था तो इतना, के यह संबंध गूढ़ता की अभेद चादर ओढ़ रहा था।

कभी कभी प्रेरणा चाहिए होती है जीवन में आगे बढ़ने के लिए, और कहीं न कहीं नवीन के हृदय में एक परिवर्तन हो रहा था। कुछ दूरदर्शी विचार आ रहे थे उसे, और पूरा प्रयास किया गया के आगे की पढ़ाई के लिए या एक अच्छी नौकरी के लिए वह कुछ करे। गेट परीक्षा निकट थी, और उसमें प्राप्त अंक अनेकों जगहों पर नौकरी के इंटरव्यू तक ले जाने के लिए उपयुक्त थे, अतः नवीन ने एड़ी चोटी का ज़ोर लगा दिया। स्कोर अच्छा था, और कुछ जगहों पर उसके सिफ़ारिश पत्र भी स्वीकारे गए। अपेक्षा थी के शीघ्र उसे उचित नौकरी मिलेगी और शायद वह बात कर पाएगा आगे के जीवन के विषय में।

उस दिन वह गया था उसी कॉलेज में मिलने। समाप्ति हो गयी थी शिक्षा की, और समय था काटने को। तो क्यों नहीं तविषि से मिला जाए। वह घुसा ही था कॉलेज के भीतर की उसे तविषि दिख गई किसी के साथ। ध्यान दिया तो जाना की वह उसका मित्र सुमित था। दोनों एक दुसरे में मग्न थे, और उन्हें संसार का कोई अता-पता न था। अनभिज्ञ थे वह दोनों, एक दूसरे में लीन। यह सब क्या था और क्यों था, कुछ समझ नहीं आ रहा था। चंद माह पूर्व ही उसने सुमित से तविषि का परिचय कराया था। क्या पता था, के उसे यह दिन देखना पड़ेगा।

मन में एक अजीब खटास हो गई। क्रोध, उदासी, अविश्वास का वक झुंड मक्खियों सा उसके हृदय और मन को बारम्बार डंक मारता रहा। उसके बाद तो बस एक दिन वो था और एक आज का दिन - न किसी से कोई सम्बन्ध था, न कोई संजोया था। उस परिवेश के लोगों के साथ उसने मानो दूरी बनाने का अटल निर्णय कर लिया था। नहीं जानना चाहता था वो किसी को भी - सम्भवतः उसे उस समय को अपनी स्मृति से मिटाने का एक भरसक प्रयास आरम्भ हुआ था। घरवालों के प्रश्नों का उत्तर अवाक् रहकर दिया जाता जब सब पूछते के उसके कॉलेज के साथी कहाँ हैं, किस हाल में हैं। कोई अलबत्ता सेरिअलों का स्टार बन जाता तो भी उसका वर्णन मुख से न निकलता। बस चन्द ही महीने बाद गेट की परीक्षा था, उसे इलेक्ट्रिकल का परिणाम लाना था, अपनी पसन्द की सरकारी नौकरी के लिए महत्वपूर्ण पड़ाव पार करना था। अपने को डुबा दिया था नवीन ने परीक्षा में रैंक प्राप्त करी। इंटरव्यु में जब निवेदन दिया तो कई कड़े प्रश्नों का उत्तर उसने एक अलग ही स्तर की बेबाक़ी से दिया, जो पैनल के सदस्यों को कुछ सीमा तक प्रभावित कर गया। उसकी नौकरी लगी, और वो भी मुख्यालय में!

काम में अपने आप को डुबो दिया नवीन ने। कोई मित्र नहीं, कोई पहचान नहीं, दफ्तर में भी भोजन अक्सर एकाकी करना - कई लोग अजीब निगाहों से देखते। किन्तु काम को लेकर उसकी मात्र प्रशंसा के कुछ और सुनने को नहीं मिलता। जीवन की छोटी छोटी खुशियों का अभाव लोग महत्वकांक्षा समझ बैठे - बस, कभी सड़क के आवारा कुत्तों को खाना खिलाना या इयरफोन लगा संगीत सुनते हुए किताबें पढ़ना था, जो नवीन को उसकी एक अपनी छोटो सी दुनिया में ले जाता। वही नवीन जो कभी किसी को समझ नहीं आता अपने उस स्वरूप में आता जो कहीं खो गया था, जिसकी आकृति कुछ धूमिल हो गयी थी। नवीन ने लेकिन कभी यह न पता लगने दिया के उसके हृदय में क्या छुपा था।

चौथा साल हुआ, और उसे सिंगरौली आने का आदेश आया। माँ के कहने पर भी उसने विवाह के लिए भारी मन से बात को हाँ कहा, परन्तु मन में एक फाँस थी, जो कभी नहीं निकली थी। पुरानी तस्वीरें, पुरानी मेसेज, पुराने तोहफ़े मिटा तो सकते हैं, पर पुरानी स्मृतियाँ यूँही नहीं जातीं। सिंगरौली मानो जैसे एक अवसर था उस सब से दूर भाग आने का। बस, जैसे के वह प्रसिद्ध शेर था न - मैं और मेरी तन्हाई। उसे क्या पता था, ऐसा होगा।

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आँख खुली, तो फोन का अलार्म चीखता पाया। उठ कर नवीन ने पाया के उसे शीघ्र तैयार हो प्लांट जाना होगा। किसी तरह सब कर करा कर वह बाइक पर पहुँचा तो उसका फ़ोन बज उठा। एक अंजान नम्बर था, पर मन में न जाने क्यों एक अजीब सी चुभन उठी, हृदय में कुछ छलका। फ़ोन उठाया, तो उस ओर तविषि का स्वर था।

"हेलो नवीन, पहचाना? तविषि!"

"हाँ, पहचाना, बताओ," मन के सैंकड़ों प्रश्नों के मध्य बस यही निकल सका।

"क्यों न आज मिलते हैं, जी एस ग्रैंड में? वैसे भी, इतने सालों बाद मिले हो। शुक्र है नम्बर वही है," कुछ हँसते हुए तविषि ने कहा।

नवीन ने हामी भरी, और शाम 7 बजे मिलना तय हुआ। 6 बजने के बाद नवीन क्वार्टर वापिस पहुँच कपड़े बदल जाना था नवीन ने। पर पूरा दिन आज नवीन कहीं खो गया था। उसने कुछ दृश्य देखे थे तब, जो आज भी उसके सम्मुख आ रहे थे। मन में बारम्बार वही घूमते रहे, और काम में अड़चन बनते रहे। आज भगवान की कृपा से कुछ करने को नहीं था, क्योंकि मिस्त्री बीमार होने के चलते आ नहीं पाया। पर अपने केबिन में बैठे बैठे मन टटोलता रहा उन्हीं बातों को। समझ बन्द हो रही थी, सुन्न हो चली थी। एक पीड़ा पुनः उठ गयी थी। पर यह सब....नवीन बस यूँही चुपचाप असमंजस में पड़ा रहा।

शाम हुई, घर गए। कपड़े बदलते हुए भी मन की फाँस बार बार कचोटती रही। क्यों यह सब? अब क्या? क्या मिलेगा इसके बारे में सोच कर?

जी एस ग्रैंड पहुँचा वो। आज सप्ताह के मध्य का दिन था, तो अलबत्ता दफ्तर के लोग नहीं थे वहाँ। सिंगरौली के छोटे से कस्बानुमा नगर में दो या तीन ही तो थे रेस्टोरेंट जो बड़े शहर में रहे व्यक्ति को पसंद आ सकता था। वह नीली रोशनी, वह नब्बे के दशक के फिल्मी गाने, और वहाँ बैठी तविषि। ऑंखे उस ओर गयी तो देखा वह अकेली थी, और उसने उसे देख लिया था, और एक बड़ी मुस्कान से उसका स्वागत किया। थोड़ी कोने की टेबल ली थी, जहाँ कुछ अकेलापन था, कुछ एकांत का भाव था। आर्डर दिया, और खाना खाते हुए कई बातें हुईं। स्मृतियों की झड़ी लगाई गई, मानो कुछ और था ही नहीं। भरसक प्रयास था बीते समय को पीछे खींच लाने का। हँसी, खुशी, अल्हड़पन, यादों की फुलझड़ियाँ तो बहुत जलीं, लेकिन नवीन के मुख पर एक झूठी सी हँसी बनने के अलावा कुछ नहीं आ पाया। बातों बातों में सम्पर्क के अनेकों प्रयास होए, कुछ संकेत दिए गए, पर नवीन मन ही मन हैरान होके नकार देता।

शाम कैसे बीती, समझ नहीं आया। हाँ, समय का आभास बहुत हुआ। "समय बहुत हो गया है, हमें निकलना चाहिए," नवीन बोलै। अचरज की बात यह थी के आज उन दोनों को छोड़ कोई ग्राहक नहीं थे रेस्टोरेंट में।

"कोई नहीं नवीन, कुछ देर रुक जाओ। नहीं तो ऊपर चलो, मैं यहीं ठहरी हुई हूँ," तविषि ने एक दम से कहा।

नवीन ने उस बात को अनसुना कर दिया। बहुत अजीब लगा यह सुन उसे - इतनी निकटता आज? वो भी इतने वर्षों बाद? "मैं चलता हूँ," उसने बिल देते हुए बोला, और देखा के तविषि भी साथ चल पड़ी थी उसके। कुछ अटपटा सा लगने लगा, पर अनदेखा करने का प्रयास तो चलता रहा। जैसे जैसे बाहर की ओर पग बढ़ते रहे, वैसे वैसे तविषि की हँसी और किलकारियाँ छलकती रहीं।

बाहर आए, तो देखा के कोई नहीं था। एकाएक पता चला के हाथ गर्दन पर लिपटे हुए थे। एक छवि बनी हुई थी चेहरे पर, जो प्रयास कर रही थी रिझाने की। एक शरारत थी आँखों में, एक भाव था जो कहने का प्रयास कर रहा था नवीन को समझाने का के उसकी एक ज़रूरत थी।

नवीन ने अपने आप को छुड़ाया। उसे बड़ा ही अजीब लग रहा था यह सब देख कर। "क्या कर रही हो तविषि? लोग देख लेंगे!"

"कौन लोग नवीन, यहाँ कोई नहीं," तविषि हँसने लगी। "वैसे भी, कौन जानता है नुझे यहाँ?"

"सुमित को क्या जवाब दोगे?"

एक अजीब शांति ढाँप गयी क्षण को। तनाव था, पर तविषि ने उसे तोड़ते हुए पूछा - "इस सब का सुमित से क्या लेना देना?"

"मेरा नहीं, सुमित का तो होगा।"

"सुमित को जो नहीं पता, उससे तुम्हे क्या लेना देना? वैसे भी, उस जैसे निरर्थक व्यक्ति के साथ मैं क्या करूँगी?"

"मतलब?" नवीन को झटका लगा। क्या उसका मैन सही राह पर चल पढ़ा था? जो चित्र मन उकेर रहा था, क्या वही सत्य था?

"एक ऐसे व्यक्ति को क्यों अपने से जोड़ूँ, जो कभी भी मुझे वो नहीं दे सकता जो मुझे चाहिए? एक दिन उठी तो देखा, आदर्शवाद उसके मन पर सवार हो गया। लाखों की तनख्वा को त्याग पहुँच गया एक कस्बे में काम करने, और मुझे भी झोंक दिया इस नरक नुमा जीवन में। क्या मिला है मुझे इस सब से? मैं छोड़ देना चाहती हूँ इस जीवन को।"

"मैं ही मिला था तुम्हें?" नवीन ने एक तल्ख़ स्वर में पूछा।

"मुझे नहीं पता के तुम मुझमें रुचि रखते थे? सम्भवतः आज भी है, वरना मुझसे मिलने नहीं आते यहाँ। मैं आज भी वही हूँ नवीन, और समझ गयी हूँ के मुझे वो जीवन चाहिए जो तुम मुझे दे सकते हो। प्रेम तो तुम्हें मुझसे आज भी है न? मुझे निराश मत करो नवीन, मुझे अपना लो। हम दोनों एक दूसरे को एक और अवसर क्यों नहीं दे सकते?"

नवीन ने एक निगाह भर कर तविषि की ओर देखा। मन में प्रश्नों का जाल, भावनाओं का एक समंदर जो अब तक प्रत्यक्ष था, एकाएक शाँत हो गया। एक किरण एक दम से अंधकार को चीर के मन के कोनों को प्रकाशमय कर गयी। नवीन ने तविषि की ओर देख कर एक मन्द से मुस्कान अपने चेहरे पर उकेरी।

"बस तविषि, आज मुझे अपना उत्तर मिल गया।"

बस, इतना कहकर नवीन ने अपनी बाइक को शुरू करा, और अंधेरी रात को चीर तविषि को बिन देखे छोड़ अपने घर की ओर चला गया। 

Popular Front of India - What is The Organization All About?

Image Courtesy (DNA) As the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet in the court with respect to the mayhem resulting from the Delhi Violenc...