Nostalgic about Ghazals this morning

MusicIn the mornings, Stockholm’s metro usually presents a sight where most people have their headphones on, listening to music. I am usually no different. This morning, while I was travelling to work, I was listening to some ghazals by Pankaj Udhas and Jagjit Singh. It had probably been a few months since I last listened to a ghazal and therefore the music sounded sweeter than usual.

After a couple of tracks such as “Sharaab Cheez Hi Aisi Hai..” and “Aap Jinke Kareeb Hote Hain..” (both by Udhas), I started to feel possessed by the poetry – something that ardent Ghazal fans will identify with – and closed my eyes for a moment and lost myself in the crowd.

“Hosh waalon ko khabar kya, Bekhudi kya cheez hai.
Ishq keejiye phir samajhiye… Zindagi kya cheez hai.”

I opened my eyes and made that smooth, rythmic and slight sideways shake of the head which we music lovers do in appreciation of great poetry and melody, not to be confused with the headshaking to meet the beats of a faster Music.

“Un se nazaren kya mili, Roshan fizayen ho gayi.
Aaj jaana pyaar ki Jadugari kya cheez hai.”

Do you understand the feeling when I say that the next couple of lines always mesmerise me and make me smile?

“Khulti zulfon ne sikhayi, Mausamon ko shaayari,
Jhukti aankhon ne bataya, Maikashi… Kya cheez hai”

I looked at others listening to their own secret music and wondered if they ever shut their eyes and appreciate the beauty of the poetry of a song like a ghazal lover does. Being a foreigner here, I wondered if the locals ever had any idea, or were capable of ever understanding, what a Ghazal was. Did they have something within their own culture that took the place like that of Ghazals in our culture? Do they ever feel that the lyrics have reached inside them and touched their soul and changed them – for good or for bad Do they ever open their eyes and say, Wah!?

“Hum labon se keh na paaye, Un se Haal-E-Dil kabhi,
Aur woh.. samjhe nahi yeh……. Khaamoshi.. Kya cheez hai..”

Do they ever wonder if no other arrangement of a few words could ever match the beauty of what they just heard the shayar say? A bit like,

“Aise bolo ke dil ka afsaana, Dil sune aur nigah dohraaye.
Apne chaaron taraf ki yeh duniya, Saans ka shor bhi na sun paye.”

Maybe! And maybe not! I don’t know. As for myself, decades after decades, I know I can continue to say “Wah!”

Popular Indian Athiests

In a country battered by religious dogma for most of its existence, where riots on religious grounds have been commonplace, and where religion is as much a tool of suppression as of political advantage, it is important to highlight Atheism as a credible philosophy.

Where people take it for granted that belief in God is a virtue and that disbelief implies immorality, lack of character and integrity and attracts only scorn, ridicule and social boycotting from the masses, it is important to point out examples of popular people who were atheists and still known for their high moral and ethical standards as well as their unquestionable patriotic credentials (as patriotism can invariably be attached with belief in God by politically motivated forces).

So, here goes a list of some of the popular Indians who are also atheists:

Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru

1. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. He quoted on religion:

“The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.”

 

Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh

2. Bhagat Singh, one of the most popular figure in the Indian independence movement, whose popularity matched that of Mahatma Gandhi.

He wrote a book, Why I Am An Atheist, when he was in jail.

Amol Palekar

Amol Palekar

3. Amol Palekar, famous Bollywood and Marathi film actor and fimmaker. Regards himself as an agnostic.

4. Javed Akhtar, famous poet, lyricist and scriptwriter. He was born into a Muslim family, but later stated he was an atheist in his speech “Spirituality, Halo or Hoax”

Baba Amte

Baba Amte

5. Baba Amte, A notable social activist.

6. Khushwant Singh, famous Journalist and Author of books such as Train to Pakistan

Kamal Haasan

Kamal Haasan

7. Kamal Haasan, filmmaker and actor, known for making films having themes of both Atheism and Brahminical Hinduism

Baichung Bhutia

Baichung Bhutia

8. Baichung Bhutia, torchbearer of Indian football in the international arena

9. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Indian-American astrophysicist who also won the 1983 Nodel Prize for physics

10. Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian diplomat turned politician

11. Rajeev Khandelwal, Indian film and television actor

12. Arundhati Roy, Indian author and political activist

13. Salman Rushdie, author of Bestsellers like Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verse

14. Ram Gopal Varma, film director

15. Shriram Lagoo, notable actor and rationalist activist

16. Beechi, the Kannada humourist-philosopher, whose ‘positive atheism’ is similar to that of Douglas Adams.

17. Gopinath Muthukad, A notable magician.

18. P. L. Deshpande, A notable Marathi writer and artist.

For further readings on this topic, visit the sources for this blog:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_India
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Indian_atheists

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