Banaras, A Mystic Love Story

Banaras is not a destination its a journey of our lives. If you go to watch this movie for a ready-made solution or only to "kill" two hours, you may get disappointed. Banaras is aimed to create a thirst for something one is generally uncomfortable to explore.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Soham must die": Gayatri Devi... contd...

Gayatri Devi was obviously born in royalty. She was possibly the pampered child of the rich and aristocratic parents. Being a girl child, she would, however, have obtained up to only a middle level education available in the local town even though she would be a brilliant scholar. She would have cried for higher education, as the parents would have denied her sending to city in the fear of risking the honor of the family.

When parents would have found Mahendranath, the rich, well educated and honorable boy of the Mahanth’s son of Banaras, they must have considered their daughter extremely lucky. She would, no doubt, have brought huge wealth as dowry that would have given her a huge stature and social power in the city of Banaras. Mahendranath too, must have considered himself lucky having gotten a wife who was beautiful, intelligent and regal.

Time passed and the worries grew, as the couple didn’t conceive a child. They went to temples, worshipped the Gods and visited Godmen. When they had lost complete hope of a child, lord Shiva blessed them with the beautiful Shwetambari. She became the pupil of their eyes. They would both do anything to see their blessed child happy.

Shwetambari would remember how her mother would take her to temples and how people would bow in front of her very proud mother. She would always be in awe of her. She respected her mother immensely but grew closer to her gentle father, Mahendranath, who was much more liberal, tolerant and philosophical.

Shwetambari was an exceptionally bright child and got easily admitted to the local university. Since she didn’t have to leave the house, Gayatri Devi, though not entirely happy, allowed Shwetambari to continue studies. Gayatri Devi would have been happier if her daughter would have just learnt music, embroidery and cooking and been married early to a nice Brahmin boy.

When Shwetambari begins to take interest in music, Gayatri Devi becomes hopeful. She assumes the music teacher to be an old man and therefore never saw any risk in Shwetambari leaning music from him. However when she sees Soham on the holi day, she gets terribly upset. When she tries to talk to Mahendranath, he asks her to take things lightly. However, Gayatri, since alerted, must have discussed her doubts with Mahamaya.

Mahamaya loved Shwetambari as her real sister and felt extremely protective towards her. Therefore, no sooner than he hears of her being seen with Soham in Sarnath, that he comes to report to Gayatri and Mahendranathj

Things take a serious turn after the parents confront their daughter.

Imagine the state of Gayatri. She would have demanded Mahendranath to stop Shwetambari’s education and get her married immediately. Mahendranath would have promised that he would be able to talk Shwetambari out of this. Mahendranath’s words must have sounded hollow to Gayatri, as he knew her daughter better. She also knew the limits to which a “liberal” Mahendranath would go to sort things out, therefore she isolates herself and begins to prepare an alternative and independent plan to “protect” her “ignorant” child from the “evils” of Soham.

From this point onward she plays along with Mahendranath but begins pursuing her own path. She would not depend upon Mahamaya for the task because even though he was devoted to her, Mahamaya was in awe of Mahendranath. He would have never done a crime behind his back. After all Mahamaya knew that he was able to bend rules here and there to make a living only because of the mercies of Mahendranath.

On the other hand, Sevak Ram was much more devoted to her. She was a royal and she knew how to keep her servants loyal to her. Sevak Ram would do anything to protect the honor of the family. When she would have told Sevak Ram to get rid of the “ambitious monkey” who was trying to bring dishonor to the family, he would have felt duty bound to accomplish the task.

After the murder of Soham, Gayatri is nervous, not repentant. Nervous, not because “she” has done anything wrong but because she had not anticipated Shwetambari’s reaction to his death. She is nervous about the state of her daughter. Go and watch the movie again, she fiddles with her Sarees, looks here and there but never repentant. In fact we never had to try to shield her guilt to keep the suspense alive because she never had any guilt. Guilt would normally be associated with a murder done in a rage. The murder of Soham was done in cold blood. There was no wavering. It was a completely “rational” in the mind of Gayatri Devi.

Remember, the scene where Shwetambari overhears the parents talking about the plot of applying pressure on Soham to say “no” to the marriage, and Gayatri saying, innocently, ”What else could have we done? Could we have given our daughter to a sweeper?”

This statement summarizes the character of Gayatri. There is no malice in it. It is stated as a mere a necessity.

In Gayatri’s mind, she committed NO crime. What she did was merely to protect her daughter from the evil designs of Soham. Soham could not be allowed to be in love with Shwetambari. He had no right to be. Soham could not be allowed to live. He had to die.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Love, Betrayal and Compassion

Gayatri Devi, the cultured and the aristocratic:

Gayatrri devi’s character was designed to represent the ordinary and the most common.

The character has a façade that we all keep in front of our true selves. Unlike Gayatri however, who was blessed to have a daughter like Shwetambari, to break her spell, most of us live and die in complete illusion.

Gayatri Devi is born in aristocracy with a feudal mind and is used to getting things done her way. In her mind, what she does is all good and what she despises is all bad. She is used to writing the rule book. Though her regal beauty and inherited royalty still rules in Banaras, she is ignorance personified... She is illustrative of the lives of the majority.

Imagine the paradox; a person who lives in Banaras in the company of the great masters remains full of fear, ego and lives in total illusion. On one hand you have Buddha, Kabir, Vyas and Kabir and on the other you have Gayatri Devi.

Just peek into the mind of a convoluted mother who actually believed that her action was to rescue Shwetambari out of the clutches of Soham. She convinced herself that her daughter had gotten completely insane in love and that she was incapable of knowing the consequences of her own act. This action of Gayatri Devi is also illustrative of how millions of parents interfere in the lives of their children with "insane" mind and impose upon them their thoughts that destroy the lives of their children.

On the other hand, Shwetambari loves her parents so much so, that despite learning the truth about Soham’s death, she is able to relate to the mind of her mother and forgive her. However there are millions of children who succumb to the wishes of parents but continue to hold a grudge against them for life time.

Shwetambari’s character depicts two vital points. First, that parent must listen to the children’s wishes, analyze and communicate to them their "wisdom" but never impose upon them; The second is that even if parents make a mistake, they may be forgiven, as their intents are seldom to harm the interests of their children.

In the next blog we will look into the psyche of a murderer who creates a perfect hell, suffers through and finally gets redeemed.

Gayatri's story continues.....

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Gunjan: Touched by God

Gunjan, the crook that got touched by the hand of God

Banaras is full of Gunjans. Inside the most famous temples, the narrow lanes and on the bank of the holy river Ganges. They are also called the thugs (crooks) of Banaras. To these wretched souls, making money in the name of God, riding on someone else's faith, is an opportunity to make a living. It's amazing that in the city which is said to be the abode of Shiva, there could be people who remain absolutely untouched by its great spritual energy. Gunjan was conceived to be one such character.

When he is caught red handed by Soham, his life takes a turn. It was not the Soham's words or the threat that caused to change Gunjan, it was his touch that caused the spell on him. The same person who was so selfish as to be exploiting and cheating people in the name of God becomes so selfless that he gives up everything including his city to keep the word given to Soham.

In life we do come across events which are capable of transforming lives even though not all of us get lucky enough to be touched by Soham.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Enlightenment and detachment: Dialogues contd.


"Have you experienced (or been close to it) what Soham
experienced in Saarnath? Is it (enlightenment) a
journey that one can traverse gradually or a state (0
or 1)?
How about "Detachment"? Do you consider it a byproduct
of enlightenment or a separate exercise?"


The experience that Soham went through at Sarnath was very personal one, that happened in the vicinity of a very high energy field (Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment at the very spot). Ashmit experienced great vibrations during the shoot and even having been back in the hotel, kept crying for hours. My personal experiences of the truth has never been so dramatic as in the movie.

In my mind, enlightenment is certainly a moment. There are times before it and then the rest of the life after it. You are either enlightened or not. There can’t be stages. You may have started the journey, you may be closer to that moment but if you have not reached the destination, you may come back to the origin. So in a way it is either “0” or “1”.

However, Let me clarify that enlightenment need not be a “glamorous” event. You may be looking at the stars, you may be sitting on the bank of the Ganges or you may be in some kind of meditation, when it can suddenly happen.

Take the case of Shwetambari. Her trigger was, when she learnt about the secret of Babaji’s immortality though she didn’t get enlightened there.

When do you think was the true moment when Shwetambari got enlightened?

Detachment happens. You do not try and achieve detachment. With the knowledge of the truth, you experience the connections. You understand the nature of life and death. Your wandering mind suddenly siezes. Tranquility dawns. You may still remain active. You may still choose to be competitive. Yet, your act would contain that sense of detachment. You may still feel the pain and pleasure but they would never have the same impact again.

You suddenly understand the true nature of the world that it all exist strictly inside your mind and when you do that you are enlightened.

Neither enlightenment nor detachment are "exercises". There is no process which can be taught by anyone to you. This is a pathless journey. It begins with an investigation and ends with experiencing the truth. The path that you took is your own and may never be replicable.

I hope I have answered the questions raised, to the best of my ability.


Dialogues with the Viewer.. Contd.

The remaining questions..Recap:

"I understand you come from Banaras and probably grew
up there. . . let me guess. . . your grandfather was a
very disciplined and spiritual being. Perhaps when you
have time . . .

Have you experienced (or been close to it) what Soham
experienced in Saarnath? Is it (enlightenment) a
journey that one can traverse gradually or a state (0
or 1)?
How about "Detachment"? Do you consider it a byproduct
of enlightenment or a separate exercise? Do you come
to US for any reason?"

Well yes, I have been in the vicinity of Banaras since the childhood and it's difficult for a sensitive ( taking the credit :)) mind not to be affected by it.

My grandfather had a very imposing persona. He was full time freedom fighter and gave up politics after the independence of India and refused to participate in the national politics. Though I do remember accompanying him in the public meetings of congress where he would be invited by the minsters etc as an honorable speaker. He didn't encourage us (my whole family) ever to enter politics and never allowed us to take favours from politicians, whom he knew very well. I distictly remember when the MLAs and MPs would come to take is blessings before taking the oath as ministers.

He believed in God in a very strage way. He never worshiped an idol but believed that we were created to accomplish our tasks dutifully to the best of our ability rather than wasting time in reciting God's name. He would often collect the idols from the small temple (which my father had buily for self) and throw them in a pond, saying that my father needed to grow on his own feet rather than walking with a crutch of those idols.

Much later, when my grandfather was no more, I asked my father, as to whether he ever resented his father? His reply really shook me.My father replied that quite the contrary he viewed his father as a saint. This dulity used to puzzle me for a long time. I wondered which was the right path?

Thus began my own investigation into the truth.

Today, as I write this piece my father, grand father and grandmother are no more in their body but in memory and in spirit, they live inside me. They all were noble souls who took very different paths but reached the same destination. My mother is now 92 but still meditates for 2 hours every day and is a follower of Kabir..

Banaras, therefore,is aptly dedicated to my parents and grandparents.

The answers would continue in the next blog.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dialogues with a viewer of Banaras

I am reproducing a portion of dialogues which I have had recently with someone I have not met personally. These would answer some of the latent questions which others may have in their mind.


Dear Mr. Singh,

I do have a few questions:
What was your process/reasoning behind selecting
Mr. Himesh Reshammiya for the music direction?

Is the story of Banaras an end result of trying to
weave the spiritual essence of Hindu mythology OR did
the story come first and then you wove the
spirituality into it?

Can you share your inspiration behind the story?


Himesh appealed to me as an engmatic young composer with good knowledge of classical music (his father is a veteran). I also loved his compositions in Tere Naam. My requirement was to have melodies in Banaras gharana of classical Hindustani with contemporary style. My brief was for him to create something which lasts for the next 25 years.

The story originated in my mind in 80s and the three characters who appeared first, were Soham, Babaji and Shwetambari. I was obviousy influenced by Kabir who fascinates me no bounds. Spirituality was not an after thought. In fact the love story and the drama came later. I would not say I created the story on Indian mythology. It is based on personal experience and my own investigations of the truth. I would obviously be influenced by some masters whose knowledge I must have internalized.

My grandfather and father were the biggest influence on the story as my inspiration. They walked on two different paths and yet they both were highly enlightened beings. My grandfather left a distinct mark on me. There is also some intrigue I am born with perhaps.

There is so much more to say but for now, I may stop.


Dear Mr. Singh,

Thank you for the answers - which in turn have
inspired even more curiosity on my part to learn more
about you, your experiences and the influences.

When I watched Banaras for the first time I wasn't
aware of the music direction. I was so awed and taken
by the music along with alll the other aspects of the
movie. When I found out that music direction was by
Himesh, I was shocked and a bit disappointed in
myself. it showed me how biased I was in judging him
only based on his popular video albums & commercials.
I hope Himesh gets to create more music like he did
for Banaras.

You are right - there is no mythology or religion- it
revolves around the quest for truth.
Just before watching Banaras, I had read "The Razors's
Edge" by Somerset Maugham and had liked it a lot. The
lead character is driven by his quest for truth and
eventually finds enlightenment in Southern India with
a guru. Consciously and subconsciously I have compared
Banaras with "Razor's Edge" and wished I could read
"Banaras" the book and grasp more details which may
have been difficult to portray in a movie.

After watching the movie several times, I am still
under the spell of "Banaras" - may seem like a kind
of juvenile thrill having experienced something
totally unexpected. There are lot of great movies and
books on complex topics. One of the (many) things that
impressed me about Banaras is that you've done it with
a very subtle, light touch rather than rubbing it in.
That’s why Razor's Edge is now a distant second (to
me)compared to Banaras.

I wonder what difficulties you faced in producing the
movie. Did you have any experience with the industry?
And the risk of investing so much capital -
commercially was it a successful venture or did you
end up losing money? What can people like me do to
help you?

I understand you come from Banaras and probably grew
up there. . . let me guess. . . your grandfather was a
very disciplined and spiritual being. Perhaps when you
have time . . .

Have you experienced (or been close to it) what Soham
experienced in Saarnath? Is it (enlightenment) a
journey that one can traverse gradually or a state (0
or 1)?
How about "Detachment"? Do you consider it a byproduct
of enlightenment or a separate exercise? Do you come
to US for any reason?


No, I did not have any experience with the film industry and yet to think of how I developed the courage? Destiny, must that be.

I put in every penny that I had made without any hesitation and have no repentance for it. There is not much return to talk about. It's not that It caught me by surprise.

I had taken no help from anyone except that probably I spent the money that in a way belonged to my family, who very gracefully joined me as producers,

It doesn't bother me to be reduced to where it all began. Of course I will have to wait again to make some more money in order to take next steps but that's ok for me because that's how may be it's all designed to be.

I run an IT company in the mean while.

Would answer your other questions later.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Kitna pyar karte... A poet's version

I persuaded Suman Sharma from US (whose comments appeared under separate post earlier) to do another version of "Kitna pyar karte". Now look at the amazing thing Suman has done:

Here is a portion of her mail:

"You have created a wonderful
movie with a spiritual message and also subtly crafted
many more current issues within this movie.

It continues to amaze me - such simple, elegant way
like a feather brush gently removing the dust off of
various items creating a wholesome landscape that
soothes all senses. It is like "Jaaki rahi Bhaavana
jaisi, Prabhu murati dekhi tin taisi" - it is all
there if one wants to see it.

Issues like:

-Caste System and its ills
-Struggle of an "educated" mind in practicing what it
-relationship between a father and daughter in its
grandest form
-Materialism trying to find solace . .
-Inherent dilemma of an expatriate
one could go on and on but for now, the song:

English rendering of "Kitna Pyar Karte Hain"
The limits of my love for you. . .
My heart only knows!
Drudging thru the pond of life with no water
My heart only knows!

Tales of love flowing with these tears
Cries of longing that no one hears
That tender bond . . . now broken
All those promises . . . yet unspoken

How thoses memories haunt day & night
My heart only knows!

You are the dusk and dawn of my life
Filling my nights with starry skies
When awakened from illusion
The despair and desperation

To have the colors and lose the sight
My heart only knows!


Regards, Suman"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Banaras, a saga of the spiritual evolution of Indian souls"

Dear Shri L.C. Singhji,

Namashkar. I think it would not be out of place to first
introduce myself and then say what I have to.

I am a product of B.H.U., a freedom fighter, completing the 89th
year of my life
, a retired G.O.I. employee, a poet, novelist, short
story writer and essayist, with 18 works published so far. My epic
'Nachiketa' was released (in 1993) and praised by late Dr. Shanker
Dayal Sharma, the then President of India.

Now about 'Banaras.' Like any other movie, Banaras, too, can be
evaluated from various aspects. But it is the message of Banaras that
demands and has generated thoughtful discussion.

It may well be argued that the mystic message of Banaras is
spurious, that the spiritual evolution of Soham and Shwetambari and
the Conversion of Dr. Bhattacharya are all just a fig of imagination.
And it surely is so far the Nihilists.

Those, for whom say realisation
is complete the moment a mirror is placed before them, are perfectly
right tin decrying the message of 'Banaras. Still Shwetambari, by her
conduct, testifies Krishna's pledge in Bhagwadgita:

"Yo Mämpashyati sarwatra
Sarvam cha Mayi Pashyati,
Tasyäham Na Pranashyämi
Sa Cha Mein Na Pranashyati."

Not only does she herself see the departed Soham everywhere, she
makes her mother, too, envision him. A realised soul sees Him
everywhere, in everything, all the time.

The notion of nothingness does not ever supervene self-realisation, the merging of the individual soul (Atma) with the absolute (Parmatina).

As Tulsidas says, "Janat, Tumanhi Tumanhi Hoyi
Jayee." And that is Guru Baba in Banaras, present all the time,
anytime, everywhere, anywhere at free will; and yet nowhere. No one
knows where his abode is.

Watching Shwetambari rescuing and consoling her mother- the
murderer of her love, reminds what Tulsidas says:

"Nij Prabhumaya
Dekhanhi Jagat Kehi San
Karanhi Virodh?"

So, it is not nothingness, it is Sat-Chit-Anand, the attainment-
the realisation of eternal spiritual bliss pulsating in every
particle. It is this that has transformed Shwetambari, making her
unrecognizable even for her mother who, in amazement, asks: "Tu Kaun

Thus for me 'Banaras' is not a love story in the sense most of
the love stories depicted in movies are. I take it as a saga of the
spiritual evolution of individual souls, not as a triangular of
multiangular conflict of carnal innfatuations. But a struggle there
is, the struggle inherent in the evolution of the material into the
spiritual, the gradual transformation of Sohan (that which appeals to
the senses) into Soham (the personal ego blissfully merged with the
eternal truth), as also in the transformation of Shweta from a normal
love stricken maiden into a saintly spiritual being.

It is this evolution that appeals most. This evolution, this transformation
brings to mind what Sant Kabir says:

"Jab Mein Tha Tab Hari Naheen,
Ab Hari Hain Main Nänhi."

It may, perhaps, be said that the process of this spiritual
evolution required a bit more convincing, deeper delineation. Still
what has been depicted is revealing, morally soothing, spiritually
refreshing, elevating.

My sincer Congratulations and ardent wish to see more like
Banaras coming from you, before my eyes are closed.

With Regards,
Gangaratna Pandeya

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Kitna pyar - English version

Several people have been looking for an authentic translation of this song. So here it is:

Kitna pyar karte

Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Singer: Himesh
Lyrics: Sameer

How I adore you, oh,
That's only known to my heart
How I live without my life, oh,
That's only known to my heart

I wrote my entire life to your name,
and filled my dreams with the starkness of solitude.
Why has creation turned against me,
Why am I haunted by this separation,

How hard is it living without you, oh,
That's only known to my heart

Tears fall and tell the tale of love,
Memory tortures me with your thoughts,
Shattered, I feel, without your love,
How time becomes a burden of the mind,

How the cries of heart tyrannize my life, oh,
That's only known to my heart

How I adore you, oh,
That's only known to my heart
How I live without my life, oh,
That's only known to my heart

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Banaras: A proud example of Indian creativity"

I would like to share the feeling of someone after watching Banaras. I applaud her for making the effort to send me this mail. I would also like to thank Suman publicly for her appreciation.

"Dear Mr, Singh,

I would like to share with you my delight and
gratefulness after watching this beautiful movie.

Banaras embodies a wonderful yet thoughtful
combination of spiritual understanding, mysticism,
mature acting and direction neatly wrapped in a
musical, suspensful drama. The whole movie is so
graceful and serene.

Here in the US this movie affords a proud example of
Indian creativity that we can share with other
american friends.

I do hope that you are planning more initiatives like
this in the years to come.

Best Regards,

Suman Sharma"


" Banaras: A spiritual poem in celluloid"..Prof. Murthy

Prof. P N Murthy on Banaras

"Prof Murthy is one of the world authorities in systems engineering and also a scholar of Vedas, upanishads and Shankarachrya's Bhasyam. To say the least, he introduced me to the concepts of systems engineering and taught me to look at things holistically. Prof. Murthy was my coleague at TCS for 17 years and he continues to be an Advisor to TCS.
Prof. Murthy is also a film critic"

Banaras: An entrance to the heavens

Prof. P N Murthy wrote:

Dear LC,
You are a blessed soul.

The film is a spiritual poem in celluloid.

The soft and serene colors of the chiseled frames and the soulful music blend splendidly revealing the spirit and substance of the story. The narration is riveting. The songs are like the beautiful shining ripples on the quietly flowing majestic Gangaji. The song and dance sequence of the HOLI revelry is a magnificent and meaningful expression of the ecstasy experienced in that festival celebration. BANARAS captures the real India, the land of spiritual foundations of humanity.

I enjoyed every bit of it. It is a daring exploration of the seeker in a human being. It is impressive, comprehensive in conception and execution. Baba seems to be a personification of the truth that the Divine is ready to help any one who is seeking.

The sets are colorful and luxuriously simple, ancient in architecture with a modern touch. The film is a glittering, classic mosaic of all that goes into film making. It requires a consummate and inspired artist to give shape to a spiritual theme of eternal significance. This should win you and the team an award.
Congratulations again

PN Murthy
Tata Consultancy Services Limited

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Illusion, mystic and the nothingness

Billy comments..

"So, if to know the truth is to occur by knowing first the self, and to truly learn these things we must first be free of all previous knowledge (or limits), then are we to be free of all self-idealization? Do we need to be free of our "knowledge" about ourselves AND the world?

Is the connection between truth and ourselves the connection of the definition of truth: that which exists? Whereas the Maya would be considered: that which does not exist?

And lastly, is the nothingness that is the "(ultimate) truth" simply complete openness free from the confines of definition and limits imposed by categorization in the form of previously gathered knowledge?"

My comments:

Self idealization happens because of the presence of “I”. “I” is nothing but the ego, which in turn, is the result of memory; explicit and implicit around our fears. To feel secure, we idealize in us.

However, we are not just a bundle of ego but an object with fragmented psyche. Our knowledge has happened while being forced to think in terms of family, town, nationality, caste, race, color, religion, beliefs, language, etc and the same is “colored” because of our fragmented approach of looking at the world. We could not be ready for the investigation, unless we are able to get out of our “divided” psyche,

Our knowledge ( I am not referring to our knowledge of driving or typing or reading etc which is required for us to survive) about ourselves and the world, is so hardened, that we are not free to look at the truth without prejudice. By freedom from knowledge is meant, that, while we remain “aware” of it, don’t allow it to interfere in the investigation.

Take the example of a mystic like Purnanand. He is not surprised that Shweta had met Babaji because of his knowledge (the immortality) of Babaji. On the other hand, Dr Bhattacharya applies his “rational” knowledge and ridicules Purnanand and later Shweta, when they merely speak the “truth”.

Is Dr Bhattacharya right in making presumption that Purnanand is fake and Shweta is not telling the truth, when he has no direct knowledge of the truth?

Dr Bhattacharya is “educated” and has practiced psychiatry very successfully. However he has never known mysticism (except what he must have heard as a child in Banaras). Yet he makes a judgmental comment!

The (ultimate) truth is not something which can ever be arrived at, by our sensory perceptions and fragmented mind and what we learn that way is nothing but illusion. A true mystic drops his sensory approach to looking at the world and is able to “see” the “connections” through meditation and entering into an “altered state”.

Nothingness (the ultimate truth) may only be perceived by the absence of our knowledge, sensory organs and the (mathematical) mind and if a mystic is able to do that by some means, he is closer to the truth than we are

Friday, July 07, 2006

Illusion, Nihilence and God

Knowledge of the self

If you want to know the truth, you will have to understand yourself. But to do that, first you will have to drop your knowledge….”….Purnanand says to
Dr Bhattacharya

Why is knowledge a hurdle to learning?
Well, let’s investigate the statement of the mystic.

The mystic, however, tells us that no investigation (the work of inquiring into something thoroughly and systematically) would be possible unless we drop our knowledge. He is obviously referring to our bookish and religious ideas, sensory knowledge, experiential disorders and our common prejudices. The mystic wants us to empty ourselves and be ready to investigate and receive the truth. He would like us to begin from a state of mind with no conditions (call it nihilence).

In the state of nihilence and in such a state alone, we can understand ourselves.

When we understand ourselves, the mystic says, we understand the truth; implying a connection between self and the truth. The link, we then discover, is that the (ultimate) truth is nothing but nothingness or the SI (Super Intelligence), call it God if you like.

In case of Dr Bhattacharya, who seems in the know of everything, is “cleansed off” his “knowledge” when Shwetambari “throws” him out of her house and tells him to go and seek the truth in the dark corners of Banaras. Dr Bhattacharya walks in a state of shock, devoid of his knowledge,finally sees the truth.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

"God is dead"

Yet, we feel his presence in Banaras.

“……………………….The death of God is a way of saying that humans are no longer able to believe in any such cosmic order since they themselves no longer recognize it. The death of God will lead, Nietzsche says, not only to the rejection of a belief of cosmic or physical order but also to a rejection of absolute values themselves—to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals. In this manner, it leads to nihilism, and it is what Nietzsche worked to find a solution for by re-evaluating the foundations of human values. This meant, to Nietzsche, looking for foundations that went deeper than the Christian values most people refuse to look beyond…”.............a part of the article from Time magazine published in 1966

The truth is, that, our kind of God is nothing more than a concept born out of our innate fear which has been systematically nurtured by all the religious institutions.

Looking around ourselves it feels as if after creating the cosmos, God just disappeared from the scene leaving his identity to be interpreted by the religions. This way, the God, who is otherwise beyond description, out of the reach of the sensory perception and inconceivable to our mind, got confined to some printed papers and gullible utterances. In the mean time religions have been reduced to nothing more than some dos and don’ts, false beliefs, thick boundaries and pure dogmas, while the God has been forgotten as dead. No wonder, there is so much hatred, violence and suffering in the world!

Where is the compassion on which every religion was supposed to have been founded?

In Banaras, the movie, there is only one theme which has been pursued and those who have seen the movie know that.

Soham is picked up by a sweeper woman who raises him like his own child and asks him to follow the path of Kabir.

Babaji explains to Soham the meaning of true prayer (Bending in fear is not a prayer). He also explains him the true nature of the world (Thou art that) and why is it at the brink of destruction.

Later, after the enlightenment, Soham explains to Shwetambari that love is the only truth which binds everything.

Purnanand’s words (Truth is simple) are aimed to break the dogmas of all religious preaching and to give you authority to look at things with completely different perspective. It is also to give you the right to direct experience and to make choices in complete awareness...

Finally, Shwetambari demonstrates the power of compassion and gives a glimpse of her world that she could create not because of her religious beliefs but because of her direct knowledge of the truth.

It is in the end when we witness her sitting, in calm, in front of the serene water reflecting the stillness of her own mind, that we begin to understand the evolution of Shwetambari.

And suddenly, we feel the presence of GOD.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mahamaya, the villain

Or an expose of our own prejudices.

In the movie Banaras a mystic love story, Mahamaya played a “villain”. But was he really a villain?

Mahamaya, with his obvious limited intellectual faculty, is trying to run a home and maintain his social stature. He was not shown to be a bundle of all virtues but then who is?
All that he could be charged was that he loved his sister, Shwetambari. Yet, somehow, we expected him to be the murderer. Was it his black attire or long “tilak” on the forehead?

We make our judgments at a subconscious level based on the conditioning of our mind, which is a result of our previous “knowledge” through TV, cinema or direct experience.

Just like Mahamaya, we have people around ourselves. They could be nice people yet we have our opinions. They may have never harmed anyone, they may never have ill feelings towards us but because they are loud, they resemble someone who had hurt us in childhood, someone whose behavior doesn’t conform to our knowledge of him being a good man, makes us look at them suspiciously.

Conversely, just as in the movie, you see good looking “decently dressed” people and you conclude them to be nice people. You could never conceive that someone who looked so normal could be so convoluted in the mind. Someone so graceful and well dressed could murder someone.

This how we assign label to people. He is a good man. She is a bad girl. That neighbor of mine is a smuggler. The man in the beard is a terrorist.

Mahamaya was not created as a villain. The character was created to trick your mind and expose its own weakness to you.