Sunday, December 30, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Daughter of the East is a ‘new’ edition, the reason being that it is an updated version of the first edition, published in 1988. In fact the newness extends to just 39 pages of the 431 page-book. That is shocking given that one would have expected the two decades since 1988 to have given Miss Bhutto ample to write about as she has been prime minister twice, lost a brother and celebrated the birth of her three children. That is not to be. Given this and by reasons that I will detail below, I would like to divide this review into two distinct parts.
From 1953- 1987
Benazir Bhutto is certainly a woman of literary talent; I’ll give her that. Her education at Radcliffe/Harvard and the Other Place (a.k.a Oxford) has helped her come out with a very readable book that is in stark contrast to another book released last year: In the Line of Fire. The latter I found quite dull and lost interest somewhere near the 100th page. Khair, that is a discussion best left for another post.
She leads readers through a tumultuous life that can be best described with an image of a mountain climber. It follows well through the ups and downs of her journey, engaging the readers with vivid descriptions of the victimisation of her family by the Zia- led military junta. A majority of the content is dedicated to the lead up to the hanging of her father and the time she spent in solitary confinement afterwards. Certainly, Benazir would be successful in gaining empathy from readers by way of her accounts, unless, the reader is a Pakistani who holds deep suspicions regarding anything to do with the Bhutto clan. What makes the book even more interesting is the fact that she includes accounts of her contemporaries which really does give a good second dimension to the book.
In all, this part of the book is a real page turner and it has resemblance to fictional works, full of conspiracies, death, and a lot of emotion. Further, as works of fictions go, the good can do no evil and the evil…well, can only do evil and Daughter of the East follows this principle to the letter. However, given that this is not a work of fiction but instead an autobiography, the fact that Miss Bhutto is portrayed as the victim of all victims without a faulty gene in her body does mean you have to read it with a bit more than a pinch of salt.From 1988-2007
The new chapter is bitterly disappointing. Having started to write this review in the middle of the book, I thought it would carry on in its engaging fashion. Yet, as I read through this part the fact that it was 39 pages was actually a God-send since it ended the misery of reading it quite quickly. However, it did still manage to leave a bad taste. It almost felt as if Miss Bhutto had worked towards the goal of becoming the leader of our country and the road ended there and that she had no aspirations for the time of her prime-ministership. The only person that would find her accounts from 1988 interesting would be the ardent PPP supporter who finds the ‘I did this…I did that…’ sentences engaging.
As I stated earlier, there is great injustice done to proportionality in the autobiography. One example stands out: Whilst Benazir dedicates an entire chapter to the build- up to the death and the death itself of her brother Shah Nawaz Bhutto (part of the 1988 version), she dedicates less than a paragraph to the death of her other brother Mir Murtaza with whom she had political differences (update).
Therefore, you would not be at fault if you bought the much cheaper, older version of the book and updated yourself by reading the ‘startling revelations’ contained in the articles listed at the bottom of this review. In any case you would be doing Miss Bhutto a favour by fulfilling the reason this book was brought out. The hurry in which the book seems to have been written and its lack of new content only means one thing: it was definitely published to give her publicity. As it is, the timing of the book is suspicious and her recent comments on television do seem to suggest sunnier days ahead for the PPP in Pakistan. For that reason alone, it’s a book (the older one) worth reading.
Benazir’s new book has some starting revelations, by Mariana Baabar, The News.
‘Musharraf wanted to attack Kashmir,’ The Pak Tribune.
11 Responses to “Daughter of the East: A review”
Feed for this Entry Trackback Address
Apr 10th, 2007 at 6:51 pm
Benazir is not fit to lead any entity and for that matter leading a nation is beyond her capabilities. Firstly, she is corrupt and does not possess any vision for the country at large. In addition, her husband, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, is a thug who loots Pakistani exchequer every time his wife attains power. Additionally, Benazir’s feudal background is a disgrace because it is the feudal nexus in Pakistani politics that has kept Pakistan from developing educationally and otherwise. As a result, due to feudal dominance in politics modernity never arrived in Pakistan. Lastly, PPP signifies everything that is wrong with the Pakistani politics–feudalism, corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence. In sum, Benazir and her cabal are not fit and don’t deserve to govern 160 million people of Pakistan.
Apr 10th, 2007 at 11:27 pm
When I read excerpts of her latest book in NY Times, I could not resist laughing at this opportunist chamelion changing her colors again.Well, are there any alternative leaders? Perhaps Imran Khan.We will have to wait for the political circus to begin.
3 Brother Aziz
Apr 11th, 2007 at 4:02 pm
“Beautiful and charismatic”? Good one.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
Hark, now hear the angels sing,
a king was born today, And man will live for evermore,
because of Christmas Day.
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
While shepherds watch their flocks by night, they see a bright new shining star, they hear a choir sing a song, the music seem to come from afar.
Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
For a moment the world was aglow, all the bells rang out there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted "Let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace."
Now Joseph and his wife, Mary, came to Bethlehem that night, they found no place to bear her child, not a single room was in sight.
Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today,
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day.
Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas Day.
Oh a moment still worth was a glow, all the bells rang out there were tears of joy and laughter, people shouted "let everyone know, there is hope for all to find peace".
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Do not attempt to keep me alive by means such as organ transplants and costly medical treatments such as dialysis
Do not spend on funeral expenses, I have donated by body to medical science
I have resigned from the Catholic church
but Jesus is still my saviour
whatever assets i may have at the time of death will be bequeathed as mentioned in my legal will which will be executed by my son
Do not make my dying day a day of mourning
i have lived the good life and I will die happy
I want u guys to sing for me
'I did it my way' by Frank Sinatra
The Truly Scary Thing About Narendra Modi…
... is that he may not be a psychopath, but merely behaves that way because that’s what the voters want. After all, if that’s what the masses want, then we’re stuck with Modi long after Modi.
It was vintage Modi in his campaign speech at Mangrol: “Sonia Gandhi spoke of terrorism. But she has no right to talk of this. Till today, those who attacked Parliament haven’t been sent to the gallows. Congress in Gujarat is raising its voice on the Sohrabuddin issue. But, it should explain to the people what should be done to a man who stored illegal arms and ammunition. You tell me, what should have been done to Sohrabuddin?”
The rally echoed with shouts of “Kill him, kill him.” Modi responded with: “Well, that is it. Do I have to take Sonia Gandhi’s permission to do this?”
What have we come to, that the chief minister of a state stands on a public platform and boasts about killing a man without due process of law?
Posted at 4:56 PM by Amit Varma in India News Politics
What Boys and Girls Fight About
It’s all so true.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The transcript of the chat is given below. Useful for everyone.
Qn: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his heart?
Ans:1. Diet - Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise - Half an hour's walk, at least five days a week; avoid lifts and avoid sitting for a longtime
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control blood pressure and sugar
Qn: Is eating non-veg food (fish) good for the heart?
Qn: It's still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy person gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in perspective?
Ans: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.
Qn: Are heart diseases hereditary?
Qn: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to de-stress?
Ans: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.
Qn: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep a healthy heart?
Ans: Walking is better than jogging since jogging leads to early fatigue and injury to joints
Qn: You have done so much for the poor and needy. What has inspired you to do so?
Ans: Mother Theresa , who was my patient
Qn: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart diseases?
Ans: Extremely rare
Qn: Does cholesterol accumulates right from an early age (I'm currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of age?
Ans: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood.
Qn: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart ?
Ans: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body's enzyme release for digestion gets confused.
Qn: How can I control cholesterol content without using medicines?
Ans: Control diet, walk and eat walnut.
Qn: Can yoga prevent heart ailments?
Ans: Yoga helps.
Qn: Which is the best and worst food for the heart?
Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.
Qn: Which oil is better - groundnut, sunflower, olive?
Ans: All oils are bad .
Qn: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there any specific test?
Ans: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.
Qn: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?
Ans: Help the person into a sleeping position , place an aspirin tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place within the first hour.
Qn: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?
Ans: Extremely difficult without ECG.
Qn: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? I see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having heart attacks and serious heart problems.
Ans: Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also, edentary lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart attacks than Europeans and Americans.
Qn: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?
Qn: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?
Ans : Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and you may not have a software engineer as a child
Qn: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart ? What precautions would you recommend?
Ans : When you are young, nature protects you against all these irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect the biological clock.
Qn: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other complications (short / long term)? Ans : Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However, modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.
Qn: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?
Ans : No.
Qn: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?
Ans : No.
Qn: How would you define junk food?
Ans : Fried food like Kentucky , McDonalds , samosas, and even masala dosas.
Qn: You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot of junk food?
Ans: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.
Qn: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?
Ans : No.
Qn: Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we see a lot of forwarded emails on this)?
Ans : Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin tablet of any description under the tongue and ask someone to take you to the nearest coronary care unit without any delay and do not wait for the ambulance since most of the time, the ambulance does not turn up.
Qn: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to heart problems? Ans : No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your exercise capacity.
Qn: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise? Ans : Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even the act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and sitting helps a lot.
Qn: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?
Ans: Yes. A strong relationship since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.
Qn: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart operation?
Ans : Diet, exercise, drugs on time , Control cholesterol, BP, weight.
Qn: Are people working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart disease when compared to day shift workers?
Ans : No.
Qn: What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?
Ans : There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will chose the right combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.
Qn: Does dispirin or similar headache pills increase the risk of heart attacks?
Ans : No.
Qn: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?
Ans : Nature protects women till the age of 45.
Qn: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?
Ans : Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do not smoke and, go for health checkup s if you are past the age of 30 ( once in six months recommended) ...
Send it to all your nearest and dearest ..which should be many..........
Monday, November 12, 2007
Indian Chief "Two Eagles" was asked by a white American government official,> "You have observed the white man for 90 years. You've seen his wars > and his technological advances. You've seen his progress, and the > damage he's done." > > The Chief nodded in agreement. >
The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, > where did the white man go wrong?" > >
The Chief stared at the government official for over a minute and then > calmly replied. "When white man find land, Indians running it, > no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water. > Women did all the work, Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day > hunting and fishing; all night having sex." > > Then the chief leaned back and smiled. "Only white man dumb enough > to think he improve system like that.">
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Long seen as the enemy of the spirit, sex is now being used as its ally
A few years ago I attended a grueling 10-day vipassana camp. A few days into the course and I started having unusually erotic dreams at night. It was disconcerting, to say the least.
What could be the provocation when I was sitting in meditation practically all day? On the tenth day of the course, when we broke the silence, I overheard a group of boys talking animatedly about erotic dreams. I sought out an explanation from the course supervisor. He said it was not unusual in vipassana camps. Since deep and extensive cleansing takes place during the course some deep-rooted vasanas and sanskaras, long buried in the unconscious and subconscious, come to the surface and get released.
Repressed sexual desires are naturally deeply embedded in the psyche and cleansing process triggered by intense meditation manifests as erotic dreams. This was a very intimate first-hand experience of the somewhat fuzzy relationship between sex and spirituality. We may be unclear about the exact nature of the relationship between the so-called most base and the highest drive in human beings. But there is no doubt about the link, going by the strident pronouncements of the two hostile camps down history. Tantrics and latter day libertarian seekers insist that without sexual yoga you cannot attain enlightenment. On the other hand, the sadhus and swamis and monks and priests have always argued that without celibacy you may as well forget about spiritual growth.Freud onwards, psychology has also conceded that the sexual drive or energy can be sublimated into higher avenues such as art and spirituality. "The elements of the sexual instinct are characterized by a capacity for sublimation, for changing their sexual aim into another of a different kind and socially more worthy. To the sum of energies thus gained for our psychological productions we probably owe the highest results of our culture," he wrote.Taking a different tack, psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in The Art of Loving that the basis for our need to love lies in the experience of separateness and the resulting need to overcome the anxiety of separateness by the experience of union. In its deepest meaning, then, love/sex becomes spiritual. The stories of legendary Indian lovers are a case in point. Majnu's love and intensity of desire to be united with Laila is so exalted that it becomes spiritual. Laila substitutes for God as an object of worship.
Now, one new factor in sex-spirituality equation is that the shame and guilt associated with sex is all but gone. There is more permissiveness. We are bombarded with sexual content from print and advertisement media, TV channels, the Net. All this makes people wonder that there must be more to it than we are getting. In the western world, this has sent many unfulfilled people on a wild goose chase for super sex. Still others are queuing up for workshops on Tantra for both sexual fulfillment and spiritual growth. In fact, Dorothy Scaly, an American now based in Delhi, reports that in the USA, the most sought after New Age workshops these days are on Tantra. Whether they are the genuine item or just provide titillation is another story.The common Indian, however, may still be suffering from the classic Portnoy's Complaint: not getting enough sex—except in marriage. Most of us do grow out of guilt and shame associated with sex, but the question pops up again when we start treading the spiritual path. Is it okay? How much is okay? So, we come back to square one.But first let's understand and accept that sex is a very powerful drive. Speaking from his 12 years of teaching, American guru Andrew Cohen states that for most spiritual seeker today, "sex is more important than God". He might as well have included some well-known spiritual gurus: every year a new scandal breaks out in an ashram somewhere, where the supposedly celibate guru gets charged with sexual misconduct and sexual harassment of female disciples. Now married, to an Indian, Cohen talks candidly about the earlier period when he would get disturbed by the sexual urge: "I knew little in relationship to this at times overpowering force that could rise out of nowhere and completely capture my attention." He insists that it is always a mistake to underestimate the overwhelming power to create delusion that the sexual instinct possesses.As his spiritual yearning grew, Cohen began to find the romantic/sexual experience to be "an annoying distraction," and the less interested he became in " bearing the emotional intensity and personal focus" that the romantic/sexual drama almost always involves. From experience, he found that the enticing promise that the sexual/romantic impulse always offered was rarely fulfilled. And even when it was, even that proved to be a distraction from the longing for spiritual union. It is perhaps to conserve energy spent on the sexual/romantic drama that gurus such a Maharishi Mahesh Yogi recommend that their followers either get married or remain celibate. On the other hand, Aurobindoites say that the Mother discouraged marriage, not because she was anti-sex, but because she believed that a true marriage of the minds needs no social bond and in marriage the sacred bond is invariably violated.Let us now hear the arguments forwarded in support of celibacy.Swami Chidananda, 84, the revered president of the Divine Life Society, gives the traditional argument cogently. He says: " Brahmacharya, or celibacy, is a rational process of preserving and conserving precious energy so that it can be utilized in other very essential and indispensable functions. And if it is preserved like this, it can be converted, just as tangible, gross water is converted into subtle steam. Then it can do wonders."
But what is the origin, the source, of this energy? Swami Chidananda refers to the familiar findings of modern physicists that what exists in nature is not palpable or solid matter as such. It is energy. "Our ancients have said that it is this same cosmic energy that is present in living beings as the sex force. So Hindus regarded this energy as sacred, something that is worthy of being worshipped, not frittered away."Swami Chidananda is all for transmuting the sexual into the spiritual since the same vital energy, prana, is at work in both. "Any sense activity or sense experience consumes a lot of prana. The highest of all goals in human life, spiritual attainment, requires the maximum available pranic energy on all levels: mental, intellectual and emotional. Celibacy or brahmacharya ensures that an abundance of pranic energy is available to the seeker.Modern-day sexologists laugh at the traditional Indian idea of conserving bindu (semen, sexual energy), saying that it is an affluent that will find its way out. But just like modern medicine keeps revising its theories, this may not be the final word on the subject either. And even a dimwitted person will tell you that sex works on many planes.Incidentally, more than Hinduism, the Buddha put much emphasis on celibacy for monks. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, 70, a renowned Buddhist scholar based in the USA, explains the reason thus in Andrew Cohen's What is Enlightenment? magazine: "Because those who want to attain liberation from dukka, suffering, have to observe certain principles. Because if they are engaged in all kinds of sexual activities, they will be engrossed in various types of problems related to sex. Also, those who are interested in the monastic life want to live a very simple life-because in the final analysis, it is only when we get rid of our greed, lust and craving that we can liberate ourselves from suffering. You see, if our intention is to get rid of suffering, then we have to get rid of cause of suffering, and lust is definitely the cause of suffering."Unlike Chidananda, Gunaratana's argument is not that celibacy conserves energy. He happens to concur with Cohen: "Because as long as you are in sexual activity, your mind will be cluttered, clouded and confused and you will get involved in jealousy, fear, hatred, tension and so forth-all the worries that arise from lust." Yet, he says that the Buddha suggested that control and discipline of our senses should be done gradually, only through understanding, and not abruptly.One religion that has almost converted the entire world to its conservative approach towards sex is Christianity. It all began with the idea of "original sin". Margot Anand, tantric author and teacher, traces its roots to St Augustine, who was a very devout man, and who at a very early age wanted to become a priest. But he was also a very sexual being who had a lot of sexual energy. Throughout his adult life, he struggled without success to control his libido. Finally, he concluded that there was an element in us that predates the control that we can have through our mental and spiritual powers, and he called this "original sin". India wasn't a sexually repressed society always. We became one under the influence of Buddhism and Jainism and later Islam and Christianity. Says Dr Shanshank Samak, an Indian sexologist: "Indians were the most sexually active people in the world. The Kamasutra was astonishingly liberal and men and women were equal participants in the sexual act. Sex was very creative, not only from the procreation point of view but recreation as well. It was not something to be done away with but an event to be celebrated, a road which led to ecstasy and finally nirvana for both the participants." Maithunam paramam tatvam, shrushti stithi anya karanam….( Coitus is the ultimate principle behind creation, preservation and destruction of the Universe), said Lord Shiva in the Kailas Tantra. Dr. Prakash Kothari, eminent Mumbai sexologist, however says that Indian shastras held both abstinence and Tantra as valid ways for achieving nirvana. Tantra recommends indulgence to such an extent that you have no further desires left. Now, this path is fraught with danger. It is for the brave and the resolute because you have a high probability of sinking deeper into the quagmire instead of rising above it. I've known a few Oshoites who tried this route at the Osho Commune in the '70s and the '80s when the place was more permissive. They had fun but were none the wiser for it. "Hindu philosophy is holistic, all-embracing as it speaks of four purusharthas: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Kama means desire, primarily sexual desire," says Kothari. "Thus the path to moksha or liberation is through the experience of kama. In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: "I'm omnipresent but in the human body. I take the form of desire, particularly sexual desire."Chaturvedi Badrinath, an Indian journalist who specializes in spiritual/religious writing, adds: "The major Upanishads consider the human body, of man and woman, with all its innate attributes, physical and psychological, as sacred. This is a matter not of attitude but of acknowledgment that the clearer the awareness of the sacredness of the physical, the more heightened will be the sexual pleasure. There is absolutely no doubt that vairagya (asceticism) was a product of fear-the fear of life in which fear of sex became the most dominant fear. It became a denial of the body and its natural pleasures, of personal ties and their comfort, of social relations and their security. Before the Buddha there had been in the Upanishads a turning away from senseless asceticism. And yet, the ascetic, by whatever name called, remained at all times of Indian history a visible presence."What's special about Hinduism is that both extreme asceticism and Tantra flourished here. Tantra was later co-opted by some branches of Buddhism, particularly in Tibet. While Tantra has mystical, philosophical, and religious aspects, it is, above all, a technique of action-a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that incorporates meditation, yoga, and sacramental worship in the very widest sense of that phrase. All the actions, which sometimes are socially unacceptable, undertaken by a practitioner of Tantra are means to the same end: the transformation of the individual, his or her rebirth to a new existence on every level of consciousness.
Badrinath explains: "The force of sex can be transmuted into the highest form of spiritual energy. That can be done neither by confining sexuality within an arbitrary social order, nor by renouncing it, but by utmost submission to it. The cosmic energy stored in human sexuality can be released into human consciousness. But not before sex has been perceived, and worshipped, as the primal force, Shakti." According to Dr Rajan Bhonsle, Indian sex and marriage counselor and therapist, sex transcendence should happen in the natural course of events. "Trantric philosophy holds that sexually man is required to move through four stages. These are auto sexuality (age 0-7), homosexuality (age 7-14), heterosexuality (age 14-42) and asexuality from then onwards. Unlike physical aging, the sexual stages depend upon us, but this is the pattern that nature wanted to follow. At 42, man's obsession for sex will leave him. He may still have sex but he will be detached. He will have attained a natural celibacy. At this stage his spiritual attainment too, will reach its climax, because he is evolved in every way."The basic belief of Buddhist Tantra, according to Miranda Shaw, American Tantric scholar, is that in order to attain full enlightenment you have to release the energy of your heart. She writes: "Some of the Tantric pioneers felt that a celibate lifestyle did not, in fact represent a mastery of one's sexuality, but rather a repression of and even a flight in fear from one's sexuality… There is a Tantric teaching to the effect that without the practice of sexual union and without integrating one's energies at that level, it is impossible to attain enlightenment in the present lifetime."A Tantric text, quoted in Shaw's book, goes so far as to state that even the Buddha did not, in fact, attain enlightenment under the bodhi tree, as is commonly believed, but while practicing sexual yoga in the palace with his wife. Then he renounced his kingdom, became a homeless wanderer and did years of austere practices in order to draw people, who would be inspired by renunciation and who are in fact destined to follow a path of renunciation, to the spiritual path. Margot Anand, who teaches Sky Dancing Tantra, a system combining elements of Tantra and modern psychology, explains that the spiritual orgasm given by Tantra leads to enlightenment: "Tantra is an activation of all our energies. And by channeling the sexual energies through the various charkas, you can reach levels of ecstasy, states of merging an session through your partner with the divine that are so powerful that I would certainly say that Tantra is a shortcut."Margot, with her best selling books, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy and The Art of Sexual Magic, was a pioneer in bringing Tantric practices to the West. Since she began teaching in the 1970s, hundreds of books, workshops and videos on Tantra have sprung up in the USA. Margot has led workshops at the Osho Commune in Pune also. In The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, she describes the pinnacle of Tantric practice as the "orgasm of the brain". This experience, she writes, "creates a bridge between the left and right hemispheres, fusing the intellect of the left hemisphere with the intuitive faculties of the right. It is this fusion that creates the experience of ecstasy, in which body, mind, heart and spirit all participate." And in The Art of Sexual Magic, she writes: "In deep sexual embrace, the mind stops. Quite literally, you "fuck your brains out." Your consciousness becomes clear, innocent, fresh." As a guide to attaining these ecstatic states, Anand provides an extensive (and explicit) manual of exotic sexual practices. Margot has coined the term High Sex, which she defines thus: "High Sex takes the experience of orgasm to a new dimension-a dimension in which genital orgasm is only the beginning. It inspires you to explore the full capacity of orgasm. Culminating in ecstatic body-to-body and soul-to-soul communion. It is an experience to the whole body, the whole being."All credit goes to Margot's master, Osho, for bringing the sex-vs.-spirituality controversy center stage in our time with his runaway book From Sex to Superconsciousness. He propounded the view that orgasm is a mini and temporary samadhi. It can transport you to a state of rapture. The mind becomes devoid of thought, the egocentric view of life disappears and we step outside of time into the timeless a 'now' of bliss. Very much like samadhi or pure consciousness. This line of thinking was so revolutionary for his time tat he attracted a lot of flak and notoriety.The fundamental view pervading the contemporary spiritual scene seems to be that sex, long seen as the enemy of the spirit, is actually its ally, or can be made to act like one. This sex-positive spiritual view holds that to truly become whole, we must liberate our sexuality from the chains of guilt, shame and repression, and allow it to find full expression as a natural, healthy and even sacred part of life.This belief has become so widespread that today the spiritual practice of celibacy—considered for millennia to be a profound, powerful and even crucial aspect of spiritual life by Christians, Buddhists and Hindus alike—seems to have all but fallen by the wayside. The modern consensus seems to be that in a psychologically enlightened culture such as ours, celibacy no longer has much relevance. But the need of the hour is sacralizing sex. It is becoming too mater of fact, almost like an itch that needs to be scratched. The mystery is gone.The views of many Indians are heartening though. Says Vikas Malkani, an Indian spiritual guide and author: "Making love can become a giving, expressing, selfless act, which is a form of prayer in itself. Through the body, the hearts are touched; the emotions opened, needs and desire expressed, fears released, security given and souls merged. Through the act of physical sharing, God is revered and remembered. Making love goes from the physical to the emotional and finally to spiritual level where it becomes a prayer to the Divine."Santosh Sachdeva, a Mumbai businesswoman who has been blessed with some advanced spiritual experiences which she has just published in book form, almost seems to endorse Malkani's statements: "In my meditation, I saw consciousness dividing itself into the male and female principle. The left side was the female and the right side was the male. The coming together of the male and female is the source of all creation. Everything comes through that. We have so many inhibitions about sex, perhaps understandably so, but ultimately, it is nothing but creation manifesting itself."The final word goes to Osho: not from sex to superconsciousness, sex is superconsciousness. There is no higher, no lower.
Osho, a modern writer on the subject of spirituality has comments to save with respect sex and spirituality. Osho’s book contains many arguments in favour of sex as an integral aspect of spirituality. Among Osho’s claims is that it was "through the sexual orgasm that religion was created" (244).
Far from placing spirituality above sex, Osho admonishes that those who try to deny sexual relationships in the name of pursuing one’s spirituality are in fact committing a type of suicide are merely denying an essential aspect to being a human being. Osho, in fact, not only endorses the sexual act, but also encourages one to find and relate to as many members of the opposite sex as possible
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The day also commemorated the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya, after a 14-year exile in the forest, and thus the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed him back by lighting up rows of lamps (deepa-wali), thus its name, Deepawali, or simply shortened as Divali.
The celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional dīpa or deeya (earthen lamp), and fireworks. Though colloquially called Divali in North India, in South India it is called Deepavali.
Divali is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja (amanta). It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Divali comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars, especially in North India.
There are several beliefs regarding the origin of the holiday. The most repeated version is that Hindus celebrate Divali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana. Some also view it as the day Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura or in honor of the day Bali went to rule the nether-world, obeying the order of Vishnu. In Jainism it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, which occurred on Oct. 15, 527 B.C. It is also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. In India, Divali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith
Monday, October 29, 2007
Monday October 29, 07:43 PM
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Monday became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run in the stock market.
Following a strong share price rally today in his three group companies -- India's most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd -- the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to 63.2 billion dollars (Rs 2,49,108 crore).
In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around 62.29 billion dollars each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.
Warren Buffett, earlier the third richest in the world, also dropped one position with a net worth of about 56 billion dollars.
Ambani's wealth of about Rs 2,49,000 crore includes about Rs 2,10,000 crore from RIL (50.98 per cent stake), Rs 37,500 crore from RPL (37.5 per cent) and Rs 2,100 crore from RIIL (46.23 per cent).
Slim's wealth has been calculated on the basis of his stake in companies like America Movil (30 per cent), Carso Global (82 per cent), Grupo Carso (75 per cent), Inbursa (67 per cent), IDEAL (30 per cent) and Saks Inc (10 per cent).
According to information available with the US and Mexican stock exchanges where these companies are listed, Slim currently holds shares worth a total of USD 62.2993 billion, with more than half coming from Latin American mobile major America Movil. Slim is closely followed by Gates with a net worth of 62.29 billion dollars currently.
SENSEX TOUCHES 20
The benchmark Sensex zoomed past the 20,000-point level during trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange, taking 10 sessions to cover the last 1,000 points, on funds buying in heavy-weight stocks led by Reliance Industries.
The 30-share index spurted in the last five minutes of trade to fly-past the crucial level and scaled a new intra-day peak at 20,024.87 points before ending at its fresh closing high of 19,977.67, a gain of 734.50 points.
The wide-based National Stock Exchange's Nifty rose to a record high 5,922.50 points before ending at 5,905.90, showing a hefty gain of 203.60 points.
The rally was led by capital good stocks and market major and trend-setter Reliance Industries, which surged to a record Rs 2,844 on funds buying, influenced by a similar trend in other Asian stock markets.
Capital goods index shot up by 1,360.51 points at 19,847.66, followed by oil and gas index by 556.19 points at 11,659.65. Metal index was the third best performer, gaining 445.18 points to 17,189.74, while the bank index rose 376.18 points to 10,649.71.
Sensex had crossed 19,000 mark on October 15. It had crossed 10,000 mark on February 6, 2006 and 15,000 mark on July 6, 2007.
With today's landmark Sensex has joined the 20,000 club whose other members are Hong Kong's Hang Seng, Brazil's Bovespa, Mexico's Bolsa among others.
Hang Seng recently crossed 30,000 mark and today closed at 31,560 points, while Bovespa closed at 64,275 on October 26. Mexico's Bolsa index closed at 32,136 last Friday.
SIGNALS FROM STOCK MKTS, POSITIVE
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said signals from stock markets and foreign investment flows are positive and the government will work toward maintaining an encouraging atmosphere for investors.
"Be it FDI flows, investments in stock markets, investments in our knowledge economy, the signals are all positive. We will work to keep these positive," he said at the
Fortune Global Forum meeting in New Delhi.
Singh's statement comes on a day when the country's stock markets touched a new record, with the benchmark Sensex surging past the 20,000-mark for the first time.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Karan Thapar: If India backs out of the Indo-US nuclear deal, what would be the reaction in Washington and other major capitals of the world—that’s one of the issues I would raise today with Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State and someone they consider the best known holder of that post for perhaps a century.
Dr Kissinger, if the Indo-US nuclear deal goes through how important a landmark it would be in the relationship between the two countries.
Henry Kissinger: I think it would be an important landmark. It would signify India has emerged from its isolation of 30 years, and that in a key field of activity—the nuclear field—it is now re-entering the international community in a cooperative manner. It would signify a role for India on a more global basis than it has performed before.Karan Thapar: So this is the sort of recognition India has arrived. Could any other country, other than America, give this to India?
Henry Kissinger: Well, there are two separate problems. Technologically there may be other countries that may give a part of it, and where one could piece together various aspects from a number of other countries. Politically, in relation to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), I think cooperation between India and the US would facilitate matters in a degree that I don’t believe any other cooperative relationship would.
Karan Thapar: For the sake of an Indian audience, which may not know the details, how much effort would have the Bush administration would have put in, how much political goodwill would they have used to overcome the powerful non-proliferation lobby in America? Henry Kissinger: First, I would like your audience to understand that I am not here to promote a particular agreement. This is an important agreement, which will have to be ratified Indian internal processes for Indian reasons. America has its reasons—and then they have to be compatible.For the American administration it was a very important step. India had been under sanctions, which had developed under previous administrations in America.Therefore, to change the mindset in which an exception is made for India—to some extent—on the proliferation issue, and in which from a position of ostracizing India one moves to cooperation with India that had to overcome significant domestic difficulties—both among experts and within the Congress. The Bush administration considered that a major initiative, of which they are proud. Not primarily for the nuclear issue, but for the cooperation between our two countries.
Karan Thapar: Given what you are saying, if India were now in this late stage to back off from the deal and shelve it, what would be the reaction in Washington?Henry Kissinger: Two separate reactions: first, India will still be considered important and serious efforts would be made to continue a close relationship. But theoretical desires for close relationships would have to be expressed in concrete measures in some point. And undoubtedly there would be a mixture of disappointment and also whether a question to what extent one can calculate Indian reactions to negotiations that are going on other subjects. I think these two would be the two dominant reactions.
Karan Thapar: Would there be voices in America that would hereafter question India’s reliability as a strategic partner? Would there be people who will say ‘they went so far down the road and then they backed off, can we trust them next time around.’
Henry Kissinger: There will certainly be people who will make that argument. There are others would say the relationship is very important and we have to carry on. But it would certainly, in an intangible way, affect calculations because when an American leader goes down a certain road he stakes his prestige on the ability to get it executed, so in that sense it would be a setback. But I want to stress, India must ratify this or not for its own reasons, not for American reasons.
Karan Thapar: But given that President Bush has staked his credibility on pursuing this deal and delivering it, if India is then seen not delivering on its commitments that would be a setback and that would perhaps irritate members of the Bush administration?Henry Kissinger: It would certainly be a disappointment, because the Bush administration has put a lot of effort behind this. But India must do this for its reasons as I have said before, and I think it’s important for both countries to proceed. India and the US have parallel goals in many areas, and therefore it would be unnatural to keep India under a sanctions regime and exclude it from one of the major areas of technological achievement. And this is why this effort was made: to bring India or to enable India to enter this field on a bigger scale than before.
Karan Thapar: India has been canvassing in major international capitals for almost two years to get support for this deal and the Prime Minister has sent special envoys to a variety of countries. Would they share the dismay and disappointment?Henry Kissinger: Well, they would wonder what is going on and what that reflects? Does that reflect an immediate internal Indian problem or does that reflect a fundamental Indian choice, which makes it difficult to cooperate with India on these issues?
Karan Thapar: And those are serious questions that would be raised?Henry Kissinger: Those are issues people would have to answer for themselves.Karan Thapar: And what impact would it have on India’s ambition to be a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council and to be recognised as one of the great powers of our time?
Henry Kissinger: To the extent I am an expert in this field, I would anyway favour India joining the Security Council because of the magnitude of the country. But it would certainly be one argument that opponents might use in what is any event a complicated issue, because of issues of veto, expansion of Security Council and so forth.Karan Thapar: And, in a sense, it would feed India’s enemies. It would create doubt where doubt is needed, and therefore would be unhelpful.
Henry Kissinger: It would give an argument to people who would not like to see an expansion of India’s role or who simply don’t want the Security Council changed for other reasons because it is difficult to change any way.
Karan Thapar: The Left in India say that if this is such a good deal, then it can safely be left to the next American administration. If the next American President is a Democrat—and you know the Democrats quite well—what are the chances that he or she might actually choose to renegotiate this deal?
Henry Kissinger: Well, there are two separate problems. One is what happens if this agreement is delayed, or put off? The second is which of the political parties in America are likely to act? The first thing is the American political process—anything that is not ratified by next July is unlikely to be dealt with before 2009. It is then unlikely to be dealt in 2009 first, because a new administration has to reorganize itself. There are 3,000 jobs that have to be filled, and the Congress has to get organized. That in any event, even if the Republicans come in, would be a delay of at least a year and half.Secondly, it is broadly true that the anti-proliferation group is stronger in the Democratic than in the Republican Party. So a Democratic president would have to deal with that group—that’s another delay. I don’t want to say that friendship with India is a monopoly of the Republican Party, but given the present political constellation what doesn’t happen within this current timeframe will be delayed to two and probably more years.Karan Thapar: You are also suggesting—aren’t—you that if there is delay there is a real likelihood that terms that would eventually be offered to India might not be as good as those on offer today?Henry Kissinger: There will be a need to take into consideration the position as it applies to the new administration, of course.
Karan Thapar: Let's broaden our discussion. Much of the opposition to the deal in India arises out of the fear that embracing America too closely might be dangerous for Delhi to do. In other words, America is a friend best kept at a judicious distance. How do you respond to that sort of thinking?
Henry Kissinger: Well, I belong in America to the realist school of foreign policy. I think countries should do things not for sentimental reasons, but considering their own national interests. And - I expect that from my country - and I expect that from India. So, I don't look at this as embracing the United States. I look at this agreement as something that is in the Indian interests but that enables a common interest to be more easily realised by establishing a pattern of co-operation. But the judgement should be done on the basis - is it in India's interests? Not "I'll be embracing the United States"; it should be done on its merit.
Karan Thapar: The problem is, when you talk about a hard-headed realistic attitude, India's former national security advisor, Brijesh Mishra, told me in an interview a couple of months ago, that there's a real danger, that if India goes down this road and enters the deal, it will be under constant pressure from Washington to tow an American line. And the sort of issues he mentioned were Iran, Iraq, even the general attitude to democracy, the Middle-East... Would America look for political quid pro quos?
Henry Kissinger: I would be - America certainly, as any great country, will try to get Indian support on the issues that concern America - that's a tribute to India's importance. Will it try to blackmail India by withholding technical co-operation? That would be very foolish. And, in my view, hard to conceive, because once one does that - once - the relationship is broken. And we should try to get co-operation with India on Iran and similar matters, but on its merits, not by blackmail.
Karan Thapar: Let me quote to you what Tom Landross said last year. He said, "India must reassure Congress and the American public that it knows full well what it means to be a strategic ally of the United States." To Indians here, that sounds like a not-so-subtle threat.
Henry Kissinger: The only way great countries can cooperate is if they genuinely believe they're pursuing common interests. If one country blackmails the other, even if it succeeds on one issue, it mortgages the future. The problem between India and the United States is how do we conceive our objectives, say, between Singapore and Aden in the whole region. Are there enough common interests to pursue parallel policies? If those interests don't exist, we won't create them through a nuclear agreement, and that is the fundamental issue in Indian-American relations and why I believe that we are moving into a period wherefore each, for its own reasons, will conclude that on many issues cooperation is desirable, not blackmail.
Karan Thapar: So, you're saying to Indians who worry about the embrace, 'Don't worry about imaginary ghosts.'Henry Kissinger: I say to India, “Think through what your objectives are and listen to what we say our objectives are. And then decide whether they are sufficiently parallel.” And you have certainly demonstrated over the decades that you are not embarrassed to disagree when you do.
Karan Thapar: Quite right. You're also saying, “Don't underestimate your capacity to stand up to America.” There is another fear that is expressed and this time the Bharatiya Janta Party - the main opposition party. They say that the deal is, in fact, an attempt to trap India by the backdoor into the NPT. It is an attempt to emasculate India's strategic nuclear weapons programme.
Henry Kissinger: There's no doubt that there are people in the United States who have that view. The Non-Proliferation lobby has its strong view along that line. But in this agreement, the argument that is made in America is the opposite - that it enables India to pursue a strategic programme with much more flexibility. And that is the argument that opponents in America make.
Karan Thapar: So, in other words, once again, “Don't listen to every voice and believe it; judge the Agreement on its merits; think carefully about the conclusions you're coming to because you might be frightening yourself where there's no need to be scared.”
Henry Kissinger: I think the agreement ought to be judged on its merits, on its technical merits, and on its long-term foreign policy merits. And the United States has gone through similar process and has resolved to be in favour of it. And now it's India's turn to complete its process.
Karan Thapar: Very quickly before we end this interview, as a foreign policy analyst, what would you say to a party like the Bharatiya Janta Party which four years ago, when it was in power, used to call America "India's natural ally"? Today, four years later, they want to turn their back on the nuclear deal. What would you say to them?
Henry Kissinger: Well, I will be seeing some of the leaders of that party. I will try to avoid getting involved in the debate on the deal. I would talk as I did then, and as I do to the current government: "Are there parallel interests between India and the United States?" and, "Let's look at this agreement on how we best realise these”, and, "What is the impact of India turning its back”, with arguments like the ones you have mentioned to me, and, "You should make that choice, not us".
Karan Thapar: And would you make the same message to the Prime Minister were you to meet him, would you say the same thing to him?
Henry Kissinger: I say the same thing to everybody.
Karan Thapar: "Think about your interests carefully, judge what you are doing and worry about the consequences that you may not intend."
Henry Kissinger: Well, I have now dealt with India for many decades and India has never been lacking making a hard-headed assessment of its long-term interests. That has been one of the impressive aspects of the Indian performance, and I'm sure that will continue.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
HAVANA - Fidel Castro wrote Tuesday that President Bush is threatening the world with nuclear war and famine — an attack on Washington a day before the White House was to announce new plans to draw Cuba away from communism.
"The danger of a massive world famine is aggravated by Mr. Bush's recent initiative to transform foods into fuel," Castro wrote in Cuban news media, referring to U.S. support for using corn and other food crops to produce gasoline substitutes.
The brief essay titled "Bush, Hunger and Death" also alleged that Bush "threatens humanity with World War III, this time using atomic weapons."
The White House on Tuesday brushed off Castro's comments — particularly his assertion that Bush was pursuing a forceful conquest of Cuba.
"Dictators say a lot of things, and most of them can be discounted, including that," said White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Perino said that Bush on Wednesday would urge other nations to join together in promoting democracy in Cuba.
"It is true that soon the decades-long debate about our policy towards Cuba will come to a time when we're going to have an opportunity here, when Castro is no longer leading Cuba, that the people there should be able to have a chance at freedom and democracy," she said. "That opportunity is coming."
In his essay, Castro predicted that Bush "will adopt new measures to accelerate the 'transition period' in our country, equivalent to a new conquest of Cuba by force."
Cuban officials have long denounced U.S. efforts to produce a "transition" from Castro's government to a Western-style representative democracy.
Ailing and 81, Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery and ceding power to a provisional government headed by his younger brother Raul in July 2006.
While he has looked upbeat and lucid in official videos, he also seems too frail to resume power.
Life on the island has changed little under Raul Castro, the 76-year-old defense minister who was his elder brother's hand-picked successor for decades.
Cuba staged municipal elections on Sunday, the first step in a process that will determine if Fidel Castro is re-elected or replaced next year as Cuban leader