Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Two Ways

If I were given two ways to effect change - social transformation, revolution, then this is what I would do...

When I was a little girl, I would often be awakened in the dark early hours by sounds of singing, chanting. This used to be a norm in those days...groups of people went around in 'mandalis' singing devotional songs, spiritual songs, songs to awaken not just the body, but also the heart. I remember lying awake to these songs, sometimes drifting back to sleep, but sometimes running to the balcony to watch the group of singers pass by. Mom would be up - invariable, getting started on her day's activities of running a household with four children. I have through the years often thought about these wakings - these arrivals of dawns with songs, and I have missed the singers. I have also thought, I could go around, in early dark hours, waking the world with songs, strumming of tamboora, the gentle rhythms of manjeera. These days of discovering Kabir, going around singing Kabir has renewed this desire. It occurs to me that if one were awakened to Kabir's songs of seeking - for truth, for meaning, for revolt against petty meaness in society, of divisive hatred, of love - boundless, all encompassing love, then many of the social ills would be erased - forever. Then lessons in equity, equality, need to be taught in classrooms (which they are not anyway) but would be imbibed deep inside, transformative lessons of recognising truth.

Many years later, I came across another revolutionary idea. A bunch of scientists used to go around, talking science to audiences of students from schools and colleges - basic science, the step wise rational process of science, the discoveries and stories of science. I was introduced to this concept by Sharath, an ex-collegue of mine. I still remember his message " If a society functioned on basis of a collective with individuals capable of posing questions and seeking their own answers, then many of the current social ills would automatically disappear." Also, " the scale of science from micro- to macro-, biology to astronomy, puts a particular human life in perspective - then caste, wars, hatred etc. becomes meaningless..." I remembered then, as now, how I enjoyed ending my lessons on stellar evolution with words " we are all star-dust" - a fitting perspective required to wipe out difference of relegion, sex, caste, race... None of these need to be preached overtly - it is enough to say " we are all truly just stardust" or study the processes that govern origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the wonder at it.

Given that there are many things I don't do, these are definitely two things that I think would be worth doing to "time-pass".

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