G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Can Language Overpower Caste in Maharashtra?

STEVE LOHR said in The New York Times (March 23, 2008):

“…The demise of the old technology is confidently predicted, and indeed it may lose ground to the insurgent, as mainframes did to the personal computer. But the old technology or business often finds a sustainable, profitable life. Television, for example, was supposed to kill radio, and movies, for that matter. Cars, trucks and planes spelled the death of railways. A current death-knell forecast is that the Web will kill print media.

What are the common traits of survivor technologies? First, it seems, there is a core technology requirement: there must be some enduring advantage in the old technology that is not entirely supplanted by the new. But beyond that, it is the business decisions that matter most: investing to retool the traditional technology, adopting a new business model and nurturing a support network of loyal customers, industry partners and skilled workers…

… To survive, technologies must evolve, much as animal species do in nature. Indeed, John Steele Gordon, a business historian and author, observes that there are striking similarities in the evolutionary process of markets and biological ecosystems. Dinosaurs, he notes, may be long gone, victims of a change in climate that better suited mammals. But smaller reptiles evolved and survived, and today there are more than 8,000 species of reptiles, mainly lizards and snakes, compared with about 5,400 species of mammals. ..”

Mr. Raj Thackeray, a marketing wizard, knows what is true of technologies is also true of ideologies.

Few years ago his uncle Mr. Bal Thackeray increased his party’s focus on Hindutva. The nephew has been quick to seize the opportunity. His speech on May 3, 2008 is an example of clever positioning of his party for upcoming polls.

However Raj Thackeray has not accounted for one major hurdle in his calculations: increasing role of caste in the politics of Maharashtra. During no other period of 20th century, caste became as vicious in Maharashtra as it is today. In the past state or national level leaders from Maharashtra never so openly espoused caste.

Even saint Samarth Ramdas continues to be a target. See cartoon below from year 1969 and news item dated May 2008 from Marathi newspaper Pudhari .

Debate still rages if indeed Samarth, a Brahmin, was Shivaji’s guru or not. We are ready to live with many other myths that masquerade as Indian history but not this one. The news item below says experts from reputed institutions (fearing backlash) are refusing to give their views on the subject.

It’s never enough to know that these two greats were contemporaries and by far the best writing on Shivaji has been done by Samarth.


Old Lady: “Why doesn’t someone prove by doing more research that Samarth was not a Brahmin? At least that will save him from more opprobrium.”

Artist: वसंत सरवटे (1969) "सरवोत्तम सरवटे" संपादक: अवधूत परळकर, लोकवाङ्मय गृह 2008

Vasant Sarwate (1969) sourced from his latest book "The Best of Sarwate" editor: Avadhoot Paralkar, Lokvangmay Gruh 2008