Aug 28, 2014


Khaliqur Rahman

Years and years ago, says Maulana Rumi, there lived a God-fearing couple. They were a model of love for each other. She loved and respected him. He reciprocated. As best as they could; she served him and he looked after her. They prayed and worshipped God to the best of their capabilities. For livelihood, he had a small business and she, a household.
Life passed on thus.
Three decades later, she noticed that his business had finally shrunk next to naught and he was devoting more and more of his business hours to praying and thus trying to make up in terms of devotion and blessings for what he was losing in business in terms of money and time.
Soon there came a time when they had nothing to eat! Just as their clothes, worn out and threadbare, somehow hung on to the frail frames of their bodies, the waft and woof of piety and courage, patience and dignity held on to the tenuous fabric of their unflinching devotion. She never complained. He never lost composure.
For days and nights, he wouldn’t come out of his room. For days and nights, she would wait for him to come out. Perhaps then, she would sit with him and, perhaps, persuade him to do something himself rather than wait for God to do something for them.
Lo, and behold! He comes out. He holds her in his arms and they give each other a long helpless hug. (To give, they had nothing else!) Then he digs his eyes deep into her stony gaze and they lose each other as if in a trance.
He realised he was responsible for this miserable state. She consoled him giving him an assurance that she would never complain against him, even before God on the Day of Judgement. At the same time, she suggested he should do something because they did need food to survive and clothes to cover their bodies.
‘But what can I do?’ he bemoaned helplessly.
She said, “Take a little gift to the kind-hearted king, whose great palace stands in grandeur by  the river that has never dried. Offer your humble gift to him and ask him for favour: a job to live by.”
‘But what will I take for the gift?’ he spouted in complete bewilderment. “I know! We’ve got nothing at all. But listen, we do have a pitcher somewhere at the back. We’ll put it out in the open, under the sky, for rain water to collect. When it is full, you’ll put it on your head and take it to the kind king. You’ll go there with all humility and offer this humblest of the humble little gifts to the kindest of the kind kings. Mark my words and say them in the humblest possible manner to the great king. I’m sure he’ll reward you well.”
He took the pitcher full of rain water to the palace. When he entered the king’s court with this pitcher on his head, the people threw disconcerting looks and chuckled. Suffering this ignominy stoically, he moved humbly ahead towards the king, remembering the words of his wife. Appearing before the king, he offered his gift following every word she had said.
The king accepted the gift majestically. Not only that, he rewarded him with silver and gold and a job in the court!
On his return, his wife said,” Your prayers to God are like your gift of ordinary rain water to the king whose palace stands on the bank of the river in which the water never dries”. He was enlightened.

She showed him the way!

Aug 26, 2014


Khaliqur Rahman

In a Utopian situation, Material Power respects Spiritual Power and Spiritual Power reciprocates. Mutual respect defines the limits. Discipline and balance are maintained. The ideal starts moving from the imaginative to the real.
In ideal times like this, there must have been a kingdom where appropriate facilities must have been available for learning and teaching. Sufficient centres like gurkuls, pathshalas, madrasas, maktabs must have been there for proper education. The teachers must have been mentors, guides and philosophers to befit the words like guru, ustad and murshid. They must have guided, instructed, trained and taught very well. Their main objective must have been to see that their students developed a healthy mind, body and spirit.
The Wheel of Time then must have moved half a circle on. Things must have declined. Good sense must have given in to non-sense. The ruler must have been the very first victim of non-sense. He must have waged a war against the Neighbour. Surely, good counsel – the sensible rajaguru - must have warned him against a war. But swollen heads often have deaf ears. The raja must have ignored the Following the war, the coffers must have gone empty. Budget cuts must have been imposed. As always, the first victim must have been the guruji
The guruji, one day, out of sheer every-lessness in the household, must have got a fit of madness. The egghead then must have asked the zamindar through his son for ghee. The zamindar must have obliged him rather too ghee-fully, of course, in the hope of a smooth and prospective career for his son in return who must have surely outscored the guruji’s son who, in turn, must have preferred to make a career as a darogha because he would receive the ghee from the zamindar, any way, even without having to teach anyone’s son. The guruji must have okayed his career plans.
The success story of the zamindar’s son and the secret story of the guruji’s son , both, must have spread like wild fire, rapidly, or like hot news, widely, or like a secret, surreptitiously,. Secrets are things, like kuchra, that you want your friends and neighbours to keep.
Soon, the key to children’s success must have been with every one and all the gurujis must have had more than belly-full supply of ghee.
But one day, he must have thought that this way his self-respect and social prestige would be completely ruined and lost. That day, he must have cursed the king because the only way to save his self-respect and prestige was to have got the ghee from the king and not from all and sundry. In complete frustration, he must have taken the Ganges to the Arab Sea and that too without delta.
The present day schooling, the modern day mushrooming of coaching centres running chains of various different classes and courses and the contemporary examining bodies at schools, colleges and universities including various different boards and bodies conducting entrance examinations must all thank the king who didn’t send enough ghee to the guruji!
Before a good, conscientious teacher decides, out of sheer helplessness, to begin to mishandle the future of children, the authorities would do well to handle him with care because a teacher is very breakdownable and he knows how to give it back. If you dodge him today, he’ll dodge you back, too. But you’ll begin to fall in good thirty years!

Hasn’t that already happened? Hasn’t Higher Education become Wider Education? Our own language Hindi expresses it better: Uchcha Shiksha? No, Tuchchha Shiksha!

Aug 22, 2014


Khaliqur Rahman

For Man, the nine month captivity in the womb ends at birth. But another kind of captivity with another name, LIFE, that sounds very optimistic, begins. People around are happy chanting happy notes, with laddoos and with felicitations. But perhaps the consciousness of the new born immediately identifies the beginning of another kind of imprisonment. It cries!
Man has always cherished freedom, at various different levels. From the womb to the cradle to the mother’s lap is another freedom but captivity of another kind. From crawling to walking to running, you notice that limitations of one sort open up into an extension of freedom but one step ahead brings an instant new set of shackles.
The child now is free to go to school but immediately the school rules apply. The child is a free member in the family but family traditions catch up.
Life then is a sentence!
You are free to choose a word from all the words available in the language. But once you pick the first word, choices close in upon the choice of the next word. You have to choose the next word from a smaller number of words available now to strike compatibility with the first word chosen. The second word and the third have fewer and fewer choices to choose from until the last word that has only one choice: full stop!
Life is a SENTENCE. The verdict has already been written. We call it Destiny. There have been debates: destiny is character or character, destiny. Much has been said on either side. But I think Destiny comprises two sub-destinies: one, that cannot be modified, say, about 90% and two, that can be modified with the help of one’s free will and what is called a’maal or karma, say, about 10%.
I think, the so called cherished freedom is at best attainable within this 10%, not for free but at a very high price. Look at the price people like the prophets and saints had to pay to attain a certain level of freedom for oneself and the followers. One would shudder to visualize the unimaginable and immeasurable suffering they chose to embrace only to attain the highest level of freedom that we call by different names like salvation, liberation, nirvana, fana fillah or ‘dying before death’. It is a state of mind at the highest level. Some people, like Buddha or Ram or Mohammed or Nanak, only to name a few of the many, have reached this level where not only they freed themselves from the various mundane bondages but paved a new path and established it for a better world order.
It was Ramkrishna Paramhans who said, “It is by Mind that one is bound and it is by Mind again that one is freed”.
There have been people in the history of mankind who have attained this state of freedom by breaking the prevailing social and religious codes and customs and readily paid a heavy price, in certain cases even in terms of one’s life, people like the Joan of Arc or Mirabai or Shams Tabrez or Mansoor or Sarmad, only to name a few.
There is yet another category of men and women who have or have been campaigning for one kind of freedom or the other. In principal, it appears that they are raising voices for a just cause, like human rights related issues, or women empowerment or eradication of corruption or legalization of gay marriages or you-call-it-liberation-movement but we call it cross-border- terrorism or you call it jehad but they call it fundamentalist terrorism or simply freedom of action and expression.
So many lives have been sacrificed. The world order has been terribly disturbed. No side is willing to understand. The fight for freedom is on. Why? Because the mind can go in two directions: the positive and the negative. To get rid of negativity, one has to train one’s mind by actually living a life free from the Freudian id and ego. If I am still not free from the clutches of the material desires, if I still crave for a woman either in this world or in Heaven, taking for granted His Judgement that He will allow me into the Heaven, I don’t think I’ll succeed in attaining my goals, no matter how noble and lofty they are. I wouldn’t even know whether gay marriages will bring a better world order.
Aql-e-salees or sadbuddhi, I think, is attainable only after one’s mind is free from kubuddhi or aql-e-iblees,  which I call ‘outellect’.
O God, have mercy on us. We do not know what we are doing. Forgive us and free us from ‘outellectualism’ so that we start looking at FREEDOM as jam and butter between two large slices of CAPTIVITY.