Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Indira Gandhi National Council of the Arts

I went to Delhi on Sunday night for a meeting at the IGNCA where Shrivatsaji was discussing a project for a 10-day program about Braj to be held at the IGNCA next March. He was discussing primarily with Molly Kaushal, who is the head of the Janapada Sampada (or folk arts) division.

I sat in on the meeting, which only ran into a little controversy when Shrivatsa mentioned the difficulty he had in getting a certain pandit to come to San Francisco to participate in a conference. This man insisted that he be able to see the very cow that he would drink the milk from. This was of course impossible to arrange for someone staying in a hotel in the downtown of an American city, and so he refused.

Ms. Mehtab, a joint secretary at the IGNCA, then said, well this is precisely the kind of person we should refuse to have... And let's have a session on whether this is actually good for anyone... and what about the widows of Braj? And how come 90% of them come from Bengal? After all, isn't that where Ram Mohun Ray and the rest began the movements against suttee and for allowing widow remarriage, etc.?

It turns out that one of the people there, Ramakar Pant, did his doctoral research on Braja's widows, which I managed to get a brief look at. It will be published in the very near future. It seemed rather more positive; in his assessment, since most of these widows seem to feel as though they are getting a chance to live a devotional life. In other words, they have faith in bhakti. An interesting discussion might have ensued, but Molly Kaushal and Shrivatsaji were disciplined enough to stick to the agenda. They agreed to have Ashish Nandy come and speak one day on the issues of tradition and modernity where Braj is concerned.

Afterwards, I met with G.C. Tripathi, who is in charge of publications, and the person in charge of the web page. We did not actually get anything settled. We still need official approval.

I was in no mood for sightseeing, even though the IGNCA is right in the middle of New Delhi's India Gate area. I thought I would look at the Iskcon temple, but I went by and saw and left. It reminded a bit too much of the Kanpur railway station. It was just the wrong time of day, I guess. They are making big preparations for Janmastami. I left on the first train Tuesday morning. Arrived exhausted.

Fascinating satellite views of Rishikesh: Wikimap of Rishikesh with Sadhak Gram.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just took a tour of Rishikesh through that wikimap, followed the Ganges up stream from the stating point, past the two bridges and up up for a long stretch - its beautiful! Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

"I sat in on the meeting, which only ran into a little controversy when Shrivatsa mentioned the difficulty he had in getting a certain pandit to come to San Francisco to participate in a conference. This man insisted that he be able to see the very cow that he would drink the milk from. This was of course impossible to arrange for someone staying in a hotel in the downtown of an American city, and so he refused.

Ms. Mehtab, a joint secretary at the IGNCA, then said, well this is precisely the kind of person we should refuse to have... And let's have a session on whether this is actually good for anyone... and what about the widows of Braj? And how come 90% of them come from Bengal? After all, isn't that where Ram Mohun Ray and the rest began the movements against suttee and for allowing widow remarriage, etc.?"

I agree with Ms. Mehtab, why work with such a regressive man steeped in the far, far past?

The solution would have been to suggest he go vegan temporarily, or even raw, if he wants to dance even closer to the edge of "pavitra".

Regarding widows of Braj; some are into their bhajan and some are not. Some are just there because they have to be. Their cultural conditioning has left them no other choice. Some resent that. There is really no way of knowing the real statistics on who likes their life or who doesn't because even if you interview every last one of them, some of them will lie to save face or are just resigned to fate. But in any case, I bet you there is not a single one of them who would not welcome improvement in their living conditions and "health care".

As far as Ashish Nandy and commenting on tradition and modernity in Braj, that is an interesting subject. Whatever modernity exists there is due to outsiders mostly - Delhi wallas and foriegners. Left to their own devices the Braj basis would still be living in the medieval ages, which they are for the most part, at least mentally.

Nothing wrong with that I suppose. It all depends on what you want out of life.

Generally speaking Braj is becoming "modernized" only on a very superficial external level. Psychologically the locals are still stuck.

Anonymous said...

Any additional comments on the voting here Jagatji?

Jagat said...

I have made an additional comment on the previous thread.

Satya devi dasi said...

Are you okay? Haven't heard from you for a while. RadheRadhe!

Jagat said...

Radhe Radhe, Satyadevi.

Sorry for not posting anything for a while. I am OK. Today is Ekadasi and I am fasting and observing a 3-day vow of silence. Part of the vow is not to go on the internet, so there goes another chance at siddhi!

The reason I haven't been blogging much lately is because of the Bhagavat-sandarbha work, which has me slightly constrained.

But I observed Janmashtami. I spoke here at the ashram on the ajo'pi verse from the Gita, and again at the Madhuban ashram on dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam.

I really would like to comment more extensively. I have been reading a couple of Hindi books by Osho and have something to say about them, which will eventually come up on this site.

I should get in the habit of maybe making shorter, less elaborate posts.