Merry Sabari-Christ-ul-Zuha

Many many years ago, a baby named Jesus Ibrahim Ayyappa was found on the banks of the river Pampa, and very early on in his life, showed a proclivity for all matters spiritual. He was even ready to sacrifice strong feelings of familial desire at his god’s altar, for which the supreme dude Vishn-allah-weh blessed him. A light in the sky named the Jyothi Star of Makara-Bethlehem is a miraculous sign of his birth and presence on this earth. Legend has it that he is said to have delivered a sermon to his devotees on the Sabari-mount and converted tiger’s milk to wine. At his Last Supper, he ate Puttu and kadalai, which explains why it was the “last” supper. After eating Puttu, it is impossible to eat anything else for a long time….

Excuse me? It wasn’t like that? You mean, I’m all mixed up? All these stories are separate, unrelated events occurring in different places at different times? Oh. I’m sorry. In any case, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Eid-ul-Zuha and an safe trip to Sabarimala.

ps: Earlier in the day, I asked Darth Vaadhiar what his job profile was, and he was nice enough to send me a hologram message through R2D2, but unlike Luke, I couldn’t get that broken robot to work. So he gently squeezed my throat, and whispered “Dei Ambi, I find your lack of hologram decoding skills disturbing”. But he did eventually relent and sent me a detailed diagram instead. He asked me to focus on the red arrows to understand the sheer multi-dimensional complexity of his job.

roleofdarth.jpg

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Categories: Auspicious Ganesha Squiggly

28 replies

  1. LOL @ the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Kudos at creating a masterpiece that deserves to be painted on the ceiling of the Milliways restaurant.

    Btw, a couple of the pictures (like the one below Immersive Simulations) are a bit small. Any chance of posting a bigger version, so we can better admire your handiwork?

  2. Ashok: This was one brilliant creation. I should say another brilliant creation. Awesome. I hope people understand the deep philosophical underwear, I mean, underpinnings of the post… :-)

  3. Good stuff.

    Though why photo of Buddhist monk next to the Darth Thelonius label, I say?

    I liked this part – metaphor/symbolism/imagery going into the garbage bin. Sigh. What’re we going to do with the impressionable masses, I say?

  4. Rambodoc,
    Thank you.

    BP&SK,
    I thought about a companion glossary for this post, but decided Ill do that sometime later and let everybody try and figure the references out themselves. The games, incidentally are Spore, Civilization and the venerable Duke Nukem.

    Nitya,
    The connection is a famous Jazz musician :)

  5. How can you ignore L Ron Hubbard and Xenu in this mess? :-)

  6. Always suspected religion was too complex for me. QED.
    Interesting, the lack of female icons in the visual. Status quo?
    Very much. Organized religion is masculinity personified (although female iconography is liberally used).

  7. *Googles frantically*

    Ah yes, the Thelonius monk quartet, of course.

  8. @ggop – While on the subject of Ron Hubbard and Xenu. Do watch this video by julia sweeney ripping apart organized religion.

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/86

    For more TED talks on the theme ‘Letting go of God’

    http://www.ted.com/themes/view/id/21

  9. Maybe I was wrong comparing you to Ze Frank…this post takes you several notches above that dude thalaiva…you went knock knock knocking on the stratosphere there….Brilliant piece…although I thought it would have been super if you had added a few thousand more words to the post…or maybe you should do a longer version of this piece…someday.

    Please!

  10. KA:

    Your graphic reminds me of the work of a programmer couple years back who wrote a 1200 line Java class :) He was in a legacy maintenance project and had threatened to resign so they assigned him to a development project using Java.

    Maybe half your problem with religion (organized or otherwise) would disappear when you get rid of the notion that divinity is male.

    Organized religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism – are masculine personifications of the supreme deity – replete with beard, moustaches and I’m sure, nose hair.

    Hinduism does not have a masculine deity personified. Yes, the way the British interpreted it, that’s how it was. And subsequently Mama’s continued that interpretation because in their anxiety to learn English and get a clerical position in the government, they forgot they didn’t have to learn to interpret Hinduism from the English or get their approval.

    Your graphic shows too much negative influence of colonial cobwebs. For example, why is there an acharya or swamiji next to Jesus? Hinduism does not enjoin an acharya at all. No temple based ritual, no Vedic ritual, no life events like birth, death, wedding etc requires an acharya.

    My Mom’s a Hindu and she hardly ever prays to any male divinity. Only female ones and if at all she prays to a male divinity at any time, I think it’s as a respectable husband of a female divinity and the prayer is directed to their saumya aspect. She doesn’t chant any of those power formulae. She only sings or close their eyes and keep mum.

    My Mom’s just an example. Most women and most men who are adherents of traditional Hinduism do likewise. This is not to say, there are no male divinities – but they have their place.

    Perhaps you should try singing in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada etc – take your pick – some choice song to some feminine divinity, so you will understand how bug ridden your graphic is. More importantly stop reading books on Hinduism written in English.
    :)

    LNS

  11. The following episode may throw further light on this:

    Nambi, a medieval acharya of Srirangam, was found praying to Vishnu standing among cowherd women. A disciple accosted him:
    “Why do you stand among these illiterate women instead of among us Vaishnava bhaktas?”.
    Nambi answered: “Lord’s grace flows over these illiterate cowherds as water flows from a higher to a lower level”.
    The disciple asked: “How did they pray? How did your grace pray?”
    Nambi said: ‘They prayed to the Lord in pure Tamil. They said – please drink this milk, eat this fruit. Live a hundred years. Wear this silk uppercloth . I prayed in Sanskrit: Be victorious, be victorious”.

    The other man finally said:
    “You couldn’t forget your rough-sounding Sanskrit even among the cowherds. It looks as if we, the educated, will be the same wherever we are”.

    Of course this whole episode reads much better in Tamil. Substitute English for Sanskrit and the port to the blogosphere is complete :)

  12. Srini,
    “Organized religion” in this graphic represents only the misguided, patriarchal, superstition-ridden, ritual-fetishistic part of every major religion in the world.

    And the “Hinduism” part of this is the saffron tinged, BJP espoused, Modi-type crass commercial mockery of a religion, and *not* the personal divinity that you mention in your comment.

    If you are asking me to learn more about Hinduism before mocking it, I will respond by saying that what you are talking about and what I am mocking are two completely different things, like Madurai Mani Iyer’s kalpana swaram and today’s artistes’ mugged-up Niraval and pre-composed kalpana swaram. :)

  13. Nambi, a medieval acharya of Srirangam, was found praying to Vishnu standing among cowherd women. A disciple accosted him:
    “Why do you stand among these illiterate women instead of among us Vaishnava bhaktas?”.
    Nambi answered: “Lord’s grace flows over these illiterate cowherds as water flows from a higher to a lower level”.

    @Srini – Erm, Right!!!

    *chuckle*

  14. Just wait till the Travancore Devaswom Board hears of this. They love the moselems but can’t stand the catholics….

  15. Hello Krish Ashok,
    I am a long time silent reader of your blog. I had great fun reading them. Just a bit confused here though. How did politics come in to the picture here? you started off talking about ritualistic fetishes and all

    ““Organized religion” in this graphic represents only the misguided, patriarchal, superstition-ridden, ritual-fetishistic part of every major religion in the world.”

    And then you jumped to the politics of it:
    “And the “Hinduism” part of this is the saffron tinged, BJP espoused, Modi-type crass commercial mockery of a religion, and *not* the personal divinity that you mention in your comment.”

    Can you please explain clearly? How did being ritualistic (bad/good/ugly or beautiful rituals) come to be associated with the politics of the BJP and for God’s sakes , Modi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Did BJP actually make people follow rituals , a la ,Taliban? Did Modi shoot off a decree” Hereby by the grace of democracy, whoever does not go to the temple will have his head cut off ” or something to that effect.
    It is all fine i believe to be irreverent. Everyone to his own. I just wanted to know more about the connection between rituals and the HIndutva philosophy.
    Thanks.

  16. Kannan,
    You are right. I wasn’t being clear at all. Let me try and clarify the Hindutva connection

    Male-centered, patriarchal religion goes hand in hand with politics and power. My particular bone of contention with the BJP gang is their tendency to create a fixed, albeit revised history of India and their attempt to define something called “Hindu” culture with brazen disrespect for the diversity we have. The Modi reference was only to highlight the fact that this crowd is capable of as much violence and gore as anybody else. And when I say “ritualized” I refer to the broader tendency towards the loss of original context and meaning and its replacement with a superficial show of religiosity.

    Which is not to say that they are like the Taliban.

    I (sometimes unfairly) club them in that crowd simply because I think we continue to cover ourselves as “being better than the Taliban” I don’t think we should miss the crass cheapening and dilution of our cultural heritage by this crowd.

    Srini is perfectly valid in saying that Im missing the core meaning of Hinduism. Of course I am, and I know that. But that is not the part of religion I’m lampooning here.

  17. Maattikiniyaa? Heheh :)

    PS: I said “Fetishistic” 20 times and was thrown out of office for impersonating a sprinkler system. It’s all your fault

    PPS: Needless to say, super post. You are hereby crowned “sarcasaththin arasu”.

  18. Thank you, Krish Ashok , for the reply. I hope you don’t mind if I type on further and just prod on a bit (although orthogonal/tangential to the actual post). Please let me know.

    I agree with you to the extent that “Male-centered, patriarchal religion goes hand in hand with politics and power”. True. And that is definitely a case with rituals today in Hinduism.(I will not drag Abrahamic religions in to this, because I simply don’t know much about them). Right from poonal (thread to initiate a boy into manhood, what about ladies eh? i mean girls in to ladyhood :p), to shraddham..everything is male centric and that is something, i agree with.
    But again, my understanding is not quite helping me out here. Does “Hindutva”, which is what BJP and Modi symbolise I think, cause this?
    How has BJP and the gang caused Hinduism to be crassly ritualistic? As far as a I can see Hindutva was a term coined by Veer Savarkar to explain his nationalistic philosophy. And he does mention that when he says Hindutva, that does not mean that only Hindus are allowed or an exclusivist approach, but rather mean that India would be guided by the tenets for Hinduism ie, dharma(not religion or law) and sadbhava. Of course this includes other religions and does not mean they cannot practise whatever they choose to. I could not find anything in Hindutva literature which actually asks people to follow a set of rituals.
    As regards to the Hindutvavadis being as prone to violence to the next person, I believe it is true. I also believe equally that nothing exists in vacuum. For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction (Did i just echo Modi here, oops). It is sadly true. Whoever provokes will always lose the moral ground. This is where i believe the Ramjanmabhoomi went wrong with the knocking down of the Babri Masjid. Everything that happened afterwards came out of that incident and Hindus lost moral ground because of that.
    I think, violence at every point differs by the context. Taliban did not have any provocation whatsoever to do what they did. Hindutvavadis were provoked but over reacted and lost moral ground. Violence happened in both cases, but to be fair here, in one case opposing parties had a chance to hit back (which has been happening, what with bomb blasts, terror strikes et all). Both types of violence are condemnable, but I believe not comparable in the same breath.

    Also when you mentioned diversity and dilution of cultural heritage, it has set me in to thinking, what actually constitutes this? Hinduism is diverse (Vaishnava, Shaiva, Smartha, Nagas, Dvaitha, Advaitha, etc and many spin offs)and I don’t know instance of this diversity being suppressed. I hope I am not wrong here.
    Wrt to Abrahamic religions, well I am not sure if the followers are in anyway hindered in this regard, even by Hindutvavadis.

    As regards to revisionist history, the muck actually flies everywhere :)
    I love the way you lampoon everything in a way only Chennai vasis can do. I hope my points above don’t give you an impression that I am here to ambush. I have certain views and opinions and just like to find out if what I was thinking was indeed right. Thanks for giving me space here.

  19. Ashok,

    Would a female (Hindu) iconography be different ? What else would it include? Cobra, cow, assorted trees, Basil, mortar and pestle, doorstep (turmeric and vermillion-smeared), coconut (with face painted on it) . . . so much more groovy symbolism eh?

  20. I think Kannan raises some good points. He has clearly shown that there lies a distinction between Hindutva and Hinduism. They simply operate in different spheres of human endeavor. btw, Savarkar was an atheist.

    KA, mourning the loss of original context and meaning is not a very intelligent use of one’s time. Everyday everywhere original context is being lost, so why lose sleep over it? I’m convinced there can’t be progress without loss of original context.

    The difference with Hinduism is that it lets you create a customized ‘myHinduism’ which you can be comfortable with, which suits your context and has meaning for you, and which is as different from another person’s Hinduism as you wish it to be. This is something you couldn’t do with more organized religions such as Islam, Christianity etc.

    When Ariyakudi wrought his modern kutchery format, there were enough diehards who mourned the loss of the good old days when the norm was to sing a raga for 4 hours, right? But here is the difference – the predominant music patron in Ariyakudi’s days was no longer the Thanjavur/ rural landlord but a Madras city based office goer. So to a new context belongs a new format. Until yesterday, it seemed imbued with so much meaning!

    btw, yesterday I had the unasked for ‘pleasure’ of listening to a snare drum solo by a Travis Barker – it lasted almost 45 minutes. Halfway thru even I could predict what the next 15 minutes would be like.

    The only human invention which asserts no loss of original context while laying great claims to progress is Gates Uncle’s Vista. That still runs a Windows 3.1 app exactly as it ran, recently in 1993.

  21. i want to know the meaning of “dont mix religion and science filter” :-)

  22. Staying out of this one.

  23. I think you’ve over-stated the link between video games and organized religion.

    In fact, I would argue that its not even religious morality, such as that may be, that contributes to the denouncement of video games. Its simple media constructs, arising out of a rock-solid faith in ye olde media and art forms, combined with market economics.

    Its not ‘censorship’ that produces the EA sports of today, but market forces – a games like Katamari Damacy is an underground hit at best, but every Katamari that sees the light of day thanks to the internet, there are thousands of games – intelligent games that attempt something new, that are buried under the corporate marketing behemoth that is EA.

    Infact, even mainstream games that attempt to veer away from the mindless shooter/racer formula sometimes fail. Case in point – Beyond Good and Evil, critical success but commercial failure – so much so that big publisher Ubisoft pulled funds from the planned sequel.

    These two forces – the media construct that defines games narrowly as violent/racy/entertainment only, and the market forces that continually pick the violent/racy/entertainment only games from the pool of available ones – create this kind of reinforcement cycle that will take the likes of MANY sid meiers and will wrights to break.

    Thankfully, thats starting to happen – thanks to the internet and an independent gaming community. I think it was the NEw York Times which said ‘The golden age of gaming might be here. But Halo 3 is not the start of it.’

    Amen.

  24. Argh. Typos. Please to correct.

  25. Raghav,
    You are right. It is not “Organized Religion” that directly censors or kills video games. Darth Vaadhiar as a caricature stands for, in general, status quo, an almost violent love of the mainstream and the past, and the reluctance to change with the times. Organized religion represents one of the biggest agencies working in that direction.

    But you are right. The diagram is not bringing that out clearly.

  26. Effing hillarious da ambi.

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