Like everyone, I was also planning my Christmas vacation for this year (2016). As it happens, my best mate who also happens to be my flatmate of two years invited me to spend my vacation with him and his family in Mexico. Based on the visa guidelines given by the Mexican embassy in the UK, one can enter Mexico with a valid UK Visa (and other supporting documents such as return tickets etc.). So, I booked my flight tickets and gathered my supporting documents. Everything appeared to be fine, I packed everything and boarded the flights. I was so much looking forward to being in Mexico and living this promising experience of a traditional Christmas and New Year celebration.
I had flights from Edinburgh to London (BA 1455 19th Dec), London to Madrid (BA516 19th Dec) and Madrid to Mexico City (BA4285 19th Dec). I showed my documents before boarding each flight and everything appeared to be fine. I finally landed on Mexico city around 4 AM local time 20th December without knowing the horrible experience that was about to unfold. I went to the immigration and showed my Indian passport and UK visa. The woman in the immigration wasn’t clearly happy. She asked me what job do you do? I said I’m a teaching fellow. She noted that my UK visa says “limited work”. I told her it means I cannot do any other jobs other than my main job. She then went to speak with someone and came back. I was then asked to fill in a questionnaire. I was asked, why I came here, with whom I would be staying, how am I going to support myself and I filled everything. A person from the immigration took the questionnaire. I then received no official verbal or written response from Mexican immigration. I was curious that they didn’t even ask for my supporting documentation.
After a 10 to 15 minutes, a security guard came to collect me and I was made to sit down and was asked me to remove all my belongings. And, I was made to sign in a registry of some sort. Even at this point, I had no idea what was happening. They didn’t tell what happened. I was then put in a detainment room that already had several other detainees. At no point did they say to me personally that my entry into Mexico was rejected. I was just sent into the detainment room with a bunch of other people. At this point, I panicked and was asking the security guard what’s happening. She said in broken English, “you going back”. I started to panic. Even until this point, I did not receive any official communication regarding the decision and the reasoning behind it from the immigration office. Not even an oral “we are refusing your entry” from the immigration officers themselves. Continue reading
I am sprinting on a Mobius strip
Placed beside an endless pit
The beginning, I do not recall
But the end, I fear a deep fall
Afar, I see a presence, a visage!
Is this hope, or an elusive mirage?
The shadow of my glorious past
Strolling towards a glittering mast Continue reading
I have been wanting to write about this for several years but never got around to writing anything at all. It was 9 years ago (I am 26 now) when I first read the Kamasutra completely. While reading the book, I came across the chapter on “oral sex” (Auparishtaka) with references to what appeared as oral sex between men in ancient India. Even though it was more of a passing reference that just bore witness to the fact that such practices already existed in ancient India. It was totally non-judgemental and no eternal damnation of any sort was specified, which was in a way personally very reassuring for me. Perks of following a Dharmic religion, I suppose. young-me surely didn’t want to go to hell. At that time I didn’t have enough Sanskrit to actually go to the source and its commentary and analyze the chapter in detail. But I suppose 9 years later I can do that now!
A close reading of the related verses and its subsquence analysis would be certainly helpful to derive and discuss some actual facts as described in the text itself, which is our primary source. Let’s dive into the source and see what the text itself says about male homosexual practices and perhaps try to make some interesting inferences, observations and analysis along the way. This article focuses mainly on male homosexual practices, I’d assume female homosexual practices will be discussed in future articles.
Now, some briefing about Kamasutra. I’d guess everyone has at least heard about Kamasutra. The text was probably composed around 400 BCE and 200 CE by Vātsyāyana. The extant version consists of 8 sections. The chapter on oral sex (aupariṣṭaka) occurs as the 9th chapter in section 2 on sexual union (sāṃproyogika). There appears to have been several commentaries (vyākhyas) to Kamasutra. Perhaps, one the most important is the Jayamaṅgala commentary written by Yaśodhara around 12th century CE. There is also a contemporary Hindi commentary called Jaya written in the 20th century. But I don’t have acccess to it. So we would be sticking to Kamasutra and its Jayamangala commentary.
In this article, we would particularly be doing a close reading of verse 36 in the 9th chapter of section 2. So let’s dive in!
tathā nāgarakāḥ kecidanyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ |
kurvanti rūḍhaviśvāsāḥ parasparaparigraham ||
And, in the same way (tathā), certain city-dwelling-men (kecid nāgarakāḥ) who desire for one another’s welfare (anyonyasya hitaiṣiṇaḥ) and have established-trust (rūḍha-viśvāsāḥ) do (kurvanti) this service [oral sex] for one another (paraspara-parigraham).
— Verse 2.9.36
It has been a long time since I wrote anything on the blog about Television. So, let’s rewind to 1995 around 18 years back, while I was doing my 4th grade, during the grand old days of Doordarshan. Doordarshan then had two channels DD National & DD Metro. DD National usually had the boring programmes in Hindi while DD Metro broadcasted foreign TV shows and cartoons in English alongside Hindi/Local programming. Seriously, even in those days Doordarshan seems to have had enough senses to broadcast syndicated overseas programmes in India. Somehow, DD got degraded beyond redemption over the time.
So, yeah back to the point. At that time, they used to air this series called “Super Human Samurai Syber-Squad“. IIRC it used to air on Thursdays around 4:30 PM. It is one of my all time favourites. Computers were kinda rare in India those days (I got a PC in 1999) and were a bit of an enigma. At that time even in School, I remember we were just allowed to see computer from a distance and not operate. Perhaps, they thought Computers were too much for 4th graders! It was the through the series, I had come across the terms “Digital” & “Cyber” for the first time ever.
The short story is this (for the longer vesion there is always Wikipedia !) – There is this high school guy Sam Collins who along with his friends enters the digital world and fights viruses (who appear as monsters in the digital world). Sam takes the form of a cyber avatar named “Servo”, while his three friends operate various armor vehicles in the digital world. Together they form the “Super Human Samurai Syber Squad“. Their arch-nemisis is Malcolm, who assits an evil program called Kilokahn to create viruses and wreak havoc in the world. Each time Malcom and Kilokahn unleash a virus, Sam & his team enter the digital world, destroy the virus and save the world . It was the digital fiction of those days. People traveling into computers, lots of gadgedry, computer talk, fighting etc made the show more attractive.
It’s well-known that Buddha was at a later phase included into the Hindu pantheon as an avatar of Vishnu. This myth is frequently invoked by the modern Hindus to encompass Buddhism as a part of Hinduism. What is not well known is the status of Vishnu as a deity within Buddhism per se. In the previous article, we had seen the status of Shiva in Buddhism, and now we analyze in detail the status of Vishnu vis-à-vis Buddhism.
Compared to Shiva who has relatively more references in the Mahayana Buddhist sutras and the numerous Vajrayana Tantras (where he appears as Rudra, to be always subdued by the wrathful Buddhist deities at the end), references to Vishnu are quite less. This perhaps may be due to the fact that, the later Buddhists were in a position to directly interact more with the Shaivaites than the Vaishnaivites.
As already referred in the “Shiva in Buddhism” article, Theravada Buddhism is quite orthodox in admitting deities into its fold. Rather than integrating the deities directly into the religion, it tends to keep the deities in the periphery as local deities to be worshipped for favor or as Dharmapālas (Dharma Protectors).
In Sri Lankan Theravada, Vishnu is worshipped as “Upulvan” (Pali. Uppala-Vaṇṇa). The equivalent Sanskrit title is “Utpala-Varṇa” (Blue-Lotus-Colored). Vishnu is frequently depicted as blue colored (Blue being a euphemism for the original Black color of the deity). Vishnu as Upulvan is the Kshetra-Pāla (Protector of the Land) of Sri Lanka. Buddha before his parinirvana seems to have seen the island of Sri Lanka as the future place where his shāsana (law) will flourish. Therefore, he orders Indra for its protection. Indra then entrusts the protection of the island to Vishnu (Incidentally, Vishnu originally seems to have been subordinate to Indra in the Vedas. This seems to preserve the early status of Vishnu as a sub-ordinate deity).
During the early days of early days of formation, Buddhism didn’t have many deities to deal with. The Predominant deities of those times were Indra and Brahma. In the Tripitaka, all these deties are shown completely subservient to the Buddha. They are potrayed as waiting and attending upon the Buddha, and as receiving many teaching from the Buddha himself. At one instance, it is even said the Maha-Brahma himself had advised a Brahmin who had reached the heavenly Brahma-realm, to clear his doubts with the Buddha instead of him !
As Buddhism evolved over times, it had to face the new Puranic Brahmanism with the influence of the Vishnu, Shiva and other deities rising over time, compared to the other Vedic deities who were now often reduced to a tutelary status. Puranic Brahmanism was highly syncretic assimilating everything that came in its way. Even Buddha himself was assimilated to the Brahmanical Pantheon as one of the Avatar-s of Vishnu. At the same time, Buddhism had also attempted in assimilation of the Brahmanical Deities into its fold. However, this part is not that much widely known.
Buddhism in its Theravada version was more orthodox, and didn’t officially expand beyond the already assimilated Indra, Brahma and other early deities. [Though Sri Lankan Theravada assimilated Vishnu as a Kshetra Pāla – Protector of the Land, but that was outside the Theravada Canon]. However, Mahayana Buddhism was highly assimilative in nature. The framework of Mahayana easily enabled the direct import of deities into its fold. When Mahayana was faced with Shaivism and Vaishnavism, it also had played its part of trying to assimilate Shiva and Vishnu in Mahayana.
Remember Ricky Martin ? The Latin Pop hunk of the 2000’s.
His tracks were huge hits back in 2000’s. The guy was a craze back then. His crossover tunes from Spanish to English with such scintillating Latin rhythms were an instant hit with people. They used to play his tracks as a filler before our school events when I was a kid. Not to mention I learned my Un, Dos, Tres from him 🙂
The Cup of Life – FIFA 98’s anthem, Livin’ la Vida Loca and Maria – He is still remembered for these tracks. But the sparkle started soon fading away. His other albums didn’t make an impact as large as his debut tracks.
They guy who made people ’Livin’ la Vida loca’ is back making us all want ‘Mas Mas Mas a la Vida’ . He had recently released his Predominantly Spanish album with just two English tracks – Musica Alma Sexo (Music Soul Sex) : MAS a few weeks back.
The Album completely rocks. Though the lead feel-good single Spanish & English ”Lo Mejor De Mi Vidas Eres Tu” (The Best thing about me is you) sounds kinda 80’s out-of-date and too cheesy, not exactly the she-banging (err.. k..k.. now he-banging 😛 ) we would all expect. But is kinda enjoyable after few times. Ricky’s is all now for Equality, feeling happy, blah-blah – after he came out as a Gay last year.
The Brahmanists have always regarded Sanskrit, as the Mother of Languages. As a matter of fact, this will be echoed in many of the Hindu bunch from Modern India. Latest to join in the Bandwagon, is the Tamil Dravidian nationalists, who claim Tamil to be the progenitor of all langagues. Even Though, no Indian Language or for that matter any other language, can truly claim as being the original Proto-Language of the World.
The existence of such a hypothetical Proto-World Language is itself contested. I prefer to view as Languages originally emerging as independant from each other, later influencing each other as different cultures spread around the cloud.
It is not surprising for the Brahmanists to claim the Vedic language as the Mother of All Languages. For according to Vaidikas, Vedas are Apauruṣeya (Not [authored] by Men). It was heard by the Rishis, who were just instruments for writing the cosmic sound that they heard. Vedas are also considered as Anādi (Without Begninning). So for the everlasting and supreme Vedas to be supramundane, the language in which it is composed of is also deemed to be supramundane and perfect. It was language of the gods.
Now, coming to the Shramanic religions namely Buddhism and Jainism. They started out with the vernacular prakrita languages. They were more inclined to use the language of the masses to spread their teachings. In fact, many of the initial literature in the Indian regional language were produced by the Shramanas. At one instance, the Buddha is said to have explicitly forbidden his teachings to be Versified in Vedic Language (Chandas), but to be taught in the language of the masses. But as irony befalls, the Shramanas themselves fell into the same trap as their Vedic counterparts. They began considering their own version of liturgical Prakrit as the original source language !
Aah. One of my most favourite Animes. Makes me feel very nostalgic when I see it again :-/. I was back in 6th grade when they aired in Cartoon Network. Again, it was aired again when I was in 8th Grade. It is the God of All Mechas !
It brings back old memories. For an Absent Minded Professor, I still remember the entire series, episode by episode ! They used to to air it in Cartoon Network around 4 – 5 PM IST. I think they re-telecasts were aired in the Morning around 10 AM.
The Basic Plot is as follows. In the near future, Mars is Colonized. It is ruled by a dictator. Three Teenagers namely Joe (The Protagonist), Reny & Mike live in Mars. An alien ships comes and lands in Mars. A crashed ship with a Alien princess and her crew lands in Mars when followed by attackers. These 3 some how end up in the Ship. In the encounters that follow, Joe & are able to control . The Robots that can be controlled only bt Ninjas. The aliens are actually from another planet which has been invaded. The attackers were the invaders who had followed the Spaceship These 3 help the Alien Princess Romina & the complex plot that follows includes lots of action with Giant Robots !!
One important central character is the Mysterious Cybertron, which appears at crucial moments when Joe & others in the verge of defeat. It fuses with the various Ninja Robots and produces several magnificent hybrid Robots which are several times much more powerful. In the earlier part of the series, Cybertron is Autonomous, but later Joe is able to control Cybertron. How the Sun God (Cybertron) and the Moon God (Mantis) fuse together forms the Climax. The series is left unfinished and does not exactly show how the invaders are defeated.
The śramanic Traditions namely Buddhism & Jainism had a great following in Tamil Nadu until the Early centuries of the Common Era. The early rivalry was chiefly between Buddhism and Jainism. However, the dominance of Buddhism gradually declined [Due to various reasons which needs to be discussed seperately] and Jainism gained a upper hand in Tamil Nadu. Jainism dominated the religious scene until 7-8th Century CE, with its main rival being the Vedic Shaivaite religion. As a dominant religion of that time Jainism had a great influence on Tamil Shaivism.
In Tamil Shaivaite world, 63 nāyaṉmārs, are a set of 63 Legendary saints who are widely venerated. The 63 Nayanmars supposedly lived in a Time where the Shramanic Jaina religion was very popular. Traditionally the Nayanmars are said to be one of the reason for the downfall of the Jaina Religion and popularizing the Vedic Shaivism among the public.
The Tamil Epic “Periya Purāṇam” is a work which describes the legends of the 63 Tamil Shaivaite saints. The Epic was written by Sekkizhar around 12th Century CE. The Background story for the composition of this Epic is interesting. The Chola King Kulōttuṅka was very fond of the Jaina Epic called “Sivaka-chintamani (Sanskrit: Jīvaka Cintāmaṇi)”. It describes the legend of the Jaina king Jivaka and explains the Jaina philosophy along with the narration.