मेरा अमरोहा का दोस्त और उसकी फ़नकारी

मैंने एक अमरोहवी दोस्त को लिखा, पेशे ख़िदमत है जौन एलिया का एक शेर,

मै भी बहुत अजीब हूँ, इतना अजीब हूँ कि बस

खुद को तबाह कर लिया और मलाल भी नहीं”

ग़ौरतलब हो कि “जौन” अमरोहा के बड़े ऐसे घराने से थे जिसने कई पुश्तों तक अदब, शायरी, फ़िल्मों आदि में अपने योगदान से बहुत नाम कमाया । जौन बाद में पाकिस्तान चले गये । मेरे अमरोहवी दोस्त के अंदर का छुपा शायर जाग उठा और उनका ताबड़तोड़ जबाब फ़टाक से आ गया।

मियाँ अमरोहा का शायर ढूँढ लाये हो । पूरा नाम है “ सैयद हुसैन साबित-ए-असगर नकवी”।क़रीब क़रीब हमारे मुहल्ले के थे यह बात दीगर है कि हमें हमारे मुहल्ले का पता ही नहीअगर, मगर, किंतु, परंतु, चूँकि, इसलिये, आबादी, बर्बादी, इश्क़, मोहब्बत, रोना , पीटना वग़ैरह कुछ लफ़्ज़ों में ज़िंदगी बयां हो जाती है।”

मै भी बावजूद बुढापे कोई कम नही । उन्हें जबाब दे दिया है, देखें अब उनका क्या कहना है।

“लफ़्ज़ों के मायने समझाने, समझने, समझ कर मायने बदलने और भुलाने में ज़िंदगी बयां हो जाती है।
वाह उस्ताद तिरी लफ़्ज़ों की
लफ़्फ़ाज़ी से तो नाकों दम है
वाह वाह
ततैया खां फ़क़त तेरा ही तो दम है”

किसानी की व्यथा कथा

एक २००८ विडियो क्लिप यहाँ लिंक कर रहा हूँ। फ़ेसबुक पर था । कुछ दिन पहले अचानक मिल गया।

यह विडियो उस समय का है जब मैं गाँव अक्सर हर दो तीन महीने में एक बार हो आता था। सोचा था रिटायर होकर वहीं रहूंगा। पर ऐसा हुआ नहीं।

कुछ मित्रों का भी कहना था “आप गाँव में ज़्यादा दिन टिक नहीं पायेंगे। यह बस एक रोमांटिक आइडिया है”।

उनकी बात सच निकली । सपने सपने होते हैं। सब सपने सच नहीं होते। कुछ सपने सच भी हो जाते हैं ।

सपने देखना और अपने सपने को साकार करने के लिये प्रयत्न करते रहना मानव की नियति है।


तीन साल से ज़्यादा हो गये मुझे गाँव गये।

कुछ मित्रों का भी कहना था “आप गाँव में ज़्यादा दिन टिक नहीं पायेंगे। यह बस एक रोमांटिक आइडिया है”

बिजई बाबा अब नहीं रहे। २००८ में बिजई बाबा हमारी पट्टीदारी में सबसे ज़्यादा उम्र के व्यक्ति थे। तब वह बहत्तर साल के थे। और मैं चौंसठ साल का। बिजई बाबा का देहावसान २०२१ में पचासी साल की उम्र में हुआ । अब मैं सतहत्तर साल का हो गाँव पर अपनी पट्टीदारी में सबसे अधिक उम्र का। हूँ।

बिजई बाबा अब नहीं रहे पर अब भी जीवित है उनके द्वारा वर्णित किसान जीवन की त्रासदी । उपज बढ़ी नहीं कि बाज़ार दाम कम। अमूल / एनडीडीबी ने ने रास्ता दिखाया इस समस्या का निराकरण करने का । दूध के मामले में बहुत हद तक सफलता मिली। तिलहन और खाद्य तेल उत्पादन वितरण क्षेत्र में सफलता नहीं मिली। मेरा सौभाग्य था इन संस्थानों ने लगभग तीन दशक तक जुड़े रहने का। पर मैं अपने क्षेत्र के लिये कुछ न कर पाया। आख़िर क्यों ? ख़ैर इस बात पर चर्चा फिर कभी।


चिंता, आशा, ममता और मैं

A couple of days ago, my dear friend and former colleague, Dr SC Malhotra, sent me a whatsapp message forwarding a video clip. He has done many audio stories for Vrikshamandir which can be accessed here. Dr Malhotra is a prolific commentator on blogs that are posted on Vrikshamandir.

His text message forwarding the video clip forwarded read;

“I always thought that WA university fowards are bullshit…. but … this person speaks something true. Similar to Geeta Gyan: क्यूँ चिंता करते हो …..”

Video clip sent by Dr SC Malhotra

I replied to Dr Malhotra; “बहुत बढ़िया बोला है । 1990 के दशक में Deepak Chopra की एक किताब ख़रीदी थी । पढ़ी भी । उसमें भी कुछ ऐसा ही वर्णन था।”

फिर मूड बना मैंने अपने आप से कहा चलो आलस छोड़ो कुछ इस विषय पर लिखो।

चिंता, आशा, ममता और मैं

डाक्टर मल्होत्रा द्वारा भेजे विडियो क्लिप देखने के बाद मुझे पूज्य दादा जी पांडुरंग शास्त्री आठवले से सुना यह प्रसंग याद आया।

बात उन्नीस सौ नब्बे के मध्य के दशक की है। मै आणंद में नौकरी करता था। दादा जी पाण्डुरंग शास्त्री और स्वाध्याय परिवार से जुड़ चुका था। वडोदरा के किसी गाँव मे दादा जी आने वाले है मेरे मित्र और सहकर्मी प्रवीण भट्ट को जब यह जानकारी मिली तो वह दादा जी के दर्शन के लिये तैयार होने लगे। मुझ से पूछा और मै भी झट से तैयार हुआ । फिर हम पहुँच गये माही नदी के पार उस गाँव में जहां दादा जी स्वाध्यायियों के बीच बैठे थे । जाड़े के दिन थे। सूरज अभी डूबा न था।दादा जी चिंता के विषय पर उठाये गये प्रश्न के उत्तर में एक उदाहरण दे कर समझा रहे थे।

दादा जी कह रहे थे, “भगवान जन्म के साथ ही मनुष्य को दो नौकरानियाँ दे देते हैं। एक “चिंता” दूसरी “आशा” । मानुष बड़ा हो कर भूल जाता है कि चिंता और आशा नौकरानियाँ है और उनसे घरवाली की तरह बर्ताव करने लगता है। यहाँ तक की अपनी घर वाली की जगह अपना अधिक से अधिक समय समय चिंता और आशा के साथ बिताता है।”

मुझे लगता है इस विषय में मैं अकेला नहीं हूँ। चिंता और आशा तो जीवन पर्यन्त साथ रहती हैं । कमबेस हो सकता है । एक ओर चिंता आशा की उड़ान को रोके रखने में कारगर है वही आशा, चिंता की बदलियों को हटा, मानवी को कर्तव्य पथ पर चलने के लिये सहायक बन सकती है। पर कैसे ?

संवाद को आगे बढ़ाने के लिये तब बातचीत, बहस, बकवास, बकैती, बड़बोली, बदगुमानी, बतफरेबी, बतफरोशी, बकचोदी में से किसी भी एक और एक से अधिक विधाओं का उपयोग किया जा सकता है।

जैसे दादा जी ने कहा था यह तभी संभव है जब हम आशा और चिंता को नौकरानी समझें और उनसे उसी तरह का व्यवहार करें । घरवाली जैसा नहीं । पर यह बहुत कठिन कार्य है ।

अपनी बात करूँ , और सच में कहूँ तो विशेषकर बुढ़ापे में बातें छुपाने का या अगम बगडम बोल निकल जाने का कोई फायदा तो होता नही, इसलिये जो कुछ कहूँगा कोशिश रहेगी कि जो कहा वह बतर्ज खर्री खेल फरुख्खाबादी ही हो । पर हूँ तो आदमी ही इसलिये गलती भी हो सकती है।

पहले जब मै जवान था लगता था जो दिन हैं ज़िंदगी के बहुत हैं । मैं जवानी में बुढ़ापे के बारे में ज़्यादा नहीं सोचता था। समय भी नहीं होता। बहुत सी आर्थिक और पारिवारिक समस्याओं से निपटना होता था। काम पर भी बहुत सी कठिनाइयों से जूझना होता था।

पहले लगता था ज़िंदगी बड़ी लंबी है। पर अब तो लगने लगा है कि कुछ ही दिन, महीने या साल बचे हैं इस जीवन के।

प्रभु जाने !

2020-2022 के दौरान कोविड का भारत से दूर लंबा प्रवास, हृदय रोग और कैंसर से उत्पन्न परिस्थितियों से जूझ कर निकल आने पर यह अहसास भी है ही कि जितने भी दिन बचे हैं वही हैं और बहुत है।

बहुत से परिवार के, मित्र और सहकर्मी मुझे छोड़ कर अपनी अनंत अनजान यात्राओं पर चले गये । जब उनकी याद आती है तब तो मन में अक्सर प्रश्न उठता है करता है कि मैं क्यों रह गया ।

मुद्दे की बात यह है।

उम्र खिसकती रही, बचपना मरता गया, जवानी चढ़ती गई फिर ढल भी गई। बुढ़ापा आ गया। अब वृद्धावस्था का इंतज़ार है।

पर अब भी “मर गये” बचपन और “ढल गई” जवानी की यादें अक्सर उभर आती है अचानक बिन पूछे बिन बताये! ग़ज़ब !

यही हाल “चिंता” का है । चिंता का उत्पात ख़त्म ही नहीं होता। ग़नीमत है मेरे साथ साथ मेरी “चिंता” भी बुढा गई है अतः अब उतनी तेज तर्रार नहीं है ।

“आशा” का भी वही हाल है । वैसे शेष जीवन तो अब केवल बिताना ही है । जो करना था कर चुके । जो होना था हो चुका। जो है सो है।

अब बुढ़ापे में चिंता और आशा से जब भी बात होती है तो दोनों कहती है दादा जी के प्रवचनों के बाद आप ने कोशिशें तो बहुत की पर हम से पीछा न छुड़ा सके । ऊपर से आपने एक और “मित्र” ममता जो पाल रखी है। आपकी जो “ममता” है न उसी के नाते तुम्हें यह सब हुआ, हो रहा है, और आगे भी होता रहेगा।

ममता, सुधि पाठकों आपको बता दूँ मेरी कुछ पूर्ण और बहुत सी अपूर्ण इच्छायें हैं । उन्हें अब भी मै भुला नहीं पाता। चिंता और आशा अब ममता को अच्छी तरह से जानने लगी हैं।

उम्र खिसकती रही, बचपना मरता गया, जवानी चढ़ती गई फिर ढल भी गई। बुढ़ापा आ गया। अब वृद्धावस्था का इंतज़ार है। पर अब भी “मर गये” बचपन और “ढल गई” जवानी की यादें अक्सर उभर आती है अचानक बिन पूछे बिन बताये! ग़ज़ब !

मैंने गाँव छोड़ दिया पर गाँव ने मुझे अब तक न छोड़ा। मैंने एनडीडीबी छोड़ दी पर मेरी “पुरानी” एनडीडीबी ने मुझे अब तक न छोड़ा।

ममता और मूर्खता दोनों शब्द म से शुरू होते हैं। लगता है कि ममता, ममत्व और मूर्खता में घनिष्ठ आपसी संबंध है।

मेरा गाँव मेरे बचपन का गाँव न रहा , मेरा परिवार प्रतिष्ठित था, दूर दराज तक “एका” के लिये जाना जाता था अब पहले जैसा न रहा।

पुरानी एनडीडीबी और आज की एनडीडीबी में कोई साम्यता नहीं है ।

समय बदला, बदलते समय में संदर्भ और सत्ता के साथ समीकरण बदले । बहुत कुछ वह हुआ जो न होना चाहिये था, पर शायद होना था इसलिए हुआ।

पर फिर भी दिल है कि मानता नहीं । यह वस्तुस्थिति को न मानना और चिपके रहना ही तो ममता है और नहीं तो ममता और क्या है ?

फिर भी, आज भी मुझे गाँव, गाँव के परिवार और पुरानी एनडीडीबी से उतना ही लगाव है जितना पहले था।

एनडीडीबी छोड़ने के बाद गुड़गाँव में ग्रोटैलेंट कंपनी में कार्यरत हुआ। कंपनी के बोर्ड का मेंबर और कर्मचारी नंबर दो बना। मेरे मित्र और भाई समान श्री अनिल सचदेव तथा बोर्ड के सभी सदस्यों और कर्मचारियों सभी से सम्मान मिला। जीवन एक नई डगर पर चल पड़ा। एनडीडीबी का कर्मचारी नंबर पंद्रह जिसने वघासिया बिल्डिंग वाले आफिस के किचन से मई 1968 से नौकरी शुरू की थी उसने सन 2000 अगस्त से अनिल के घर के बेसमेंट को अपना आफिस बना नया काम शुरू किया। ग्रोटैलेंट और SOIL से जुड़ा हूँ अब भी। लगाव भी उतना ही है ।

मेरी घरवाली को मेरी इन दो नौकरानियों मेरी चिंता और आशा से शुरू से ही तकलीफ़ रही है । आख़िर उसकी भी तो वही नौकरानियाँ है । चिंता, और आशा । साथ मे ममता भी है !

आप की भी अपनी चिंता, आशा और ममता होंगी 😃🙏।

क्या ख़याल है ? ब्लाग लिखेंगे आप या अपने कमेंट्स से इसे और आगे बढ़ाने में मदद करोगे ?

आवाहन है जुड़िये , संवाद को आगे बढ़ाइये । सुनील शुक्ल ने कहा कभी कभी बात अड़ जाती है।

संवाद को आगे बढ़ाने के लिये तब बातचीत, बहस, बकवास, बकैती, बड़बोली, बदगुमानी, बतफरेबी, बतफरोशी, बकचोदी में से किसी भी एक और एक से अधिक विधाओं भी का उपयोग किया जा सकता है।

Adventures of Ramanujam, at the young age of sixty four

Ramanujam cycled from Manali to Leh in 10 days and then wrote his first blog. I had an easy job. I with his permission copy-pasted it on Vrikshamandir!

This is my first ever blog. I had always wanted to write about my first 50k cycling which I did at the age of 56 and half marathon at 57. However I never got around to it due to sheer inertia. This time I was determined that I should not allow any more excuses to come in the way. Through this blog, I also want to encourage other adventurists to try this expedition. It is an incredible test of one’s physical ability and endurance. And if I could do this expedition at the age of 64, they can too!

The idea of doing the Manali-Leh-Khardungla (MLK) expedition germinated in my mind when I took part in the Jalori pass cycling expedition organised by the Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) in May 2019. Then Covid happened and all outdoor programs ground to a halt. In May 2022, as Covid was under control, I got the urge to participate in some programs of YHAI. I noticed they had planned to do the MLK expedition in July 2022. As there was a lead time of 2 months to prepare, I consulted some who had done the program and they encouraged me to go for it and also gave valuable tips for training.

I called the cycling officer, Shashank and he too encouraged me saying that if I can cycle uphill for 3k continuously on the lowest gear, I should be able to complete the ride. From him, I also learnt that the registration for the MLK program will remain open for another 4 weeks or so. However, I decided not to wait and registered immediately in May and booked my air tickets to Manali and return from Leh, lest my mind may develop second thoughts. I also informed several of my friends about my plan to ensure that I remain committed to this program. Now there was no turning back! I began to train sincerely to be ready for this adventure that was to begin from 15 July at Manali.

Ramanujam shared a link of his blog on Medium on WhatsApp’. Given above are screenshots of my response and his reply. Thank you Ramanujam. I decided not to write but just do a copy paste of your blog. Also I am not your boss. Saraswathy is 😁🙏

My training program:

I was advised to do a couple of 100k rides, perform planks, lunges, squats and other strength building exercises. I was also suggested to ride to the Nandi hills.

Since I am not a regular cyclist, I was determined to train so that I am able to cycle at least 4–5 hours a day. My mental calculation was that if I can cycle for around 5 hours at an average speed of 10k per hour, I should be able to comfortably complete the daily average ride of 50k in MLK.

I cycled on the road for about 2 hours in the morning and used the gym cycle on the hill mode for about 1.5 hours in the evening. Thus I was able to cover about 70k of cycling each day. I also did my squats, lunges and other leg strengthening exercises twice a week.

End of June, YHAI arranged a zoom call for all participants to discuss the MLK program. During the call, the field director informed us that all those who do more than 100k of cycling regularly will complete the MLK trip easily. Those who do 50k will have challenges but will be able to complete it. This was a big morale booster for me! He also told us to do climbing in top gear while standing to enable us to prepare for the tough hill ride. I religiously followed this advice and I must say that this part of the training really helped.

While I was not able to go for the climb of Nandi hills, I was confident that I had trained well. The absence of the Nandi hills ride however did occasionally raise doubts in my mind.

During the training Nirav Patel, a triathlon champion from my housing society who had also done the Manali-Leh cycling, reviewed my progress at various intervals and gave me valuable feedback for improvement. My sincere thanks for all his support and advice.

Manali — Leh Cycling Timeline:

15 July:

I took the HPRTC bus from Chandigarh airport on 14 July and the bus reached Manali only at 11 am instead of 6 am due to landslides on the way. Not a great way to start. There were 87 participants of which 8 were women. More than 60% of the participants were from Maharashtra, mostly from Pune/Mumbai. Of the 8 women, 5 were from Maharashtra and 3 from Karnataka. At 64, I was the oldest among the men. Among the women it was a brave 67 year old woman from Mumbai. We spent 3 days in Manali for acclimatisation.

Our picturesque campsite at Manali

We were 8 people in a tent and being the eldest, my tent mates ensured that I had a comfortable time and were very helpful to me.

16 July:

There was a test ride of 8k today to the nearby Naggar castle. The field director told us that the ride to Naggar castle is to test the preparedness of the participants. He asked us to complete it without taking a break. At the end of the ride, he told us that those who completed the ride in 45 minutes will find the MLK ride easy and those who completed it in less than an hour will find it a little difficult. I completed the ride in 52 minutes and that too without a break. That ride boosted my confidence.

All set for the test ride

17 July:

Today was a rest day. We roamed around the campsite and relaxed.

My amazing tent mates — (L-R) Ramanujam, Swapnil, Nilesh, Swadhin, Monti and Pinaki on the banks of Beas

18 July:

The first day’s ride was one of the toughest as we were to cycle 49k to reach our campsite at Marhi (3360 M — Metres above sea level) and in the process, gain an elevation of some 2200 M. We were to carry only our warm clothes (in case of downhill ride), rain pants and shirt (in the event of rains) and lunch on the cycle. Rest of our luggage used to come in a truck. We had an ambulance with a doctor, 4 volunteers to cycle with us and 2 mechanics on a motorcycle with tool kits and water cans, accompanying us.

Everyday our sumptuous breakfast and dinner consisted of eggs, idli/poha/chole bhature/chapatis, vegetables and sweets. For the ride, we were given a packed lunch and a goody bag consisting of biscuits, chikki, juice, dry fruits and candies.

The route was quite scenic with waterfalls, small villages and green landscape. I started at 7.30 am and reached Marhi at 5.30 pm. During the ride, my max heart rate was 154 bpm. I decided that I should not strain myself too hard and ensure my heart rate does not exceed 140.

Every evening, there was a medical camp when the doctor addressed the health issues of the participants.

19 Jul:

Started from Marhi at 8 am and reached Sishu (3100 M) at 2.30 pm, a distance of 50k after crossing Rohtang pass (3978 M). It was a steep ride for 17k till Rohtang pass, downhill of 19k to Koksar and thereafter it was a mild up and down road. The river Beas originates near Rohtang pass. There was thick cloud cover upto Rohtang leading to poor visibility. There was a possibility of rain and hence, we did not stay long at Rohtang pass. Though no effort was needed when we were riding downhill, we needed to be very careful as any mishap could be quite serious if not fatal. Maximum accidents happen when going downhill! While climbing, my speed was 5.5 kmph and on the downhill, it was 20–25 kmph. Many enthusiastic participants in the group reached speeds as high as 60 kmph on the downhill ride.

The campsite at Sishu was by the side of Chenab river with a beautiful view of a waterfall.

On the way to Rohtang pass

First major pass on the way to Leh

20 July:

Started from Sishu at 8 am and reached the camp at the Mountaineering Institute, Jispa (3200 M) at 3.30 pm. It is a distance of 54k. It is an ok ride with no big elevation or downhill ride. However we had to negotiate convoys of army trucks on narrow roads along the way. Since we had been told beforehand not to expect any facility to take bath during our 10 day ride, our joy knew no bounds as we found that the Institute had bathroom facilities with hot water. The simple luxuries of life!

Waterfall at Shishu

21 July:

Started from Jispa at 8 am. We soon lost mobile connectivity and did not have any till we reached Rumste on 26 July. Though I had a postpaid Jio connection I could get a signal only in a few locations and none at our camp sites. I reached Zing Zing Bar (4270 M) at 4.30 pm, a distance of 35k. It was a slow and steady climb to reach this place.

On the way, there was a water crossing. Fortunately there was not any rain in the previous 2 days and hence the water flow was less so we could cross it without much difficulty on foot. A few energetic ones even cycled through the water without falling into water.

During the ride, I met with an accident but luckily escaped unhurt. I was going behind a truck on a downhill slope. At a turn where the uphill started, there were multiple large potholes. The truck was not able to climb and started moving backwards and hit my cycle toppling me over. Due to the potholes, the truck’s reverse movement was very slow and I could move away to the side of the road. However, my cycle went under the truck between the rear wheels. My cycle’s front wheel was damaged. After our mechanic repaired the cycle I resumed my ride. Quite a scary experience.

We stayed at one of the dhabas in Zing Zing Bar as there was no facility to pitch our tents in that location. Many started developing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and the doctor put them on medication. From this point on, everyday, we started seeing a few participants withdrawing from the expedition for some reason or the other.

Resting on the way

At Deepak Tal lake on the way to Zing Zing Bar

The spot where we needed to cross the water on the way to Zing Zing Bar

22 July:

We started at 8 am and reached Sarchu plain at 4.30 pm covering a distance of 40k. We had to cross Baralacha pass (4892 M). On the way is Suraj Tal lake which is the origin of Bhaga river. Once I crossed the pass, the weather turned bad and started raining. As there was no place to take shelter, I had to continue cycling. After a while, I could see some dhabas and took shelter till it stopped raining. It was the only time I was caught in the rain as I usually did not stop at any place for long breaks fearing rain which generally starts after 1 pm. It is for this reason, I did not click many pictures. Many of the pictures that I have posted in the blog are from my fellow participants. Many of the others not only got caught in the rain but also hail-storms. They were enjoying this expedition in all its glory!

Suraj Tal on the way to Baralachala

Second pass from Manali, Baralachala

On the way to Sarchu plain

On the way to Sarchu plain

23 July:

Started at 7 am to reach Whisky Nala, a distance of 50k. It was one of the toughest rides and hence we had a special briefing on what to expect and how to handle this stretch. It is the only day when YHAI had arranged refreshments at 2 places to ensure that we are well supported for this toughest ride. After some 30k of riding, we would reach the start of Gata loops (4201 M) to negotiate 21 loops over a distance of 8k to reach its end (4667 M). As you start climbing, you will see trucks above you in the higher loops and below you in the lower loops. Even before I could savour my achievement of negotiating the Gata loops, the next climb of 10k to Nakeela pass started. What made this stretch even tougher was the long convoy of army trucks using the narrow road. I was so tired that I almost gave up. I however cobbled up my last bits of energy and finally made it to the campsite at Whisky Nala at 6.30 pm. My tent mates had been worried as I never reached any campsite so late and were relieved to see me.

Somewhere on the Gata loops

At Nakeela pass at 15547 ft

Campsite at Whisky Nala

At our tent — The 8 Strong! : L-R: Monti, Shantanu, Swapnil, Nilesh, Swadhin,Ramanujam,Pinaki, Amrith

24 July:

Today, we had the easiest ride of 29k to reach Pang after crossing Lachung pass (5019 M)

On the way to Pang

25 July:

It was a 43k ride mostly on the plain road to Debring via Morey plains. On the way you could see shepherds taking their herd for grazing. Debring was very windy and we had a tough time to ensure that our tent was properly closed to protect us from the wind.

At Moray plains

L-R: Monti, Saurabh, Ramanujam, Pinaki, Swadhin

L-R: Swapnil, Ramanujam, Nilesh at Morey plains

On the way to Debring on a flat road

26 July:

Another tough ride of 53k awaited us today as we were to cross the second highest motorable road at Tanglangla pass (5329 M). Somehow I did not find this stretch tough compared to the ride crossing Gata loops and Nakeela pass. Once we crossed Tanglangla pass, it was a smooth ride till we reached Rumtse. While Rumtse had mobile connectivity, there was none at our campsite which was located on the outskirts. We had to go to the village to speak to our family after several days.

Camp site at Rumtse

27 July:

We had rain in the morning and hence we could leave for Leh only at 8.30 am. It was a long ride of 78k mostly on a downward slope except the last 8k when we had to climb in the hot sun to reach Leh. On the way, first time in Ladakh we could see a number of villages where local people were engaged in agriculture. We crossed multiple landmarks: Upshi — a large town before Leh, Thicksey monastery — a majestic 12 storeyed structure built in 1430 AD and Shey monastery and Palace. The ride became very tough once I reached Choglamsar around 3 pm. It was very hot and the road had no trees. There was also a lot of traffic on the road as His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in town. It took me almost 3 hours to complete the last 8k .

It was a huge relief once we reached Leh as we had good toilet and bathroom facilities. Back to civilization at last!

Today’s ride was so tough that I decided (in hindsight very wisely) to skip the next day’s ride to Khardungala and back (82k)

Breakfast at Campsite, Rumtse

Farm lands on the way to Upshi

A village on the way to Upshi

With Nilesh on the bridge across Indus river near Upshi

Thicksey monastery on the way to Leh

28 July:

Those who opted to ride to Khardungla were to start at 4.30 am and the cut-off time to reach Khardungla was 3 pm. However, owing to rains that day they started only at 6.30. By now, 7 participants had withdrawn from the expedition. Of the 80 left, some 50 odd started for Khardungla but only 4 participants could reach it. The remaining had to return midway due to rain and snowfall.

29–31 July:

I was to leave on 29th July but due to bad weather all flights were cancelled for the day and I could reschedule the flight only for 1st Aug. So, I rested and chilled out in Leh.

My tent mates — L to R — Monti, Pinaki, Amrith, Ramanujam, Nilesh and Shantanu on the Mall road, Leh

When I look back I feel amazed that I could complete this expedition without any health or physical issues particularly when many youngsters who were regular cyclists gave up. The many hours of training that I put in was clearly worth it. For cyclists, this expedition is the ultimate one as it tests one’s mental strength as much as it does one’s physical endurance.

Million stars under my feet

 

RK Nagar
RK Nagar

There has been rather a long gap in posting blogs on Vrikshamandir. The monotony was broken as Nagar sent this blog. While forwarding this Nagar wrote, “Shailu, I guess this is, as of now the last write up that I have. I seem to have lost the rhythm to write more. 
It seems you too have lost on uploading more stuff on Vrikshamandir. Perhaps that is the way to take a break . 
Best, 
Nagar

I am yet to reply to Nagar. But this is what I propose to write to my friend. “ It is true, of late, I have not posted on Vrikshamandir. Not because I don’t have material from friends or written by me. I am also not taking a break. But something inside me is making me lazy. I am working on it. I have loads of material to upload. The latest is a blog from Ramanujam, sharing details of the cycle journey from Manali to Leh, at the age of 64, that he just completed and wrote his first ever blog on Medium with lots of pictures. I have his permission to post it here too. Please take a break, rejuvenate and return with some more memoirs and anecdotes. Love Shailendra “

This is the latest contributor from Nagar.

light hands people art
Photo by Devran Topallar on Pexels.com

Soon after leaving NDDB in January 1999, I joined Dr. Tushaar Shah for an action research project on water. I was doing fieldwork in a village called ‘Haldimohan’ in the district of Cooch Behar. I used to travel to the village with my team of investigators early in the morning from Cooch Behar town and leave the survey village soon after sunset since, the road network in the district was very poor and the driving conditions tough even for experienced drivers. Imagine driving on a narrow single lane road after dark and with some adventurous speeding driver coming straight into your vehicle from front. 

Haldimohan was just the stop. The actual sample households were distributed over helmets 3-5 kms from the center of Haldimohan. The link roads between Haldimohan and these helmets were even narrower, barely 6-7 feet wide, raised by another 7-8 feet from either side. That meant that if your vehicle slipped, you would be straight in a ditch ending up with broken bones. 

Since I invariably left Haldimohan just at the sunset, I had no idea that this remote place would give me a surreal experience- just because a tragedy will strike in form of the breakdown of the vehicle. 

It happened. I was that day with a lady investigator in one of the helmets.

Nagar, Late Naithani and I, under the leadership of Mani Sab, and with the help of a large number of locally recruited part-time investigators and supervisors, including our dear friend Late KS Sekhon (who later joined NDDB), completed the surveys of 58 milk sheds and four metros in the early 1970s.

Thought leaders of this initiative were Late Prof Michael Halse, assisted by Dr RP Aneja, Dr MPG Kurup and our Guru, Late Shri V G Tulpule.

Nagar writes about their travel experience during a village survey he supervised after quitting NDDB in 1999; three decades later!

As we prepared to leave, the vehicle broke down. And the nearest garage was about 3 kms. My driver who spoke little broken Hindi, told me that he will arrange a cycle rickshaw for me and the investigator who will drop us at the nearest bus stand about 2 kms in opposite direction. We would be there in good time to take the last bus going towards Cooch Behar. In the meantime, he will walk down to the garage, get the mechanic and after the vehicle is repaired come to Haldimohan to pick the rest of the team.

That proposal looked good only in one sense- I could put the lady on the bus for her to reach home safely. But I had to travel back to Haldimohan to pick the rest of my team as I couldn’t think of leaving them alone to fend for themselves. What if the vehicle can not be repaired during the night? How will I and my team travel back to Cooch Behar? How about worrying families of these investigators? There are no PCOs anywhere here. A thousand questions crossed my mind. 

I decided to put the lady on the bus and then take the same rickshaw to Haldimohan. It worked, the lady was safely in the bus, even though it was overcrowded. Next day she informed me that she had safely reached home in good time. 

I then headed to Haldimohan with the autorickshaw puller, who didn’t understand a word of Hindi, let alone English, on a raised 7 feet wide road in pitch darkness where even the rickshaw puller could hardly see the road. On the way, we came across couple of rickshaws coming from opposite direction but could see them only when they came too close- almost hitting us. Every time they had to get down and carefully cross each other to thwart any chance of the rickshaw rolling down the slopes. 

It was a ride to remember, not because it was scary pitch dark night, but because it provided me with a view that one can only dream of. On either side of the raised road, the empty fields were filled with millions of fireflies brilliantly glowing and twinkling like stars in the no moon night sky. The sight was breathtaking, and it continued till I reached the outskirts of Haldimohan. Wow, what a view. I felt as though the sky had turned upside down all the way.

I suddenly remembered this experience and thought of sharing it with you all. I would not mind having a repeat of this experience again.

Parc Omega

Why did the chicken cross the road?

photo of walking rooster
Photo by Tuấn Kiệt Jr. on Pexels.com

I follow Rakesh Krishnan Simha (@ByRakeshSimha) on Twitter. I find his tweets informative, incisive and humorous.

Rakesh Krishnan Simha (@ByRakeshSimha) posted a long satirical thread of seventeen tweets to highlight the “alleged” and “imagined” “thinking” of some contemporary leaders, thought leaders and influencers.

I have attempted to translate his tweets into Hindi. I have also transliterated a few of his tweets in the Devnagri script.

In Khushwant Singh’s style of “malice towards one and all”, he used his imagination and attempted to answer a fundamental question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

I have attempted to translate his tweets into Hindi. I have also transliterated a few of his tweets in the Devnagri script.



1- Narendra Modi: Dekhiye, yeh maa bete ki sarkar nahi hai. Chicken kuch bhi kar sakta hai. Woh swatantra hai.
नरेन्द्र मोदीः देखिये यह माँ बेटे की सरकार नहीं है । चिकन कुछ भी कर सकता है ,वह स्वतंत्र है।

2- Nitin Gadkari: We have built thousands of new overbridges, the chicken won’t have to risk its life crossing the road anymore.  
नितिन गडकरीः हमने हज़ारों नये ओवर ब्रिज वनवाये हैं। चिकेन को सड़क पार करते समय कोई ख़तरा मोल लेने की अब कोई ज़रूरत नहीं। 

3- Rahul Gandhi: Chicken enjoyed crossing the road. Usko bada maza aaya. Mein ye maza poore desh ke auraton ko dena chahta hoon. राहुल गांधीः चिकेन आनंद से सड़क पार करता है। उसे बड़ा मज़ा आता है। मैं यह मज़ा पूरे देश की औरतों को देना चाहता हूँ। 

4- Mamata Banerjee: I bheel chop it and cook the chickon if he dares to cross the road into Bengal.  
ममता बनर्जीः आई भील चोप इट एंड कुक द चिकेन इफ़ ही डेयर्स टू क्रास द रोड इन टू बेंगाल। 

5- Lutyens media: There is a climate of fear in India. The chicken is unable to cross the road as it wishes.  
लुटियन मीडियाः देश में ख़ौफ़ का माहौल है। चिकेन अपनी मर्ज़ी मुताबिक़ सड़क पार नहीं कर सकता है। 

6- Arnab Goswami: Nation wants to know. Was the chicken forced to cross the road from Kerala to Karnataka? Was the chicken facing threats? Sonia Gandhi, answer me.  
अर्नब गोस्वामीः नेशन वांटस टु नो! क्या चिकेन को मजबूर किया गया कि वह केरल से कर्नाटक की सड़क पार करे ? क्या उस पर किसी प्रकार का दबाव था ? सोनिया गांधी, जबाब दें ! 

7- Arvind Kejriwal: Jhoot bol rahe hain. We are proud of our chicken if it crossed the road, but Modi Sarkar must provide video evidence. अरविंद केजरीवालः झूठ बोल रहे हैं। हमें गर्व होगा यदि चिकेन ने सड़क पार की हो। परंतु मोदी सरकार इसके लिये विडियो प्रूफ़ दे।

8- Taliban: We will not stop the chicken from crossing the road as long as it is properly dressed and is accompanied by a male relative as per Koranic law. Chicken are safe under the Taliban. No chicken will be sexually molested. As far as goats are concerned, we can’t guarantee.  
तालिबानः हम चिकेन को सड़क पार करने से नहीं रोकेंगे यदि उसने ठीक कपड़े पहन रखे हों और क़ुरान के नियम अनुसार उसके साथ कोई पुरुष संबंधी हो । तालिबानी शासन मे चिकेन महफ़ूज़ हैं ।किसी चिकने का शारीरिक शोषण नहीं होगा। पर हम बकरियों के बारे में ऐसी कोई गारंटी नहीं दे सकते ।

9- Aamir Khan: I and my chicken are afraid to cross the road in India आमिर खानः मैं और मेरा चिकेन डरते हैं भारत में सड़क पार करने से। 

10- Rana Ayub: In Modi’s India, the chicken is faced with a dilemma – to cross the road and escape or stay behind and risk its life. Read about genocide of chickens in my paid column in Washington Post.  
राना अयूबः मोदी के भारत में चिकेन दुविधा में; सड़क पार कर बच निकलूं या यहीं रह कर अपनी जान का ख़तरा मोल लूँ? चिकेन महासंहार पर मेरा लेख पढ़ें वाशिंगटन पोस्ट मे जिससे मुझे धन प्राप्ति होती है। 

11- Arfa Khanum: Chicken’s ancestors came from Samarkand and built the road. It has every right to cross it.  
आरफा खानमः समरकंद से आये चिकेन के पूर्वजों ने सड़क बनवाई थी। सड़क पार करने का हक़ है चिकेन को! 

12- Manmohan Singh: If it’s a Muslim chicken it has the first right to cross any road in India. मनमोहन सिंहः अगर चिकेन मुसलमान है तो उसे पहला हक़ है सड़क पार करने का। 

13- S Jaishankar: This is a modern Indian chicken. No external power can stop it from crossing the road.  
एस जयशंकरः यह आधुनिक भारतीय चिकेन है। कोई बाहरी शक्ति इसे सड़क पार करने से रोक नहीं सकती । 

14- Imran Khan: RSS and Mudi trained chicken crossed the road and is doing genocide in Kashmir. And the world is quiet because of India’s economic power. Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey will jointly set up a TV channel to expose this chicken.  
इमरान खानः आरएसएस और मूदी का सिखाया चिकेन ने सड़क पार कर काश्मीर मे नरसंहार मचा रखा है। भारत एक आर्थिक शक्ति है इसलिए दुनिया कुछ कहती नहीं। पाकिस्तान, मलेशिया और टर्की एक साझा टेलीविजन चैनल बना कर इस चिकेन की कारस्तानियों को जगज़ाहिर करेंगे। 

15- Leftist Mallu: What is your prollam if the chicken simbly crossed the road? Vee vill make beef-chicken fry after it crosses the road into Kerala. वामपंथी मल्लूः व्हाट इज योर प्रोल्लम इफ चिकेन सिंबली क्रास्ड द रोड? वी विल बीफ़ चिकेन फ्राई इफ़ इट क्रासेज रोड इन केरला।

16- Xi Jinping: 中国在过马路之前吃掉了鸡肉。(China ate the chicken before it could cross the road)  
जी पिंग 中国在过马路之前吃掉了鸡 सड़क पार करने के पहले चिकेन को चीन खा गया। 

17- FBI: The chicken crossed the road alone. Hunter Biden was not with it. KGB: Lol. We have pictures.  
एफ़बीआईः चिकेन ने अकेले सड़क पार की हंटर बाइडन उसके साथ नहीं थे। केजीबीः (ठहाकेदार हंसी के साथ) हमारे पास तस्वीर है । 



photo of walking rooster
Photo by Tuấn Kiệt Jr. on Pexels.com

ते तणो खरखरो फोक करवो

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who left us on 5 May 2021 to the world she had come from. If she was with us would have loved listening to the embedded bhajan.

Thanks to Tushaar, my Twitter friend from Vadodara on whose website Bharat Parikrama, I read his beautiful story about belief in God. And the duality when in the light of some life experiences one sees the futility of such a belief. And some critical life events and moments of realization that trigger another quest to understand the meaning of life.

His story in Hindi is available at this link. When I first heard the bhajan embedded in the story’s text, I did not fully comprehend the meaning as I understood only a part of it.

But the rendition was such that it touched the core of my being. Every time I hear this bhajan there are tears in my eyes.

I listened to it several times to get the words and type out the same in Devnagri. I thought that the script would help me better understand the meaning. Once completed, I realised that I was making mistakes. Therefore, I decided to request Neela Gupta, again from Vadodara, who shared with me the transliteration of the verses in roman script and the meaning of the verses in English.

This is how she responded when I made a request for her help.

“Wah! What a beautiful start to the day! I had long forgotten to hear this Bhajan. I think it’s coming to me as a message. Just enjoying it first.

I love Narsimh Mehta and feel so fortunate to have known/ sung most of his Bhajans in school.

And by the way, my mom side family is descended from his lineage. My Nanaji was a principal of Bahauddin college in Junagadh”

I am loving the YouTube by Jayantibhai how well he has sung all the Bhajans.”

Thank you Tushar, Thank you Neela for your help and support.



हे जे गमे जगद्गुरु देव, जगदीश ने ते तणो खरखरो फोक करवो

नरसी मेहता

हे जे गमे जगद्गुरु देव जगदीश ने,ते तणो खरखरो फोक करवो।-१

हे जे आपणों चिंतव्यो अर्थ काईं,नव सरे उगरे एक उद्वेग भरवो।-२

हे हूँ करू हूँ करूँ एज अज्ञानता शकट नो भार जे श्वान ताणें।-३

हे सृष्टि मंदाण छे सर्व एणी पेरे जोगी जोगेश्वरा कोक जाणें।-४

हे निपजे नर थी तो कोई न रहे दुखी शत्रु मारि ने सऊ मित्र राखे।-५

हे रहे न रंक कोई द्रष्ट आवे नहीं भवन पर भवन पर छत्र दीखे।-६

हे रितु लता पत्र फल फूल आपे यथा मानवी मूर्ख मन व्यर्थ सोचे।-७

हे जेह ना भाग्य माँ जे समे जे लख्यूं तेह ने समे तेज पोंहचे।-८

हे ग्रंथ गडबड करी वात ना करी खरी जेहने जे गमे तेने पूजे। -९

हे मन कर्म वचन आप मानी लहे सत्य छे एज माँ एम सूजे ।-१०

हे सुख संसारी मिथ्या करी मानजो कृष्ण विना बिनू सर्व काँचू।-११

हे जुगल कर जोडि करी नरसैंयो एम कहे जन्म प्रति जन्म हरि ने जांचू । -१२
It is meaningless to regret for whatever happens as it is that the God Almighty likes- 1

No matter how much you keep thinking and planning, it doesn't happen that way . Save yourself from that Udveg... Restlessness - 2

Man in his ignorance thinks he is the doer. Just like a dog who walks under the bullock cart and thinks that he is carrying the whole burden of the cart. - 3

Only few Yogis know that the whole cosmos is beyond us, it's created by Him.- 4

If man had his way,nobody would be unhappy as everyone will do away with enemies and keep company of only friends. -5

There will be no distinction of poor and wealthy as all the mansions will look the same. - 6
According to the season, the tree/ climber(lata) will give leaves, flowers and fruits but the foolish human mind keeps thinking/wishing for it in vain.-7 

One will get exactly whatever is destined to come to him at a particular time. - 8

Reading/ availability of so many knowledgeable books/ scriptures ( granth) is at the root of all this Gadbad. Let one worship whoever he can connect to or like. - 9

I am thinking/realizing it's best to live according to what seems true to one's wisdom, karma and speech (man, karma and vachan).-10

O Sansaaris, know that all this that you think as happiness (sukh) is maya( mithya) . Everything is temporary ( kaccha) without Krishna. He is the one who is forever, permanent truth. - 11

Joining both hands, Narsaiya says that let me wish only for God ( Hari) in every lifetime.-
12

नीला द्वारा प्रेषित ऊपर अंग्रेज़ी में लिखे भजन के अर्थ का हिंदी अनुवाद तो मैंने किया ही, साथ में अपनी सीमित समझ से चिंतन मनन भी किया । जो कुछ मुझे समझ में आया नीचे लिख रहा हूँ। आपकी टिप्पणियों, सुधार, अतिरिक्त और भिन्न समझ से किये विवेचन का स्वागत रहेगा। त्रुटियों के लिये मैं क्षमा चाहूंगा ।


१- पछताना व्यर्थ है क्योंकि जो कुछ भी होता है केवल सर्वशक्तिमान ईश्वर के द्वारा ही होता है ।

ठीक तो क्या हाथ पर हाथ धरे बैठे रहें।दास मलूका तो कह गये हैं “अजगर करे ना चाकरी पंछी करे ना काम,
दास मलूका कह गए सब के दाता राम”। पर यह दोहा आलसी लोगों के लिये ही सही है। वैसे आलसी भी तो न पाने पर पछताते हैं । जिजीविषा या जीने की अदम्य इच्छा मानव ही क्या हर जीव के मूल में है। हमें कर्म तो करना ही है। शरीर का ध्यान रखना, खाना, पीना , साँस लेना भी तो कर्म ही है। हिंदू या सनातन मान्यता है कि हमारा अगला जीवन कर्मफल पर निर्भर होगा। अन्य जो ऐसा नहीं मानते उन्हें भी तो कर्मफल के अनुसार ही जन्नत या दोज़ख़ नसीब होगी। और जो इन दोनों पुनर्जन्म और केवल एक जीवन वाली मान्यता से इंकार करते हैं वह भी इतना तो मान लेंगे कि इस जीवन में कर्म से ही जी सकते हैं। कर्मफल से ही जीवन चलता है। सवाल है कैसा कर्म ?

शांति मंत्र के बाद ईशोपनिषद के पहले श्लोक में कहा गया है;

ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किंच जगत्यां जगत्ते, त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्य स्विध्दनम्

जो भी है इस जग में गतिहीन या गतिमान,बसा है इन सब में सर्वव्यापी भगवान। सुख भोगो कर के इन सब का त्यागमत करो पराये धन से अनुराग ।

दूसरा श्लोक है;

कुर्वन्नेवेह कर्माणि जिजीविषेच्छतं समाः.एवं त्वयि नान्यथेतोऽस्ति कर्म लिप्यते नरे।

कर्म करते हुये इस भांति तुम , रखो शत वर्ष जीने की इच्छा, मार्ग तुम्हारे लिये अन्यथा नहीं कोई । इस पथ पर नर कर्मलिप्त नहीं होता ।

“कर्म अलिप्त” कर्म से जन्म मृत्यु के चक्कर से छुटकारा मिलता है। दोनों श्लोकों के अर्थ पर साथ साथ मनन से स्पष्ट समझ आती है। पहला श्लोक एक सैद्धांतिक विवेचन का आधार रखता है तो दूसरा श्लोक पहले के साथ मिल यह स्पष्ट करता है कि कैसे उस सिद्धांत को कार्यरूप में लायें।

२- हम कितना भी सोचें, योजनाये बनायें , प्रयत्न करे ज़रूरी नहीं कि जैसा हमने चाहा वैसा हमेशा ही होता हो। कर्म तो करना ही है ।अपना चाहा न प्राप्त होने पर मानसिक उद्वेग होना स्वाभाविक है। ऐसी बेचैनी से अपने आप को बचाना चाहिये।

गोस्वामी तुलसीदास कहते हैं, “होइहें सोइ जो राम रचि राखा। को करि तर्क बढावहिं साखा ”।

३-मनुष्य अपनी अज्ञानता में सोचता है कि वह कर्ता है। जैसे कोई कुत्ता बैलगाड़ी के नीचे चलता है और सोचता है कि वह गाड़ी का सारा बोझ उठा रहा है।

आख़िर सृष्टि मे मनुष्य की औक़ात ही क्या है। सिवाय उसके अहंकार जनित अज्ञान के। बरबस आदि शंकराचार्य के आत्मषटकम / निर्वाणषटकम में कहे इन श्लोकों की याद आ जाती है।

Photo of painting by Dr Rama Aneja
मनो बुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तानि नाहम्
न च श्रोत्र जिह्वे न च घ्राण नेत्रे
न च व्योम भूमिर् न तेजो न वायु:
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥१॥

मैं मन नहीं हूँ, न बुद्धि ही, न अहंकार हूँ, न अन्तःप्रेरित वृत्ति;
मैं श्रवण, जिह्वा, नयन या नासिका सम पंच इन्द्रिय कुछ नहीं हूँ
पंच तत्वों सम नहीं हूँ (न हूँ आकाश, न पृथ्वी, न अग्नि-वायु हूँ)
वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।

न च प्राण संज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायु: 
न वा सप्तधातुर् न वा पञ्चकोश:
न वाक्पाणिपादौ न चोपस्थपायू 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥

मैं नहीं हूँ प्राण संज्ञा मुख्यतः न हूँ मैं पंच-प्राण स्वरूप ही,
सप्त धातु और पंचकोश भी नहीं हूँ, और न माध्यम हूँ
निष्कासन, प्रजनन, सुगति, संग्रहण और वचन का;
वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।  

न मे द्वेष रागौ न मे लोभ मोहौ 
मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्य भाव:
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो ना मोक्ष: 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥३॥ 

न मुझमें द्वेष है, न राग है, न लोभ है, न मोह,
न मुझमें अहंकार है, न ईर्ष्या की भावना 
न मुझमें धर्म, अर्थ, काम और मोक्ष ही हैं, 
वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।  

न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दु:खम् 
न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा: न यज्ञा:
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥४॥
न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दु:खम् 
न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा: न यज्ञा:
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥४॥

न मुझमें पुण्य है न पाप है, न मैं सुख-दुख की भावना से युक्त ही हूँ
मन्त्र और तीर्थ भी नहीं, वेद और यज्ञ भी नहीं
मैं त्रिसंयुज (भोजन, भोज्य, भोक्ता) भी नहीं हूँ वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।


न मृत्युर् न शंका न मे जातिभेद: 
पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्म
न बन्धुर् न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्य: 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥५॥

न मुझे मृत्य-भय है (मृत्यु भी कैसी?), न स्व-प्रति संदेह, न भेद जाति का
न मेरा कोई पिता है, न माता और न लिया ही है मैंने कोई जन्म
कोई बन्धु भी नहीं, न मित्र कोई और न कोई गुरु या शिष्य ही
वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।



अहं निर्विकल्पॊ निराकार रूपॊ 
विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम्
न चासंगतं नैव मुक्तिर् न मेय: 
चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥६॥ 



मैं हूँ संदेह रहित निर्विकल्प, आकार रहित हूँ 
सर्वव्याप्त, सर्वभूत, समस्त इन्द्रिय-व्याप्त स्थित हूँ   
न मुझमें मुक्ति है न बंधन; सब कहीं, सब कुछ, सभी क्षण साम्य स्थित
वस्तुतः मैं चिर आनन्द हूँ, चिन्मय रूप शिव हूँ, शिव हूँ।
आचार्य शंकर रचित निर्वाण षटकम्‌ ||

४- केवल कुछ योगी ही जानते हैं कि पूरा ब्रह्मांड हमारी समझ के बाहर है, यह उनके द्वारा बनाया गया है।

५-यदि सब कुछ मनुष्य के चाहे अनुसार होता, तो कोई भी दुखी नहीं होता क्योंकि हम अपने शत्रुओं का नाश कर देते ताकि केवल अपने मित्रों की संगति रख सकें।

६-तब तो गरीब और अमीर का कोई भेद नहीं होता और सभी मकान एक जैसे दीखते ।

७-वृक्ष ऋतु के अनुसार, लता, पत्ते, फूल, फल देता है लेकिन मूर्ख मानव मन ही मन में सोचता/चाहता रहता कि ऐसा हर मौसम में हो।

८-नियत समय पर हर एक को जो कुछ भी नियत है, वह ठीक वैसा ही मिलेगा।

९- बहुत सारे सारे ज्ञान भरे ग्रंथों का का पढ़ना और न समझना शायद इस भटकी हुई सोच के मूल में है। जो जिससे जुड़ सकता है या पसंद कर सकता है, उसकी पूजा करें।

१०- मेरी समझ सोच रहा ऐसा जीवन ही अच्छा जीवन है जिसे मनुष्य अपने मन, कर्म और वाणी तीनों को सत्य पर आधारित कर जिये।

११- हे संसारियों, जान लो कि यह सब जिसे तुम सुख समझते हो, वह माया (मिथ्या) है। कृष्ण के बिना सब कुछ अस्थायी (कच्चा) है। “वह”, “वह” है, जो हमेशा के लिए है , स्थायी है , सत्य है।

१२- दोनों हाथ जोड़कर नरसैया कहते हैं कि मुझे जन्म दर जन्म केवल एक कामना है भगवान (श्री हरि) की।

ईशोपनिषद के श्लोकों का हिंदी मे पद्यात्मक अनुवाद यहाँ उपलब्ध है।

राजनीति और राजनीतिज्ञ


जातिगत, धर्मगत, क्षेत्रगत, वर्गगत

असंतुष्टि से तुष्टि, तुष्टि से तृप्ति

लोलकों की डंडियां

डोलती हैं इधर से उधर, उधर से इधर

वास्तविकता से बे- खबर
जनता जो कहलाती है जनार्दन

बे असर, ख़ुश है मूर्ख बन कर

राजनीतिज्ञ खोले अपने केश गुच्छ

खुजलाते हैं खभर खभर


Poverty and Public Distribution System – Part – II

<strong>RK Nagar </strong>
RK Nagar

Second part of article on Poverty and Public Distribution System


This is second part of the article by Nagar. In order to access the first part of the two part article on poverty and public distribution system please click here.

So, How poor are the poor that need PDS support?


Two important points to be noted here are:

  • A ration card entitles the card holder to 5 kg of Wheat/ Rice/ Coarse grain per person per month, whose name is on the card.
  • The scale of issue that was initially 25 kg per family per month was increased to 35 kg per family per month with effect from 1st April 2002 under Antodaya Anna Yojana.

Until recently- till the central government brought the policy of ‘One nation, one card’, the cards were issued by the state governments. Thus an individual could obtain and benefit from subsidised supplies in multiple states. Since the data are recent, it is assumed that the numbers are free of duplication in so far as the number of ration cards is concerned.

It works out to 3.28 beneficiaries per card. And quite a few of them get as much as 35 kg per month- that is way more than a family of this size can consume in a month. And now look at the percentage distribution of Ration Shops:

It would also be fair to assume that over the years, both the rural and urban incomes have increased, that people have more money in hand to spend on non food items- modern day necessities such as a smart phone, a two wheeler- a motorcycle or a scooter, a fan- air cooler- air conditioner, a colour tv etc. 

Whereas you do not go and peep inside someone’s house to check if they possess any of these gadgets, the rate of growth of cell phones and internet connections do point to the fact that most households are today fairly well placed to afford these modern day necessities. 

But paradoxically they are still too poor to afford basic food grains from open market and ‘Q’ up for free or subsidised rations. 

And now let me throw another element in the mix- minimum wages. 

According to the Ministry of Labor and Employment, the minimum wage in India remained unchanged at Rs 178.00 /day in 2021. Another source ,however, provides the wage rate separately for agricultural and non agricultural labourers as follows ( for September 16, 2021)

Type of labour Men Women
Agricultural 252.38195.11
Non Agricultural 261.89196.46

And these rates are for unskilled labourers. In $ terms (@74.55), the lowest of these wages translates to $ 2.61. If we assume that the skilled labour rates are at least 50% higher, the minimum wage works out to $3.92 per day. 

The World Bank Poverty Line, however  defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 a day, measured in 2011 purchasing power parity prices. So, by that measure there is no extreme poverty in India. 

Add unemployment level to this equation. The present unemployment rate (February 22, according to CMIE) is 6.57%. Thereafter, the estimate of the World Poverty Clock that 7% of Indians live in extreme poverty appears more or less reasonable. 

So, how much does an unskilled labour family earn in a month? Assuming that a man works for 20 days and the woman 15 days, a couple earns nearly ₹8000/ month. Let us just keep this figure in mind. 

Now the question comes, why 67% Indians still need/ depend on PDS? 

PDS was originally started in the era of food shortages (the ’60) and was aimed primarily at the urban poor. Over the years, it has witnessed expansion- Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and  Antodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) to include more of rural poor, especially the most vulnerable designated as the BPL households. The third expansion of AAY came in 2005-6 and brought a total of 2.5 crore households (38% of BPL) under the AAY. 

Thus the actual number of households under BPL should be 6.58 crores and that represents 4.7% of India’s current population and not 21.9% as we are made to believe. Shocked? 

 A bigger shocker is this report from The Hindustan Times, Feb, 18, 2021 which reports from a press conference of Mr. Piyush Goyal, the minister for civil supplies.

It says; “Currently, the government supplies highly subsidised food grains at ₹1-3 per kg to over 81 crore people through public distribution system (PDS).Under the NFSA, which was passed in 2013 during the previous UPA regime”.

81 crore people- that is (60% of our population) are getting heavily subsidised food grains?

If we have 21.9% under poverty line, why are these additional 40% getting heavily subsidised food grains?

And if we go by the actual number under BPL- 4.7% of India’s current population, then why on earth almost 76% are getting the subsidised food grains?

They are neither poor nor we have shortages to warrant the luxury of mindless subsidisation of this magnitude.

Then, on who’s expense we are celebrating this ‘poverty’? 

 It has been clearly noted in the National Food Security Portal of the Government of India that the PDS is ‘supplemental’ in nature and is not intended to make available the entire requirement of any of the commodities distributed under it to a household or a section of the society’. Yet, through PDS the government continues to pump highly subsidised food grains in the market through a network of nearly 5.5lakh outlets of which around 85% are independent shops and undefined outlets. Isn’t it shocking? 

Here let me provide you with a quick calculation. I am taking Wheat and Rice as a test case. It is based on a ‘supplemental’ quantity of 35 kgs of food grains per month per family. We have earlier seen that even the poorest unskilled labour family makes at least ₹8000/ month. And by the way, how can 35 kg per family per month can be ”Supplemental”?                         

ParameterWheatRice*
PDS entitlement kg35 35
Sale Price Rs 22
Market Price Rs2023
Subsidy per Kg Rs1821
Monthly Subsidy Rs 630700
Subsidy as days wage2.52.78
* Non Basmati short grain rice

So, first we have 62% Ration card holders – disguised ‘poor’, who can very well afford buying all the grains they need at market price, yet avail subsidy (so we have this massive subsidy going to these so called poor) and then we have 85% of outlets that can never be supervised/ monitored to stop the pilferage of heavily subsidised food grains. 

 To me it appears that through PDS, We have created a perfect recipe for large scale institutionalised corruption in public domain, a monster that will never die. Everyone is happy- the farmers who sell their produce at MSP and get subsidised food in return; 85% undefined and individual PDS outlets who get to siphon off supplies (meant for subsidised sale) in open market and make a killing; politicians who capitalise on the plight of the so called ‘poor’, especially as the elections near and, the ever Non accountable FCI. The real loser is the last man in the row, who would be quite happy to pay additional money equal to his 2.5- 2.8 day’s wage rather than wait for endless hours over multiple rounds at the ration shop and be at the mercy of the shopkeeper to get his legitimate quota of subsidised ration that in fact is more than his normal family needs. 

What would happen if the PDS issue price is revised? 

 And what would happen if the sale price of food grains under PDS is brought at par with the MSP and is revised at tandem with the MSP revision? The ration card holding will sharply decline (as no one would want to Q up before a ration shop to get sub-standard grains at market price), all the pseudo poor will disappear and, for once we will know the exact extent of poverty that needs to be tackled.  Many PDS outlets will close shop (unless they decide to continue as normal retailers) as they won’t be able to make a killing by siphoning off subsidised supplies to petty shop keepers and Chakkiwallas. 

The government, on the other hand will be able to save millions of rupees and use the saved funds to get ‘special ready to eat/cook formulations’ (especially developed to fit into the dietary habits of various regions) produced on large scale to feed the real poor and needy and for use in school feeding programs. The real intended beneficiary will not have to be at the mercy of the ‘Ration ki Dukaan’. 

 And my firm conviction is that, with this one action- just one of bringing the sale price of food items at par with MSP, we as a nation  will no longer take pride in being a poor country. Let us live with a sense of dignity, we may not be affluent but we are not poor either as our politicians want to keep us. The much touted “Garibi Rekha” will disappear without a trace. 

It is high time we take concrete steps to shake off the disgusting ‘poverty’ tag once for all.


कौन है सुनता यहाँ

<strong>डाक्टर हेमेन्द्र जोशी </strong>
डाक्टर हेमेन्द्र जोशी
Photo by David Besh on Pexels.com

कौन है सुनता यहाँ

भीड मे हैं सब,कौन है सुनता यहाँ 
अपने कहे क़िस्सों का तार बुनते यहाँ,
मै सही, मेरी बात ही सही,
जी हां, हां जी वालों को ही लोग सुनते यहाँ।

सिसकती साँसें, तिलमिलाती धड़कनें
अनकही जो रह गईं, उन्हें कौन गिनता यहाँ,
मौन बन सहे, उफ़ भी जो न कर सकी
आँसू बहाती जिन्दगी को रूँधते देखा यहाँ।

करें जुल्म औ सितम, बेलौस हो सरफिरे
कौन जिये,कौन मरे,करे कौन क्यों, चिंता यहाँ,
ठिठुरती गमगीन जिन्दगी की अंधेरी तनहाइयों तले
देखे मुफलिस शराबी नशे में झूमते यहाँ।

बस कर खुदा,’हेम’ ने देख ली तेरी खुदाई
रब है,रहनुमा है तू,आख़िर क्यूं, तू उन्हें न चूमता यहाँ।



डाक्टर हेमेन्द्र जोशी