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God Should Be Elected


Once a large number of people surrounded God and said: “We do not recognize you. We want God to be elected”. God was very upset and called Naradamuni to find out why these people refused to recognize him.

After enquiries, Naradamuni established their identity. He went to God and said, “My Lord, these people are from Bharat on planet earth”. God asked Naradamuni to visit Bharat to find out what is wrong with these people.

Naradamuni landed at Delhi airport. While coming down the ramp, he was pushed aside by a group of people with garlands rushing towards the aircraft. When he sought to know why, he was told: “You fool, don’t you know. Our newly-elected MP has arrived. He is likely to become a Minister. We have come to greet him”.

“That is fine. But let me go to the terminal” ,pleaded Naradamuni

Who the hell are you?” shouted one amongst the crowd.

“A passenger”.

“Get the hell out of the way”, said another from the crowd. “ You are nothing compared to a MP”.

Naradamuni slowly made his way to the terminal and went to the pre-paid taxi booth. The man at the counter told him, “Sorry. There are no taxis running today.”

“Why?

“Because today we are having a meeting to elect the President of our Taxi Union”

“Surely passengers have priority.” Said Naradamuni.

“Nonsense”, replied the man. “Elections are all important. We cannot be looking after passengers when we have to elect our President. This post is very powerful. Once one gets elected to this post, one can become a MP, or even a minister.”

Naradamuni caught a bus and reached his hotel near Connaught Place. At 9 pm he decided to visit a temple. At the temple, he found it cordoned by policemen.

“Why are you stopping entry to this holy place? asked Naradamuni.

“Because the Prime Minister is coming”, replied a policeman.

“But the temple doors will close shortly as God goes to sleep after 10 pm. It is already 9.30 pm. If the Prime Minister does not come by 10 pm what will happen? “asked Naradamuni.

“Ha”, replied the policeman. “Don’t you know? God will wait for the Prime Minister, He will not sleep till he has given darshan to the Prime Minister.:

“God will wait for the Prime Minister? “said a shocked Naradamuni. “Why should God keep awake for a mortal?”

“Mortal?” said another policeman. “Did you say mortal? The Prime Minister is no mortal. He is elected. He is supreme. God will have to wait for our elected Prime Minister”.

Naradamuni contemplated this statement for a long time. He began having doubts about mortals and God. Slowly wisdom downed on him. He returned the next morning to heaven and told God, “My Lord. I have returned from Bharat and find the people of this land correct. You have to be elected.”

“Elected?” replied an incredulous God, “Why?”

“Because elected mortals are superior to God. This is what I have learnt in Bharat.”

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Cricket And The Sun God


As a child my mother often told me the story of the daily chariot ride of Lord Suryadev - the sun God .Every morning Suryadev, with his wild horses which only he could control, would set out in his sun- chariot from the east. When he reached his destination in the west he would rest for the night. On many days he had to encounter the chariot of Lord Indira -the rain God, whose horses too were wild. When this happened the earth got covered with clouds. Then there would be a fierce fight between Suryadev and Indira.The fiercer the struggle, the greater would be the thunder, lightning and rain. However, Suryadev mostly triumphed and once this happened sunshine again came to the earth.

Once, while in Colvin Taluqadar College, Lucknow, our class team was playing Cricket with the team of the higher class. I must have been 11 or 12 years old then. We had batted first and scored 115 runs. I had scored 43 runs and was thus the hero of the morning. If we won the match my hero status would have risen further. I naturally was very keen that we win the match.

It must have been around two in the afternoon when it started becoming cloudy .By three it had become dark. Our opposite side’s score was 87 for 7 wickets. Victory seemed near. Standing at mid-on, I was fervently praying to Lord Suryadev to quickly vanquish Lord Indira. But Suryadev seemed to be losing the battle. It first started with small drops and then became a downpour. The stumps were taken off and we rushed to the make-shift pavilion. Here the opposite team began arguing for abandonment of the match whereas our stand was that we must wait and watch. The umpires, two school teachers, were undecided. After a lot of shouting, yelling and a brief scuffle between some of our classmates and their supporters, the umpires decided to wait for one hour. I, meanwhile, again prayed to Lord Suryadev to vanquish his opponent quickly.

He must have heard my prayers for the rain stopped in half an hour and in another fifteen minutes Suryadev started appearing from the shadows.

The match was resumed. But to our bad luck, the opposite side took the score to 112 for 9 wickets-thanks to two dropped catches by us. By this time the meandering clouds were again threatening a deluge. And then it happened. As our pace bowler was running to the wickets , the rain started. The umpire had no time to stop him. The last man was clean bowled. The batsman shouted that the rain had disturbed his vision and he shouldn’t be given out. The umpire, after some hesitation, raised his finger. Supporters of both the sides rushed to the ground and scuffles, much bigger in scale, again broke out. While we were in glee, the opposite side was booing us. I, ofcourse, with my 43 runs and three catches, was the hero.

Later at night, when it came to praying, I just couldn’t decide whether to thank Lord Suryadev or Lord Indira for our victory

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WHY YOU SHOULD DONATE


I am a strong believer in donations to not-for-profit charities. It makes me feel good.

The urge to donate comes from within you. I feel those who have this urge are blessed.

I wrote an article on this issue sometimes back. I am reproducing it below .

I hope this article encourages many of you to donate

WHY YOU SHOULD DONATE

Charity makes the heart healthier for in giving you are shelling out a part of yourself to people you do not know. In doing so, you will be able to alleviate the suffering of others in a small way.

There are many reasons why you should donate. I give some below:

1. Giving assistance to other people through money or service can give you a sense of pride. Since you were able to think beyond yourself and you are able to let go of some of your wants and money, there is a sense of inner joy in you.

2. If it helps to think about it, you can boost your own confidence thinking that there are other people that are less fortunate that you are. By donating, this confidence is boosted.

3. Consider the ability to give out money without difficulty a gift, for you are one of the few people who do not make money the center of the universe. You are part of the few who realize that there are other things more important than money like helping other people and experiencing inner contentment through assisting others.

4. One of the best reasons for many to donate is that the money you give out, lessens your taxes. This makes the gesture of shelling out money and being generous to your advantage since you do not have to wait long enough for the results to come forth. With your donation, you acquire lesser taxes.

5. With the knowledge that you are helping others and that these people are benefiting from your actions, you may validate your own existence. The experience may help you know the value of kindness and know within yourself that you have that value in you since you are able to practice it..

6. If you are stressed out with work or anything from this busy world, participating in a charity organization will be able to help you get things off your mind. Since you are taking care of other people, somehow your stress is relieved. And you will be able to achieve inner piece..

7. Through finding the charity that fits your morals, ideals and beliefs, you find a sense of belonging.

Apart from the above mentioned reasons and benefits aforementioned, there are other advantages that you will acquire from giving out to a charity. Spread the fortune you are receiving and put a smile in other people face. You will never know, the help you are extending is the answer to another person’s troubles.

I will conclude by saying that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates - the two richest Americans, have donated almost their entire net worth to charity. If they can do it, why not some of us in our own small way.

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ZARINA AND THE NIB


When I was a child there were no ballpoint pens to write. We wrote with a nib which was manually attached to a pen holder.

The nib was a small, pointed pen point, like a spike. It could also be compared to a timber carriage pole. We dipped the nib in an inkpot and then wrote. No sooner the ink was dry, we dipped the nib again.

Nib’s came in various shapes. I remember the brown nib which had no ‘hair thin cut’ at it’s bird’s bill or it’s peak. I preferred this one to the other type which had the ‘hair thin cut’. I found the latter scratched a lot on the writing paper, and often spilled ink while writing..

It was fun writing with the pen holder with the nib attached to it. Before beginning to write, a lot of planning had to be done. The table was first covered with blotting paper so that any ink which drops from the nib did not stain the writing table.

Again, many any of us also kept a roller with the blotting paper rolled around it. After every few minutes, we would dry the written matter by this roller. This was welcome relief from the continuous monotony of writing.

And of course in front of us was the ink pot. It had to be carefully opened and closed. Any mishandling, and the ink could spill or drop on our clothes.

For me the dropping of ink on our clothes brings back happy memories. When in kindergarten in Lucknow, we had a very bright girl in our class. She always did everything fast and correct; and so became the cynosure of all eyes.

Whenever a task was given to the class, Zarina’s hand would go up first to indicate she had completed the job.

‘Oh, Zarina, you have finished?’ the teacher would say. Now let me see what words you have written for A, B and C’.

And while I struggled, Zarina would walk up to the teacher, get her paper corrected, get a nod of smiling approval from the teacher, and then stand in triumph next to her while I was still making my words.

What made it worse was that Zarina was my neighbour and her father and mine were colleagues in the same office.

Whenever the families met socially, no opportunity was missed by her mother to tell my mother that her daughter always stands first in the class. Slowly Zarina started feeling superior to me; so much so that she started looking down on me.

One day, while writing, Zarina spilled her ink on her dress. Her whole dress was smudged. Tears welled up in her eyes and then came the stifled sobs. Fortunately, I was sitting next to her.

Noticing her plight I got up and said, “ Ma’am, Zarina has dropped ink on her dress and is crying,’

The teacher quickly came to Zarina, said soothing words and asked me to accompany her and Zarina to the bathroom to help clean and wash her dress. Once done, we returned to our desks and Zarina gave me a smile. That afternoon, Zarina asked me which nib I used.

’The brown one which does not spill ink,’ I said.

Zarina thought for a moment and then said, ‘From now I too will use the brown one.’

‘Why’, I asked

‘ Because then I will not spill ink on my clothes’

She watched me for a few seconds and then said,‘ Come let us play together.’

We ran towards a tree and from then onwards there was no animosity between us.

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The Day My Mother Died


Day after tomorrow my wife’s slip-disc is to be removed. An operation is necessary and all arrangements have been made in a hospital.

My mother fell sick a few days back and today my sister is coming to take her. Mother would be in her house for a few days. We all felt that is the best. To leave her alone while I am busy attending to my wife was not proper.

My sister has arrived. It is afternoon. We two- sister and myself are sitting on mother’s bedside. Mother is in pain; she is tossing and turning.

“Is it alright mother if I go ahead with the operation and you be with Sujata (this is my sister’s name) for a few days,” I say.

“Of course son. You have been running around a lot the past few days to make the arrangements in the hospital. Don’t worry about me. I am fine. I’ll be back in a few days.”

“Are you sure, mother?” I say. “We can get the operation done later too.”

“No son. The operation is urgent. Don’t make her suffer longer.”

Mother was in great pain the past few days. Yet she says, “Don’t make her suffer longer. I will be fine with Sujata,” After all, she is a mother.

She looks at me. Her hands are white and sickly compared with mine. We say very little and I am thankful that she says nothing. What ought I to say? Everything I wanted has happened. I have made arrangements for the operation in the hospital, sought to it that mother is nursed properly and now sit beside her.

“Dear son,” says my mother softly.

We were never very demonstrative in our affections in our family; poor and ordinary middle class folks who toil and are full of worries for ourselves and our families. So when my mother says to me, “dear son,” it means much more. I knew the agony and pain she was going through; yet she says, “I will be fine with Sujata.”

I sit by her bed a long time. Slowly she rises and we help her walk to my sister’s car. Sujata is sitting next to her and I place her personal belongings between them. Slowly the car moves and she waves to me a goodbye.

I come back to my room and lie down. I am tired and before going to the hospital to attend to my wife, wish to take a nap.

Half an hour later the telephone rings. It is my sister.

“Mother is dead,” she says.

“Dead?” I repeat.

“Yes,” she says. “She died suddenly in the car on way to my house.”

“How?” I say incredulously.

“She just closed her eyes and fell into my lap.”

“Did you not rush to a hospital?”

“I did, bhayya (brother). In the hospital they declared her dead of cardiac arrest. Please come immediately.”

I do and find the my mother lying calmly in the backseat of the car. They are all waiting for me to decide what to do next.

I am so alone. My wife is in the hospital awaiting surgery and my mother before me. We bring her body to my house, lay it in the living room; and amidst making arrangements for the cremation, I go to the hospital to inform my wife.

She breaks down and refuses to get operated. I soothe and pacify her. I tell her life must go on. She reluctantly agrees.

Next day mother is cremated. Another chapter in my life is over.

This article was written many years ago, in 1995. Since then my sister Sujata too is dead.

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Sound of Music Revisited


I recently (July 2009) visited Salzburg (Austria) and took the Sound of Music tour, the blockbuster film of 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. I learnt several interesting facts about the film and Captain von Trapp’s family-the Austrian baron on whose life the film was based.

The story of Captain von Trapp as depicted in the film is largely but not completely true. For example the baron never proposed to Maria (the governess of his seven children). It was the children who loved her and wanted her to stay. They even suggested he should marry her.“ I don’t even know if she likes me’’, was the baron’s answer. So the children went to ask for themselves. As Maria said “Yes, I do”, they were engaged.

Again the von Trapp family did not escape from Austria after the chorus festival at the Salzburg Festival Hall where the baron sang the song ‘Edelweiss’ as shown in the movie. The family left Salzburg quietly one day for Italy by train from where they went to USA.

As for the film shooting, only the outdoor shots were filmed at Salzburg.. All indoor shooting was done in Hollywood. . Two castles of Salzburg were chosen as the baron’s home. The Leopoldskron Castle with its gardens and terraces was chosen for scenes in which the lake had to be shown.and the Frohnburg Castle for all other scenes including the one in which Maria alights from the bus to enter the baron’s home for the first time.

During the shooting of the scene when the children had to fall out of the boat in front of the baron’s home, Gretl, the 5 year old girl, fell on the wrong side and so could not be caught by Julie Andrews. “Not being able to swim”, she said later, “ I drank half the lake.” To this day she is afraid of water. In the spring of 1964 when the film was being shot, the lake was freezing cold..

During the shooting another problem arose: the children were growing. Some more than the others. “Liesel” the eldest daughter was not growing fast enough; so to keep up the continuity she had to stand on an apple box in the end. Marta lost some of her baby tooth during the shooting; they had to be replaced which caused her trouble with the singing

As for Liesl, her most memorable scene was dancing in the gazebo while singing ‘ Sixteen Going On Seventeen.’ Wearing new shoes, she gracefully jumped to the bench and flew on through a plate glass window spraining her ankle. She was bandaged up, swallowed two aspirins and went on to dance. The crew gave her a standing ovation at the end of the day which proved to be one of the most fulfilling of her life..

Another song shot in the gazebo was ‘Something Good.’ While shooting this song, the camera kept making a funny burring sound which made Christopher and Julie laugh a lot, even though it was a very emotional romantic song. The Director Robert Wise was very upset. So instead of continuing the shooting next day as was planned, he ended the song in the night with a silhouette background..This scene later became a hit.

As for Christopher Plummer, he did not like the children. When he had to carry ‘Gret’ over the mountain in the escape scene toward the end of the film, he said: ‘I’m not carrying that bloody fat kid’; so Robert Wise got a thinner child as her double.

The opening scene that became one of the most famous in film history was the last shot filmed for this movie and was filmed 40 kms kilometers away from Salzburg...The scene was shot from a helicopter and had to be perfectly timed. So one of the crew members hid in the bushes with a megaphone and yelled “Go Julie Go” when the helicopter was in the right position. Julie Andrew had great difficulty standing upright because of the jet helicopter’s strong downward drafts. After ten takes she got really angry as she had to go to the loo and in those fields there was no possibility of ‘going around the tree’ for a lady. So the Director left it at the tenth take although he was not fully satisfied.

Incidentally the abbey to which Julie ran after the song is situated in Salzburg-40 kms away from the song scene. She ran those 40 kms in three minutes in the movie which surely must be a world record!

Do-Re_Me –which was rehearsed in the Fox ( Producers) studios beforehand- was shot all over the city. A surprise visitor to the shooting one day was Maria Von Trapp herself. The Director Robert Wise asked what he could do for her. She said she wanted a role in the film. So in the song Do-Re-Mi she was given a small role as a nun who was shown in the background in one of the scenes. After four hours of shooting she walked up to Robert and said, “ I have had enough. My ambition to act has ended.”

Regarding the off screen activities of the cast, the central spot for the actors was the Bristol bar. There were big crew parties almost every night. Plummer’s nights at the bar became famous but the next morning he acted as a complete professional..

Julie Andrew felt slightly isolated as she had to take care of her 18 month-old daughter in the evenings and could not go out as often as she wanted.

I will end by saying that the ‘ Sound of Music’ bus tour which I took had a large number of young Americans, Japanese, Britishers and other Europeans.. These young people, mostly in the age group 17-30, knew most of the songs of the film reasonably well and sang them enthusiastically along with the tour guide. They sang, clapped and cheered throughout the tour. This just shows that this film transcends generations and even after four decades of its release in 1965 is as popular today as then. Indeed, this film is a classic which has made Salzburg famous.

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Did You Know


1. There are 206 bones in the adult human body where as a child has 300 bones.

2. Located in the middle ear, stapes or stirrup is the smallest human bone.

3. Brain cells which can live for an entire lifetime are the longest living cells of the human body.

4. 2.3 kg is the weight recorded of the heaviest human brain.

5. Along with 2 gigabytes of central memory and 16 parallel central processor units, the fastest computer of the world is CRAY Y-MP C90 supercomputer.

6. Approximately 50,000,000,000 galaxies exist in the entire cosmos.

7. Sound travels four times faster in water than in air.

8. With an estimated surface temperature of 864 F, Venus, is said to be the hottest planet in the solar system.

9. A normal galaxy consists of 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars approximately.

10. Motor neurons are the longest cells of Human body. A 4.5 feet long motor neuron can run all the way from the toe to the lower spinal cord.

11. Common Housefly transmits more diseases as compared to any other animals.

12. A true carnivorous is snake as it only eats other animals. They don’t eat plants.

13. The loudest sound that is produced by a living animal is 188 decibels. It is produced by blue whale.

14. It is observed that the seeds of an Indian Lotus tree would remain viable approximately for 300 to 400 years.

15. Inhabitants of North Dakota have never experienced an earthquake in their area.

16. To form water you have to burn hydrogen in air.

17. The deepest lake of the world is Lake Baikal.

18. The most surprising fact is that United States consumes 25 % of all the energy of the entire world.

19. Each year North Atlantic gets 1 inch wider.

20. The only animal which can recognize itself is a chimp.

21. Starfish is brainless.

22. Some animals, such as, Emus and Kangaroos, are unable to walk backwards.

23. Cats are not only mischievous, they also have more than 100 vocal sounds where as the dogs only have 10.

24. 32 muscles are there in each ear of a cat.

25. Ants extract juices from foods moving their jaws sideways. They are unable to chew foods.

26. Hummingbirds can fly backwards.

27. 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells fall from a human body every minute.

28. Moths are stomach less.

29. Starfish can twist its stomach inside out.

30. Eggs laid by sharks are the largest eggs.

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Snippets of Famous Men


President Abraham Lincoln often visited hospitals to talk with wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Once, doctors pointed out a young soldier who was near death and Lincoln went over to his bedside.

“ Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the President.

The soldier obviously didn’t recognize Loncoln, and with some effort he was able to whisper,”Would you please write a letter to my mother.’

A pen and paper was provided and the President carefully began writing down what the young man was able to say.

“ My dearesr mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty. I’m afraid I’m not going to recover. Don’t grieve too much for me, please. Kiss Mary and John for me. May God bless you and father.”

The soldier was too weak to continue, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and added, ”Written by your son by Abraham Lincoln.”

The young man asked to see the note and was astonished when he discovered who had written it. ”Are you really the President? he asked.

“Yes, I am,” Lincoln replied quietly. Then he asked if there is anything else he could do.

“Would you please hold my hand?” the soldier asked. “It will help to see me through to the end.”

In the hushed room, the tall, gaunt President took the boys hand in his and spoke warm words of encouragement until death came..

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Shoes

As Gandhi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. He was unable to retrieve it as the train was moving. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did so, Gandhi smiled. “ The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track,” he replied, “ will now have a pair he can use.”

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President Calvin Coolidge once invited friends from his hometown to dine at the White House. Worried about their table manners, the guest decided to do everything that Coolidge did. This strangely succeeded until coffee was served. The President poured his coffee into the saucer. The guest did the same. Coolidge added sugar and cream. His guests did too. Then Coolidge bent over and put his saucer on the floor for the cat.

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A beautiful Urdu couplet


Guftgu band na ho
Baton se baat chale
Subah shaam mulakaat chale
Ham se hasti huee
Taro bhari raat chale

……Ali Sardar Jafri

Meaning:
Let conversation never stop
Let talk leads to talk
Morning and evenings,let our meetings continue
Let the laughter filled nights continue

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To Sir With Love

I Was Schooled in Lawrence School Sanawar. Mr Bhupendra Singh was my house master. This is my tribute to him.



When you are getting on in years you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape. It was like that for Bhupie as the autumn term progressed and the days shortened till it was dark enough to switch on the electricity before call over. For Bhupie, like some old sea-captain, still measured time by the signals of the past; from the signposts of an era that was long over.

He was getting on in years; indeed when Dr Sharma called every month or so, he would say, “My dear fellow. You are fitter than I am.” But when Bhupie had a cold or when the east winds roared over the mountains, Sharma would sometimes take Mrs Khanna, the landlady aside and whisper, “Look after him, it’s only age, but that’s the most fatal complaint of all.”

He remembered that day of the preliminary interview-he often thought Englishman of it as he sat by the bay window at Mrs. Khanna. “You are a young man, Mr. Bhupinder,” Carter, the then headmaster had said,” and Sanawar is an old institution. Youth and age often combine well. Give your enthusiasm to Sanawar, and Sanawar will give you something in return. Take up a firm attitude from the beginning - that’s the secret of it.”

Perhaps it was. He remembered that first ordeal of taking prep. His youth, fresh complexioned, tweed coated with tie and always looking freshly shaved, at the mercy of three hundred unprincipled ruffians to whom the baiting of now masters was a fine art, an exciting sport, and something of a tradition. The sudden hush as he took, his place at the desk on the dias; the scowl he assumed to cover his nervousness; the clock ticking behind him, and the smells of ink and varnish.

Someone dropped a desk lid. Quickly he must take everyone by surprise: “You there in the fifth row-you there with curly hair-what’s your name? “Sandhu, Sir” “Very well, Sandhu, you have a hundred lines” no trouble at all after that.

* * * *

Sanawar was a old public school, established in the mid-nineteenth by Sir Henry Lawrence the Shimla Hills (now Himachal Pradesh) for children of army men. Later, it also took in children of armymen keen on joining the ‘services’. Nearly a century later it retained its army bias. Most of its pupils were children of army personnel whose aim was to make it to the services. It was a school which did have a snobbish value though not the kind associated with some others.

But if it had not been this sort of school it would probably not have taken Bhupinder. For Bhupinder, in any social or academic sense, was just as respectable, but no more brilliant than Sanawar itself.

It had taken him some time to realize this. Not that he was conceited, but he had been in his early twenties, as ambitious as most young men. His dream had been to get a headship eventually; it was only gradually, after repeated trials and failures, that he realized his inadequacies. About 1970, after he had been in Sanawar for nearly three decades, he began to recognize the odds against bettering himself elsewhere. But about that time, also, the possibility of staying where he was began to fill a comfortable spot in his mind. At fifty two he was rooted and quite happy.

A pleasant comfortable life with Mrs Khanna at Shimla where he, settled after retirement. He had no worries; his pension was adequate, and there was a little money saved up besides. He could afford anything which he wanted. His requirements were few and his room was furnished simply with school masterly taste: a few bookshelves and sporting trophies, a mantelpiece crowded with signed photographs of boys and men, a worn carpet and big easy chairs.

So there he lived with his quiet enjoyments of reading and talking and remembering; an old man but still very active for his years. “A wonderful bachelor” as some would like to call him.

Which was incorrect, because Bhupie had married; though it was so long ago that none of the staff at Sanawar could remember his wife. This was largely because his wife had died at childbirth, a few years after the marriage.

The few years of marriage which he enjoyed were filled with such happiness that Bhupie, remembering it, hardly believed it could have ever happened. His marriage was a triumphant success and Uma, his wife, conquered Sanawar, boys, girls and the masters alike, as she had conquered Bhupinder. Even the wives of masters, tempted at first to be jealous, could not resist her charms.

But most remarkable of all was the change she made in Bhupinder, who became a new man, though most of the newness was really a wanning to life of things that were imprisoned and unguessed. His eyes gained sparkle: his mind began to move more adventurously. The one thing he had always had, a sense of humor, blossomed into sudden richness.

And so Uma stood, a warm and vivid patch in his life, casting a radiance that glowed in a thousand recollections-Uma scampering along the stone corridors, laughing beside him at some howler in an essay he was marking. And Uma petite and decked for the June house-matches, or at the garden party that followed Speech day prize giving, or tendering her advice in any little matter that arose.

“Bhupie, I’d let them off if I were you. After all, it’s nothing very serious’

“I know. I’d like to let them off, but if I do I’m afraid they’ll do it again.”

“Try telling them that, frankly, and give them a chance.” “I might.”

And so on. About once in ten times he was adamant and in about half of these cases he afterwards wished he had taken her advice. Years later, whenever he had trouble with a boy, he was always at the mercy of a softening wave of reminiscence.

* * * *

Then there was this row with Pasricha, the new headmaster.

Funny thing, Bhupie had never liked Pasricha. Ambitious and efficient, he had, admittedly, raised the status of Sanawar as a school. Bhupinder knew that Pasricha did not like him; but that did not matter. He felt himself sufficiently protected by age and seniority from the fate of other masters whom Pasricha failed to like. But then in 1978,when he had just turned sixty, came Pasricha’s urbane ultimatum, “Mr. Singh, have you ever thought you would like to retire?”

Bhupinder stared about him, wondering why Pasricha should have asked the question. He said at length. “No—I can’t say-I have thought much about it-yet.”

“Well. Mr. Singh, the suggestion is there for you to consider.” Abruptly Bhupie flared up. “But I don’t want to retire. I don’t need to consider it.”

“Nevertheless, I suggest you do.”

“But-I don’t see-why I should”

“In that case things are going to be a little difficult”

“Difficult? Why difficult?”

“Think it over coolly, Mr. Singh and then you will understand why they can be difficult”

And then they set to it, Pasricha getting cooler and harder, Bhupinder warmer and more passionate, till at last Pasricha said icily, “Since you force me to use plain words, Mr. Singh, you shall have them. For some time past, you haven’t been pulling your weight here. Your methods of teaching are slack and old-fashioned; your personal habits are slovenly: and you ignore my instructions in a way, which, in a younger man, I should regard as rank insubordination. It won’t do Mr. Singh.”

“But” Bhupinder began in sheer bewilderment; and then he took up isolated words out of that extraordinary indictment. “Slovenly-did you say slovenly?”

“Yes, look at that gown you are wearing. I happen to know that that gown is a subject of constant amusement in the school.”

Singh knew it too, but it had never seemed to him a very regrettable matter. He went on, “And you also said something about insubordination ?”

“No, I didn’t. I said in a younger man I should have regarded it as that. In your case it’s probably a mixture of slackness and obstinacy.”

Bhupinder could take no more of that. He had had enough of an argument Gathering his tattered gown together he walked a few paces away. At the door he turned and said, “I don’t intend to resign. You can do what you like about it.”

Now it so chanced that a small boy waiting outside the door listening the whole interview was thrilled by it, and naturally told all his friends. Some of these, in a surprising short time, told their parents, so that very soon it was common knowledge that Pasricha had insulted Bhupinder and demanded his resignation.

The amazing result was a spontaneous outburst of sympathy and partisanship such as Bhupinder, in his wildest dreams, had never envisaged.

Thus one day the Chairman of the Board of Governors visited Sanawar, ignored Pasricha and taking Bhupinder by the arm as they walked round the deserted school compound said: “Bhupinder, old boy, sorry to hear about your row with Pasricha, but I want you to know that the Governors are with you to a man. So if he starts chucking his weight about with you, tell him very politely he can go to the devil. You can stay here till you want and I hope we will have many more years of you with us.”

And at that-both then and often when he recounted it afterwards-Bhupinder broke down.

So he stayed on at Sanawar. Two years later Pasricha left ‘to better himself’. His successor was a man whom Bhupinder liked; Recognising in Bhupinder, a Sanawar institution, he courteously and wisely accepted the situation.

In 1983 Bhupinder had bronchitis and was off duty for the whole of the summer term. It was that which made him decide to resign that summer; he felt it would not be fair to hang on if he could not do his job decently. He would shift to his hometown Shimla,30 kilometers away from Sanawar and stay with the excellent Mrs. Khanna

* * * * * *

And it was in Shimla that Bhupinder spent the last years of his life Whenever he visited the school, which was often initially, they asked him all kinds of questions, as if he were some kind of prophet and encyclopedia combined they liked it even more as they dished his answers in dished up in joke form.

Sometimes, when he was strolling about the school, small boys of the cheekier kind would ask him questions, merely for the fun of getting Bhupie to answer. “Please Sir, which is the latest film you have seen?”

“I don’t see films. They don’t make Laurel and Hardy any more” Saying this he would burst out laughing to the great amusement of the young boys.

“Ah sir!. Then you don’t know Aishwarya Rai.” “I’ve heard of her.” “Don’t you think she is cute?”

“I’ve never seen her. So how would I know whether she is cute.” And again the laughter beginning with a loud Ha! Ha! Ha!

The boys too would burst out laughing. Later they would comment among themselves. “I think he is going senile.”

One day in December at Mrs Khaanna’s, he sat in front of his window at three thirty. It was cold and foggy and he dared not go out. He had not felt too well since the past fortnight; he fancied he might have caught a chill during an evening walk.

On such a day he would probably be alone. But no about a quarter to four a ring came, and Bhupie answering the front door himself encountered a small boy wearing a Sanawar cap and an expression of anxious timidity. “Please sir,” he began, “does Mr. Bhupinder live here?”

“I am the person you want,” Bhupie answered. “Now what can I do for you?”

“I am on a day’s visit with my mother to Shimla, sir. My father was an old student of yours. He has sent a gift for you.” Saying this he thrust a small package wrapped in brown paper at Bhupie.

“Ah! What a lovely surprise. Where is your mother?”

“She is at the Mall with a friend. She asked me to run up and give this to you, sir”

“Well then, won’t you have a cup of tea with me” No thank you sir. I am in a bit of a hurry. We have to rush down to Sanawar to be in time for the prep.”

“What is the name of your father, son” “Mr.Samir Chopra. You were his housemaster”

“Oh Samir. What a wonderful boy. I once gave him a whack for not obeying my instructions. Well tell him thanks.” “Thank you sir. Goodbye sir.’ “Goodbye my boy.”

Going inside Bhupiie unwrapped the package and found a bowl of crystal. Inside was a card. “To Sir with love” That night Bhupie died in his sleep.

“Sanawar will never forget his lovableness,” said the headmaster in a speech to the school a few days later. Which was absurd; all things are forgotten in the end. But the young Samir at any rate will remember and tell the tale. “I wished him goodbye and gave him a present from my father-a bowl of crystal- the afternoon before he died. Do you know what my father had written on the card which was in the crystal.”

“No”

“To Sir with love.”

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A Brief Outline Of Buddhism


Do you know the four basic truths of life? They are:

The Noble Truth of Sorrow: Birth is sorrow, age is sorrow, disease is sorrow, contact with the unpleasant is sorrow…..in short, life is sorrow or suffering.

The Noble Truth of the Arising of Sorrow: It arises from thirst, which leads to rebirth, which brings delight and passion…. the thirst for sensual pleasure, the thirst for continued life, the thirst for power

The Noble Truth of the Stopping of Sorrow.It is the complete stopping of that thirst, so that no passions remain….. being released from it, giving no place to it.

The Noble Truth of the Way which Leads to the Stopping of Sorrow: It is the Noble Eightfold Path- Right Views, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Recollection, Right Meditation.

Do you know:

Buddhism is non-dogmatic and has no rituals

Buddhists do not believe in the transmigration of the soul. They believe the universe is a continuous flux, and all idea of permanence is part of the basic ignorance of man out of which sorrow springs

Buddhism says all conditioned things are impermanent, transient. Since all things are always changing, sorrow or suffering is inevitable

Buddhism says the ultimate goal of every individual should be to attain Nirvana (freedom from re-birth). This is possible by following the Eightfold Path (given above)

Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The whole of South East Asia including China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka etc is Buddhist

2.4% of Costa Rica, 1% of Germany, 1.2% France, 2.5% Australia is Buddhist

Buddhism was once the predominant religion of India ( which included Pakistan and Bangladesh) before Hinduism took over in 8-9th century AD. Buddhism is now experiencing a revival in India.

Read all this and more in the booklet ‘A Brief Outline Of Buddhism’ which is available on this website (Home Page)

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Akbar, Anarkali, Jehangir- a Love Triangle


I recently did some research on the above subject and came across some startling historical facts.I write them below:

Anarkali was a Turkish woman sold in the slave market of Persia. The Shah of Persia wanted to make an entry into India and wanted to give Akbar a precious gift. His agents picked up Anarkali and the Shah approved of their choice. She was gifted to Akbar by the Shah and she became his favorite concubine (concubine is called Kaneez in Urdu). It was Akbar who gave her the name Anarkali(bud of pomegranate)

Once in Akbar's haram, Jehangir became enamoured of her. Jehangir bribed Khanam,a senior woman haram attendant, to get her to his chambers whenever Akbar was out hunting or out in campaigns. But in a small place like a fort, where all lived, such news cannot be hidden for long and Akbar came to know. Abul Fazl, a close confidant of Akbar and his chronicler broke the news to Akbar. Jehangir pleaded for mercy saying it was he who was responsible and not Anarkali ( which is true because Anarkali always resisted going to his chambers out of fear). There was a long wordy duel. Akbar spared Jehangir but oredered Anarkali to be imprisoned in a newly made brick room where she died of hunger and thirst. Later, Jehangir had Abul Fazl murdered

It is said Anarkali, apart from being bewitchingly beautiful, indulged in unusual sexual prowess and techniques which could snare anyone.

As for Jehangir , he was born out of a Rajput Princess who disliked Akbar. This woman even wanted to murder Akbar and so was always searched whenever she was alone with Akbar. Her view was that Mughals are plunderers with no morals. She strongly believed she was given to Akbar for marriage for a political settlement to save her fathers kingdom from loot and plunder. On the other hand she felt Rajputs have valour and honour. She inculcated these beliefs in Jehangir.

So Jehangir resented his father and there never was much bonhomie between the two. They say one of the reasons he wanted Anarkali was to snub his father.

Jehangir's first name was Salim. This name was given to him by Akbar after a holy man called Salim Chishti, a Muslim mystic and an astrologer whose grave is in the fort of Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra. Akbar was his devotee and very fond of him. He is still reverred by many. People go to his grave and tie a string on a grail near it and ask favors.

Salim Chishti had even warned Akbar that all his three sons would be drunkards and womanisers. He further told him that Jehangir may even rebel against him. So Akbar maintained a distance from all his three sons. This further fuelled Jehangir's resentment towards his father.

When Jehangir rebelled against Akbar, his mother never opposed the rebellion. It is Jehangir's grandmother, Hamida, wife of Humayun, who went to Jehangir in Allahabad and told him that he should always remember that both Akbar and he are descendents of Timur and must remain together to maintain the Mughal dynasty. At her biddings, Jehangir called off his rebellion and made peace with Akbar.

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Amrapali


Govindan and his wife Vinitha lived happily in a village. To their bad luck, they did not get any children. Near their house was a garden of a very old magician. After some years Vinitha knew that she was going to be a mother. Vinitha and Govindan were extremely happy. Then the mango season came. The magician’s garden had lot of mango trees. One day while looking at the garden through the window Vinitha saw those fleshy mangos. She wanted to eat them. But she knew she would not get them because it belonged to a magician. She became sad and was getting thinner day by day. Govindan saw this and asked her, “Vinitha, what is the matter with you? Then Vinitha told, “I have an impossible desire. I want to eat mangos from the magician’s garden. “

That evening, when no body was there Govindan entered the garden of the magician and plucked a mango. Vinitha ate it. But she wanted some more. Next day also Govindan entered the magician’s garden. But he was caught red handed by the old magician. The old magician told that he would curse Govindan and his wife. Both Govindan and Vinitha begged him not to do so. Then he told, “Ok, but when the baby is born, you have to give it to me. I will bring it like my own child”. Fearing the magician, Govindan and Vinitha agreed for this condition

When the baby was born, it was a pretty girl. The girl was handed over to the magician. The magician named the baby as Amrapali (Amra-mango) and kept her in a room built at the top of a tower in his garden. This room had only one opening and no windows are doors. Years passed. Amrapali became a very pretty lady. Daily the magician used to come to the bottom of the tower and sing, “Hey Amrapali, My pretty lass, Help me to climb in to the tower.” Then Amrapali would let down her long hair. The magician would then climb up the tower. He would give her good food, nice cloths etc. When things were going like this, prince Vikrama one day happened to come near the tower. He then heard the song of the magician and how he climbed on to the tower. That day night prince Vikrama came near the tower and sang, “Hey Amrapali, My pretty lass, Help me to climb in to the tower.”

Amrapali as usual let her hair and the prince climbed in to the tower. The prince liked Amrapali at first sight and asked her to marry him. She agreed. She told him to bring some silk daily, so that she can weave a ladder to escape. When the ladder was about to be completed, without thinking, Amrapali asked the magician, “How come you are lighter than the prince?” Immediately the magician got very angry and took Amrapali to a far of desert and left her there. When the prince came next day, the magician caught him. When they were fighting with each other, the prince fell on a thorn bush and lost both his eyes. The magician fell on a rock and he became mad. The prince started wandering here and there. After one year he reached the same desert where Amrapali was living. By that time Amrapali was having a small son. Both of them were talking in the desert. Prince Vikram started crying as he recognized her voice. When tears came out of his eyes, he got back both his eyes. Prince Vikram took Amrapali to his kingdom and they lived happily.

Amrapali

Govindan and his wife Vinitha lived happily in a village. To their bad luck, they did not get any children. Near their house was a garden of a very old magician. After some years Vinitha knew that she was going to be a mother. Vinitha and Govindan were extremely happy. Then the mango season came. The magician’s garden had lot of mango trees. One day while looking at the garden through the window Vinitha saw those fleshy mangos. She wanted to eat them. But she knew she would not get them because it belonged to a magician. She became sad and was getting thinner day by day. Govindan saw this and asked her, “Vinitha, what is the matter with you? Then Vinitha told, “I have an impossible desire. I want to eat mangos from the magician’s garden. “

That evening, when no body was there Govindan entered the garden of the magician and plucked a mango. Vinitha ate it. But she wanted some more. Next day also Govindan entered the magician’s garden. But he was caught red handed by the old magician. The old magician told that he would curse Govindan and his wife. Both Govindan and Vinitha begged him not to do so. Then he told, “Ok, but when the baby is born, you have to give it to me. I will bring it like my own child”. Fearing the magician, Govindan and Vinitha agreed for this condition

When the baby was born, it was a pretty girl. The girl was handed over to the magician. The magician named the baby as Amrapali (Amra-mango) and kept her in a room built at the top of a tower in his garden. This room had only one opening and no windows are doors. Years passed. Amrapali became a very pretty lady. Daily the magician used to come to the bottom of the tower and sing, “Hey Amrapali, My pretty lass, Help me to climb in to the tower.” Then Amrapali would let down her long hair. The magician would then climb up the tower. He would give her good food, nice cloths etc. When things were going like this, prince Vikrama one day happened to come near the tower. He then heard the song of the magician and how he climbed on to the tower. That day night prince Vikrama came near the tower and sang, “Hey Amrapali, My pretty lass, Help me to climb in to the tower.”

Amrapali as usual let her hair and the prince climbed in to the tower. The prince liked Amrapali at first sight and asked her to marry him. She agreed. She told him to bring some silk daily, so that she can weave a ladder to escape. When the ladder was about to be completed, without thinking, Amrapali asked the magician, “How come you are lighter than the prince?” Immediately the magician got very angry and took Amrapali to a far of desert and left her there. When the prince came next day, the magician caught him. When they were fighting with each other, the prince fell on a thorn bush and lost both his eyes. The magician fell on a rock and he became mad. The prince started wandering here and there. After one year he reached the same desert where Amrapali was living. By that time Amrapali was having a small son. Both of them were talking in the desert. Prince Vikram started crying as he recognized her voice. When tears came out of his eyes, he got back both his eyes. Prince Vikram took Amrapali to his kingdom and they lived happily.

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Hinduism-What is God?


The Hindu’s worship dozens of deities. Many think these deities are God. This is wrong.

As per my understanding of Hinduism, God is Formless. He is the universe, the Brahamand ( a Hindi word). He has not only created this earth where we live but the entire universe. He is the creator and the preserver of all the galaxies, the planets, the stars, the sun, the air, the sky, the light-everything. Surely, this huge Universe could not have been created by a human being-a two legged, two handed creature who lives on this earth. He is too small and insignificant to create this mammoth Universe

In ancient times, Hindu’s worshipped God through the medium of fire. Men sat around a fire and amidst the chanting of mantras (hymns) and prayed to God. Later, some symbols and idols were introduced as a point of concentration to pray to God. These were found desirable as to concentrate on the universe without a symbol was difficult. Down the ages, these idols are now treated by a large number of Hindus as God. Most of the idols are human shaped-Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ram, Krishna, Kali, Durga, Balaji etc. Some are part human like Ganesh and some like Hanuman and Garuda are animal based.

It is my view that these idols made of earth, stone or metal cannot be God. They should be treated as symbols to pray to God, who is formless. Regretfully, a large number of Hindu priests have developed a vested interest in making the people believe the idol is God. It is this blind belief, promoted by priests and some others, which has led to Hindu’s offering money and other goodies to these idols which are then pocketed by the priests

With idols have come a plethora of customs, rituals and beliefs. This again is a source of money making by the priests. Infact, the latter promote these customs, rituals and beliefs..

It is accepted that it is difficult to pray to a formless God like the universe. Most of us need a [strong]symbol[/strong] to help focus on some aspect of the universe (God). This symbol has to be non-human and non-earthly; otherwise our focus would be on something connected with life and earth whereas God is universal. It should not be human as then our focus would be on this human being-Shiva, Vishnu, Ram, Krishna, Balaji, Durga, rather than on God.. What should it be?

For Hindus, I believe Om ( ) should be this symbol. It has history (it is from Vedic times), it is easy to pronounce, it is easy to write as it is one word and it has a beautiful meaning-preserver of the universe. Above all by focusing on it, rather than a human idol and not a human being, one can much better contemplate God.

For Christians, the symbol is a cross. The Muslims do not believe in any symbol;neither do Buddhists. But they all believe in a universal God

I further believe one need not go to a temple to pray to a God. One can do so in the comfort of one’s house or anywhere else. God is everywhere including in our body and heart. To pray one need not put the body to discomfort. Be comfortable-standing or sitting. You can also sit on a low chair or stool to be comfortable. With folded palms focus on Om and recite the Gayatri Mantra(a hymn) one or more times. Keep concentrating on Om. This is to create a feeling of holiness in you.

If you know the meaning of Gayatri Mantra (which is given below), and you keep thinking of its meaning while praying, the feeling of holiness should come sooner

As soon as you feel sufficiently holy, try to take your mind from Om to a vast empty Universe full of a blue sky and stars.. To take your mind to this level of thinking would take time and most often your mind will waver back to something which is troubling you or is very important to you. Take your mind back to Om and the Universe. If you do this often, you will be able to concentrate more. Do this while lying in bed or anywhere else where you are comfortable. The more you concentrate, the better you will feel.

Also don’t ask God for any favor. He knows everything. Just seek his blessings.

If your prayers are without seeking anything , without greed or any materialistic desires, you will be rewarded in the long run. Remember, not immediately but in the long run. Also remember, money, power and materialism is not the only reward. Happiness and contentment are the greatest reward .

I am giving below the Gayatri Mantra and its meaning.

Om bhur bhuva Swaha. Tatsavitur varrenium. Bhargo devasya dhimahee. Dhiyo yona prachodayat

Om bhur bhuva swaha………..(repeat)

From the Vedas- Yajurveda:36/3

You are our creator, you are our preserver,

You are our life giver, you suffer our pain,

You are the great illuminator whose light is everywhere,

You are present in all things of the universe,

We think of you, we seek your blessings,

God, let our minds walk the correct path

Always remember that God is the universe, the Brahamand; Om is only a symbol to pray, to concentrate on a formless God.

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Jahangir and Nurjahan


After Jahangir was banished from Agra to Kabul for his temerity in having a clandestine affair with Anarkali, the favourite concubine of Akbar, he became friends with Ghiyas Beg, the Mughal commander in Kabul. It is there that he set eyes on his 14 year daughter Mehrunissa. He immediately liked her and after a few months asked her father’s permission to marry and make her his Empress. Ghiyas Beg regreted that she has already been promised to a Mughal commander, Sher Afhan.

Jahangir never got over his infatuation for Mehrunissa. When he became Emperor he had Sher Afghan posted as a commander of a small garrison at Gaur in Bengal. He then sent an Englishman Bartholomew Hawkins with promise of a very heavy reward to murder Sher Afghan. He chose an Englishman so that secrecy is maintained because, unlike Muslim and Hindu courtiers, the few foreigners in his court never mingled with the society and kept themselves aloof. Their only interest was seeking trading favours and making money.

Hawkins, after a long journey, reached Gaur dressed as a commoner in native clothes . After a stay of some days in a caravanserai where by moving around the town, he learnt all about the night guards and other protection details of his victim, Bartholomew, wearing a dark brown hooded robe slipped one night into Sher Afghan’s house and after killing a guard, reached his victim’s sleeping chamber. With one powerful stroke he thrust a sharp dagger into Sher Afghans chest and while Mehnurissa, who awoke with a start looked shocked, quickly made his exit. All Mehunissa remembered of that dark night was a bearded, blue eyed tall man thrusting a dagger and blood splurging from her husband’s body. After the customary period of mourning, Mehrunissa moved back to Kabul with her daughter Ladli.

Thereupon, Jahangir had her father posted at Agra as the Imperial Treasurer-a post of great prestige and honour. After some months he again sought her hand for marriage and it was immediately accepted by Ghiyas Beg. She now become an Empress.

Once an Empress, Mehrunissa (who was given the title Nur Mahal (light of the palace) and later Nur Jahan (light of the wold) by Jahangir busied herself in making Jahangir totally dependent on her for advice and pleasure. She regularly laced his rose scented wine with opium pellets and ensured that he spent most of his time with her and not other women of his haram. What made Jahangir even more appreciative of her was her advice to execute her brother Mir Khan for treachery against Jahangir. Mir Khan had joined hands with Jahangir’s half brother Khusrau at Gwalior to rebel against Jahangir. Without mincing words, she had said before all other courtiers, “ Execute him for bringing disgrace to my family.”

Once she had Jahangir in her power, she manipulated that her neice Arjumand marry Jahangir’s second son Khurram, who later ascended the throne as Shahjahan. To promote Khurram, she urged Jahangir to give the latter an opportunity to show his worth and had Jahangir send him to the Deccan to fight the rebel Abyssinnian, Malik Amber. Here Khurram fought very valiantly and practically destroyed Malik Amber’s army. On his return, he was given a hero’s welcome and Jahangir was so overjoyed that he decided to name him as his successor

Now here is where Nur Jahan’s jealousy stepped in. If Khurram was named a successor, it was the latter who would sit with Jahangir in his war councils and help Jahangir take his decisions. Father and son would get very close and what would happen to her?

So she convinced Jahangir to send Khurram again to the Deccan to finish Malik Amber, ‘as that would be a fitting honour for him’. Once this happened, she started working on Jahangir’s mind that Khurram has become infatuated with his success and is now planning to usurp the throne by marching his armies up north. Meanwhile, she manipulated to get her daughter Ladli married to Jahangir’s third son Shahriyar and now started promoting the latter as his successor.

Soon Jahangir and Khurram were completely estranged and the latter, inspite of his protestations that he is as loyal to his father as before, found no response from Jahangir. Khurram even came to Agra to plead and clear all misunderstandings but by then Jahangir’s mind was so poisoned that he ordered his arrest.

‘He believes in the Mughal dictum of ‘Takht ya takhta. (throne or coffin)’ Nur Jahan is reported to have said to Jahangir.

Khurram escaped to south and left Burhanpur (his headquarters) with his family for the east to escape to Persia via Bengal.

Meanwhile, on return from Kashmir to Lahore, Jahangir died suddenly. Nurjahan acted swiftly and got her son- in -law Shahriyar proclaimed emperor. Khurram realised that it was ‘ now or never’ and quickly regrouping, began marching to Lahore with the support of many vassals who were proclaiming loyalty to him. A large force under Mahabat Khan, a famous commander, joined him near Lahore, and they quickly defeated the demoralised army of Shahriyar who was executed. Khurram was proclaimed Emperor Shahjahan.

Even here Nurjahan showed her grit. When produced before Khurram and asked by the latter why she turned Jahangir against her, she did not cry or seek mercy. She unfolded her veil and without blinking said, ’I was no friend to you for many years. Of course I admit it. But I did not act out of petty spite or personal animosity. We all look to ourselves first. I acted in my own interest….that in doing so I damaged yours and Arjumand’s was a side effect, not the object. Yes, I may be responsible for much of your suffering and yes I am ready to die for it….’

Shahjahan admired her honesty and courage, and instead of ordering her execution, sent her for life imprisonment.

Historical Note: The memoirs of Jahangir Tazuk-i-Jahangiri written by himself are very extensive. Jahangir began writing his memoirs in 1605, the year he became emperor. They reveal a man riven with contradictions. In one passage he describes his alienation from his once beloved son Khurram, deriding him as ‘that one of dark fortune’ His adoration of Mehrunissa is clear. He describes in various passages how her advice was correct and she showed him the correct path.

Quite a few of the foreign visitors to Hindustan in Jahangir’s reign wrote vividly of what they witnessed. The book written by Sir Thomas Roe, England’s first official envoy to the Mughal court bursts with details of the splendours of Jahangir’s palaces and surrounding’s. Other foreign sources include William Hawkins, an employee of East India Company who was in Jahangir’s court from 1609-1611; William Finch, Hawkin’s assistant; Edward Terry, a clergyman; and the well known traveller Thomas Coryat who was in Jahangir’s court throughout 1615.

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MEETHU AND KAURA


Meethu was a beautiful green parrot. His red beak looked very beautiful. He had built his nest within the bushy branches of a big peepal tree in a village. Every day he would leave in the morning in search of food and return in the evening to spend night comfortably in his nest.

One day, while he was flying in search of food, he saw a mango tree. It was laden with ripe yellow mangoes.

'Oh! What nice mangoes!', he exclaimed. Sight of the ripe, juicy mangoes made his mouth water. He flew down and sat on a branch of the tree. As he was about to eat a mango, he heard a harsh voice of a crow, "Hey! Who are you? This is my tree. My name is Kaura. I say, go away from here," the crow said.

Meethu looked around and saw a black crow. He was frightened. The crow shouted once again at Meethu asking him to go away. Meethu flew away, but he was very disappointed because he could not eat such lovely juicy mangoes. While flying towards home, he saw a red balloon lying in a garden. An idea struck in the mind of Meethu. He picked up the balloon with its beak and flew back to the mango tree.

He went to the mango tree surreptitiously and blew off the balloon with its beak. The balloon burst with a loud sound. The crow was frightened.

Kaura shouted, "It must be a hunter around! He will kill me. I must fly away from here."

Saying so, the scared crow flew away from the tree and never returned. Meethu was very pleased to see the crow go. He ate as many mangoes as he could. Thus clever Meethu could scare away the greedy crow by playing a clever trick on him. He began to eat sweet mangoes every day.

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