Friday, July 29, 2011

If Ramzan is here, can Justice be far behind?

The Holy month of Ramzan is upon us, and hence, this repost from earlier.  
All religious festivals carry great wisdom and learning for all of us, regardless of our religion or lack of religion. Precisely because we, as a race and not as religions, are looking at a future overrun by our excesses of greed and ignorance is it essential that we resolve to leave intolerance and anger aside and imbibe the wisdom that life offers to us. All the strife that we have been witness to in the name of religions and gods and righteousness should only make our determination to build a peaceful future stronger.

The Quran says, "O, ye who believe, strengthen yourselves with resolution and prayer, for Allah is with those who persevere in adversity." Mankind today is dealing with adversity most specifically from religious and spiritual intolerance. Frequently, this intolerance builds up to the point of hatred and desire for vengeance. It is easy to understand this on a personal level when we look at personal friendships and enmities, and then the global perspective becomes clearer as we try and multiply our hatred and love several billion times over.

Ramzan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar commemorating the revelation of the first verses of the Quran to the Prophet. On the Gregorian calendar, this kind of slides backwards a little every year; the last couple of years, Ramzan has been the August-September month.

Like all religious festivals, there are various interpretations of the meaning of the name Ramzan, various spellings, and various ways of celebrating it.  Some say that the name Ramzan is derived from the Arabic root word 'ramida' or 'arramad' that means intense heat and dryness. Ramzan is so called to indicate the heating sensation in the stomach as a result of thirst. Others said it is so called because Ramzan or Ramadan scorches out the sins as it burns the ground. Some said it is so called because the hearts and souls are more readily receptive to the admonition and remembrance of Allah during Ramzan, as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun's heat.

During Ramzan, practicing muslims fast from dawn (sehri) to dusk (iftar), and attempt to keep their thoughts focused on the teachings in their scriptures, and refrain from harboring negative thoughts, and as the wikipedia says, ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Man Who Drew Horses

M.F. Husain, known for his eccentricities of refusing to wear footwear and going Hermes suited but bare feet to the snootiest of institutions much to the discomfiture of the other patrons, and for his controversies over depiction of Hindu deities, lived life king size.  It is tragic that this artist who brought international acclaim to Indian contemporary art (he was invited along with Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971), had to spend his last years exiled from his motherland charged with obscenity by keepers of Hindu morality.

Sunil Das and M.F. Hussain are two Indian painters who are most famous for painting horses.  You must look up their work to see how they have used the lines and motion of this animal in their paintings.  You can read my tribute to the genius of Hussain on the occasion of his death earlier this year by clicking here.

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George "Jazzy Jacob" Gershwin

One of the most amazing composers of our times was George Gershwin, who is remembered primarily as a songwriter and composer with most of his work written for Broadway musicals and operas. 

While most younger listeners have heard the Gershwin masterpiece, Summertime, in one or the other of its myriad interpretations in jazz, soul, and even rock, and perhaps even his other popular songs, Ain't  Necessarily So, I got Rhythm, Embraceable You, and of course, Swanee, it is in his orchestral compositions that his genius really comes through.  I have only heard three of them and they continue to astound me with their richness, complexity and beauty.  You can read more about this genius (who died on July 11, 1937, at the age of 38, of brain cancer) by clicking here.


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