For past few weeks India is grappling with urgency of change in existing laws to ensure safer existence of better-half of population. Harsher penalty and fast-track courts would bring culprits to quick justice. This is supposed to grant partial succor to victims of rape and molestation. The leader-less movement of youth, which is pressing for these changes, underlines the strength of Indian democracy.
Guruji (Pt. Rajshekhar Mansur) and I were travelling from Bhopal to Gwalior. I looked forward to a journey with Guruji because he passed on nuggets of insight in music even when we were not in music session. I had been asked several times that why did not maestros of Jaipur Atrauli sing in Drut (fast-paced tempo)? I decided that this might be the occasion to learn the answer to this riddle. Once we had settled down I posed the question to him. Rightly enough, with a contemplative look in his eyes, he said, music is Shravana Vidya (aural art) and it has to be learnt Guru Mukhi (through mouth of teacher). No amount of theory can teach you a raga. Suppose I said the two notes in this raga are shuddha (natural note), how will you know how shuddha they must be? I did not understand and looked askance.
One certain way to seek (and sometime, find) a solution is trial and error. Conceptually, it appeared destined for oblivion as bulk of human knowledge grew to lessen the sea of unknown. As, a large part of knowledge created increasingly grows dated, the degree of uncertainty remains the same. Some might even say that over the past decade, it has grown!
Knowledge may also be defined on scale of certainty. If in a particular village the sun would rise between one specific tree on left and another specific tree (or rock) on right, one could be sure that this direction may safely be called east. Mystics have always made fun of the idea of such ‘ascertained’ knowledge.
“h equals ten raised to the power of minus twenty seventh part of 6.6thness” With similar mathematical abstractions weaving near-concrete images, Taj Masood continues the oral tradition of poetry. He holds that poetry, born in head should reside there till other heads are ready to lend an ear. The images form and dissolve to reappear; they resurface, honed and enriched by flow of life meanwhile.
Orality carries an authenticity not found in the paper-rigid fixity of the material world. It is authenticated by life itself. The Classical traditions aim to capture human achievements; the oral traditions merely allow them a playground.
As an academic investigator I had visited Shikshantar, an NGO in Udaipur, to see their work on alternative education. Shikshantar believes in zero-schooling, which means not admitting a child into a school at all, but letting him/her learn on his/her own if and when the child is interested.
Shikshantar is also associated with ‘Swaraj University’, a new concept in today’s world, though an old concept if you look into ancient history. Swaraj University does not give any degrees, believing that a degree is not necessary for one to become successful in life. One can successfully practice a trade/ profession/ occupation to meet one’s livelihood needs without a degree. Students who join Swaraj University come from backgrounds and may even be school dropouts. Called ‘Khojis’, or seekers, these students interact with various experts from varied fields, seek to find out what they are most suited for themselves, and then train as apprentices under an expert in the field to learn the skills of the trade, so that they can earn their livelihood.
Conferences make one wonder whether they are of any use at all. Whether the amount of money and time spent on them in terms of arrangements made and the fares for all the participants was worth the effort and money, considering that nothing concrete seems to come out of them as far as implementable recommendations, etc are concerned. Continue reading