Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This Human Life is Unique

Thirty years ago travelling on a train from Kolkata to Santiniketan I heard a Baul minstrel singing a song in Bengali that was to change the way I would lead my life. The song began with the claim that one wont be able to come again and again and went on to say that one would not get this human life again. The main message of the song was that humans could if they tried become Gods in this life itself and they should do so instead of blackening the face of human civilisation with their black deeds. The Bauls are a group of wandering folk songsters with a deep belief in the God like possibilities of human beings. The tradition of Bauls is syncretic with both Hindus and Muslims following it across both east and west Bengal. Traditionally they have lived on the alms that they have been given for their singing though now some of them have become famous and are international professional performers. Most of them still live by begging like this singer singing this great song at a weekly market in Bengal.
I heard this song often at that time and it inspired me to do something worthwhile with my life instead of just pursuing selfish goals. Consequently after passing out from college I went to work with tribals and eventually came to Alirajpur in 1985. The message of this song, though based on a spiritual foundation, can easily be construed in a naturalist manner to mean that one should live this life in such a way as not to despoil nature. This means living frugally which also means being compassionate and not greedy. Though, the Baul tradition does not speak of fighting to improve matters but stresses on individual improvement only, I have chosen the path of organised action for justice because somehow I do not see much virtue in individual pursuit of truth and justice. I had forgotten about this song till someone posted a version of this song in a Facebook group that I am a member of. Immediately it brought back memories of those years of my youth when I was trying to decide the path to take in life. I googled and came up with the version that I have linked above. Listening to the song again after such a long time is very satisfying because overall I have enjoyed travelling the path of organised mass action for justice even though we haven't really achieved much in comparison to what we had set out to do.

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