Voice from the Dark.

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Very vast indeed, was the forest. Huge trees stood in endless rows. They entwined each other warmly, and danced with joyous waves in the air. Such was the thickness of the forest that even the blinding light of hot summer days was not visible on the ground. No human dared tread onthese grounds.
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It was midnight. On all sides darkness enveloped the forest. And the darkness within was like the darkness in the womb of the earth. The birds and other creatures were all in deep sleep. A heavy silence compounded the blackness of this forest. On such a night in the midst of the forest, a human voice broke the silence by saying, ‘Shall I ever attain my hearts desire?’
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When silence returned, no one could ever believe tha the had heard a human voice in such a forest! And yet, after a little while, the same voice cried out again, ‘Shall I ever attain my hearts desire?’
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A third time the silence was thus disturbed when another voice inquired: ‘What can you sacrifice to win your heart’s desire?”
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‘My life itself!’ was the reply.
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‘Life is so insignificant that it is the simplest thing for anyone to sacrifice!’
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‘What more have I? What else can I offer?’
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‘Devotion! My friend, devotion!’ declared the voice from above.
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(- Thus opens the most explosive piece of literature of British India.)
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On this side of the Sindu

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(Selections from The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, by Nicholas Notovich)

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8 The divine child, to whom was given the name of Issa, began from his earliest years to speak of the one and indivisible God, exhorting the souls of those gone astray to repentance and the purification of the sins of which they were culpable.

9 People came from all parts to hear him, and they marveled at the discourses proceeding from his childish mouth. All the Israelites were of one accord in saying that the Eternal Spirit dwelt in this child.

10 When Issa had attained the age of thirteen years, the epoch when an Israelite should take a wife,

11 The house where his parents earned their living by carrying on a modest trade began to be a place of meeting for rich and noble people, desirous of having for a son-in-law the young Issa, already famous for his edifying discourses in the name of the Almighty.

12 Then it was that Issa left the parental house in secret, departed from Jerusalem, and with the merchants set out towards Sind,

13 With the object of perfecting himself in the Divine Word and of studying the laws of the great Buddhas.

CHAPTER V

1 In the course of his fourteenth year, the young Issa, blessed of God, came on this side of Sind and established himself among the Aryas in the land beloved of God.

2 Fame spread the reputation of this marvelous child throughout the length of northern Sind, and when he crossed the country of the five rivers and the Rajputana, the devotees of the god Jaine prayed him to dwell among them.

3 But he left the erring worshippers of Jaine and went to Juggernaut in the country of Orissa, where repose the mortal remains of Vyasa-Krishna and where the white priests of Brahma made him a Joyous welcome.

4 They taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain the holy scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men, restoring unto them their sanity.

5 He passed six years at Juggernaut, at Rajagriha, at Benares, and in the other holy cities. Everyone loved him, for Issa lived in peace with the Vaisyas and the Sudras, whom he instructed in the holy scriptures.

6 But the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas told him that they were forbidden by the great Para-Brahma to come near to those whom he had created from his side and his feet;

7 That the Vaisyas were only authorized to hear the reading of the Vedas, and this on festival days only;

8 That the Sudras were forbidden not only to assist at the reading of the Vedas, but also from contemplating them, for their condition was to serve in perpetuity as slaves to the Brahmans, the Kshatriyas, and even the Vaisyas.

9 “‘Death only can set them free from their servitude’ has said Para-Brahma. Leave them then and come and worship with us the gods, who will become incensed against thee if thou cost disobey them.”

10 But Issa listened not to their discourses and betook him to the Sudras, preaching against the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas.

11 He inveighed against the act of a man arrogating to himself the power to deprive his fellow beings of their rights of humanity; “for,” said he, “God the Father makes no difference between his children; all to him are equally dear.”

12 Issa denied the divine origin of the Vedas and the Puranas. “For,” taught he to his followers, “a law has already been given to man to guide him in his actions;

13 “Fear thy God, bend the knee before him only, and bring to him alone the offerings which proceed from thy gains.”

14 Issa denied the Trimurti and the incarnation of Para-Brahma in Vishnu, Siva, and other gods, for said he:

15 “The Judge Eternal, the Eternal Spirit, comprehends the one and indivisible soul of the universe, which alone creates, contains, and vivifies all.

16 “He alone has willed and created, he alone has existed since all eternity, and his existence will have no end. He has no equal either in the heavens or on earth.

17 “The Great Creator has not shared his power with any living being, still less with inanimate objects, as they have taught to you; for he alone possesses omnipotence.

18 “He willed it and the world appeared. In a divine thought, he gathered together the waters, separating from them the dry portion of the globe. He is the principle of the mysterious existence of man, in whom he has breathed a part of his Being.

19 “And he has subordinated to man the earth, the waters, the beasts, and all that he has created and that he himself preserves in immutable order, fixing for each thing the length of its duration.

20 “The anger of God will soon be let loose against man; for he has forgotten his Creator, he has filled his temples with abominations, and he worships a crowd of creatures which God has made subordinate to him.

21 “For to do honor to stones and metals, he sacrifices human beings, in whom dwells a part of the spirit of the Most High.

22 “For he humiliates those who work by the sweat of their brow to acquire the favor of an idler seated at his sumptuous board.

23 “Those who deprive their brethren of divine happiness shall be deprived of it themselves. The Brahmans and the Kshatriyas shall become the Sudras, and with the Sudras the Eternal shall dwell everlastingly.

24 “Because in the day of the last judgment the Sudras and the Vaisyas will be forgiven much because of their ignorance, while God, on the contrary, will punish with his wrath those who have arrogated to themselves his rights.”

25 The Vaisyas and the Sudras were filled with great admiration and asked Issa how they should pray so as not to lose their eternal felicity.

26 “Worship not the idols, for they hear you not. Listen not to the Vedas, for their truth is counterfeit. Never put yourself in the first place and never humiliate your neighbor.

27 “Help the poor, support the weak, do ill to no one, and covet not that which thou hast not and which thou seest belongeth to another.”

CHAPTER VI

1 The white priests and the warriors, becoming acquainted with the discourses of Issa addressed to the Sudras, resolved upon his death and sent with this intent their servants to seek out the young prophet.

2 But Issa, warned of his danger by the Sudras, left the neighborhood of Juggernaut by night, reached the mountain, and established himself in the country of Gautamides, the birthplace of the great Buddha Sakyamuni, in the midst of a people worshipping the one and sublime Brahma.

3 After having perfected himself in the Pali language, the just Issa applied himself to the study of the sacred writings of the Sutras.

4 Six years after, Issa, whom the Buddha had elected to spread his holy word, had become a perfect expositor of the sacred writings.

5 Then he left Nepal and the Himalayan mountains, descended into the valley of Rajputana, and went towards the west, preaching to diverse peoples the supreme perfection of man,

6 Which is-to do good to one’s neighbor, being the sure means of merging oneself rapidly in the Eternal Spirit: “He who shall have regained his original purity,” said Issa, “will die having obtained remission for his sins, and he will have the right to contemplate the majesty of God.”

7 In crossing pagan territories, the divine Issa taught that the worship of visible gods was contrary to the law of nature.

8 “For man,” said he, “has not been permitted to see the image of God, and yet he has made a host of deities in the likeness of the Eternal.

9 “Moreover, it is incompatible with the human conscience to make less matter of the grandeur of divine purity than of animals and objects executed by the hand of man in stone or metal.

10 “The Eternal Lawgiver is one; there is no other God but he. He has not shared the world with anyone, neither has he informed anyone of his intentions.

11 “Even as a father would act towards his children, so will God judge men after their deaths according to the laws of his mercy. Never would he so humiliate his child as to transmigrate his soul, as in a purgatory, into the body of an animal.”

12 “The heavenly law,” said the Creator by the mouth of Issa, “is opposed to the immolation of human sacrifices to an image or to an animal; for I have consecrated to man all the animals and all that the earth contains.

13 “All things have been sacrificed to man, who is directly and intimately associated with me his Father; therefore he who shall have stolen from me my child will be severely judged and chastised by the divine law.

14 “Man is naught before the Eternal Judge, as the animal is naught before man.

15 “Wherefore I say unto you, Leave your idols and perform not rites which separate you from your Father, associating you with the priests from whom the heavens have turned away.

16 “For it is they who have led you from the true God and whose superstitions and cruelties conduce to the perversion of your soul and the loss of all moral sense.”

CHAPTER VII

1 The words of Issa spread among the pagans in the midst of the countries he traversed, and the inhabitants forsook their idols.

2 Seeing which the priests exacted of him who glorified the name of the true God, reason in the presence of the people for the reproaches he made against them and a demonstration of the nothingness of their idols.

3 And Issa made answer to them: “If your idols and your animals are powerful and really possessed of supernatural strength, then let them strike me to the earth.”

4 “Work then a miracle,” replied the priests, “and let thy God confound our gods, if they inspire him with contempt.”

5 But Issa then said: “The miracles of our God have been worked since the first day when the universe was created; they take place every day and at every moment. Whosoever seeth them not is deprived of one of the fairest gifts of life.

6 “And it is not against pieces of stone, metal, or wood, which are inanimate, that the anger of God will have full course; but it will fall on men, who, if they desire their salvation, must destroy all the idols they have made.

7 “Even as a stone and a grain of sand, naught as they are in the sight of man, wait patiently the moment when he shall take and make use of them,

8 “So man must await the great favor that God shall accord him in his final judgment.

9 “But woe unto you, ye enemies of men, if it be not a favor that you await but rather the wrath of the Divinity-woe unto you if ye expect miracles to bear witness to his power.

10 “For it will not be the idols that he will annihilate in his anger but those who shall have erected them. Their hearts shall be consumed with eternal fire, and their lacerated bodies shall go to satiate the hunger of wild beasts.

11 “God will drive the impure from among his flocks, but he will take back to himself those who shall have gone astray through not having recognized the portion of spirituality within them.”

12 Seeing the powerlessness of their priests, the pagans had still greater faith in the sayings of Issa and, fearing the anger of the Divinity, broke their idols to pieces. As for the priests, they fled to escape the vengeance of the populace.

13 And Issa further taught the pagans not to strive to see the Eternal Spirit with their eyes but to endeavor to feel him in their hearts and by purity of soul to render themselves worthy of his favors.

14 “Not only,” said he unto them, “abstain from consuming human sacrifices, but immolate no creature to whom life has been given, for all things that exist have been created for the profit of man.

15 “Do not steal the goods of your neighbor, for that would be to deprive him of what he has acquired by the sweat of his brow.

16 “Deceive no one, so as not to be yourselves deceived. Endeavor to justify yourself before the last judgment, for then it will be too late.

17 “Do not give yourselves up to debauchery, for that would be to violate the laws of God.

18 “You shall attain to supreme happiness, not only in purifying yourselves, but also in guiding others in the way that shall permit them to gain original perfection.”

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The Minute on Indian Education

– Thomas Macaulay

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“… We now come to the gist of the matter. We have a fund to be employed as Government shall direct for the intellectual improvement of the people of this country. The simple question is, what is the most useful way of employing it?

All parties seem to be agreed on one point, that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India, contain neither literary nor scientific information, and are, moreover, so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them. It seems to be admitted on all sides, that the intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be effected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them.

What then shall that language be? One-half of the Committee maintain that it should be the English. The other half strongly recommend the Arabic and Sanscrit. The whole question seems to me to be, which language is the best worth knowing?

I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic.-But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed both here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted by those members of the Committee who support the Oriental plan of education.

It will hardly be disputed, I suppose, that the department of literature in which the Eastern writers stand highest is poetry. And I certainly never met with any Orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded, and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.

How, then, stands the case? We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate. It stands preeminent even among the languages of the west. It abounds with works of imagination not inferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us; with models of every species of eloquence; with historical compositions, which, considered merely as narratives, have seldom been surpassed, and which, considered as vehicles of ethical and political instruction, have never been equalled; with just and lively representations of human life and human nature; with the most profound speculations on metaphysics, morals, government, jurisprudence, and trade; with full and correct information respecting every experimental science which tends to preserve the health, to increase the comfort, or to expand the intellect of man. Whoever knows that language has ready access to all the vast intellectual wealth, which all the wisest nations of the earth have created and hoarded in the course of ninety generations. It may safely be said, that the literature now extant in that language is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together. Nor is this all. In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East. It is the language of two great European communities which are rising, the one in the south of Africa, the other in Australasia; communities which are every year becoming more important, and more closely connected with our Indian empire. Whether we look at the intrinsic value of our literature, or at the particular situation of this country, we shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects.

The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language, we shall teach languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own; whether, when we can teach European science, we shall teach systems which, by universal confession, whenever they differ from those of Europe, differ for the worse; and whether, when we can patronise sound Philosophy and true History, we shall countenance, at the public expense, medical doctrines, which would disgrace an English farrier [note: a horse shoer] -Astronomy, which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, History, abounding with kings thirty feet high, and reigns thirty thousand years long, and Geography, made up of seas of treacle and seas of butter.

We are not without experience to guide us. History furnishes several analogous cases, and they all teach the same lesson. There are in modem times, to go no further, two memorable instances of a great impulse given to the mind of a whole society,-of prejudices overthrown,-of knowledge diffused,-of taste purified,-of arts and sciences planted in countries which had recently been ignorant and barbarous.

The first instance to which I refer, is the great revival of letters among the Western nations at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century. At that time almost every thing that was worth reading was contained in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Had our ancestors acted as the Committee of Public Instruction has hitherto acted; had they neglected the language of Cicero and Tacitus; had they confined their attention to the old dialects of our own island; had they printed nothing and taught nothing at the universities but Chronicles in Anglo-Saxon, and Romances in Norman-French, would England have been what she now is? What the Greek and Latin were to the contemporaries of More and Ascham [note: English humanists of the 16th century] our tongue is to the people of India. The literature of England is now more valuable than that of classical antiquity. I doubt whether the Sanscrit literature be as valuable as that of our Saxon and Norman progenitors. In some departments,-in History, for example, I am certain that it is much less so.

In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.

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Source:

From Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Minute of 2 February 1835 on Indian Education,” Macaulay, Prose and Poetry, selected by G. M. Young (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), pp-721-24,729.

As found on the Internet Modern History Sourcebook

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(** Lord Macaulay is considered the Father of Modern Indian Education by many ‘educated’ Indians for these ‘reforms’ he introduced.)

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The Struggle for Dignity.

On the seventh or eighth day after my arrival, I left Durban. A first-class seat was booked for me. It was usual there to pay five shillings extra, if one needed a bedding. Abdulla Sheth insisted that I should book one bedding but, out of obstinacy and pride and with a view to saving five shillings, I declined. Abdulla Sheth warned me. “Look, now,” said he, “this is a different country from India. Thank God, we have enough and to spare. Please do not stint yourself in anything that you may need.”

I thanked him and asked him not to be anxious.

The train reached Maritzburg, the capital of Natal, at about 9 p.m. Beddings used to be provided at this station. A railway servant came and asked me if I wanted one. “No,” said I, “I have one with me.” He went away. But a passenger came next, and looked me up and down. He saw that I was a “coloured” man. This disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or two officials. They all kept quiet, when another official came to me and said, “Come along, you must go to the van compartment.”

“But I have a first-class ticket,” said I.

“That doesn”t matter,” rejoined the other. “I tell you, you must go to the van compartment.”

“I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it.”

“No, you won”t,” said the official. “You must leave this compa rtment, or else I shall have to call a police constable to push you out.”

“Yes, you may. I refuse to get out voluntarily.”

The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out. My luggage was also taken out. I refused to go to the other compartment and the train steamed away. I went and sat in the waiting room, keeping my hand-bag with me, and leaving the other luggage where it was. The railway authorities had taken charge of it.

It was winter, and winter in the higher regions of South Africa is severely cold. Maritzburg being at a high altitude, the cold was extremely bitter. My over-coat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered. There was no light in the room. A passenger came in at about midnight and possibly wanted to talk to me. But I was in no mood to talk.

I began to think of my duty. Should I fight for my rights or go back to India, or should I go on to Pretoria without minding the insults, and return to India after finishing the case ? It would be cowardice to run back to India without fulfilling my obligation. The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial-only a symptom of the deep disease of colour prejudice. I should try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process. Redress for wrongs I should seek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal of the colour prejudice.

So I decided to take the next available train to Pretoria.

The following morning I sent a long telegram to the General Manager of the Railway and also informed Abdulla Sheth, who immediately met the General Manager. The Manager justified the conduct of the railway authorities, but informed him that he had already instructed the Station Master to see that I reached my destination safely. Abdulla Sheth wired to the Indian merchants in Maritzburg and to friends in other places to meet me and look after me. The merchants came to see me at the station and tried to comfort me by narrating their own hardships and explaining that what had happened to me was nothing unusual. They also said that Indians travelling first or second class had to expect trouble from railway officials and white passengers. The day was thus spent in listening to these tales of woe. The evening train arrived. There was a reserved berth for me. I now purchased at Maritzburg the bedding ticket I had refused to book at Durban.

The train took me to Charlestown.

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MORE HARDSHIPS

The train reached Charlestown in the morning. There was no railway, in those days, between Charlestown and Johannesburg, but only a stage-coach, which halted at Standerton for the night en route. I possessed a ticket for the coach, which was not cancelled by the break of the journey at Maritzburg for a day; besides, Abdulla Sheth had sent a wire to the coach agent at Charlestown.

But the agent only needed a pretext for putting me off, and so, when he discovered me to be a stranger, he said, “Your ticket is cancelled.” I gave him the proper reply. The reason at the back of his mind was not want of accommodation, but quite another. Passengers had to be accommodated inside the coach, but as I was regarded as a “coolie” and looked a stranger, it would be proper, thought the “leader”, as the white man in charge of the coach was called, not to seat me with the white passengers. There were seats on either side of the coachbox. The leader sat on one of these as a rule. Today he sat inside and gave me his seat. I knew it was sheer injustice and an insult, but I thought it better to pocket it. I could not have forced myself inside, and if I had raised a protest, the coach would have gone off without me. This would have meant the loss of another day, and Heaven only knows what would have happened the next day. So, much as I fretted within myself, I prudently sat next the coachman.

At about three o”clock the coach reached Pardekoph. Now the leader desired to sit where I was seated, as he wanted to smoke and possibly to have some fresh air. So he took a piece of dirty sack-cloth from the driver, spread it on the footboard and, addressing me said, “Sami, you sit on this, I want to sit near the driver.” The insult was more than I could bear. In fear and trembling I said to him, “It was you who seated me here, though I should have been accommodated inside. I put up with the insult. Now that you want to sit outside and smoke, you would have me sit at your feet. I will not do so, but I am prepared to sit inside.”

As I was struggling through these sentences, the man came down upon me and began heavily to box my ears. He seized me by the arm and tried to drag me down. I clung to the brass rails of the coachbox and was determined to keep my hold even at the risk of breaking my wristbones. The passengers were witnessing the scene-the man swearing at me, dragging and belabouring me, and I remaining still. He was strong and I was weak. Some of the passengers were moved to pity and exclaimed : “Man, let him alone. Don”t beat him. He is not to blame. He is right. If he can”t stay there, let him come and sit with us.” “No fear,” cried the man, but he seemed somewhat crestfallen and stopped beating me. He let go my arm, swore at me a little more, and asking the Hottentot servant who was sitting on the other side of the coachbox to sit on the footboard, took the seat so vacated.

The passengers took their seats and, the whistle given, the coach rattled away. My heart was beating fast within my breast, and I was wondering whether I should ever reach my destination alive. The man cast an angry look at me now and then and, pointing his finger at me, growled : “Take care, let me once get to Standerton and I shall show you what I do.” I sat speechless and prayed to God to help me.

After dark we reached Standerton and I heaved a sigh of relief on seeing some Indian faces. As soon as I got down, these friends said : “We are here to receive you and take you to Isa Sheth”s shop. We have had a telegram from Dada Abdulla.” I was very glad, and we went to Sheth Isa Haji Sumar”s shop. The Sheth and his clerks gathered round me. I told them all that I had gone through. They were very sorry to hear it and comforted me by relating to me their own bitter experiences.

I wanted to inform the agent of the Coach Company of the whole affair. So I wrote him a letter, narrating everything that had happened, and drawing his attention to the threat his man had held out. I also asked for an assurance that he would accommodate me with the other passengers inside the coach when we started the next morning. To which the agent replied to this effect : “From Standerton we have a bigger coach with different men in charge. The man complained of will not be there tomorrow, and you will have a seat with the other passengers.” This somewhat relieved me. I had, of course, no intention of proceeding against the man who had assaulted me, and so the chapter of the assault closed there.

In the morning Isa Sheth”s man took me to the coach, I got a good seat and reached Johannesburg quite safely that night.

Standerton is a small village and Johannesburg a big city. Abdulla Sheth had wired to Johannesburg also, and given me the name and address of Muhammad Kasam Kamruddin”s firm there. Their man had come to receive me at the stage, but neither did I see him nor did he recognize me. So I decided to go to a hotel. I knew the names of several. Taking a cab I asked to be driven to the Grand National Hotel. I saw the Manager and asked for a room. He eyed me for a moment, and politely saying, “I am very sorry, we are full up”, bade me good-bye. So I asked the cabman to drive to Muhammad Kasam Kamruddin”s shop. Here I found Abdul Gani Sheth expecting me, and he gave me a cordial greeting. He had a hearty laugh over the story of my experience at the hotel. “How ever did you expect to be admitted to a hotel ?” he said.

“Why not ?” I asked.

“You will come to know after you have stayed here a few days,” said he. “Only we can live in a land like this, because, for making money, we do not mind pocketing insults, and here we are.” With this he narrated to me the story of the hardships of Indians in South Africa.

Of Sheth Abdul Gani we shall know more as we proceed.

He said : “This country is not for men like you. Look now, you have to go to Pretoria tomorrow. You will have to travel third class. Conditions in the Transvaal are worse than in Natal. First and second class tickets are never issued to Indians.”

“You cannot have made persistent effort in this direction.” “We have sent representations, but I confess our own men too do not want as a rule to travel first or second.”

I sent for the railway regulations and read them. There was a loophole. The language of the old Transvaal enactments was not very exact or precise; that of the railway regulations was even less so.

I said to the Sheth : “I wish to go first class, and if I cannot, I shall prefer to take a cab to Pretoria, a matter of only thirty-seven miles.”

Sheth Abdul Gani drew my attention to the extra time and money this would mean, but agreed to my proposal to travel first, and accordingly we sent a note to the Station Master. I mentioned in my note that I was a barrister and that I always travelled first. I also stated in the letter that I needed to reach Pretoria as early as possible, that as there was no time to await his reply I would receive it in person at the station, and that I should expect to get a first-class ticket. There was of course a purpose behind asking for the reply in person. I thought that if the Station Master gave a written reply, he would certainly say “no”, especially because he would have his own notion of a “coolie” barrister. I would therefore appear before him in faultless English dress, talk to him and possibly persuade him to issue a first-class ticket. So I went to the station in a frock-coat and necktie, placed a sovereign for my fare on the counter and asked for a first-class ticket.

“You sent me that note ?” he asked.

“That is so. I shall be much obliged if you will give me a ticket. I must reach Pretoria today.”

He smiled and, moved to pity, said: “I am not a Transvaaler. I am a Hollander. I appreciate your feelings, and you have my sympathy. I do want to give you a ticket-on one condition, however, that, if the guard should ask you to shift to the third class, you will not involve me in the affair, by which I mean that you should not proceed against the Railway Company. I wish you a safe journey. I can see you are a gentleman.” With these words he booked the ticket. I thanked him and gave him the necessary assurance.

Sheth Abdul Gani had come to see me off at the station. The incident gave him an agreeable surprise, but he warned me saying : “I shall be thankful if you reach Pretoria all right. I am afraid the guard will not leave you in peace in the first-class and even if he does, the passengers will not.”

I took my seat in a first-class compartment and the train started.At Germiston the guard came to examine the tickets. He was angry to find me there, and signalled to me with his finger to go to the third class. I showed him my first-class ticket. “The doesn”t matter,” said he, “remove to the third class.” There was only one English passenger in the compartment. He took the guard to task. “What do you mean by troubling the gentleman ?” he said. “Don”t you see he has a first-class ticket ? I do not mind in the least his travelling with me.” Addressing me, he said, “You should make yourself comfortable where you are.”

The guard muttered : “If you want to travel with a coolie, what do I care ?” and went away.

At about eight o”clock in the evening the train reached Pretoria.

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FIRST DAY IN PRETORIA

I had expected someone on behalf of Dada Abdulla”s attorney to meet me at Pretoria station. I knew that no Indian would be there to receive me, since I had particularly promised not to put up at an Indian house. But the attorney had sent no one. I understood later that, as I had arrived on a Sunday, he could not have sent anyone without inconvenience. I was perplexed, and wondered where to go, as I feared that no hotel would accept me.

Pretoria station in 1893 was quite different from what it was in 1914. The lights were burning dimly. The travellers were few. I let all the other passengers go and thought that, as soon as the ticket collector was fairly free, I would hand him my ticket and ask him if he could direct me to some small hotel or any other such place where I might go; otherwise I would spend the night at the station. I must confess I shrank from asking him even this, for I was afraid of being insulted.

The station became clear of all passengers. I gave my ticket to the ticket collector and began my inquiries. He replied to me courteously, but I saw that he could not be of any considerable help. But an American Negro who was standing near by broke into the conversation.

“I see,” said he, “that you are an utter stranger here, without any friends. If you will come with me, I will take you to a small hotel, of which the proprietor is an American who is very well known to me. I think he will acept you.”I had my own doubts about the offer, but I thanked him and accepted his suggestion. He took me to Johnston”s Family Hotel. He drew Mr. Johnston aside to speak to him, and the latter agreed to accommodate me for the night, on condition that I should have my dinner served in my room.

“I assure you,” said he, “that I have no colour prejudice. But I have only European custom, and, if I allowed you to eat in the dining room, my guests might be offended and even go away.”

“Thank you,” said I, “even for accommodating me for the night.

I am now more or less acquainted with the conditions here, and I understand your difficulty. I do not mind your serving the dinner in my room. I hope to be able to make some other arrangement tomorrow.”

I was shown into a room, where I now sat waiting for the dinner and musing, as I was quite alone. There were not many guests in the hotel, and I had expected the waiter to come very shortly with the dinner. Instead Mr. Johnston appeared. He said : “I was ashamed of having asked you to have your dinner here. So I spoke to the other guests about you, and asked them if they would mind your having your dinner in the dining-room. They said they had no objection, and that they did not mind your staying here as long as you liked. Please, therefore, come to the dining-room, if you will, and stay here as long as you wish.”

I thanked him again, went to the dining-room and had a hearty dinner.

Next morning I called on the attorney, Mr. A. W. Baker. Abdulla Sheth had given me some description of him; so his cordial reception did not surprise me. He received me very warmly and made kind inquiries. I explained all about myself. Thereupon he said : “We have no work for you here as barrister, for we have engaged the best counsel. The case is a prolonged and complicated one, so I shall take your assistance only to the extent of getting necessary information.And of course you will make communication with my client easy for me, as I shall now ask for all the information I want from him through you. That is certainly an advantage. I have not yet found rooms for you. I thought I had better do so after having seen you. There is a fearful amount of colour prejudice here, and therefore it is not easy to find lodgings for such as you. But I know a poor woman. She is the wife of a baker. I think she will take you and thus add to her income at the same time. Come, let us go to her place.”

So he took me to her house. He spoke with her privately about me, and she agreed to accept me as a boarder at 35 shillings a week.

Mr. Baker, besides being an attorney, was a staunch lay preacher. He is still alive and now engaged purely in missionary work, having given up the legal profession. He is quite well-to-do. He still corresponds with me. In his letters he always dwells on the same theme. He upholds the excellence of Christianity from various points of view, and contends that it is impossible to find eternal peace, unless one accepts Jesus as the only son of God and the Saviour of mankind.

.

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(From: The Story of My Experiments with Truth)

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the call of the Wild

– Manasi

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We must access that which is wild within and learn to let it dance forth. To feel its rhythms, hear the silences in its song and dance into the wild ourselves. For this wildness is life itself, it is vitality, it is creation; and in letting it flow we are bowing down in surrender to the source of all that is. This wildness resides within each of us; in the soft belly whispers that we can hear when we are very quiet, in the frolic of the waves in the sea and in the stars as they float above us doing their secret dance with the universe, softly whispering down to us: ” know that there is a music unfolding all around, a music that is born from the wild. Know this now and fall silent so that you may hear the song it makes.”

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Clear White Sky

– Nirali

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A clear white sky
Stretches
As
Wide
As
The spaces between the breaths I breathe.

It expands and contracts,
As I inhale and exhale.
Sometimes enveloping me amorphously
In its vast firm embrace…
With all that I have ever known or will experience someday.

Sometimes shrinking gently into a point in my heart
Like a quiet feeling,
A shimmering white dot,
A sensation that throbs through my vein;

The sky, a formless revelation,
To
Be sensed; fully consumed
In intoxication.
Unknowingly it is birthing me
Or
Subconsciously I am manifesting it from my thoughts;
Or perhaps in existence and shapeless occurrences
We were always One,
Never a-part!

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A request.

1) we think we are separate, when we are not.

2) our lives are in a mess because of that.

3) we are caught in a haze of perceptual falsehood. Its all a blur and we are lost.

4) when the mist clears, we realize its all one. with that seeing comes peace. And the humility to listen to the inner voice and obey.

5) unless we find this peace and listen to this voice, human affairs will continue to be in a mess. And it will only get worse.

6) how do we find this peace? There is no formula. Just be Sincere. Sincerity of the heart. Not the mind. (and remember Sincerity as a strategy or a means to an end is no sincerity at all.)

7) Will Mankind make it? i don’t know. maybe not. but who is to say? Its best we concentrate on that we are in control of. And leave the rest to God.

8 ) Is God an old man sitting up there or a woman with 5 hands? …..

9) Who are you? …..

We invite you to go into yourself and find out who you are. And all else. Life would be grateful for that effort of yours. Its a crying shame, that we are squandering away this wonderful opportunity called the Human form. An opportunity to experience life in many wonderful and unique ways. Please wake up. There is nothing more important you can do.

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The universe is not just queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can ever suppose

– Prabhakar.

Our perception is based on our ecological past that evolved in a world that was relevant to us; hence in realms beyond our every day life (e.g. microscopic, macroscopic, multidimensional, quantum or relativistic worlds) we are left with no tools to sense, synthesize and make meaning

Science helps us here with microscopes, radio telescopes, particle accelerators to enhance the spectrum of our perceptual field of vision. More over Quantum theory, relativity help us understand and give meaning to what we perceive via our extracorporeal supra sensory perceptual systems.

However our ability to generate such theories themselves has evolved in a world that is relevant to us. Hence the thought that drives our theories and perception is in itself limited. It is limited by the world it was evolved to describe. It is limited by the degrees of freedom that is designed to detect. Hence any thing beyond the limits of our perceptual bubble is queerer than we can ever think of (suppose). Hence the universe is queerer than what we can ever suppose

Inspired by Richard Dawkins talk
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/richard_dawkins_on_our_queer_universe.html

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Naveen:

‘coincidentally’ partha, maanu and i were talking a few nights ago on the possible presence of multiple cognitive/perceptual universes and fields of knowing, that we humans have probably no clue about and no way of knowing. it seems like a lot of arrogance then to stand from such a narrow perceptual base, and claim ourselves to be superior to all other forms – ‘living’ and ‘non-living’.

Check out this essay on a similar theme:http://www.primitivism.com/ecology-magic.htm

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The End of Conflict

– Prabhakar.

Interpersonal conflicts are pervasive in the world today. Each person has their own limited world view and acts in pursuit of their self interest. However this conflict that we have must end for the survival of the human race.

Though it may seem trivial at the personal level , due to the phenomenon of emergence friction is what fragmetns the world and causes violence ,war and genocide….and if not checked it woud cause the apocalyse itself . Conflcits makes the mind nastier, judgemental and narrow minded and full of hatred that leaves one isolated and lonely …in a selfdeluded world of egocentic illsusions

The solution therefore is to be open minded and inclusive . Each one should realize their own cogntive baises and the full consequences of their own action. There may be a differences in opinion but ….conflicts should be avoided at all cost……thats the only way

difference in perception and world view are one thing ..where as conflicts are another… Im talking about conflicts, …. differnce of world views however are pervasive and it takes a lot of maturity to be inclusive and not end up in a conflicts….Whatever man has learnt and progressed in terms of civilazation has come from altruistic cooperation and not from conflicts.

Even in mathematical terms , conflict is a zero sum game and always ends up with a loser ; Life however is a non zerosum game and it cannot be played optiamlly using a zero sum stratergy. The balance and optimal stratergy is defined by something called the Nash equilibirium with in a non zero sum depnds on trust and cooperation. So the most optimal stratergy for survival of the human race is altruistic cooperation.

The problem we see in everyday life is that in view of our egocentric view if teh world ..we end up viewing life as a zerosum game. We cooperate when it benefits us and come to conflicts when it does not serve our purpose. So inother words we can choose between cooperation and conflict at any instant depending onthe context. wahtever progress humanity has made is due to this cooperation and altruism. … See More

The problem is that, our very minds have a self centred world view is always keen on pursuing self interest . Sicne the mind wrongly perceives that life is a zero sum game it shifts stratergy from cooperation to conflict. This major cognitve bias is th reason why there is a huge crisis in the today.

In simpler terms. We think we are independant soverign beings , seperate from the world and others .Hence we go about pursuing our own self interest.
However, a simple observation of the reality around you will make you realise that , that u are not a seperate entity but just another interdependant part of the simulto-synchronous dynamic flux of events in space time. Take any example, from, ecology, economics, medicine , food industry, markets, politics, globalisation, terrorism .. climate change..every aspect of knowldge on all realms point to the fact of their interdependance and their nonzerosum nature.

This however does not penetrate the most difficult to handle cognitive bias the we have ; the so called Ego (self). Hence its not suprising to see that things are going wrong all over the world. This is because of the ingnorance of interdependability of things. Hence there is conflict, violence and capitalism. If not checked …it would end up like all zero sum game stratergies with a score of zero.
In otherwords…mutual destruction and end of the human race.

The answer is very simple to state , but needs a miracle to make it happen. Well all it takes is to shift to a nonzerosum stratergy. This basically means trust and altruistic cooperation. however for that to happen the egocentric bias had to be dealt with and society should be changed from a zero sum , greed based capitalism to a trust based econmy that is based on a nonzerosum nash equilibirium.

This soution has to be realised soon as time in the planet is running out. It may be that there is a critical mass of selfless free thinkers that make it happen or its a new mutant human mind that survives a global nuclear hoilocost… Either way , what we need is a self less , inclusive, bias free mind .
It may sound too idealistic to fit into the common cynical word view….well if this dosnt happen ..too bad… nothing will happen to the earth..its just that we wont be here anymore

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The Impossible Hamster

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