Tag Archives: Documentary
A couple of days ago, Facebook disabled the account of senior Bahujan journalist and writer Dilip C. Mandal, without any explanation. Below is an English translation of the statement issued by Mr. Mandal through email, followed by the original note in Hindi.
I have no complaints against those who made a fake profile in my name and are writing stuff on it. All that is like juvenile behaviour, albeit of those who have just grown up physically. Those adults in diapers, who are making a mockery of the idea of discussion and debate – it is hard to be upset with such pathetic creatures. Their language reveals their true nature, which according to them is their sanskar, their values. Please forgive them.
Those who nurse any doubts regarding me, I just want to tell them that if you still do not know what I can or cannot write, then that is your problem. I am not in the mood to help you out. But Facebook, whatever happened to you? It is possible that you probably received thousands of complaints saying that my account is fake. Perhaps there was even some campaign. But you have my ID, my phone number. You could have asked once, could have asked for any authorized documentary proof, you could have verified. But you disabled my account without asking anything. Why? Was it under pressure from the government or was it the RSS that complained? Or is this due to some grudge that some casteist staff member in your office might be holding against me? Did anyone’s sentiments get hurt? Please do tell. What is there to be shy in this?
If anyone has a problem with what I wrote, if there is anyone who feels my comments were defamatory, or that they might disturb public peace and harmony; if anything I wrote violates some rule of the IPC, then there are enough legal provisions for anyone to utilise them to sue me.
But those running Facebook, particularly those sitting in their India office, should please explain that without any such complaint, what made them decide to disable my account?
Tell Facebook, why have you closed the account?
There is of course a simple way out, I could just open another account, but why should I resort to such stealthy means? This stealthy behavior – disabling my account in this underhand manner – is something that you have adopted. You should be ashamed. Now your tall claims that you are a platform for democratic and accessible ideas and opinions has been exposed as hypocrisy. Facebook, are you aware that the Indian Constitution ensures us freedom of thought and expression? Dear Facebook, you are driving on the wrong side. I hereby challan you.
~ Dilip Mandal
फेसबुक की रॉंग साइड ड्राइविंग
उनसे कोई शिकायत नहीं है, जो मेरे नाम की नक़ली प्रोफ़ाइल बनाकर उस पर कुछ कुछ लिख रहे हैं। यह सब शरीर से बड़े हो चुके कुछ बच्चों का खेल है। डायपर पहनकर जो विरोध और विमर्श का तमाशा कर रहे हैं, उन बेचारों पर तो नाराज़ हो पाना भी मुश्किल है। उनकी भाषा उनका परिचय है, उनके हिसाब से उनका “संस्कार” है। प्लीज़, उन्हें माफ़ कर दीजिए।
जो लोग मेरे बारे में संदेह में हैं, उनसे सिर्फ यह कहना है कि अगर आपको अब भी नहीं मालूम कि मैं क्या लिख सकता हूँ और क्या नहीं, तो यह आपकी समस्या है। मैं आपकी मदद करने के मूड में नहीं हूँ।
लेकिन फेसबुक, तुम्हें क्या हो गया है? हो सकता है कि तुम्हें हजारों की संख्या में शिकायतें मिली होंगी कि मेरा एकाउंट फ़र्ज़ी है। चला होगा कोई कैंपेन। लेकिन तुम्हारे पास मेरी आईडी है, फ़ोन नंबर है। एक बार पूछ लेते। कोई सरकारी पहचान माँग लेते। वेरिफाई कर लेते। लेकिन तुमने बिना कुछ पूछे, एकाउंट डिसेबल कर दिया। क्यों? सरकार का दबाव था? या RSS की शिकायत थी? या आपके दफ़्तर के किसी जातिवादी स्टाफ़ की निजी खुन्दक है? किसी की भावना आहत हो गई है क्या? चलो बता भी दो। शर्माने की क्या बात है?
अगर मेरे लिखे से किसी को शिकायत है, किसी की मानहानि हुई है, शांति व्ववस्था को ख़तरा है, सौहार्द नष्ट हो रहा है, IPC की किसी धारा का उल्लंघन हुआ है, तो कानूनी व्वस्थाओं के तहत कार्रवाई का रास्ता सबके लिए खुला है। लेकिन फेसबुक चलाने वाले, खासकर उसके इंडिया ऑफ़िस में बैठे लोग, बताएँ कि ऐसी किसी शिकायत के बग़ैर, आपने एक एकाउंट को डिसेबल करने का फैसला क्यों किया?
कोई तो वजह होगी?
बताओ फेसबुक, क्यों बंद किया एकाउंट? वैसे तो रास्ता यह है कि मैं एक और एकाउंट खोल लूँ। लेकिन चोर दरवाज़े से मैं क्यों आऊँ? चोर दरवाज़े से, छिपकर एकाउंट बंद करने का काम तो तुमने किया है फेसबुक। शर्म आनी चाहिए। अब आपका यह क्लेम तो खंडित है कि आप विचारों और आइडिया के लिए एक सर्वसुलभ डेमोक्रेटिक मीडियम हैं।
क्या आपको पता है कि भारतीय संविधान में विचार और अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का विधान है। आप रॉंग साइड में चल रहे हो फेसबुक महोदय। मैंने आपका चालान काट दिया है।
~ दिलीप मंडल
Source – The Preamble
The room goes silent, and when I look up from my recording equipment, an otherworldly figure has entered the room. Its eyes sit deep in their sockets underneath a wrinkled forehead. A strong jaw completes the image of a figure imbued with an iron will. Its clean-shaven head drops in a bow, its thin, stone-like lips open and an old man’s coarse voice emerges from somewhere deep inside: “Konnichi wa.“
The man standing in front of me, holding a staff and wearing a simple robe, is Surai Sasai, a Japanese Buddhist monk on a lifelong quest for justice in India. In a few moments he will address a large audience about his mission in the South Asian nation, where he has spent most of his adult life. I hear the murmur from the audience waiting in the adjacent lecture hall. The meeting, on a fine June day, is hosted by the famous Shingon sect of esoteric Buddhism, at the sect’s headquarters on Mount Koya in Wakayama Prefecture. Sasai sits down, and I feel a pang of insecurity. Can I ask a man like this anything, without the risk of offending him?
“He’s got the kind of face I’d never seen before,” says Mitabi Kobayashi, 43, in an interview some days later. Kobayashi is a filmmaker who has been following Sasai for the past 10 years. “I first saw it in a magazine in 1997,” he continues. “Thinking it must be a photograph from sometime just before the war, maybe a little later, I was stunned when I learned the picture was only 8 years old. When I learned later about his life’s mission, I knew I had to do a documentary on him.”
In a Kobayashi film from 2009, we see Sasai on stage back in India, speaking to hundreds of Indians in orange robes, preparing them for a mass conversion to Buddhism.
“You are about to make some severe vows!” he shouts, holding a microphone. “From now there will be no drinking, no sleeping with women!” The mass of shaved, dark-skinned men in orange seems undeterred and listen calmly.
Sasai’s quest in India has many elements of the classic “Hero’s Journey” monomyth: There is the search for the boon (justice and equality), the battle with the dragon (the caste system), the great sacrifice (giving up a comfortable life in Japan) and the sharing of the treasure with the community. Sasai is building his community among the Dalits, a people who have endured unrelenting discrimination for having been born into India’s “untouchable” caste. He claims to have converted 2 million Dalits, giving them a new chance in life. This has made him famous in Indian Buddhist circles.
“The Shudra [low-caste] people were not treated as human beings, and conversion was their way out,” says Rakesh Sade, an Indian Buddhist and admirer who has come to listen to Sasai. “Religion should be for human beings, not the other way around. If it does not give us the right to live as humans, it is better to leave. Not even our children got decent treatment. They couldn’t sit in the classroom with the other pupils, but had to stay outside.”
The ill treatment of children is but one of endless examples of routine discrimination against the Dalits. To them, Sasai is a hero.
Born in 1935 in the village of Sugao in present-day Niimi, Okayama Prefecture, Sasai had difficulty settling into an ordinary lifestyle.
“Sasai likes to tell a story from the first days after the war,” says Kobayashi. “He was still a child, but he just couldn’t come to terms with what he saw as the ultimate stupidity and waste of the war effort. To make a point, he scribbled ‘Serves you right!’ on the walls of houses in his village, and he was rewarded with a good beating by the villagers.”
After high school, Sasai started to work as a salesman, selling medicine. “He was what we’d call a furiitā (part-timer) in Japan today,” says Kobayashi.
I ask Sasai how he views his life: “It was an existence of struggling in the mud, of inflicting wounds on myself again and again,” he replies in his weathered voice. “Today I can only say I am grateful for how life turned out.”
It is a gracious reply to a polite question. But Sasai was not born a saint, and perhaps that is what gives him his humanity. In fact, he has all the hallmarks of a maverick.
I see this side to him in a film clip from an earlier visit, when he gets hold of a wooden training sword and starts swinging wildly, in all directions, until he falls over, ending up a kimono-clad heap of laughter on the ground. Or, when we join him in prayer outside the lecture hall, and he all of a sudden starts some sort of cheer-leading, slogan-shouting thing, and all the Indians in hats gathered around him raise their fists in the air and shout back in unison — what exactly, I have no idea, but it sounds like a war cry. Or, when one of his disciples gets too excited and Sasai lashes out at him, in front of us all, “You need to learn how to use Buddha’s language properly!” addressing the poor man as omae, a rather rude form of “you” in Japanese.
Sasai has hundreds of thousands of disciples in India, where he started his missionary work in 1967. But that success did not come easily.
“India is not an easy land to live in, in one sense,” he says. “There are simple things you have to put up with, such as the food: chapati, day in and day out — chapati and dal (a stew of lentils or peas, etc.). But that is a small sacrifice. Most of all I have suffered because of my naivete. Men like me get taken advantage of, sometimes even by people they trust. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been fooled.”
Still, there is no bitterness in his voice as he continues: “But who can blame these people? They think completely differently about these things. They even laugh when they themselves are fooled.”
If Sasai has felt betrayed, there is also room in his heart for sympathy.
“This is a people that cannot live without religion,” he says. “Good religion or bad, they must have it! India is the land of religion. And I think one reason may be that they were not isolated in an island nation like us Japanese, but were exposed to all kinds of influences on a dynamic continent. That’s probably why they listen to and respect us monks, and I love that.”
But in spite of this openness, there are also conservative forces at play in India, and the odds against Buddhism breaking the caste system seem formidable. If the original teachings of Buddhism are really more about political reform than religion, as some argue, serious conflict may be brewing.
The Buddha himself is said to have been opposed to the caste system, and there is good evidence that in the third century, Emperor Ashoka followed in his footsteps. Ashoka, regarded as one of the greatest of India’s rulers, united the country under Buddhist edicts.
“Ashoka was anti-Brahmin and anti-Hindu,” according to Richard Gombrich, emeritus professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford, referring to the traditional caste of clerics and teachers. “This is why Indian school books never mention his opposition to the caste system and to blood sacrifices. They are, quite correctly, considered to be antithetical to Hinduism. So the Brahmins, very cleverly, totally forgot him and totally buried him.”
Will they also bury Sasai? In fact, they have already tried. In India, it appears his political clout is a double-edged sword.
“In Nagpur, everyone knows Sasai for his religious leadership. But he is also known in the rest of India for his influence on powerful politicians,” says Kobayashi. “Hindu opposition is a constant. There has been harassment of aspiring Buddhist converts, and even assassination attempts on Sasai himself.”
Although the Dalits have historically suffered terrible discrimination, some have managed to escaped their predicament. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was one of them. An influential social reformer, he became independent India’s first justice minister, helped draft its first constitution and sought to eradicate the injustices of the caste system. Shortly before his death in 1956 he converted to Buddhism and initiated a mass conversion of Dalits to unshackle them from what he saw as Hindu discrimination. This re-energized Buddhism in India after centuries on the brink of extinction.
The year after Ambedkar’s mass conversion, Sasai, struggling to find direction, met a Buddhist priest in Yamanashi Prefecture and decided to enter the monkhood. Eventually he was sent to study in Thailand, where further challenges presented themselves — in the form of two women he became infatuated with. Ashamed of his failure, Sasai decided he could not return home, and instead traveled to India in 1967 to seek the right path.
The trip did not go well, and a year later Sasai was ready to give up on India. But then, one night, a man appeared to him in a dream, introducing himself to Sasai as Nagarjuna, an ancient Buddhist philosopher. The man gave him directions to find the Steel Stupa, a sacred site in Buddhism, which seemed to point to the vicinity of the central Indian city of Nagpur.
On arrival in Nagpur, Sasai met a man who had organized Ambedkar’s mass conversion ceremony in the city in 1956. Shown a photo of Ambedkar, Sasai became convinced that it was the Dalit intellectual who appeared in the dream in disguise. But somehow, the image of Nagarjuna would not leave him.
If you walk through the immense burial grounds on Mount Koya past centuries-old crumbling graves slumbering in the shade of huge, ancient cedar trees, you will end up at a memorial hall called Oku-no-in, one of Japan’s most intensely spiritual places. There, entombed in the basement, is the mummified body of Kukai, the founder of the Shingon sect. Followers believe he has been in a state of unconscious deep hibernation since 835, waiting for the arrival of the next Buddha.
Kukai journeyed to China to bring home a scripture that is at the very core of esoteric Shingon Buddhism — the Mahavairocana Sutra. The sutra had traveled all the way from India, where, according to Shingon teachings, it was received by Nagarjuna several centuries earlier in the Steel Stupa. Kukai, it turns out, was the last in a lineage of eight masters of the sutra across the world.
And now, Sasai is here at Mount Koya to talk about the sutra’s place of origin — the Steel Stupa — which he claims he has found at the Mansell ruins, 14 km outside Nagpur. However, Sasai’s claims have had a mixed reception among Japanese scholars so far.
“They don’t seem to be too interested,” says Kobayashi. “Some came to investigate, but the research results often conflict with their own, so Sasai is stepping on their turf.”
In spite of his success as a religious leader in India, there has been surprisingly little interest in Japan in Sasai’s approach to Buddhism. But why is this?
One scene in Kobayashi’s film about Sasai’s 2009 visit to Japan is quite revealing. In the documentary, there is a Buddhist meeting, and the monks are gathered to dine, filling the room with cigarette smoke, drinking generously from beer bottles. Apparently unable to accept this behavior, Sasai is eating alone in an adjacent room.
Attitudes toward wealth are another source of contention.
“I feel Buddhism in Japan is basically dead,” says Sono Kumar, an Indian Buddhist who took part in the June event at Mount Koya. “As a monk, you should not marry, have sexual relations or crave for money. Here they wear a robe to the temple and jeans at home. I feel they use their religion for business. I ask people about this but they never have any good answers.”
What does money mean to Sasai? During his 2009 visit, Kobayashi’s camera gives us a glimpse of a man both happy to see the progress of his homeland and alienated by it.
“In Japan, you need money to live,” he says, looking out at the landscape whizzing by outside through the shinkansen window. “But in India, it’s not all that important. After all, you can basically lay down and sleep wherever you like.”
At this point, I thought I could trace a hint of sadness in his stony face.
The Indians I spoke to stressed that education is central to the task of making people appreciate the deeper values of Buddhism. Sasai agrees.
“It is extremely hard to get people among the older generations to open up to new thinking,” he says. “A grandmother or grandfather may convert on paper, but it will take three generations before you can talk about ‘Buddhists’ in the true meaning of the word. The young are freed from the Hindu view of the world. They haven’t studied the Hindu scriptures. So you must be patient and wait for real change.”
Educated Indians have been coming to Buddhism in significant numbers recently, but many apparently prefer “lighter” forms of it, and use it chiefly as a means of stress relief. Sasai is confident, however, that his grass-roots movement will make a difference:
“India’s history is about to change,” he enthuses. “Buddhism is truly coming back in earnest. It’s nothing less than a revolution! And it’s all thanks to one man — Ambedkar.
“I am just a clown, someone who dragged himself out of the p—- and crap and was lucky enough to find meaning in India. But consider Ambedkar’s contributions to the constitution, to equality, to bringing back into the limelight the worldview of the Buddha. Finally, many of the underprivileged in India can live a decent life.
“And it may take another 100 years or more before it happens, but one day India will wake up and and once again find itself a Buddhist nation.”
Source – Japantimes
Did you know?
49% of children out of school are SC/STs and 25% are Muslims.
It is really shameful that even after the laws such as Right to Education, nothing has changed for Dalits.
Why Governments are not implementing Right to Education properly? Instead of playing the blame game and blaming the previous government for not doing this that, authorities must take urgent steps to not only to enroll poor children in schools, but also ensure that they continue to attend classes so that the country will have a brighter future.
Says Chakravarthy An on facebook page –
School dropouts are mainly because of the inhumane attitude & discrimination of Dalit students by the upper caste teachers. Poor students are unwilling to attend the schools to avoid humiliation as they’re not left with any options
Some students (mostly lower castes) are forced to clean toilets & cooking utensils & aren’t allowed to sit in the front row. It’s happening everywhere, I’ve seen it in the documentary India Untouched, the most comprehensive study on the untouchables in India.
Source – TOI
“There is a no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world; it is yet to be created. How can people divided into thousands of castes be a nation?” — Dr B R Ambedkar
Watch truth about Indian History.
Original Description: IN THE NAME OF GOD focuses on the campaign waged by the militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to destroy a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya said to have been built by Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of India. The VHP claim the mosque was built at the birthsite of the Hindu god Ram after Babar razed an existing Ram temple. They are determined to build a new temple to Ram on the same site. This controversial issue, which successive governments have refused to resolve, has led to religious riots which have cost thousands their lives, culminating in the mosque’s destruction by the Hindus in December of 1992. The resulting religious violence immediately spread throughout India and Pakistan leaving more than 5,000 dead, and causing thousands of Indian Muslims to flee their homes.
Filmed prior to the mosque’s demolition, IN THE NAME OF GOD examines the motivations which would ultimately lead to the drastic actions of the Hindu militants, as well as the efforts of secular Indians – many of whom are Hindus – to combat the religious intolerance and hatred that has seized India in the name of God.
Filmfare Award, Best Documentary, India, 1992
National Award, Best Investigative Doc. India, 1992
Ecumenical Prize, Nyon, Switzerland, 1993
Documentary Prize, Freibourg, Switzerland, 1993
Citizen’s Prize, Yamagata, Japan, 1993
Watch from the following links –
Jai Bhim Comrade, shot over 14 years, follows the music of protest of Maharashtra’s dalits. India’s Dalit (oppressed) castes were abhorred as “untouchables”. It captures the brutal reality of oppression against dalits and people’s struggle. In 1997, a statue of Dr. Ambedkar in a Dalit Rambai colony in Mumbai was desecrated with a garland of footwear. As residents came onto the street, police fired resulting in the death of 10 residents. Vilas Ghogre a poet and singer, hung himself in protest. Through poems and songs, it covers that moment and goes on to explore events that unfolded in the aftermath. (Synopsis from Wikipedia)
Watch the full documentary from –