Thursday, April 13, 2006

Food for Thought

I have heard a saying that big things often start from small, insignificant things. I experienced something like this a few days ago. A harmless lunch to a south Indian place in Pune and that’s when this debate started. Well a south Indian friend of mine and yours truly were having lunch and a small statement made by yours truly resulted in a long thought process being initiated for me atleast. We argued about how South Indians have contributed to Indian culture more than what Maharashtrians have. Assal Marathi me, couldn't take this statement and then started a debate. Now how would you say one state contributed more and the other less. The only means we could come about it was how a firang would react to things we said like music, dance et all.

Now with this definition her points did make sense. Any firang would know about Bharatnatyam and not about Lavani. Any firang would know about Karnatic Music and not Dhol, tutari etc. so I really thought oh my god. My state has not really contributed. I got restless. And my next instinct was to mail all my Marathi friends who would help me in this dilemma. So here are some interesting accounts that I got. Here goes the list of all the contributions Maharashtra done towards indian culture…

For each of these fields, u can find one name thats maharashtrian and at the very top of the field:
music: lata mangeshkar, pandit bhimsen joshi
industry: kirloskar
sports: cricket : sachin tendulkar
history: Chhatrapati Shivaji
cities: Mumbai - (the only truly cosmopolitan city in india according to me)
Dances: Lavani and Koli Dances… If you vist any cultural festival.. agreed hajar ppl would be doing Bharatnatyam et all… but a cultural festival would be incomplete if these dances aren’t incorporated…I actually made a face when I said no one in their right senses would get trained or teach lavani… It has been treated as a non-serious, folk dance which had been used for a long time to appease the Peshwas... But this doesnt mean that lavani is easier than bharatnatyam...Just have a look at all the folk performances happened through the years… without lavani all are as incomplete as say bharatnatyam would be without the first archana to shiva…In fact Lavani has been given the same status in Indian folk and culture as bharatnatyam is…..
Saints: I doubt if South Indians have produced any of the saints that Maharatshtra has…. Dyaneshwar, tukaram, Eknath maharaj et all….
Music (addition): because of the Peshwa culture we have dhols, tutari, lezim et all instruments being used in abundance… rhythm is required and dhol wasn’t used is an impossibility…. Kirtans, Abhangs: there is no equivalent of these in South India and this has come mainly due to the predominance of saints in our history…
Scriptures: Dyaneshwari… a critical discourse on bhagavath Gita by Sant Dyaneshwar made it possible for hajar ppl to know these teachings w/o knowing Sanskrit… The Bible was originally in the Latin Language and John Wiklif rendered its English translation which is in use today and this was about 75 years after Dyaneshwari was composed and the place from where this idea stemmed from….
Of course adding to this list is the cosmopolitan attitude… the tolerance to have hajar states se ppl comin over and yet befriend them…..
And BOLLYWOOD of course….. without this our page 3 would be empty so would our teatime chats.....
In addition to this the south has also had a different history than ours. We have fought long wars first with the Aryans, Afghans, Mughals, then with the British. The only real time the south was under dominance was when the British ruled. Several years of war force people to get influenced by the culture of their rulers. There has been a period of time when our culture stagnated in terms of development if not stopped completely. Even now you see the English dominance more in Bombay than any other city down south. The south was able to nurture and develop its culture.

Now why would the south Indian keep quiet when I gave so many points. So here is her account in the clash of Titans:
music-AR rahman-the only guy who made any kind of impact on the international music scene.. ms subalakshmi.. no matter wht u say.. she is the goddess of indian music...pandit ravi shankar.. and his daugthers anushka and norah jones (see we go international even there)
industry- Your employers.... They being Infosys Technologies Ltd.... Any IT company for that matter- the chairman of ISRO is a southie.. Kalam.. our Pres is a south Indian.. P chidabaram the man who championed Indian reforms.. is from tamil nadu.. not to mention nobel laureaute CV Raman...
sports.. let me introduce u to Vishwanathan anand.. grand master if u may.. Sania Mirza the tennis sensation is from Hyderabad- and mahesh bhupati.. For cricket.. obviously... Rahul dravid,kumble,vishwanath.. dhanraj pillai(hockey)
history-tipu sultan(from mysore)
cities- as for India's IT hub-thts still bangalore...and the only other cities in the running are Chennai and hyderabad....
Saints- Sankracharya.. and im not talkin abt the last one .. he is the 101st saint i believe..
swami vivekanand's Mutt is in Kanyakumari....
music addition- the veena, tanpura, violin
Bollywood happens to be in Mumbai.. there are enuf south indians in the industry-aishwarya rai, shilpa shetty,sridevi and loads more.. and most of them wud give their right eye to work with mani ratnam.. no points for guessing where he hails from....

This of course called for a fresh round of Marathi contributed more points.... But I noticed that unknowingly when I said South Indian; I (or we tend to) clubbed together Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But when I said Maharashtra I didn’t count any other states.... not even Goa. The comparison didn’t have a basis in that sense....

But then it came to me like a bolt of lightening....

Why would a Firang’s understanding of India determine how good an Indian state is in terms of contributing to the culture? Are we just asking them to evaluate their culture since they can do so objectively? But can you quantify something as culture? Can you separate this ONE Indian culture? Is Lavani really a lowly form of dancing and Bharatnatyam is not? For the first time I saw we outsourcing something abroad. We outsourced the process of appraising our culture to them. Aint that unfair?
My country is rich in culture and I am the one to judge this. And NOT anyone else.... My friend Aniket said when I asked his help to tell me how marathi ppl have contributed more to Indian culture than south Indians. And his reply was, why distinguish marathi culture? We in maharashtra have Indian culture. Of course in the heat of the moment I ignored his statement but now I realize how true it is.....
Kehate hai na, “Der aaye Durust aaye”

When in Swades SRK said that we have culture but we are still underdeveloped I agreed to the statement wholeheartedly.... But at this point I don’t know how many who agreed to the above statement are actually aware of this culture? The fact that I couldn't get sizeable number of points for my matrubhoomi was and still is an unsettling thought.

Here we are; infatuated to getting modernized but during that process I have forgotten myself. I can read English fluently. Know a dozen of ostentatious words and am comfortable with any dialect. But I don’t know how fluently I can read Marathi now. I don't know many simple words in Marathi. Something as commonplace as language is an important part of culture, isnt it? I proudly write my Mother tongue as Marathi but really speaking I don't know if I have spoken one small paragraph of 3 lines in only marathi since I left my school....

So for this I am glad I had this debate coz it made me think. It made me realize that I need to make a conscious effort to know myself, my roots and my language. And I am glad that I involved these many people in this debate coz I am sure somewhere I made them think... I made them realize how proud they should be to be Marathi....

After all how will they realize how proud they should be to be INDIANS if they do not feel the pride of being a Maharashtrian....
Isn't the latter a subset of being an Indian??

3 comments:

Siddharth said...

comments allowed madam?

Siddharth said...

u forgot RAJNIKANT.. he is maharashtrian and whole tamil nadu worships him. and since when did maharashtrians start claimin possesion of bombay! ? :P

sublimesaleel said...

Pandit Ravi Shankar is bengali, rahul dravid is infact marathi, the first indian movie was made by a marathi manoos, the first movie to win the national award is marathi - shyaamchi aai...the dancing skills of jhelum paranjpe, archana joglekar and madhuri dixit(was envied by birju maharaj)can rival any of that from southindia...in terms of science ...you can site the name of dr jayant narlikar....add to the list rani of jhansi.EKA supercomputer of CRL was designed by Dr.Narendra Karmarkar and the project head was Sunil shelkar...if i remember anymore will send you a comment, though i am not sure of whom we include as maharashtrians - is that maharashtrian by marathi language as the mother tongue, or maharashtrian as in born in maharashtra.... current president is marathi...