Off Love and Respect

Love…
Love is like the tides of the seas
It ebbs and surges in the throes of endless cycles of time

Respect however…
Respect is like the old woods and forests of yore
It grows with every drop of rain like promise forever kept yet untold

Love…
Love is like the many faces of the moon
It waxes and wanes with milestones of life passing by too soon

Respect however…
Respect is like the ancient mountains of our lore
Once risen from bowels of darkness, its pinnacle shines until time turns to stone

Strive for respect,
For love will always come and go
However, respect will always stay close,
As long as you stay true to your efforts and let the relationship unfold

©Nirav Shah

Photo credits: Patrick Tomasso

The Twilight called life

When I was trying to describe this photo, and what it meant to me, myriad thoughts came tumbling forward. On one hand were the obvious thoughts, on how I had enjoyed playing around with the shadows and the ambient light while keeping in focus the massive temple edifice illuminated with artificial light.

However, at a more subconscious level, I have become aware that this visual represents something, that I strongly believe in. Jeff Daniels’s character Will McAvoy summarizes my belief quite nicely. In S2E09 of ‘The Newsroom’, he is accused of not being a true Republican since he keeps on criticizing different Republican candidates. He says and I quote:


“I call myself a republican because I am one. I believe in market solutions. I believe in common sense realities, and the necessity to defend ourselves against a dangerous world, and that’s about it. Problem is, now I have to be homophobic. I have to count the number of times people go to church. I have to deny facts, and think scientific research is a long con. I have to think poor people are getting a sweet ride. And I have to have such a stunning inferiority complex that I fear education and intellect – in the 21st century. But most of all, the biggest new requirement, really the only requirement, is that I have to hate Democrats.” – end quote.


In today’s world, absolutist philosophies seem to rule the roost as far as our public psyche is concerned. If you support one ideology, you MUST oppose all the tenets of a contrasting ideology. It matters not if the rival ideology has certain valid points that can be appreciated and incorporated. It is Them v/s Us, or vice versa depending on which camp’s ideology you subscribe to.
It is right v/s left. It is Republican v/s the Democrat. It is the Sanatan Dharma v/s the Abhramic religions. It’s BJP v/s the INC etc.
For me the most important question to ask is this –
“What value is added to me by adhering to a particular ideology?”


Let me take religion as an example, since the photo is of a place of worship. People more often than not follow a religion and thereby the emanating religious beliefs, because they were born into it. They were conditioned and influenced by their parents, teachers, neighborhood surroundings etc. These days especially, religion thereby has become a source of the person’s identity. The implicit value add is that you become part of a community, and thus share the benefits of living in a community. However, if you criticize any practice or tenet of the religion, or how it is being appropriated by those who don’t give two hoots about its principles, except maybe polarizing communities, beyond a point below are some of the responses that one receives:

“We are atleast better than them. They indulge in…”
“Why are you questioning only tenets of your faith? What about them?”
“What about the things they did in 19__?”
“You don’t have the maturity to understand the nuances”

If things are worse, you could be put in jail or killed for questioning. In this process, the fundamental question that I mentioned earlier, and the solutions that a religion offers are often, completely lost. The benefits that one derives from belonging to a community be that of a local church, or a mosque in a locality or even a sect in a polytheistic Hinduism are all – according to me – secondary order effects. The primary value add of religion was and is to provide a framework to answer life’s questions and challenges.

I know you could be getting a bit impatient and want to ask — what does all this have to do with the photo I have clicked.
Look at the photo. The temple is a representation of the religious framework of beliefs, practices, laws etc. The artificial spotlight is your search for answers in the framework provided by the religion. The reflected light from the edifice is some of the answers provided by this framework.

HOWEVER, try as hard as you may, the twilight which is a natural phenomenon representing ever evolving life and its challenges, which will never completely go away. Some of the solutions will be illuminated, but newer questions and challenges will be thrown at you – these are the shadows accentuated in the twilight, by the light being thrown all around.

This is what I believe in. No man-made construct (yes, I believe religion is one of them) can answer all your questions since your life is yours own to live and discover. It can at best, share guidance that may or may not be suitable to the situation you are in. Our role I believe is to ask the questions and discover the answers that help solve the questions. It does not matter where the answers come from. Having said that, accepting blindly anything that is thrown at us because its convenient for the moment, without rational analysis and healthy skepticism is a disservice to us as humans. Ideally, tomorrow if a religion tells us:

Worshiping idols is a sin, lets question the dictum, to understand why it says so, without trying to point fingers at those who do so, saying it is a sin. Also, at the same time let us try to understand why those who worship idols, do so? What is their rationale. Highly possible, that both are recommending different routes, to the same goal

There is no rebirth after death, and you face the judgement of god. Let us understand where this ideology is coming from? Alternatively, if someone says that rebirth and death are a cyclical process, also let us understand what this tenet is trying to convey?

Doing karma is the best way forward, and everyone’s karma is different v/s following the instructions and principles of the book are the only way to lead an ideal life – Let us question both the approaches and choose whatever appeals to our sensibilities

The same approach could be followed for all facets of life, where frameworks / ideologies are constantly thrown at us. For that we need to accept one truth, that there is no absolute truth. There are only facets of truth. Institutions and frameworks will reflect some light in form of answers, while at the same time create more shadows in terms of questions. This is because there can be no shadow without light, and wherever there is light there are shadows, for life is full of ambiguity like the twilight. 

Most importantly we need to appreciate that others may choose a different path and ideology, and that is completely fine, since we now know – there is no one right way, but multiple correct ways to the same goal. For me that is the most important belief, above all the rest.

The Moth’s Flight

I hover around these halogens burning bright
While I search for my precious star light
My path is in the dark, even as these neons burn the night,
Damn it’s difficult to follow my inner compass,
Where can i find my northstar?

It’s been a tiring night,
I meet many a brethren knocking on these unnatural lights
Hopefully, someone in them, would shine the path bright

” Would you like me to tell you who I am? & What my dreams may be?”
Said I hopefully to the nearest lamp, Maybe there’s a kindred spirit who understands my kind

“The path you traversed thus far,
Does not interest me,
Your dreams are not mine,
You would do well,
to speak with the next lamp you see
For they may light up the path that you seek”

Lost and confused,
I cried my heart out,
Where are you my starlight
Why won’t you hear me out

Came the words from my inner soul,
Trust your wings, and heart to the core,
It’s only to the steadfast that real stars themselves show,
For when the night is the darkest, and you feel there is no hope,
That is when the stars shine the brightest
And guide those who dare to tread the path in the unknown
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The pathfinder

When your mind is in a haze,
Remember, it’s just another phase,
Focus on the north star of your soul,
And you will always reach home,
Finding your way through the life’s maze…

Couplet © Nirav Shah

One of the perks of my previous job was that it gave me an opportunity to travel quite a bit, and traveling by planes has its own thrill.

During one of my visits to Egypt, it was particularly poor weather and visibility was pathetic. However, it was a unique moment for me to see the evening Sun, no larger than a pea shinning like a beacon right through the haze…had to grab my Nikon to shoot the amazing view then and there.
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#pocket_world #ig_landscape #dream_spots #visual_heaven #landscapephoto #landscape_lover #natgeoadventure #earthexperience #mthrworld #majestic_earth #igworldglobal #indianphotography #ig_divineshots #EarthOfficial #earth_shotz #marvelshots #theworldshotz #discoverglobe #landscapelover #landscapehunter #igbest_shotz #natgeoyourshot #natgeotravelpic #epic_captures #awesomeglobe #splendid_earth #earth_portraits #natureperfection #indiafeatures #places_wow

Anekantwad: A philosophy of non-absolutism in the time of absolutes

Even as you watch politicians shout out each other on TV decrying the opposite party’s version as falsehood and their own narrative as the absolute truth, a question often pops up. What exactly is the absolute truth?

An interesting concept in Jainism called out explicitly is that of ‘Anekantwad’. Before I move forward here is a disclaimer. This post is not a propaganda of any religion. In fact, I have been at loggerheads with the very concept of organised religion as long as I remember. Having said that I tend to pick up general concepts that resonate with me from across walks of life.

So, coming back to Anekantwad. By definition itself, the word means (as per my knowledge) that there is NO specific word or a singular narrative that can either describe a phenomenon in its entirety or even ascribe to it an absolute meaning. Taking this logic, a bit further, it simply means to me that no version of truth is absolute. What may be true for me w.r.t. an incident, may not be true for you. At the same time this does not mean that my truth is a falsehood. It just means that I have a partial view and that there are other facets of the same incident that are equally true which I am not aware of.

The most popular example that I have read describing this logic is below. We have all read that the sun rises in the east, a phenomenon that has always been presented as an axiom. However, let’s stretch our imagination a bit here. Let’s assume that we are the mighty Galactus of the Marvel universe who has the power to destroy entire planets. Now if he is watching the entire milky way from afar, the sun for him neither sets nor rises. Both the perspectives are true, even if they are inherently contradictory on a stand-alone basis. It’s a farfetched example but nonetheless a suitable one.

Let us try a more practical example. On Feb 4, 1990 the Voyager 1 took one of the most iconic photographs of earth from a record distance of 6 billion kilometers. Why this is an iconic photograph is because in Carl Sagan’s words while the earth in the photograph is nothing but ‘a pale blue dot lost in the vast and dark universe’, it is at the same time a lot more to all of us. As he famously said and I quote “We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam”

Now if the same image were being seen by someone who has never lived on earth and never felt the same attachment to it like we do, why the narrative would have stopped at ‘a pale blue dot of little consequence in the vast darkness of the universe’. However, this definitely does not mean that Carl Sagan’s narrative is untrue.

This I believe really explains the fundamental logic of Anekantwad. Obviously, a question can be raised that by the same logic the veracity of Anekantwad can itself be questioned. That is whether it’s true or not. But that’s the beauty of it. After all, like all other philosophies, religions and also god, Anekantwad was also created by a human and his/her fertile imagination combined with a deep-thinking mind. It’s therefore always up to us whether we wish to try this philosophy or not. Ascribing meaning (positive or negative) to the outcomes of trying out a philosophy or a technique for that matter, is after all again up to us.

Concluding this long write up, and coming back to our hallowed politicians, who are always busy in the eternal game of one-upmanship, I believe a thorough lesson in Anekantwad from a learned guru would really help them. However, knowing whatever little I understand of them, it’s a guarantee that even then their supple minds and consciousness will find ways to achieve their own agendas within the framework of Anekantwad.

On a parting note, there is one phenomenon that I believe is universal, absolute and without any disputes. That is death. As far as I understand, it’s the most absolute truth out there, if there is any. However, the ingenious human mind, has even found a way to counter it. After all it’s the body that dies but the soul is immortal, and since the soul is immortal, are you ever truly dead? Anyways that is a discussion for another time.

EK KHWAISH…

Chhedi ek guftgu bande ne Apne parvardigar se,
To pucha Bande se khud Khuda ne
‘bata kya hai teri khwahish?’

‘Banade mujhko itna be garaz, ki pyar Dil khol kar karu
Par Dil de kar Dil Lene ki aas na rakhu
Jab Dil tute to shikwa ke bina duaaon Ko Ada karu
Aur jab sachha saathi mile, to tujhe shukriya kahu’

Sunkar khwahish hua Khuda hairaan

‘Aisi takat to mujhme bhi nahi ki puri karu teri ye aarzu
Yeh hai teri khud hi se khudki ek Jang,
Tolna hoga khudko, banke khud hi ek tarazu.

Jeet hai mushkil, par nahi hai namumkin
Jab utarle yeh taleem apne zehen me to ana milne ek baar,
Azad Mai bhi Azad tu bhi, kyonki tab tu hoga khud apna Parvardigar

poem ©Nirav Shah

Photo : Liane Metzler

Ek sunheri raat…

Ek arse ke baad mile yeh dono in sitaron ke tale,
Kitna kuch kehna hai ek duje se,
Phir bhi hain dono ke hoth sile,
Mann me ek hi sawal ‘Kahan shuru karu, sun ne batane ko hai kaee kisse !’

Par lafzon ka kya kaam yahan,
Jab aankhe khud hai is Dil ki Zubaan,
Bina kuch bole, dono hain nayi yaadein batorte.
Par afsos, Dunya ka hai dastur ki guzarjati har aisi sunheri raat,
Na chahte hue bhi chhodna hoga dono ko ek duje ka saath.

Par mayus nahi hain dono aaj yahan,
Kya pata kis mod pe, kis raah pe,
Fir miljaye yuhin kabhi dono inhi sitaron ke tale…

Image credits – Benjamin Davies

Galiyaren

In galiyaron ne dekhe hain kaee kisse,
Kuch the bichadte doston ke,
Kuch the naye bante rishton ke..
Inhi galiyaron se guzre har ek musafir ke kadam,
Koi hai ek CEO aaj, to koi aur, ek likhti Kalam…

In galiyaron ne badi shiddat se sambhale hain inhi bisri hui yaadon ko,
Har naye bande ko sunati kisi guzre hue lamhon ki Dastaan ko…
Fraz hai mera, karu kuch to anokha,
Yeh galiyaren bhi kahen yeh kissa to humne bhi nahi dekha…
Kyonki, inhi galiyaron ne dekhe hain kaee kisse…

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— @isbco2020 @isbindia #indianschoolofbusiness #lightswillguideyouhome #shadowandlight #nightphotography #nokia61plus #hindipoetsclub #hindipoetry #hindipoems #hindipoetryisnotdead #hindipoem #hindipanktiyaan #isbco2020

Epiphany

Hamare man ke andheron me kuch khwahishen thi,
Hamare man ke andheron me kuch tamannaein thi,
Man hi man sochte rahe gaye, bina sukarm kiye inhe haasil karne ki guzarish thi,
Bhul gaye ki roshni dene ki aas me khud suraj ko jalna padta hai,
Ichhaon ko pura karne ke liye man se nikal kar chunoti se do do haath karna padta hai