Distorted History

It has become a trend nowadays to distort history and place it as an expression of creative liberty. Recently, a national debate, which was less of a debate, more of an uncalled-for unrest took place due to one movie Padmavati or Padmavat.  I am not a movie buff and have not seen the movie, don’t have any plans to do so in near future as well. So I cannot be judgemental as the Karni Sena guys were before the movie. My article does not pertain to something that I don’t know or I have not read. I have titled my article as distorted history in connection with a Marathi television serial titled Swarajyarakshak Sambhaji.

I was very eager to watch the serial as I am a great fan of Maratha History and have devoutly read the history of Shivaji Maharaj. Unfortunately, we have utterly failed to give the proper credit to this noble the King in the international arena. The politicians played all kind of politics in the name of the King.  For petty politics, they are wasting public funds by building an artificial monument in the sea, whereas the real monuments, the real forts and 350 odd of them are being cruelly ignored. Restoring those forts (not the kind of ill-conceived and badly executed restoration work that is currently underway in some forts) would act as a live place for inspiration for generations to come. Sadly, it requires a government that would have the vision to think above petty vote politics to do something positive. Till then, we and the poor forts can only wait, if only either of us survives to see that day. 

The history of Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Shivaji Maharaj is even more distorted. Sambhaji Maharaj was as braveheart and noble as his father was. But, historians, one after the other, took it upon themselves to paint the character in dark shades. People believed those stories and concluded that the son was a spoilt child.  Which was not so. Sambhaji Maharaj wrote his first Sanskrit treatise Budh Bhushan at the tender age of 14. He led and won many battles and expeditions. He had the gut and gumption to dare the Siddhis of Janjira by first trying a kind of bridge in the sea and then raise a fort (Padmadurg) bang in front of Janjira. How many concede this? 

The object of writing this article is the television serial titled Swarajyarakshak Sambhaji Maharaj. I am dismayed and appalled at the level of distortion of history shown in the show. A fictitious character of Godavari is created and a story is woven around her to just gain some more viewership or TRP as they call it.  The story in the show goes on to show that Kedarji, the husband of this fictitious character Godavari was punished by pushing (or throwing) from Takmaktok the cliff from where criminals were bundled in a sack and thrown down in the valley those days. I kept wondering and raising serious questions in my mind about my knowledge of Shivaji. I always boasted amongst my friends that I have read history and heard more stories of Shivaji than many others would have.  I knew for sure that during Shivaji’s reign, not a single incident of killing a criminal by hurling him from Takmaktok had taken place. But, the serial showed the entire episode with such a conviction that raised certain questions in my mind as well.

Fortunately for me, relief came fast as well, I was not the only to feel hurt, I read an article in the newspaper by a historian criticizing the serial and the fictitious character of the Godavari and the entire story woven around it.

The mute question is whether we should allow such people to distort history the way they choose? For the sake of their TRP? They neatly conceal their greed in the garbs a well-coined phrase “creative liberty”. Who gave these mortals this liberty to distort historic figures? Can this kind of stupidity be allowed in other liberal democracies? I suppose not?

Television or Film is a serious media, the younger generation has already distanced themselves from the art of reading, they have become net savvy and are glued to electronic media of one form or the other. If a person like me who boasts of having read quite a lot of Shivaji Maharaj can get confused after seeing the show, what are we trying to imbibe int he minds of younger generations?  Will they not live their entire lives believing this distorted version? Is there really no one to monitor these things? Have we lost it all? I guess, we the people should voluntarily stop watching such crap, which will send a stern message to fly by night operators to stop fooling others.


The Journey Home – A Literary Masterpiece

I have become a vociferous reader, not the Sarkari files, in my office though!! I have meticulously developed the habit of reading for about two hours daily. Just completed reading another spiritual treat, one must not afford to miss.  The book titled “The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami” written by Spiritual Leader of ISKCON, Radhanath Swami. 

The book is a literary treat, to say the least. Even if you are not a spiritually inclined, I would suggest reading the book for the way it is written. I presume Swamiji has poured his heart while writing the book. Minor details are taken care of while writing. The reader experiences and keeps traveling with the Swami who left the west as Richard at a very tender age. He walked all the way to India. His journey through the Europe, Middle East and to India captivates you. Every day, after reading few pages, a curiosity would emerge what might have happened next. This is the success of the author to keep the reader guessing. And this not being a fantasy but a real life story increases the import of the author’s writing prowess. The entire story is written with utmost truthfulness and honesty. This being a story of a Saint, a Swami, one could have taken liberty and added many unrelated or false stories to glorify himself. But, the book is devoid of all such crap.

I was especially shocked by reading two incidents where Radhanath Swami narrates how God had planned something else for him. The first story was that of a time in his life during his stay in India where his visa was expiring and he was being forced to leave the country. A dog bit him hard, Swamiji had to go to a doctor, the doctor, in turn, helped Swamiji in getting his visa extended on the medical ground. Thereby prolonging his stay in the country by one more year. In our lives too aren’t we making loud noises when something bad happens to us, the first question we put, is why of all the people, only me?  We fail to see the grand design that is taking shape and just crib about some small nuts and bolts. Don’t we? 

Another incident narrated by Swamiji will be etched up in my memory for long.  Swamiji, when he has trodden the spiritual path, came across a photograph of a “dark old man”, as Swamiji himself puts in his book.  After a long search of some decades for a Guru, Swamiji realizes that the dark old man, whose photo Swamiji saw some decades ago at the start of his journey was to be his Guru. Swamiji rightly puts up that God had indicated in his own way, but he failed to pick up. For records, the “dark old man” was Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON movement.

The book is a true treat to read, As I was nearing the end of this book, I was feeling very sad as I would be missing the beauty of this book. But, behold, I have ordered for Swamiji’s another book “The Journey Within”.

PS : I am not a follower of H.H.Radhanath Swami or for that matter any Spiritual Guru, atleast till now.