As the year 2017 comes to a close, managed to complete this classic on the rise and fall of Hitler and Third Reich as the German empire under him was called.
Extensively researched from various sources such as the Nazi Papers from the Nuremberg trails, this book starts from the early life of Adolf Hilter and takes us through his rise to become the German Dictator who plunged the world into the second world war the most deadliest of war mankind had ever seen.
Adolf Hitler was born not in Germany but in Austria which during his birth was not part of the German empire. Germany although unified by Bismark as a single nation but the democratic transformation that happened in Britain and France never took roots in Germany. So it was still a mix of multiple states and different power center. The paramountcy of the British Parliament and of the people was never realized in Germany. In this context Hitler after his birth in near Linz in Austria and his short stint in Vienna as a vagabond is found amidst the political chaos in Munich after the loss of Germany in first world war.
The ramifications of the loss of Germany in first war on the people was huge. Germany was surrendered to allied forces and made to sign the Versailles treaty which severely curtailed the German armed forces and imposed on Germany huge fines. Although the onus of the defeat should be squarely placed on the German monarchy which plunged the nation into war and lead to its defeat. It had flew the nation post the defeat. And the Socialist who had taken power after the abdication of the Monarchy, negotiated the peace and signing of the Versailles treaty. Hence from the beginning the Socialist democratic government was doomed. This was seen as a meek surrender and a ‘Stab in the back myth’ was promoted by the conservative elements against the socialist democratic party. The National Socialist were one such conservative party to which Hitler got initiated once he moved to Munich. Containing contrasting heterogeneous elements this guys wanted to utilize the resentment among German people due to the war and post war inflation and collapse of the German currency. Although this was due to the war waged by the monarchy, the blame was wrongly placed on the Social democrats.
Army was dominant force in the German society which was a major war state in Europe. The army was conservative and had seen in Hitler someone who they can remote control against the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats wanted the army support. Hitler with the help of the army thought he can capture power through a coup which failed (The Beer hall putsch) which failed and he was arrested. Post his release after few years Hitler built the Nazi party base and decided to contest elections. Hitler’s Nazi party though fared well could not win a majority to form government. Eventually through multiple double crossings and chicanery Hitler achieved what he wanted to attain power through Democratic means. But once in power he destroyed the very institutions that had elected him to power.
Just to pause and reflect on his rise to power, it is important to understand how fragile is Democracy and how it can bring to power someone as insidious as Hitler. People like Hitler use the democratic institutions to their advantage in their rise to power, eventually destroying it. Also they tend to be willing to do virtually anything to attain the ends, for them the means to achieve it does not matter at all. They show a sense of remorselessness and find brilliant logic to justify the cruelties they perpetuate. They simplify complex problems by offering solutions which are of no practical value but they strike a cord with gullible masses and stir up hatred as a potent weapon in bringing people together.
We will see the destruction he wrought up on Germany and the world in the next part of this article.
மீண்டும் ஒரு முறை ஹம்பி பயணம் சென்று வந்தேன். கடந்த முறை சென்ற போது பெரிதும் வாசிக்காத காலம். அம்முறை இரண்டே நாட்களில் ஹம்பியின் அணைத்து இடங்களையும் பார்த்து வந்தேன். மிகவும் உடலை கலைக்க வைக்கும் பயணமாகவே அது இருந்தது. பிறகு கடந்த ஆண்டுகளில் வாசித்த நூல்கள் மீண்டும் ஒரு முறை ஹம்பி செல்ல வேண்டும் என்ற எண்ணத்தை ஏற்படுத்தியது.
இந்த ஆண்டின் தொடக்கத்தில் வாங்கிய “Art Of India” நூலில் சாளுக்கிய கோவில் கலை பற்றி வந்த கட்டுரை ஹம்பியுடன் சேர்ந்து பாதாமி, பட்டடக்கல், ஐஹொளே பார்க்கவேண்டும் என்ற எண்ணத்தை உருவாக்கியது. திடீர் என்று ஒரு பயண ஏற்பாடு செய்து, குடும்பத்துடன் dec 18ம் தேதி கிளம்பிவிட்டோம். காரில் செல்வது என்பதால் பயணசீட்டு எதுவும் எடுக்கும் சிக்கல் இல்லை. தங்குவதற்கு மட்டும் இடம் அமைந்த உடன் பயணம் தொடங்கியது. 18 காலை பெங்களூரில் கிளம்பி மதியம் ஹம்பி அடைந்தோம்.இம்முறை fastag வாங்கி பொருத்தி இருந்ததால் டோல் சென்டர்களில் பணம் கட்டும் சிக்கல் இல்லை. சாலை தேர்ந்ததில் மட்டும் ஒரு சின்ன பிழை, சித்ரதுர்கா வழியை எடுத்து விட்டோம். ஒரு கட்டத்திற்கு பிறகு மிகவும் மோசமான சாலைகள், ஆறு மணிநேரம் கடந்து ஹம்பி வந்த அடைந்தோம்.
இம்முறை 4 நாட்கள் ஹம்பியில் தங்குவதாய் திட்டம்.
ஹம்பி இடங்களை காலையிலும், மாலையிலும் பார்ப்பதாய் திட்டம். முக்கியமாக வெயில் நேரங்களில் ஹம்பியின் இடங்களை தவிர்த்து விட்டோம்.அது மிகவும் உதவியாக இருந்தது.
கண் கூசும் வெயிலில் வரலாற்று சிறப்பு மிக்க இடங்களை பார்ப்பதைவிட, காலையிலும் மாலையிலும் பார்ப்பது மேலும் நிறைவு தரும் அனுபவமாக இருந்தது. குறிப்பாக பல நாட்கள் பிரித்து இடங்களை பார்க்கும் பொது தொடர்ந்து பார்க்கும் போது வரும் சலிப்பு வருவதில்லை.
ஒரு நாள் ஹம்பியில் இருந்து கிளம்பி பாதாமி சென்றும் . பாதாமி சிவப்பு கல் மலைகளை குடைந்து உருவாக்க பட்ட குகை கோவில்கள் 6ம் நூற்றாண்டு சேர்ந்தவை.
நான்கு குகைகள் கொண்ட இக்கோவில்கள் ஒரு பெரும் கலை பொக்கிஷம். பல மணி நேரம் பிரமிப்புடன் ஆளுயர சிற்பங்களை பார்த்து கொண்டு வந்தோம். முக்கியமாக ஆதிசேஷன் மேல் அமர்ந்த விஷ்ணு, வாமனன் திருவிக்ரமனாக உலகளந்த சிலை போன்றவை உலக சாதனை தான். ஒரு குகை சமண தீர்தங்கர்களுக்கானது , பெரும்பாலான இந்திய அரசர்கள் அனைத்து மதங்களையும் பேணியதற்கான மற்றும் ஒரு சான்று இந்த கோவில்கள்.
பாதாமியை முழுதும் பார்க்க மேலும் நாட்கள் தேவைப்படும் அது இப்பயணத்தில் சாத்தியமில்லை என்பதால் அங்கு இருந்து கிளம்பி பட்டடக்கல் சென்றோம். சாளுக்கிய அரசர்கள் நகரா மற்றும் திராவிட பாணியில் பல கோவில்களை கட்டிய இடம் பட்டடக்கல் மற்றும் ஐஹொளே.
சாளுக்கிய அரசர்கள் பல்லவர்களின் சம காலத்தவர்கள் . தொடர்ந்து பல போர்கள் இருவர்க்கும் இடையில் நடந்தது என்றாலும் , இரு அரசுகளும் கோவில் கட்டுமான பாணியில் பெரும் பாய்ச்சலை நிகழுத்தியவர்கள். குறிப்பாக பட்டடக்கல் ஒரே வளாகத்தில் நகரா மற்றும் திராவிட பாணி கோவில்கள் உள்ளன. வேறு வேறு மாதிரிகள் கொண்டு கட்டப்பட்ட இக்கோவில்கள் கொண்ட இந்த வளாகம் கோவில் கட்டுமான பணிக்கான ஒரு ஆராய்ச்சிக்கூடம். முக்கியமாக இந்த வளாகத்தில் உள்ள விருபாக்ஷ கோவில் அந்த காலத்தில் தென் இந்தியாவின் மிகப்பெரிய கோவில்களில் ஒன்றாக இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும் . இக்கோவில் காஞ்சி கைலாசநாதர் கோவில் கண்ட பின் சாளுக்கியர்கள் அதனால் உந்தப்பட்டு கட்டிஇருக்கலாம் என்பது அறிஞர் கூற்று.
கோவிலின் சுற்று புறம் முழுதும் அழகிய சிற்பங்கள், பெரும்பாலும் ஆன்- பெண் கொள்ளும் அழகிய உறவில் வெளிப்படும் சிவ – சக்தி லீலையின் சிலைகள். அர்த்த மண்டபத்தின் தூண்களில் சிறிய சிலைவடிவில் பல்வேறு ராமாயண , மஹாபாரத கதைகள் செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன இது இக்கோவிலின் தனி சிறப்பு.
ஐஹொளே முழுதும் நூற்று கணக்கான கோவில் வளாகங்கள் உள்ளன . வேறு வேறு வடிவில் கட்டப்பட்டுள்ள கோவில்கள், இன்று இவை பல் வேறு வடிவில் சிதலைமடைந்து கைவிடப்பட்ட நிலையில் உள்ளன . மையமான வளாகம் துர்க்கா தேவி கோவில் , மற்றும் லட் கான் (Lad Khan Temple) கோவில் வளாகம் . தொல்பொருள் துறையால் பராமரிக்க படுகிறது இந்த வளாகம்.
ஹம்பியில் இருந்து கிளம்பும் முன்திய நாள் மாலை அந்தி நேரத்தில் விட்டல கோவில் சென்றத்து இப்பயணத்தின் மகத்தான அனுபவங்களில் ஒன்று. அந்தியின் பொன்னொளியில் விட்டல கோவில்களின் அழகிய சங்கீத மண்டபத்தின் தூண்களை பார்த்தது ஒரு வாழ் நாள் அனுபவம்.
Just completed reading the novel, I just wanted to write the immediate thoughts that rise in my head after finishing it. The greatest strength of the novel is the razor sharp language of the writer, hard to believe it is his first novel in Tamil. Such clarity and seamlessness in writing. The portions in the novel where he captures the darker emotional turmoil are brilliant. Especially the multilayered emotions underpinning any act. There is an underlying darkness in the novel, especially the way the emotions are deconstructed to really show the starker realities. But it is no way shocking, as you read it you only feel the truthness of it. That is a real hallmark of any literary work to bring it to our own notice the things we always knew.
The strength of the novel is in the ease with which the writer has effortlessly traveled into the many layers of the character’s subconscious.
The novel is a metafiction about the writer’s novel OlirNizhal, like a novel within another novel. This creates this confusion of which is real and which is fictional, in a way life itself is a fiction we create for ourself is the underlying premise of the novel. We are constantly creating a fictional account of ourself, it is only through our stories we say ourself we come to know who we are. Also the stories we don’t even acknowledge also reveal much more about who we really are. This duality and fictional nature of our life come out really well due to the metafiction form of the novel.
Although it has a dalit social life as its platform, it is a novel of the individual, it has very little substance to read it as a social novel.
So.Dharman is an important tamil writer, who has documented the lives of the Dalit community in his previous works such as Koogai. He is a natural successor to the writings of Ki.Rajanarayanan , Poomani who captured the rural lives of tamilnadu. Their stories are rooted in realistic portrayal of rural lives in tamil literature. They are masters in capturing reality in a photographic natural free flowing style. So.Dharman has captured the dalit life, the odds faced by them in rural life even today in his previous works. His previous novel Koogai captures the conflict and oppression faced by Dalits. சூல் his latest work which was awarded the best novel of year 2016 by Vikatan in their yearly awards, is a slight shift from his Dalit forte. It still is the rural life that Dharman explores but its in its entirety not just the Dalit but the whole of the rural life.
Sool has an interesting form as a novel, for eighty percentage of the novel the rural life exists in a timeless expanse. Timeless in the sense there is no clear indication of the time of the novel, still one can guess the time through incidents coming from outside. It gives us a feel that the rural life, its customs and traditions exist in a manner which is timeless, that has not changed from a long time. There is a certain rhythmic circularity and order about the rural life like that of the rains which bestow it with all the wealth. Rain is crucial to the rural life, every prosperity of the village stems from it. Hence we are introduced to the rural life with the NeerPachi ( Neer in tamil is water, pachi is the one who regulates the flow of water to the farms) who manages the Kanmaai(the tank in which water is stored), and regulates the flow of water to the village farms owned by the families. The management of Kanmaai is central to the rural life as it ensures the availability of water for farming. Every year before the rains arrive the excess silt deposited is cleared of from the kanmaai so that the capacity is not diminished. This silt as it is mineral rich is equally distributed to the farm families to be used in their land. The Neerpachi also monitors the Kanmaai for places of weakness and ensures that the trees and bushes around the Kanmaai are not destroyed because they act as natural fences to the Kanmaai. This integral management of the resources is well documented in the novel. The rural life captured by So.Dharaman is highly interdependent not just among the people living also the birds and animals which depend on the farm for survival. The agriculture as the first form of economic activity also creates ancillary work for carpenters, ironsmith, potters whom depend on the farm family for their life. The village is well contained and managed autonomously, we see very little impact from outside.
The rural life is highly religious and mythical and firmly believes in the idea of karma, especially the repercussions of bad karma. The novel also shows the formation of rural deities, a way in which the village attone’s for collective mistakes or how it remembers the great sacrifices people made for the village.
These deities live and protect the life of people in rural life. The novel is full of amazing stories on heroic sacrifices especially the life of Koppulaai who being chid-less manages to become the loving of the mother of the entire village.
The novel takes dramatic turn after the arrival of the modern democratic government. Indian independence was achieved during the heights of modernity where people genuinely believed that modern science will radically change the world. So post Independence the government initiated steps to reform the agriculture practiced in rural villages and it in excited zeal was not in any mood to study the current practices prevalent in rural india. It completely reverses the holistic water management done by the traditional NeerPachi by appointing a government employee with very little first hand experience.
The rise of atheistic politics and complete disregard for the rural beliefs literally killed any morality. The newly elected rural head chief, who is a native of the same village completely disregards any tradition inspired by the
atheism promoted by his leader is corrupt to the core. He gets Puramboke land which is land belonging to commons written to his name. And he forces the Neerpachi to divert water to this land against practice that water from Kanmaai is used only for the Nanjai land. On Neerpachi’s refusal appoints a government employee to oversee the Kanmaai. The destruction of the Kanmaai is slow and painful it reads like the destruction of all traditional knowledge and life.
The yearly removal of silt is stopped , which reduces the collective capacity of the Kanmaai. The pleas of the people to clean the Kanmaai was mostly ignored saying that things take time in government dealings. The water level in Kanmaai goes down, the non availability of the silt reduces the organic capacity of the farm land. Government ill introduction of Seemai Karuvelam tree from Australia as fences, grow in such breath take pace it sucks the already depleted water table.
The government also introduced the Silpa kendai a type of fish which continues to destroy native fish even today. The scant regard for the environment and the traditional agricultural practices is a classic case of throwing the baby with the bath tub.
It is understandable that our rural life was plagued with issues like caste system, the practice of untouchability etc but it also had years of traditional knowledge. It is unfortunate that we gave scant regard for our ancestors knowledge in agriculture. It is something which continues to impact us even today.
Important work ,
Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust by Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yayati by V.S Khandekar is the modern retelling of King Yayati’s story from Mahabharatha.
Yayati was the king of Hastinapur who married Devayani the daughter of Sukracharya.
He was the son of Nahusha who was cursed for insulting the sages on his victory over Indra.
Yayati’s life was tormented by his unending desire of women. This novel retells the story as a series of recollections from three main characters in the story, Yayati , Devayani and Sharmishta.
Yayati life is filled with continuous oscillation between desire passion on one side and contemplation, love and understanding. He is introduced to the fascination of love through his childhood relationship with Alka , who is eventually vanished when Yayati’s mother knows her closeness to the king. Yayati sees her dying due to the only fault of being born in a lowly caste and getting closer to Yayati. This creates a lasting impression on Yayati’s young psyche.
Yayati in his young age is introduced to the character of Kacha who is a sage and student of Angiras who is undergoing deep penance and is highly knowledgeable in philosophy and religion. Kacha makes a favorable impression on Yayati as he looks upon Kacha as inspiring friend.
As the feud between the asuras and devas , Kacha is asked to get the sanjeevini from Sukracharya and he joins sukracharya as the disciple and finally learns of the Sanjeevini.
Kacha and Devayani fall in love but Kacha forgoes devayani over duty which completely hurts devayani’s fragile ego.
As it goes Yayati meets Devayani on the fateful day when Sharmishta the daughter of Vrishapavarna insults Devayani and pushes her into the well. Devayani and Yayati fall in love as they seen in each of them the mirror image , beautiful and each of them are passionately in loev with themselves. Devayani hurt by the insinuation of Sharmishta, makes her father ask Vrishapavarna to marry devayani to Yayati and make Sharnishta as her maid.
With this eventful day’s activities lives of these three people Yayati, Devayani and Sharmishta gets entangled in a life of misery. Yayati and Devayani’s conjugal lives eventually falls out mainly due to the extreme egoism of Devayani. Yayati could not feel the love that his soul seems to be yearning for and eventually builds incestuous and secret relationship with Sharnishta.
Sharmishta and Yayati find the lasting happiness and conjugal fulfillment that both of them seem to be yearning. And Yayati for once seems to have find what he seems to be yearning for.
Albeit it is short lived as Devayani finds out this relationship, Sharmishta is forced to fled with her son Puru on one eventful night not to see Yayati for 18 miserable years.
Yayati falls to degenerate levels living by wine and women every day for eighteen years.
His complete degeneration is an act of vengeance, retribution and destruction of one soul.
From this lowly depths he is saved from the meeting of Sharmista and Puru and the curse of Sukracharya. Yayati and Devayani realize the value of loving sacrifice and the essence of love by the action of Puru at the ending when he comes forward and accepts Yayati’s curse and is ready to sacrifice the country to Yadu the son of Devayani.
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The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer by Isaac Bashevis Singer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Isac Bashevis Singer Collected Short stories there are such Gems.
There are three broad themes in this collection, three broad stages of Singer’s life himself.
1. Stories on the Jewish Heritage
There are stories which are more like Rabbi folklore as collection of stories which are centered around the theme of Sin, belief and the idea of redemption.
There is just bunch of people talking and telling stories directly typically a Rabbi or Hasidim. These are direct lyrical and include elements of magical elements in them. They are free flowing and capture the Jewish life in Poland.
Stories like the Passion, The Gentleman from Cracow , The last daemon, Moon and Madness etc.
2. Stories set in Poland
There are stories in Poland which are from Singer life as young man in Warsaw his understanding of the Jewish life and his impulses facing modernity.
Stories like the Three Encounters. There is a boyish yearning for the lost life.
There are also tremendous gems like The Spinoza of the Market street and The little shoe makers of Frampool which are amazingly lyrical Jewish life and the modern life.
3. Stories post the holocaust.
These stories are just show the life torn apart by holocaust but never over sentimental in any way. Especially stories are so subtle it just magnifies the impact. Stories like Bus, Job, Cabalist in the East Broadway etc.
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Gandhi’s Philosophy and the Quest for Harmony by Anthony J. Parel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this book Anthony J Parel builds a fundamental philosophical background on the basis of which various ideas of Gandhi can be best understood. Gandhi has been seen in multiple directions, as an exponent of non-violent civil disobedience (sathyagraha) against the British, one who constantly changed his life style like things he wore to what he ate. He was someone who had multiple identities. This book the author tries to understand this complexity of his life and actions using the ancient Purushartha system . Purushartha an ancient Indian thought which attributes four fundamental inspirations or foundation of life for each human being namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Dharma – Its the duty and ethics of any human being.
Artha – Its the money one has to earn through his work.
Kama – Its the part of life associated with pleasure including sexual, aesthetic and related to arts.
Moksa – The part of life through which one attains his salvation.
Any meaningful life should essentially contain all the above purusharthas. All of them should work in harmony for proper life. The author argument is that Gandhi reinvigorated on the fundamental Purushartha system to make it the philosophy driving his life.
Gandhi did multiple innovations to the fundamental system,
1. Over a period of time in India, Moksha took center stage in the philosophical discourse in India.
This tilted the balance against Artha and Dharma resulting in stagnation. This was the discourse even during Gandhi’s time especially on the part of people who wanted to attain Moksha. Life in politics and economics was considered an impediment in the pursuit of Moksha. Infact when Gandhi sent his initial letter containing questions to Raychand Bhai, he was advised not to meddle with the politics of Natal Indians if he really wanted to attain Moksha. Gandhi never could reconcile with the ascetic tradition of renunciation. He fundamentally wanted to bridge this gap between Dharma and Artha on one side and Moksha on the other. For him politics would be completely corrupted if its bereft of spirituality. In a similar vein pursuit of artha without any concern for other Purusharthas would only result in idle consumerism.
Gandhi brought spirituality to the core of worldly pursuit such as Artha and reconciled the pursuit of Moksha with Artha.
2. The dharma of the older cannon was based on the caste system. Unlike many of the conventional Modernists Gandhi thought that initially that the caste system is required. He was initially suggestive that the original system was right but it could have got corrupted over the period of time. But as he evolved he categorically rejected the caste system and called for his complete abolition. In place of the old cannon Gandhi promulgated the dharma of civic nation. Gandhi was not an anarchist as argued by many, in many ways he accepted the idea of modern state albeit a non violent state. But he accepted the nation should have any army to protect against external aggression, he dejected many of his pacifists friends in this regard. But he felt that any law abiding individual should be ready to resort to sathyagraha against the state if unjust things are imposed on him. He was also categorically different in the sense he stressed the importance of duty with rights.
3. Gandhi’s moksha was fundamentally different than the conventional contemplative mode of moksha. He was a man of action, so his path was that of the Karma Yoga which was the chapter in Gita that moved him most. He was also deeply moved by the idea of Saranagathi or complete surrender to attain moksha. He mixed the Karma yoga of action and bhakthi yoga inspired from his Vaishnava theist root.
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