Apropos the article by Fabian Lyngdoh (ST November 30, 2017)in which he referred to Tantric ‘religious rites’ as being part of the indigenous faith, Niam Khasi. Tantra is not an intrinsic part of any religion be it Hinduism, Islam ,Buddhism ,Christianity or any other. It is a completely separate entity. It was not meant to be a negative force as it has become today. This esoteric tradition which has its beginning in the 7th century in the sub continent is now largely misused by the wicked and unscrupulous to inflict disaster and misfortune on their adversaries (real or imagined) .It is now known by different names-for eg- jadu tona in India, witchcraft in the West and is practiced by a different set of priests. A God -fearing priest would not even discuss it as it exists today, a travesty of godliness .The special priests conversant in this art, of course, also have good and harmless patients who come for healing and overcoming obstacles in different areas of their lives if they feel the problems are due to unnatural causes. More often than not the cures work miraculously. This is totally a private matter and a personal choice. It has nothing to do with true belief and worship. My mother did not believe in it. She never discussed it-for her it did not exist –yet she was a strong believer in U Blei and adhered strictly to the teachings and beliefs of Niam Khasi.
The essence of Niam Khasi is based on its belief in one God, U Blei, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Imageless and Formless and the three precepts-Tip Briew- Tip Blei, Kamai Ia Ka Hok,Tip Kur- Tip Kha. There are no special places of worship .Every home is a temple and every inch of the earth is prayer worthy. There are no formal prayers except on the three main ceremonies-Naming, Marriage and the last rites and also smaller ceremonies like house warming and so on. Every good thought, word and deed of the day is a prayer and an offering to U Blei unrivalled by any other .Prayers are performed only with rice and water and ‘iad um, rice beer. All that exists in the world around us, big and small, animate and inanimate deserve the utmost respect –unconditional and absolute-for they are all creations of U Blei. That is the Khasi religion.
I take this opportunity to wish all the readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Can hunger pands be digitised?
There is no doubt that digitization of the economy and the use of Internet have improved our lifestyle. But can we really digitize hunger? Is it a mere digital datum that India ranks 100 among 119 countries in the global hunger index 2017? Can we really download it in our realization? Can we feel the pain of being forced to go to bed on an empty stomach everyday? No, we simply cannot. We have at the most experienced hunger only occasionally when observing a religious fast or for the sake of dieting. Not only are these occasional experiences but voluntary as well. It is difficult for us to empathize with the pain of a mother who fails to provide food for her hungry child. We can never digitize the pain of helpless parents who are forced to hear the cry of their hungry children everyday.
Now, let us have a trip down memory lane to September 28, this year, at Karimati village of Jharkhand’s Simdega district. We see that the parents of a 11-year-old girl, Santoshi Kumari, could not get their ration cards digitally linked with their Aadhaar cards. As a result, they have been denied ration. With no school midday meal available during Durga puja holidays, she has been starving for eight days. Do not forget that this day is the Mahastami day of Durga Puja. And on this day, Santoshi Kumari has to die. She is crying for rice and begins fainting from hunger. Now, it is 10.30 pm. It is all over. She is no more.
Had she written a diary describing how she had been feeling for those eight days, that diary must have been no less traumatic than that of Anne Frank’s. Like all famous books, the digital version of Anne Frank’s Diary is available. Santoshi Kumari’s Diary would have also been made available online had she written one. If that happened; we could have easily downloaded the book in our computer memory. But even then could it really help us to feel her agony? As a matter of fact, we need, so to speak, an App called empathy through which we will be able to download the pain of hungry people in our hardware.