Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I was rereading the last blog and decided to double check on the word endemic and how I used it.  This article came up in my search.  This is what I have been following this week which has a different sense of urgency to it. 
India's culture of rape is endemicProtesters shield themselves as Indian police beat them with sticks during a violent demonstration near the India Gate against a gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus last week, in New Delhi, India. (Credit: AP/Kevin Frayer)
This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.
Global PostNEW DELHI, India — As angry protesters marched on India’s symbolic seat of power last week, the nation’s august members of parliament raged against the government’s failure to stop violence against women.
They blasted the Delhi police for incompetence and insensitivity. And they cried out for the death penalty for six men accused of brutally gang-raping a 23-year-old woman aboard a private bus on Dec. 16. The woman succumbed to her injuries on Friday in Singapore, where she was being treated at a hospital, according to media reports.
In the story of India’s battle against sexual assault, the honorable members ignored one important footnote: Every major political party has fielded and continues to field candidates facing criminal charges for rape, harassment and other crimes against women.
“We found that all these parties had given tickets to people of dubious backgrounds, involved in crimes against women,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of the watchdog group National Election Watch. “It’s the highest order of hypocrisy.”
According to mandatory self-declarations filed by candidates with the Election Commission and tabulated by National Election Watch, India’s leading political parties have offered tickets to 27 candidates accused of rape and a whopping 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women ranging from assault to harassment over the past five years. As a result, two members of the current parliament and six members of the various state legislative assemblies are facing rape charges, while 36 others face charges for lesser crimes against women.
Not one of India’s major parties is innocent of the charge, and by some measure the two largest, national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the worst offenders, according to National Election Watch. While most of the rape accused hail from smaller parties, or from the regional Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, both based in Uttar Pradesh, 11 out of 36 legislators facing charges for crimes against women hail from the Congress and BJP. And out of the 260 candidates offered tickets despite facing such charges, the Congress and BJP account for 50.
Even amid the ongoing furor, Congress MP Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of President Pranab Mukherjee, was compelled to make a backhanded offer of resignation on Thursday after he made sexist remarks about women protesting India’s failure to stop sexual assault. “If my party high command demands I will do that,” he told a TV news channel.
And they’re wondering why the people have taken to the streets.
“They don’t treat violence against women as a serious issue,” said Rituparna, an activist affiliated with the Citizens’ Collective Against Sexual Assault. “Any violence against women should be treated seriously, and not with callousness.”
The impact of that callousness goes far beyond discouraging women from bringing charges against their abusers, as it trickles down more readily than any economic growth. Between 2002 and 2010, as many as 45 women were raped by the police while in custody, according to the Asian Center for Human Rights — while Indian law, which requires prior sanction from the government before law enforcement personnel can be prosecuted, protected the officers responsible.
The same week as the Delhi gang rape, a woman in Uttar Pradesh claimed that a police officer who’d promised to help her prosecute her attacker had instead raped her himself.
A series of horrific stories, known in shorthand as “the Mathura case,” “the Rameezabee case” or “the Suman Rani” case, make it all too clear that Indian women are not safe from sexual assault in the country’s police stations themselves. In the Mathura case, for instance, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two policemen in a Maharashtra police station while her unwitting parents waited patiently outside.
Where it comes to other security forces, such as the Indian army or paramilitary troops, the situation may be even worse. Women of Indian-administered Kashmir and Manipur — where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act grants the army untrammeled powers — have long complained that they are targeted for sexual assault. And in at least one notorious incident, at least 53 Kashmiri women were allegedly gang-raped by army personnel conducting interrogations related to the militant separatist struggle.
Protests against the decay of law and order and the callous treatment of victims of harassment and sexual assault continued this week in New Delhi, and across India. And though the protesters are now fewer in number, and have ceded contentious symbols such as India Gate and the house of the president to the police following a hamfisted crackdown over the weekend, the anger has not dissipated.
On Wednesday, for instance, a group of young women who had been part of protests at Jantar Mantar — a spot designated for expressions of civil disobedience — complained to the media that they had been detained and beaten up by the police the day before, according to the Times of India. (Police confirmed they had detained 17 women but denied they had been mistreated).
From a spontaneous outpouring of rage — mostly characterized by calls for castration or the death penalty for the rapists — the protests have increasingly turned against the political establishment. After police turned water cannons, tear gas and canes on protesters over the weekend, a tardy and inarticulate statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was inadvertently sent to the media unedited, ending with him asking his minders, “Theek hai?” (“That OK?”).
The response, via Twitter and other social media, as well as the people shouting in the street, was a resounding “No.”
But the anger is not so much directed at the Congress Party government currently responsible for law and order in the capital, as well as the nation. It’s aimed at the corrupt, incompetent and hypocritical political class as a whole — exactly as it should be.
“People are being given a small space in Jantar Mantar that is barricaded on both sides,” a merchant seaman participating in the protest told the Times of India.
“The protest has clearly been hijacked by political groups such as [the BJP's student wing] Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, [the Congress' student wing] National Students Union of India, [the newly formed] Aam Aadmi Party and [yoga guru turned would-be kingmaker] Baba Ramdev.”
The trouble with that kind of hijacking, however, is it’s almost certain to backfire.

No Surprise

No surprise that somewhere, somehow I would address the recent horrific gang rape in India--at least one of the cases reported and receiving the attention needed to lead towards change.  In some ways the victim has unknowingly become a much needed point for change.  The two reports below are minimized compared to reading the daily paper in India--disappointing so.  What were the decisions leading up to her intestines being removed?  Why does a country the size of India not have adequate facility to care for someone, so she needed to be flown 6 hours to Singapore in a very precarious state?  The cardiac arrest was on the flight that led to the brain edema?  There has been speculation that the "sending the problem away" was political.  Oh my--I hope not.  Where does human decency begin and end?

This issue of respect towards women has been a new area of championing a cause for me.  I have been in the process of examining it while using sticks, stones, and names to assess my now personal experience with it.  For a long time, I was in disbelief that it could really be this bad?  Was I imagining it?  Was I being over reactive coming from a very liberal. multi-cultural lifestyle in California?  Not in the least as demonstrated by this egregious action.

For a week, it has been useful for the fairness factor to step away from my daily walk.  Yes, I walked in other areas and I appeared to go relatively unnoticed other than what gender am I with my unisex dress code.  Jaipur is known for being a conservative city, but rape is endemic everywhere--most goes unreported.

On the trip back to Jaipur, I did some more probing in the airport line and airport bus, the men have no idea how even a look that lasts too long, a look that is not in a way that is respectful of inquiring as a sister or mother is the beginning of the root for disrespect.  When can humans have basic respect?  I was wondering if there was a rulebook available for basic human decency and there are several, but the installment, interpretation, etc. is the challenge.  Pranam to human suffering for motivating the evolution of consciousness.

The strength of this modern day sacrifice sounded remarkable in the reports of her desire to live.  Many would not even have that drive with the memories of the horror. What trips the switch that a group of men become so savage as to repeatedly rape an unconscious woman and then throw her out a moving bus to die?  What inside of a human is so vile and so disconnected that there is selfish pleasure derived from something so brutal, dark, and unfathomable at any level.

Kavita was one being who introduced me to this possibility of an inner light against all odds ( ).  Now I have witnessed the environment for an extended period of time and even marvel more at the resiliency component of humans too.

 Doctor: Young woman gang-raped in India dies -*
 Misogyny in India: We are all guilty -*

Day Nine The Magic Carpet Is Returning To Jaipur

The light shows emerging for New Years
Has a single stone been left unturned?  I don't think any have gone unexamined:  horses, other animals, humans, plants, water areas, ego, culture, spiritual, life style, quality of life, destitute, wealthy.... on and on.

The morning was a walk down a few new streets and two cups of chai from the popular corner tea place. It was a drive-up instead of a drive through with a steady stream of cars getting curbside goodies amongst the foot traffic.


A visit to a nearby Rhada-Krishna Temple was next on the list. No photos allowed from the inside.  There were some of the most ornately clothed statues that I have seen to date.  They also housed several impressive crystal chandeliers and a very elaborate exterior.  No one was there, so I meditated in the expansiveness of it all.  Yesterday afternoon, there was a line of people to get in. The crew was starting to put up the control zones so the eventual crowd will be herded into line.

A photo from the car window--it doesn't even hint at the beauty of the structure.
The streets were quiet on the drive between temples.  Where was everyone on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning?  The Ramakrishna temple was in line to the airport and I was feeling compelled to have a final visit. I was sitting at the end of the bed near the door and a light breeze from the Ganges was sharing the experience.  Reflecting on learning to meditate with a lot going on--just me and the Divine while sitting in stillness even as the stream of people moved through the room and outside the door.

While approaching the complex, I would get that drunken feeling that I often experience while walking to the ashram in Jaipur.  How lovely and what a privilege to take all of this in.  I don't usually get the puja, but I felt guided for some reason.  Wouldn't you know the priest offered two flowers with the spoonful of water.  I had been having thoughts of bringing a couple of flower heads to Ramakrishna, but better yet, I can now take one of these flowers to Gurudev.  From the feet of "old" Ramakrishna to the feet of "living" Ramakrishna.

The magic carpet ended at Gurudev's feet. How perfect to end the perfect journey at the feet of a perfect Master.  How does one ever begin to share the depth of gratitude for the grace.  As I sit in his presence, the tears come uncontrollably (also as I type this...).  Experiencing the journey with Gurudev/Pahari Baba as the inner layer and wrapped in a blanket of their presence while touching in/vibrationally tasting the Divine Resonance of the different touchstones to past living Divine Beings, was again life changing.   Not as life changing as meeting Gurudev and Pahari Baba, but life changing in the education of the field/matrix of Divine Beings.  The humbleness of what a speck I am.  The joy of being a speck in the endlessness.

The trip has produced an affect of being on fire.  It is wonderful to feel a furnace going while in the winter months.  The future is unknown, but there is a peacefulness with that state and an embracing of the unknown as part of the aliveness.  India is teaching me this and in some funny way, I am falling in love with aspects of India.  The unruliness and raw vibrancy complement my growing inner state.  There is a growing excitement from the idea of freeing myself from any responsibilities and a sense of renewed vitality.  I have always been highly charged, but this is with a lightness and refinement that is coupled to the inner stillness.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Walk Along The River, Calcutta

The driver made a great suggestion to go for a walk by the river's edge.  Really enjoying all of the different micro-environments that one can find in and around the city.  I love the water, so it proved to be a peaceful way to bring the day to a close.  There was only a quick stop at the Ramakrishna Temple and a lovely private dinner on the list to be completed.

The last veil removal has allowed for a lot of energy and light to come into the structure.

One point of confusion is still the aggressive nature (pushing, crowding, etc.) of everyone in line at the spiritual sites.  "We are all selfish" is the teaching that comes to mind.

(Short video clip below)

(Short video below)

They look like floating sandals

Zoo, Calcutta

Gurudev had suggested that I visit the zoo, since I like animals so much--giggle.  Zoos are like hell for animals, so what a lovely suggestion to visit hell for animals--giggle. Another perfect test.  How is my sense of equanimity when faced with horrific living conditions, mentally disturbed animals, and an overwhelming number of people?

I think I passed.  I felt a few twinges of despair inside when magnificent tigers, lions, and more were pacing mindlessly in small, constricted spaces with humans yelling, taking pictures, and carrying on at one side of their cage.  The videos are to show that the animals are in the "safe" zone with the humans in utter chaos in their "living' zone.  At one point, the swell of the humans become so great and frantic, that I could see how something like this leads to someone getting trampled to death.

Better than being chained by two legs, and hit in the head with a stick--hmmm.
White tiger hiding and sleeping on left side
(Short video clip below)

At least he is pacing in a large circle.
(Short video clip below)

The crown piece of the park was the lake

Joy!  The frenzy! The chaos! The insanity!

(Short video below)

They have the right idea.

Racetrack, Calcutta

An extra day appeared in the schedule.  How fun, a free day so to speak.  Armed with a driver, anything is possible.  I had an inner pull to visit the racetrack and check out the horse scene in Calcutta. Traveling around the world looking at horses had prepared me for anything.  What a great exam question.  What is my current relationship to the horse world?

It felt settling to be in their presence.  The special texture of the their environment is always a fix for the people with a passion for horses.  It doesn't matter where one is in the world, the basics for horses are the same.  Ironically (probably not given that I was still on the magic carpet), I met a horse owner who really had passion for the horses.  Nice to see that there is a global community who believes in respect, care, and fairness towards animals.  We talked about what is needed in the horse community in India.  There could be a lot of job possibilities which could be fun to explore.

Test passed.  I saw a lot that could be improved, but I didn't feel the darkness well up inside.  India has really stretched my capacity an incredible amount. It didn't make me feel that I would have any less drive or intention to do the best I could with large challenges, but that I could swim in the pond without feeling like I would drown.  Little steps by little steps would need to be the approach--education and positive support would need to be the other ingredients in a plan of attack.  Who knows, it might be fun to move around the world as a consultant/problem solver.

Calcutta racetrack

All grass surfaces

Shed row

Shed row

Turf repair--women with a small trowel. It saves millions.

Morning Walk for Chai, Calcutta

Time to walk, let the hamster wheel of a brain run free, and observe the world.  Calcutta is amazing for its diversity.  In a gentle sense the diversity allows for relaxation around being an individual.  One point I have really enjoyed this week is not being violated as an individual.  Yes, I am the minority as the white skin, but in all locations, I didn't feel that I needed to put on my official t-shirt.  It will be interesting to be in Jaipur again with a little more expanded sense of India.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Poetry Samples By Tagore

Morning rowing  Calcutta, India

Poem's By Rabindranath Tagore

While God waits for His temple to be built of love,
         men bring stones.

He who does good comes to the temple gate,
         he who loves reaches the shrine.

Man discovers his own wealth
          when God comes to ask gifts of him.

Love is an endless mystery,
           for it has nothing else to explain it.

Love remains a secret even when spoken,
           for only a lover truly knows that he is loved.

The butterfly has leisure to love the lotus,
           not the bee busily storing honey.

True end is not in the reaching of the limit,
           but in a completion which is limitless.

Boathouse Calcutta, India

ISKCON in Mayapur

The structure is already big, but the new one under construction is ginormous (gigantic + enormous.)   Pilgrimage from all over. The website isn't over representing anything.  One gets a sense of the Vatican as the Catholic equivalent.  There were A LOT of people, very commercial, many shops, ATM machines on the grounds, etc.  Another variation of spirituality, (zero to one thousand from the morning to this.)

One of several entrances to the complex.
  1. The Spiritual Capital of the World. Home. Contact Us; Guestbook; SiteMap; Post Archives; Timeline; Links; ... (1486-1532) popularized the movement all over India. - Cached

    1. Welcome to the live webcast from the ISKCON Chandrodaya Krishna temple in Mayapur, India. What you can see. The cameras show a new live image every 20 seconds. - Cached

      Gateway to main temple

      Main Temple

      New temple to be ready in 5 years.
      Old and new for size comparison
      A shop for everything-conche shells

      (Short video below)