Muslims around the globe felt that it was a day of real celebration for them when they heard the news of bin Laden’s death. Laden was not really a Muslim or even a human being. He killed the real message of Islam—peace, brotherhood, harmony, and humanity. By killing several thousands Muslims and non-Muslims during his life, he has done more harm to the noble religion and its teachings than any one else.
One hopes there will now be an end to the war on Islam. Yes, the war on terrorists must continue.
Zen S. Bhatia, via email
A Flashback to 9/11
It was three days after Osama Bin Laden’s death that I read the article (Politics of Hate, May 2011). As I read the article I flashed back to that September morning almost 10 years ago. I was in grade school then. From the grisly images that played out on TV as I ate breakfast I knew it was serious. I will never forget the collapse of the World Trade Centers and the expressions of people’s faces. Over the years I saw more and more troops get shipped off to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the constant violence that was going on over there. In all of those years, I learned one thing—Osama Bin Laden was a mass murderer. When I heard he was finally killed, I was proud of our troops. I just hope there are no repercussions.
Ipsita M., via email
Teachers are Special
Ankita Rao’s article (Losing Myself, May 2011) made me recall that over 10 years ago, India Currents published the news of the arrival of 34 teachers on August 19th at Cleveland airport. Because of the shortage of teachers in the United States, these were hired in India.
Teaching was not considered a money-making profession in India in ancient times. It was considered a service to the community, and a teacher was considered the most respectable person in the society. The old system of education provided equality; Krishna, who later became a king, and Sudama, a beggar, were the students of the same teacher/rishi. Rama, son of King Dashrath, bowed to his guru Vashisht just like the other students.
At the time of graduation, the teacher blesses the students and says, “Whatever you have learnt in the school, it is expected that you will conduct yourself by speaking the truth in life, leading a spiritual life, looking after your parents, and respecting your elders.”
Madan Lal Gupta, Sacramento, CA
The Glory of Balasaraswati
I want to express my appreciation of the great service India Currents has rendered by bringing readers’ attention to Balamma, as Balasraswati was commonly known in close circles, the greatest bharatanatyam exponent in the history of this glorious dance form (Destined to Dance, February 2011).
I had the privilege of being Balamma’s student since I was five and was with her for almost 20 years before I moved to North America. Balammma and her mother Jayammal sang for my arangetram. Jayammal was famous for herpadam singing and I was fortunate to listen to her famous padam classes. Balamma taught me the beauty and richness of singing while dancing, which has stayed with me as an integral part of all my performances. I am able to keep alive Balamma’s memory as an abhinaya legend by emphasizing to my classes the power of abhinaya enriched by singing by the dancer herself.
I have been visiting San Jose, CA once a year, for the past 14 years, to be with my sons who live and work here. When I come, I catch up on the past issues of India Currents which my sons keep for me. I hope the purity and the unique elegance of Balasaraswati’s grand style will inspire and influence the multitude of dance schools which I see in your magazine.
Priyamvada Sankar, Montreal, Canada
Writing Must Touch Emotions
Sarita Sarvate writes well. But the essence is missing. She writes with clarity. But the passion is missing. She writes on varied subjects. But the depth is missing. Joining a writing group won’t do her any good (The Berkeley Circle, May 2010). Readers can tell when writing comes from the heart. Such writing touches the readers, makes them cry, makes them laugh. It leaves an impression, a memory, a thought that lingers. Only a few of her pieces have stayed with me as I write this. Ironically, those are narratives of her life in India where, I feel, her true emotions lie. Unless Sarvate pours her emotions out into her writing, her work is going to remain anything but “The Last Word.”
The trouble with many diasporic Indian writers is that they want to write too perfectly. My suggestion to Sarvate: Heed your critic who said, “If I were you, I would be writing about a woman who doesn’t give a damn, who doesn’t succumb to society, who battles on …”
Anu (Niels) Sharma, Albany, CA
Another Online Music School
I read with interest the article written by Priya Das about Shankar Mahadevan’s online music school (Virtual Gurukul, May 2011).
I thought I would share with you information about another such school (www.ShadjaMadhyam.com) being run out of Pune, India for the last couple of years. We have some eminent gurus on our panel.
ShadjaMadhyam uses a “virtual classroom” with features customized for online lessons in Indian classical music. It is designed as a complete portal for Indian classical music and has a section containing resources for the serious student.
N. Kulkarni, founder, ShadjaMadhyam
No Such Krishna Quote
I’m appalled by the following comment (To Be (Good) Or Not To Be (Good), May 2011) by Girija Shankar.
“… Krishna’s instruction to the Pandavas “Casting aside virtue, ye sons of Pandu, adopt now some contrivance for gaining the victory” captures the essence of his conviction which, in the words of the great football coach Vince Lombardi, is, “winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.”
Where does the above quote exist in the Mahabharata?
Using a non-existent quote reveals a shallow understanding of the great epic. Further, comparison to a macho sports analogy and quote is even more despicable.
Chandra M. S. via email
Girija Sankar responds: The quote appears in The Difficulty of Being Good on page 185 in the chapter titled Krishna’s Guile. The quote was in turn pulled from the following reference: The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, trans. K.M. Ganguli and Pratap Chandra Roy, 2nd ed, vol 6, Calcutta: Oriental Publishing Co., 1962, 447.
The K.M. Ganguli translation is thus far the only full-scale translation of the Mahabharata.