Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wisdom Channeled

Yester-evening I had my sort of radio debut. Not that I am looking at or even dreaming of a professional career in sound business (is radio a part of show business? they show nothing!), it was just a request from a friend and colleague and curiosity on my part. Dr Sk Makbul Islam was to talk about his research on the comparative study of the Gita and the Koran (I have a translation which spells the text as Qu'ran), he needed someone to interview him, and for some reason he thought I would be good as that someone. I accepted without batting or bowling an eyelid. I have been to an FM studio before, Radio Mirchi, where a friend of mine worked. But to actually sit in the biggish air-conditioned, sound+echo-proofed studio with those big head-phones on your head, and speaking to a live audience, that was something. New experiences are always welcome.

This studio was different. Gyan Vani (Words of Wisdom) is an academic network. Its office is homely, in a residential locality and the people are nothing like the fast-talking jockeys that I had met in the other place. There was a gentle and calm young man, and a quiet and efficient young lady who were dealing with the technical stuff and making the occasional announcements. Patiently the gentle-man explained everything to us, both of us being new to the radio business.

Well, apart from a slight blooper from me at the beginning, everything went rather well. It was a live phone-in programme. Apparently this station is quite a favourite with many. The programme was of a nature that drew much enthusiasm and interest. After about 10 minutes into the programme (it was a 50 minute slot without break) phone calls rained in. Yesterday many parts of the city were under water, and we were flooded with phone calls. Some callers expressed gratitude, some had queries, and others wanted to share their take on the matter. Some people were precise. Some were regular chatterboxes. But overall it was an enjoyable experience. And the main speaker of the night, Dr Islam, was very capable.

His topic, the comparative study of Gita and Koran, is in itself fascinating. One of the reasons of it being fascinating for me is that I know nothing about either – but then how many do? It is all the more fascinating because these two religions are at each other all the time, and not with friendly garlands. The more we talk about harmony, the more we grow accustomed to the discord. Some surprising reactions came from the younger audience. One young man asked how religion can be made more popular, another expressed anguish that the present young generation is moving away from religion. A lady who studies Micro-Biology in our College wanted to expound how religion is undermined by science and why it should not be so. I am not a religious-minded person. For me the word ‘religion’ represents a structured institution which always has vested interests. I am not that sure about faith either. I am kind of a part-time faithful, believing only when there is a crisis, even then not very sure what I am believing in. But the idea of a supreme spirit attracts me. It is as much Wordsworth as Vivekananda I guess. This fascination with religious texts presents to me anthropological interests, nothing more. But if one wants to believe, no one has the right to disturb.

What was great about Dr Islam’s presentation (he is also called Ananda, Ananda-da to me because he is older; also, despite being a Muslim he is a disciple of the Hindu Sage Anukul Thakur) was that he pointed out that both the texts talk about lifestyles, none of them contain anything about intolerance. The moot point was that it is necessary to understand / realize, and not to blindly follow. I guess the major problem now is not religion, nor religious texts. But how they are misrepresented and misconceived. How they are politically manipulated. Dr Islam said that both texts speak to mankind; the Gita never says that its shlokas are for Hindus, the Koran never says that its wisdom is for Muslims only. Both speak to all humanity.

If only humanity spoke to each other!

1 comment:

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I like (and share) your crisis-only attitude to God. I like your discretion and diplomacy, and, of course, your dialogue-delivery (on radio/stage/khelar maath). can't think of any more D's at the moment, so that is all today.

BTW, the word-verification also says DSXTM!

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