Saturday, May 31, 2014
sitting beneath a tree
a beggar mother you
see pondering to be
or not to be on the
other hand in silence
a little baby tiny legs
born in captivity wonders
bemusedly this world
of pain torture suffering
hate sectarian strife
that they call humanity
did i make a mistake
the womb was far better
its darkness comforting
motherly .. i was being
nurtured fed ..not anymore
says she ..withered milk less
teats sucking the life out of me
I have bought this post from the past forward to my timeline ..it was shot 4 years back
She and her mother come to my workspace every Thursday, I give them money and take a few pictures , the little one like being photographed..through my picture she gets to see the world free .Whats her future , well future is shy state of ones mind , it has hidden beneath the next toadstool..
She likes me and stands outside the doors of my shop , she knows I am the only guy who takes her picture and through my picture I give her respect, respect for being so small and taking up a selfless job of begging assisting her mother diligently.
And I meet them , or beggars like them , they meet me on the crossroads of the path of my camera.,,they are my subjects I shoot their life on the streets in available light , and I show you what others are too shy to show..that pain is universal, beyond the scathing realm of religiosity.
A normal beggar does not evoke such feelings like the Muslim women beggar and her child..I dont sell my pictures so you cant accuse me of profiteering through pain..
And for once just look deep in to the beggar childs eye ..and hold your vision , you will see my culture , you will see bombs demolished mosques , you will see suicide bombers you will see not one but a million Kasab..and within her eyes you will see sectarian strife, you will see collective eunuch silence you will see the clergy with a mouth gagged ,.. you will see so much and much more provided you see as I do..and you dont need a camera too..
So this is what I saw and I share it with you ..yes a child's eyes are windows of Gods soul too..
Its tough being a Muslim beggar child and carrying the heritage of pain for over 1400 years..
Among the Muslim beggars I shot , this was one lady who did not take kindly to me , she did not want me to photograph her , but I did and I paid her too .
Than I simply stopped shooting her she sits now even today at Bandra Hill Road opposite the Bandra Police Station.
And mostly people give them coins to get rid of them sometimes they are lucky a kindly person will give them money for clothes and food.. there are many kind people and more as there are misers on this street ..the second most famous commercial street after Bandra Linking Road.
I have never talked to her and try to decipher her pain through the silence of my shot.. I shoot you fill the blanks and I hate adding text as I type with one finger , it hurts after some time ..and I have 295000 blogs touched by this one magic finger that bemoans belonging to me lol
I have been shooting this child from the time she was a toddler and visited my workplace with her mother for alms ,,
Both mother and daughter came every Thursday and begged from the shops on Bandra Hill Road .
I have not seen them now since 3 years ..
This lady had 3 daughters .
And it is fortunate I gave her my grandkids old clothes and toys .. and money from time to time .
But she needed education , mother needs a job but than who hires beggars in Mumbai..
Many years back before I shot him here at Mahim Dargah lane I had spotted him in Ajmer Sharif.
And over the years shooting beggars I have come to the conclusion there is one lot of beggars that follow the Urus circuit , they visit the main dargahs or holy shrines to beg and so they are incessantly on the move .
And the chances are getting good returns instead of hanging around in one street corner.
And if you really seriously think than Beggary is a full time profession too..there are slum women I am told who wear the hijab and go and beg in distant areas as the chances of being recognized is nil.
Some carry their kids too and this is the irony of being a minority not only in numbers but in economic backwardness and living far the below the poverty line .
It used to be a very tiring trip for me as I would take a cab from Bandra to Gateway of India pier , from the pier an hour trip by boat or catamaran to Mandwa pier and a bus trip to Alibagh included in the boat fare.
Than at Alibagh Ihad snacks tea at Sumangal Restaurant and a ricksha to Jayant Dhulaps house a few minutes off the main Alibagh beach..
The races start post lunch after the tide goes in and than the bullocks arrive from neighboring areas districts .. the races continue for about 2 hours or so.
Than catching the last boat to Gateway of India .. if you miss the boat than the bus journey is a pain in the butt about 5 hours via Panvel.
Once I slept over at Dhulaps house and took the boat the next morning.
But the exciting part is the day before the races when the Kolis burn Holika in the fishing villages of Alibagh and Murud Janjira.
Earlier I used to go to Alibagh on Holi to shoot the bullock cart races on the beach , and to Murud Janjira to shoot the same on Gudi Padwa. Than came the ban on these races and I stopped going to both the places .
I was told there was one in Murud this year but I did not go , its a long trip , very tiring and if the race is not there you come back empty handed , and will my deteriorating health I avoid such excursions.
But I miss the races the rising adrenalin I am not scared of Death I rush into the path of the racing bulls and take my shots
And every one knows me as the colorful mad photographer from Mumbai.
And it was these races , that taught me timing , I hated panning , and taking risks ..
And for all this I must thank my gurus Shreekanth Malushte who bought me here the first time and than there was no looking back .Late Prof BW Jatkar who helped me a lot shooting this form of action and the seagulls on the boat that bought us fromGateway of India to Alibagh.
And last but not the least my very humble teacher mentor Mr Anil Bhartiya a great photojournalist and fine art photographer too.
But it was Jayant Dhulap at Alibagh his wife Sharda daughter Abha that extended their hospitality to shoot the races at Alibagh .
And Kiran Batham my friend from Murud .
Shooting the bullock cart races on the beach barefeet is an awesome high.. and I have documented this sport form at my Flickr photostream.
lowest of the low
woman for those
is an eyesore
her kind they
give a few coins
shoo her away
far from his doors
to reach out to her
they wont explore
a painful enigma
a sorrowful metaphor
forgive me she is
nothing just a pebble
washed away on the
sea shore ..a boat
oars ..her self respect
her dignity emasculated
egos are not willing to
restore ..when it rains
it pours ...but she
survives i am sure
Friday, May 30, 2014
Maya Angelou (/ˈmaɪ.ə ˈændʒəloʊ/; born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than 50 years. She received dozens of awards and over 30 honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. From 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she held the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Beginning in the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of Black culture. Attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, but her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel.
perhaps not even part
of humanity .. the muslim
beggar a minority within
a caved in minority living
on your leftovers your alms
your charity ..devoid of hope
justice equality .. from the
cosmic prison will never be
free . born bred in captivity
looking at the future in the
face muslim beggar mother
is afraid will her daughter too
have to beg as she begs now
chills her spine such depressing
thoughts her mind invades
people rushing to the mosque
hurriedly throw a few coins
god cannot be made to wait
sanctimonious muslim society
has no time for her welfare
her problems they say are
her destiny self made
between her world their
world a torturous barricade
justice delayed ..a minority
within a minority muslim
beggars work hard underpaid
try as hard as you can
to remove them from you
holier than thou consciousness
they wont fade ..god is great
when you fail them he comes
out of the blues to their aid
for bakra eid you slaughter goats
camels worth lacs of rupees but
for the beggars ,,,a few coins
a message waylaid..
but i as a mother forced to beg
i shout at her and scream ..
i plead to her that as mother
as daughter we have to
supplement the family income
work as a team..in the beginning
of a this arduous task bismillah
ir rahmanir rahim ..her womb ready
to burst forth with another gift to
humanity her husbands only wish
hope of a male inheritor yet to
be born prince of beggars fahim
i have solidified the tears of this
muslim mother like the other
beggar mothers on my flickr
photo stream..live stream
much before she was born
much before circumstances
forced her into a beggar
her hopes died before they
could bloom dogeared
destiny deleted and doomed
on the streets a few coins
thrown mundanely at her feet
fruit of the loom ..the untouchable
lowest of the low of muslim
society kept at arms length
i presume ..dreams once lived
now hastily buried entombed
tears on the soul of her
manufacturing womb ..a male
son some more children to beg
woe on the emasculated ego
of her husband .forced to beg
a void a darkness within the vacuum
yes i shoot muslim beggars
to showcase their agony neglect
apathy inhumanity ..a thought
not of concern to paid media
our sanctimonious holier than
than thou the indian press room
Haal-e-Gham Sunayenge Jab Imam AyengeZakhm-e-Dil Dikhayenge Jab Imam AyengeMehfilein Jamaayenge Jab Imam AyengeBaam-o-Dar Sajayenge Jab Imam AyengeJashn Hum Manaayenge Jab Imam Ayenge1) Zakhm Hain Abhi Taza Makka Aur Madina KeyShaam-o-Kufa Karb-o-Bala Hum Bhula Nahin SakteyAz Saqifa Tayeen Dan Ghair Se Nahin PohncheyJitney Dukh Uthaye Hain Hum Ne Kalma Goyon SeyAik Aik Chukayenge Jab Imam Ayenge2) Shak Hai Jin Ko Allah Key Adal Aur Adalat ParMansab-e-Nubuwwat Par Syeda (S.A.) Ki Ismat ParMurtaza Ki Ahmed Se Muttasil Niyabat ParJin Ko Shak Hai Baara Par Barwein (AJTF) Ki Ghaibat3) Naam Par Sahaba Key Kaam Kafiron JaiseyNaam Par Sahaba Key Kaam Fasiqon JaiseyNaam Par Sahaba Key Kaam Munkiron JaiseyNaam Par Sahaba Key Kaam Mushrikon JaiseySab Hi Moon Churayenge Jab Imam Ayenge4) Dawa-e-Muhabbat Jo Subh-o-Shaam Kartey HainUn Key Dushmanon Se Bhi Rah-o-Rasm Rakhtey HainKhums Bhi Nahin Detey Gheebatein Bhi Kartey HainMominon Se Bhi Dil Mein Bughz-o-Keena Rakhtey HainKis Tarhan Nibhayenge Jab Imam Ayenge5) Jhoot Bolney Ko Hum Mashghala Samajhtey HainBaat Baat Par Beja Maslihat Barastey HainAur Munafiqat Ko Bhi Maslihat Hi Kehtey HainLehb-o-Laab Ka samaan Hum Gharon Mein Rakhtey HainKis Tarhan Chupayenge Jab Imam Ayenge6) Nemat-e-Shariyat Ko Bojh Hi Samajhtey HainLehb-o-Laab hi Ko Hum Zindagi Samajhtey HainSahibaan-e-Zar Ko Bara Aadmi Samajhtey HainTang Dast Momin Ko Bus Yunhi Samajhtey HainKiya Maqaam Payenge Jab Imam Ayenge7) Yeh Humarey Maqr-o-Riyah Shatirana AyyariKiya Humarey Saum-o-Salaat Aur Yeh AzadariKitna Hai Khuloos In Mein Kis Qadar Riyah KaariKiya Imam Ki Khaatir Hum Ne Ki Hai TayyariKaisey Moon Dikhayenge Jab Imam Ayenge8) Al Ajal Jo Kehtey Hain Aa Gayey To Kiya HogaKiya Hai Apni Tayari Paish Hum Karengey KiyaSibt-e-Jaafar Apna To Kul Yehi Hai SarmayaHamd-o-Naat-o-Soz-o-Salaam Aur Manqabat NauhaHum Yehi Sunayenge Jab Imam Ayenge
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Earlier I used the Blackberry curve but never shot pictures on it ,, hated shooting pictures on the mobile .. dont know why maybe I was too hung up on my DSLR's
I come here very often ,there are a lot of tailoring embroidery workshops here.
Lots of butcher shops , chicken shops and this is a typical Muslim ghetto ,it has many tiny bylanes , pigeon hole for houses , gutter running outside the houses, kids shitting bathing women washing clothes you see it all here .
From the lane where I shot my earlier slum pictures I walk straight ahead in the heart of the slums I will exit at Shastri Nagar slums that stretches till the railway tracks of Bandra west.
You walk out towards the Bandra bus depot , the Station Road Sunni Masjid and the Bandra Station.
So back to my picture of the Muslim beggar ,this is a busy lane you enter all the main arteries of the Bandra Compound slums tiny dinghy pathways .
People know me here as an actor photographer , and I showed one of them his picture I had shot a few days back, he looked surprised as he was not aware I had shot him.. he seemed happy he was hoping happy days touch this iconic Bandra slum s too .
From here I walk back towards Bandra SV Road I shot the wood carvers , and than I cross the road to buy bloodworms for Marziya my grand daughters flowerhorns and black ghosts .
I walk a lot and it is so hot that though I had showered before leaving my house I am totally drenched with sweat , and it is horrendously humid..I enter JJ Colony buy coriander and sprouts for Marziyas Java finches and I reached home , showered again.
My mobile is synced to Flickr what I shoot is uploaded here privately than I make the necessary changes add text etc.. I fed the fishes and the birds just now.
in muted echo less
cry..a tear dropped
a mournful sigh
as i live within
frame i shoot
i die ..
i cant shoot
my pain within
of the beggar
“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I'll rise!” ― Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (/ˈmaɪ.ə ˈændʒəloʊ/; born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American author and poet. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of seventeen, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, prostitute, night-club dancer and performer, cast-member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. Since 1982, she taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Since the 1990s she made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.
Life and career
Marguerite Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928, the second child of Bailey Johnson, a doorman and a navy dietitian, and Vivian (Baxter) Johnson, a nurse and card dealer.[note 1] Angelou's older brother, Bailey Jr., nicknamed Marguerite "Maya," derived from "My" or "Mya Sister." When Angelou was three, and her brother four, their parents' "calamitous marriage" ended, and their father sent them to Stamps, Arkansas, alone by train to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson. In "an astonishing exception" to the harsh economics of African-Americans of the time, Angelou's grandmother prospered financially during the Great Depression and World War II because the general store she owned sold needed basic commodities and because "she made wise and honest investments".[note 2]
And Angelou's life has certainly been a full one: from the hardscrabble Depression era South to pimp, prostitute, supper-club chanteuse, performer in Porgy and Bess, coordinator for Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, journalist in Egypt and Ghana in the heady days of decolonization, comrade of Malcolm X, eyewitness to the Watts riots. She knew King and Malcolm, Billie Holiday and Abbey Lincoln.
Reviewer John McWhorter, The New Republic (McWhorter, p. 36)
To know her life story is to simultaneously wonder what on earth you have been doing with your own life and feel glad that you didn't have to go through half the things she has.
The Guardian writer Gary Younge, 2009
Four years later, the children's father "came to Stamps without warning" and returned them to their mother's care in St. Louis. At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother's boyfriend, a man named Freeman. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, probably by Angelou's uncles. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing, as she stated, "I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone ..." According to Marcia Ann Gillespie and her colleagues, who wrote a biography about Angelou, it was during this period of silence when Angelou developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her.
Shortly after Freeman's murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother. Angelou credits a teacher and friend of her family, Mrs. Bertha Flowers, with helping her speak again. Flowers introduced her to authors such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, authors that would affect her life and career, as well as black female artists like Frances Harper, Anne Spencer, and Jessie Fauset. When Angelou was 14, she and her brother moved in with their mother once again; she had since moved to Oakland, California. During World War II, she attended George Washington High School while studying dance and drama on a scholarship at the California Labor School. Before graduating, she worked as the first black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Three weeks after completing school, at the age of 17, she gave birth to her son, Clyde (who later changed his name to Guy Johnson).
Angelou's second autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, recounts her life from age 17 to 19 and "depicts a single mother's slide down the social ladder into poverty and crime." Angelou worked as "the front woman/business manager for prostitutes," restaurant cook, and prostitute. She moved through a series of relationships, occupations, and cities as she attempted to raise her son without job training or advanced education.
Adulthood and early career: 1951–61
Angelou's first album, Miss Calypso, produced in 1957, was made possible due to the popularity of her nightclub act.
In 1951, Angelou married Greek electrician, former sailor, and aspiring musician Tosh Angelos despite the condemnation of interracial relationships at the time and the disapproval of her mother.[note 3] She took modern dance classes during this time, and met dancers and choreographers Alvin Ailey and Ruth Beckford. Angelou and Ailey formed a dance team, calling themselves "Al and Rita", and performed Modern Dance at fraternal black organizations throughout San Francisco, but never became successful. Angelou, her new husband, and her son moved to New York City so that she could study African dance with Trinidadian dancer Pearl Primus, but they returned to San Francisco a year later.
After Angelou's marriage ended in 1954, she danced professionally in clubs around San Francisco, including the nightclub The Purple Onion, where she sang and danced calypso music. Up to that point she went by the name of "Marguerite Johnson", or "Rita", but at the strong suggestion of her managers and supporters at The Purple Onion she changed her professional name to "Maya Angelou", a "distinctive name" that set her apart and captured the feel of her Calypso dance performances. During 1954 and 1955 Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She began her practice of learning the language of every country she visited, and in a few years she gained proficiency in several languages. In 1957, riding on the popularity of calypso, Angelou recorded her first album, Miss Calypso, which was reissued as a CD in 1996. She appeared in an off-Broadway review that inspired the film Calypso Heat Wave, in which Angelou sang and performed her own compositions.[note 4][note 5]
Angelou met novelist James O. Killens in 1959, and at his urging, moved to New York to concentrate on her writing career. She joined the Harlem Writers Guild, where she met several major African-American authors, including John Henrik Clarke, Rosa Guy, Paule Marshall, and Julian Mayfield, and was published for the first time. In 1960, after meeting civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and hearing him speak, she and Killens organized "the legendary" Cabaret for Freedom to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and she was named SCLC's Northern Coordinator. According to scholar Lyman B. Hagen, her contributions to civil rights as a fundraiser and SCLC organizer were successful and "eminently effective". Angelou also began her pro-Castro and anti-apartheid activism during this time.
Africa to Caged Bird: 1961–69
View of Accra, Ghana from above.
Most of Angelou's time in Africa was spent in Accra, Ghana, shown here in 2008.
In 1961, Angelou performed in Jean Genet's The Blacks, along with Abbey Lincoln, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones, Louis Gossett, Godfrey Cambridge, and Cicely Tyson. That year she met South African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make; they never officially married. She and her son Guy moved to Cairo with Make where Angelou worked as an associate editor at the weekly English-language newspaper The Arab Observer. In 1962 her relationship with Make ended, and she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana, he to attend college, but he was seriously injured in an automobile accident.[note 6] Angelou remained in Accra for his recovery and ended up staying there until 1965. She became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and was active in the African-American expatriate community. She was a feature editor for The African Review, a freelance writer for the Ghanaian Times, wrote and broadcast for Radio Ghana, and worked and performed for Ghana's National Theatre. She performed in a revival of The Blacks in Geneva and Berlin.
In Accra, she became close friends with Malcolm X during his visit in the early 1960s.[note 7] Angelou returned to the U.S. in 1965 to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity; he was assassinated shortly afterward. Devastated and adrift, she joined her brother in Hawaii, where she resumed her singing career, and then moved back to Los Angeles to focus on her writing career. She worked as a market researcher in Watts and witnessed the riots in the summer of 1965. She acted in and wrote plays, and returned to New York in 1967. She met her lifelong friend Rosa Guy and renewed her friendship with James Baldwin, whom she had met in Paris in the 1950s and called "my brother", during this time. Her friend Jerry Purcell provided Angelou with a stipend to support her writing.
Angelou's friend James Baldwin was instrumental in the publication of her first autobiography.
In 1968, Martin Luther King asked Angelou to organize a march. She agreed, but "postpones again", and in what Gillespie calls "a macabre twist of fate", he was assassinated on her 40th birthday (April 4).[note 8] Devastated again, she was encouraged out of her depression by her friend James Baldwin. As Gillespie states, "If 1968 was a year of great pain, loss, and sadness, it was also the year when America first witnessed the breadth and depth of Maya Angelou's spirit and creative genius". Despite almost no experience, she wrote, produced, and narrated "Blacks, Blues, Black!", a ten-part series of documentaries about the connection between blues music and black Americans' African heritage and what Angelou called the "Africanisms still current in the U.S." for National Educational Television, the precursor of PBS. Also in 1968, inspired at a dinner party she attended with Baldwin, cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and his wife Judy, and challenged by Random House editor Robert Loomis, she wrote her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1969, which brought her international recognition and acclaim.
Angelou's Georgia, Georgia, produced by a Swedish film company and filmed in Sweden, the first screenplay written by a black woman, was released in 1972. She also wrote the film's soundtrack, despite having very little additional input in the filming of the movie.[note 9] Angelou married Welsh carpenter and ex-husband of Germaine Greer, Paul du Feu, in San Francisco in 1973.[note 10] In the next ten years, as Gillespie has stated, "She had accomplished more than many artists hope to achieve in a lifetime". She worked as a composer, writing for singer Roberta Flack and composing movie scores. She wrote articles, short stories, TV scripts and documentaries, autobiographies and poetry, produced plays, and was named visiting professors of several colleges and universities. She was "a reluctant actor", and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1973 for her role in Look Away. In 1977 Angelou appeared in a supporting role in the television mini-series Roots. She was given a multitude of awards during this period, including over thirty honorary degrees from colleges and universities from all over the world.
In the late 1970s, Angelou met Oprah Winfrey when Winfrey was a TV anchor in Baltimore, Maryland; Angelou would later become Winfrey's close friend and mentor.[note 11] In 1981, Angelou and du Feu divorced. She returned to the southern United States in 1981, where she accepted the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. From that point on, she considered herself "a teacher who writes". Angelou taught a variety of subjects that reflected her interests, including philosophy, ethics, theology, science, theater, and writing.
Maya Angelou speaking at a rally for Barack Obama, 2008
In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, becoming the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961. Her recitation resulted in more fame and recognition for her previous works, and broadened her appeal "across racial, economic, and educational boundaries". The recording of the poem was awarded a Grammy Award. In June 1995, she delivered what Richard Long called her "second 'public' poem", entitled "A Brave and Startling Truth", which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Angelou achieved her goal of directing a feature film in 1996, Down in the Delta, which featured actors such as Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes. Since the 1990s, Angelou actively participated in the lecture circuit in a customized tour bus, something she continued into her eighties. In 2000, she created a successful collection of products for Hallmark, including greeting cards and decorative household items. Over thirty years after Angelou began writing her life story, she completed her sixth autobiography A Song Flung Up to Heaven, in 2002. In 2013, at the age of 85, she published the seventh autobiography in her series, Mom & Me & Mom, which focused on her relationship with her mother.
Angelou campaigned for Senator Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential primaries. When Clinton's campaign ended, Angelou put her support behind Senator Barack Obama, who won the election and became the first African American president of the United States. She stated, "We are growing up beyond the idiocies of racism and sexism". In late 2010, Angelou donated her personal papers and career memorabilia to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. They consisted of over 340 boxes of documents that featured her handwritten notes on yellow legal pads for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a 1982 telegram from Coretta Scott King, fan mail, and personal and professional correspondence from colleagues such as her editor Robert Loomis.
Angelou was found dead by her caretaker on the morning of May 28, 2014. She had reportedly been in bad health and had canceled recent scheduled appearances.
I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.
Maya Angelou, 1999
I also wear a hat or a very tightly pulled head tie when I write. I suppose I hope by doing that I will keep my brains from seeping out of my scalp and running in great gray blobs down my neck, into my ears, and over my face.
Maya Angelou, 1984
Nothing so frightens me as writing, but nothing so satisfies me. It's like a swimmer in the [English] Channel: you face the stingrays and waves and cold and grease, and finally you reach the other shore, and you put your foot on the ground—Aaaahhhh!
Maya Angelou, 1989
Evidence suggests that Angelou was partially descended from the Mende people of West Africa.[note 12] A 2008 PBS documentary found that Angelou's maternal great-grandmother Mary Lee, who had been emancipated after the Civil War, became pregnant by her former white owner, John Savin. Savin forced Lee to sign a false statement accusing another man of being the father of her child. After indicting Savin for forcing Lee to commit perjury, and despite discovering that Savin was the father, a jury found him not guilty. Lee was sent to the Clinton County poorhouse in Missouri with her daughter, Marguerite Baxter, who became Angelou's grandmother. Angelou described Lee as "that poor little Black girl, physically and mentally bruised."
The details of Angelou's life described in her seven autobiographies and in numerous interviews, speeches, and articles tended to be inconsistent. Critic Mary Jane Lupton has explained that when Angelou spoke about her life, she did so eloquently but informally and "with no time chart in front of her". For example, she was married at least twice, but never clarified the number of times she has been married, "for fear of sounding frivolous"; according to her autobiographies and to Gillespie, she married Tosh Angelos in 1951 and Paul du Feu in 1973, and began her relationship with Vusumzi Make in 1961, but never formally married him. Angelou had one son Guy, whose birth was described in her first autobiography, one grandson, and two great-grandchildren, and according to Gillespie, a large group of friends and extended family.[note 13] Angelou's mother Vivian Baxter and brother Bailey Johnson, Jr., both of whom were important figures in her life and her books, have died; her mother in 1991 and her brother in 2000 after a series of strokes.[note 14] In 1981, the mother of her son Guy's child disappeared with Angelou's grandson; it took eight years to find him.[note 15] In 2009, the gossip website TMZ erroneously reported that Angelou had been hospitalized in Los Angeles although she was alive and well in St. Louis, which resulted in rumors of her death and according to Angelou, concern with her friends and family worldwide.
Although she did not earn a university degree, according to Gillespie it was Angelou's preference that she be called "Dr. Angelou" by people outside of her family and close friends. As of 2008, she owned two homes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a "lordly brownstone" in Harlem, full of her "growing library" of books she collected throughout her life, artwork collected over the span of many decades, and well-stocked kitchens. Younge has reported that in her Harlem home resides several African wall hangings and Angelou's collection of paintings, including ones of several jazz trumpeters, a watercolor of Rosa Parks, and a Faith Ringgold work entitled "Maya's Quilt Of Life". According to Gillespie, she hosted several celebrations per year at her main residence in Winston-Salem, including Thanksgiving; "her skill in the kitchen is the stuff of legend—from haute cuisine to down-home comfort food". She combined her cooking and writing skills in her 2004 book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, which featured 73 recipes, many of which she learned from her grandmother and mother, accompanied by 28 vignettes. She followed up with her second cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart in 2010, which focused on weight loss and portion control.
Beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou used the same "writing ritual" for many years. She would wake early in the morning and check into a hotel room, where the staff was instructed to remove any pictures from the walls. She would write on legal pads while lying on the bed, with only a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards to play solitaire, Roget's Thesaurus, and the Bible, and would leave by the early afternoon. She would average 10–12 pages of written material a day, which she edited down to three or four pages in the evening.[note 16] Angelou went through this process to "enchant" herself, and as she said in a 1989 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, "relive the agony, the anguish, the Sturm und Drang." She placed herself back in the time she wrote about, even traumatic experiences like her rape in Caged Bird, in order to "tell the human truth" about her life. Angelou stated that she played cards in order to get to that place of enchantment and in order to access her memories more effectively. She stated, "It may take an hour to get into it, but once I'm in it—ha! It's so delicious!" She did not find the process cathartic; rather, she found relief in "telling the truth".
Main article: List of Maya Angelou works
Angelou wrote a total of seven autobiographies. According to scholar Mary Jane Lupton, Angelou's third autobiography Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas marked the first time a well-known African American autobiographer had written a third volume about her life. Her books "stretch over time and place", from Arkansas to Africa and back to the U.S., and take place from the beginnings of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. She published her seventh autobiography Mom & Me & Mom in 2013, at the age of 85. Critics have tended to judge Angelou's subsequent autobiographies "in light of the first", with Caged Bird receiving the highest praise. Angelou wrote five collections of essays, which writer Hilton Als called her "wisdom books" and "homilies strung together with autobiographical texts". Angelou used the same editor throughout her writing career, Robert Loomis, an executive editor at Random House; he retired in 2011 and has been called "one of publishing's hall of fame editors." Angelou said regarding Loomis: "We have a relationship that's kind of famous among publishers".
All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival, not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.
Angelou's long and extensive career also includes poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking. She is a prolific writer of poetry; her volume Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" during his inauguration in 1993.
Angelou's successful acting career included roles in numerous plays, films, and television programs, including her appearance in the television mini-series Roots in 1977. Her screenplay, Georgia, Georgia (1972), was the first original script by a black woman to be produced and she was the first African American woman to direct a major motion picture, Down in the Delta, in 1998. Since the 1990s, Angelou actively participated in the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties.
Chronology of autobiographies
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969): Up to 1944 (age 17)
Gather Together in My Name (1974): 1944–1948
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976): 1949–1955
The Heart of a Woman (1981): 1957–1962
All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986): 1962–1965
A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002): 1965–1968
Mom & Me & Mom (2013): overview
Reception and legacy
President Barack Obama presenting Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011
When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969, Angelou was hailed as a new kind of memoirist, one of the first African American women who was able to publicly discuss her personal life. According to scholar Hilton Als, up to that point, black female writers were marginalized to the point that they were unable to present themselves as central characters in the literature they wrote. Scholar John McWhorter agreed, seeing Angelou's works, which he called "tracts", as "apologetic writing". He placed Angelou in the tradition of African-American literature as a defense of black culture, which he called "a literary manifestation of the imperative that reigned in the black scholarship of the period". Writer Julian Mayfield, who called Caged Bird "a work of art that eludes description", argued that Angelou's autobiographies set a precedent not only for other black women writers, but for African American autobiography as a whole. Als said that Caged Bird marked one of the first times that a black autobiographer could, as he put it, "write about blackness from the inside, without apology or defense". Through the writing of her autobiography, Angelou became recognized and highly respected as a spokesperson for blacks and women. It made her "without a doubt, ... America's most visible black woman autobiographer", and "a major autobiographical voice of the time". As writer Gary Younge said, "Probably more than almost any other writer alive, Angelou's life literally is her work".
Author Hilton Als said that although Caged Bird helped increase black feminist writings in the 1970s, its success had less to do with its originality than with "its resonance in the prevailing Zeitgeist", or the time in which it was written, at the end of the American Civil Rights movement. Als also claimed that Angelou's writings, more interested in self-revelation than in politics or feminism, has freed other female writers to "open themselves up without shame to the eyes of the world". Angelou critic Joanne M. Braxton stated that Caged Bird was "perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing" autobiography written by an African-American woman in its era.
Reviewer Elsie B. Washington, most likely due to President Clinton's choice of Angelou to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at his 1993 inauguration, has called Angelou "the black woman's poet laureate". Sales of the paperback version of her books and poetry rose by 300–600% the week after Angelou's recitation. Random House, which published the poem later that year, had to reprint 400,000 copies of all her books to keep up with the demand. They sold more of her books in January 1993 than they did in all of 1992, accounting for a 1200% increase. Angelou famously said, in response to criticism regarding using the details of her life in her work, "I agree with Balzac and 19th-century writers, black and white, who say, 'I write for money'". Younge, speaking after the publication of Angelou's third book of essays, Letter to My Daughter (2008), has said, "For the last couple of decades she has merged her various talents into a kind of performance art—issuing a message of personal and social uplift by blending poetry, song and conversation".
Angelou's books, especially I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, have been criticized by many parents, causing their removal from school curricula and library shelves. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship, parents and schools have objected to Caged Bird's depictions of lesbianism, premarital cohabitation, pornography, and violence. Some have been critical of the book's sexually explicit scenes, use of language, and irreverent religious depictions. Caged Bird appeared third on the American Library Association (ALA) list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 and sixth on the ALA's 2000–2009 list.
Awards and honors
Main article: List of honors received by Maya Angelou
Angelou was honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors included a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. She served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Angelou was awarded over thirty honorary degrees.
Uses in education
Angelou's autobiographies have been used in narrative and multicultural approaches in teacher education. Jocelyn A. Glazier, a professor at George Washington University, has trained teachers how to "talk about race" in their classrooms with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Gather Together in My Name. According to Glazier, Angelou's use of understatement, self-mockery, humor, and irony have led readers of Angelou's autobiographies unsure of what she left out and how they should respond to the events Angelou described. Angelou's depictions of her experiences of racism has forced white readers to explore their feelings about race and their own "privileged status". Glazier found that although critics have focused on where Angelou fits within the genre of African-American autobiography and on her literary techniques, readers have tended to react to her storytelling with "surprise, particularly when [they] enter the text with certain expectations about the genre of autobiography".
Educator Daniel Challener, in his 1997 book, Stories of Resilience in Childhood, analyzed the events in Caged Bird to illustrate resiliency in children. Challener argued that Angelou's book has provided a "useful framework" for exploring the obstacles many children like have Maya faced and how communities have helped them succeed. Psychologist Chris Boyatzis has reported using Caged Bird to supplement scientific theory and research in the instruction of child development topics such as the development of self-concept and self-esteem, ego resilience, industry versus inferiority, effects of abuse, parenting styles, sibling and friendship relations, gender issues, cognitive development, puberty, and identity formation in adolescence. He found the book a "highly effective" tool for providing real-life examples of these psychological concepts.
Main article: Poetry of Maya Angelou
Although Angelou is best known for her seven autobiographies, she was also been a prolific and successful poet. She was called "the black woman's poet laureate", and her poems have been called the anthems of African Americans. Angelou studied and began writing poetry at a young age, and used poetry and other great literature to cope with her rape as a young girl, as described in Caged Bird. According to scholar Yasmin Y. DeGout, literature also affected Angelou's sensibilities as the poet and writer she became, especially the "liberating discourse that would evolve in her own poetic canon".
Many critics consider Angelou's autobiographies more important than her poetry. Although her books have been best-sellers, her poetry has not been perceived as seriously her prose and has been understudied. Her poems were more interesting when she recited and performed them, and many critics emphasized the public aspect of her poetry. Angelou's lack of critical acclaim has been attributed to both the public nature of many of her poems and to Angelou's popular success, and to critics' preferences for poetry as a written form rather than a verbal, performed one. Burr has countered Angelou's critics by condemning them for not taking into account Angelou's larger purposes in her writing: "to be representative rather than individual, authoritative rather than confessional".
Style and genre in autobiographies
Main article: Themes in Maya Angelou's autobiographies
Angelou's use of fiction-writing techniques such as dialogue, characterization, and development of theme, setting, plot, and language has often resulted in the placement of her books into the genre of autobiographical fiction. As feminist scholar Maria Lauret state, Angelou made a deliberate attempt in her books to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Scholar Mary Jane Lupton argues that all of Angelou's autobiographies conform to the genre's standard structure: they are written by a single author, they are chronological, and they contain elements of character, technique, and theme. Angelou recognizes that there are fictional aspects to her books; Lupton agrees, stating that Angelou tended to "diverge from the conventional notion of autobiography as truth", which parallels the conventions of much of African-American autobiography written during the abolitionist period of U.S. history, when as both Lupton and African-American scholar Crispin Sartwell put it, the truth was censored out of the need for self-protection. Scholar Lyman B. Hagen places Angelou in the long tradition of African-American autobiography, but claims that Angelou created a unique interpretation of the autobiographical form.
According to African American literature scholar Pierre A. Walker, the challenge for much of the history of African-American literature was that its authors have had to confirm its status as literature before they could accomplish their political goals, which was why Angelou's editor Robert Loomis was able to dare her into writing Caged Bird by challenging her to write an autobiography that could be considered "high art". Angelou acknowledged that she followed the slave narrative tradition of "speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning 'we'". Scholar John McWhorter calls Angelou's books "tracts" that defend African-American culture and fight negative stereotypes. According to McWhorter, Angelou structured her books, which to him seem to be written more for children than for adults, to support her defense of black culture. McWhorter sees Angelou as she depicts herself in her autobiographies "as a kind of stand-in figure for the black American in Troubled Times". Although McWhorter views Angelou's works as dated, he recognizes that "she has helped to pave the way for contemporary black writers who are able to enjoy the luxury of being merely individuals, no longer representatives of the race, only themselves. Scholar Lynn Z. Bloom compares Angelou's works to the writings of Frederick Douglass, stating that both fulfilled the same purpose: to describe black culture and to interpret it for their wider, white audiences.
According to scholar Sondra O'Neale, although Angelou's poetry can be placed within the African-American oral tradition, her prose "follows classic technique in nonpoetic Western forms". O'Neale states that although Angelou avoided using a "monolithic black language", she accomplished, through direct dialogue, what O'Neale calls a "more expected ghetto expressiveness". McWhorter finds both the language Angelou used in her autobiographies and the people she depicted unrealistic, resulting in a separation between her and her audience. As McWhorter states, "I have never read autobiographical writing where I had such a hard time summoning a sense of how the subject talks, or a sense of who the subject really is". McWhorter asserts, for example, that key figures in Angelou's books, like herself, her son Guy, and mother Vivian do not speak as one would expect, and that their speech is "cleaned up" for her readers. Guy, for example, represents the young black male, while Vivian represents the idealized mother figure, and the stiff language they use, as well as the language in Angelou's text, is intended to prove that blacks can competently use standard English.
McWhorter recognizes that much of the reason for Angelou's style was the "apologetic" nature of her writing. When Angelou wrote Caged Bird at the end of the 1960s, one of the necessary and accepted features of literature at the time was "organic unity", and one of her goals was to create a book that satisfied that criteria. The events in her books were episodic and crafted like a series of short stories, but their arrangements did not follow a strict chronology. Instead, they were placed to emphasize the themes of her books, which include racism, identity, family, and travel. English literature scholar Valerie Sayers has asserted that "Angelou's poetry and prose are similar". They both rely on her "direct voice", which alternates steady rhythms with syncopated patterns and uses similes and metaphors (e.g., the caged bird). According to Hagen, Angelou's works were influenced by both conventional literary and the oral traditions of the African-American community. For example, she referenced over 100 literary characters throughout her books and poetry. In addition, she used the elements of blues music, including the act of testimony when speaking of one's life and struggles, ironic understatement, and the use of natural metaphors, rhythms, and intonations. Angelou, instead of depending upon plot, used personal and historical events to shape her books.
ko fursat kahan
masjid banana zuroori hai
madrsa banana zuroori hai
bhik mangna hamari mujboori hai
unki duniya khuda salamat rakhhe
hamme aur unme kafi doori hai
admi ko milta swab hai
bheek mangti mamta
ki to kismat kharab hai
kaisa sawal aur kaisa
teen bar talaq kehke
ek nayi biwi
ek nayi shuruwat hai
'Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud' Maya Angelou
god in his mercy
blessed me soon
i am lucky i was
like a few muslims
not born with a
i struggled through
my childhood womanhood
held in the dark soul
of a cocoon
the child in my arms
is his boon ..
we beg with dignity
living on the edge
in a commune
happiness hope have
not touched us yet
darkness at dawn
the music of life
sans lyrics or tune
And this is Kashmiryat as it burns like sandal wood on the pyre of humanity..
I am not a filmmaker , I am not an activist but yes I shoot pain as I see it on the viewfinder of my cameras soul...and my attire is strange, and their smirks their child like curiosity seeing me and their footsteps hitting the streets of adversity..
An I shall shoot Kashmiri beggars to awaken the comatose soul of society in deep slumber..every time I cross paths with them on the streets.
I documented the Muslim beggars to showcase their lifes struggle , and it was the Muslim beggar that interested me as a photo blog, and in my pictures you will notice it is the Muslim woman her children begging the male link is missing ,,
I did once ask a young Muslim beggar lady and she had 3 daughters from Andhra her husband was a tailor could not make ends meet so she begged coming to my workplace every Thursday..
But the story of the Kashmiri migrants is very strange , they beg , the male robust of good health with his wife children going from door to door ,and I documented them separately ,but as part of my Muslim beggar set at Flickr.
They have pretty cute young kids , also begging with their parents for alms food and clothing.
You also find them at Mahim begging during the Urus of Makhdhoom Shah Baba.
I have never talked to them , and they stay at the Bandra pipeline under very harsh sever conditions in makeshift tents , no toilet facility ..and imagine away from their beloved Valley .. begging in an urban hell away from Gods Own Paradise Kashmir..
Aye Wadiye Kashmir Tuh Hai Jannat ka Nazara..
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
eponymous but incongruously
called the minority begging
living below the poverty
line on your mercy charity
enslaved to bad times will
never be free .appeased only
by the political sanctimonious
class our great nations tragedy
please do not compare them at
all to jains or parsis an insult
to both those faith which respects
humanity ..these are the lost tribe
searching for hope justice equality
people sympathize with them
but marginalized .. the only reality
Firoze, about your great pics
Hi Firoze, your photos are stunning.
I want to purchase some of your pics for my photography site, could you be interested? I can pay $60-$80 per image or so
If interested, please send me a message to email@example.com as I do not visit Flickr regularly.
Or, return to your message list.
some muslims are born poor
die fade out very soon
call them minorities ..but
they are part of our nation
living in ghettos impoverished
communes ,, politicians use them
as vote banks ..but to their pain
are immune .. once votes have
been garnered bring in the
bulldozers build condominiums
for the rich powerlords tycoons
the fear of fate impending monsoon
snatching it away from our fleshy mold
mama i am feeling breathless very cold
watching all this bemused the wise baby
held comfortably in her mothers folds
her brother she scolds ..oh let him shoot us ..our story to the world out there must
be told ...baby was the only one in
total control her innocence her godliness
untouched by time and destiny behold
caught between here and there on
the threshold ..dreams on the street side
lying unsold,, this world emotionless
is ruled by the rich and the billfold
why should they shoot muslim beggars
pray tell ..it is sunny leone poonam pandey rakhi sawant glitz glam you
all know well ..it is left to us street
bloggers to gather the filth smell
of denizens living in putrid hell
no u turns we dont have to satisfy
our clientele ..we shoot sorrow
bring it out in the open from where
it dwells ..we are not part of the media
cartel. against a system that reduces
humanity to beggary we rebel ..
through the camera the poetry
of life .. the passion pathos we retell
carrying her child in her arms
from her distant suburban home
she sets out to Bandra to beg
the name of Allah her lucky charm
the day is awfully humid warm
her hungry child as flies swarm
her hidden face her turbulence
her woeful existence offers no balm
her line of fate blurred on her palm
she sits wait helplessly cool and calm
welcome to my world of beggars
veiled denizens of an animal farm
These are Muslim beggars caught in a cosmic swamp ..by time battered stomped
I Take Leave Of Sundar And Shamugham Madraswadi Marriammen Feast 2014
Please Click This Link To See All The Pictures
i shoot pain
as the rod pierces
the human flesh
from the other
cheek it comes
out again like
a arrow crowning
i shoot pain
as i feel pain
when i cut
my head with
a sword servant
of hussain .
to a memory
yes i shoot pain
walking on embers
of burning coals
i shoot pain
pain the only human
emotion without caste
color creed or race
enjoins me with my
me sane ..hindu
muslim all feel pain
i shoot pain
A very humble god fearing man I treat him like my guru and thanks to all these people I have been fortunate enough to shoot the rituals of their culture and share it with all of you..
Davendar Bhima , Raja , Shanmugham Ganesh are some of the famous rod piercers of the Marriammen feast in MUmbai.
Maharaja is a veteran a very famous disciple of Goddess Marriammen he helps the in the piercings of the cheeks of the disciples of Marriammen at Juhu during the Marriammen feast of Nehru Nagar .
A very humble god fearing man I treat him like my guru and thanks to all these people I have been fortunate enough to shoot the rituals of their culture and share it with all of you..
Davendar Bhima , Raja , Shanmugham Ganesh are some of the famous rod piercers of the Marriammen feast in MUmbai.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Maharaja is a veteran a very famous disciple of Goddess Marriammen he helps the in the piercings of the cheeks of the disciples of Marriammen at Juhu during the Marriammen feast of Nehru Nagar .
A very humble god fearing man I treat him like my guru and thanks to all these people I have been fortunate enough to shoot the rituals of their culture and share it with all of you..
Davendar Bhima , Raja , Shanmugham Ganesh are some of the famous rod piercers of the Marriammen feast in MUmbai.
Devotion to Mariamman
Doctrines India has always been a land of villages and in the context of village life the most important and powerful divine presence is the gramadevata, a deity identified with the village. A village may have several gramadevatas, each with its own function. Village deities are more numerous than Indian villages, though some are known throughout a region and one of these is the goddess Mariamman (Also called Mari, Mariamma, Maryamman. In the Puranas she is known as Marika.) who has devotees all over South India.
The village belongs to the goddess. Theologically she was there before the village and in fact she created it. Sometimes she is represented only by a head on the soil, indicating her body is the village and she is rooted in the soil of the village. The villagers live inside or upon the body of the goddess. The goddess protects the village and is the guardian of the village boundaries. Outside the village there is no protection from the goddess. The village is a complete cosmos and the central divine power of the village is the goddess. The relationship between the village and the goddess is primarily for the village as a whole and not for individuals. Mari can mean sakti, power, and amman is mother, so she is the mother-power of the village.
However, this relationship is not a simple one. In some places, Mariamman is invoked three times a year to regenerate village soil and protect the community against disease and death. Other places may have an important Mariamman festival. Mariamman is not a peaceful and benign goddess. She can be vindictive, inexorable, and difficult to propitiate. Essentially she is a personification of the world's natural forces, but specifically she is a goddess of smallpox, chickenpox, and other diseases. Her role is ambivalent for she both inflicts the diseases and protects the village from them. The onset of disease or disaster causes special worship or a festival of the goddess, for they are caused by demons let in because the goddess's defences have broken down or because the goddess is angry at being neglected. Mariamman reminds people that their ordered world can be shattered at any time and worshipping her makes one's view of reality less fragile. When the villagers are afflicted, so is the goddess invaded by demons. The villagers and the goddess are suffering the invasion of the village together and that is why one can say that the goddess causes the epidemic. The goddess suffers most but cannot contain it all and spreads it to the villagers, who help her deal with it. Mariamman is especially favourable at this time to those suffering from the disease, for they are helping her bear the burden of the demonic attack.
Blood offerings of animals are commonly sacrificed at festivals of Mariamman, but this is not invariably the case. Whitehead in his classic study The Village Gods of South India (1921) found at the village of Vandipaliam in Cuddalore district that at an annual festival of ten days to Mariamman no animal sacrifices were ever offered or on any other occasion at the shrine. At Shiyali in Tanjore district during the sacrifices of animals to other gods at the festival (of all the village gods) a curtain is drawn in front of Mariamman.
History One story about the origin of Mariamman is she was the wife of Tirunalluvar, the Tamil poet, who was a pariah, outcaste. She caught smallpox and begged from house to house for food, fanning herself with leaves of the nim or margosa tree to keep the flies off her sores. She recovered and people worshipped her as the goddess of smallpox. To keep smallpox away they hang nim leaves above the doors of their houses.
Another story involves the beautiful virtuous Nagavali, wife of Piruhu, one of the Nine Rishis. One day the Rishi was away and the Trimurti (an image with three heads representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) came to see if her famed beauty and virtue was true. Nagavali did not know them and, resenting their intrusion, turned them into little children. The gods were offended and cursed her, so her beauty faded and her face became marked like smallpox. The Rishi returned, found her disfigured, and drove her away, declaring she would be born a demon in the next world and cause the spread of a disease which would make people like herself. She was called Mari, meaning 'changed.' Both stories are reported by Whitehead and he remarks that in Mysore he was told that Mari meant sakti, power.
Mariamman is an ancient goddess, whose worship probably originated in the tribal religion of Dravidian India before the arrival of the Aryans and the brahman religion. According to tradition, among the Dravidian mountain tribes as in Coorg in southern Karnataka, human sacrifices were offered to Mariamman. These were replaced with animals and as we have seen, in some villages no animal sacrifices are offered. Here we can see a historical gradation.
Local goddesses such as Mariamman who protect villages and their lands and represent the different castes of their worshippers have always been an important part of the religious landscape of South India. However, we can note periods of special significance. The eclecticism of the Vijayanagar period (1336-1565) encouraged folk religion, which became more important and influenced the more literate forms of religion. In the last century and a half there has been a rebirth of Tamil self-consciousness (see Devotion to Murukan). In the middle of the present century deities such as Mariamman have become linked to the "great tradition" as the strata of society which worship the goddess has become integrated into the larger social order.
Symbols At the centre and source of the village is a boddhu-rayee, navel stone, with which the goddess is associated. As mentioned in doctrines, the goddess may be represented by only a head on the ground, as her body is the village. To protect the village, shrines and symbols of the goddess are often placed at the boundaries of the village. These symbols are usually simple, rough, unhewn stones, five or six inches high and blackened with anointing oil, or there may be a stone pillar. If there are shrines these will often be crude simple structures.
Mariamman's colour is yellow and sometimes a stone is adorned with a yellow dress, only a small part of bare stone emerging at the top. Sometimes there is only a spear or trident thrust in the ground in place of the goddess-stones. In larger villages a slab of stone may be carved with a rough figure of a woman, who may have four, six, or eight arms, or none at all, and the arms hold various implements such as a knife, a shield, a drum, a bell, a devil's head, and a three-pronged fork. It is common to have a fixed stone image in the shrine and to use a small portable metal image in processions. Mariamman can be represented as riding naked on an ass with a winnow on her head and a broom and water-pot in her hands. Sometimes there is no image and the goddess is represented by a brass pot of water decorated with nim leaves. The nim tree is sacred to Mariamman. In poor villages an earthenware pot is used.
During the ceremonies of the goddess there is a symbolic marriage. Although the goddess is sometimes said to have a consort, she is really married to the village, so the goddess and village can nourish each other.
A blood sacrifice at her festival can appease the goddess to withdraw her anger symbolised as the heat of disease or it can symbolise the defeat of the invading demon. Traditionally a buffalo was offered. After it was beheaded, its leg was thrust into its mouth, fat from the stomach was smeared in its eyes, and a candle was lit on its head. It was then presented to the goddess. This humiliation of the victim symbolises the defeat of an enemy, the demon who causes the epidemic or disaster.
Village festivals are filled with symbolism. At a festival in Karnataka, the Mariamman image is first painted in bright colours and put in a shelter of nim leaves and a sheep sacrificed to placate the goddess. Then a he-buffalo is sacrificed by untouchables and the head put in a pit before Mariamman. The blood and parts of the buffalo are mixed with rice and put in a large basket. This is caraga and it is carried in procession by untouchables followed by other villagers carrying sickles and weapons to guard it. At other shrines sheep are sacrificed and mixed with the caraga, which is then sprinkled on the fields and along the boundaries of the village, thus regenerating the soil and protecting the village. Even vegetarian farmers believe that the soil needs blood and if it is not given then human lives will be taken.
Festivals without animal sacrifice may offer boiled rice, fruit, flowers, cakes and sugar, and incense and camphor are burnt. There is Abishegam, ceremonial washing of the image twice a day, with water, oil, milk, coconut milk, turmeric, rose water, sandalwood, honey, sugar, limes, and a solution of the bark of certain trees, separately in a regular order. The image of the goddess is carried twice a day on the shoulders of devotees around the village and there may be a car procession one day. Under brahmanical influence, the image can be towed around a tank.
At many festivals an important role is played by a Matangi, a low caste woman who is unmarried and holds the office for life. She is a living symbol of the goddess and becomes possessed by the goddess, dancing wildly, using obscene language, spitting at devotees, and pushing people around with her backside. The festival reverses social norms and the Matangi's behaviour, which would ordinarily be highly polluting, is purifying and people seek out her spit and insults.
Adherents Millions of villagers across South India worship Mariamman, especially in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Mariamman is one of the deities worshipped in almost every Tamil village. Nearly all members of a village participate in the goddess's festival, even brahmans and Muslims. The different castes to some extent mix freely. This is not the case in daily life. The ritual topography of a village in Karnataka, for example, has an inner village inhabited by the purest castes and the rest live outside this. The shrines of the goddess would be in the outside part of the village. The oldest, largest, and most important Hindu temple in Singapore is the Mariamman Temple, which was established early in the nineteenth century.
Pilgrims at a Mariamman festival wear mostly yellow, the colour of the goddess. Some men dress as tigers and other animals. Pilgrims may come because of a specific fear or debt or because one of their family has a disease associated with the goddess or they themselves have recovered from the disease. Particular castes are associated with Mariamman, such as fishermen and builders on the coast of Tamil Nadu. Pilgrims fast before the festival and bring offerings, such as money in a propitious amount, say one hundred and one rupees. Some pilgrims have made vows to Mariamman to walk on fire, carry burning pots on their heads, or perform covadi, when they swing suspended on hooks through their flesh.
Main Centre There is no one main centre for Mariamman.
I was in the train arriving from Ajmer ,on May the day of the Marriammen Feast ..
The sacrifice to appease Goddess Marriammen begins at the entrance of her Temple at Juhu Nehru Nagar and is a bloody affair as a a large number of goats are sacrificed by her followers ..
This goes on till afternoon and in the evening the followers devotees assemble at Juhu Beach where their cheeks are pierced with rods and some insert hooks in the back and pull cars trucks etc..or they are hung from pulleys of moving cranes .
In the picture the butcher is Ganesh and assisting him on the right is my friend Davendar Bhima .
I shot the evening piercing rituals as my train reached Bandra Terminus at 4 pm.
Religious Traditions of the Tamils
Prof. A. Veluppillai
The Tamils can be defined as people, having Tamil as their mother tongue. Tamil language is a member of the Dravidian/ South Indian family of languages. The four southernmost states of India- tamiz Nadu, kERaLa, karNAdaka, and Andra Pradesh- are predominantly linguistically Dravidian, each state carved out on the basis of predominance of the four major Dravidian languages. The Dravidian languages are mother tongues of about a quarter of the Indian population. Though about 80% of the speakers are found within the borders of these four South Indian states, a number of Dravidian languages have been identified in other parts of South Asia. Among the tribal languages of Central India, almost extending to the borders of Bengal, distinct from the Austro-Asiatic family of languages, many Dravidian languages have been identified. The northern reaches of this family have been located in isolated settlements in Nepal and Pakistan. The Brahui speakers are found in the hills of Baluchistan, almost on the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. So, the Dravidian family of languages is a South Asian family of languages in one sense. About 22 languages are classified as belonging to the Dravidian family and on linguisic criteria, sub-division as North, Central and South Dravidian are made. Tamils alone number about 60 million people.
South India and Sri Lanka have been homelands of the Tamils, from the beginning of recorded history. The region, roughly covered by the modern states of tamiz NAdu and Kerala are identified as ancient tamizakam up to about 10th century AD. Even though some evidence exists for Tamil influence , and Tamil presence in Sri Lanka is noticeable from very early times, strong Tamil presence and influence in Sri Lanka, from about the 10th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamils migrated to some British colonies in search of employment and thus there are substantial Tamil populations in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji and South Africa. After the World War II, a movement of Tamil professionals to UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand is proceeding continuously. Due to the recent civil war type situation in Sri Lanka, many thousands of Tamils in about 20 countries, with large numbers in Canada, Germany, France, and Switzerland. Within the Nordic countries, Norway and Denmark have more Tamils than Sweden.
2. Present Situation regarding religious affiliations of the Tamils.
Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are the major religions among the Tamils in that order: Hindus are counted as forming more than 80% of the population and the other religions are reckoned to be less than 20% of the population. Some of the other religions like Jainism, Buddhism have relatively few adherents. The Tamil Christians include both Roman Catholics as well as the Protestants. The Muslims are mainly Sunni. The situation is fairly stable, only Christian missions, said to be marginally successful in making new converts. The general atmosphere is religious toleration and harmony.
The official policy of India is secularism,,,. Overall, Hinduism is neither a missionary nor an exclusive religion. To put it in a negative way, the Hindus withdraw into themselves and don't react except when they feel threatened. Many scholars have commented on the tolerant attitude of the Hindus. Some recent developments in India challenges this view. But tamiz Nadu and the Tamils, generally keep up the Tamil tradition of tolerance, There is no Hindu extremism worth mentioning among the Tamils. No serious claim is put forward that Hinduism should have special privileges, compared to other religions.
3. The Dravidian Hypothesis about the people of the Indus valley Civilization.
The Tamils have legends that their ancient history extends up to about ten thousand years, sea swallowing up their lands twice and kings establishing new capitals and fostering Tamil in three successive academies. The legend is first mentioned in the commentary of kaLavijal, which is assigned to about 8th century AD. This legend is one of the reasons- one of the excuses- for connecting up the Tamil civilization with some prehistoric ancient civilizations, whose identity and continuity poses special problems.
The records of the Indus Valley Civilization have not been satisfactorily deciphered. Material remains have been interpreted by archeologists. There cannot be finality, till a satisfactory reading of the records. Material remains are generally interpreted in the light of elements in the later Hinduism. Siva worship in the form of pacupati and NadaRajA, Sakti worship and some other deductions are made. In the 1950s, Father Heras argued for the Dravidian identity of the Indus Valley people. In the 1960s, the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies issued many announcements, trying to establish this identity. This hypothesis is still defended seriously by Japanese Professor Noboru Karashima, President of the International Association for Tamil Research in 1994.
4. The Dravidian Identity of the Sumerians.
This is another hypothesis that is strongly advocated by certain scholars. The Sumerian records have been deciphered and material remains have been interpreted satisfactorily. Linguistic and cultural affinities between the Sumerians and the Tamils, separated by much more than a millennia, are pointed out. The late Professor A. catAcivam (A.Sathasivam) from Sri Lanka and Dr. ulakaNAtan muttarAjan (Loganathan Muttarayan) from Malaysia are examples. Eminent historians of the caliber of K.A. Nilakanda cAttiri (Nilakantta Sastri), have pointed out similarities in temple worship. A hypothesis, connecting the ancestors of the Dravidians, if not the Tamils. to the Mediterranean area, is still advocated by certain scholars.
5. A study based on the historical times.
Literary, epigraphical and archeological sources existt for the study of religious traditions of the Tamils for about 2000 years. As materials exist for such a long period of time, it is only fitting that we pay just passing attention to doubtful prehistoric connections and concentrate on the historical period. Tamil is one of the two classical languages of India, along with Sanskrit. There are Tamil literary texts and Tamil inscriptions, dated roughly, round about the beginning of the Christian era. As in most of ancient and medieval Indian texts, controversies exist on the exact dates of early Tamil records and documents. We have to be dependent on rough calculations and the most probable dates. Some distinct historical periods: (1) 100 B.C to 300 A.D.; (2) 300 A.D. to 600 A.D.; (3) 600 A.D. to 1200 A.D.; (4) 1200 A.D. to 1800 A.D.; and (5) 1800 A.D. to today.
5.1 cangkam (Academy) period.
The general designation for the early period is cangkam period, because of the strong tradition that three academies existed in the remote past and that what we get as early literary texts were those approved by those academies. The main source for the early period is literary evidence. From a study of the literary evidence, some scholars argue that the Tamil society was secular then. It is only a relative term in the sense that when compared to early North Indian literature and later Tamil literature, a distinctiveness of relative secularism can be pointed out.
Some indigenous elements of religion, peculiar to the Tamils, have been noticed in the earliest available stratum of Tamil literature. A portion of this early Tamil poetry is identified as Heroic poetry. There were three Tamil Kingdoms - cEra, cOLa and pAnhdija - and many independent chieftaincies in the early period and there were intermittent and internecine wars and battles for violent state formation. maRam (valour) was the celebrated theme.
5.1.1. Nadukal (planted stone).
The worship for the fallen brave warriors is one of the popular forms of worship in early Tamil poetry. tolkAppijam gives an elaborate description in six stages in the planting of stone, beginning with looking for a suitable stone and ending in the institution of formal worship. The portrait of the hero is often decorated with peacock feathers. Some poems refer to spears and shields erected around the planted stones. Offering of Naravam (toddy = alcohol) to the spirit of the fallen hero, represented in the planted stone, is mentioned in some verses.
5.1.2. veRijAdal (dance in ecstasy).
The dance in ecstasy is found mainly in the worship of murukan/muruku (youth, beauty, god-head). He was the god of the hilly region. The name of god or archetype was different in each landscape among the five different landscapes of the Tamil land. mAjOn (dark male)/ mAl (great one) was the god of the forest or pastoral landscape. koRRavy (lady of victory) was the goddess of ferocious appearance for the arid or waste land. vEl (spear) was the main weapon of murukan. He is a warrior-hero par excellence, but is often mentioned in akam (love) poetry, the other main theme of the earliest stratum of Tamil literature. Love-sickness of young girls in separation from their lovers seem to be generally interpreted as caused by murukan who needs propitiation in worship. The organizer and chief priest of the worship was vElan (man with spear). A number of verses refer to the sacrifice of the blood of ram and offering of toddy in the ritual. The veRijAdal occurred in koRRavy worship also, Later, murukan was considered son of koRRavy. A group dance of girls, known as kuravyjAdal, is also associated with murukan worship. Some elements of ecstasy were also involved in this dance. This dance occurred in mAjOn worship also. murukan has continued to be very popular among the Tamils and he is frequently hailed as the Tamil god. Kamil Zvelebil had chosen to name his first volume on Tamil literature, as The smile of murukan.
5.1.3. cinyc cuRAvin kOdu (pregnant Shark bone).
A solitary verse mentions this worship in the littoral region. On full moon day, fishermen and families get drunk and worship. This may be the peculiar worship of Nejtal, (littoral) landscape.
5.1.4. kanhdu (post, stone.)
This worship is often mentioned in connection with manRu (public meeting place). Lighting of lamps by women is specifically referred to in some verses. Floor of the manRu was smeared with cow-dung.
5.1.5. Influence of North Indian religious traditions.
Jaina monks lived in hills around maturai, the capittal of the pAnhdijAs and in a few other places. Early Tamil Brahmi inscriptions of round about the beginning of the Christian era, testify to this. Some kings and chieftains were responsive to Brahmins and Vedic sacrifices. Many instances can be quoted to show that beliefs in the existence of the ujir (soul), maRu piRappu (rebirth) and vAnOr ulaku (world of celestial beings) existed among the Tamils even in that early period.
5.2. Post-cangkam Period 300 A.D. to 600 A.D.
Politically in this period, the Tamils were under foreign kalabhra domination. Their political history is characterized by many historians as a dark period. Buddhism and Jainism appear to have prospered during this period. Some notable literary works are assigned to this period. The early Tamil kAppijangkaL, (epics) are assigned to this age, as for examples, cilappatikAram, a Jaina epic and manhimEkaly, a Buddhist epic. aRam, the equivalent of Sanskrit dharma , becomes the main theme of literary works. Eleven didactic works were written in this period. Their main purpose seems to be reformation of the society - bringing back values which were reversed during the Heroic Age.
tirukkuRaL the most outstanding work in Tamil, belongs to this period. This sets the tone of didactic works. According to Albert Schweitzer's evaluation in his book, Indian Thoughts and its Development, tirukkuRaL represents a synthesis of much of the best in Indian thought up to that time with a positive approach to life. The positive approach to life , also called life-affirmation, seems to owe its influence to the literary traditions of the Academy period. varnAcirama dharma, the central concept of the Brahminical religion, prescribing different rules for the four-fold castes and for the four stages of human life, has not even been mentioned in this work. This work is of universal appeal. The Tamil society never had the varnha system. There was no cattiryjAs, and the vycijAs. The ruling kings and their ancestors, were sometimes eulogized and flattered as the cattirijAs, but there was no consequent development from this position. The non-Brahmin high caste Tamils resented the term - cUttirAs, the name of the fourth caste. So, what we get in the Tamil works, equivalent to the Sanskrit dharmasastras, is sAmAnija dharma applicable to every human being. Religious affiliation of the author is not known.
ThiruvaLLuvar, the author, has kept himself clear of external trappings of different religions. The Hindus, the Jains, and the Buddhists have claimed this work as their own. Many Christian missionaries and British administrators have praised this work, even tracing Christian influence in the work. This work, consisting of 1330 verses, has been translated into many languages. Other didactic works, follow the lead by tirukkuRaL. The authors are identified as Jaina or Brahminical, mainly by their invocation verses. Otherwise, there are no deep differences in the contents of these works. NAladijAr the second most important work with 400 verses, ascribed to Jaina authorship and with a noticeable slant to life-negation, had been translated into English by G.U. Pope almost a century ago. tirukkuRaL and NAladijAr can be said to constitute the ethical core of the religious traditions of the Tamils. It is important to note here that varnAcirama dharma had not been brought into Tamil literature. Though the Tamils also developed an evil and pernicious caste system, in certain respects, quite distinct from the varnha system, in subsequent periods, that system had no sanction either in Tamil or in Sanskrit texts.
5.3. Bhakti Period 600 A.D. to 1200 A. D.
The Tamils were under the Pallava and the pAnhdija kingdoms during the earlier half of this period and under the cOLa Empire during the latter half of the same. The Tamil power reached its zenith under the cOLa Empire, which also ruled many non- Tamil communities in South India and Sri Lanka. In the history of religion and literature, this period is referred to as the bhakti period. Bhakti is a Sanskrit word, meaning devotion. This Sanskrit word and the Tamilicised form patti became popular quite late. The bhaktti poetry seems to be a curious transformation of literary traditions of the Academy period. Both akam tradition, dealing with love between man and woman and puRam tradition, dealing with heroism and generosity of warriors are combined in a strange manner and the position of man as well as hero goes to god, while the position of woman and hero-worshipper go to the devotee.
A. K. Ramanujan has recently brought out a good translation into English of some of these early poems. Though the origins of the concept of bhakti are traceable in Sanskrit sources, bhakti movement as such originated in the Tamil land. Personal relationship between the devotee and the god was its main characteristic, and worship became a fervent personal experience in response to divine grace. Religion for the devotees is no longer a matter of contemplation of a transcendent, impersonal absolute, but of ecstatic response to an intensely personal experience. This leads to a profound sense of the devotees own shortcomings and to a trustful recourse to the gods forgiveness, with the whole personality being surrendered to the deity. It is this position which inspired the scholar - missionary G. U. Pope's evaluation - which seems to be somewhat superficial - of this religion as the religion, closest to Christianity, among Indian religions. Norman Cutler has worked on the poetics of Tamil devotion.
The vedic religion - the Brahminical religion - becomes a popular religion of the Tamils, through the bhakti movement. The Sanskrit sources contributed another important element for this religion. This religion owes a massive debt to the Sanskrit purAnhAs and epics. The temple rituals, prescribed in the Sanskrit AkamAs, became very important. From the very beginning, sectarian differences are noticeable, may be because of the influence of purAnhAs. Saiva and Vaishnava movements were presented to the Tamil people as Tamil religions This was made possible by religious synchronism. murukan becomes identified with Skanda and kArttikEja and related to Siva as a son, koRRavy becomes identified with umA, Siva's consort and as murukans mother, and mAjOn becomes identified with Vishnu. Saivism is the form of Hinduism, very popular among the Tamils.
The Saiva movement was relatively more involved in religious conflicts and controversies. Saint Appar, a convert from Jainism to Saivism, converted the Pallava ruler from Jainism to Saivism. His poetry seems to be a strange mixture of Jaina world-view and Siva bhakti. Even though he expresses his regret for having wasted much of his life as a Jaina monk, his poetry seems to be a form of synchronism between Jainism and Saivism. The Jaina world-view and Jaina didactic works become acceptable to the Saivites. Saint Campanthar, a younger contemporary of saint Appar, converted the pAnhdija ruler from Jainism to Saivism.. He defeated the Buddhists in another controversy. As a Brahmin, he was a champion of Vedic religion against the Jains and the Buddhists. There are plenty of polemical references about the Jains and the Buddhists in his bhakti poetry. Saint Manikkavasagar was also said to have defeated the Lankan Buddhists in a controversy, but there is no trace of polemics in his compositions.
For about a millennium, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism were the three important religions among the Tamils. The triangular contest for the loyalty of the Tamils led to the growth of polemical literature to which adherents of all religions contributed. The Buddhist contribution is seen in the manhimEkaly and the kunhdalakEci, the Jaina contribution in the NIlakEci and the Saiva contribution in the civagnAnacittijAr. But overall, conflicts are rare, especially after Hinduism consolidated its position. The Saiva or Vaishnava rulers, were generally generous to all the Hindus, irrespective of their personal inclinations and also patronized the Jaina and Buddhist religious establishments of their subjects.
A very important text for Tamil Saivism is the periya purAnham, the Saiva hagiology of 63 NajanmAr, (saint lords), all of whom lived in South India and attained heaven through their bhakti to Siva. This work influenced vIra Saivism of Karnataka. Saint Manikkavasagar's devotional poems are acknowledged as the most moving in Tamil literature. G. U. Pope brought a translation of the tiruvAcakam into English. almost a century ago. Glenn Yocum has published a study of tiruvAcakam recently. The devotional poems of Saint cuNtarar, numbering about a tthousand verses, had been translated by David Shulman recently. The Twelve Sacred Books of the Tamil Saivas were complete in the 12th century A.D. For the vast majority of the Tamil Saivites, the basic works of their religion are these Twelve Sacred Books. They don't look to any Sanskrit work for guidance.
The Vaishnava bhakti movement was dominated by twelve AzvArs - those who contemplate deeply on Vishnu. They were authors of tivvijapirapaNtam (sacred composition) of four thousand verses. Compared to the saiva devotional poems, the Vaishnava devotional poems make greater use of akam tradition and less of puRam tradition of the classical period. Friedhelm Hardy had brought out a fine publication recently on the history of this movement. Some important saints are AdAL, kulacEkarar, tirumangky and NammAzvAr. The works of the last one are very important and are sometimes referred to as Tamil Vedas. Though less influential in Tamil land, the Vaishnavite bhakti movement exerted great influence throughout India, during the later periods.
The temple worship seems to be a prominent feature from the beginning of the bhakti movement. Temples, built of durable material, first rock-cut and then made of stone, made their appearance from the 8th century. Huge stone temples were built by the cOLa Emperors and their successors throughout tamizNAdu. The temples became the centres, around which many aspects of life of the people were organized. Architects and sculptors were needed in the construction activities. Music, dance, and drama were patronized by the Hindu temples. These temples were generally rich, having been owners of land other forms of wealthy. They employed people and helped them in times of distress. The big temples are still great pilgrim centres to which the Tamil Hindus from all over the world yearn to visit. Most of the big temples in tamiz Nadu have myths of their own. David Shulman has made an interpretation of these myths recently. The big temples are the main attraction for the modern tourists in tamiz NAdu.
5.4. Age of Religious Philosophy. 1200-1800 AD.
The beginnings of philosophical speculations in India are traced to the Upanishads, which originated in North India and which are in Sanskrit. Buddhism dominated the philosophical field for many centuries and South India began to make significant contributions. The definitely identifiable contribution from tamizNAdu can be said to start from the 8th century A.D. Many religious philosophical doctrines of South Indian origin have been written in Sanskrit, may be because that language was the lingua-franca throughout the South Asian sub-continent in that age. In the eighth century, Sanskrit the propounder of Advita (monoism) hailed from Kerala, a part of ancient Tamil land. His Vedanta philosophy assimilated much of the world-view of the Buddhists and gave it a new twist. He is said to have toured throughout the sub-continent and engaged in debates with the Buddhists. What he had taken over from Buddhism is said to have helped him to win over large number of adherents of Buddhism which was already in decay in India at that time.
In the eleventh-twelfth centuries, Ramanuja, the propounder of (Visistadvita-qalified monoism) hailed from the present tamizNAdu. He was strongly influenced by the Vaishnava bhakti literature, based on the Puranic religion. He was better received in Karnataka than in tamiz Nadu. Ramanuja wrote in Sanskrit, so his impact among the Tamils is relatively limited. The history of Vaishnavism in tamizNAdu becomes a little complicated as the later Vijayanagar Emperors and the Nayak kings who were mainly Telugu origin gave it sustenance. They patronized Sanskrit and gave importance to Sanskrit sources. Soon, there was a schism in tamizNAdu Vaishnavism into vadakaly, (northern school) and tenkaly, (southern school) sects. The southern school, looks mainly to the Tamil Vaishnava texts for inspiration.
The thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries saw the appearance of the fourteen works of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy in Tamil.The basic Tamil work is civagnanapOtam. There is still a big controversy on whether this work is a translation of twelve aphorisms from an obscure or unattested portion of (Rauravagama). Saiva Siddhanta is a South Indian religion, found among the Tamils only. Besides the canonical fourteen works, there are subsidiary works and commentaries in Tamil only. Agamas are accorded a special status while the Vedas only a general status as basic works to the philosophy. The importance given to the Agamas makes South Indian Saivism, a distinctive form of Hinduism, in some respects. The Tamils try to derive the basic framework of the system from their own Twelve Sacred Books.
The development of many philosophical schools led to development of sectarian conflicts and later attempts to patch them up, especially by mystic poets like Saint tAjumAnavar in the 18th century and Saint IrAmalingkar in the 19th century. camaracam, (harmony) becomes the main theme. The former praises the CLEVER cittar, (poets of powers) who found harmony between Vedanta and Siddhanta. The latter founded cutta camaraca canmArkka cangkam, a Society for Religious Wisdom of Pure Harmony.
5.5. Modern Period.
Islam and Christianity are important minority religions in this period. Islam came to Tamils in two ways. Arab traders intermarried with local people and built up a community, who now speak Tamil or Malayalam. Muslim invaders from the North had temporary success in the South and their descendants speak Urdu. As in Vaishnavism, there is some split in the attitude of the Muslims towards Tamil. Many of them are proud to claim Tamil as their language and they have made substantial contributions to the development of Tamil for more than six hundred years.
The Syrian Christian community, in the West coast, claims that they were the descendants of native converts of the Apostle Saint Thomas, from the first century A.D. They have preserved some copper plates, which according to them, were received by Saint Thomas from native rulers of his time. Modern epigraphists have dated the these plates in the ninth and the thirteenth centuries. It is now clear that this community is enjoying certain privileges in Kerala at least from the 9th century. Like the Christian trading community, a small Jewish trading community also in the West coast, gained privileges from the native Hindu rulers in the 10th century, as testified by a copper plate in the possession of their descendants. Roman Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Protestantism was introduced by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British ruled over the entire Tamil homeland for 11/2 centuries - roughly from 1800 to 1950. Westernization and Modernization are going on, especially from the beginning of British rule and they are powerful forces even now. Christian missionaries have been very active and have considerable success in proselytisation. There was again Tamil polemical literature, reflecting a triangular contest among the Hindus, the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, especially between 1850 and 1925.
As for Jainism and Buddhism, the former continues to flicker, while the latter disappeared completely and has taken a new birth recently. Its rebirth is as a religion of protest, as a religion of the down-trodden. The people who became underprivileged and untouchable in the Hindu society felt that even Islam and Christianity could not bring them salvation and chose to accept Buddhism, on the advice of the late Dr. Ambedkar, their leader. Only a section of the underprivileged community called Dalits in India became converts. Their problem of integration into the rest of the population cries for solution.
The appeals to fundamentals of Brahminical Hinduism, as it is understood in North India, do not seem to have its echo among Tamils, because of the character of Hinduism in tamizNAdu. A few months ago, Prof. Saraswathy Vijayavenugopal, a folklorist from Madurai University in South India, in a lecture in Uppsala, made the observation that there seem to be many folk religions among the Hindu Tamils. Synchronization - continuing synchronism of different religions - seems to be a living process within what is called Hinduism among Tamils. The influence of political Hinduism, exemplified by Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishva Hindu Parishad, which champion Brahminical values, is negligible among Tamils.
The last half century in tamizNAdu is dominated by a powerful socio-political Dravidian movement, against North Indian influences, including Sanskrit and Hindi domination, but particularly Brahmin domination and oppression. among the Tamils in South India. Though the movement is split into many political groups. of which two are the two dominant political parties of tamizNAdu, there are still no indications that parties which don't subscribe to the ideology of the Dravidian movement can make headway in tamizNAdu. A small Brahmin community at the top is very vulnerable. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jains find comfort in identifying themselves with the vast majority of the Hindus in the Dravidian movement. A kind of secularism is fostered as the ideology of the movement. tirukkuRaL is held up as the embodiment of Tamil Culture. The classical Cangkam period literature is idealised as the literature of the Golden Age of the Tamils.
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