February 2006


A Question of Time

Aly Zaker

A glorious past travelling through a promising present toward a formidable future.

…………….. I remember having been overwhelmed by his (Neheru) narration of the world chronicle in his “History of the World Civilisation” at the impressionable age of fourteen. The way he took pride in being an Indian–the India that had one of world’s oldest universities–the great university of Nalanda. Incidentally, this university was also graced by a Bangali scholar from Bajrajogini in Bikrampur. A gentleman by the name of Sriggan Atish Dipankar. I remember having seen an almost innocuous road in remote Kamalapur named after him. A road that leads you to the Buddhist monastery there. As if Atish Dipankar was only a monk. As if naming of an inconsequential road was an adequate honour for him.

…..

I read the Aly Zaker piece published in Daily Star several years ago. So this time when I visited Bangladesh, I made sure I visit his birth place, which is located within a stones throw from by ancestral home.

Who is this Atish Dipankar?

Tibetans revere Dipankar, granting him a rank second only to Gautam Buddha and refer to him as Jobo Chhenpo (a great god). The lamas of Tibet, who hold political and religious power, feel proud to be introduced as disciples and heirs of Dipankar. The influence of Dipankar is still felt in the religion and culture of Tibet. Dipankar wrote, translated and edited more than two hundred books, which helped spread Buddhism in Tibet. He discovered several sanskrit manuscripts in Tibet and copied them himself. He translated many books from Sanskrit to Bhot (Tibetan). He also wrote several books on Buddhist scriptures, medical science and technical science in Bhot. Dipankar wrote several books in Sanskrit, but only their Tibetan translations are extant now.
Dipankar was born in a royal family of Guada in Bikramapur of Bengal which is east of Bajrasana. His father’s name was Kalyansri and mother’s name was Prabhabati. His birth place, Bajrayogini reminiscent of a ‘Yogi with Bajra’, a typical Buddhist name with Mahayana traditions still bears the same name across the long stretch of a thousand years despite many ups and downs in history.

Atish Dipankar household was identified to the generations of people in Munshiganj/Bikrampur area as “Nastik Panditer Bhita” (meaning ancestral home of atheist scholar). People of successive generations particularly after decline of Buddhism in Bangladesh in 13th-14th Century may have had forgotten Atish Dipankar. Yet he had lived in public memory with veneration as a remote anonymous atheist scholar till his birth place was identified by scholars working on life of Atish Dipankar.

Anyway, going back to my visit to Dipankar birth place, As we came closer, a signboard of a’ goru chhagoler khamar ‘( Goat and cow farm) greeted us at the entrance of the mud approach road. The khamar has been erected alongside a walled compund. A signboard of ” Atish Dipankar Smriti stamva” is lying upside down in one side. Within the walled area there is a 3 feet tall brick structure with a plaque stating ” Deep Regards For His Immortal Soul. Memorial Stone Laid By“…. followed by two ministers name who apparently came to unveil the memorial(?). People living in the Khamar has hanged clothes for drying on the perimeter fence of the “memorial Stone”. It was after Eid Ul Azha, look like people have used this empty piece of land for cow slaughtering and processing. There was dried blood everywhere.
I looked at the dried blood and tried to remind myself what Atish Dipankar preached all his life.

Detail of Atish will be be found in many websites but this is the most comprehensive I came across so far.

Atish Dipankar foundation has established ADUST , the atishdipankaruniversity in Dhaka.

Ash of his body is well preserved in Kamlapur Buddhabihar in Dhaka. Late president of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman arranged the transfer of the ash-casket from China in 1978.

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-Rumi

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ma

Maa is a novel by Anisul Haq. It is available online. It is based on a true story, in fact editor Shahadat Chowdhury termed it as a docu-fiction.

I heared about this novel of Anisul quite a while ago, but somehow couldn’t find it handy to be able to read it. During this Dhaka trip, Maa was in my list of the must buy books.

Last night, after many years, I cried while reading this book.

This books tells, vividly, the story of a mother who lost her only son during our war of independence. Azad was one of the crack platoon guerillas fighting with the Pakistani armies in 1971. On 30th August, 1971, along with other guerillas like Rumi, Bodi, Jewel, Alam, Chullu; Azad was also arrested from his house at Magbazar.

It was saturday night. I finished the book in one sitting. I cried all along.

Azad’s mother lived fourteen years after Azad was taken away by Pakistani armies. When Azad’s mother went to see Azad at Ramna thana, Azad asked her mother for rice. Azad’s mother returned with cooked rice and curry, but Azad was not there anymore. Azad’s mother never saw Azad again. With this deep pain, Azad’s mother never eat one grain of rice for the rest of her life. She also saw Azad lying on the cement floor of Ramna thana. And she never slept anywhere but on cement floor for the rest of her life.

Don’t know why. A unearthly gloom gripped me all over. I kept on crying.

In Ramna thana, when Azad asked her mother’s advice whether he would divulge his comrades names on the face of torture, she asked Azad to remain strong and not to betray his country and friends.

All these sacrifice, all these agony, all these tears, for all these years, —what else can be a better tribute than a prosperous, progressive and peaceful bangladesh?

-Rumi

1. The newspaper publishing the cartoons apologized on Jan 31, about 10 days ago.
2. Danish ambassador in Bagladesh, has apologized on behalf of his governmnet.

Now what else we can demand?
Shut the newspaper?
Hang the editors and the cartoonist?
The cultural editor has already been sent to indefinite leave.
The cartoonist is reportedly hiding in fear of life.

How we want to punish those reponsible for publishing the cartoons?Does Denmark have any law to do so?

We are liberal and progressive , always campaign for abolishing draconian anti freedome of speech laws. We demand that all the laws, those can be used to punish a journalist, cartoonist or artist should cease to exist.
Eaxctly that is probably the case of Denmak. They probably don’t have any law to punish a someone for opinions published in a newspaper.

Now more demands are coming to punish Denmark as a whole. Danish embassies are being arsoned, torched. Danish products are being boycotted.
.
The newspaper that publised the cartoons is apparently a right wing newspaper. Why punish all of Denmark for for the crimes committed by a handful? Isn’t it confusing? We, in one hand, blame the west for punishing the whole Muslim community for crimes committed by one Osama Bin Laden, and at the same time are doing the same mistake. Boycotting all danish products, punishing all of Denmark for crimes committed by a handful. It isn’t right. Should all of Bangladesh be punished for all what is written in Inqilab or Shangram or even janakantha?

Sevral years ago, Indian artist MF Hussein fell in the wrath of Hindu zealots for drawing a nude painting of an Hindu Goddess. Did India Hang M F Hussein? How would the rest of the world feel if India gave in to the street demands of right wing Hindus and did punish M F Hussein?

Before we burn Danish Flags, call for boycott of danish products, lets remember a friend of need.,DANIDA, the Danish International developement Agency. Bangladesh has been one of the main recipients of Danish assistance since its independence in 1971. Disbursements in Bangladesh increased from 144 million DKK in 1995 to 202 million DKK in 2004. Even in terms of foreign investment in Bangladesh, Denmark ranks 14th in 2002, way ahead of our ummah friends like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Malaysia etc.

It is true, what the Danish newspaper did is nothing but a blatant display of arrogance and hypocrisy recently being observed in a group of western population.

And it is harmful in more than one way. This event has given the cornered, transientltly contained violent Islamist groups in Bangladesh and rest of Muslim world a chance to come out of the hiding hole again. ” Khatme Nobuot”, the violence loving Islamist party held a huge rally in Dhaka today and their leaders delivered fiery sermons which were visible all over the electronic media in Bangladesh.

We have to remember, it is the time to remain calm. Lets not protest arrogance, ignorance and stupidity with greater display of arrogance, ignorance and stupidity. Lets cease this opportunity and educate the west about the teachings of Islam, the religion of peace. Lets educate them how Islam strictly rules against images of God or prophet. Lets teach west the rationale behind forbidding the idolization of Muhammad.

And at the same time while we protest the pencil caricature in a Danish newspaper, lets also show the guts to protest the caruicature using human bodies and blood in the streets of muslim countries. What is more henious? A cartoon or the suicide bombing of school bus, killing innocent children in Iraq? Or the bombing in wedding reception in Jordan? Or kidnapping of journalist Jill Carroll and force her into wearing Hijab and threat her of slaughtering?What justifies killing fellow Muslims because they are Shi’ite or Ahmadiya or Sunni of a different sect? Why collective muslim conscience is so quite in protesting those crimes?

1. The newspaper publishing the cartoons apologized on Jan 31, about 10 days ago.
2. Danish ambassador in Bagladesh, has apologized on behalf of his governmnet.

Now what else we can demand?
Shut the newspaper?
Hang the editors and the cartoonist?
The cultural editor has already been sent to indefinite leave.
The cartoonist is reportedly hiding in fear of life.

How we want to punish those reponsible for publishing the cartoons?Does Denmark have any law to do so?

We are liberal and progressive , always campaign for abolishing draconian anti freedome of speech laws. We demand that all the laws, those can be used to punish a journalist, cartoonist or artist should cease to exist.
Eaxctly that is probably the case of Denmak. They probably don’t have any law to punish a someone for opinions published in a newspaper.

Now more demands are coming to punish Denmark as a whole. Danish embassies are being arsoned, torched. Danish products are being boycotted.
.
The newspaper that publised the cartoons is apparently a right wing newspaper. Why punish all of Denmark for for the crimes committed by a handful? Isn’t it confusing? We, in one hand, blame the west for punishing the whole Muslim community for crimes committed by one Osama Bin Laden, and at the same time are doing the same mistake. Boycotting all danish products, punishing all of Denmark for crimes committed by a handful. It isn’t right. Should all of Bangladesh be punished for all what is written in Inqilab or Shangram or even janakantha?

Sevral years ago, Indian artist MF Hussein fell in the wrath of Hindu zealots for drawing a nude painting of an Hindu Goddess. Did India Hang M F Hussein? How would the rest of the world feel if India gave in to the street demands of right wing Hindus and did punish M F Hussein?

Before we burn Danish Flags, call for boycott of danish products, lets remember a friend of need.,DANIDA, the Danish International developement Agency. Bangladesh has been one of the main recipients of Danish assistance since its independence in 1971. Disbursements in Bangladesh increased from 144 million DKK in 1995 to 202 million DKK in 2004. Even in terms of foreign investment in Bangladesh, Denmark ranks 14th in 2002, way ahead of our ummah friends like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Malaysia etc.

It is true, what the Danish newspaper did is nothing but a blatant display of arrogance and hypocrisy recently being observed in a group of western population.

And it is harmful in more than one way. This event has given the cornered, transientltly contained violent Islamist groups in Bangladesh and rest of Muslim world a chance to come out of the hiding hole again. ” Khatme Nobuot”, the violence loving Islamist party held a huge rally in Dhaka today and their leaders delivered fiery sermons which were visible all over the electronic media in Bangladesh.

We have to remember, it is the time to remain calm. Lets not protest arrogance, ignorance and stupidity with greater display of arrogance, ignorance and stupidity. Lets cease this opportunity and educate the west about the teachings of Islam, the religion of peace. Lets educate them how Islam strictly rules against images of God or prophet. Lets teach west the rationale behind forbidding the idolization of Muhammad.

And at the same time while we protest the pencil caricature in a Danish newspaper, lets also show the guts to protest the caruicature using human bodies and blood in the streets of muslim countries. What is more henious? A cartoon or the suicide bombing of school bus, killing innocent children in Iraq? Or the bombing in wedding reception in Jordan? Or kidnapping of journalist Jill Carroll and force her into wearing Hijab and threat her of slaughtering?What justifies killing fellow Muslims because they are Shi’ite or Ahmadiya or Sunni of a different sect? Why collective muslim conscience is so quite in protesting those crimes?

-Rumi.

Telegram used to be a both very important and dreaded word in out communities as late as 80s. With increasing availability of telephone, early 90s probably first saw a decline in telegram usage in BD . Sickness, death news as well as important binding business documents used to be transmitted via telegram. Somebody is sick used to mean he or she has already died.

Probably there was a similar scenerio in USA too. Western Union used to be the provider of telegraph service in USA starting from the early decades of this century.

Western Union Sends Its Last Telegram

The era of the telegram, an icon of communication dating back 150 years, came to a quiet end last week. Western Union says it delivered its final telegram on Friday.

In truth, the telegram long ago succumbed to long distance telephones, faxes, e-mail and instant messaging. Even deliverers who sang them couldn’t save telegrams from the dustbin of history. The fact that one final telegram was sent last Friday is a tribute not to the telegram’s endurance, but to the glacial tediousness of extinction itself.

What will we remember of the telegram? Probably the prose style the economic of telegraphy engendered. Punctuation cost extra, so the word STOP substituted for a period. Otherwise, it was brevity in the extreme — pronouns, verbs omitted.

It was probably early 80s I had to use telegraph service in Dhaka. Bangladesh telegrapg and telephone board still has this service. Sending a telex in USA will cost you Taka 70/minute. I don’t know in this age of e mail, fax, mobile phones is there anybody left to use the telegram service anymore.

Rumi.

Telegram used to be a both very important and dreaded word in out communities as late as 80s. With increasing availability of telephone, early 90s probably first saw a decline in telegram usage in BD . Sickness, death news as well as important binding business documents used to be transmitted via telegram. Somebody is sick used to mean he or she has already died.

Probably there was a similar scenerio in USA too. Western Union used to be the provider of telegraph service in USA starting from the early decades of this century.

Western Union Sends Its Last Telegram

The era of the telegram, an icon of communication dating back 150 years, came to a quiet end last week. Western Union says it delivered its final telegram on Friday.

In truth, the telegram long ago succumbed to long distance telephones, faxes, e-mail and instant messaging. Even deliverers who sang them couldn’t save telegrams from the dustbin of history. The fact that one final telegram was sent last Friday is a tribute not to the telegram’s endurance, but to the glacial tediousness of extinction itself.

What will we remember of the telegram? Probably the prose style the economic of telegraphy engendered. Punctuation cost extra, so the word STOP substituted for a period. Otherwise, it was brevity in the extreme — pronouns, verbs omitted.

It was probably early 80s I had to use telegraph service in Dhaka. Bangladesh telegrapg and telephone board still has this service. Sending a telex in USA will cost you Taka 70/minute. I don’t know in this age of e mail, fax, mobile phones is there anybody left to use the telegram service anymore.

Bishwa Ijtema was a major news out of all Bangladeshi media outlet. Even international press covered the event with due importance.

Millions gather for Islamic prayer

Muslim gathering closes in Dhaka
At least four million Muslims are estimated to have attended a three-day gathering in Bangladesh.

I was going through the Bangladesh related blogs over the internet during these days. Young Bangladeshi bloggers are ever vigilant against any negative, sad, bad news coming out of Bangladesh. Any slightest flicker related to Jihad, violent islam gets magnified in the Bangladeshi blogs and keeps on Banging the blogs like 10.0 richter scale apocalyptic event.

But except for a childlish negative write up, bloggers were mostly dead silent about the successful management of Ijtema.

But it should have been the other way. While we are ever hellbent against Islamism, vigilant against rise of violent islam, we could cease the opportunity and show the muslim population of the country that Islam can be non-violent, non-political also. Compared to violent political Islam, Ijtema host Tablig Jamaat has come up as a good alternative movement of nonviolent, non political Islam. Tablig jamaat, born in our subcontinent, has shown this. Rather than importing wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, we have a peaceful movement to export to those Islamic countries which are the breedig ground of violent Islam.

In fact, I feel the the way, esp without any major incident, mishap, rather with relative efficiency, this huge gathering is being hosted annually, is commendable. Comparing the consistent catastrophies during Hajj in Mecca, Ijtema organizers as well as Bangladesh administrations over the years are doing a superb job in handling the crowd.

Not only for Muslims, Bangladesh has been arraging the mass crowd of the ‘Langalband snan’ of Hinduism followers for hundreds of years.

Langalband is a holy bathing river bank for the hindus since the Vedic time. It is situated on the right bank of Old Brahmaputra river, 12 km to the South East of Dhaka, on Dhaka Chittagong highway. Every year Over 50,000 Hindus gather here on the 8th lunar day during the Bangla month of Falgoon (April-May) to bathe in the holy water of the old Brahmaputra, purifying the soul and mind, driving the evil out.

A fairness while blogging— will it be too much to ask?

Rumi

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