Friday, 2 December 2016

Freedom Struggle as Test Match

Mainstream leaders are in a strange predicament; they have stakes with both the sides and they clap for both of them.

Philosophy, art and religion all have taught us the importance of the metaphor and reality of play or game and all second Shakespearean view of life as a stage and our role as actors. Art is in fact premised on seeing life as play. The world is God’s play (lila) and the best answer given by traditions to the question why God created the world is that it is free activity (play) of  the Divine. All things have to be done artistically, with an eye on beauty or perfection (ihsan) and that is all we are called for Sports have been our prized activity, akin to artistic and religious activity and its ultimate rationale/end is spiritual or celebrating the glory and freedom of Spirit which has been likened to a child. Worship involving rituals also plays on the elements of repetition, self forgetfulness through rapt attention on activity and attuning with the deeper rhythms of life that are characteristic of play and the best prayer is one in which no other motivation than pure free play of spirit, the joy of praying occurs. A child plays and that is enjoying life to its hilt. We are here on a really serious mission of playing our role in life with true spirit of a player, an actor. Kashmiris have been for past many decades involved in playing the role of seeking freedom or its paler images like autonomy.  Let us attempt to explore the analogy of test match to Kashmir’s freedom struggle and see how we fare in the game.
      Kashmir’s freedom struggle is more like an open ended test match (and not T20 or one day match that end quickly and usually decisively) with multiple innings that might seem to  probably inconclusively proceed though one can’t say it is drawn or would be drawn. The latest match is 70 years long with long periods of rather dull or boring interlude. It tests patience, changes roles of the players who defend (bowl) and attack (bat) alternatively. Its essence, more than winning and losing, lies in playing well and getting into a position where one can declare. To get into such a commanding position, we have to save wickets (prevent loss of life, retired hurt) and not play wild shorts or get tempted to come out of crease (resort to violence) and perfect the art of leaving certain deliveries unplayed. However, it appears that we are playing the game not on our terms but on other’s terms; we react, we fumble, we hesitate, we play too many wild shorts, we risk wickets and our body language has only occasionally phases of enthusiasm to win – or play well. We have anxiety to conclude it before Providence’s scheduled time. Post-Burhan is the session of mostly loose and wild deliveries from India on which maximum runs could be secured.
      Pakistan has been a noisy spectator who uses all means to cheer up certain moves that Kashmiris make against the other that is mostly India and sometimes certain indigenous elements and could even be certain imagined abstractions that are hero’s untamed unconscious or distractions. The hero is the soul of Kashmir held captive by thousand headed Ravans who are often misidentified as consisting primarily or exclusively of the imagined other and are really both within and without. However we focus today mostly on the Ravan as projected by Kashmiri imagination and assume it to be real without forgetting that ultimately Ramayana of the soul is fought within and egos of leaders and desires or ambitions of oppressors that prevent encounter with the Truth and thus delay deliverance. If Nehru were Gandhi he wouldn’t have waited till death to resolve Kashmir. If there were no possessive desire for water and beauty and other things of the bride called Kashmir, we wouldn’t have had thousand ships launched for it – I mean against it as the bride sees it.   
      But life as play implies that we don’t forget essentially human ties that bind all mortals. One hugs the opponent after the game is over but those who know the secret of life as play better would not mind hugging during water breaks or even during the play. The other is and remains God expressing Him in the guise of majesty or rigour. We should have no grudge against the other actors in the play as they too have been hurled unasked into the cauldron of the game that respects no sentiments or wishes of any of actors or it could also be a case of willed or unwilled blindness on their part.
      The deepest philosophy and art in play is not to worry about results though one does play for winning with all seriousness. Mainstream leaders are in a strange predicament; they have stakes with both the sides and they clap for both of them and deep in their being they have perhaps transcended attachment with winning or losing of the team (that explains how they can dramatically change sides in supporting one or the other side) but remain committed to winning their individual points. They are  to be pitied or sympathesized with as they have no team on their side (or are suspect for both sides)  and play on ambivalence of both sides in moments of doubt and  have been denied  the thrill of playing well, playing on their own terms, striking long majestic handsome sixes and taking wickets  in style. They are living life on a low pitch and that is hardly a life and that doesn’t know the depths and heights of spirit that plays. And for those who are mere spectators – who watch only from a distance, maintaining neutrality, playing too safe one can be sure, as is said, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for them as they are for those who maintain neutrality at the time of moral conflict. We must be either on ground or actively involved in cheering the players to boost them and thus participate in the thrill that life is as play. But most of us are mere commentators or have some ambivalence regarding identifying the sides (power interests poison everything including our ground for playing) or are justifiably worried about too many bad shorts or deliveries.
      Life’s play never ends, not even with death (barzakh involves another life and then on who knows the sojourns of the spirit?). Let us not forget our stature as beings that play (Homo ludens) and keep playing with dignity even in prison as far as it is possible while continuing to fight for the birthright to play freely. None can predict when freedom visits us. Till then we must play the game well, passionately but detachedly with regard to results whose precise nature is  difficult to foresee and that have something to do with the secret of providence.

      Let us not forget that not all roles are equivalent or chosen by decent people. We all would ideally identify with the role of the hero and not the villain. We seek beauty and joy and grandeur and perfection and that involves struggling with the villains of all kinds as the great stories of Yusuf (A.S) and Odyssey and some great epics illustrate. Scandals must come – villainous roles are to be played – but woe to those through whose hands they come as the Bible states.

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