Two South Korean Movies I watched this Week

I watched two South Korean movies this week: Train to Busan (2016) and Silenced (2011). Both of them coincidentally starred Gong Yoo and Yu-mi Jung as the leads. I had heard of Train to Busan as one of the best horror movies showing zombie apocalypse, but it felt like a drama for the most part. Silenced, on the other hand is categorized as drama but it shows the horror of being under-privileged in the society. In this blog, I am presenting short reviews of both the movies.

1. Train to Busan (2016)

In this movie, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) is taking his daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim) to her mother from Seoul to Busan during a zombie apocalypse. The zombie virus originates through a leak in a biochemical factory. The virus is spreading on the scales of a pandemic. People are getting crazy and cannibalistic. But the apocalypse is only a set-up to show the horrors of society.

Seok-Woo is a workaholic, who thinks only about himself. Soo-an, the daughter, is polite and selfless. She is the heart and soul of the movie. Her interactions with the other passengers show to her father that one should never be selfish, even in worse of times. However, the world has mean people, too. The acts of one selfish person can jeopardize the lives of other people. The movie also shows that good people can follow bad people out of fear and can make irrational decisions. Thus, this movie is an excellent commentary on the society.

The zombies in this did not scare me but thought that I might act selfishly in times of apocalypse or pandemic scared me. We saw how some selfish people created the global pandemic of COVID-19. Those memories made Train to Busan even more scarier. Is a selfish society more dangerous than a pandemic or apocalypse? Yes, I think it is.

2. Silenced (2011)

Silenced is based on real events that happened at a school for the hearing-impaired in 2005. I had watched a review (before watching the movie) on the YouTube channel Accented Cinema and had not been able to stop my tears. It took me a couple of weeks to gain courage to watch this movie.

Kang In-ho is a new art teacher at a school for disabled in Mujin. He loves art but cannot pursue his passion his wife died, his daughter is sick. To end his financial problems, he steps into the school thinking it might help his career. But the teachers, including the principal, are repeatedly sexually assaulting students. Despite all odds against him, In-ho decides to fight for justice with the help of an activist Seo Yoo-jin.

The school administration, however, has been bribing the police, education office, and “doing charities”. In-ho and Yoo-jin are helpless against the priviledged criminals. I was expecting them to succeed but the movie shows their failure. For the under-priviledged, the lack of justice is not only a tragedy, it is also a horror.

Nations were built in the past so that everyone could get security and justice. But over time, the fight for justice has been huge struggle for common people, even in prosperous nations. Silenced exposed the flaws in judiciary system of South Korea. The movie became such a strong voice that the existing laws were amended and the culprits were given harsher punishment.

This movie shows how powerful a cinema can be. A movie was able to change the laws of the nation. This is what movies or any art form should strive to do–change the society for good.

सोनाम वाङ्चुकको अन्तर्वार्ताले सिकाएका केही कुरा

१. ज्ञान र शिक्षा फरक कुरा हुन् ।
२. गलत शिक्षा हुनुभन्दा नभएकै वेश ।
३. शिक्षाको उद्देश्य सिक्ने या बुझ्ने हुनुपर्छ । त्यसो नभएसम्म शिक्षा र शिक्षा प्रणाली गलत हुन्छन् ।
४. उत्सुकता र प्रकृतिसँगको निकटताले मानिसलाई ज्ञानी बनाउँछ भलै उसले औपचारिक शिक्षा नपाएको होस् ।
५. दक्षिण एसियामा मातृभाषामा ज्ञान पाउन धेरै नै गाह्रो छ । मातृभाषाबाट हुने सिकाइले बालबालिकालाई उत्सुक बनाउन सिकाउँछ र उनीहरूको आत्मविश्वासमा समेत मद्दत गर्छ । मातृभाषामा राम्रो पकड छ भने अरू भाषा सिक्न पनि सजिलो हुन्छ ।
६. भूगोल र माटो अनुसारको शिक्षा उपयोगी हुन्छ । युरोपेलीको नक्कल गरेर अघि बढ्न सकिन्न ।
७. सरकारमा रहेका/प्रभावशाली व्यक्तिका सन्तानहरू सार्वजनिक शिक्षा प्रणालीमा नभएसम्म सार्वजनिक शिक्षामा केही परिवर्तन आउँदैन ।
८. प्रकृतिमा प्रकृतिसँग सिकेका कुराहरू वास्तविक ज्ञान हुन् तर त्यसतो मौलिक ज्ञानको साटो हाम्रा शैक्षिक संस्थाहरू युरोप र अमेरिकाका कोर्सहरू कपी-पेस्ट गरिरहेका छौँ । यसले हामीलाई पछि पार्छ ।
९. शिक्षाका तीन माध्यम हुन्छन्: (१) श्रुतियुक्त (सुनेका र पढेका कुरालाई महत्त्व दिने), (२) चेतनायुक्त (सुनेका/पढेका कुरालाई मनन गर्ने र तीमाथि तर्क गर्ने) र (३) भावयुक्त (अनुभव लिँदै सिक्ने) । हाम्रो शिक्षा प्रणालीमा अनुभव लिँदै सिक्ने कुराको अभाव छ ।

सोनाम वाङ्चुकको अन्तर्वार्ता

What can a human gain? Reflections from Vishwamitra’s tale

Humans have no limit to their desires. Fulfill one, another is ready to knock your door. Sometimes, the desires inspire humans to do great things but most of the times, the crowds of desires take you to a deep dark ditch, from which it is impossible to come out.

Vishwamitra’s tales are all over Hindu scriptures. He appears not only in Ved and Puran (Shruti and Smriti) but also in Ramayan and Mahabharat (Kavya and Itihas). Born Vishwarath in the royalty of Kanyakubja, was initially mentored by Dattatreya, the avatar of Lord Shiva. As a king, he desires to become the Universal Monarch, the ruler of all the World. But a battle with Vashistha changes everything.

Vishwarath, happy and proud of his victories, one day appears at Vashistha’s ashram. The king and his soldiers are hungry and tired. However, the sage easily provides adequate food for the huge army. Vishwarath wants to know how. Vashistha shows him Nandini, the divine cow who can provide any wish.

Vishwarath wants the cow for himself despite Vashistha’s warning that Nandini has free will and will only go with Vishwarath if she wants to go. Enraged, he wants to capture the cow but with her powers, she created an army to destroy the king’s army.

Despite his loss, the king wishes to teach divine beings a lesson. He gains Daivi astras (divine weapons) through yagya and goes to attack Vashistha. The son of Brahma absorbs everything with a Brahmadanda (a stick).

Enraged, Vishwarath gives his kingdom to his sons and starts a tap. One day, while meditating, he discovers Gayatri Mantra, the beej (seed) mantra of creation. Vishwarath becomes Vishwamitra.

His discovery shakes Swarga. Indra sends Menaka, an apsara to disrupt his penance. Although, Vishwamitra falls for her beauty, when he realizes he had been tricked, he leaves her. Menaka goes back leaving their daughter Shakuntala to the ashram of another Rishi, Kanva.

Vishwamitra continues his Yogic practices, gains siddhi and reaches the level of Brahma when he creates a universe for Trishanku. Trishanku had been cursed by Vashistha’s son Shakra for wanting to go to heaven with his human body. Vishwamitra did what was forbidden but also gained the title of Maharishi from Brahma for the feat he accomplished.

But the desire of revenge against Vashistha does not die. He gets involved in a act that kills Shakra. Vashistha, while sad that his son died, is glad that Vishwamitra’s act has actually helped improve his clan morally. Vishwamitra, who had desired to kill Vashistha, comes to know that the Brahma Putra had actually guided him in his spiritual journey. He realizes that his journey was not to be the king of the world, but its friend, Vishwa Mitra.

The tale of Vishwamitra shows that humans can push their limits to any extent. They can even equal the Brahma. But the biggest achievement is to act on the benefit of the world. With great power, indeed comes great responsibilities.

(I was inspired to write this article after finishing Vineeth Aggarwal’s Vishwamitra.)

सरकार ! नक्सा मात्रै निकालेर पुग्छ ?

(गणतान्त्रिक नेपालमा “सरकार” शब्द भद्दा लाग्छ । “सरकार” शब्द प्रयोग गरिरहँदा म आफूलाई भुईंमा बसेर गद्दीमा गमक्क परेर बसेको शासकको निगाह बक्स गरिरहेको कल्पना गर्छु । तर शासन संयन्त्रको लागि यो जत्तिको अर्को संबोधन छैन किनकी “सरकार” को चाकर नगरे सम्म जनताले जीवनका आधारभूत आवश्यकता पूरा गर्न सक्दैनन् । त्यसैले त्यही शब्दले सम्बोधन गर्न बाध्य छु ।)

२०७७ जेठमा नेपालको नयाँ नक्सा पारित भयो । भारतसँग विवाद रहेको कालपानी क्षेत्र लाई समेटेर नक्सा बनाए पनि त्यहाँको वस्तु स्थिति बारे बुझ्न सरकार तयार भएको देखिँदैन । साझा कथाले यूट्युबमा राखेको भिडियो हेरे पछि सरकारप्रति रिस उठेको छ ।

नेपालको नयाँ नक्सा
साझा कथाको साहसी टिमले बनाएको वृत्तचित्रको पहिलो भाग

कालापानी भू-भाग हाम्रो हो भन्ने कुरा भूगोलको आधारमा त गलत छैन तर त्यहाँ राज्यको अनुभूति खै त ? ज्यान हत्केलामा राखेर छाङरू सम्म पुगेको साझा कथाको रिपोर्टिङको पहिलो भागमा नै त्यहाँ मात्र होइन, विवाद नभएको ठाउँमा पनि राज्यको उपस्थिति शून्य देखिन्छ । पारि भारतमा दुई लेनका सडक छन्, बस्तीहरू मा आधारभूत सुविधा छन् , लगातार सुरक्षा गस्ती छ । बाटो निर्माण चलिरहेकै छ । यता पट्टि नेपालमा डरलाग्दा ठाडा भीर छन्, पहिरो छ । सुरक्षाकर्मीको नाम निशान छैन । ठूला मान्छे आएको बेला मात्रै ड्युटी चल्छ । सीमाना जस्तो संवेदनशील क्षेत्रमा समेत कोही सैनिक प्रहरी र प्रशासन नहुनुले हामीलाई देशका साँध सीमाको कुनै मतलब छैन भन्ने देखाउँदैन र ?

सीमालाई गम्भीरताका साथ नलिएको त आफ्नै आँखाले देखेकै हुँ सिन्धुपाल्चोकको तातोपानीमा । मितेरी पुल अगाडि साइन बोर्ड छ जसमा लेखिएको छ ‘यहाँ फोटो / भिडियो खिच्न मनाही छ ।’ सँगै एउटा सानो पोस्ट छ जहाँ हरबखत एक जना सुरक्षाकर्मी हुनैपर्छ तर छैनन् । पारि चिनियाँहरू पहरा दिएर बसिरहेका छन छन् । फोटो खिच्न मनाही भने पनि ‘उताको नखिच्नु यतापट्टीको खिच्दा हुन्छ’ भनेर यता बाट अनुमति पाइयो । सुरक्षाकर्मीहरू चैं गफ चुट्नमा व्यस्त थिए । पारिबाट कोही आयो भने पनि यता थाहा पाउने स्थिति छैन तर पारिका सुरक्षाकर्मी हाम्रा एकएक गतिविधि ध्यान दिएर हेर्छन् ।

त्यो भन्दा पनि अप्ठ्यारो अवस्था साझा कथाले बनाएको वृत्तचित्रमा देखिन्छ । सरकार, हामीले यहाँ नक्सा पास गरायौँ, खुशीयाली मनायौँ । तर आफ्नो स्वामित्वको, त्यसमाथि विवादित क्षेत्रमा सेना किन नपठाएको ? यत्तिका वर्ष उता बाटो बनिरहँदा किन चुप बसेको ? ‘मलाई कसैले रिपोर्टिङ गरेनन्’ भनेर प्रधानमन्त्रीले भनिसक्दा पनि रिपोर्टिङ गर्ने संयन्त्र स्थापना गर्न अझै पनि ढिलासुस्ती किन ? सरकार, अझै कति लाचार बन्ने ? नेपालको जमिनमा बसेका तर नेपालको सरकारले काहिल्यै नहेरेका त्यहाँका नागरिकले अपराध बोध किन गर्नु पर्ने ? बस्नु अपराध आफ्नो जमिनमा विवाद निम्त्याइ सकेपछि समाधानको पहल किन गर्न नसकेको ?

संघीय संसद्को नयाँ ‘लोगो’ जसले नेपालीको भावनामाथि उपहास गरेको छ

देशको कुनाकुनामा राज्यको उपस्थिति भए मात्रै देश बलियो र समृद्ध हुन्छ । नक्सा पास त संघीय संसदबाट भयो तर त्यही संघीय संसद्को लोगोले नयाँ नक्सा र जनभावना प्रति कटाक्ष गरेजस्तो लाग्छ । कालापानी क्षेत्रको समस्या समाधान नभएसम्म नक्सामा मात्रै राखेर गमक्क पर्न छुट छैन सरकार ! नक्सा सुरुवात मात्रे हो । यो पर्याप्त छैन । छिमेकीलाई बलमिच्याइँ गर्न नदिन हाम्रा संयन्त्र अझै लागेका छैनन् । केटाकेटी खेले जस्तो गरेर सीमा विवाद समाप्त हुँदैन । सरकार ! नक्सा मात्रै निकालेर हुन्छ ? झन्नै ६० वर्ष भो राज्यको उपस्थिति त्यहाँ नभएको । अझै कति ढिलाइ गर्ने हो ?

75 Years After the Atomic Bombings

Atomic bombings on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima and three days later in Nagasaki are among the cruelest acts humans did. In 2014, when I wrote a blog on the bombings, I had written:

Humans proved that day [the days of bombings] that they could do anything against anyone to gain power.

I had also written:

As for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they have been recovered as major cities but no crops, no grass has grown yet and it’s unknown until when.

I did not know that a red canna flower (Canna sp.) had bloomed in the rubble some months later giving hope to the survivors. Gingko trees that survived have another story to tell. Look for the links below to know their stories.

Stories of the red canna trees that survived the Hiroshima bombing:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-52459140/the-trees-that-survived-the-bombing-of-hiroshima

http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/kids/KPSH_E/hiroshima_e/sadako_e/subcontents_e/12yomigaeru_1_e.html

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13175243

Stories of the Gingko trees:

https://www.inverse.com/article/47833-hiroshima-gingko-trees-atomic-bomb

These are amazing stories of survival, rebirth and restoration. Some humans had stooped very low, destroying humans, cities and the nature, with their pride. Some humans had lost hope. Nature challenged their pride. She told them, “Your pride, your wars cannot destroy me.” And gave hope to the victims, “Not everything is destroyed.”

What is Justice?

From my recent article on Medium…

What is justice? Is it based on objective evidence or subjective judgement? I had not thought much about these questions until I watched Death Note, the 2006–2007 animated series.

Death Note is about Yagami Light who finds a notebook (aka Death Note), dropped by a Shinigami (God of Death), in his school. Using the notebook, he can kill anyone whose name and face he knows. Seeing the rotten world around him, he decides to use the notebook to get rid of criminals.

Ryuk, the Shinigami who dropped the Death Note in the human world, asks if it is the right thing to do. Light replies that people will on the surface say, “It’s not the right thing to do”, but deep down they want all criminals to be executed.

Murderers get away with little to no punishment using money and political influence, several cases have become stuck on the court, smugglers are caught only when the “setting” with police does not work, honest people are scared of the crooks because they control everything from the economy to government, and the media, criminals wave at cameras without any fear. Living in such circumstances, would I have done what Light does? If I say no, I am not being honest. …

भगवान् रामको जन्मभूमि नेपालमा नै छ ?

भानुभक्तको जन्मदिन । उनका रामायणका हरफहरू प्रशस्तै देखिरहेको थिएँ । साँझ ट्वीटरमा राम नाम जप्नेहरूको कमी थिएन । त्यसैको निरन्तरता हो कि जस्तो लाग्यो । एकछिन पछि हेर्छु त राम जन्मभूमि अयोध्या भारतमा होइन नेपालको वीरगन्ज नजिकै ठोरीमा पो छ भनिरहेका छन् । के भएछ भनेर बुझ्दै जाँदा प्रधानमन्त्री ओलीले दिउँसोको कार्यक्रममा त्यसो भन्नुभएको रहेछ । के अयोध्या नेपालमै थियो ? यो प्रश्न उठाएको एउटा लेख (‘भगवान् राम नेपालमै जन्मेका आठ प्रमाण’, २०७५ कात्तिक ३०, सौर्य अनलाइन) घुम्दैफिर्दै आइपुग्यो । लोकमणि पौडेलले लेख्नु भएको त्यो लेखमा आठवटा ‘प्रमाण’ प्रस्तुत गरिएको रहेछ । यी ‘प्रमाण’हरूको विश्लेषण गर्ने प्रयास गर्छु ।

१. ५ सय किलोमिटर टाढाको अयोध्याबाट रथमा चढेर जनकपुर आइपुग्न सम्भव थिएन ।

यो तर्क साह्रै फितलो छ । विश्वामित्रले गर्न लागेको यज्ञ मारीच र ताटका राक्षसराक्षसीले पटकपटक भङ्ग गरेकाले यज्ञको रक्षा गर्न र राक्षसराक्षसीको वध गर्न रामलक्षमणलाई अयोध्याबाट कौशिकी किनारको आश्रममा लागेका थिए । यो कथाले वाल्मीकि रामायणको केही भूगोल बुझ्न मद्दत गर्छ । बाल काण्डको सर्ग २३ देखि ३० सम्म सरयू नदी र गङ्गाको संगमस्थलमा रहेको अङ्ग प्रदेश पुगेको, गङ्गा तरेर ताटकाको वनमा गएर उसको वध गरेको, वन पार गरेर विश्वामित्रको सिद्धाश्रममा मारीच र सुबाहु राक्षसबाट यज्ञ रक्षा गरेपछि बल्ल मिथिलातिर लागेको प्रसङ्ग छ । त्यस्तै सर्ग ३१-६५ मा शोणा नदीको किनारमा बसेर विशाला नगर हुँदै मिथिला पुगेको उल्लेख छ । उता रामजानकी विवाह निश्चित भएपछि दशरथलाई सन्देश पुर्‍याउने दूतहरू तीव्र गतिमा घोडा चढेर तीन दिनमा आइपुगेको बताउँछन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६८.१) । त्यस्तै दशरथ नाना थरीका रथ लिएर चार दिनको बाटोबाट मिथिला पुग्छन् (वाल्मिकी रामायण १.६९.७)।

२. लक्ष्मणले सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छोडेर त्यही दिन फर्किए । भारतको अयोध्याबाट नेपालमा रहेको वाल्मिकी आश्रम २५० किलोमिटरको दूरीमा भएकाले एकै दिनमा फर्किन सम्भव छैन ।

नेपालको चितवनमा मात्रै वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेको मान्ने हो भने यो ठीकै होला । लवकुशले पिङ खेलेका भनेका लहरा, रामको घोडा बाँधेको खम्बा, पुराना इनार नभएका होइनन् । तर भारतको उत्तर प्रदेश राज्यको बिठोरमा पनि वाल्मिकी आश्रम रहेछ । त्यही आश्रममा सीता र लवकुश बसेको र रामायण पनि त्यहीँ नै लेखिएको मान्यता रहेछ । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम हालको नेपालमा थियो कि भारतमा ? ऋषिमुनिहरू तप गर्दै धेरै ठाउँ पुग्थे । वाल्मीकिको आश्रम एउटा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने छैन । एक ठाउँमा मात्रै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने पनि छैन । जसरी अचेल स्कूलका चेन हुन्छन्, गुरुकुल र आश्रमका पनि चेन हुन सक्छन् । हाल बिठोरमा रहेको आश्रममा लक्ष्मण सीतालाईले छाडेपछि हालको चितवनमा आएका पनि हुन सक्छन् । पछि उता गएका पनि हुनसक्छ ।  

यी दुवै आश्रममा सीता र लवकुशको कुनै सम्बन्ध नहुन पनि सक्छ । वाल्मीकि ऋषि हुनु अघि डकैती गर्दै दिन बिताउँथे । नारदले वाल्मीकिलाई राम नाम जप्न सिकाउँदा वाल्मीकिलाई रामका बारेमा थाहा नभए जस्तो लाग्छ । त्यस्तै नारदले वाल्मीकि ऋषि भइसकेपछि रामायण सुनाउँदा वाल्मीकि भन्दा राम धेरै नै प्राचीन जस्ता लाग्छन् । सीतालाई वाल्मीकि आश्रममा छाडिएको प्रसङ्ग उत्तरकाण्डमा छ जसलाई वाल्मीकिले रचेको नभई पछि थपिएको मान्नेहरूको सङ्ख्या पनि धेरै छ । वाल्मीकि रामायण डट नेटले उत्तरकाण्ड आफ्नो साइटमा राखेकै छैन ।       

३. सन् २००० मा प्रकाशित कमलेश्वरको उपन्यास ‘कितने पाकिस्तान’ मा अयोध्या रामको जन्मभूमि नभएको पुष्टि गरिएको छ ।

यो त मेरी म्यागडालिन जिजस क्राइष्टकी पत्नी थिइन् भनेर ड्यान ब्राउनले डा भिन्ची कोड उपन्यासमा भनेजस्तो भयो । अमिश त्रिपाठीले उपन्यासमा लेखेकाले रावण, हनुमान, गणेश म्युटेन्ट हुन् भन्ने पुष्टि भइसक्यो भन्न पनि नमिल्ला ! हुन त प्राचीन ग्रन्थको आधारमा रामको इतिहास केलाउन खोजिँदै छ र केही ऐतिहासिकता भेटिएको पनि छ तर ग्रन्थ र उपन्यासका “तथ्य” र “कल्पना” छुट्याउन पनि त कम गाह्रो छैन ।

४. भारतमा नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाए जस्तै बाबरी मस्जिदमाथि हिन्दूहरूले हमला गरून् भनेर त्यो ठाउँलाई अयोध्या भनिएको हुनसक्छ ।

बुद्धकालिन सम्पदाहरू नेपाल र भारत मात्रै होइन अफगानिस्तानसम्म पनि भेटिएका छन् । नेपालको लुम्बिनीमा भेटिएको अशोक स्तम्भले त्यहीँ बुद्ध जन्मेका हुन् भन्ने सिद्ध गरिसकेको छ । लुम्बिनी विश्व सम्पदा सूचिमा रहेको पनि बीसौं वर्ष भइसक्यो । भारतले नक्कली लुम्बिनी बनाउन कसरी सक्ला ?

हाल अयोध्या भनिएको ठाउँ धेरै लामो इतिहासबाट गुज्रिएको छ । मुस्लिमहरूले यो क्षेत्रमा आक्रमण मात्र गरेनन्, शासन पनि गरे र कति ठाउँ तहसनहस पनि पारे । तेह्रौं शताब्दीमा सिमरौनगढ पतन भयो । त्यसै ताका कान्तिपुर र भादगाउँमा पनि लुट मच्चाए । बाबरी मस्जिद भएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर थियो भनेर हिन्दूहरूले मस्जिद गिराउनु उचित भने थिएन । तेह्रौँ शताब्दीका मुसलमान र बीसौँ शताब्दीका हिन्दू उस्तै हुन् ? होइनन् भने बाबरी मस्जिद ऐतिहासिक धरोहर थियो । साम्प्रदायिक दङ्गा नहुने गरी व्यवस्थापन गर्न सकिन्थ्यो । जति राम मन्दिर त्यति राम्रो भन्ने कुरा पनि सुनियो । त्यसो हो भने जति बुद्धका धाम त्यति राम्रो किन नभन्ने ?

५. नेपालको चितवन जिल्लामा रहेको माडी प्राचीन समयदेखि नै अयोध्यापुरीका नामले पनि जानिन्थ्यो । त्यसैले वास्तविक रामजन्म भूमि अयोध्या हुनुपर्छ । केही समय पहिलेसम्म त्यहाँस्थित एउटा गाविसको नाउँ अयोध्यापुरी रहेको थियो । अहिले टाँडी नगरपालिका भएपछि वडा ७ र ८ मा परेको छ । सो ठाउँबाट जनकपुर करिब १ सय ८० किमी पूर्वमा पर्छ भने वाल्मीकि आश्रम झण्डै ७० किमी पश्चिममा पर्छ । त्यहाँबाट रथमा चढेर एकै दिनमा वाल्मीकि आश्रम पुगेर फर्कन सकिन्छ ।

माडी (चितवन) कि ठोरी (पर्सा) ? प्रधानमन्त्री भन्नुहुन्छ ठोरी । पौडेल भन्नुहुन्छ, “प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यूले मेरो लेख पढेर राम जन्मभूमि नेपालमा पर्छ भन्नुभयो ।” फेरि पौडेलको लेखमा माडी छ । अध्ययन नै नभएको कुरामा दाबी कसरी हुन्छ ? प्रधानमन्त्रीज्यू, कुनै कुरा दाबी गर्दा फ्याक्ट चेक गरौँ न है अनि यो लेख/किताबको आधारमा भनेको पनि भन्दिउँ न है । अस्ति मात्रै भारतीय मिडियालाई फ्याक्ट देखाएनन् भनेर गाली गरियो । हेर्नुस् त, भोलिपल्टै माफी माग्नुपर्यो । लाज भयो ।  

६. “उता वाल्मीकि आश्रम अहिले पनि नेपालमै पर्छ । यो सबैले मानिआएको विषय हो । चितवन राष्ट्रिय निकुञ्ज तथा पर्सा वन्यजन्तु आरक्षको दक्षिणी सिमानामा अवस्थित यस आश्रममा नेपालकै भूमि भएर पुग्न सहज छैन । अहिले पनि त्रिवेणीबाट नारायणी पार गरेर इन्डियाको टंकी बजार पुगी इन्डियाकै वाल्मीकि बाघ संरक्षण क्षेत्र हुँदै सुननदी र पतनदी तरेर पुग्नुपर्ने अवस्था छ । यसमा नेपाल सरकारको खासै ध्यान पुगेको छैन ।“

भारतमा पनि वाल्मीकि आश्रम रहेछ भन्ने त माथि लेखिसकियो । नेपालमा रहेको आश्रम सुगम हुनुपर्छ र संरक्षण गर्नैपर्छ ।

७. “रामायणको अन्तिमतिर वाल्मीकि, सीता र लव कुशलाई लिएर पैदल यात्रा गरी रामलाई भेट्न गएको वर्णन छ । वाल्मीकिले सीताको पवित्रताका बारेमा रामलाई अवगत गराएर सीता तथा लव कुश तीनै जनालाई रामको जिम्मा लगाउने योजना थियो । उनीहरूको भेट भएको ठाउँ अहिलेको देवघाट हो । त्यो वेला रामले सीतालाई स्वीकार गर्दा जनतामा गलत सन्देश जाने सोचेकाले सहजतासँग वाल्मीकिको आग्रह शिरोपर गर्न सकेनन् । यसबाट दुःखी भएकी सीताले धरती मातालाई पुकारिन् । धरती फाटिन् र सीता धरतीमा समाहित भइन् । त्यो ठाउँको दर्शन गर्न अहिले पनि देवघाटमा तीर्थालुहरूको भिड लाग्छ ।“

उत्तरकाण्डको यो पारिवारिक भेटघाट चितवनको देवघाटमा नै भएको ऐतिहासिक प्रमाण छ र ? उत्तरकाण्ड किन सन्देहपूर्ण छ भनेर त माथि आइसक्यो । फेरि नदोहोर्याऊँ । तर रामायणलाई इतिहास मान्ने हो भने धर्ती मातालाई पुकारेको अनि धर्ती फाटेको कुरा चाहिँ पत्यारिलो लाग्दैन । 

८. “अहिलेको अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पश्चिम नारायणी नदी पार गरेपछि रामग्राम आउँछ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि उत्तरतिर रामपुर छ । अयोध्यापुरीदेखि पूर्व सुनसरी जिल्लाको जंगलमा रामले धुनी जगाई आगो तापेको ठाउँ अद्यापि रामधुनीका नामले प्रसिद्ध छ । उता देवघाटसँग जोडिएको रामनगर पनि बिर्सनु हुँदैन । पाल्पामा पनि रामपुर छ । रामपुरसँगै काली नदीको किनारमा रामघाट छ जहाँबाट राम अन्तध्र्यान भएका थिए । रामायणमा रामले आफ्नो राज्य विस्तार गरेको प्रसङ्ग उल्लिखित छ । वरिपरिका रामनाम युक्त ठाउँहरू रामले विजय प्राप्त गरेका ठाउँहरू हुन सक्छन् ।”

राम जन्मभूमि भनिसकेपछि त्यसको वरिपरी रामको नाम भएका ठाउँ हुनु स्वाभाविक नै होला । तर यो पनि अनुमानमै सीमित छ । अरू नै कुनै राम पनि त हुन सक्छन् नि ! रामायणका रामभन्दा अघिका परशुराम पनि राम नामले नै चिनिन्थे । वाल्मिकी रामायणमा परशुरामलाई पटकपटक भार्गव राम र जामदग्न्य राम भनिएको छ दुई रामका बीचमा कन्फ्युजन नहोस् भनेर । विष्णुका दुई अवतारको नाम राम छ भने अरू कति राम होलान् ?

थप कुरा

माथि वाल्मीकि रामायणका आधारमा मात्रै विश्लेषण गरेँ । अरू रामायणबाट कुरा आए भने मेरा तर्क पनि काटिएलान्, सीमित अध्ययन भएकाले वाल्मीकि रामायणले नै पनि काट्न सक्छ । ठूलो कुरा होइन । रामायण मात्रै ३०० वटा सम्म रहेका छन् । नारद, वाल्मिकी, कालिदास, तुलसीदास, काम्बन, भानुभक्त त मैले थाहा पाएका केही रचयिता हुन् । रामायणका पात्रहरूका अनेक कथा छन् । विभिन्न क्षेत्र र भाषाका लोककथाहरूमा राम कहिले सामान्य मानिस, कहिले राजा त कहिले भगवान् बनेका छन् । पाली भाषाको ‘दशरथ जातक’मा राम र सीता दाजुबहिनी हुन्छन् । कुनैमा रावणवध रामले नभएर लक्ष्मणले गर्छन् । काम्बन रामायणमा सीता रावणकी छोरी हुन्छिन् । पहाड, सागर र पुष्पक विमान बोलेको जस्ता दन्त्यकथा रामायणमा अटाएका छन् भने विश्वामित्रको तपस्या, शिवधनु, परशुराम, जस्ता पौराणिक कथा पनि आएका छन् । यस्ता कठिनाई बावजुद रामायणको ऐतिहासिकता खोज्ने प्रयास भइरहेका छन् जुन निकै गाह्रो काम हो ।

असार १३, २०७७ मा भोगीराज चाम्लिङको ‘रामायणको लंका : श्रीलंका कि भारतमा ?’ शीर्षकको अन्वेषणमा आधारित एउटा लेख कान्तिपुरको कोसेलीमा छापिएको छ । लेखमा भाषिक अध्ययनका आधारमा लंकाको अर्थ टापू हुने, साथै भारतको मध्यप्रदेश स्थित क्षेत्रका आदिवासीका इतिहासका आधारमा उक्त क्षेत्रमा रामायणवर्णित लंका थियो भन्ने तर्कहरू सन्दर्भ सहित प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ । त्यसभन्दा अघि २०७६ असोज २५ मा नयाँ पत्रिकाले ‘लंकाकोण’ शीर्षकमा सौरभको लेख प्रकाशन गरेको छ । यसमा पनि सन्दर्भहरू दिँदै विभिन्न भाषामा लंकाको अर्थ दक्षिण र टापू भनिएको छ र रामायणको लंका मध्यप्रदेशमा पर्छ भन्ने कुरालाई पनि जोड दिइएको छ ।

वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन हुँदै जाँदा पुराना मान्यता फेरिएर नयाँ मान्यता स्थापित हुनु नौलो होइन । राम जन्मभूमिका विषयमा पनि उचित वैज्ञानिक अध्ययन भएर नयाँ कुरा आउनसक्छ तर अकस्मात नयाँ मान्यता आए भने तिनलाई आत्मसात् गर्न गाह्रो पनि हुन सक्छ । कोपर्निकस, ग्यालिलियो, डार्विनजस्ता वैज्ञानिकका प्रमाणित तथ्यलाई समेत जनमानसले सहजै ग्रहण गर्न सकेन ।

रामलाई कथाको पात्र मान्ने हो भने उनी जहाँ जन्मिएका भए पनि के फरक पर्छ र ? ऐतिहासिक पात्र हुन् भने पनि जुन बेला उनी जन्मिए, त्यो बेलाको भूगोल अहिलेको जस्तो छँदै थिएन । उनी न नेपाली थिए न भारतीय । उनलाई मान्नेले उनका कर्मका आधारमा भगवान् मानेका छन् । उनका गल्ती देखाएर उनलाई भगवान् नमान्ने पनि छन् । भगवान् मान्ने हो भने त उनी सर्वव्यापी छन् । न आदि छ न अन्त्य । न जन्म न मरण । बुद्धका हकमा पनि लगभग यस्तै कुरा लागू हुन्छन् । अनि यस्ता विषयमा झगडा किन गर्नुपर्यो ?

तर म बबुरोले मात्रै होला यस्तो सोच्ने ! राम जन्मभूमिका नाममा उठेको विवाद साम्प्रदायिक द्वन्द्वमा परिणत भयो । त्यही द्वन्द्वबाट उठेर भारतीय जनता पार्टी राजनीति गरिरहेका छन् । भारतीय सर्वोच्च अदालतले बाबरी मस्जिद भत्काएको ठाउँमा राम मन्दिर बनाउन पाउने निर्णयलाई भारतीय प्रधानमन्त्री मोदीले राम्रै क्यास गरे । जुन रामको नाममा मोदी राजनीति गर्दैछन् तिनै रामको जन्मभूमिलाई फिक्का तर्कको आधारमा नेपालको भनेर दाबी नै गरिदिन्छन् ओली । कताकता डर लागिरहेको छ । भगवानका नाममा झगडा नगरौं भन्दा पनि कहिले बुद्ध त कहिले रामको विषयमा विवाद भइरहँदा रिचर्ड डकिन्सको ‘द गड डिल्युजन’मा पढेका (ठ्याक्कै यस्तै नभए पनि) शब्दहरू याद आइरहेको छ –“नरम भन्दा नरम धर्म (सम्प्रदाय) लाई मान्नेहरू पनि जुनसुकै बेला कट्टर हुन सक्छन् । त्यसैले सबै साम्प्रादाय हटाउनुपर्छ ।“

वर्षा

काला बादलका पर्दाले

मनमा उमङ्गको लहर उठ्छ ।

जब नीलो आकाश र रापिलो घाम ढपक्क ढाकिदिन्छन्

रिमझिम झरीले जमिनलाई जसै सुवासित गर्छ

मनले सर्वात्र खुशीको बिज छर्छ ।

हिलो मैलो नभनी

दु:ख गरी दिनरात

सपना बुन्दछ अन्नपातको सुखको ।

काला घना बादलहरू

जब झमझम अविरल बर्सन्छन्

काँप्दछ मन !

खुशीमा ग्रहण लाग्ने पो हो कि ?

भेल बन्छन् कि खेतबारी ?

बाढीले बगाउँछ कि सारा सपनाहरू ?

पहिरो आई खस्छ कि मेरा आशा माथि ?

तुहिने हुन् कि इच्छाहरू ?

हे ईश्वर !

बचाइदेऊ मेरा सपना !

नपार निराश मलाई,

पूरा गरिदेऊ मेरा एक मुठी रहर !

फुर्सद छैन कि ईशलाई ?

मौन बसेको छ !

निद्रामा पो छ कि ?

मेरा प्रार्थना उसका कानमा नपुगे जस्तो छ !

काला घना बादलहरू

भेल बनी आउँछन् !

गड्गडाउँदै पस्छन् घरखेतमा

तुहाइदिन्छन् सपना र रहरहरू !

गर्जंदै खसेर माथिबाट

निमिट्यान्न पार्न खोज्छन् आशा र इच्छाहरू !

सास बाँकी छ

आश बाँकी छ

शोक र भोक छ ।

शक्ति अझै बाँकी छ

पीडाले बलवान बनाइदिएको छ ।

भविष्य निर्माणमा अघि बढ्छु !

वर्षा यामका

काला घना बादलहरू

मेरो जीवनका निर्णायक हुने छैनन्

कुनै ईश्वरको मौनताले

मेरो भाग्य उल्टिनेछैन

मेरो भाग्यको मालिक म आफैँ हुनेछु

मेरो सुकर्मको फल म आफैँले पाएको हुनेछु ।

(२०७७/०३/३०)

Memories

I have lost hundreds of photos and documents due to hard drive crashes and memory card failures. Crashes are inevitable. Electronic devices can fail anytime without any symptom. I backup some of my important data online but I don’t backup everything. Over years, hard drives turn into parts of my own memories, and they even represent my personality. I feel I lose myself every time a crash occurs. Sudden crashes have hurt me at least five times now, the recent one occurring on February 14, and I have not been able to recover everything yet.

Our brain captures our sensory perceptions and makes memories. The brain also erases the ones that are less significant. It is so spontaneous that we don’t care how the construction and deconstruction of memories occur. I have come to realize that when we actively interact with the environment, we make sharper memories compared to times when we are passive. Undivided attention helps produces better memories than when my mind is divided. My memory becomes the weakest during the times I have to multi-task. As I am writing this, my mind is trying to run quickly, but it is also interrupted by the talks of my sister and mother, and the loud TV. I am trying to understand what they are talking about but my mind processes only bits and pieces. I am sure when I wake up tomorrow, I won’t be able to remember anything of this evening except that I was typing something on my laptop.

This lack of proper memory construction a frightening situation for me. It was not always this way. I used to do home-works while watching TV in the past. My brain might not be as effective as it was 10-12 years ago; I don’t know. I might not have been able to grasp information from different senses at the same time. I can’t say for sure. Did my brain change the way it worked as I grew into an adult? I can’t say for sure. What I know for sure is that the volume of information my brain has to process is huge, and it has tired. All the things from trivial to complex calculations have affected it for a few years. The fatigue has lingered for a long time as I have not been able to give it a proper rest.

Unrested mind is unstable. It fears more, lacks confidence, and kills enthusiasm. It has so much to do but does not want to do anything. Moments of laughter decrease as worry grips every thought. Such a mind does not make good memories. It takes one deeper into abyss. Images of Riley from the movie “Inside Out” run in my mind as I write these lines. Sometimes, I see myself in her place, trying to keep myself happy against all conditions and making myself sadder as time passes.

The TV is making me listen to Yog Gurus who are focusing on happiness and Pranayam (breathing techniques) that help in the removal of all thoughts. After that, they say, we can enforce happy thoughts. I have not tried them yet, but as I look the paragraph above I become doubtful. Are we composed only of happy thought? We definitely are not. We are made up of several different kinds of emotions—happy, sad, angry, and so on that have roles in defining our personalities. And as the movie “Inside Out” showed, these feelings are ingrained in our memories.

Do memories make us human? Do they drive humanity? As long as I know, we learn a lot of things from the individual experiences of our parents, teachers, friends, and our own. We also have collective memories in the forms of communities, societies, rituals, libraries of books, and archives of different forms of media. Humanity relies on these things so that we don’t have to start from the beginning of the civilization. Humans are in a sort of relay race where the older generation passes the baton of memories to the younger generation can continue from what they have. A new generation always more privileged. Look at the progress in technology, for example.

Progress in technology means that we are relying more and more on it to keep our memories. Will a time come when the machines understand the meanings of our memories? That they will empathise with us? We are already astonished by the answers given by Siri and Sofia, aren’t we? Will they be more human than we ever are? “Blade Runner 2049”, the sequel to the classic “Blade Runner” movie triggered the question within me. Both the movies focus on memories implanted in factory-made humans; the sequel on the memories of automated programs as well. I don’t have the answers to the questions but the possibility of the machines becoming more intelligent or more human could be possible. For now, I am happy with the machines helping me put a part of me into them. It’s a risk as they may crash any time and I might lose those bits of my memories again. It’s okay because, “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”[1]


[1] Quote from Rutger Hauer’s character Roy in Blade Runner (1982)

Book Review: Dr Sanduk Ruit’s biography could have been brilliant but it lacks lustre

The first time I had heard the name of Dr Sanduk Ruit was in 2006 when he was awarded with the Magsaysay Prize. As uncommon his name sounded to me, the determination to help the poor by treating their eye diseases at an affordable price was also uncommon.

Despite his revolutionary work in treating cataracts and establishment of the famous Tilganga Hospital, Dr Sanduk Ruit is not as famous as he should be. This is probably due to his low-profile attitude, his appreciation for his team, and insufficient media coverage from Nepal. This is a book that helps one understand Ruit and appreciate his hard work in helping the helpless. It gives insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the beloved doctor. It tells about his family, his beliefs and his passion. These factors make the book valuable.

The book is interesting at first. The early life of Ruit engaged me. The hardships of his and his parents’ lives tells a lot about the struggles the blind have to go through in the rural Himalayas. However, their journey to Darjeeling, Dhankuta and later to Kathmandu makes them more privileged than most people in the area. The book has not emphasized this, however, which seemed quite odd to me.

Dr Ruit’s greatest achievement lies in the establishment of a cheap and efficient method of cataract surgery, and the book does wonderful work in capturing that. His work in the Upper Mustang is the best because the team had suffered a lot to reach there and establish a camp. In spite of all the hardships, they were able to restore sights of hundreds. This and several other camps are inspiring.

The non-linear narration gives the feel of watching a documentary. In some places, it is good but in many places, when the timeline shifts from one to another, I felt like I missed an important matter. The non-linearity also means that sentences, paragraphs, and at one instance, a case are repeated.

There are some issues in the book that disappointed me. One is the exaggeration of the caste issue. In the part where Ruit’s parents get married, class could have been an issue instead of caste. But it does not matter because it does not take the narrative anywhere. The wedding is accepted by both the families and there is no pride in them. In the chapters of his childhood in the school at Darjeeling, he is said to have been bullied and he was left alone because of his caste/race. A picture in the book itself, however, tells a different story.

When the doctors of Nepal Eye Hospital refused to follow Ruit’s method, caste system is blamed directly. The reasons are obvious: (1) Ruit’s method had not gone through a proper clinical trial, and (2) people are always sceptical about new technologies that have not appeared in peer-reviewed journals. To bring caste, in this case, was absolutely unnecessary.

This one part of Ruit’s life that made me sad and furious. Ruit pulled off a cheap Bollywood style stunt in order to make Nanda talk to him. This is the worst part, and the most uninspiring. The fact that Nanda, despite being great at nursing, left her job “to look after the family” is also uninspiring. She did what is traditionally expected of women in Nepal. But I felt they could have done so much more, had she and Ruit been together in all their camps.

I wish Nepalese journalists gave more emphasis on inspiring works of common people instead of conspiracy theories and political figures. It’s a wonder we did not have a Nepali book on Dr Ruit before this book came out. The translation of the book has also arrived, but Khagendra Sangraula has not been able to deliver an interesting retelling in Nepali. There is literal translation in most places, including titles, that put me off.

Summary

Book: The Barefoot Surgeon (Sanduk Ruit in Nepali Translation)

Author: Ali Gripper

Rating: 3/5