S.S. KARNADSHAW writes from Bangalore: As the Rahul Mahajan saga continues to unfold on television at half-hourly segments, there is one distinct clip of visual memory that repeatedly rewinds and plays itself in my mind.
It goes back to a month, May 3 to be precise, when papa Mahajan was being consigned to flames. Rahul was lighting his father’s pyre in a white linen shirt, with the sacred thread sticking firmly to his sweat-stained, water-drenched chest so as to be visible through the shirt.
That wasn’t what caught my attention—it was the blue jeans in which he went around the funeral pyre, pot in hand, that did. Jeans—nice, blue, faded and tight.
Wasn’t that very very unusual, I thought, for a son to be so casual and callous on a solemn occasion? A pair of jeans trousers, the very symbol of the “brute and amoral West,” was not what one would have expected at the funeral of the one of the most important members of India’s Hindu right-wing party.
Rites of passage are supposedly the most sacred, and even the most evolved non-believers make generous concessions on such an occasion. There is a mellow subservience of even the harshest ideology at the altars of death. But that day, only Rahul’s disoriented looks seemed to suit the occasion.
A cruel question can be asked in hindsight, but we will let that pass.
The oddness was sharper on the day because it was a BJP/RSS moment, it was also being widely televised as such. The entire BJP/RSS top brass was present for the funeral and the one who had died was a man who, once a humble swayamsevak-school teacher, had evolved in recent years into a shrewd and flamboyant political moneybag.
The BJP/RSS leaders present there on the day had made their political careers by being the most self-righteous and zealous protectors of Hindutva. Their xenophobia was well known with their “anti-Italian” rhetoric. But then why did they not advise their own cub-member to fall in line with Hindu ideas of samskara?
Rahul Mahajan’s sartorial idiosyncracy seemed all the more stark considering that it was Sushma Swaraj, as I&B minster, who prescribed a dress code for DD’s women newscasters?
Sauce for the Dilli goose is not sauce for the Mumbai gander?
Forget’s Pramod Mahajan‘s party colleagues, why was the boy’s mother not instructive? Why did the political-correct uncle Gopinath Munde not intervene? Why did not even a relative or a bystander point it out? Were they all taken in by emotions by a death that was 12 days coming, or was Rahul beyond everybody’s control even then?
I am not a great advocate of Hindu rituals, dharma and samskara; I am not crying because somebody did not do it to perfection, but occasions like these provide a perfect window to take a sneak peek at the brazen hypocrisy of Hindutva’s staunchest advocates.
I mean to say that they are the biggest unfaithfuls and non-believers of what they preach—as every single minute since Thursday night has revealed.
At best I could describe myself as a vague Left liberal or a social democrat but then that does not prevent me from speaking for decorum and decency, does it?
Even a father, whose legacy and money Rahul was inheriting wholesome, deserved something more fitting than jeans. Any wonder, then, that it didn’t come from a son who needed champagne and a bit of white powder to fortify himself for the tilanjali?
>> I am not a great advocate of Hindu rituals, dharma and samskara; I am not crying because somebody did not do it to perfection, but occasions like these provide a perfect window to take a sneak peek at the brazen hypocrisy of Hindutva’s staunchest advocates.
Oh come on :-)
I am as Hindutva walla as they come, and I love my jeans. Infact, I had the opportunity to meet Rajju Bhaiyya in a small group and almost everyone in that group was wearing jeans/some other western clothes.
Our Xenophobia doesnt extend to clothes, or almost all of the clothes people wear in India these days. ;-)
I am no great fan of the individuals described but I think this article is in poor taste. If the author had said that he is an advocate of rituals and expected adherence to its practices, it could have been more easy to swallow (sic) the points made, however unpalatable they might have seemed.
Having said that he is not an advocate of rituals and the like, the points made do not wash. Also if these points had been made about one of the party hardliners themselves, the statement about hypocrisy would have made sense. Here he is talking about a person who is a non-member and whose father was one of the more liberal faces.
In fact the author should have celebrated the fact (if he is a liberal) that the dress code was somewhat relaxed.
First, Rahul was not a part of the party so he was not bound by BJP’s sartorial ideas.
Second, why blame BJP? Look at the entire Congress culture of wearing Khadi..Does Rahul Gandhi wear khadi in America?
Third, our left liberals are only slightly better in telling us what we should we wear and watch. Who was the first to ban Da Vinci Code?
Your article was insensitive and yet coming from someone who claims he is Leftist, understandable.
Well that picture struck me too…lighting pyre – cowboy style! well may be he was just high on drugs…..
I don’t understand the comments made by others…I don’t think that they have ever been to a western funeral and the dress code that goes along with it. It is not what you wish to wear in funeral…it is just to dress up to show respect to the departed soul. If you wear jeans in funeral, it may be your wish, but just for a moment think of that dead man.
Anyway we Indians are faux-naïf Liberals. Don’t even talk about liberalism (small L).
Maybe he was in the same jeans all 20+ days when Pramodji was in hospital. the writer should go, sting and find out whether Rahul had changed his chaddi, its make.. whether Swadeshi or Rivolta
go ahead churumuri. You are doing it excellent.
This is in extreme bad taste. May be he has caught with cocaine, he had champagne before immersing his father’s ashes in Brahmaputra, but being sarcastic when someone is down is really being cruel.
This is as if venting out all the anger at some political rival as if there wont be any second chance.
Expect better stuff from Churumuri. Talk about the issues, life style of hi-society fellows, their arrogance etc. Grow up.
I am unable to comprehend most of the comments to KP’s simple point about propriety and occasion. And of course, about the hypocrisy of our leaders. says something about us too, ain’t it.
Yeah, Bring on your leftist agenda to bash RSS on every damn occasion you get. Yes, Rahul could have had worn a dhoti to perform the rituals but that’s entirely up to him and his family.
What’s that to do with RSS or even BJP? Have you ever looked at the daily activities of the Sangh and what they stand for and how do they walk the talk?
So in your opinion no Sangh/BJP person should wear a pant or a shirt let alone Jeans?
Thanks to churumuri for successfully carrying the RSS/BJP bashing agend and leftist propaganda.
should have said Karnad Shaw (not KP) in my comment above.
Firstly, let me make it clear that I do not approve of Rahul Mahanjan’s actions, not just about wearing jeans at his father’s funeral, but many other things.
Now coming to everthing else that has been writing in this post. It displays the very typical attitude of anti-hindutva: link anything and everything inappropriate in this world to Hindutva and castigate it. What else can I say?
For Rahul Mahanjan’s decision to wear jeans at this father’s funeral was just that – Rahul Mahanjan’s decision. The question, ‘why his mother didn’t object’, is for her to answer. In what way is this related to BJP’s Hindutva ideology, I fail to understand. It’s like saying, “Sonia’s petarnal uncle’s grandfather was Mussolini’s suporter. Hence Congress’ ‘secular credintials’ are a farce.” No, it’s a sham because of other reasons. Sonia’s petarnal uncle’s grandfather’s actions do not come into picture.
Similarly Rahul Mahanjan’s decision to wear jeans has nothing to do with Hindutva ideology.
I concur with Karnadshaw’s brilliant and flawless slicing, sliver by sliver, of the BJP’s hypocrisy and double speak.
Mostly comprising of a bunch of self possessed geriatrics who hang on quite laughably to some worn out mythological gibberish in an attempt to accord themselves some imaginary relevance, the BJP wallahs, stand out as the epitome of fake and fraudulent rhetoric.
The red ’tilaka’ on their foreheads could well be the residual ‘Bloody Mary’ they had the previous night.
And the Lord Rama’s photograph in their houses could well hide some ‘powder’ behind it. Not necessarily talcum!
And the khadi jackets and kurtas could well be lined with a thousand hidden pockets to stuff their monies, legal tender alright, garnered grossly illegally!
A friend of mine calls himself an ‘ex Hindu’!
I’ll call him right away to urgently add my name alongside his!
Ha ha ha.. I felt very funny going thru the comments. To all who oppose the article: Is it because that element of hypocrisy is found in all of us too ;-)
Wearing Jeans at a solemn occasion such as lighting the pyre – besides other aspects – provides an insight into the personality of Rahul.Perhaps he has been like that all his life and behaved the same on D day as well. The article makes eminent sense as there was news that Rahul would become RS MP on BJP Ticket..imagine having young leaders like this in the parliament – low on family values and high on coke.
Well done churumuri..
Good , i too thought exactly the same when i saw the pictures of funeral. May it be hindu, muslim or christian everybody does have a dress code for funeral. Don’t the fellows attending muslim funeral cover their head? definetly thre christan community also fallows some particular kind of dressing then why don’t he was askeg to follow that. It was definetly looking odd. I don’t know whether rajiv wore khadi in us but he definetly wore kurtha pyjama in his mother’s funeral.
Don’t connect recent episodes of drugs with this. These are two different things i belive he could have dressed little sensibly. Anyway it is bad luck that the person whom we didn’t know few days ago is talk of town now for all wrong reasons.
As someone has written above, let the author do a sting and find out who advised him to wear dhoti? What did his mother say? What was uncle Munde doing? Why was RSS silent? So that more could be written. Well, for all that we know or don’t know, maybe they failed to convince him. The least you could do when you yourself care nothing about Hindutva is to refrain from writing such senseless pieces. Spare a moment for the grandmother, mother and the sister in the family. And linking this to the BJP/RSS ideologies just brings to the fore the bias. RM’s attire did certainly looked odd. But then, let the ‘vague-left liberal’ and the to-be ‘ex-Hindu’ choose a better issue.
“…the most evolved non-believers make generous concessions on such an occasion… ideology at the altars of death”…guess this applies to the author too… leave them alone, atleast now, when the family is passing through such a hard time. Despite this, if the author feels he is right, I congratulate him for having become a ‘perfect leftist’…the ones with no emotions.
Avanena aakathaane…nimgyaakree avara vishya
Modhalu neevu yenara ‘AAKANDIDHEERA’ …baggi nodkaLi
Does everyone who says something non complimentary about BJP/RSS have to be leftist? Can one simply not bash them for its own sake, without having to be branded leftist? Agenda-bearing I understand, but it always amuses me. Why leftist? Why not sitting-on-the-fence-ist? Why not Gandhian? Why not anti-West-ist? Why not so many other labels? Why leftist (liberal or Marxist)? Who knows what it means, really?
Anyway, to all those who feign surprise over the bringing of focus upon Mahajan junior’s clothing, please go back to your BJP/RSS manuals and how much of eloquence waxing has taken place in the past by these very agencies about the loss of Indian culture manifested by the youth and their choice in clothing (aka western clothing). I once had an RSS spokesman telling me that he was confident that we were losing our culture. The example he chose was that Indian women would soon forget how to wear a saree, judging by the rate at which they were switching over to putting on salwaar kameez and trousers. To which I remarked, “This coming from a man who is wearing trousers and shirt, dhoti kurta forgotten since the British came and left.” So why drag BJP/RSS into it? Because they were salivating after bringing him into the fold. Because he could have been the second line that is being groomed by the BJP. Because he has benefited by being a son of one among them. Because he might have been the future politician of our country. Because they might have made it happen. Given the possibilities, it is important to discuss Rahul Mahajan’s shade of blue and BJP/ RSS shades of white.
This article brings to mind all that is wrong with Indian “intelligentsia”. How does the fact that the kid did some cocaine hinder him from being a politician sometime in the future? Some of the greatest minds in the fields of innovation and music have been drug addicts. You are crucifying a 28 yr old for wearing jeans at a funeral. While jeans is not something I would pick at somebody’s wake, I don’t think it means anything if someone chose to do so.
How in the world is Rahul Mahajan a poster boy or a symbolism for the BJP?
From all accounts he sounds more like a charvaka or lokayata practitioner.
You don’t need someone like Rahul Mahajan as an excuse to diss the BJP/parivar. Take it easy swamy, Sumne chikka hudugan ge sympathy kododh bitt bittu (yeano papa cocaine mathu jeans addiction), volle beedhi nai tara bogol teralla!! Schadenfreude swamy, kaliyuga!! tchk, tchk…