Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Astrology


I do not believe in astrology, and regard it as pure superstition and humbug. So I was somewhat reluctant to write this story as I feared some people may think I am contradicting myself by promoting astrology. However, I finally decided to write it, thinking that some people may find it interesting. The story relates to my grandfather, Dr. K.N. Katju, who was a leading lawyer in Allahabad High Court, before later occupying high posts in public life.. I am quoting from his autobiography 'Experiments in Advocacy', (Published by Universal Law Publishing Co.,New Delhi).


" In December 1939, I was briefed by the respondent in an appeal before the Judicial Commissioner, Ajmer. A Jain widow ( the appellant) in a very wealthy family of Ajmer had adopted a son, who later, when he had grown up, fell out with his adoptive mother and filed a suit for partition. i was briefed to appear for the adopted son. His adoptive mother resisted the claim, and applied for appointment of a receiver of all the family properties, alleging that the adopted son was not even giving her a modest allowance for her maintenance. This application for a receiver had been rejected by the trial court, and against that order she filed an appeal before the Judicial Commissioner's Court.

The appeal was to be heard in late February 1940, but in January I was engaged in another important case in Lucknow, and by the middle of February it became apparent that i would not be able to go to Ajmer. So I wrote to my client offering to return the brief. A postponement of any case in the Ajmer Judicial Commissioner's Court was a very difficult matter as it was a circuit Court, and no adjournments are granted.

Immediately thereafter my client, accompanied with his Ajmer pleader met me in Lucknow, and when I told him that I would not be free to attend to his case he almost burst into tears. He pressed me again and again to reconsider my decision, but that was wholly impossible. I said that I would write to some senior counsel in Bombay and elsewhere ( I named several) to accept the brief, but he would have none of it, and kept repeating his request that I should somehow go to Ajmer. Thus we parted, he with his eyes full of tears, and I completely bewildered by his agitated frame of mind.
Later, to my surprise, I received a telegram that the Judicial Commissioner had postponed the hearing of the case by twenty days, and would I now come ? I readily agreed. I was subsequently told that the adjournment had been obtained with great difficulty by a senior counsel specially briefed for the purpose, and that the Judicial Commissioner had shifted the hearing from the beginning to the end of the circuit.

On the day of the hearing the Court met at 11 oclock. Rai Bahadur Ram Kishore, the leader of the Delhi Bar, came to argue for the appellant. He opened with a well reasoned forceful argument, lasting about 80 minutes, in the course of which he complained that the son ( my client) was starving his mother.I intervened, and said that this was not correct. We had offered to pay the mother ( the appellant) Rs. 200 per month ( which was a big sum in those days), but she refused. She was living in the family residence, and all her expenses were being met. I said this and sat down, having taken in all 2 minutes. When counsel for the appellant concluded his argument, the Judge, after appearing lost in thought for some time, said " I am afraid it will not be possible for me to disturb the order of the lower court". We all came out, and everybody congratulated my beaming client.

I had arranged to motor over to Pushkar ( which has the only temple of Brahma in the country) in the afternoon with a young colleague of the Ajmer Bar. While we were driving he asked me whether I was aware why the client had been so insistent that I should appear for him in the case. I said i was not. He then said that there was a story behind it. And this is what he told me :

" Our client belongs to the wealthiest family of Ajmer. There is a Pandit here, a very learned astrologer, who attends the family regularly. He was consulted in this matter, for our client was very worried lest he lose the appeal. The appointment of a Receiver would have led to a complete disclosure of all the family's wealth, and would have very adversely affected their credit in the market. There were many names of senior counsels in Bombay, Allahabad, and elsewhere before our client, and he was perplexed whom to engage. The Pandit was therefore consulted in the matter. The Pandit looked up his books and recorded his opinion in writing, which I saw. He said that you should be engaged, and if that were done success was certain. He said that you may not even be called to argue, and even if you were, it would not be for more than a few minutes. This is precisely what happened. The Pandit was present in Court. When you rose and said a few words in response to the Court's question, and then sat down, the Pandit told me---he does not know English---that the case was finished.I replied " How can that be ? The Doctor Saheb has not even begun. He has yet to make his arguments.". but the Pandit persisted in saying " No, no, the Doctor Saheb will not have to say anything more. He was only to talk for a few minutes, and that he has already done. So the case is finished."

None of us expected that the Judicial Commissioner would dismiss the appeal without calling upon the respondent's counsel to reply. This Judge never does so. Yet he did it in this case.

Our client has unbounded faith in this Pandit, and that is why he was so disappointed and crestfallen when you told him at Lucknow that you would not be able to appear for him.' 

When my friends at the Allahabad Bar heard this remarkable story they twitted me with having pre-arranged this astrological incident. They may be right. I wish all astrologers of India would boost me like this. It would make one's path to professional eminence so easy ! "

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nyaya or Vedanta ?

Indian philosophy has 6 classical schools and 3 non classical ones. The 6 classical schools ( shatdarshan) are Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimansa and Uttar Mimansa ( Uttar Mimansa is also called Vedanta). The 3 non classical schools are Buddhism, Jainism and Charvak. It is said that the main difference between the classical and non classical schools is that the former rely on the authority of the Vedas, while the latter do not. This, however, is incorrect, as I will demonstrate.

The most popular of the 6 classical schools is the last i.e. Vedanta, which says that the world is unreal and Maya, while the reality is only one,Brahma.

I, however, believe in the first philosophy, Nyaya. This philosophy, according to the Nyaya Sutras written by its founder Gautam, states that nothing is acceptable unless it is in accordance with reason and experience, which is precisely the scientific approach. This is the age of science, and to progress we must adopt the scientific approach and develop the scientific outlook.

 The second classical Indian philosophy, Vaisheshik, was the physics of ancient times. It propounded the atomic theory of its founder Kannada. At one time Vaisheshik was regarded as part of the Nyaya philosophy, since physics is part of science. But since physics is the most fundamental of all sciences, Vaisheshik was later separated from Nyaya and put forth as a separate philosophy. Sankhya philosophy provided the materialistic ontology for Nyaya and Vaisheshik, but there is very little original literature in Sankhya.There is nothing in the Nyaya, Vaisheshik or Sankhya philosophies that they rely on the authority of the Vedas.

 The Nyaya philosophy is realistic and pluralistic. This is in sharp contrast to Vedanta. While Vedanta says that the world is unreal, Maya, Nyaya says that the world is real. While Vedanta is monistic, in other words, it says that there is only one reality, Brahman, Nyaya says that there are several real things in the world, and it is totally false to say that a tree, a table, an animal, a human body, a motor car, etc are really all one.

 Nyaya philosophy relies on several pramanas i.e. means of obtaining true knowledge as its epistemology. But, according to it, the pradhan pramana or principal means of obtaining knowledge is pratyaksha pramana i.e. the knowledge obtained through the 5 senses, and this is also the approach of science. Of course there are other pramanas e.g. anumana i.e. inference, through which we can obtain true knowledge.  Thus,when Rutherford propounded his atomic theory ( that there is a central nucleus, with protons, neutrons, etc around which electrons are orbiting, like the planets orbiting the sun) he had never actually seen an atom, but inferred his atomic theory from the scattering of alpha rays ( which are helium ions). Similarly, the existence of black holes has been inferred from the movements of neighbouring heavenly bodies, though no one has actually seen a black hole ( in fact one cannot see it because its material is so dense and compressed that due to its immense mass the gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape from it ). Another pramana is shabda pramana, that is, a statement of an expert. Thus we accept that e=mc squared, which is the formula of Einstein, though we do not ourselves understand how Einstein derived this formula.. Yet we believe that it is true, because Einstein has an outstanding reputation as a theoretical physicist, and therefore we believe in what he says even without understanding it. Similarly, we believe in our doctor when he diagnoses some illness and prescribes some treatment, because a doctor is an authority in medicine.

   For India to progress we must adopt the Nyaya philosophy, i.e. the scientific approach in everything. We must develop modern minds. To be modern, however, does not mean wearing a smart suit or a nice tie or a lovely sari or skirt. it means developing a rational mind, a scientific mind, a questioning mind. Our ancestors, like the ancient Greeks, had questioning minds, they questioned everything. There are records of hundreds of shastrarthas or debates in ancient India, and because of this we made tremendous progress in science in ancient times, e.g. in mathematics ( Aryabhat, Brahmagupta, Bhaskar, etc), in medicine ( Sushrut, Charak, etc), in astronomy ( Aryabhat, etc), in grammar ( Panini, Patanjali, etc), All this was possible because behind these sciences was the scientific philosophy of Nyaya which gave them great philosophical support.

 Unfortunately, subsequently in our history we took to the unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals, which has led us to disaster. The way out for our nation therefore is to go back again to the scientific path shown by our ancestors, the path of Aryabhat and Brahmagupta, Sushrut and Charak, Panini and Patanjali, Ramanujan and Raman, and of course the path of the Nyaya philosophy.

 It must, however, be clarified that some subsequent philosophers who claimed to be Nyayiks, e.g. Vatsyayan (see his Nyaya Bhashya), Udayan (see his Kusumanjali) etc totally distorted the Nyaya philosophy by introducing theological elements in it, and the Navya Nyaya scholars like Gangesh who resorted to gymnasics in logic. I, however rely on the original Nyaya philosophy of Gautam, which I believe is the correct philosophy for our nation to progress

Sunday, 31 August 2014

India's finest hour in hockey

Indian hockey's day of glory was 15th August 1936, when our hockey team defeated Germany in the finals 8-1. The team was captained by the hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.

 Soon after our hockey team landed in Germany, and before the regular tournament began, our team played a friendly match against Germany. The field was wet that day as it had rained earlier, and our players were not accustomed to playing on a wet field, and often slipped. They were beaten by the Germans 4-1 in that friendly match.

  There was consternation among our players over this defeat. Dhyan Chand sent an urgent telegram to India asking Dara to join the team. Dara had fallen sick earlier, and could not accompany the team to Germany. Despite his illness, on receiving Dhyan Chand's telegram he immediately left for Germany and joined the team.

  In the semi finals India beat France 10-0, and entered the finals to face Germany, which was the favourite to win in view of their victory over India in the friendly match.

  But soon the tables turned. The Germans knew that they had to focus on Dhyan Chand, as he was known to be the most feared Indian player. So they crowded around him to eliminate him from the game. But again and again, like the sun coming out of the clouds, Dhyan Chand would emerge out of the crowd of German players, and dribbling around them like a magician,would score a goal. Ultimately India beat Germany 8-1, Dhyan Chand scoring a hat trick, and Dara ( who later in 1948 played for Pakistan ) scoring two. It was India's finest hour in hockey, never to be repeated.

The J&K Assembly Resolution for talks with Pakistan

The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has passed a resolution urging the Indian Government to resume talks with Pakistan.

With respect to the Assembly, what it has totally overlooked is the fact that Pakistan is no country at all, it is a fake, artificial entity created by the British to keep Hindus and Muslims fighting each other, so that India ( of which Pakistan is really a part ) does not emerge as a powerful, highly industrialized nation ( for which it has all the potential now with its huge pool of engineers and scientists and huge natural resources and man power), and thus become another China.
  
What is Pakistan ? It is Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and NWFP, which were all part of India in the time of the great Emperors Ashoka and Akbar, and even in British times.

When I meet Pakistanis I feel no different from them. We speak the same language, Hindustani ( called Hindi by us and Urdu by them), we look like each other, share a common culture, e.g. love for Urdu poetry and classical Indian music, the same dress and food, etc

Pakistan was created on the basis of the bogus two nation theory, that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. If religion is the basis of a nation, then hardly any nation in the world could survive. Britain will have to be partitioned into about 10 'nations', Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic,Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, etc. So also U.S.A. Russia, France, Germany, etc. Almost all countries have people of different religions.

So what will talks achieve ? If there really are good relations between India and Pakistan, then the very purpose of creating Pakistan will cease to exist. The solution is reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a strong, secular government which does not tolerate religious extremism of any kind and crushes it with an iron hand. but this reunification, though bound to happen, will probably take 15-20 years, because those who have divided us will not let us easily reunite, and we have to wage a long, arduous struggle to attain this objective

Saturday, 30 August 2014

It must be understood that India is not like U.S.A. or Europe. In U.S.A. or Europe if someone says that Jesus Christ was gay. there may not be much of a reaction. But in India if one  says the same about Lord Rama or Prophet Mohammed there is bound to be a strong reaction, which may even turn violent. This is because most Indians are strongly religious. Hence while we must spread scientific ideas ( which I have been propagating throughout as that is necessary for India's progress), we must take care not to hurt peoples religious sentiments, as that would be counter productive. Surely scientific ideas can be spread without insulting the Quran or Prophet Mohammed or Lord Rama or Lord Ganesh.

Friday, 29 August 2014

My First Home

I have seven homes in India, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Orissa, Tamilnadu, and Delhi and so I am truly all Indian. Let me mention about them one by one, in separate posts. This post is about Kashmir, my first home

I am a Kashmiri Pandit. There are two kinds of Kashmiri Pandits, the Kashmiri speaking ones, and the non Kashmiri speaking ones. The non Kashmiri speaking Kashmiri Pandits ( like myself) are those whose ancestors had migrated from Kashmir valley about 200 years back. These Kashmiri Pandits all migrated in exactly the same way, that is, they got employment in some princely state, i.e. in the Court of some Maharaja or Nawab ( they got such jobs as Kashmiri Pandits were highly proficient in Urdu and Persian, the Court languages).  The ancestors of Pt. Nehru, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, etc had all come from Kashmir in this way.Having left Kashmir, they forgot the Kashmiri language after about two generations, and know only,Hindi and English. My estimate is that they are between one and two lacs in number. My own ancestor, Pt. Mansa Ram Katju migrated from Kashmir about 200 years ago and got service in the Court of the Nawab of Jaora. Jaora is a town in Ratlam district in western Madhya Pradesh, on the border of Rajasthan. My family lived in Jaora for several generations

The Kashmiri speaking Pandits ( like my wife) are those who can speak Kashmiri ( apart from Hindi and English). Such Kashmiri Pandits are those who remained in Kashmir, and would be today about 3 lacs in number ( most of them fled from Kashmir after the selected killings of Kashmiri Pandits from 1989 onwards). Kashmiri language is totally different from Hindi, and when my wife speaks to her relatives in Kashmiri I cannot understand,though we have been married for over 40 years.

Though the non Kashmiri speaking Kashmiri Pandits had left Kashmir about 200 years ago, they married only among themselves, and not with the local Pandits or other communities. Also, they retained their food habits. They are non vegetarians, their preference being for Kashmiri mutton dishes, e.g. roghanjosh, yaqni,kabargah, kofta, rista, etc, apart from vegetarian dishes like dam aloo, haq, etc.
  
Although such Kashmiri Pandits had migrated about 200 years ago, we never forgot Kashmir, and proudly called ourselves Kashmiris. We were like the Jews who had migrated a long time back from their homeland, but said in their prayers :
 " If I forget thee, O Jerusalem
   let my right hand forget its skill
   If I do not remember thee
   let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth"
                                     Psalm : 137.5
 The same was always our sentiment for Kashmir

Despite leaving Kashmir so long ago, we would perform the Kashmiri Pandit religious rituals regularly, e.g. Shivratri puja, pun, etc. I remember when I was very young on Shivratri day my family members used to go in a procession to a door, behind which was another family member. We used to say " Kuch choo, kuch choo", and the person inside would say, "Kay heyth ", and we would say " An dhan Laxmi", and then the door would be opened and we would enter. It was only after my marriage with a Kashmiri speaking lady that I came to know what we had been chanting for 200 years without understanding its meaning ( like many people chanting Sanskrit mantras). In Kashmiri language, ' kus choo ?" means "who is it?". "Kus choo" became "Kuch Choo" after 200 years, and "kay hyeth" i.e. ' what have you brought with you ?", became "kay heyth". It was only when my wife told us the meaning of what we had been chanting for 200 years that we understood its meaning.

Although the Kashmiri Pandits who had migrated about 200 years ago were only a tiny community in the regions where they had settled, their influence ( like that of the Parsis, another tiny community) far outweighed their numbers. We were a highly respected intellectual community, and having first taken up service in some princely state, in a later generation we entered the legal profession, where we excelled. In U.P. not only were some of the top lawyers in the Allahabad High Court Kashmiri Pandits, in about one half of the district Courts in U.P. the leader of the bar was a Kashmiri Pandit ( though in each town we were only a few dozen in numbers). The same was the position in many other north Indian states where Kashmiri Pandits had settled

Still later many of us entered the civil services, or became business executives, etc, and some migrated to foreign countries.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and Amir Khusro

When the great sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia ( 1238-1325) died in Delhi, his favourite disciple Amir Khusro ( 1253-1325), was away from Delhi. On hearing of the death of his guru, Amir Khusro rushed back to Delhi, and on reaching his fresh grave broke down, and recited one of the most pathetic and heart rending couplets in Hindi :

" Gori sove sej pe, mukh pe daare kes
   Chal Khusro ghar aapne, saanjh bhai chahu des"
i.e.
 "The fair maiden lies on a bed of flowers, her tresses covering her  face
   Come Khusro, go back to home, for the sunset is all around "

Soon thereafter Amir Khusro also died.

99% people are good by nature

I am a disciple of the great French philosopher Rousseau ( 1712-1778), who believed that basically men are good by nature, unlike the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes ( 1588-1679), who believed that men are evil by nature.

 That is why I believe that 99% of all people, whether Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain, Baudh, etc, and of all castes, races, languages, regions, etc are good by nature. But being simple by nature they are often deceived and misguided by the 1% wicked and crafty persons who have their own nefarious purposes and vested interests, and who often make people fight with each other. Such agent provocateurs should be exposed and severely punished

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Appointment of Chief Justice of India

I have read the article of Mr. Sankaranarayanan published in Times of India (25.8.2014) which was in response to my article published on 24.08.2014 in which I had written that the CJI should be appointed on merit, not seniority. My reply to Mr. Sankaranarayanan is as follows :

1. Article 124(2) of the Indian Constitution states : " Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President--after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts as the President may deem necessary for the purpose"

 In the Second Judges case, referred to by Mr. Sankaranarayanan, has not the Supreme Court practically amended Article 124(2) of the Constitution, and substituted a different provision in its place by a judicial verdict ? Amendment to the Constitution can only be done by Parliament under Article 368. By which principle of interpretation was this power taken over by the Supreme Court ? In the garb of interpretation can the judges amend a statutory or Constitutional provision ? If the Judges can make such amendments to the Constitution by judicial verdicts, then what can debar them from saying that whatever may be written in the Constitution, there will be henceforth two or more Presidents of India, two or more Prime Ministers of India, or two or more Chief Justices of India ?

2. A plain reading of Article 124(2) shows that consultation by the President of India with the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts is only if he deems it necessary. Hence the President need not consult them, at least in the case of appointment of the Chief Justice of India, and may prefer to consult a body of some eminent jurists, which may include reputed senior lawyers of the Supreme Court and/or the High Courts, eminent academic jurists, retired Judges,etc. There is nothing in Article 124(2) debarring such consultation

3. Even in the second Judges case, to which Mr. Sankaranarayanan refers, the Supreme Court has said : " Appointments to the office of the Chief Justice of India have, by convention, been of the seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office. The provision in Article 124(2) enabling consultation with any other Judge is to provide for such consultation if there be any doubt about the fitness of the seniormost Judge to hold the office, which alone may permit and justify a departure from the long standing convention. There is no reason to depart from the existing convention".

   Now a convention is a convention, and not a statutory or Constitutional rule.When the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the second Judges case in 1993 ( which practically amended the Constitution, as I have already pointed out), there may not have been any reason to depart from the convention. But since then experience has shown the harmful effects it has had on the judiciary. Mr. Shanti Bhushan, the former Union law Minister, and a very senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that half the 16 CJIs prior to the filing of the affidavit were corrupt. Surely Mr. Shanti Bhushan knew what he was talking about, and he has far greater experience of the legal world than Mr. Sankaranarayanan ( he was Advocate General of U.P. even before I started law practice in the Allahabad High Court in 1970, and he has also been a Union Law Minister). Even after the filing of that affidavit there have been CJIs about whose integrity there was a grave question mark, and I am sure Mr. Sankaranarayanan knows whom I am talking about since he has apparently been practising for many years in the Supreme Court.

 As I said, a convention is not a statutory rule, and when experience shows it has been having a deleterious effect it should be given up, and a better method adopted.

4. Mr. Sankaranarayanan has referred to the supersession of the 3 seniormost judges of the Supreme Court by Mrs. Gandhi's government and appointment of Justice A. N.Ray, who was junior to them. as the CJI. I agree with him that this was totally improper, and an attempt to end the independence of the judiciary. But when I said that the CJI should be appointed on merit, not seniority, I did not mean that the assessment of merit should be done by the government. It should be done by a committee of eminent jurists ( which may include eminent senior lawyers of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, eminent retired Judges, and legal academicians of repute),and the members of this committee could be chosen by a panel consisting of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Law Minister, and the Chairman of the Bar Council of India. Alternatively, some other method of assessing merit by an independent body of jurists could be devised

5. As regards the repeated personal attacks on me in his article by Mr. Sankaranarayanan, ( e.g." Being the grandson of Dr. K.N. Katju and the son of Justice S.N. Katju one can safely assume that Mr. Katju was in possession of a radio in the summer of 1973", or " Critics could well argue that Mr.Katju himself ought to have been disqualified from taking a seat on the apex court or even being appointed to the Press Council ), I would not like to make any comment, except to say that Mr. Sankaranarayanan could do with a little manners.
  Justice Katju

(Published in The Times of India on 28.08.2014)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Emperor Ashoka and Religious Tolerance

The Girnar Rock Edict of Emperor Ashoka, on Religious Tolerance
(Girnar is near Junagarh in Gujrat, and the Edict is inscribed on a rock on the Sudarshan Lake of the Mauryan Emperors. The probable date of the Edict is around 260 B.C.)

"Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : The King honours all religious sects. His Sacred Majesty does not value gifts and honours as he values the growth of the essential elements of all religious sects. But the root of it is restraint of speech, that is, there should not be honour only of one's own religion and condemnation of other religions. On the other hand, other religions should be honoured too. By doing this, one helps his own religion to grow, and benefits the religion of others too. By doing otherwise, one harms his own religion and injures the other religions too. For whoever honours only his own religion and condemns other religions injures more gravely his own religion. Hence concord alone is commendable, and all should listen, and be willing to listen, to the beliefs professed by others. This is the desire of his Sacred Majesty."