Do I Exist? Do I Matter?

Konark-sun-templeDo I exist? Do I matter? — No, this is not a philosophical, abstract question.

Western media, Western politicians, and Western academics have done their best to exclude contributions of Old World scientists, artists, authors, philosophers, poets, and thinkers. As if we never existed. As if we are not even worthy of a mention, discussing history of human civilization.

Everybody is so brainwashed to believe that civilization began with the rise of British empire, or Columbus’ conquest of America. And those two events were two of the darkest chapters in human history in the first place!

I mean, everybody knows about Einstein, Marx, Freud, Darwin, or Euclid, Newton, Galileo, Archimedes, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Renoir, or Cezanne. And they were all geniuses, of course. Yes, they were.

But have you ever thought who actually invented the so-called “Arabic numerals?” The use of the number zero? Who invented textiles, silk, paper, or for that matter, concept of an alphabet? How in the world could someone invent the game of chess — with its unbelievably complex algorithms — unless advanced mathematics had already been in practice?

Okay, was astronomy a developed science in ancient India, China, or Egypt? What about Ayurveda that emphasized proactive health instead of profit-based reactive medicine? Or, yoga building immunity and contributing to long life?

Who first conceptualized musical scores, with the use of the seven fundamental notes? I’m not even talking about the hundreds of ragas and talas.

Okay, have your ever thought of the science, engineering, and art — all three of them — used while some “primitive” people built the carved temples of Ellora — cut from a single mountain rock, or the pyramids of Giza, the massive Chinese Wall, sacrificial tomb in Peru, or the colossal temples in Angkor Wat?

Even more recently, in the 19th century, British and Western colonial powers denied world recognition to two Indian scientists — J. C. Bose for inventing the radio, and S. N. Bose for his work in theoretical physics that became known as the Bose-Einstein statistics. Heard of these two Bose’s?

We don’t know, and we don’t care to know, either.

A major, massive brainwashing by Western media and powers made us believe that outside of the American and British-European history, there is no other history. People like me — my history, my heritage, my forefathers — never mattered.

But oh yes, you destroyed my country, stole our natural resources, forests, mines, you looted our gold and diamond and cotton, killed and tortured and raped us, and in just two hundred years, turned us from one of the richest lands on earth to one of the poorest.

And now here I am, begging at your doors for some prosperity and freedom. I am at your mercy.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

 

Golden Memories

Diary from Calcutta

Memories are extremely precious, and in my case, extremely haunting.

When I feel alone, very old memories take me back to those sunlit, golden days back in Calcutta. I have written a lot about it, both in English and Bengali. And I am going to write a lot more.

Memories are lovely, and memories are friends. What’s more: they are therapeutic.

Try this immigrant life in America. You’ll know.
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Here’s a picture of my little notebook I carried with me all the time when I was in my early twenties in Calcutta. We didn’t have means to buy new notebooks. This one was one from 1970, which I was using in 1980.

In fact, it is still with me. (But the bed sheet in the picture — the blue one I used all the time in that little half-room in our North Calcutta home — well, it was a part of my life.)

This page in Bengali is a description of a classical all-night music program I attended in one of the public auditoriums — if anybody remembers where it was, let me know.
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November 22, 1980. — The program started at 9 P.M. and went all the way through 6.30 A.M. the next morning.

Artists who performed:

1. Dinanath Mishra (vocal). sang Raga Jog, and a Bhairavi thumri

2. Buddhadev Dasgupta, accompanied on tabla by Swapan Chowdhury — played sarod. Raga Bagesree, and a Pilu thumri.

3. A dance recital by Mira Chatterjee — I have completely forgotten about it. Not a trace of memory on this.

4. Sunanda Patnaik (vocal) — Raga Bilaskhani Todi, and a famous Bhajan in Bhairon (Jagannath Swami…).

5. Sohan Lal Sharma on harmonium and Tarun Bhattacharya on santoor — Duet — Raga Hansadhwani.

6. End of the program soiree — Sitar by Manilal Nag, accompanied on table by Maha Purush Mishra. Raga Ahir Bhairon.
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I could write a hundred pages on this memory. But I am savoring it tonight. I will sleep with this tonight.

 

Immigrant in America,

Partha Banerjee

Long Island, New York

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