Make war great again? (Comrade Kaifi, Be Not Arjun!)

The eastern world, it is explodin’
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
(Eve of Destruction, Barry McGuire)

Shh! Switch off the TV and you will hear. Hear it? Yes? Yes, that is Raphael blowing his trumpet. The naked dance of “kill or be killed” is in full swing. The Beast wants more–more destruction and more blood. It has branded people on both sides of the border who are drunk on war, that most potent of intoxicants. The fire has gathered the people towards it. Such luminosity in this fire. We were after all living in dark malaise for so long. The fire calls to us, and in it we shall all perish!

This is how most people express themselves. But not our intellectuals and our journalists. No, not them for they know better. Their degrees, their readings and their pride demands that they be different. The fire also calls to them, the beast brands them too, but they have to intellectualize. They pretend that they are not drunk while being the most intoxicated of all. Thus, they talk silky smooth and make war kosher; they provide rational arguments as to why perishing in the fire is better than living in dead dullness. Let’s sample some of them.

Barkha Dutta, the supreme military tactician, has been busy pouring hosannas on God’s gift to India, Narendra Modi, and congratulating the armed forces for executing a plan, which it would appear, she had devised for them.

barkha 3

barkha duttbarkha 2

From Pakistan, Talat Hussain the battle hardened war veteran, ten star retired general, shows us that he knows the value of time, and how he is privy to what the commanders do and don’t control.


Vir Sanghvi, who along-with Alfred Tarski and Kurt Godel, is one of the leading logicians of the last hundred years, demonstrates his mastery of logic:

vir sanghvi

So according to Sanghvi Pakistani “liberals” did all the above things. By that great piece of logic, You Vir Sanghvi, are the killer of thousands of Kashmirs. You Vir Sanghvi are the architect and implementer of one of the most vicious occupations in the world. You Vir Sanghi—well, who are we kidding: you are just a loudmouthed blowhard.

In fact, all the above are intellectual lightweights and its unfair to pick on them. They merely reflect how many people on both sides–India and Pakistan–think and feel. If we are going to discuss how intellectuals make war-lust kosher, by validating those feelings, then we should consider not what the worst among the war cheerleaders do and say, but what the best among them do and say. And it is them and their words that we need to consider, critique and debunk, if we are to be serious about this because they are more subtle and more crafty. They are after all, “heavyweight” intellectuals. In the words of Bertrand Russell, such intellectuals (he was talking of T.S Eliot) consider “any excuse good enough for homicide”. But of course they never say this explicitly.

Consider for instance Kaifi Azmi at the time of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Now Kaifi is supposedly a comrade-in-arms, a peace lover, and a progressive. But come war,  he too can’t hold himself back.  In his poem Farz (Duty) he says (translation follows):

Aur phir Krishan ne Arjun se kaha;
Na koi bhai, na beta, na bhateeja, na guru,
Ek hi shakl ubharti hai har aaeene mein,
Aatma marti nahee, jism badal leti hai,
Dharkan is seene ki ja chupti hai us seene mein.

Jang rehmat hai ke laanat, yeh sawaal ab na utha,
Jang jab aa hi gayee sir pe to rehmat ho gi
Door se dekh na bharkay hue sholon ka jalaal 
Isi dozakh ke kisi konay mein jannat hogi
Zakhm kha zakhm laga, zakhm hain kis ginti mein
Farz zakhmon ko bhi chun leta hai phoolon ki tarah
Na koi ranj na rahat na silay ki parwa
Pak har gard se rakh dil ko rasoolon ki tarah
Khauf kay roop kaee hotay hain andaaz kaee
Pyaar samjha hai jise khauf hai woh pyaar nahee
Ungliyaan aur garha aur pakar aur pakar
Aaj mehboob ka bazoo hai yeh talwaar nahee
Saathiyon doston hum aaj kay Arjun hi to hain. 

And then spake Krishna to Arjuna:
None is your brother, none your nephew, none your guru or son,
The One Being in many forms informs the mirrored hall,
Bodies go on changing, immortal is soul.
The heart-throb, now here astir, a new resort explores.

Is war a bane or blessing? abandon this debate,
When war has fallen to our lot, call it God’s grace.
Do not watch the flaming hell sitting thus afar,
Heaven too lies ambushed somewhere in this hellish dark.
Brave the wounds, inflict the wounds, do not feel afraid,
Duty treats the wounds too as flowers in the glade.
Unconcerned with bliss or woe, careless of reward,
Keep your heart free from dust, like the prophets’ hearts.
Fear assumes many forms, it has several sorts,
What you think as love, is in fact, fear camouflaged.
Grip the sword, grip it hard, break the enemy’s ranks,
What you hold is the beloved’s hand, not a burning brand.”
Friends, comrades, what are we? – Arjun of the trembling hand.

How is this different from any war loving right winger, or from the afore-mentioned people? In fact its worse. Unlike Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi and Talat Hussain, Kaifi is not honest. His great intellectual talents force him to cloak his koshering effort in the most seductive and beautiful words and surround it with “deep” intellectual ideas. He doesn’t have the courage to openly say what Bertrand Russell said about T.S Eliot. Just like T.S Eliot, he doesn’t openly say: I consider any excuse good enough for homicide. Actually he does say exactly that, but in craftier words. He pretends that he is helpless and tormented, and after great torment, he and his fellow Arjunas must commit to war.  However, once committed, he clearly betrays his thirst for some blood filled action.

Ungliya aur garha aur pakar aur pakar.
Zakhm kha, zakhm Laga

Grip the sword, grip it hard, break the enemy’s ranks
Brave the wounds, inflict the wounds, do not feel afraid

Wah Kaifi Sahab, Wah

Last but not the least, the following is what any member of the RSS in India or the fanatical Mullahs in Pakistan would say to any of their compatriots who talk of peace:

Khauf kay roop kaee hotay hain, andaaz kaee
Pyaar samjha hai jise khauf hai woh pyaar nahee

Fear assumes many forms, it has several sorts,
What you think as love, is in fact, fear camouflaged.

At the end of the day, isn’t this insult the last resort of every warmonger: You coward, you wuss, you #$#$#. That Kaifi says it in beautiful language doesn’t excuse the fact that it is the slimiest insult that has long been thrown at peace lovers all over the world.

The trumpet is blowing and the beast is running wild–courage lies in taming the beast, not in enabling it. Kaifi’s advice is homicidal. It is not the task of journalists and intellectuals to act as cheerleaders for their respective states and to sing hosannas to their leaders. War is no solution to nothing!

As the great Sahir Ludhianvi said:

Jang to ḳhud hi ek masala hai
jang kya masalon ka hal degi
Aag aur ḳhuun aaj baḳhshegi
Bhuuk aur ehtiyaj kal degi

War is the problem
Not the solution to any problem
All it will give is fire and blood today
Hunger and want tomorrow

Rather than making war kosher, better to tell the truth about our respective states and armies. Both “emperors” are naked in this bathtub. Why play this false game of superiority? The fire is luminous but it eviscerates; the beast provides momentary visceral thrill but leaves only death and destruction in its wake. Let the cheerleaders for the beast do their job, and let us do ours. War is an abomination. It is the biggest threat to humankind, and it must be avoided at all costs!

It’s best to conclude with Sahir again, who incidentally was Kaifi’s friend and contemporary. Not only was Sahir more popular than Kaifi among the youth of India and Pakistan, he was also a harder nut who did not crack under the war hysteria. Instead, come war time, he wrote his masterpiece, perhaps the best anti-war epic poem in all of world literature, Parchaiyaan.

Yeh sarzameen hai gautam aur nanak ki
is arz-e-paak pey vehshi na chal sakein gey kabhi
humara khoon amanat hai nasl-e-nau key liye
humarey khoon pey lashkar na pall sakeingey kabh

Guzishta jang mein ghar hi jale, magar is baar
Ajab nahin, ke ye tanhaaiyaan bhi jal jaayen
Guzishta jang mein paikar jale, magar is baar
Ajab nahin, ke ye parchaiyan bhi jal jaayen

This is the land of Buddha and Nanak
Barbarians won’t succeed on this land of pure
Our blood is but keepsake for future generations
Bloodthirsty gangs here won’t be allowed to roar

In the previous war only houses were gutted, but this time
Won’t be strange if even the sense of loneliness gets burnt away
In the previous war only bodies were burnt, but this time
Won’t be strange, if shadows also get burnt down


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