Did You Know Buddha Led a Revolt for Justice and Equality?

Buddhism is the main focus of the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2013  and the Dalai Lama is one of the chief attractions this year.  So in keeping with that, I am sharing here some excerpts from the Buddhist period  in my book  Sex and Power (Sect II, pp.67-110). I know that the literary festival as indeed a lot of the global discussions on Buddhism focus on ahimsa (non-violence), with this idealistic vision of a harmonious society. [Read the 2nd excerpt from my book on how Buddhism impacted on social perceptions of women and sex here].

But in my book I look at how Buddhism actually was a powerful social revolution in India that became popular among the masses because Buddha openly and strongly challenged the caste based hierarchy and the superiority of the Brahmin and upper castes, as well as their social and economic exploitation of the lower castes and poorer people.

Buddhism changed the whole power structure of Indian society in the period from about 500 B.C. to 100 A.D. in a manner that was hugely radical. And even though most modern Buddhist practitioners talk about non-violence (more…)

Celine Dion’s Face-off with China’s Dream

Last night, on the T.V., I was amused to see Canadian singer, Celine Dion facing what appeared to be a party of Chinese big-wigs: politicians and businessmen.

One of politicians commented on the fact that her songs were all about aspirations, dreams and the power of love.  So he suggested that she speak a bit on China in relationship to the world, and how the country figures in context of aspirations and power.  The message couldn’t be any clearer!  “The whole world knows that China is the world’s upcoming super-power!” is what I expected Celine’s lovely soprano voice to announce.  Instead she looked like she had unexpectedly encountered a mugger in a dark, and lonely alley.  She kept repeating that she didn’t understand what they wanted her to say.  I thought – Clever ploy Ms. Dion, but how much time are you going to buy with this?

Then in a desperate voice she repeated over and over (more…)

Why did the Chinese Women have a Secret Language?

When I was a student, I remember reading about a secret language known only to Chinese women.  I lost that article, and for many years, every time I brought it up in conversation, people would look at me strangely.  No one had heard of anything like this — that the women of a society would have their own language which their menfolk knew nothing about.  What more they had managed to keep this language a secret for a few hundred years.

I had almost forgotten about it, when last year, browsing through a bookstore, I came across the book Snowflower and the Secret Fan. It sounded sort of fairy-tale like (not my kind of book), so I almost put it back.  Then on an impulse I turned it around to read the synopsis.  And there it was — the evidence to what I had been seeking information for so long.  There did exist such a language and it was called Nu Shu. The author Lisa See based her book on her research about Nu Shu.  Read more about Nu Shu here.

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