My first memory of a sleepless night due to noise pollution is when Michael Jackson visited Bombay/Mumbai on November 1, 1996. Staying next to Andheri Sports Complex we could hear the music through the night. Raj Thackeray then a young aspiring politician was at the airport receiving MJ along with the beautiful Sonali Bendre. Wonder what he thought about the late night cacophony back then.

Raj Thackeray & Sonali Bendre at airport to receive MJ in India (Nov 1, 96)

At a scientific level, sound and noise are technically the same – they are vibrations in the air (or in water) that we pick up with our ears. Noise is the sound that we can hear, but don’t necessarily want to hear. From my childhood, I have observed multiple courts in India passed judgments on the use of loudspeakers in public spaces. Religious daily practices like azaan augmented with loudspeakers, to festive time blaring of music continue in breach of court guidelines to meet religious and political interests is nothing new. Indians have unfortunately tolerated this and politicians conversely are happy since time and again it allows social polarization on religious lines for what, is actually a problem concerning noise pollution.

Raj Thackeray, in 2019 elections created a buzz of sorts with his “laav re to video” campaign deriding PM Modi only to find no takers of that messaging had become the most lonely politician in Maharashtra. Irrelevance meant a controversy needed to spring back and thats where he gets back in with Hanuman Chalisa gimmick.

Balasaheb Thackeray used to always say “राज हा राज्या सारखा आहे” meaning Raj is like a Raja (king). REALLY? Lets look at Hanuman Chalisa itself as a metaphor. Hanuman is worshiped for his strength, agility and valor. The following image is a verse from the Hanuman Chalisa where in he is referred to as “Ram-doot” or messenger of Ram.

A verse from Hanuman Chalisa :
Ramdoot Atulit Baldhama, Anjani-Putra Pavan-Sut Nama

In the animal kingdom where “might is right“, and the one with more strength dominates the food chain, so is true with humans where one with more power (followers, money, influence whatever). Politicians no exception. Here is Hanuman who is referred to as “Atulit Baladhama” meaning one who has incomparable strength, yet is referred to as a messenger of Ram. Like animals he does not exert his strength to overpower. Rather he is in the worship and comfortable serving Ram since he also has the wisdom that Ram works not for the self, but for other, the subjects of Ayodhya. Hanuman looks beyond the self and integrates with the “bhagwan”, the supreme who is all-inclusive Ram (the true सबका साथ framework).

Is Raj’s position of all stakeholder inclusion? looking at every of the citizens? or simple political relevance through exploitation of a religious faultline imposed through majoritarian politics?

Pin on devotion

In the second line Hanuman is also referred to as “Pavan-Suta”, which in Ramayan is Hanuman. In Mahabharat Pavan-Suta is the all powerful character Bhima. Its very easy to reconcile the character Bhim who is the “egoist” vs Hanuman. When Bhim is walking through a forest he encounters Hanuman, who has taken an avatar of a old weak monkey. Bhim with his ego directs him to “get out of my way”, to which Hanuman says that he is old and frail and cannot move, Bhim tries force and power to get the tail out of his way similar to how Raj is saying “I have the Supreme Court order and political backing from the BJP to force my way through”. Plain and simple ego? Bhim could have shown empathy to go around the tail and not insist on the other to get out of the way, but he is blinded by his ego and insists on the other to mend.

So does this mean we should show empathy for the loudspeakers. NO THE LOUDSPEAKERS NEED TO GO. The simple way is to have an all inclusive process built through mutual understanding and not needing the Supreme Court to force what is right and what is not. As an example, the authorities of five mosques in Pune and some other senior Muslim community members have selected to refrain from DJ music during the upcoming Eid celebration. Instead, they have planned to use the funds raised to help the poor and needy. They also urged neighborhood youngsters not to play loud DJ music during the Eid al-Fitr celebration on May 2nd. According to them, everyone is aware of the adverse consequences of such loud DJ music, which is not healthy for sick people or those with a weak heart, says Maulana Mohsin Raza, imam of the Bhartiya Anjuman Qadariya Mosque of Lohiya Nagar in Pune. Reference :

There are also encouraging cases like the below video from Aaj Tak where, in Pune, the common man himself shows maturity and awareness of co-existence. Can we not reconcile this situation through mutual understanding? Too much to ask for from todays polarized society? Will we realize this utopian Ram-Rajya, or continue to fall for “false Raja like” politicians. Hanuman Chalisa is supposed to build confidence in the person reciting it, but not at the cost of instilling fear in the other which is where politicians want to take us….