Archive for June 13th, 2012

Mulla Nasruddin was on his way to attend a feast. It was given by one of the richest man in that town. He was a Slum Lord who knew ways to corner properties almost for nothing. He created fire flaring in some Poor Quarters and lo and behold the property was his for a pittance while the poor moved elsewhere unaware what hit them. They said it was destiny that they had no way of preventing. Amir Mehboob Khan no wonder was so rich he could thank providence for making him very wealthy.
One day he gave a feast to the locals since he was planning to go on Hajj and wanted to strike the right note with his Maker.
Mulla Nasruddin who had no interest in judging persons on hearsay and gossip took the invitation seriously. Providence made the Amir open his hand of hospitality and he was happy to share it. On the way he met a beggar who was a hunchback and was avoided by all good folks as a bad omen.
The Mulla said Providence was going to give him a good meal. Yousef Alli the beggar instantly was all for providence lining his pockets as well as filling his stomach.
The host was happy to receive the mulla and he happily waved the beggar to go right where other folks were sitting for a free meal. The beggar could not believe his eyes. There were so many in their finery and there was his meal spread out for his enjoyment. Having claimed his spot the fellow went about touching each guest for alms. He never thought of fellow guests but providence that presented a one-in-a million opportunity.
At the end of the day Mulla saw the beggar in a frightful bad mood. He chided the Mulla for bringing him to a feast given by a slum lord. ‘He was no Providence but a blood-sucker and worse than a kaffir’.
‘But he asked you to sit down to feast. Didn’t he?’
The beggar narrated how his portion was snatched by some bird while his head was turned.
‘Providence can only lead a donkey to water but not make her drink.’
‘No Mulla it is my destiny that only I, of all the hundreds, had to go without a free meal.’
Destiny is when you explain Providence only from a narrow subjective point of view, skipping many telltale details that are equally relevant.( see also the Mulla Nasruddin Stories-11 in comic strip format.)

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Francois Rabelais-(1495?-1553)
There is not a single reliable portrait of Rebalais extant. Not one of them is like another. One engraving produced towards the end of the 16th century seems more true to the real person. Here quoting from one of the introductory remarks attached to Gargantua and Pantagruel we read thus ‘his features are strong furrowed with deep wrinkles; his beard is short and scanty; his cheeks are thin and already worn-looking. On his head he wears the square cap of the doctors and the clerks, and his dominant expression, somewhat rigid and severe, is that of a physician and a scholar..’Details of his birth and date also seem rather vague. Making up for scant information of his life his references in his romances to names persons and places become more valuable. In his patrons and intercourse, friendships, his sojournings, and his travels we have a treasure trove of details.
Like Descartes and Balzac he was a native of the Touraine and by general opinion he was born in Chinon, whose praises he sang with which such heartiness and affection. Because he was the youngest his father destined him for the Church.While a novice his future patrons Brothers du Ballay were studying an the University of Angers. He entered the monastery of the Franciscan Cordeliers at Fontenay-le-Comte. It was here his powers were ripening and he began to study also think. The encyclopaediac movement of the Renaissance was in the air and Rabelais threw himself with all his energy into it. The Church position favored Latin and study in Greek was thought as dangerous. In their eyes it invited free thought, heresy. But Rabelais pursued it with vigor.
He was well versed in science, philology, and law, already becoming known and respected by the humanists of his era, including Budé. Harassed due to the directions of his studies, Rabelais petitioned Pope Clement VII and was granted permission to leave the Franciscans and enter the Benedictine order at Maillezais, where he was more warmly received.
In 1532, he moved to Lyon, one of the intellectual centres of France, and not only practiced medicine but edited Latin works for the printer Sebastian Gryphius. As a doctor, he used his spare time to write and publish humorous pamphlets, which were critical of established authority and stressed his own perception of individual liberty. His revolutionary works, although satirical, revealed an astute observer of the social and political events unfolding during the first half of the sixteenth century.
Using the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of François Rabelais minus the cedille on the c), in 1532 he published his first book, Pantagruel, that would be the start of his Gargantua series. In this book, Rabelais sings the praises of the wines from his hometown of Chinon through vivid descriptions of the eat, drink and be merry lifestyle of the main character, the giant Pantagruel and his friends. Despite the great popularity of his book, both it and his prequel book on the life of Pantagruel’s father Gargantua were condemned by the academics at the Sorbonne for their unorthodox ideas and by the Roman Catholic Church for their derision of certain religious practices. Rabelais’s third book, published under his own name, was also banned.
With support from members of the prominent du Bellay family, Rabelais received the approval from King François I to continue to publish his collection. However, after the king’s death, Rabelais was frowned upon by the academic elite, and the French Parliament suspended the sale of his fourth book.
Rabelais traveled frequently to Rome with his friend Cardinal Jean du Bellay, and lived for a short time in Turin with du Bellay’s brother, Guillaume, during which François I was his patron. Rabelais probably spent some time in hiding, threatened by being labeled a heretic. Only the protection of du Bellay saved Rabelais after the condemnation of his novel by the Sorbonne. du Bellay would again help Rabelais in 1540 by seeking a papal authorization to legitimize two of his children (Auguste François, father of Jacques Rabelais, and Junie). Rabelais later taught medicine at Montpellier in 1534 and 1539.
Between 1545 and 1547, François Rabelais lived in Metz, then a free imperial city and a republic, to escape the condemnation by the University of Paris. In 1547, he became curate of Saint-Christophe-du-Jambet and of Meudon, from which he resigned before his death in Paris in 1553.
There are diverging accounts of Rabelais’ death and his last words. According to some, he wrote a famous one sentence will: “I have nothing, I owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor”, and his last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”(ack:wikipedia)

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