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Meet Dr Mohammed Hanif Khan Shastri

art-and-culture Updated: Aug 07, 2011 00:25 IST
Renuka Narayanan
Renuka Narayanan
Hindustan Times
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Just when you want to leap off the ledge, the Wonder that is India grabs your arm in a sudden clutch of ‘adhbuta rasa’ (wonderment). See how. The National Communal Harmony Awards for 2009 and 2010 were presented by the Vice President of India, Mr M Hamid Ansari in New Delhi some days ago. Dr Mohammed Hanif Khan Shastri received the award in the individual category for the year 2009. Dr Shastri is a Sanskrit scholar who has authored several books including ‘Geeta aur Quran mein Samanyasya’, ‘Ved aur Quran se Mahamantra’ and ‘Gayatri aur Surah Fatiha’. Dara Shikoh, the Mughal prince sincerely mourned by the people of Delhi must be glad somewhere, for after him whom do we know well that attempted a ‘Majma-ul-bahrain’ (‘Mingling of Two Oceans’, 1655), bringing Hindu and Muslim beliefs together by actively upholding their consonances, besides Swami Vivekananda?

Also, peace activist ‘Acharya Lokesh Muni’ of Haryana got the individual award for 2010 and the ‘Centre for Human Rights & Social Welfare’ got the 2009 award for organisations. Registered in 1976, it apparently puts together sessions of inter-faith dialogue, ‘milan’ programmes for Eid, Holi, Dipavali and Christmas, communal harmony rallies, ‘kavi sammelans’ and ‘mushairas’, so people can meet each other and additionally campaigns for the rights of homeless persons.

This news is from a PIB press release of July 29 randomly forwarded by an expat Indian who’s been abroad ages but who watches India keenly still. You don’t need me to spell out what’s so moving about all these people reportedly trying to make it better, each going the extra mile for India. May their tribe increase, like Abou ben Adhem’s. The shastri is so admirable because Sanskrit, like all things classical, is killing work; moreover it takes a brave person to hold scripture by the hand and walk the path of light in these tinderbox times.

Remember ‘Janaki Jaane’, the lovely Sanskrit song from the long ago Malayali film that we heard together this Ramnavami: sung by Yesudas, written by Yousef Ali Kechery, music by Naushad Ali? As Swami Vivekananda said, “We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” I heard Hanif Shastri speak on a YouTube clip: “Two plus two is four in any language,” he says staunchly of the essential One-ness.

Good things do happen amidst us, despite all.

Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture