Anna Hazare has made fasting into a tamaasha. I observe the same kind of fast daily. I don't eat between breakfast and lunch. Nor between lunch and supper. He makes the front page of all newspapers and top news on TV channels. No one takes the slightest notice of my two fasts a day. I think this is most unfair.
Muslims make fasting (Roza) into religious ritual to be observed during the month of Ramzan. They rise well before dawn to cook their morning meal. They stuff their bellies with as much food and water as it can hold. Then spend the day lying on their charpoys lest activity create craving for food and thirst. What agonies they suffer in the torrid hot days of May and June needs no imagination. They break their fasts after sunset with iftaar feasting. Non-Muslim politicians have become wise and throw lavish iftaar feasts in order to win over Muslim voters. This fasting and feasting is bad for one's health. Many are taken ill.
Bapu Gandhi used fasting for political black-mailing. But since his causes were just and he really meant business, he got away with what he wanted. That was not in the case of Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh who threatened to immolate himself. Both backed out after a few days and were punished according to Sikh maryada (tradition) and made to clean the shoes of worshippers at Gurdwaras.
The Hindu concept of fasting is more sensible. You deny yourself certain items of food you are accustomed to eating. It does one a world of good.
The most sensible approach is the Sikh maryada. It does not include fasting but approves of feasting free of charge in Guru ka langar - in the Guru's kitchen.
I have the privilege of periodically meeting OP Mehra, retired Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Le Meridien Hotel of which I am the oldest member. Long before its owner Harjeet Kaur took it over after her husband Charanjit Singh died a premature death. I know nothing about financial matters and leave them to Mehra and Venkatraman, retired secretary of the ministry of tourism, to do all the talking. Mehra has had a distinguished career. After retiring from the Air Force he was successively governor of Maharashtra and Rajasthan. He has recently published his autobiography: Memories Sweet and Sour. He made his life narrative with a stirring message to the youth of today. I quote:
If you think you are beaten;
If you think you dare not;
If you'd like to win, but think
It's almost a clinch you won't
If you think you'll lose
For out in the world we find…
Success begins with
A fellow's will
It's all in a state of mind.
Life's battles don't always go;
To the stronger or faster man:
But sooner or later
The man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!!
And adds as a post script: Never Never Never Never Give Up….
On Christmas Eve 1914 the air was cold and frost-filled German and British forces, in the midst of World War I, stood facing each other, separated by a strip of flat ugly land intersected with barbed wire.
Suddenly, amazed British soldiers saw lights come on along the line of enemy trenches. Then came the unbelievable sound of singing - German soldiers singing 'Silent Night, Holy Night.' When the sound died away the British soldiers replied with "The First Noel."
The singing by both sides went on for an hour and was followed by invitations to cross over to enemy lines. One German with great courage began to walk across to the British trenches, followed by other Germans hands in pockets, to show that they had no weapons.
When Christmas Day dawned bright and cold, there was no sound of rifles or gunfire. The men had agreed among themselves to cease fire. And for that one brief day peace reigned on the battle front.