A TypeWriter -By Keya Dutta

Two years of marriage,  many changes in Niraj’s behaviour punched the clock. He is highly ambitious of wealth, pompous, opulent to compete with the comrades. Niraj has been working as a finance consultant holding many rewards & awards, certificate from top business school. While, Adhira, only kept following her passion as a writer, despite a her higher degree and good job experience in a reputed farm.

She knew it would had to happen someday! A mere divorce paper couldn’t able to tremble her firm mind. She signed the divorce paper with just a thought that how her creativity once been admired and love by Niraj, today, it became an encumbrance. She had to choose between a facile, flaky, superficial relationship and a typewriter. And, she choosed the later.

7 months ago :

“You are such a grandmother!”, Niraj was satirical.

Adhira was still observing every movements of him, while she was still typing. She started writing another book lately in the last month. Her other books were always been uncanny and astounding, still not been recognised by big publishers due to her inconspicuous name. But, she is ridiculously passionate about story telling and those who knew her writing for a decade, await for a another queer.

“Well, haven’t you heard the saying, there’s no place like home except Grandma’s?”, Adhira replied in a light hearted way. She smiled.

“You know what is your problem Adhira?  You live in dreams, in a shell, impractical, dumb, irrational! Your degrees, your job experience could helped us living a better lifestyle. You rejected the best opportunity to be in a top position of learning and development. But, you and your never ending write ups, that too also writing in this tortuous, damn old typewriter. Who else in this generation of e-book, writes up in typewriter like a sloth? Don’t you think we could have afforded more luxuries than this?”, Niraj was highly hostile.

“Don’t you think it’s luxurious itself, when you do the things that you love?”, Adhira looked for an answer.

“This is not just about you and your crazy dreams”, Niraj was croaky.

She was aphonic for a moment.

“That why I am different, am I not?”, Adhira replied again with a smile. “Three years ago, these were the qualities for which you adored me to be into this marriage.”

“That was a different from now. I had a good support of my family. Today,  I could be the director of my Dad’s oil and lubricant farm.” Niraj’s juvenile was uncovered clearly.  Finally he announced about the divorce he wanted from her.

3 years ago :

He fell in love with Adhira on their first meeting at a mountain trekking camp at Solan valley. Her simplicity and concordance drawn him towards her. Her observant mind, capturing every tiny particles, which would have been ignored by any other normal person made her most unique amongst the group.

“Many secreats are tresureed in your diary, isn’t it?”, Adhira was appalled by Niraj’s voice from the back.

“Every twist has it’s greatest secreat. Don’t you have any twists in your life yet not twisted? Well, I am sure you have many twists and turns in your body.”, and both of them laughed at their own jest.

After several months of their courtship,  Niraj finally proposed her to marry him. The marriage was followed by simple ceremony in the presence of both of theirs friends, as Niraj’s parent’s were against this marriage because of Ahira’s identity crisis; being from a broken family.

15 years later :

Adhira Goswami is at her 50’s. Wrinkles around her face and neck, losing her eyesight gradually, bit shaky while writing on her typewriter. But, still not shaky of her passion, for which she lived in 15 years of isolation without grumbling. Neighbours call her crazy old typewriter lady. Kids from the nearby apartment knocks at her door and disappear to tease her, to annoy her. Old Adhira pretented to be annoyed by the kids and shouts, “hey you, all monkeys”. They giggle and do the act repeatedly. Secreatly,  she enjoys this activities by the kids. At least by doing this,  she finds some companies from the children. She deliberately keeps the door open for sometime and few kids enter into her room and touch her clothes, sit in the half torned out sofa, touch the books around the room and giggle. She pretends as if she is not aware of it and suddenly comes in front of them and they run away immediately. This became a daily fun for both the kids and Adhira. Only time she gets seriously annoyed was, when they try to touch her typewriter. She immediately closes the door if they try to touch it. She has been protecting this typewriter, for more than 30 years now.

Sometimes,  she makes the newspaper delivery boy Zafar, to sit for a while,  makes tea for him and asks about his studies. Whenever he comes with a news of her article publishing in the newspaper,  she makes special feast for him. Sometimes,  pudding, or cake, or kheer, or gajar halwa. Zafar, a calm boy, in his 7th standard, belongs to a poor Muslim family who is very fond of Adhira Goswami Aunty, not just because of her pudding and cake but also they have the similiar passion for writing. Zafar often comes to study at her place after his school.

Few months later :

A knock at the door in the early hour of morning. Adhira was little surprised. Thought, how come the kids came to bully her at the dawn!

“Oh Zafar! What happened?”,  Zafar was with a man, must be around 40 yeas of age.

“Mrs. Adhira Goswami! My name is Anirban Dè! I came to know from Zafar about your writing. I am in a search of rare typewriting literature from India, which is for collection of “Literature of Innocence and Experience” in Stockholm library of manuscripts and illustrations. Would you mind….”, before Mr. Anirban Dè finishes,  Adhira tells both of them to sit and make themselves comfortable.

She makes tea for all of them. In the meantime,  Anirban comes near her writing area,  the space full of her thousands of writings. It is flurry! He is in shock.

“How could a woman dedicated her whole life in her writing and protected her typewriter like her own child? And, how could people abandoned her for following her passion?

“You have to keep your passport ready to travel to Stockholm library soon ma’am! Thank you Zafar!”, Anirban stands still for while, with a intensed face.

“Well Zafar will follow the same passion after me. Never lose the hope my boy! Your passion may be your luxury itself. And, after me, you will take care of the typewriter, Zafar!”,  both Zafar and Anirban kept looking her poised and calm pains pouring through the teapot.

Today,  Adhira Goswami’s writings are considered one amongst the rare collections of typewriting books and manuscripts worldwide as an Indian author. Zafar, still visits her old room which has still the same fresh smells of the papers, ink refills and echoes of the typewriter.

Why Buddhism Deserted in India?

In the era of the Buddha, India was regarded as a pioneer in many fields. India had an economic surplus, political stability and more importantly, a history of spiritual and intellectual innovation. India was viewed as a superpower similar to 21st century America. Buddhism was received with open hearts in other countries in Asia because of its origin in India.

Then why such a formidable culture lost in India? 

Before the birth of the Buddha, Indian society had become self-centered (the intellectual class) and ritualistic (the masses). Buddhism provided a new organized form of religious Sangha, which preached a simple message of compassion in Päli, the language of laypeople. This ease and simplicity helped the extensive spread of Buddhism.

Causes of decline:

The decline of Buddhism has been attributed to various factors, especially the regionalisation of India after the end of the Gupta empire (320-650 CE), which lead to a competition with Hinduism and Jainism and the loss of patronage and donations; and the conquest and subsequent persecutions by Huns, Turks and Persians.

Patronage and religious dynamics:

Loss of patronage and donations:

In ancient India, regardless of the religious beliefs of their kings, states usually treated all the important sects relatively even-handedly. This consisted of building monasteries and religious monuments, donating property such as the income of villages for the support of monks, and exempting donated property from taxation. Donations were most often made by private persons such as wealthy merchants and female relatives of the royal family, but there were periods when the state also gave its support and protection. In the case of Buddhism, this support was particularly important because of its high level of organisation and the reliance of monks on donations from the laity. State patronage of Buddhism took the form of land grant foundations.

Religious convergence:

Buddhism’s distinctiveness diminished with the rise of Hindu sects. Though Mahayana writers were quite critical of Hinduism, the devotional cults of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism likely seemed quite similar to laity, and the developing Tantrism of both religions were also similar. Buddhist ideas, and even the Buddha himself, were absorbed and adapted into orthodox Hindu thought, while the differences between the two systems of thought were emphasized.

Internal social-economic dynamics:

According to some scholars such as Lars Fogelin, the decline of Buddhism may be related to economic reasons, wherein the Buddhist monasteries with large land grants focussed on non-material pursuits, self-isolation of the monasteries, loss in internal discipline in the sangha, and a failure to efficiently operate the land they owned. With the growing support for Hindusim and Jainism, Buddhist monasteries also gradually lost control of land revenue.

Reform in Hinduism:

Buddhism had dealt a heavy blow to Brahminical faith. Threatened with extinction, Hinduism started to re-organize itself. Attempts were now made to give up the complex system of rites and rituals and make Hinduism simple and attractive. The Hindus even came to accept the Buddha as a Hindu incarnation and accepted the principle of non-violence. This helped revive Hinduism and made it popular again. This took away the fragrance out of the flower of Buddhism. The decline of Buddhism became inevitable.

Lose of Royal Patronage:

In course of time Buddhism came to lose royal patronage. No king, worthy of note, came forward to sponsor Buddhism after Asoka, Kaniska and Harsavardhan. Royal patronage works magically for the spread of any faith. Absence of any such patronage for Buddhism came to pave the way for its decline in the end.

Emergence of Rajputs:

Emergence of the Rajputs became an important reason for the decline of Buddhism. Kings of such dynasties as Bundela, Chahamana, Chauhan, Rathore etc. were militant rulers and loved warfare. They could not tolerate the Buddhists for their message of non-violence. The Buddhists feared persecution from these Rajput rulers and fled from India. Buddhism became weaker and faced decline.

Patronage of Brahmanism:

In course of time there was the rise of the Brahminical faith once again. Pushyamitra Sunga, the Brahmin commander of the last Maurya ruler Vrihadratha, assassinated the king and founded the Sunga dynasty replacing the Maurya dynasty.

Role of Hindu Preachers:

Harsavardhan drove away the Brahmins from the religious council held at Kanauj. These Brahmins, under Kumarila Bhatta, fled to the Deccan. Under Bhatta’s leadership, Brahmanism staged a come-back. Adi Sankaracharya also revived and strengthened Hinduism. He defeated Buddhist scholars in religious discourses which were held in many places in course of his tour of the whole of India.

Wars and persecution:

Hun Invasions:

Chinese scholars travelling through the region between the 5th and 8th centuries, such as Faxian, Xuanzang, Yijing, Hui-sheng, and Sung-Yun, began to speak of a decline of the Buddhist Sangha in the north-west parts of Indian subcontinent, especially in the wake of the Hun invasion from central Asia. Xuanzang wrote that numerous monasteries in north-western India had been reduced to ruins by the Huns.

Mihirakula:

Mihirakula who ruled from 515 CE in north-western region (modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north India), suppressed Buddhism as well. He did this by destroying monasteries as far away as modern-day Allahabad.

Turk-Mongol raids:

The image, in the chapter on India in Hutchison’s Story of the Nations edited by James Meston, depicts the Turkish general Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji’s massacre of Buddhist monks in Bihar. Khaliji destroyed the Nalanda and Vikramshila universities during his raids across North Indian plains, massacring many Buddhist and Brahmin scholars.

In the Gangetic plains, Orissa, north-east and the southern regions of India, Buddhism survived through the early centuries of the 2nd millennium CE. According to William Johnston, hundreds of Buddhist monasteries and shrines were destroyed, Buddhist texts were burnt by the Muslim armies, monks and nuns killed during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Gangetic plains region. The Islamic invasion plundered wealth and destroyed Buddhist images:

From 986 CE, the Muslim Turks started raiding northwest India from Afghanistan, plundering western India early in the eleventh century. Force conversions to Islam were made, and Buddhist images smashed, due to the Islamic dislike of idolarty. Indeed in India, the Islamic term for an ‘idol’ became ‘budd’.

— Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism

The north-west parts of South Asia fell to Islamic control, and the consequent take over of land holdings of Buddhist monasteries removed one source of necessary support for the Buddhists, while the economic upheaval and new taxes on laity sapped the laity support of Buddhist monks.

In the north-western parts of medieval India, the Himalayan regions, as well regions bordering central Asia, Buddhism once facilitated trade relations, states Lars Fogelin. With the Islamic invasion and expansion, and central Asians adopting Islam, the trade route-derived financial support sources and the economic foundations of Buddhist monasteries declined, on which the survival and growth of Buddhism was based. The arrival of Islam removed the royal patronage to the monastic tradition of Buddhism, and the replacement of Buddhists in long-distance trade by the Muslims eroded the related sources of patronage.

Islamic invasion and rule:

Ruins of Vikramashila

Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji:

Vikramashila was destroyed by the forces of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji around 1200. Many Buddhist monks fled to Nepal, Tibet, and South India to avoid the consequences of war. Tibetan pilgrim Chöjepal had to flee advancing Muslim troops multiple times, as they were sacking Buddhist sites.

Fall of Pala Dynasty by Muslim Invaders:

A major empire to support Buddhism, the Pala dynasty, fell in the 12th century, and Muslim invaders destroyed monasteries and monuments. According to Randall Collins, Buddhism was already declining in India by the 12th century, but with the pillage by Muslim invaders it nearly became extinct in India in the 1200s. In the 13th century, states Craig Lockard, Buddhist monks in India escaped to Tibet to escape Islamic persecution; while the monks in western India, states Peter Harvey, escaped persecution by moving to south Indian Hindu kingdoms that were able to resist the Muslim power.

Conquest of Turk Shah:

Brief Muslim accounts and the one eye witness account of Dharmasmavim in wake of the conquest during the 1230s talks about abandoned viharas being used as camps by the Turukshahs. Later historical traditions such as Taranathas are mixed with legendary materials and summarised as “the Turukshah conquered the whole of Magadha and destroyed many monasteries and did much damage at Nalanda, such that many monks fled abroad” thereby bringing about a demise of Buddhism with their destruction of the Viharas.