The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Towering folly

Sir — Steven Spielberg once went on a campaign, urging people not to allow their children to see his film, Saving Private Ryan. The reason being that the film contained explicit sequences of violence. Sadly, Dev Anand is not Spielberg. He wants everyone to watch Love at Times Square — the latest in his series of forgettable productions. Since this “evergreen” Indian filmstar grabbed the September 11 attacks on the twin towers as his theme before others did, now he wants to rake in some dough (“Dev Anand brings 9/11 to Bollywood”, Nov 29). A love story against the backdrop of the biggest terrorist attack in the history of civilization is sick enough. On top of that, the film, in all probability, contains the frivolous ingredients of mainstream Indian films that need the viewer to suspend his disbelief. A treatment of this kind amounts to showing great disrespect to the victims of September 11. But people like Dev Anand, like the communists, are not used to reality at all.

Yours sincerely,
Tapan Pal, Batanagar

Terror’s tenure

Sir — After a short span of relative peace, terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir have reached a fever pitch once more, with the attack on the Raghunath temple in Jammu (“Terror tastes temple blood again”, Nov 25). The statements of sympathy and condemnation pouring in from around the world are unlikely to set things right. The problems are old and familiar, we must focus on the solutions now.

First, India should stop looking towards the United States of America and take its own decisions. Most of India’s decisions are based on the actual, or anticipated, reactions of the US. It must be remembered that Pakistan has already had a minor victory in terms of internationalizing the Kashmir issue, something India had never wanted.

Second, populist measures will not work in Jammu and Kashmir. Even if it means pleasing the people of the state, the chief minister cannot go on releasing prisoners. Implementing the Prevention of Terrorism Act is of utmost importance for the state, but it’s provisions should not be abused. People’s dignity should, of course, be upheld, but not at the cost of the security of the nation.

It would not be improper to ask here, was the 10-month long mobilization drive successful' Without doubting for a moment the commitment of the armed forces, it must be said that the amount of political interference in their working is severely detrimental. One cannot tie their hands with policies, yet expect them to give their best. Action without mobilization is behind India’s image as a soft nation.

Yours faithfully,
Indrajit Bose, Cuttack

Sir — The terrorists who attacked the Raghunath temple in Jammu, allegedly belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, proved that Indian security forces are yet to learn from past mistakes. As in a few earlier instances, the security personnel allowed a decoy grenade to lure them from their posts, making it easy for the terrorists to gain entry into the temple. The terrorists are evidently trying to sabotage the new Kashmir government’s efforts to bring peace to the state. All the more reason for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to ignore the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government’s attempt to persuade him to reinstall the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Like the government of Pakistan, the BJP too is only interested in fomenting trouble between the two nations in order to justify its existence to the people.

Yours faithfully,
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong

Joy in the night

Sir — That Mother Teresa went through a period of deep spiritual darkness will only surprise those who are unfamiliar with Christian mystical literature, indeed with the mysticism of any faith. Mystics often go through such trials of purification before they are drawn into the highest reaches of mystical union with god.

This has been fully described by the greatest theologian of mysticism, St John of the Cross, himself a great mystic. Generally, he states, no one will enter the deepest mystical union until he has been thoroughly purified by being led through the spiritual night. In the “Night of the Spirit”, there is a sense of total alienation from god. The mystics may then say that they feel that god has rejected them or even that god does not exist. This plunges them in dire pain, along with burning appeals to god that he may reveal his love. It may go on for years, more or less acutely.

This has nothing to do with psychological depression. John of the Cross gives certain signs: though prayer is painful, they pray more; though they feel alienated from god, they darkly hunger for him. Unlike depression, it does not incapacitate them from their mission. On the contrary, they often seem to draw from it extraordinary resources of energy.

All this was thoroughly evident in Mother Teresa during that period. She spoke to me about it on one occasion only. What thoroughly puzzled her, she confided, was that, though she felt utter darkness within, she could not help realize that she could yet spread joy around, and that, when she spoke of god to her Sisters and to people, the message was going through to their hearts.

Hardly any of her associates, even the closest, had any inkling of what was going on in her.

Far from detracting from her title to sainthood, this only shows that Mother was not only a great activist of charitable work, but one of the great mystics of our times. The letters in which she confided her distress to spiritual advisors (for instance, Father — later Cardinal — Picachy, SJ) will provide some of the greatest pages of Christian mystical literature.

By the way, all this was not kept under wrap. Several wrote about it, including two articles of mine — the first two years ago, under the title, “Mother Teresa: Joy in the Night”.

Yours faithfully,
Albert Huart, SJ, Calcutta

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