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Monthly Archive: March 2020

Slave trade, grandpa and me. Podcast serial by Valueversity. Episode 14

Narration by: Shariq Ali
March 31, 2020
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The sad story of millions of Africans who were taken to the US as slaves between early 16th to early 19th century and every third of them in British ships

 

 

When Uncle’s servant Pari’s father agreed to an old landlord to marry her with him in an exchange for a loan, Yani Apa became furious. When I saw her in the evening, I gathered my courage and said. Most of the people get married anyway. So what’s wrong with Pari’s marriage? She said. It is not marriage but slave trade Mamdu. No conscience can tolerate such cruelty. I prolonged the conversation and said. What do you mean by the slave trade, Yani Apa? She replied. Even though this oppression continues in different forms today. But systematically selling black African slaves to the United States began in the fifteenth century by the Portuguese and some Spanish. British merchants joined the notorious trade in the sixteenth century. And then they took it to its peak and made a maximum profit. By the eighteenth century, six million Africans were sold to the United States. And about three million died on the way. British trade was responsible for at least every third slave. They carried weapons and brandy on their ships from Britain and sold them to local rulers and traders in African countries such as Angola and the Congo, and enslaved their political opponents, prisoners and sometimes innocent black people from villages. Then they forced them to walk for hundreds of miles to the port prisons they called factories. These innocent people were then treated like animals and were taken to America in four square foot cages. In this seven-week journey, about fifteen per cent of slaves died of hunger or disease or trying to escape. In the United States, they used to sell these slaves for liquor and sugar, and bring wealth to Britain and make a lot of money. This cruel business had indeed strengthened the British economy. In the United States, these slaves were treated cruelly. Forty-eight hours of continuous labour were taken during the harvesting season. Eventually, some fugitives and rebel slaves formed an organization called the Sons of Africa in England. They wrote letters against this atrocity to awaken the public conscience. The first demonstration against the slave trade was led by Takei, who was himself a slave. When the public opinion began to pave the way, a committee was formed in 1787. Then the largest public demonstrations in British history forced the British Parliament to ban the slave trade. Then this abominable trade was banned in the United States as well, and the disgusting business that continued for four and a half centuries was ended… To be continued

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Diogenes the cynic. Podcast serial by Valueversity. Episode 13

Narration by: Shariq Ali
March 30, 2020
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Story of a man holding a lantern or candle to the faces of the citizens of Athens claiming he was searching for an honest man

 

 

The lights of the Nairangabab library lecture hall were dimmed. Professor Agha began his talk. Grandpa, I and Yani Apa were sitting in the third row of benches. Professor of philosophy delivered his initial remarks. Today, we will talk about the concept of human happiness as explained by the famous Greek philosopher Diogenes. He was born in Sinope, present-day Turkey, in 404 BC and died in 323 BC. He used to live in a barrel and the total assets he had were a robe, a bag and a cup. One day he saw a boy drinking water by joining the palms of his hands, and he threw his cup away. In his view, rich and wealthy are those who are happy to cope with the minimum. Plato gave him the name crazy Socrates. He was extremely popular amongst common people of Athens, and they used to call him a cynic. Once the naughty teenagers broke his barrel, the Athenians managed another barrel for him. He always hated the ostentatious display of wealth. On one occasion he spits on the host’s face in a ceremony full of luxurious rugs and velvet pillows. Then he apologized, saying that he found his face the least worthy in these expensive surroundings on which he could spit without hesitation. His encounter with Alexander the Great was very interesting. This conversation took place when the ruler of Athens got off his horse and stood in front of the Diogenes lying casually in the sun. Alexander said. I am Alexander the Great. He kept on lying as before and replied. And I am Diogenes the cynic. Alexander: Are you not afraid of me? Diogenes: Are you good or bad? Alexander: Good of course. Diogenes: why should I be afraid of good then. Then Diogenes asked. What is the plan? Alexander replied. Conquering entire Greece. Diogenes: And then. Alexander: Conquering entire Europe and Asia. Diogenes: and then. Alexander: conquering the entire world and live a life of a victor with peace, prosperity and comfort. Diogenes said. Then why not start a life of a Victor with peace, prosperity and comfort today. Alexander became speechless to this suggestion but courteously said to him before leaving. Please let me know if you need anything of the world’s blessings. I will make sure that it is present at your service. Diogenes replied. Will you please stand aside so that the sun can reach me. Then Professor Agha glanced at the clock and started to summarize his talk. Ladies and Gentlemen, Diogenes views are worth reflecting. He says there is only one good and that is knowledge. Only one evil, that is ignorance. Why not smack the teacher instead of punishing a poor performing student? The foundation of a successful nation is the education of the youth. He used to call himself the citizen of the world instead of Athens. Once someone asked him what is hope? He replied dream of the awake. He says all creation is the possessions of God. Wise people are God’s friend. Friends share everything. Therefore, all creation is the possession of wise human beings… To be continued

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Sheherazade. Grandpa and me. Podcast serial by Valueversity. Episode 12

Narration by: Shariq Ali
March 28, 2020
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Enjoy the frame story of Sheherazade telling stories over a thousand nights to end the tyrannical curse on a Sasanian king Sheheryaar

 

 

There was a flurry of elections in Neringabad. Live broadcasts, comments, discussions on TV channels. While having dinner and watching an election rally on TV, Grandpa said. Who could sympathize with those who repeatedly chose incompetent rulers?. Once the dinner was over and I and Yani Apa were sitting on the lawn chairs and enjoying the fragrance of the queen of the night, I asked. How come the public is so naive in our country? The public is just like Sheheryar Mamdu, she replied. Traumatized with day to day adversities and routines. Captive of the cruelty of circumstances and boredom. They need a storyteller, a dream seller. If they are lucky, they met Sheherazade, who tells them the true stories of life and persuades them to have faith and struggle for justice and love for all. It is unfortunate for the public that it gets to hear the false and deceptive stories of these politicians every time. Who were Sheheryar and Sheherazade Yani Apa? I asked. She replied. During the rule of Abbasid Caliphate, around 850 AD An unknown Persian writer compiled a collection of stories called One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. It is still a famous collection of folk tales compiled in the Islamic Golden Age. The story goes like this. Once upon a time a Sassanian king, Sheharyar, adopted a cruel way. He used to kill the beautiful wife he married every night before dawn. Generally believed reason for this cruelty was the revenge of the Queen’s infidelity. And some think he was under the curse of tyrannical witchcraft. His minister’s daughter, Sheherazade, who mastered poetry, philosophy, history and literature, one day decided to end this cruel way of life. She decided to become the bride of Sheheryar. The minister was worried, but she was very confident in her decision. On the night of the wedding, Sheherazade offered to tell the story and Sheheryar accepted. When the story began, Sheheryar was fascinated by the twists and turns of the story. The story was on an exciting turning point when the first ray of the morning emerged. Sheherazade paused the story and made Sheheryar realize that it was morning. But Sheharyar postponed the murder of Sheherazade until the next morning. The next night, Sheherazade resumed the story. And then this story goes on for the next, and then the next even for a thousand and one nights. Last night, Sheherazade refused to tell the story and offered to be killed. Sheheryar has fallen in love with her by that time. He made her his queen and thus the country was liberated from this cruel curse. The Aladdin, Sindbad sailor and Alibaba and Forty Thieves are some stories that Sheherazade told to Sheheryar….. To be continued

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کھوے ہوے شہر ، ، دنیا گر ، انشے سیریل ، بارھواں انشا Lost cities , Dunyagar, Urdu podcast serial, Episode 12

Narration by: Shariq Ali
March 27, 2020
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Story of the lost cities of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, the cradle of human civilization

 

 

 

کھوے  ہوے شہر ، ، دنیا گر ، انشے سیریل ، بارھواں انشا ، ویلیوورسٹی ، شارق علی

ہمارے ٹیم لیڈر نے کہا . تھوڑی دیر کو فرض کرو کہ یہ دو ہزار نو سو قبل مسیح کا زمانہ ہے اور ہماری کشتی فرات کے معتدل پانیوں میں ہلکورے لے رہی ہے . انسانی تہذیب نے اسی دجلہ و فرات کے کناروں پر آباد میسوپوٹیمیا میں اپنی آنکھ کھولی تھی  . کناروں پر حد نظر تک لہلہاتے ہوئے کھیت ہیں۔ یہی زرخیزی اور غذا کی فراوانی انسانی تہذیب کے ابتدائی خد و خال تشکیل دینے میں کامیاب ہوسکی تھی  ۔ اب ہم کنارے پر کشتی سے اتر کر پیدل کھیتوں کے درمیان سے گزر کر شہری ریاست  اورک کی جانب بڑھ رہے ہیں . انسانی تاریخ کا پہلا شہر اورک جس  کی آبادی اسی  ہزار کے لگ بھگ تھی . اس دور کی دنیا کا سب سے بڑا شہر. سمیرین تہذیب سے متعلق یہ عظیم شہر اپنے نہری اور زراعتی نظام کے باعث بے حد خوش حال تھا  اور یوں انسانی تہذیب کی پہلی ثقافت کے خدوخال ابھرے  . گوداموں میں غذا کی فراوانی اور بازاروں میں تجارت نے آپس کے انسانی تعلقات کو مہذب بنانا شروع کر دیا  . یہاں کا حکمران گلگامیش تھا ۔ آنے والے وقتوں میں اس سے منسوب داستانوں نے اسے دیوتا بنا کر پیش کیا اور اسں کی کہانی سے قدیم داستانی ادب کا آغاز ہوا.  ہم ٹی ہاؤس میں بیٹھے تھے اور رمز اپنی اثار قدیمہ کی تحقیقی  مہم کا احوال سنا رہا تھا.  کہنے لگا . پھر دجلہ کے پانیوں میں سفر کرتی ہماری جدید تحقیقاتی موٹر بوٹ جس میں  ٹیم لیڈر اور مجھ سمیت پانچ افراد سوار تھے مغربی کنارے پر واقع مشرقی میسو پوٹیمیا کے کھوے ہوے  شہر اسور کی تلاش میں مصروف ہو گئے. اسیرین تہذیب کا مرکزی شہر. یوں تو عظیم اسیرین تہذیب کے بہت سارے اور شہر بھی قائم اور مشہور ہوے  لیکن اسور کی مرکزی مذہبی حیثیت ہر دور میں قائم رہی .  اس شہر کا نام ان  کے مرکزی خدا اسور کے نام پر رکھا گیا تھا . بعض لوگ اسی خدا کو عاشور کے نام سے بھی پکارتے ہیں. پھر ہم دریاۓ دجلہ  کے جنوبی کنارے پر لنگر انداز ہوے .  ایک اور عظیم گم شدہ شہر کی کھوج میں . اکاد جس کے سینے میں تہذیبی ارتقا کے ابتدائی زمانے کے کتنے ہی راز پوشیدہ ہیں . انسانی تہذیب کے پہلے حکمران خاندانی سلسلے اکاڈین بادشاہت کا مرکزی شہر اکاد ۔ یہ کبھی جنوبی مسوپوٹیمیا کا سب سے عظیم شہر تھا اور اس کے ماتحت سمیرین تہذیب کے بہت سے چھوٹے شہر تھے. ٹیم لیڈر نے کہا . شہر کے باقیات مل جایں تو پھر ہم اس سلطنت کے سب سے عظیم فاتح سرگون دی گریٹ کے محل کو ڈھونڈنے کی کوشش کریں گے . سرگون  نے بہت سے سمیرین شہروں پر فتح یاب ہو کر اور دیگر شہری ریاستوں کو ملا کر ایک مرکزی اکاڈین حکومت قائم کی تھی . اس تسلط نے سمیرین زبان اور تہذیب کو زوال بخشا تھا  اور اکاڈین زبان اور ثقافت بہت طویل عرصے تک میسوپوٹیمیا کے سارے علاقے پر اجارہ داری قائم رکھ سکی تھی .  ان کھوے ہوے شہروں کی تلاش اس قدر اہم کیوں ہے ؟ میں نے پوچھا . پروف بولے .  اس لئے کیونکے انسانی تاریخ میں ، پہیے ، کشتی ،  تحریر اور نقشوں جیسی انقلابی ایجادیں اور وقت کے تصور کے شعور ، فلکیات اور قانون کی ابتدا بلکہ انسانی تہذیب کے ارتقا کی کہانی میسوپوٹیمیا کے انہی شہروں سے شروع ہوتی ہے۔ نہ مصر نہ یونان نہ روم۔  دجلہ اور فرات کا درمیانی زرخیز خطہ میسوپوٹامیہ ہی انسانی تہذیب کا گہوارہ ہے ۔  یہ وہی علاقہ ہے کہ جہاں موجودہ عراق ، شام اور کویت واقع ہیں۔بارہ ہزار سال سے آباد یہ علاقہ ہی  انسانی تہذیب کے ڈرامے کا پہلا سٹیج ہے ۔۔ یہیں انسانی تاریخ کا پہلا زراعتی انقلاب آیا اور دنیا کے پہلے شہر آباد ہوئے۔ تقریباً دو ہزار نو سو قبل مسیح میں اسی ابتدائی تہذیب نے عظیم محلات اور زیگورت یعنی قدیم عبادتگاہوں کی شاندار عمارتیں بھی تعمیر کیں  …….. جاری ہے

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Allegory of the cave. Grandpa and me. Podcast serial by Valueversity. Episode 11. Shariq Ali

Narration by: Shariq Ali
March 23, 2020
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Enjoy the two thousand five hundred years old story by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic

 

 

I twisted the bike with dexterity and parked it on a stand in the lawn. When I arrived in Yani Apa’s room with a packet of her favourite chocolate in my hand, I found her busy ironing her clothes in a relatively dark room and listening to Sitaar played by Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan in YouTube. She was delighted to see the combo of me and her favourite chocolate. The typical smile on her beautiful lips made me forget about the two-mile bike ride to a remote shop to get it. When I opened the window facing the garden, the room was bathed in light. While we were enjoying the chocolate together, she said philosophically. If the window of the mind is opened, the light of knowledge frees us Mamdu. I did not quite understand what you mean Yani Apa. I said. Perhaps you can better understand this metaphor as a story. She said. Plato wrote this story in his book Republic. Imagine that you are one of the people sitting in the dark cave. Your hands and feet are tied, your back is facing the opening of the cave from where the light comes in. And your face is towards the rocky dark wall of the cave. No one, including you, has the feeling of being a prisoner, because everyone is born here and this is the only reality they know. The light coming from the edge of the cave forms shadows on the rock wall and people shout their names. Trees, mountains, birds, etc. All are satisfied that these shadows are a reality; this is the only life that exists. They are not aware of any other situation. Then somehow you manage to free your hands and feet. You stand up for the first time and look at the light. Now you have not faced with the shadows but the actual forms of reality. Then you pass through the edge of the cave and come out in open. Fresh air, daylight. So many colours of trees and flowers and fragrances, birds and animals. How painful were the days when you saw only shadows? Then you look up at the sky and the sun and you feel sad about the lie of life in the cave. You turn to the cave to tell the prisoners the truth. But those hands and feet tied people laugh at you. Those who saw nothing but shadows, make fun of you. Therefore, do not be satisfied with what is just in front of you. Do not accept this as complete truth. Knowledge and truth come from striving. By liberating the hands and feet. Upon getting out of the cave prison. By facing the shining light. Many great truths await you in the outside world. Never accept life as a prisoner in a dark cave….. To be continued

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