Surely Humans Will Survive


Radio Joy is proud to be featuring the work of HANS PLOMP. First up a reading from the Tantric Picnic book. A Case of Progress is read by The Band of Holy Joy’s CHRISTOPHER BRIERLEY. Then Hans himself will read Mutantra with music by P. NYNTJES. Radio Joy will lay a further soundscape down with help from friends like vlk and radio india. We say… SURELY HUMANS WILL SURVIVE.

Hans Plomp was born in Amsterdam in 1944. After his studies he became a teacher, but he gave up regular jobs for good when his first novel De Ondetrouw (The Banns Are Up) was succesful. He took an active part in the playful Dutch Provo Revolution of the Sixties, which made Amsterdam one of the hippest places on the planet. Hans Plomp has traveled extensively, especially in India, where he spent some five years. In 1982 he toured the U.S. with a group of Dutch poets performing with Anne Waldman, Diana di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Amiri Baraka, Ira Cohen and many other kindred artists. He has published novels, short stories, poetry and essays. Some of his English poems were published in City Lights Pocket Poets Series #42: Nine Dutch Poets.


hans-plomp“Why are you westerners coming to India to dig our dust?”

The old philosopher looks at me with a mischievous spark in his eyes. His name is Ganesh Baba. He was born at the beginning of the last century and studied in Europe between the world wars. Being the head of an ancient tantric school he doesn’t talk much about his past, but it is known his father was a wealthy cinema owner in Calcutta. Among many other celebrities, he knew Einstein and Jung personally. The Baba is very hip, a master in the tradition of the Divine Fools, a spiritual anarchist one might say. It’s a fascinating tradition, too elusive to have become a sect or an institutionalized religion. Humor, satire, and paradox are its tools of enlightenment.

There is no school or system that teaches divine madness…

yet the tradition exists in every culture. The Hammer of Thor, which was the ultimate weapon for solving quarrells between the Gods of the Northern pantheon wasn’t simply lightning, it was also humour. And in the hexagram @Thunder’ of the Chinese I CHING the connection between humour and problem solving is made ver clear: fright, relief, laughter. Diogenes was a divine fool – Rabelais and Jonathon Swift as well. Josephine Baker, Isabelle Eberhardt, Lenny Bruce, Nina Hagen, the upside down people of the Native Americans, jesters, clowns, Dadaists, and provos all belong to the non-traditional tradition of Mad Wisdom.

The divine fool is an antipole to the conformist. Shelley said “I live my life in a fantastic way to show there is no reason to conform”. Divine fools demonstrate how stuck most people are in their roles, how limited their view of reality is, by presenting wisdom in unexpected guises, they have questions for all our answers.

“Why are you Westerners coming to India to dig our dust?”

Ganesh Baba repeats as I search my brain for an answer. Then the old saint draws deeply on his bhong, and blowing out a huge cloud of smoke he mumbles: “India is okay, but beware of Indians’.

What is it that prompts me to return to India time and time again to breather her dust? When did I fall in love with this timeless country? Perhaps when I was cycling between the stupendous ruins of Mandu and suddenly looked into the eyes of a shepherd boy sitting at the roadside. His glance was so pure, so beautiful, that I lost my balance and fell off my bike. Or maybe it happened when the poor fruit seller Souda came to the bed where I lay ill, tears streaming down her face, to offer me her most precious relic: ash from the tomb of a holy man she had visited. Or did my passionate affair start when I couldn’t get a ticket from Bombay to Bubaneshwar (26 hours!) and a complete stranger offered me his seat?

Countless astonishing, hilarious, moving, extraordinairy scenes appear before my mind’s eye as I reflect on my Indian experiences. There’s the student who approached me on a deserted beach to ask very politely: “Please sir, may I see your penis?” When he saw my surprise he explained: “I am a student of biology, studying the physical features of different peoples. I have never seen a white person like you in swimming trunks, so that’s how I came to ask you”

I think of the beaming yogini sitting under a holy tree singing, accompanying herself on a small drum. When I ask my companion what she’s singing, she translates; “What can I do with this dying world, illusions chamber pot, this brothel of hasty passions”.

I recall a sweating cop who sees me wedged between lakhs of pilgrims. He struggles through the crowds towards me, takes my arm, and drags me to a place of honor where I can pull the rope of the juggernaut wagon together with a few thousand other lucky people. And the happy smiles of the people congratulating me for hitting an old priest’s face with a banana. It’s an ancient custom in temple-car festivals: the gathered crowds throw fruit offerings to the divinities perched with their priests atop the towers pulled through the streets. If your fruit hits a priest, as my banana did, “It is very auspicious for you sir, most fortunate.”

I see thousands of participants in the Chipnoy movement chained to ancient teak trees to prevent corrupt forest officers from illegaly felling them. Ah yes, and there’s the fat customs officer who put her hand in my pocket and pulled out a roll of rupee notes – this was in the days when it was still forbidden to bring Indian rupees into the country and I had some left from an earlier trip. She counted the banknotes. Putting half in her blouse she handed the rest back to me and said in a tone that really made me feel very welcome: “Welcome to India.”

Immediately the farmer in Madya Pradesh leaps to mind. The man who brought us fresh milk every morning. One day he returned an hour after he’d delivered the milk, sweating as I’d never seen him sweat before. I thought some terrible calamity had struck, until he gasped: “I’m sorry sir, give me more money. I forgot to mix the milk with water.”

And I mustn’t forget to mention former Prime Minister Morarji Desari, who died in his nineties. The so-called Golden Fountain was the source of his longevity. In one interview he explained; “Especially in the first morning urine the body excretes the poisons from the sick parts inside. By drinking a little bit of these poisons, one gets a kind of injection with all personal ailments. Your immune-system will then proceed to produce the exact antidote for your sickness.”

Which reminds me of a bizarre scandal that could only happen in India. A baby was born to a poor family in New Delhi’s slums. When he was ten months old the boy said, not once, but over and over again:

“I am Sanjay Gandhi.”

Sanjay Gandhi was the not-so-popular son of Indira, former Prime Minister. Razing the slums had been his initiative and very few people had mourned when his plane crashed. When the news of the baby’s appearances spread, experts came to visit it. They concluded that the child was speaking truthfully, so the press and all kinds of authorities rushed to the hut to pay homage to the miraculous incarnation. But when the news reached Rajiv Ghandi, Sanjay’s brother who was then Prime Minister, he denied the possibility without even visiting the child. How could a member of the Ghandi dynasty possibly be reborn as an untouchable? The baby’s family was given strict orders to shut up, especially when the child began voicing intimate details only Sanjay could have known.

The stream of images is endless.

I see impressive water buffaloes ambling their relaxed way among the onrushing traffic. Transport trucks decorated with paintings and flickering lights roar by like jolly spaceships. On their backsides they carry the faces of demons and the enigmatic mantra: HORN OK PLEASE… I see the mighty Jaipur Express pulled by two locomotives deep, deep below me in the valley of Mount Abu. I remember the tantrics and the saddhu’s at the mela’s; the tribals of the Vindhya mountains making fire with their tinder boxes. I hear the high pitched voices of women and the hypnotic sounds of endlessly repeated mantras from caves by hermits.

Before visiting India I knew my fatherland. Now I know my motherland as well.

© HANS PLOMP Divine Madness forward to Tantric Picnic

The recording of this show is available on request.


Tantric Picnic: Tales of India by HANS PLOMP.

Translated by JORDAN ZINOVICH.

Published in 2009 by:

Ekstasis Editions Canada Ltd.

Box 8474, Main Postal Outlet

Victoria, B.C. V8W 3S1

ISBN 978-894800-95-2

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