Sunday, September 30, 2012

HA- I am not Alone in my Insanity

Some people who read my precious article Will India Be Great Again? have found my ideas too archaic/ radical, or too negative and condescending in the context of India now largely being built on imitations. Today, I stumbled upon this article by Koenrad Elst, and it gave me goosebumps to read a whole exposition on what I had merely stated in four lines. Well, if I am wrong, atleast I am in intellectual and scholarly company.
The notable difference though is that he has specifically made his criticisms against Hindus  while I wrote a generalized "we". However, in the context of my article it is the same. In the glorious era that I talked about, we were almost a completely Hindu nation, and still populate 80% of this country.

Please do read it, and please give it consideration, before rejecting it out rightly..

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Will India be Great Again?

Will India ever regain her past glory is a question lot of Indians ask longingly? What have we done though to regain her greatness? Why were we great a few thousand years ago? When and where did this degeneration start? In that age when we were truly great; morally, intellectually spiritually there were few counterparts. This is not a statement made out of my blind patriotism; history, art, architecture and immense volumes of literature are testimony to this fact. I consider it very significant that all of it was native to the land, her people and reflected her culture, and ideas. The essence was of contentment, of pride in our own beliefs, and ideas. We never shirked away from expressing who we were, be it in art at Khajuraho, or harsh vedic rites. No matter how distasteful or pointless some of it may seem today to the new age.

Can we say the same for ourselves today? We have foregone everything inherent to our innermost natures, indeed we are actually ashamed of it. We have tried to imitate the west in everything that we do. Our architecture is not original, our literature follows plot patterns from the west, our movies are cheap imitations of other tinsel-towns across the globe, and our own traditional clothes are as novel to us as they are to foreigners. Even Tagore and Satyajit Ray are artists from history's back pages, to be read about and admired, but not to be emulated. This is the glorious new Shining India, engaged in a complete transformation based on imitations. Imitations of countries that have about a 100 years of history to testify their greatness. Greatness only visible through economic splendor, no hallmarks of contentment.

If we are successful in our endeavor, we will be great in that sense too. But, we will never be as great, because we will still be just that...an imitation, even if a good one. But to answer the first question that was posed, no, we will never be great again if we continue on this route. Because, I do not believe we will be successful in our endeavor of imitation. No matter how hard we try and pretend that our way of life is repulsive, and that there is need for complete upheaval, we have not been able to put our hearts and souls into it. The society still reeks of unforgotten past,  some grudging pride, and some meaningless devotion to other lingering attributes. We have to fully let go to manufacture a good imitation.

Or we can let go of this charade, acknowledge our strengths, weaknesses, all of them, and start afresh building a new civilization that is original and realistic. I think in that path, there is a hope for greatness.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What is Wrong with the World Today

      If you start out thinking in your mind that the answer to the above question is "nothing", then this post is obviously not aimed at you, for you have through great austerities reached a mental equilibrium where no external forces can disturb your peace, or have been simply to lucky to have been unexposed to sorrow or to have been blind to social injustice. However, I, as a commoner wonder what other people think is wrong with the world today, and whether their answers will go on to prove my own theories.
    To state the answer simply, people have no principles anymore. We have forgotten what principles actually mean, and people who exert strong opinions on the claims of uncompromising principles are just deluded in self created blur over principles and pleasures. Let me first present my case to people who do actually believe that there has to be some reason or rhyme to this existence of ours, albeit incomprehensible. I shall pose a few questions towards the end of  this blog to those who believe otherwise.
      When we set our "principles", what do they really achieve? "Good" people are principled in that they do not steal, or lie, or break the law. So far, so good. But, why do we believe that these qualities comprise good principles? Because, they help us to be better people, and we presumably care about becoming better people because we are not endowed with intelligence and wisdom, and put onto this Earth simply to lead depraved and indolent lives. But, today's society is far more complex than it was 4000 years ago, when these simple virtues were substantial to define a man's character, and by extension, the society's character. Today, we seem to have formulated and unquestioningly accepted a new standard for principles which no longer seek to improve our personal integrity, character, or contribute in anyway to making this life of ours more meaningful or at least move towards something that could hope to make this life more meaningful. These "principles" now address the need to be more economically, and socially powerful. For example, many "good" people believe and accept that social drinking is not only acceptable, but necessary because it is rude not to do so in a gathering and might hurt our status among our peers and colleagues, thereby affecting our chances to move up the fabled corporate ladders. Some argue that this is morally no different from adopting the prescribed dress code at work or in society even when this was not our preferred choice of attire. Unfortunately this only reinforces my understanding that we have completely blurred out the meaning of "principles". 
      I see no need to quote any scripture of any religion to exert that stealing and lying are despicable traits. For as long as history can remember, humans across continents and over thousands of years have expostulated through laws and religions that these are unfavorable and punishable traits. This is a self- realized truth, or in mathematical terms, a Law of human nature.
    Back to my example, we have to work, because we need to clothe and feed ourselves to live in this world.  It is an inevitable need of existence. Compromising something as superficial as a choice of clothing only to follow a work-code is a compromise of one's pleasure in order to facilitate one's basic function for an existence in the physical world. However, drinking is a matter of pleasure, and in some hypocritical cases only to elevate oneself in the workforce by appearing contemporary. Drinking is however slow poison to our bodies, quick death to our minds and cobweb over the brain. (Being drunk is an extreme situation not relevant to me. One does not need to be drunk in order to diminish these faculties; three sips are enough to initiate the process). All three faculties in that order are essential to us in understanding and moving towards a more meaningful existence. I urge my reader to understand that my issue here is not with people's drinking habits, but it has been used as an example to show how our principles in general are not concerned with making us into more moral or duty-bound people. When people deny the relevance of any act in impeding this progress, they testify my statement that people have no principles. When people justify the necessity of an act in the context of economic and social progress, they have blurred the lines between principles and pleasures, as defined in the preceding paragraph.
  Let me now redefine good people as those who are committed to the progress of man’s very existence, not single-mindedly involved in mundane idiosyncrasies.  The issue of drinking is only one tip of many icebergs. If we assess the relevance and necessity of every single act of our lives, we will be forced to conclude that a majority of them are in pursuit of pleasures. In other words, society as a whole is increasingly moving away from a path of inherent progress. With this as the fundamental nature of today’s society, we have no right to expect anything other than the sorrows and anomalies we perceive around us. 
     For those who do not believe that life has any greater purpose other than the attainment of self established goals and the “pursuit of happiness”, why do you believe that it is only your goals and your pursuit of happiness that has been sanctioned? Why is the thief down the alley not allowed to pursue his own happiness and his own fancies? What is the need for the law and order in our society, if there was no meaning to being good or being bad? Acting according to one’s own conscience seems to be the general laughable norm of this age; (I wonder what defines conscience and who defines it) if this is the right way of living, why is there so much suffering and unhappiness among conscientious people? Conscience should not be defined as a product of any scriptures or religious texts, for it is unscientific to reject their rhetoric on purpose of one's life but accept the means to achieve that very purpose. This only creates a paradoxical situation inducing one to redefine portions of "prescribed right way of life" according to one's own convenience. If conscience was another self-evident "Law of human nature", no two people should disagree on what is right and what is wrong. On the contrary, no two people completely agree on every single right and wrong in this world. The problem with conscience is that it is an exceptionally relative term, and as of today, there are 6 billion frames of reference for conscience, with a different value in each frame of reference. How can this then be an acceptable universal value of life?
      This is what is wrong with the world today: a mangled understanding of principles, and self-placating desire to act according to one’s own conscience instead of evaluating our progress towards making every individual life count for their time on this planet.