Monday, May 10, 2010

Life has to be lived to discover the Truth

In five decades, politics has come full circle.  Last week, the Cabinet deliberated on the wisdom of reviving the enumeration of caste in the Census. There was no unanimity but the government finally conceded that was little point persisting with the old nationalist consensus. Already politicized by democracy, caste has become the basis of the government's elaborate redistributive programmes. Sixty years of experiments with modernity have proved to be mere ripples on the surface; the depths of India's 'vital structure' have been unmoved.
India owes an unqualified apology to the British Raj for suggesting that its officials didn't understand India and, indeed, vilified it. It's our nationalist modernizers who have been defeated by the 'real' India. The future appears to belong to the khap panchayats. Chirol was right and we may as well acknowledge it.]

[Love and dishonour Thursday 6 May '10 Shailaja Bajpai
If weddings are the plot, family honour is the underlying driving force, always linked to the idea of a suitable girl or boy for marriage into the family. Together they propel everything towards conflicts in which the girl is usually humiliated and the boy is either helpless before his family or suffers as much as the girl… Anyone who watches these serials regularly will conclude that romantic love is bad, that it disgraces and dishonours the family and therefore cannot triumph. Indulge in it only at your own peril.
TV serials justify the continuance of ignorant, harmful old ways of thinking and discourage, nay, punish anyone who dares to flout them. The khap panchayat diktats on same gotra marriages, the “honour” killings we read about and which has perhaps seen a mother kill her own daughter in the Nirupama Pathak case, are very much a part of the world in our TV serials.]

Rituals exist among other things to mark transitions and turn discretionary culture into seemingly inevitable biology. We celebrate births, mark deaths, solemnize marriages and remember birthdays and anniversaries. Each event of this kind is marked by a set of actions that have little physical need. We exchange rings, blow out candles, wear funny pointy hats, dress in yards of brocaded fabric, walk around fires seven times, shave our heads and break some coconuts, depending on what particular event we are marking. Each of these actions is, if seen from a matter of fact and business-like perspective, an absurd enactment without any tangible reason. In each of these cases, we are moving from one life stage to another, in some cases incrementally and in others in a significantly discontinuous way. The larger the transition, the more elaborate the ceremony.]

A ritual is an illusion, yes, but a necessary and even desirable illusion that lights up the narrow, mundane world of daily existence, a world which has always been inadequate to our experience and unequal to bear the burden of our hopes.]

[PURANIC COSMOLOGY UPDATED: Puranic Cosmology Updated 14 by Thea India has a problem, a serious problem. When I explain what that might be in the context of this series, not many will agree. And this is precisely the point. ...
In the Vedic Age the line was maintained through the process described minutely in the Rig Veda, called the Journey or the Initiation. Its backdrop was the cosmos as seen from Earth. The sacred hymns were passed down through the Guru/Shishya parampar or tradition over several millennia – an astonishing feat in itself, we must agree. To prove the point, schools exist even today in South India where Brahmins are taught to memorise and recite the hymns/mantras impeccably, without changing a line, a word, or an intonation.
Much is made of the fact that no deviations in the texts however minute are acceptable. But, as with all things under the influence of modernity and rationalism, we cannot help but wonder how long this tradition will survive. Perhaps if the reason for the existence of this practice is known, shorn of any misconceived reverse discrimination, the Agama Academies will return once again to enjoy the pre-eminence they deserve.]

It’s all because of our hunter-gatherer past. Men, the primary hunters, are good at chasing a distant target, while women, primarily nurturers and gatherers, make the best of what they have closer at hand. This fits in very well with the study published in the British Journal of Psychology last year showing how men were better at focusing on objects at a distance while women were better at focusing on areas closer at hand.

As long as we base our relationships on mundane issues such as the need for space, need for recognition, need for affection and so on, our life remains a compromise and an accommodation with others. As long as we favour creature comforts such as the desire to make (more and more) money, to travel, to chat, to eat well, etc., we stagnate with people who live an aimless life. Two egos bound together will remain two egos if the principles by which they live are not changed. It is only people who are united in their aspiration to live to the highest ideals who can grow psychologically and spiritually through life. Therefore, the best way to have happy relationships is to organize one's life around high ideals and find someone who wishes to live up to those same ideals. Undoubtedly, there will still be conflicts but these will have to be resolved in favour of high ideals rather than personal predilections. There is no right answer here. Life has to be lived to discover the Truth.]

Now it is scientifically proved that no one has the answer and we are all clueless about the mysteries of life. But justifying primitive modes of behavior is certainly not the right thing to do. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have charted out the most sensible path and following them is the one surest formula amidst the vortex of chaos and confusion. [TNM]

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