Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Grappling with the Other and the West
Spiritual pursuit for half a century may or may not yield an inch of enlightenment, but our grappling with politics is a day-to-day affair. The present turmoil in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry is a burning example of where negligence of basic political rights can lead to even within a supposedly liberal and informed environment. Absence of elections is an easy mode for creating despotic autocrats out of ordinary humans. We are also witness in this country how a coterie of sycophants was instrumental in dictatorial promulgation of the Emergency. Exemplary relief work in the wake of a tsunami, similarly, doesn't necessarily entitle someone to adjudicate on personal freedom and ambition of fellow citizens.
Our embodied existence – embedded as it is in culture – is prone to tolerating or even provoking caste atrocities, religious discrimination, and communal segregation at times. Insecurity, too, stimulates hatred and bigotry. Spirituality, surely, is the greatest antidote but politics is the primary school. Postmodernism is an endless engagement with the Other and inter-subjectivity. Those who discourage mental gymnastics in the arena of Cultural Studies and 20th Century theory choose to live in an awful state of puerility. We at SELF, however, have been uninhibited enthusiasts of what is best from the West. [TNM55]