Monday, June 27, 2011

Wilkinson's yeoman's service

From Tusar N. Mohapatra date 27 June 2011 11:37 subject Re: your friend Wilkinson

Yes, I read it yesterday. But if the authentic Vedic is what the photograph in the report below suggests, then I think Wilkinson is doing a yeoman's service in inculcating some kind of rational culture among people. His theory is open to contest and on the "Third" front, I think, they are going slow and have understood the futility of pushing the "line" of thinking.  

Propagating various yoga systems and endorsing their esoteric aspects, similarly, is one thing, I feel, is dishonest. It breeds confusion and complacence among the gullible. [TNM55]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bishnu's three strides

Release of Bishnu N. Mohapatra’s collection of Poems at IIC Annexe yesterday turned an occasion for contemplation on ontology. Musing on the title of the book, Mu Jebe Nathibi, G.K. Das recalled Sartre’s Being and Nothingness as well as Derrida’s notion of absence/presence. Further delineations on Time touched Dickens, Tagore, and also J.P.Das who happened to be in the chair. Kapila Vatsyayan added her familiar inscrutable two cents while pouring sympathy profusely upon the poet. Hindi translations of three pieces read out by Rajendra Prasad Mishra evoked ready appreciation. [TNM55]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No escape from the Divine

Several events occurring during the last 50 years compel us to think in terms of cosmology, and teleology. The foremost, of course, is man landing on the moon. Cloning of Dolly is another. The recent tsunami in Japan affecting a nuclear plant is certainly a frightening episode. The spectre of Global warming too baffles our understanding, and we safely put all these considerations at the door of science.

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo don’t permit us taking such an escapist route. They hammer it into our minds that the Divine is the core. Remembering them intermittently thus tantamount to a definite Divine-centric ontological perspective. There can’t be any trade-off for this therefore, howsoever valuable and respectable the other might seem. The suffocating secular outlook of the rationalists is a hollow cloak which needs to be dumped for ever. [TNM55]   

Monday, June 20, 2011

Odisha needs Posco

[More join protest against land acquisition for Posco  The Hindu - Prafulla Das - Even as the Orissa government was set to resume land acquisition for the controversial Posco steel project in Jagatsinghpur district on Monday, political support for the anti-Posco agitation further grew on Sunday with a large group of Bharatiya Janata ... 'My father died for the cause, now it's upto me, my sister and mother' Hindustan Times It's force vs children at the POSCO agitation zone]

Emotionally charged human interest accounts of the agitation are doing the rounds. But should a surgery be abandoned on the basis of the protestations of a patient undergoing pain? [TNM]  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What is Enlightenment? & What is to be Done?

[re: Heidegger Kitsch from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman) By now most people are familiar with the concept of Heidegger Kitsch: the aping of Heidegger’s verbal mannerisms without the soul of the thing being there. …
It’s one of the reasons I think a time is ripe for a return not to “minor” but to the “major” thinkers with whom Deleuze doesn’t do enough: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz]

Harman’s scalpel moves with precision to lay bare the myths of Western Philosophy. But the question, What is Enlightenment? is yet to be answered satisfactorily. Sri Aurobindo is the missing link of the Continental-Analytic disconnect. He also holds the key to the Continuum-Discrete conundrum.

Thus, the next important question is, What is to be Done? Delinking philosophy from geography looks like the best remedy. The colonial hangover of treating India as untouchable must go. If Western Philosophy wishes to rescue itself from the present moribund state, then it must engage with Sri Aurobindo. Make no mistake about it, Nanyah pantha vidyate ayanaya (No other path exists at the moment). [TNM55] 

The Life Divine after After Life

Indeed, the very idea of “life” in Western thought and culture is an exceedingly problematic one, as Eugene Thacker demonstrates in his brilliant recent book After Life. … The nineteenth century vitalists wrongly claimed that there was some sort of basic distinction between life and nonlife. They imagined some special process that drove living things, in contrast to the merely mechanistic forces that were supposedly all there was to the inanimate world.
Today, this dualism is inadmissible. We should rather say, following Whitehead — and also Latour, Bennett, and the speculative realist philosopher Iain Hamilton Grant — that all materiality, or all of existence, nonliving as well as living, is intrinsically active and agential. It might be better to say, not that everything is alive, but that everything thinks in one way or another. This is the thesis, not of vitalism, but of panpsychism.]

If Western thought finally discovers The Life Divine in the twenty first century that would be a great prospect. With uncompromising explorers like Shaviro, It seems that it will happen sooner than later. [TNM55]

Commenting on current affairs

From Tusar N. Mohapatra Date 18 June 2011 11:38 subject Re: UNIFEM's Programme on Women's Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia- Examples, Advice.

You have touched upon a number of issues and it won’t be proper to look at them through the same lens. Similarly, the rise of the five women CMs can’t necessarily be seen as a leap forward for gender empowerment. I am glad that you are spreading awareness on this question but it will be better if you publish your definite views on the web. Commenting on current affairs also will sharpen your thinking. That, I think, will be empowering for you, and many others through you. [TNM55]

Six years of Savitri Era Learning Forum

From Tusar N. Mohapatra to Joy Roy Choudhury cc Jitendra Sharma date 18 June 2011 08:00 subject Re: Savitri Era Learning Forum

Thanks Joy for the encouraging words. Thanks to Google, SELF could overcome the dominance of the official media and a lot many things came to public notice. But our online population is still a miniscule, and the language barrier is a fact for many.     

The phrase “Savitri Era” needs to be popularised for easy identity for all Sri Aurobindo and Divine Mother followers” and Jitendra, through his blog, has extended a helping hand. As for the socio-political matters, I am ploughing a lonely furrow with much trepidation. All the best. [TNM55] 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fundamentalism in Hazare's campaign

[An Outbreak of Fundamentalism? Characteristics of the Fundamentalist (Richard T. Antoun, Martin E. Marty, Judith Nagata and others):
Rejection of complexity, Demand for doctrinal purity, Feelings of being threatened, Control of information, Exclusivism, Opposition to discussion, Abusive language, Rousing the masses, Atmosphere of violence, Demonizing the enemy, & Heroic role in a great cosmic drama]

Traces of fundamentalist features are creeping into the campaign led by Anna Hazare. A public stand becomes a prestige issue and stoutly defending it leads to fundamentalism. Dialogue and debate, therefore, are hallmarks of a vibrant public sphere. Priorities before the nation must be assessed keeping its long-term interests and global standing in mind. Constitutional issues are best resolved within the Committee rooms and not by brandishing brooms. [TNM]     

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Proportional representation system at the Centre

The prevailing fascination of a large section of Indian public for the Hazare-Ramdev duo smacks of a feudal mindset. Swiftly jumping on the bandwagon of a charismatic person seems to be the easy option for most. The curiosity element aroused when a new product is launched in the market is also on play here. The visual media too is eager to make a killing. Such circumstances focus on the danger of a directly elected presidential system. The convoluted parliamentary form of government that we now have appears much virtuous in comparison.

Obsession with the Shining India is one of the reasons for growth of cynicism towards politics. Lack of distinct ideological content is also responsible for the absence of emotional pull that politics once had. An assembly-line and service-delivery approach to administration has dehumanized it and robbed it of the participatory sentiments. Invariable privileging of expertise has further widened the disconnect between the rulers and the commoners. Outsourcing in every field is promoting mechanicity and indifference.

Well, these might seem straight from a Marxist’s critique of Capitalism, but there is something deeper here. Democracy confronts a crisis and no definite solution is in sight. The semblance of democracy that the Corporates follow with regard to their shareholders is also a sham. Hazare-Ramdev, too, are top-down phenomena who shun elections. A proportional representation system at the Centre on the basis of State level elections, therefore, will be a more secure and fair arrangement. [TNM]     

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cow & wordbook

[Savitri Era: Blog and frog and elephant 21 Nov 2008: The beauty of a blog is in its brevity, or so we suppose who prefer to take cover under the Kautilyan dictum of keeping mum being the strength of the unwise and Chaucer's to make virtue of necessity as inspiration dries up after half a line invariably every fine morning.
On the other hand we have RY Deshpande who returns with his Mirror of Tomorrow and Savitri: the Light of the Supreme whose “endless” essays ever bewilder like the “topless” towers of Ilion. Welcome. TNM]

[Savitri Era: a-u-i 25 Mar 2009: While reading the post below I noticed that it has 3 paragraphs, each consisting of 3 sentences. The threesome, though not exactly in the thesis-antithesis-synthesis sequence, constitutes a distinct variation where the middle one leads to another aspect by way of expansion or explanation. The three, thus roughly, can be denoted by the vowels “a,” “u,” and “i” respectively. TNM 11:21 AM]

Being commanded to write an essay was, no doubt, the most formidable prospect in the school. The journey began with the unforgettable, “The cow is a four footed animal,” the overall limit being ten sentences. In a blog post too, this looks like an ideal limit within which one can fairly express his opinion on a particular subject with sufficient clarity. Even the mandatory, Introduction, Argument, Conclusion etc. can be accommodated, in a nutshell. Sonnet, it seems, is the poetic counterpart of this format. The Twitter (140 characters), of course, is more popular now which can be compared with Haiku (17 syllables).

Wordbook was an indispensable companion for learning English; its pocket size being more endearing. Once a person came to the school to sell a new wordbook which he had authored in the form of poems and recited them. Father, Mother, Brother, Sister / Aunt, Uncle, Son, Daughter / Wife, Husband, Friend, Neighbour. The fourth line, I no longer remember. [TNM]

Friday, June 10, 2011

Western inquiry must rid itself from the Christian notion of God

Mark C Taylor’s Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World without Redemption (which I have spoken of before) is an important corrective to Naomi Klein’s book. Taylor’s book, which charts the complex interrelations of money, markets, art and theology over two centuries, ends up taking a pro-free-market position by arguing, basically, that in a postmodern world without grounding, theological certainties of the past are gone. The world without redemption is a confidence game and we have to accept that. Problems with such a thesis notwithstanding, what Taylor’s meticulous work shows is that economics is not as narrow as Klein and many others would have us believe. …
Taylor argues interestingly, that the advent of ‘complexity studies’ in the field of economics occurred at the same time that Robert Venturi published his landmark book, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. …
What Taylor’s book shows quite well is the rise of a complexity-based economic system where market fundamentalism reappears in different forms – often adapting itself to the latest and most interesting philosophical and scientific trends.]

Social sciences pretended for a long time that they are independent of ontology. Clearly, that was an adolescent’s attitude and the elders within them knew that such a view of the world won’t endure. Several calamities later, some signs of maturity have surfaced. But the dominant thinking in the West is still burdened covertly by the Christian notion of God. Most secularists, rationalists, & atheists are incapable of forgetting what they learnt as children.  

Western inquiry has conquered dizzy heights in all spheres of life which is a tribute to the power of human thought. What chains it down, unfortunately, is a two millennia old mythology. The thought revolution unleashed by The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, alone, can redeem the present impasse. Savitri and The Life Divine, therefore, should be upon the desk of every intellectual. [TNM]

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Countdown for Congress

The brutal eviction of Baba Ramdev’s congregation more or less matches in significance the dastardly Babri Masjid demolition. The politics and religion linkage is likely to dominate the public discourse as the rules of the game have been altered for ever. Decimation of the Left also signals a fertile ground for religion to take root.

Besides, with the blatant breach of trust (a la Italy), social capital has taken a severe beating. For, when it comes to the State, ethical imperatives acquire multiplied import.  The contrast is accentuated when the name of the Father of the Nation is invoked. Devoid of civility and compassion, governance loses legitimacy.  

Terrifying a harmless crowd in the dead of night in the heart of the capital has turned a legend. Sanjay Gandhi’s Turkman Gate episode easily comes to the mind. Rajiv Gandhi, rather, had played Western Music for Tikait. Sonia Gandhi’s Congress, in a way, has started digging its own grave. [TNM55] 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Retell & retail

[Performance artists Hindustan Times Ramachandra Guha June 06, 2011
In the Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Sufi traditions, there is a close connection between spirituality and solitude. So too in Hinduism, and even, modern Hinduism. Fleeing the colonial police, Aurobindo retreated to the French enclave of Pondicherry where he pursued, more vigorously than it had been possible when he was a revolutionary, the spiritual life. He read, meditated, and wrote. As his search focused further inwards, he gave fewer discourses and met fewer and fewer disciples. …
Solitude and spirituality — the link between them is intimate and indissoluble. In between satyagrahas, Gandhi spent months at a stretch in Sabarmati or Sevagram, thinking, searching, spinning. Ramana and Aurobindo did not leave their ashrams for decades on end.] 

One thing you can't accuse Ramachandra Guha of is mincing his words. ... “I found the views of Vivekananda and Aurobindo archaic and stiff,” was the reply to a variation of the question that he is asked the most about his book.] 

the publication of ramachandra guha's thrilling history of india from 1947 to the present day india after gandhi was one of the highlights of indian literature in 2007. by chandrahas ... middle stage
the mother and sri aurobindo don't ...]

We move on to Aurobindo, who, again, at times propagated ideas uncannily similar to Islam, as in the wish to return to a Golden Age where all was truth and righteousness. Then we come to Vivekananda, to this writer the most ambivalent, and hence most appealing, of the four. Ramachandra Guha The Telegraph Saturday, April 17, 2004
The swadeshi movement was, from a Moderate point of view, a negation of the entire Congress project. As a partisan of the Moderates it gives me great satisfaction that Bengal’s greatest poet, Tagore, got it exactly right and her worst, Aurobindo Ghose, got it perfectly wrong. Mukul Kesavan The Telegraph Sunday, May 29, 2005 10:12 AM]

[Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition Why the Indian establishment resisted him MANGESH V. NADKARNI Indian Express  EDITORIALS & ANALYSIS Thursday, March 21, 2002]

Ramachandra Guha has been extremely shy of Sri Aurobindo during the last 7 years. He is just one specimen of a much larger conspiracy of silence and sabotage against the greatest son of India. Sidelining of Sri Aurobindo and marginalisation of his works is one of the major factors behind sprouting of spurious spirituality in the country and mushrooming of money-spinning babas. Savitri Erans have a huge responsibility at this juncture in the sphere of educating and moulding the public opinion. The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have left behind all wherewithals for this purpose. Our task simply is in retailing them and hence let’s tighten our belts. [TNM]   

Friday, June 03, 2011

Heehs paid a heavy price for confusion of roles

[Playing fast and loose – Pratap Bhanu Mehta Indian Express, Fri, Jun 03 2011 

This confusion of roles is almost everywhere. Parts of the media cannot decide whether they want to be trustworthy institutions of record or tools of partisan, rabble-rousing demagoguery, with editors donning the mantle of revolutionaries. But the short-term gains of this activism will come at the price of long-term credibility. True change will not come from this confusion of roles; it will come from each profession discharging its responsibilities to the best. 6:54 PM

Letters on Himself and the Ashram arrived on Tuesday, perhaps the first post-Heehs CWSA volume. The irritating practice of identifying people as X, Y, or Z, unfortunately, continues. There is no clarification on the policy regarding disclosing names or till when the readers will have to wait.

Being the editor of such a series is perhaps the highest career one can aspire for, and Heehs was able to lap it long back. But, mischief got the better of him when he craved for accolades from University Professors. Consequently, he had to pay a heavy price for this confusion of roles. None of his friends, sadly, could rescue him from his mid-life crisis.

Heehs remains unrepentant and nurtures a confrontationist posture. That might seem to him as heroic resistance, but the probable gains are a speck of dust in comparison to what he has forfeited. Let’s hope he sees light at the end of the tunnel. [TNM]  

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Anna Hazare & Baba Ramdev border on the bizarre

The appearance of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev in the political firmament of India borders on the bizarre. That they are being actively supported by certain political parties signifies bankruptcy of ideas as well as leadership. Their modus operandi panders to the popular sentiment no doubt, but the end result is derailment of the constitutional methods.

Besides, it is highly doubtful whether they are equipped enough to understand the implications of the measures that they are demanding to be implemented. It is difficult to understand why the system of committees or commissions is being given a go by. For instance, why no one is talking about the Venkatachaliah constitutional review committee report is a mystery.

It will be a sad day for the country, if we opt for a mobocracy of Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan. All right thinking people, therefore, should come forward to prevent such an eventuality. [TNM]