In the land where the Sindu flows
  Rule-of-law, Duty, Supreme Self, Present Moment  

         
   

Vision >>Tryst >> Excerpts

RETURN TO AN ANCIENT AND GLORIOUS TRYST

EXCERPTS

SECTION V

 

4.1 --- POINT WISE SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS OF THE BOOK

 

This section/chapter has been added on the advice of Mr. TN Seshan, in order to help the reader have a bird’s eye view of the content of the book. It will facilitate easy reference and assimilation of the contents of the book…

 

Section 1: REDISCOVERING THE GENUINE UNIVERSALITY OF HINDUISM

1.1 Overcoming prejudices against ancient Indian learning

There is a tendency to turn a blind eye to the learning that comes to us from ancient India. In fact many conclusions about Indian learning seem to have been based hugely on political rhetoric. Is it possible that the intellectuals of the nation may start thinking differently if suddenly the western civilization began to appreciate the work of our ancient sages?

Merely admitting the possibility of hidden wisdom is but a logical step in the scientific method. And carrying on in that manner one can come to the conclusion that there are specific historical reasons, not entirely deliberately induced by detracting powers, owing to which the Indian learning has not been subjected to the kind of analysis it deserves. These causes indicate that Indians must revisit their ancient past through a powerful intellectual process and try and understand if there is something of value in it. And there seems to be a lot of promise…

1.2 Hinduism: The Boa that Swallows Religions

When we ask the question as to who is an Indian, it becomes an arbitrary exercise at drawing some line at some period in history and stating that those that came before are Indians and those after are not. So the question arises as to what should be the basis. Should it be five years for citizen ship or should we stop way back when the Aryans came to India?

Looking back at the history of the subcontinent it becomes clear that there has been influx into it from time immemorial. All kinds of races have entered and the historical period saw the rule of many different kingdoms whose origins were not indigenous.

The same story is also repeated in respect of religions. There is the complete spectrum of spiritual influences which enrich this nation. They only go to show that the real theory about religions is not ‘clash of civilizations’ but it is truly ‘clash of ruling philosophies’. It is not the use but rather the misuse of religion that creates the clash.

In fact, other religions flourish better in India than in other parts of the world. For example Islam is relatively at peace in India and Christianity finds faithful even amongst the young in India.

This seems to have happened because the core of Hinduism seems to have developed essentially at the confluence of two civilizations, when the Aryans came to India. Therefore the ability to respect the other’s religion is an integral feature of Hinduism.

 

1.3 The core that inspires: the enduring principle in Hinduism

Gurus who extract wisdom from the scriptures available in India talk about an experience that lies beyond the senses. Now it is important for one to experience it and relate to it; without it all scholarship will be limited to an intellectual exercise lacking inspiration. This poses a special challenge that is not easy to surmount.

There is no need to study volumes of scriptures, it is important to see where the scriptures are pointing and if we successfully follow even one pointer the aim is achieved.

The author recommends the Bhagwad Gita. It may be treated as a great Jigsaw Puzzle and when a consistent picture emerges, one understands that he is on track.

It emerges that the Bhagwad Gita draws up a picture of entire spirituality. Of the spiritual journey it explains the point of origin, the principle behind the various paths and the final destination. And it expresses that it is more interested in people following some or the other path rather than ‘what’ path the person is taking. Of special importance here is the use of the term Yoga which is an ‘exercise’ that helps one to transcend.

This ability of Hinduism to recognize, that the other religion is taking on one of the various yogas is the cause for Hinduism to accept such other faith as legitimate and hence it acts as a Boa Constrictor adding that religion into its list of legit paths.

 

1.4 Genuine practical Hinduism is the global answer for peace

The word Hindu actually means ‘in the land where the River Sindu flows.

It becomes obvious from considerations that Hinduism is more than a religion. And the Guru Paramparas are slightly less than religions. But Guru Paramparas are complete paths in themselves and are capable of giving guidance for complete life times and therefore they may be roughly equated to religions rather than Hinduism. Hinduism is actually a confluence of religions. It is the philosophy of how religions should live together.

Hinduism finds no fault with the Semitic religions. In fact it can be shown that Samuel Huntington’s theory of the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ is actually an antithesis of Hinduism. The real truth about civilizations is that they evolve out of a common spiritual depth. If they miss this they do not become civilizations and as such the real truth is the ‘commonality of civilizations’.

 Practical Hinduism cherishes the ideal of ‘Sarva Dharma Samanabhava’. It lays out broad outlines and does not insist on specific paths. It speaks of victory of good over evil. It stands for the term ‘Bharat Varsha’ which in turn is described by the terms ‘Punya Bhoomi, Dharma Bhoomi and Karma Bhoomi”. These terms have a secular meaning.

Central to Hinduism is the use of the term Dharma. At the outset it should be remembered that the use of the same to denote religion is fundamentally wrong. In truth, Dharma is a combination of four ideas: Sense of duty, Rule of law, the Divine Will and the era-context and nation for which it is drafted. It is important to understand that without using the significance of ‘Dharma’ we cannot truly take the nation forward.

Hindu culture is built around the belief that there are a total of four motivators for human action, Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha. In modern civilization the Dharma and Moksha angle is either hidden or is not used and therefore the modern civilization has not found completeness. These powerful lessons from Hinduism can lead the world to fulfillment.  

Having understood this, the problems of Kashmir and Ayodhya, and the Concept of Pakistan need to be seen in a completely different light—each of them is an opportunity.  

 

SECTION 2: THE MAKING OF MODERN INDIA AFTER SLIGHTING INDIGENOUS CONTENT

2.1 A colonial administration: not designed to nurture indigenous wisdom

The government has retained a lot of its colonial past; Indians have not changed it much after independence. The changes on top are significant but deep down the colonial impact remains.

This system evolved in Colonial India and that is why it has qualities that do not suit a free nation. Eventually the business interests of the East India Company held sway over the governance of India and therefore governance was subjected to the interests of profit and business. So when the systems were modified or created in India by the Colonial powers, though there was a lot of good done, the alien character of a profiteering rule got induced into whatever was created.

The present system continues to be oriented towards the mentality of the Raj. There must be alternatives… 

 

2.2 How the design of Indian Education System Missed Great Treasures

Note that all about education is not necessarily decided by the government alone. There is a commonsense perspective that is generated at a global level and that has a huge say in what the decision makers think.

There are many peculiarities of the Indian education system of which some points are directly relevant to the fact that it leans westward rather than towards India. A study of the system as it exists today shows this reality. It lacks indigenous content and it misses out on personality development.

We see that this system too took roots back in 19th century India. At that time the erstwhile system (for learning did exist in India before the British came) was cleanly displaced and the new system of education was introduced. The outcome is that the indigenous system of education does not have a space in India today. For better or for worse, there is a tendency to look down upon whatever learning existed earlier. This is because of the perpetuation of the safety valve theory which included keeping the Indian culturally cowed down under west-educated Indians.

The question is whether there is something valuable in what was pushed aside?

 

2.3 The Gandhian Vision Urged India to its Genuine Roots

After 1947 the graph of India’s progress certainly took a sharp upward turn. The nation decided to journey along a new direction. The men who walked ahead happened to be the second rung of the national leadership. But could the nation have done better?

The new leadership had its own view of freedom and progress but did they really understand Gandhi? Rather they listened to him because he got it right most of the times. In the last days of his life Gandhiji was busy putting off the communal flames of partition; and before he could get down to working on his thoughts he was lost to the nation. The Gandhian perspective and Gandhians lost importance in comparison with the elected leadership.

Would the constitution, polity, grassroots politics etc. have been the same had Gandhiji lived longer…? Despite a lot being done by the new leadership in the parliamentary set up, have they bettered what Gandhiji could have achieved?

Truly Gandhiji’s impact on India is of an ageless martyr and he forms one of the anchors on which the Idea of Indianness stands. 

 

2.4 The Constitution Sympathizes but Does not Empathize with Indianness

When people live together a system is evolved consisting of institutions and rules so that there is order in society. In a nation this structure/order is given form through the Constitution and is called as the Basic Law of the nation.  

The Indian Constitution evolved out of a set of ideas that were discussed and debated for close to half a century and it was created by those that were acknowledged as the true leaders of the Indian nation at that time. It is presumed that it was truly representative because of the nature and spectrum of leadership and because debates were pursued outside the parliament in newspapers and many others had an opportunity to voice their opinions.

It has proved to be a remarkable work in the sense that India boasts of an uninterrupted democracy; in comparison to its peers the nation has done well.

But it can be called to question whether the Constitution truly reflects the aspiration of the people. Did it truly represent the illiterate masses? For example would the constitution have been the same had Gandhiji been alive during its dedication to the nation?

There is reason enough to believe that the leaders of that time did not give their Gandhian preferences enough room. It reflects the view of the West-educated Indian and contemporary modern thought process. It does not truly reflect the illiterate’s view and also the view of the traditional Indian. For one, it has perpetuated the old system at the grassroots and an ancient inspired indigenous grassroots vision is truly absent.

The other problem is that it seeks to remove Casteism but does not seem to have been successful in doing so. It also does not seem to have created the environment to produce the value systems that are required to run such an elevating system to full throttle and effectiveness…

 

SECTION 3: APPLIED SPIRITUALITY: CONVERTING CASTEISM BACK INTO A BOON

3.1 Introduction: An Opportunity Hidden in Casteism

Popular notions about casteism are shallow in their assessment of Ancient Wisdom. When we look objectively at the truths propagated by Vedic learning, a generous and benevolent thought process emerges.

The much maligned ancient sages do not seem selfless since we observe them out of context. In rejecting them we throw the baby out with the bath water. We need to play fair; people whose works have been revered for 2000 or 3000 years should not be assessed lightly.

It is not true that there are only four or five castes in all. The real figure stands at around 4500 Jatis. And how does one grade them as high or low. The rankings would differ on the basis of the parameter we may choose to measure them by. And still this is a subject of great political wrangles

But come what may, certain groups do dominate and clearly those cultures that transfer their highest learning to the forthcoming generations benefit greatly and this can be seen as dominance from another perspective.  

 

3.2 The Casteism Debate: Need for Raising the Level of Consciousness

True that casteism is an undeniable reality of the Indian society. But there are various dimensions that need to be understood.

One of the most important things we need to consider is that there are a lot of vested interests in this debate and we need to keep such vested interests out of it if the truth needs to come to light. True liberation of the masses will take place only in an environment of sane reasoning.

 

3.3 What can be and what cannot be inherited

When we scientifically study inheritance through genes we see that those factors that define a caste are not transmitted genetically. This is so because the caste heritage is transferred in culture, thoughts, habits, learning etc. none of these actually get transmitted through genes. Truly speaking there is no evidence that the thinking process of parents is responsible for genetic changes in sperms and ovaries and therefore such things are not transferred to the oncoming generations.

Therefore, Manu’s (of Manu Smriti fame) contention that we are all equal at birth is well placed. The mind related software is acquired after conception. Psychologists speak very significantly of the initial years of people’s life. The initial years define most of the psychological characteristics of a person.

Family traditions are capable of providing characteristic surroundings for the children of one particular caste and therefore we see common features in them. Since families and family types are not going to disappear from the face of the earth, it is not going to lead to a single jati across the globe in any great hurry.

 

3.4 When the Wise Intervene They Inspire Groups to Succeed

Knowing that family traditions are so important, the wise surely must have worked on the traditions to ensure that parents groom their children in the best manner possible. Such interference by the wise is visible.

There is evidence that wise men have taught people how to live better lives and it forms part of the traditions of castes.

But all new ideas do not survive. If some group comes up with some stupid traditions that group becomes weak and the culture dies out in the competition of life. Conversely, those cultures that survive for centuries have inherent strength and they could be said to have survived the struggle of the ‘survival of the fittest cultures’. 

This should be true of all the cultures that have remained alive for centuries and we can learn from them, however primitive they may appear.  

 

3.5 The true strength of Casteism: Know it to Deal With it

The Indian Civilization is the only one that has an unbroken record of continuity in human memory. If it has thus survived, needless to say, it is on account of some inherent strength. Strength cannot exist in a civilization that has deep internal conflict. Then how is it that the Vedic system has lasted this long?

It cannot be material strength alone that lead to its continuance because there is enough historical evidence to show that persons from the lower classes did come to control power and material resources at several points in History. But even through it happened, the Vedas based system has continued to exist.

 Clearly there is a cause that is beyond the known world of the senses and it is natural to look at Spiritualism as the true cause. Inquiry leads us to the premise that what possibly sustains casteism is an experience of transcendence that happens in the spiritual plane—this forms the core—and it is reinforced by knowledge about it. Indeed there is proof in history that jatis have risen higher in society when there was work done in the spiritual plane. No other method has resulted in true elevation of castes. The game changer is therefore spirituality.

Spirituality is based on a core experience coupled with awareness of this. Therefore, taking the proposal forward we propose that the core ‘experience’, in conjunction with knowledge about it, is the cause of the strength of the caste system.

Proof is difficult because the experience cannot be given, it can only be experienced by the efforts of the researcher; though of course the guidance of a Guru would certainly help. But lack of proof should not hold us back. We carry forward the discussion with the hope that proof of the intervening step of the theorem may be obtained by the researcher in due course.

It is an established fact that pursuit of the ‘experience’ or ‘beyond’ produces excellence in those that labor at it. This would mean that the truly wise would only wish to have a system in which ALL members of the society are targeting excellence.

The Vedic culture presumably has this at its core. Indeed the Vedic culture cannot produce excellence if it has not idealized for itself a vision that aims at giving what is highest to ALL its members. This pursuit of the highest ideal is the true strength of the Vedic civilization.

 

3.6 authorized notions of high and low in casteism and spirituality

The real game changer in casteism is spirituality and therefore only a look into the spiritual dimension will offer valid criterion of high and low that can be legitimately used in caste consciousness.  

Two important components of the big Vs small debate is firstly the notion of greatness and secondly the objective facts about measuring tangibles against any arbitrarily chosen scale. The notion of greatness in any person is a non starter. It designates him to foolishness. But objective criterion for big and small can be looked for—only in spirituality.  

In Gunas, human tendencies and the ‘Beyond’ can be classified on the basis of Tamas, Rajas, Satwa, and Nirwana. This is one scale which the wise use to indicate to their followers that there is an ascendancy starting with Tamas at the bottom and ending with Nirwana at the top. The faithful are asked to journey upwards. Castes are not defined on this basis.

Then there are the Yogas: these indicate exercises taken up by the ignorant faithful such that the end point is the attainment of transcendence. In this the method of Gyan Yoga is given superior status compared to others since the path is more difficult and as it is driven by knowledge it produces people who can guide others. The recommendation from guides to their wards is that they must listen to the Gyan Yogis. However it should be seen that all are inherently equal in the sense that the ultimate prize, self realization, is available to all. And nothing else is considered important.

This concept does have relevance in deciding caste structure, but one needs to note that there is implicit equality in all the classes, which is of greater importance.

The next hierarchical concept deals with God (Trimurti), Devas and Aasuras: This again is a gradation in spiritual heights attained by individuals and it cuts across caste groups, but it does help guide people towards better things in spirituality.

People do rip these sayings out of context, implant it in the material plane and score brownie points over others—but that is another story and is not legitimate in the proper process.

 

3.7 Myths concerning elevation of the lower castes

Popular notions of how castes must be elevated that are afloat in the present Indian public sphere are pure myths. At this rate no lower caste is going to rise up in any time in the near future.

Myth 2: Education will lead to a caste-less society

Myth 3: Professional education and economic development will lead to a class-less society

Myth 4: There is poetic justice in lower castes being given power and authority

Myth 5: Reservation will lead to elevating castes

Myth 6: The so-called Lower Castes have suffered for centuries and that is why they are where they are now…

Myth 7: Emancipation of the lower castes is possible only if lower castes represent lower castes

Myth 8: Intolerant shouting will lead to emancipation

Myth 9: The constitution essentially calls for showering additional benefits on scheduled classes and tribes in order to treat them as equals in the spirit of the Fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution

 

3.8 This is a Great Time to Rise Together

There were four earthly strengths that used to help sustain an exploitative structure amongst the castes. These have weakened considerably after the coming of the Constitution. There is no need to get hyper on caste consciousness; rather, since the spiritual angle can lead to elevation, it is where work needs to be done.

There is need to first, with a calm disposition, understand the true cause of the problem and identify the challenge correctly.  The starting point being that one needs to have freedom in the mind, get rid of his persecution complex and believe in himself that he is no less…

There is need to build on the strengths that the groups already possess.

In truth, there is no compulsion to be part of the Vedic system. One should be there of his own free will realizing that the system facilitates him making the best of his potentials.

About this book  
     
Book for whom? can you help?  
     

Index

 
     
Foreword by Mr. TN Seshan (excerpts)  
Excerpts: the summary chapter