Timeless ideas from the land where the Sindu Flowed

...As applied in the present context

Home... Ref3: Glorious

Book Publisher: Notion Press
Author: Nixon Fernando
No of Pages: 363
Paper Back Price: Rs. 649 /-
I.S.B.N: 978-1-64429-905-0

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"In my view, this is an excellent book, and very briefly, it is a great tribute to Hinduism..."
-------TN Seshan, Former CEC India.

Is there a baby in the bathwater of the Indian Civilization in the first place? If there is then why is the bath water dirty? Two of the important problems confronting the nation, which are directly connected to the indiginous civilization, are Casteism and communalism.

What is the view of the originators of the idea of casteism on what is happening in India today? Is the caste consciousness supposed to be divisive at all? ... What is that which defines caste? Why does it sustain? Is there anything good in it? Should it be wiped out; or rather can it be wiped out? Is reservation the answer?

An indepth analysis comes up with surprising answers. Castes will never disappear so long as there is any depth in Indian spirituality. In fact there is opportunity in casteism. It can help members of society imbibe the right kind of values that can make a difference in public life. It can serve to rise the consciousness of the nation to something lighter. It can help the average Indian have more joy, improve his relationships, free himself from the grip of consumerism, play the competititve game better and gain better contentment in life.

The other aspect is Communalism. Is it justified? What does the Indian way of life teach the world about how religions must cooperate with each other? Is there a clash in the first place? What about the merits of Vasudaivakutambakkam? Do we import the 'clash of civilization' stand or then is Hinduism the way-of-life for a future world of peace?

What is the opportunity here? Is Hinduism a religion in the first place?

Do check out the contents provided down here and one can get a sense of the arguments. You can also find the introduction and one sample chapter for reading.


TN Seshan
Former Cabinet Secretary,
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India

I have known Nixon for the last few years ever since he came over to intern with me and help with the research leading to my autobiography. He is an alumnus of the MIT School of Government, Pune which we put up to groom leaders and experts in the Government. Nixon’s shifting of focus from teaching Physics to studying about Government is apparently due to an attempt on his part to understand what ails India in order to offer solutions. Over time, I have come to realize that he has developed strong views on this and his books on Vidarbha farmers’ suicides and on village self-rule reflect these views. So also this book on Hinduism—A return to an ancient and glorious tryst—which a reader will find delightfully insightful for a Catholic to write. His perspectives on the various aspects of Hinduism are well presented and he makes a convincing case for the reader to pay heed to the intellectual giants of ancient India. ... In my view, this is an excellent book, and very briefly, it is a great tribute to Hinduism.

I have always held that anyone who calls himself an Indian is a Hindu. In this book, Nixon has thrown light on what that essentially means. I may not agree with the way he has gone about it, but that is merely a matter of a difference in the way we think and approach any subject. He has, with quite clear reasoning, in his own way, handled the subject with firm conviction. And by the time the book concludes, a huge question marks appears on the sensibility of our current leaders’ approach to (1) the understanding of human nature coming to us from our ancients and (2) the solutions adopted to resolve national issues.

Let me add my vote in favour of what the wise men of ancient India have said. Whenever I was faced with important questions that I had to handle in my life, I have always resorted to the silence of my mind. On the day before I finally signed the August 2 order of 1993 postponing all elections in India, I spent time reading Vikram Betal and the Bhagavad Gita. It gives me inner peace and clarity of thought and adds to my conviction that the crucial decisions I make are impersonal and pure. I have always loved the peace and tranquillity of temple surroundings and these give my soul much relief. I have taken important personal decisions at the instructions of the sages from Kanchi, and though at points I may have felt a tinge of disappointment, I have never regretted going by their word. I have full conviction that there is enough and more guidance, pertaining to live sublime and stay successful, in the works of the ancient sages.

In today’s India, the politics of short-sightedness deals essentially with the next electoral victory. It is a cesspool that sustains and amplifies ill-beings like corruption, casteism, communalism and so many other attributes of public life that torment us today. There is obviously a need to rethink and redirect way we make progress—and no ready-made solution is at hand. But I am sure that India can be lead only by a leader who has the true grasp of its indigenous culture. And definitely, despite all the flaws in Hinduism, I remain optimistic that it is in Hinduism’s nature to eventually come up with the answers and lead the way to global peace and prosperity.

T. N. Seshan (IAS)
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India
Chennai, February 2013


Some people compare India to the sleeping Kumbhakarna of the Ramayana. This is even right in its context that it is indeed something huge and asleep, but it is wrong in the sense that unlike Kumbhakarna, India is not on the side of Ravana. In truth, India will awake when it learns to appreciate and respect Lord Rama for what he truly is. In fact, the slumber is the inability of the nation to relate to this essential strength that the scriptures and traditions impart. ...

The following analogy sums it up well. A farmer had a lorry in which he carried farm produce, and suddenly, one day, the lorry stopped working. He had no help, so he let it stand in his yard and started carrying farm produce on his head or at the most in a hand cart. He eventually resigned himself to his fate. Then, the farm passed on to the son. The son had always seen the lorry standing in the yard, but he knew nothing of it other than that it was a showpiece and a place where children played. He too carried farm produce on his head and in a hand cart—and always thought that this was the way it was supposed to be.

There was this neighbour who purchased a horse-drawn cart. The neighbour would use it to ferry things really very fast. It was nothing like anything the farmer had seen before, and he was mighty impressed.

His kind neighbour suggested one day, ‘You have four strong bulls in your farm. Why don’t you borrow four of my cart wheels and fix them to the showpiece you have in your yard? If you yoke the bulls to the showpiece, then you can get a lot of your work done too.’

Fair enough. It was a good idea; the deed was done. Even though it was not as light and fast as the horse cart, it could be used. He always found it better than carrying things little by little in the handcart.

We Indians are just like this son of the farmer. Little do we realize that all we need to do is a little tinkering, fill diesel in the lorry, set the tires back and learn how to drive; we will have something that will quite outdo the horse cart in a great many ways. Little do we realize that something that can do immense work lies unused. It lies hidden in our rich diversity of traditions and culture. A bit of tinkering, a bit of patronage, a little cleaning up of the mind to assure ourselves that it is neither a plaything or a horror piece and a little learning of how to use it and we will have something fantastic working for us—moving us to meet a glorious tryst.

It is true that within the last two hundred years or so, the leaders of our freedom struggle made a tryst with destiny. Depending on how one saw it, part or whole of that tryst was fulfilled at independence and at the birth of the Republic of India… But is that all one can think of? Was the goal set with a true awareness of the highest thought that was supposed to pervade the thinking process of the land?

Would the wise from ancient India have done differently? Had the wise from ancient India lived today, what would have been the destiny that they would have dreamt for us?

On the face of it, what comes to us from our ancient past is pretty maligned. Feminist organizations quote Manu and say that it is abhorrent when someone who made a law about whipping women with a stick could be among the wise. Caste groups quote the same Manu and talk about the atrocity of molten lead being poured into the ears of the Dalits for a crime as simple as listening to certain secret recitals. The atheists have a long list of Indian Gods and Goddesses who can be mocked besides a whole lot of superstitions that they decry as defying common sense and logic. The science enthusiasts treat anything which is metaphysical as a potential hallucination. Socialists see the inequality in a rigid caste system that has been practiced over centuries. The communists see the opium of the masses being used to keep people in a state of perpetual stupor. Modern philosophers and psychologists equate all that is in the ancient texts to be ancient and therefore in the infancy of ideation. Historians record great atrocities committed on the lower castes in a systematic manner. The scholars who represent Indian spirituality conceive of ‘spirituality genes’ written into the DNA of humans, which separate men at birth. And thanks (sic) to the ideas from Samuel Huntington and to some western observers/reporters of Hinduism, the essential spiritualism of this land is seen to be a ‘religion’ and one that is in conflict with other ‘religions’ around the world.

Yes, all these are facts. Are they not? There won’t be any smoke if there is no fire, right?


Talk of everything and miss the heart of the matter… Look at all the muck in the bath water and forget the baby sitting in it… It is not only unreasonable, it is also unfair.

The dynamics of a bygone era were different from what they are today. In an age where bows and arrows were used, where the fastest way to move an army was on horseback, where villages lived in reasonable seclusion from one another, where tribes constantly fought with each other and tried to do away with each other’s resources… In that age, the rules were different. Pulling facts and figures out of history unholistically and then presenting it in high-pitched political debates where din is more important than reason, where winning political power is more important than finding the truth is how we seem to be missing out on wisdom.

Wisdom distinguished certain people and groups from the average gentry of those times. These special people went on to be icons of mercy, graciousness, inclusiveness, wisdom, delight, integrity and prosperity. The ancient land of ours has learnt from these icons. The wealth in its culture, traditions, scriptures and spirituality are gifts from these outstanding people who knew how to raise individuals and nations to peace, prosperity and glory.

The shut-up call to the howlers is contained in the fact that Manu himself, who is often painted to be the villain of the caste system, says, ‘All men are born equal.’ If everyone is the same, then why so much difference? What is the secret that can make these others (downtrodden) who are actually equals also rise in stature and prosperity?

Indeed, what should that song of liberation of the lower castes be? The same that we use today… Or then, are we blinding ourselves to the very thing that is capable of raising these marginalized groups to prosperity?

The wisdom of the ancients has the potential of not only raising individuals, caste groups and nations to prosperity. It can even bring peace to the global community that is torn apart by misunderstandings and chauvinistic fears.

Kind of hard to believe this in the light of the ills Hinduism is known to represent. But then, what if it is the truth? We know that there are howlers who don’t want to listen and don’t want others to speak. What if these howlers are blocking out from their (and our) minds the very thing that can give liberation to the masses of India?

This nation is destined to rise to great glory, and it will rise only on the wings of that wisdom which will bring peace and prosperity to the whole world. Do sit back and travel along this book so that we can take a peek at a very broad-minded way of looking at things and doing them right in the nation and the world.

The treasure from the ancient system is invaluable, and it is pretty much useful for any individual to dig into during his lifetime—after all, it is supposed to be the highest treasure known to man. If there is something that can rise individuals, communities and nations to prosperity and if it takes only a few hours of reading to be introduced to do this… Then, why not?


This section deals with what it essentially means to belong to the life and culture of the land that is to the north of the seas and the south of the Himalayan ranges. ...

Is it wise to turn a blind eye to everything ancient or Indian? ** Breaking free from prejudices ** Why such a raw deal for Indian learning? ** The paradox ** A strong case for learning ** The pursuit of truth

Influx ** Who is an Indian? ** Contrary to Huntington’s theory ** India Special ** Aryans and Dravidians:

Is there a ‘core idea’ in the scriptures? ** The Guru ** The experience ** Rigorous pursuit ** Pursuit of wisdom ** Just one will do ** A fascinating work ** Tips to unravel the Bhagavad Gita jigsaw puzzle ** Filtering the perceptions ** Interesting result

Hindu ** Is Hinduism a religion? ** Summarizing ** A vision of oneness ** Practical Hinduism ** Some universal indices ** Dharma ** Motivators for action – the four Purusharths ** Where it matters ** The real fight ** The issue of Kashmir ** Ayodhya ** The concept of Pakistan

Can a nation prosper if it does not build on its indigenous strengths?

An administration subject to business interests ** So also the people of the Raj ** An alien character ** How they went about it ** The buffer classes came ** Protection for the men of the system ** The impact ** Questionable legacy ** Alternate benchmarks ** A corrosive system

Education in India ** Of degrees and vocational courses ** What about values? ** Irrelevant to daily life ** Education is a business ** Lack of indigenous content ** A steal over a hereditary-based system ** Limitations in terms of personality development ** The Indian education system – what it is and what it can be ** How the present education system took birth ** Attributes of the new system ** What about indigenous learning? ** Could there be more today?

Outstanding results ** Picking up a direction ** What was the leaders’ thinking? ** What is freedom? ** Gandhian difference ** Action from the Gandhians ** New leaders, new priorities ** A tradition of tribute ** The potency of Gandhian thought and action ** An ageless martyr

The constitution is a key document ** Coming of the Indian constitution ** The men behind it ** Where the ideas came from ** Quite a masterpiece ** Performance ** Does it really foster an indigenized system? ** A peoples’ constitution? ** Missing grassroots administration ** No solution for casteism ** Provisions for enhancing virtue ** The nation’s potential ** Yet to complete the journey from a colonial mind-set to an inspired freedom

This section deals with how deep the understanding of human nature and spirituality was eventually applied to Indian society…

Intentions of ancients ** Playing it fair ** What is a high or a low caste? ** Merit provides a natural benchmark

Caste vs.jati ** Truth vs. vested interests ** What if we had it wrong? ** Want of clarity ** Critical for many Indians

Inheritance through genes ** Physiological factors ** Thoughts ** The mind ** Emotions ** In the womb ** So are we equal at birth? ** Cultural inheritance (the mind-related software is acquired) ** Grooming ** The significance of the childhood environment ** Family traditions

Designing social systems ** The jatis of India ** Measuring the depth of culture ** Theory of the ‘survival of the fittest culture’

Material strength? ** Getting beyond ** What proof? ** A difficulty in the proof ** Wait for proof? ** Pursuit of the Beyond produces excellence ** If it is inspired by a wise man, then it is all-inclusive ** Motives for designing the varna system

Who is the authority to decide? ** The real substance behind hierarchy in casteism ** The nuances of the debate ** The notion of greatness ** The notion of high and low in spiritualism ** Gunas ** Why the hierarchy in the gunas? ** Hierarchy of the yogas ** Ascendency in what one stakes ** How this notion got applied ** Of Gods, Devas and Asuras ** Of gunas, yogas, stakes and ego types ** When a spiritualist says high or low ** Elevated in spirit

Myth 1: Wipe out the entre caste system and attempt to replace it with a uniform alternative, and it will solve the problem.
Myth 2: Education will lead to a casteless society.
Myth 3: Professional education and economic development will lead to a classless society.
Myth 4: There is poetic justice in lower castes being given power and authority today.
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.

The case for perpetuation has weakened ** To dilute the impact of the rigidity of caste-consciousness ** Know what it takes to rise ** Freedom must happen in the mind first ** Preserve self-dignity and build on indigenous strength ** Am I compelled to be in the varna system? ** For the faithful of today


Victory will eventually happen on the side of truth.

He speaks out from gut feeling as against reasoning on the basis of core ideals or basic principles. And he is quite on the mark.

C: NEED TO UPHOLD DHARMA (K. Subrahmanyam; as it appeared in The Speaking Tree: Times of India; 3rd Feb 2011)
Dharma is not immutable but is liable to change to be in consonance with changing times.


Who should be our leader?

Designed in the context of patriarchy and level of wisdom

Some recommended indices  

Section 3 : Chapter 3:
(Indicative Sample)

It makes sense for the author and reader to resolve that the debate will be conducted at a level of consciousness that will encourage reason and careful consideration. It is the best way to explore/find a meaningful path for the emancipation of the lower classes.

Diving into the topic, it is evident that the question of inheritance needs to be looked into closely. History has it that the erstwhile caste system was merit-based, and it eventually consolidated into an inheritance-based system. ... It makes sense to clear our ideas on what exactly we can inherit from our parents. What is it that comes to each of us humans with our genes and what does not?

Are humans unequal at birth? To answer this the start can be made at certain scientifically established facts.

Inheritance through genes: We know that genes provide us with a lot of our inheritance; but there still remains some debate on what the total content of the package is. Since the subject itself is rather intricate, common gentry often attribute musical prowess, the ability to study, the ability to excel in sports, etc. to genes, but subjecting the topic to a systematic analysis helps resolve certain facts.

Physiological factors: One thing for sure is that physiological features do get transferred to children through genes—factors like height, colour, hair colour, colour of the eye, muscle type and blood type get determined by the genetic make-up of parents. But then, there is little reason to suggest that genetic codes define those particular characteristics of individuals which conclusively decide the caste of a person. Caste is basically in the general domain of the emotions, thoughts, mind and action; definitely, the people of a certain caste do not form a separate species or even some kind of special breed within humankind. In fact, if we take the example of blood groups and muscle types, it cuts across all kinds of socio-cultural-racial-ethnic barriers—including caste barriers.

Once an individual is born, his body has a certain degree of flexibility to develop according to the environment in which he grows. Of the characteristics that are determined by genes like height or tooth structure, each characteristic has a certain development-variation range in his life time. The extent to which a characteristic is developed in the course of a lifespan is governed by the amount of nourishment, care, illness, exercise, rest and other factors through which an individual goes, but even this happens within limits that are characteristic of the particular features. For example, there is not much impact possible on the genetically determined colour of the iris during the course of a person’s lifetime. If he is born with an iris of a certain colour, it remains the same all his life. But where height is concerned, the difference of adequate food and inadequate food can indeed make a difference of up to several inches in a person’s height. But this deviation from the generic norm too does not get transferred to the offspring; this is supported scientifically by the fact that the theory of ‘use and disuse’ in the field of genetics has lost out in light of the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’.

Thoughts: But what about the way parents think? Do thinking processes get transferred to children through genes?

The study of DNA structures and the methodology of its coding and data transfer do not lend support to the idea. When parents think, the manner in which neurons get rearranged in their brains, on account of the ideas flashing through their minds, will have no impact on the DNA structure in their sperms and ovaries. This means that there will be no impact on the chemical makeup of the genes of the offspring arising from the thinking processes that happen in the minds of parents. There is no reason to believe that something like a learning gene exists, which carries parent’s thoughts and memories to children directly.

The mind: The next is the mind. At the outset, it should be mentioned that there are insightful works in Indian spiritual thought which suggest that the mind is in the realm of thoughts and that both thought and mind are two sides of the same coin. But then, even if we go by the common notions of what the mind is, we can reckon a few things. It has been discovered by researchers that there is a link between chemical imbalances in the body and the state of mind of an individual. The studies have not been able to establish the correct cause-effect sequence though—whether it is the chemical imbalance that leads to mind-related problems or the other way around. However, mind science conclusively says that there is much that can be achieved through a change in the thought process of an individual. If he is tutored well, a lot of good can come out of effectively using the qualities of the mind to control the juices flowing in his body. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the qualities of the mind that is picked up in a life time of an individual (or the tendencies of the mind either) get coded into genes and get transmitted.

Emotions: A similar argument also arises with respect to the emotional content of a person; there are theories that talk of a chemical basis for emotional problems and vice versa. It is also suggested that initial grooming and the emotional journeys during formative years have a great impact on personality. And in the same vein, there are theories that suggest that much control can be had over emotions through mind science. But there are no studies that give evidence to the fact that emotions produce systematic transferrable chemical changes in genes. As of this day, there is no proof in genetics that emotions alter the DNA chain structure in the reproductive cells of parents; so, children do not genetically inherit emotional behaviour from parents.

In fact, it is suggested that the mind, thought and emotions are interlinked; if the thought processes are positive, the mind and emotions can be kept positive. And if there is a feeling of positivity in these three, it results in excellent health and high levels of resistance to diseases. But despite this, there is little evidence to suggest that the trio of thoughts, mental makeup and emotions produce genetically transferable changes in an individual.

This in turn implies that offspring can achieve much more through their own thought process in the sphere of mind and emotions than they can ever be affected by genetic factors.

In the womb: And then, there is the fact that children seem to have the ability to learn at both the emotional and intellectual levels while they are in the womb of their mothers. This truth was known to ancient Indian sages, and the same has been established in some form in the present scientific era as well. But this, again, is not a biological inheritance; one could rather say it is a cultural inheritance that comes from the culture of the mother and of the environment in which she lives when she is carrying.

So are we equal at birth? No and yes!

No because
a) the genetic inheritance, which leads to the physiological characteristics of a person, is different for each individual and
b) even at birth, the child has already been through a learning process in the womb.

But then if we are not concerned about the biological factors, which we may overlook in this debate anyway, if we reckon the point of birth to actually mean the point of conception; that is, notionally neglecting the period when people learn when they are in their mothers’ womb and even if we were to believe in something called karma-of-previous-births theory but relate it to merely inherited physiological characteristics, then the fact is that we are all equal at birth.

Exactly what Manu (of Manu Smriti fame) said: ‘All men are born equal.’

Cultural inheritance (the mind-related software is acquired): Now, moving away from these established scientific facts, let us dwell on some empirical observations, not too difficult to arrive at, and based on studies of psychologists and suggestions of scholars.

It has been found that the values held and cherished by parents have an impact upon the character of children. For instance, deep and unshakable faith and sound value systems held by parents result in children who are exceptionally talented. Not certainly, but there is definitely a high incidence of this. In fact, the converse observation is more certain. Talented persons, in their childhood environment, have had very deep influences of disciplined and faith-bearing (not necessarily religious!) individuals who have had a large say in setting the environment in which they grew. This, of course, is not yet established through formal studies. However, it makes a lot of sense in terms of cause-and-effect in the spiritual field.

In psychology though, we are on more solid scientific ground. Psychologists have come up with studies that indicate that the most significant aspects of peoples’ character and personality get fixed well within the initial three or four years of their childhood. For example, they point out that the amount of care and attention a child receives as an infant, say when he has soiled himself, decides the attributes of the child’s personality. The ‘attitude’ aspect of a personality is largely determined by the time he is four or five years.

Then, there are the skills and knowledge which also get transferred to him as he grows up. To the extent that the environment in which these three attributes—knowledge, skills and attitude—is determined by the parents and other family members who come in contact with the child, it is inheritance.

But clearly, this inheritance comes not through the genes. It comes through experience and learning, which happens after conception and during growth. Generally speaking, all the non-biological aspects that characterize an individual as a unique, one-of-a-kind personality is imbibed by him when he grows up in whatever environment he finds himself; the totality of his experience and learning determines this.

Grooming: Another important point to note is that this imparting of attributes can be taken up by parents with deliberate intent. It is not uncommon for parents to teach their children how to overcome difficulties they are likely to encounter later in life. They share their own experiences or what they have learnt from others. And these lessons can be diverse, varying from family to family or even from individual to individual within a family. Some people train their children to take an eye for an eye. Still others say to take two in place of one. Others say to show the other cheek if someone slaps you on one cheek. Three different approaches… All are given to children with the impression that if they learn the truth in it, it would be good for them. It is another matter though whether the children bear the fruit of the lessons they absorb. How they act emerges from what they come to believe in after absorbing these lessons, and they bear the fruits of their actions.

The example mentioned above is of course a direct lesson (in this case, it comes from religion), but all lessons do not come directly. There are indirect ones too. A Japanese proverb puts it succinctly: ‘Children learn from the backs of their parents.’ For example, a parent might want to teach his child to be truthful and may give lectures about it. But the child is more likely to learn from the fact that when the child is headed for a ringing phone, the father says, ‘If it is Uncle, tell him “Daddy is not at home.”.’ Or then, the child may learn from even subtler suggestions like when an elderly person in the family publicly remarks, ‘Oh! Poor honest chap!’ as if honesty were a weakness and it were more sensible to be dishonest. And indeed there are instances where parents think it is a desirable attribute that the child should learn to be dishonest and teach it to their children with all earnestness.

Putting all this together, one can conclude that the outcome of influences from parents is quite significant. The child picks up innumerable small lessons along the way and develops ideas, thoughts, attitudes, approaches, emotions, patterns and tendencies which govern much of his behaviour in his later years. This means that the family—the first home of the child—and the values cherished in there decide, very decisively, how well he will capitalize on the opportunities that come his way, how well he will play the game of life and how artistic he will be in that game. Indeed, as the wise say, it is a question of how apprised he is about the ‘art of living’. Or in other words, this ‘software’ baggage comprising of knowledge, skills and attitude has a tremendous impact on his productivity, work, effectiveness and inclination to participate in society. Taking it further, if it is a merit-based system that a person is operating in, then we can say that the level of prosperity which an individual will eventually attain depends on the quality of this ‘software’ that has evolved in him, which in turn depends on the environment in which he was born and brought up.

The significance of the childhood environment: In other words, we can conclude that all men are born equal, but the environment in which they take their toddler steps plays a remarkable role in deciding what they turn out to be and what they end up doing later in life.

Therefore, the childhood environment in which a child grows becomes a point of high concern for the well-wisher. Any well-wisher will capitalize on this environment aspect to deliver the best to the child.

Family traditions: Having seen that the environment set up by parents and guardians in which a child grows decides important aspects of the child’s personality, it brings us to the crucial question about families and family traditions. Do family values passed down many generations play a role in ultimately deciding what the nature of the environment in which a child grows will be?

Family traditions include things like the way the members of a group cook their food, the way they dress, the way they address each other, the way they eat their food, the way they pray, the scriptures they consider authority, the values that are nurtured, the priorities, the choices and the countless things that define how a certain group of families perceive themselves and approach life.

When a certain group of families maintained a similar set of traditions, they were all classed together as a ‘type’ or ‘jati’ to be precise. The question is whether, in some way, the family environments in such families get patterned in such a manner that children born in such families receive a similar kind of grooming? Is that traditional environment so powerful that there is consistency of characteristics across all progeny of that group? Are such arrangements always successful in producing a certain quality or type or category of individuals? Or maybe a jati arrangement merely increases the probability of producing people with a set of capabilities.

These questions need to be systematically answered, and they constitute a potential area for a lot of research, but even without that rigor of proper scientific research, we can arrive at general conclusions that there indeed are patterns or family types. Certain isolated groups that are not yet touched by modern communication are excellent cases for studying the effect of family patterns. These family patterns are flexible to an extent in the sense that personalities and events have a huge role in deciding outcomes in families. But there are many other factors of tradition and convention, which are transferred almost innocuously or unconsciously by successive generations within a ‘type’ of family. These traditions may have to do with matters of faith, emotions, ideas, speech or actions. Such a set of families, who constitutes a ‘type’ may be considered a ‘jati’ when they go about life in a particular way, taking on a certain combination of factors as distinguishable from other groups.

Some interesting questions we may ask about family traditions are as follows:

Q) Are family traditions dynamic?
A) Yes

Q) Are family traditions of a jati influenced by other jatis?
A) Yes

Q) Are traditions of a jati affected by the culture of a dominating civilization?
A) Yes

Q) Are traditions of a jati affected by dominant individuals of that jati?
A) Yes, and to varying extents

Q) Does marriage within a jati facilitate easier understanding between newlyweds?
A) Yes

Q) Is human-to-human communication easier within jatis?
A) Yes

Q) When inter-jati marriages happen, is there a higher chance of misunderstanding and conflict in the early stages of marriage?
A) Yes

Q) Amongst newlyweds, which of the spouses is expected to show flexibility to adjust?
A) In the patriarchal system, since the lady moves to the man’s house, it is the lady who is expected to adjust. That also means that the groom and his family should show sensitivity. This works out to be logical if the patriarchal system is the accepted mode, and it is true that women are trained like that from the beginning in patriarchal systems. In a matriarchal system, it is the other way round.

Q) Will jatis disappear from the face of the earth?
A) Never. In the extreme case at least one jati will survive, that is, everyone on the globe may end up becoming a part of one jati—a notion that is very unlikely to be accepted/happen. But yes, in a cosmopolitan, digital and global environment, the surrounding walls that tend to isolate jatis are weaker.

Every family will have a way of doing what it does. There will be differences from family to family. A certain group of families will definitely get an identity of its own if that group has special features (as distinct from other groups) that are common to its members, identifiable over and above the incidental variations that can take place within families of the group.

It all depends on the reference point from which one takes a look, and whatever the reference point chosen, an entire set of families can be divided into groups based on that particular reference point. Certain groups will seem to be remarkably different from that point of reference, and certain other groups will differ in a very minor way. For example, considering food habits; using this reference point families can be classified. Picking up several such points of reference groupings will emerge and they would constitute a ‘type’.

Such points of reference are a boon to political dividers. It offers a great opportunity for opportunists to arbitrarily lay down benchmarks (points of reference) in order to say how to distinguish one ‘caste’ or ‘jati’ from the other. It is the old game of producing ‘they’ and ‘we’ camps according to political needs.

Q) Can we generalize on the characteristics of individuals based on the identity of the group to which they belong?
A) No! Because individuals have characteristics that have statistical variation, if we go by individuals and pick up any one characteristic to compare, then we are sure to get an entire spectral distribution amongst members of a single group. For example, if a certain group is known for producing excellent sportsmen, even that group will have a spectrum of individuals ranging from those very bad in sports to those excellent in sports.

That is, the character of this grouping is not a precise genetic determinant. Rather, there is a distribution described by a bell-shaped curve that is obtained when we plot the number of people on one axis against the amplitude of a particular attribute on the other. Therefore, for any group or jati, if we were to plot the number of persons on the y-axis against excellence in sports on the x-axis, we will get a bell-shaped curve. For a jati that is recognized as being good in sports, the peak will be at the relatively higher end of the sportsmanship axis.

Therefore, generalizing on individual’s characteristics on the basis of purely their group identity is prone to end in errors of judgment. ‘He comes from that community, and so, he is a good sportsman’ is a wrong way of looking at it. ‘He comes from that community, so he is likely to be a good sportsman or he is likely to groom good sportsman’ is the correct way of looking at it.

Q) Can these jatis be graded as one being better than another?
A) Yes, but then, the ranking will depend on what criterion is used to rank them. Or in other words, it depends on what the scale along which we are grading the jatis is. It depends on whether we are grading them on the basis of money/possessions, physical prowess, intellectual prowess, musical abilities, output to society or whatever other criterion that we reckon is significant.

Two important points we need to take note of in this context are stated here:

First, the various jatis will get ranked at different positions depending on what scale one chooses to make that distinction, and second, it will only be a comparison of statistical averages. We will be left with several bell-shaped curves in a multi-dimensional matrix, with each dimension representing yet another factor by which castes or groups can be evaluated. The bell-shaped curves will peak at different points for different groups for each of the reckoned dimensions/attributes. So one jati could be good in one thing, average in another and bad in yet another dimension.

Q) Do individuals use the jati arrangements diabolically for their own ends?
A) Indeed, it is human nature that there will always be some who take advantage of the loopholes that are available. This is an eternal enemy and needs to be checked.

From the above considerations, we can say for sure that traditions vary from family to family. It depends on the lessons which parents and guardians advertently or inadvertently transfer to the subsequent generations. And at all times, one needs to be aware that the quality of what is passed down has a significant impact on what will happen to individuals in subsequent generations of a family or a group in general.

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