India is Independent. Now, Indians shall Liberate themselves from Self-Inflicted Psychological Restraints
Frustrated ever I was, annoyed when the girl selling the ‘Tri-colour’ was over charging her customers. Now, the fever of Independence day is on. Everybody listens to ‘Saare Jahan se Achcha’ and ‘Aye Mere Watan ke Logon’ and try to imagine doing their bit for the country. Some do succeed in the imagination and many fail, even to imagine. Life is like that! Come sixteenth August, we are back to politics, cinema, daily chores and a little bit of gossip.
Still, there are people who are concerned about the country, of its people, of its borders, of its finance and its defence, and of its knowledge base and peoples’ happiness and sorrows. Some of them, especially Nationalists would like to Re-build India and bring back the lost glory.
Few years back, perhaps in the Times, I read a column in which it was remarked that Indian philosophers, unlike the Greek ones, were Kings with tremendous power, who sacrificed their kingdoms for the sake of honour or for the quest of truth. Whether it was Rama or Buddha, they gave up power that was rightfully theirs. Sacrifice was perhaps the basic tenet of Indianism. If the first generation people were busy sacrificing animals, the later ones were sacrificing physical needs.
To understand the evolution of thinking in ancient India, one shall read the book ‘Riddles in Hinduism’ by Babasaheb Ambedkar. He listed many inconsistencies and contradictions exist in Hinduism. And they were facts. Many people who consider them self ‘knowledgeable’ Hindus have opposed his views. All one need to do is to analyse the book in a scientific way. The changing customs and practices and values only express one fact – that the way people lived and thought was constantly changing in this part of the world. Their thoughts were never stagnant and were confined to one particular period of time.
Ancient Indian texts were perhaps the first records available that can explain how the ancient people of the world have thought, for in no other country there exist any record. The God envisaged and explained by our ancestors was simply put – the Universe. They worshipped five elements that are necessary to experience the five senses and were necessary for life to germinate and propagate (Mahabharata). Simply they worshipped the Nature. God was omnipresent. The ‘Purush’ to whom they prayed was synonymous with the universe and each and every particle that is within. Even the castes (yes, in the current form they were notorious) were the way they classified themselves based on the nature of each and every human being. Valmiki, a hunter writing Ramayana and Vyasa, the son of a fisher-woman authoring the Mahabharata in Sanskrit explains that knowledge was not forbidden to those who could grasp it. It was an inclusive society; else it could never flourish if exclusivity is practised.
Yet, even that great civilisation failed! If one wants to rebuild India, one shall understand the reasons why and how the Indians were better in old days and how and why they denigrated. As Ayn Rand explained through John Galt, most primitive trait of a man was ‘Selfishness’ and in the words of John Galt, ‘If I sacrifice my life for yours, it means I value your life more than mine and am being simply selfish”. Selfishness is another way of describing the survival instinct. Then it evolves into sustenance and growth. Growth to encompass everything. Little living cells could never remain same. They mix together to form bigger creatures. From fish to reptiles to animals and finally, Humans.
Ancient Indian had analysed this nature of Nature and so expected that there would be an end to life, which they explained in the form of Yugas. After every cycle of four Yugas, there would be Pralaya – The end. Again life spouts. Only to grow and die. May be they didn’t have a ‘Big-bang’ in their vocabulary or they have not bothered about the universe and restricted their thoughts only to the earth (at least to the best of my knowledge).
How they flourished? They classified themselves into various castes based on their qualities (may be a mixture of character and ability). Yet, they considered themselves equal.
While Vedas and other old scriptures were attributed to the God, the first epic Ramayana was written by a Human. Probably they thought of coming generations that may not adhere to their code of conduct. So, there were many examples for us. Polygamy was in practice and alcohol consumption also. But, they were not frowned upon. What was considered the worst thing? The woman and her dignity. Contrary to our thinking of good olden days, even then a lady could be kidnapped. And that too, by a Brahman, who had the character of Rakshasa. Valmiki could have easily declared Ravana to be a Shudra, but he didn’t do so. The example of brotherhood was explained in the pairs of Rama-Lakshmana and Ravana-Vibhishana. The message was simple. Even own brother wouldn’t support if one committed a sin. Why Ravana was a Brahman? To indicate that in the social hierarchy it is for those who hold the position of ‘wise men’ to uphold morality of the society. A top down approach.
Consider the Mahabharata. Again a woman was insulted in public. Another trait of that generation expressed by Vyasa through Duryodhan was the rye of Ego. While even brother didn’t support Ravana in Ramayana, Duryodhana got support from not only his brothers, but from his friend Karna. Friendship could be bought by favouring someone in need! And, someone with the qualities of Karna, in spite of deserving, was discriminated against for not having a pedigree in the form of caste. Then Vyasa had to incorporate the oracle by Krishna, denoting him as Lord. The need to induce morality in the public was evident by that time and the beginning of Kaliyuga was marked with the birth of Duryodhana. Maybe it is a sort of condemning future generations.
In the history of India post Buddha, there were ample examples of Indians supporting invaders, purely to settle personal scores that were result of their ‘egos’. Does anyone think British could rule India with so much efficiency without the help from the ‘educated’ Indians? By the time British came, casteism in India had taken deep roots the way it was in the twentieth century. People were living their own little ghettoes.
Despite the knowledge, wealth and power were represented by female forms of God; the participation of women in public domain was frowned upon. This madness went to such an extent that Gayatri Mantra was forbidden to women. How many people in current India know that women were prohibited from learning the famous ‘Bharata Natyam’ even up a century ago? The classical dance associated with Lord Shiva was restricted to males only. There might be reasons for this prohibition necessitated with the continuous onslaught of invaders. Yet, the dance of Shiva was not full without the Sati.
How this affects the society? Even now the government promotes educating girl child because an educated girl will establish an educated family.
Perhaps two scholars of whom there are historical records have experienced this increased depravity in the Indian society. Buddha, restated Gita and explained people to give individual ‘wishes’ for the sake of collective good.
Buddham Saranam Gachchami, Dharmam Saranam Gachchami, Sangham Saranam Gachchami.
One shall take refuge in Knowledge, Righteousness and Society. Individual rights were sacrificed by the King, the Buddha himself and so there were no individual rights to others also.
The other one was Adi Sankaracharya, who professed Advaita. Atman and Paramatman, meaning the Human and the God are one and the same. The same God lives in all creatures. It is a way of going back to the roots of Pantheism explained in Vedas. He again extended the concept of God to the nature also. He took the support of Maya to explain why people, despite having knowledge and wisdom do commit sins. It is this Maya that is intrinsic to all beings, Shankara wanted everyone to fight with. And Shankara did not professed anything simply, but explained with ‘Logical Reasoning’
The teachings of these two scholars and the examples narrated in the epics are the necessary foundations over which a new India shall be established. The ways of ancient Indians could not be confined in the narrow definition of a Religion, but only by a boundary-less Science.
As someone said Spirituality and Science complement each other. When man becomes blind of faith, Science provides reasoning to pull him out of spiral of narrow religious vision bound by customs and practices. If the man becomes materialistic with comforts of life, Spirituality guides him to peace that is intrinsic to everyone.
As seven decades were wasted after Independence, it is high time for the country and its citizens to critically analyse the needs of the nation and their duty. If one trait describes an average Indian today, that is ‘FREE’. Everything should be given to them by the government – freely. Of course, our politicians throw the carrot of freebie culture to their voters. And, in Democracy, people elect leaders they deserve. Then, who shall break this deadlock?
It is the responsibility of leaders to inspire the citizens. To inspire others, they shall follow high standards. And, by maintaining high standards competing with someone who doesn’t always play fair game is not only difficult but exasperating also. Still, they shall do it.
And why can’t they? They can. For example, there were people who support reservations and those who oppose. If one analyses Tamil Nadu, where reservations were enforced at a higher percentage, upper caste people have not lost much if one compares them with people who got the benefit of reservations. They struggled hard and overcame the initial threshold limit. Even others climbed up in the economic hierarchy thanks to the reservations.
If we feel the government is not doing sufficient for us, we are wrong. The government is there only to protect the borders and ensure law and order. It shall not disturb our lives that we enjoy and are entitled to do so. How we live, is for us and not for the government. Till the time we expect the government to do something or the other for one community or the other, India may perhaps be independent, but Indians are not liberated. We shall liberate themselves from the psychological chains that are restricting our thoughts hindering our progress.
As Kabir said,
पूत कपूत तो क्यूँ धन संचय
पूत सपूत तो क्यूँ धन संचय
Pray some leaders stop accumulating wealth beyond what they can enjoy and try to spend their lives in a meaningful way. Hope some good sense prevails in some brains that work for others, keeping in mind that it is the collective good that shall have high priority. After all, this is the land where Karma was theorized.
Happy Independence Day!