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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Lost Indian Culture - II

                             I did break some serious beliefs in my first post and this one will drill deeper and clean a few more. The concept here relates to culture and religion. Basically, there are eight religions in the world - four originated in the Gulf and the rest in India. Most religions present in the west originated in the gulf and are called western or Abrahamic religions.                          
                            The four religions originating in India are called Dharmic paths, as per Wikipedia. This is the most common mistake made by all Indians as no proper explanation is offered on what Dharma and Pantha are. Aptly, Indian religions should be called Panthas (Paths). However, that isn't the purpose of this post. Indians are believed to be very cultured and religious. Modern Indian citizens tend to think that religion divides, spreads exploitation and is fascist. But neither the religious, nor the self proclaimed secular know what our religions and culture teach us. Negligence to scriptures will lead to the same fate we are in today. On the other hand, Mass Imitation (in the name of religion) is so profound that it can be called a new religion in India. It runs without any scriptures, only by word of mouth. Am I making false claims with no firm base to my inference? The following two anomalies in our culture and religion will clarify:

Lost - Karma: Karma is a word widely used in India and abroad to show to people that we know something about our religion. I am yet to meet a person who actually practises it. My first encounter with a Karma claimant was on Orkut. I was happy and quickly developed respect for her. Still I controlled my emotions and asked her, "What do you mean by Karma?" The answer dropped her from the top floor of the Respect Towers to the ground floor. Probably, she might have even drilled a hole in the ground. She said, "What comes around, goes around is Karma." My dream bubble blew and I knew no matter how hard I try to explain to her, she wont understand. I don't think she was dumb, but plainly was not interested in anything that complicated.

The Bronze Statue at Kurukshetra representing the Bhagvad Geeta discourse.
                           However, Karma is more simpler in principle to understand and twice as difficult to practise. Krishna does that easily by saying:
"Perform your daily duties without any expectations."

                              The point to be noted here is that one shouldn't be considering the outcomes unlike the 'Goes around, Comes around' theory. Karma is a very powerful tool to understand and evaluate oneself. For instance, I work as an engineer. It's a service industry position. If I were to consider Karma and Varna, I will simply be classified as a Shudra - regardless of what my father(or his ancestors did). Yet, most modern day Indian engineers claim themselves to be Brahmins. The evident reason for this flawed thinking is the belief that Varna is a Bloodline-based classification than Karma-based. It is really difficult for people to accept their Karma and Pantha at the same time and digest the reality. The Geeta is pertinently set in the battlefield, when Arjuna loses faith and drops his Gandiva. It sets clear that all men should perform their duties without any doubt and foul play. Arjuna had to accept his and so shall we.

Deviation from Karma led to the following anomaly:

Bloodline Varna: As people readily gave away the traditions and wisdom of religion, Varna system became an exploitatory tool. I am astonished at the modern Indian society that bears different standards to a couple of classification systems having the same base - WORK. We all accept being called engineers, lawyers, doctors, accountants etc. based on our work, but never accept being called a Shudra if we are from the service industry. Varna is totally flexible in this regard, hence a human being can be classified in different Varnas at different time - based on his Karma. I will provide two examples to this fact:
1. Sage Ved Vyasa was born in a Shudra household. However, due to his deeds, he was later considered a Brahmin.
2. Similarly, Chandragupta Maurya, the great king, was born as a Shudra. Kautilya(being a Brahmin) accepted him as a disciple and promised to make him the Emperor of India. Hence, Maurya was a brahmin while he was being trained by the Kautilya - as he performed the duties of Bhiksha and Diksha that define a Brahmin. Subsequently, he can be classified as a Kshatriya when he fought for India and became the Emperor.

                    We can conclude that children who are not performing any duties can't be classified under the Varna system. Futhermore, the son of a Brahmin is not a Brahmin until he performs his Panthic duties (Dharma). These examples can be used as set standards to evaluate whether we are religious or not. Clearly, Indian Culture is dead and what is prevalent in our society is a rotten corpse. There is a dire need to revive the beauty of our culture and religions. Acceptance is key to this issue.


Ajit Singh said...

I absolutely believe in karma and Dharma and its wider meaning. I intend to follow it and ask for strength from god for the same.

But I beg to differ with the suggestion that culture is something that existed. I believe that culture is an ever evolving entity. Even the Vedic culture and its values were the product of the influences of Central Asian, Aryan, Indus and other societies and socio-economic structures that existed back then. The culture evolved, adapted, got misused(The varna system and discrimination) and is being redefined(affirmative action by means of reservations to do away with ill effects of varna system, social media, globalization and other influences) by today's societal norms. It is a continuous process. Calling it(our culture) dead or lost would be myopic as we possibly can't compare the two (The vedic culture and today's society) as there a huge time gap, enormous change in social parameters, structures and values.

However what could be done is to integrate those old values which are relevant in today's context. Our scriptures are a treasure trove of knowledge, a trove which needs to be responsibly utilized to bring common good keeping in mind our diversity, our different sensibilities and contemporary times.

A interesting read.
looking forward to more posts from you.

All the very best!!

Ajit Singh.

The Reader said...

Excellent post Ballu, particularly these small details about these historical figures are really astounding. I'm looking forward to your future posts.


Balwinder Singh Bhandechha said...

@ Mihir: Thank you. I will try my best to do better.

@ Ajit: I love to know that you do believe in Karma and Dharma ;). I tried to represent Karma the best I can, but please do let me know the wider meaning.

Culture has been made an ever evolving entity as seen, I do not deny it. I see that as a problem. By accepting that, you have yourself proved that Culture can be easily adulterated. Vedic Culture originated in India and Aryan and Indus valley civilizations are the same as Indian. Central Asia has no measurable impact on Indian Culture, but the vice-versa is true. Reservations are not an affirmative action. If you cut a branch the tree doesnt die, it will grow a newer more larger branch. Hence, such Cultural adulteration needs to purified from the root. As far as the misuse of varna system is concerned, it can only be corrected by the right use of the same. For example, if I am making cake and forget to add sugar, it can easily be called a sugarfree cake. However, that still is an undesirable mistake and will have to be corrected the next time i make it. I cant just repeat the same saying its a sugarfree cake. Another instance would be when you are programming, if there is a mistake, the programmer has to correct it for the right compilation or it will be flawed. You cant say that its your style of programming. We follow everything religiously, except Religion & Culture.

Now, it may be clear to you that Cultural Adulteration(under the disguise of evolvement) is not desirable. Same applies for Religion too. Religion is like a path if you deviate, you wont reach the destination. This article should be seen as a corrective tool rather than an analytical comparision. I agree that mankind has counted numerous years and the social parameters are changing. But if you read the two articles on LIC, they clearly show that the Culture and society that we had in Indiain those days is what we dream of today. The only difference is that we call it westernization, which is wrong. The articles, adequately, establish that Indian Culture has been long westernized.

I welcome your gesture where you are trying to accomodate Indian Culture in modern life. According to me, my culture deserves more. Scriptures need to be read and utilized by individuals to improve their lives, not to impose them on others.

I thought present-day Indian youth was better than their predecessors. I stand corrected and sad. :(

Balwinder Singh Bhandechha said...

Thank you for the wishes Ajit. I hope you do great too.

Ajit Singh said...

Thanks for your wishes.

The Wider meaning of karma:

I believe today what we need is 'Collective Karma'. The Wall Street guys did their karma of making money for themselves very judiciously, that is what their profession demanded. But their individual Karmas ended up pushing millions into disparity. Today with economic, ecological, governance, and personal challenges troubling all, what would be welcome is that our endeavors should benefit all and be in unison with our collective needs. The Great Vedas are also trying to give this implicit message.

Evolution is the rule in everything that we do. What we are today is because of changes that happened in our past. I am sure you were never the same 5 years ago and will never be 5 years hence. Same is with culture. I would call this 'change' and not adulteration. There are many wrongs with the way we live, but idealizing past should be refrained. Learning from it is beneficial.

Vedic Culture was in times when population was little, so there was more emphasis on moral actions. Most people in a settlement knew each other. So it was imperative that they cooperate and coordinate their actions according to given set of laws (This is definitely needed today). Hence the thrust on right behavior. As settlements grew, behaviors changed, which is quite natural. So did the societal values. So did the caste system. We are weak beings, we are vulnerable, we are manipulative, impulsive and irrational at times. Our unpredictability affects everything that we do and this affected the ideal varna system.

Anything good, workable and relevant always survives. The caste system in all its purity didn't as it had become manipulative, redundant and exploitative. Emulating the varna system in today's world will be difficult, or rather impossible.

Lets say we start using the ideal varna system. Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Tribals and Adivasis, dalits wont be included in this. So in effect there would be a parallel societal structure and nomenclatures one for the hindus and other form the minorities. Then again some will start misusing it, and what is the guarantee that all will follow it sincerely?
Our diversity is our greatest wealth and democracy is judged best by its treatment of the vulnerables and the downtrodden. We need to assimilate and not disintegrate to survive.

Ajit Singh said...

Manusmriti wasn't written by westerners. It perpetuated the rigidity of caste system. Even Rama was made to punish a shudra for trying to become a practicing Brahmin(discovery of india- nehru)
It should be done away with.

If we have been westernized, the west has also accepted our theories of karma, dharma, yoga, ayurveda, bhakti etc. The degree of Indianisation maybe lesser. But the point is influences are always mutual.

I believe religion is no dogma that one needs to follow. The purpose of every religion is that we become better beings and not get involved in false caste systems, rituals and superstition. It is to liberate and not confine. I am proud to belong to a religion which believes that the path to god is to remember the almighty, cherish your existence and help others. 'Sikh' means to learn, to evolve, to grow.

If you believe imposition of anything is wrong, why push for creating the ideal varna system all over again?

I will refrain from making sweeping statements about all young people, even though I may disagree with one. None of our great forefathers like Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Tagore, Raja Ram mohan roy, Nanak, Kabir, Chisti, Akbar, Buddha and others wanted us to discriminate each other on basis of profession or any other criteria. We already have despised our fellow beings on the basis of colour, race, religion, sex, creed, place of birth etc. Lets not add more differences..

The youth has always had to shoulder the present and the future
. I believe the current generation will come through if we act responsibly and look to secure the needs and aspirations of the current and the future generations by adopting policies and practices for common weal.

I hope we leave a legacy of cooperation, coordination, brotherhood, equality, freedom and mutual respect when we meet our ultimate destiny.

God Bless us all!

Continue Writing!!

Warm Regards,

"Dum vita est, spes est"

Truth Chariot said...

Thanx, Brother. I have a lot to put, too.

Spoiler Alert, Readers!!

Manusmriti and sage Manu will get an independent post and then we can debate there on about what Manu was aiming at. You sound like a Marxist with the touch of a Jehovah's Witness.
Varna system isn't manipulative or destructive, people are. I am pretty sure the best and most evolved systems you may bring forth, they will get misused. I just remembered the Jehovah's witnesses who turned up at my door. They said that I need to come attend their church so that they can preach non-violence and if everyone joins, they will be able to eradicate weapons and hence prevent war and violence. I tried to explain that I believe in a religion that says that the very birth of Earth is marked by a sword. The reasoning you are putting forth is the same as theirs. Can you eradicate violence by destroying weapons? People will evolve to commit violence.
The problems that were brought forth in your above comment are:
1) Misunderstood Collective Karma and Karma:
Collective Karma is no breaking news. Collective Karma showed the time of Asoka's reign, and also showed us July 26. It doesn’t mean that a lot of people came together and performed some act of good karma/bad karma and thus the result. It simply means that the Karma of a lot of people defined the outcome and hence it happened so.
I am not sure what the Wall Street guys did, but making money is not karma. It’s simply the fruit. I am not sure about whose endeavours (what endeavours?) should benefit all. Your karma will only benefit you, not others.
Karma and all aspects of Pantha are totally individualistic and when one tries to bring them to a social aspect, they become dirty politics and exploitation. This happens as we try to impose these rules to the crowd and in doing so forget about ourselves. Karma or Pantha are never defined in this manner, hence their interpretation in such a manner is wrong. We cannot call this mislead Religion or Karma.
There is a need to realize that by adding a drop you actually increase the amount of water in a glass. If everyone understands and implements religion and culture on an individualistic platform, the demons disappear. Kabir rightly explains:

“Jeh marg pandit gaye, Pache padi baheer. Ik avghat ghati Ram ki, Teh Chadh rahiyo Kabir. “

Truth Chariot said...

2) Wrong interpretation of Evolution and Change:
I have no problem with evolution or change. I am in agreement with evolution. Change is inevitable.
Varna evolved to Jaati. Also, the modern day classification of people based on their professions is a type of a Varna System. Now, you can analyze yourself to what extent these evolvements have benefited the society. Jaati also became a means of discrimination. Are you willing to accept that you are a Mistry not a Jatt, based on your occupation?
3) Misinterpretation of my post motives:
My post motive is not to bring back the old Varna System, but to justify its formation. I want to kill the hatred and mislead attitude of people towards Indian Culture. Until we do not accomplish this, there is no progress possible. My motive is to cut the roots of the weed.
4) Belief that Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Tribal and dalits can’t be classified under the Varna:
Why can’t they be classified on the basis of Varna? It doesn’t change anyone’s religion. Muslims and Sikhs till today stick to Jaati system and are very proud of it. Tribal and dalits are very proud to obtain a certificate of their caste from the government, but not ready to accept it socially. I am sure none of the mentioned set of people will have a problem with them being called Engineers, Doctors, Accountants etc. The base is the same as Varna, but we accept these classes more easily because they seem foreign in nature.
5) Confidence that one can make a perfect system that cannot be lawyered. If this was right then criminals would cease to exist.

6) Bookish interpretation of Democracy:

Essence of Democracy is collective not Individualistic. Even though India did not have democracy, we see times when people were happy and content. Even though we have Democracy that promises about protecting the weak, this very purpose is not served today. This is simply because when a lot of people hold hands together and run, some of them will fall. The ones who fall are left behind alone, and hence in a Democracy there will always be downtrodden and vulnerable. This surely is not assimilating. The best example is when my university accreditation was withdrawn. Surely, Democracy did not help.

7) Thinking that Varna Disintegrates:
Again people exploit and make barriers and run lines on globes. Varna never did anything like that. No Religion or Culture does that.

Truth Chariot said...

8) Rama was made to punish Sita, too. I don’t think she was a Shudra. You are fine with it. But then you raise a question over a Shudra. Have you ever wondered why Guru Gobind Singh Ji killed a rabbit in the forest? This is just one part of the story or a divine plot. The mention of Rama simply shows that you are willing to question divine causes. Such causes are often disguised under some social pretense whereas the accomplishment is very different than what we see. Why don’t you question the killing of Ravana? Or Kumbhakarna?

9) Karma, dharma, yoga, ayurveda, bhakti in the west? The post clarifies what they are in the west. For sure, as they are learning them from the mislead east. Try reading the book by R C Temple on Sikhism. You will understand what goes wrong when a person with a totally different cultural background tries to explain our religion.

10) Influences may not always be mutual. Numerous examples could be provided. Give it a thought. If you can’t wait for my future post that will totally distinguish between the beliefs of people on different sides of the globe

11) Religion is not mandatory for survival, but for completing the journey. I am sure about one thing that one should follow religion without question. If there is question resolve them, but don’t let them blind you or sit in you.

12) I am no politician and hence am freely highlighting modern day misleads. Had I been in a political rally, I would have refrained from making some comments. But the purpose here is improvement. If I don’t recognize the colour black as it is, I will not be motivated to paint it white.

13) False caste systems would imply they did not exist, but the truth is they did. I am against ritualistic practises, too. You need to be careful with what you think is superstition.

14) Varna liberates. Refer to my examples on the flexibility of Varna. If you do not know that you are in the 8th Grade, how will you reach the 9th?

15) Sikh literally means a follower. Any evolvement from the aforementioned path of Sikhism is not Sikhism. E.g. Namdharis, Radhasoamis etc. Also, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has clarified right in the beginning:


Nanak says that a Sikh should at all times abide by the will of God with acceptance. He then compiles the Guru, explaining God's will. For instance, God’s will is that men should keep hair. This is evident from the fact that a man who shaves or cuts hair doesn’t get rid of them, permanently. True nature is that hair will grow back again. Hence, my claim that any evolvement (deviation) from Sikhism; isn’t Sikhism.

16) Conclusion that I am pushing for the ideal Varna System:
I mentioned that acceptance is key to the solution. The reader has to accept and respect Indian Culture.

17) I hate you for mentioning the names of Tagore, Nanak, Kabir, Chisti, and Buddha along with Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and Akbar. This is what I am trying to mend.

Truth Chariot said...

18) Good, that you finally admitted the fact that people discriminate; not religion, sex, caste, colour, race, place of birth. This is the essence of my post. It isnt actually an anomaly but the paradoxical nature of your comment (interpretation) is.

19) All the policies and laws prevalent are practices of common weal. Only no one practices them as they should be. Most people will apply this notion to the law and forget its application to religion and culture. They all evolve from the law, and religion, and culture.

20) I, too, hope we leave a legacy of cooperation, coordination, brotherhood, and mutual respect.

Equality and freedom are hazy concepts in our society, that are also absent.

God Bless us all!

I am not sure if I should continue. After this discussion, I believe I am causing more harm than good. The posts are not understood as they should be.

Warm Regards,
Truth Chariot