Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Inner Fields

There is a brighter ether than this blue
Pretence of an enveloping heavenly vault,
Royaler investiture than this massed assault
Of emerald rapture pearled with tears of dew.
Immortal spaces of cerulean hue
Are in our reach and fields without this fault
Of drab brown earth and streams that never halt
In their deep murmur which white flowers strew

Floating like stars upon a strip of sky.
This world behind is made of truer stuff
Than the manufactured tissue of earth's grace.
There we can walk and see the gods go by
And sip from Hebe's cup nectar enough
To make for us heavenly limbs and deathless face.

Sri Aurobindo

Monday, June 20, 2005


The diversity observed in the human nature has always intrigued the thinkers. Writers of fictions and playwrights owe their popularity to this variety of human characters. Psychologists, from time to time, have attempted to categorise the human beings in a few manageable slots. These have certain veracity as well as utility, but their universal applicability becomes suspect.

In a realm as complex as the human psyche, any speculation is fraught with serious hazards. Nevertheless, prototypes, as foreseen in various mythologies, have been accepted as authoritative. In fact, nobody can quarrel with the creative imaginations of the mythologies, as they stand; especially, in an age when hermeneutics has acquired so much of respectability. But any absolutist or foundationalist posture may always be questioned.

So, allowing such contentious questions to simmer awhile, it would be advantageous to probe the issue of human types on the basis of current data coterminous with ancient cues. While the apparent divisions of humanity on racial, linguistic, nationalistic or such other yardsticks have to be borne in mind, on the one hand; the ultimate unity and universality of the humanity needs to be explained, on the other.

And this poses a formidable challenge. Genetic variations notwithstanding, equality has persisted to be a fascinating ideal from times immemorial. Besides, equality has been assumed as an underlying fact in consonance with the idea of common origin and common destiny of the human beings. However, it is worth the while to surmount the impasse obtained through such a scenario.

A look at the present day vocations might be of help. The modern urban society tempered by technology has thrown open complex and highly specialised professions the needs and nuances of which are widely dissimilar. Although, there is no reason to believe that people get to work in accordance with their aptitude, it is commonly observed that they develop a certain degree of competence as well as expertise in their respective professions. Because of the fact that their personal prestige and contentment also gets linked to their work, over a period of time; it is not unoften that a synchronicity of the behavioural with the professional is easily assumed.

Right man at the right place; being the most riddle-some affair for the management person, it is not surprising why he relies, more and more, upon ethnography and psychology. That each person is unique and his potentialities are different from others, is taken, almost, as an indisputable fact. In addition, the equations of age, gender, subaltern etc. remain perpetually tilted.

Coming down to a very practical level, the dilemma of a school-goer can be considered as to how he makes up his mind, much in advance, to join one of the three – Science, Arts and Commerce – streams. For, from there, in effect, starts a broad opting for a particular class of professions. The rest is a sordid story of Herculean struggle for survival, hard-nosed bargaining and chicanery. What all that leads to and where it takes the individual, is a veritable snakes-and-ladders game of fate and free-will.

Be that as it may, it hardly helps to be fatalistic. From actors to astronauts, the human situation is an elegant mosaic of multitudinous marbles. The kaleidoscopic symmetry is no less illusory than the chaotic complexities. Whether one, merely, mirrors the other or complements him is a conundrum. But the taxing task of ferreting out a reliable taxonomy remains ever necessary.

The overt and covert personality traits imbricated by practical compulsions to take recourse to hypocrisy, diplomacy and deception further complicate the scenario. Besides, humour, honour and image in consonance with the need for self-protection and positioning litter the landscape with more riddles. Age, education and emotions, too, take their toll as time passes by, thus obliterating historical stereotypes.

In the face of such drastic diversity, it is difficult to accept the Vedic notion of a universal aspiration encompassing the whole of humanity. That Light and Force, Delight and Harmony are the ultimate ideals for each human being and it is quite possible to attain them during the span of a lifetime, is something which is not easily accessible, intellectually.

Physiological, biological and psycho-somatic grip over human conduct results in a mechanicity in contrast to the freedom of intellectual flights. Differential powers of perception and convoluted tiers of cognition engender enough individual differences. Power structures obtaining in the society contribute to further fragmentation and alienation among persons.

And the quest continues....... Tusar N. Mohapatra