Monday, June 20, 2011

Integrating Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, & Service

The Caste System of Hindu Society Huffington Post Pankaj Jain, Ph.D. Posted: 06/20/11 10:13 AM ET
In the medieval period, saint Thiruvalluvar, author of 'Thirukural' was a weaver. Other saints such as Kabir, Sura Dasa, Ram Dasa and Tukaram came from the sudra class also. Many of the great visionaries in modern India were not brahmins by birth but can be regarded as brahmins by their life-styles and teachings: Mahätmä Gändhi, Swämi Vivekänada, Sri Aurobindo, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swämi Chinmayänanda etc. […]
Whatever coercion may exist in the society could be argued as a social discipline. In the practical world, there would be complete chaos and disaster if the individuals stopped performing their duties. A well-balanced society definitely needs warriors, merchants, teachers and laborers. Hence, instead of one's unrestrained rights, one's duties are given more importance.
Varna system is one of the most debatable phenomena of India and is tarred with many controversies. However, on a deeper analysis one finds that the basic need for this system was simply to ensure a healthy and flexible society unlike the one which has been rigidified due to the colonial misinterpretation and mistreatment of varnas, resulting in the castes as we find them in the present day India . The original varna system was quite flexible in which one's varna could be changed based on one's skill and was not fixed as is often understood. Indeed, it was the colonization of India by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries that changed the varna system into the present rigid system of castes. References
1. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life,(HarperCollins, 1998)
2. Padmanabh S Jaini, "Values in comparative perspective: Svadharma versus Ahimsä", Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies, (Motilal Banarasidas, 2001)
3. J Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts, (Delhi, Oriental Publishers, 1972)
4. Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, (Viking, 2002)
5. Nicholas B Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, (Princeton University Press, 2001)
6. Arvind Sharma, Classical Hindu Thought, (Oxford University Press, 2000)

The Caste System of India --- An Aurobindonian Perspective
    It is indeed interesting that while civilizations, empires, nations and other social edifices continue to arise and fall, the Indian caste system seems to be resilient to ravages of history.  Outlived, decrepit and out of tune with the current era of globalisation,  it still haunts the socio-religious and political scenario of the Indian sub-continent.  While the nation gears up to enter the twenty-first century, caste factors are still strong enough to effect political upheavals and continue to be one of the major causes of violence.
      It is hardly surprising that neither social reforms nor a modern rational and scientific education have been able to usurp the caste system from the Indian psyche.  Inspite of its growing pragmatism, the Indian intelligentsia is peculiarly ambivalent in its attitude to caste factors. Such a deep-rooted and ingrained outlook can not be simplistically explained as a mere social phenomenon.  There must be, along with the social perspective, a psychological dimension that has contributed  to the acceptance and perpetuation of the caste system in the Indian psyche.  That does not however imply that social reform have to be supplemented by psychological maneuvers to help the Indian mind to transcend caste barriers. The predominant determinant of Indian culture arises from her spiritual repertoire.  All other knowledge---- psychological or sociological must be read in the background of a vast spiritual gestalt.  Any solution that aims to break the fetters of the rigid and obsolete caste system must be derived  from a spiritual perspective to be acceptable to the Indian mind.  It is difficult for the Indian temperament to throw away at a stroke an age-old practice.  Perhaps a better way would be preserve the basic principles of the Sanatana Dharma and revalidate them in the context of the changing times.
The caste systems as we find today is of course of a deviated and deformed version of the original Caturvarna system.  Sri Aurobindo examines the problem from three angles  : […]
The four‑fold personality perfected around an integrating soul‑force is the synthesis perceived by Sri Aurobindo. This task requires not only a human effort but a response from the Divine. This new synthesis is built from the same seed‑ ideas that gave birth to the Caturvarna. The Caturvarna was an expression of the Universal spirit as a four‑fold social hierarchy. With the passage of time the form lost its significance and became a burden‑ something that occurred when the Caturvarna became a diseased caste system. But the spirit of the original seed‑ideas born from an intuitive seer‑vision outlives the forms and can always be used for a new synthesis. The four‑fold personality featuring Wisdom, Strength, Harmony and Service integrated around the Soul‑force is such a new synthesis made from the same seed ideas that produced the Caturvarna. This would be more acceptable to the Indian psyche to whom the Vedas, Upanishads and Gita continue to be living spirit.
Such a new synthetic vision of personality has another dimension. The reaction to conventionalism in the West took the form of materialism, secularism and mechanical organisation in the age of Individualism. Sri Aurobindo had opined that the Indian reaction might differ from that of the West and take the form of subjectivism and practical spirituality.30 An acceptance of Sri Aurobindo's synthesis of a perfected personality type constructed from the seed-ideas that evolved the Caturvarna while rejecting the worn‑out caste system would itself be a classical Indian reaction to the age of conventionalism. As such an attempt will have to integrate Wisdom, Strength, Harmony and Service around a Beyond‑Ego principle, it will be mandatory for the Time‑Spirit to press the Human Cycle to move towards a spiritual age en route an era of subjectivism.
FIRST PUBLISHED : SRI AUROBINDO MANDIR ANNUAL No. 54,1995, Sri Aurobindo Pathmandir, Calcutta-73. REFERENCES
(13) Kapali Sastry, T.V. Sri Aurobindo :Lights On The Teachings, Sri Aurobindo Library, Madras, 1948, Pg.93‑94.
(14) Subbannachar, N.V. Social Psychology. The Integral Approach, Scientific Book Agency, Calcutta, 1966, (Table 9, Pg 259 & 323).
(19) Basu, S : The Synthesis Of Eastern And Western Psychological paradigms in the light of Sri Aurobindo, Indian Journal Of Social Psychiatry, Vol. 11(1), 1995, Pgs. 35‑39. Sri Aurobindo's Writings - The Mother's Collected Works

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Music and dance and protest

The Chakra... And Our Civilisation  from ANTIDOTE by (Sauvik) And we must also focus on the chakra - the wheel. Our people need wheels - and roads. 
In Juggernaut Puri, everything revolves around the chakra - the wheel. The road servicing this area is named Chakratirtha Road - which means "the pilgrimage of the wheel." The skylight in my room in a quaint, old hotel is shaped like the chakra. And I bought a souvenir of carved stone of this chakra. There are 16 spokes around the hub - and the base is held up by 10 elephants. Which means the ancients understood that the power of the spoked wheel was greater than that of 10 elephants. There are other figures holding up the chakra that I bought - and these include strange monstrous creatures as well as pretty dancing girls. I think dancing girls must have been big in our ancient civilisation - for the first hall in the Sun Temple of Konark is the Hall of the Dancing Girls. But no music and dance on the streets of Puri - or should I say "non-streets."

Freedom, equality and Husain The Pioneer, June 15, 2011   Arvind Kumar
In a country like India with a population of around 1.2 billion people, there are bound to be all sorts of people. While some like the author may have attended charm school and are articulate, others have not been so fortunate to be literate and are rough around the edges. Their method of articulation is in the form of protests and may not be palatable to the author, but it would be sheer arrogance to reject their views on the grounds that they do not speak English. 
Sometimes their methods may have crossed acceptable boundaries, but it is clear that they understand the principle of equality better than smooth-talking journalists who seem smitten by inferiority complex and want to be accepted by those in the West who call themselves liberals. It is very common for Westerners who call themselves liberals to support the equal application of the law in their countries while opposing the Uniform Civil Code in India. Many Indian journalists who are inferiority-ridden seek to boost their self-esteem by gaining acceptance among this category of Westerners and simply adopt their views without a proper analysis of the issues at hand. -- The author can be reached at