Saturday, January 30, 2016

Virtues and morals and ethics and character

The abuse of Indian history: Obsession over Subhas Chandra ... by Rajeev Srinivasan  Jan 30, 2016 › India News Thus, no leader (except some spiritual leaders – for instance Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo and the Dalai Lama)  ...

So, on balance, we need to deconstruct Bose carefully. In fact, to be cynical, I’d say that the principal value of Bose today is as a stick to beat the Nehruvian Stalinists with; the latter do have reason to be embarrassed. There are those who do not understand this, and indulge in absurd hero-worship. One possible reason is Bengali chauvinism. I was reminded of this when I had a brief Twitter argument with one Saswati Sarkar, a Bengali-American professor. Well, ‘argument’ is the wrong word, because she attacked me; I was polite, but she kept abusing me till I finally gave up in disgust.
Sarkar’s contention was that I was ‘ignorant’ and ‘bigoted’. Ok, fine. She had written a very long essay on the Durga Puja where she quoted a few writings by Bose, and my crime was that I had not read it. But I did read it, and it did not change my mind. If you are a committed leftist, by definition you are converted to that pseudo-religion, and you can no longer be a Hindu: I see daily the gyrations of communists in Kerala to pretend to be Hindus (especially now that they are concerned about losing the Hindu vote). What she quotes could well have been cynical and calculated for effect.
To sum it up, we need to take a look at Netaji dispassionately and without prejudice, and evaluate him not only based on today’s 20:20 hindsight, but also based on the prevalent wisdom of his time. I believe he will come across as a hero still, but not some demi-god beyond criticism. We must do the same for all of our other beloved leaders. No, there are no messiahs, and if you believe in them, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Sure India has heros, but Bose is not one of them.
The only reason why his dead horse has been flogged by Bengalis and lately the Hindu right is that they themselves have nothing to show by way of contributions to Indian nationalism between 1920 and 1947. Bose's life had been slowly unraveling since the early 1930s, and after 1939, when he was evicted from the Indian National Congress, became one of desperation and ever more tenuous connection to reality...
There is a good reasons why Indians chose Gandhi to lead them---he had his feet firmly planted on the ground. But Gandhi was a great deal more. He is one of the seminal thinkers of the age who has changed the categories of the human intellect. He is a universal hero even where I sit half a world away. India should consider itself lucky that a Gandhi appeared on ts soil.
Good enough, but if you are not going to rely on people’s character, pray do tell, how will institutions or structures help. After all they are staffed by people themselves.
Incentives are not a cure either, it is a tool, and as with any tool, it will be used as per the whims and fancies of the ‘people’. Example: witness the role played by incentives in the global economic crisis of 2008.
Obviously, this argument fails, if Skynet is up and running; but then we might run into a case of ‘benevolent dictatorship’.
However much we might dislike it, and whatever we do, virtues and morals and ethics and yes character are the things which ensure the continued existence of justice, equality and freedom.
It accounts for my scepticism over the idea that the dynasty represents everything that is wrong with the country
Isn’t that a strawman?
or that if only the country rediscovered its Hindu soul, we would be great.
First a couple of comments on this : (1) a lot of the argument in this regard is actually made using “structures and incentives”, using “Swami(monk)”-type theories on satisfaction in life. Of course, I do see that you have a different “Steve Jobs”-ish theory of self-satisfaction, and I had sort of concurred with you, though that is beside the point. (2) While this point of yours is not entirely strawman, relatively few people insist on rediscovery of Hindu soul as a necessary and sufficient criterion for greatness; at least this sort of mentality is not disruptive in Indian society by any means, and no more depleting of productivity than say, cricket or bollywood (your favorite candidate bases for Indian nationalism).
The Romantic Story of Vivekananda, Tesla, And The Akashic Field. (via @swarajyamag)

@subhashkak1 @SwarajyaMag Dec 30, 1896. Swami Vivekananda had a vivid dream. “You are now in the island of Crete"

The Uttarpara speech was made after deep God-realization, although it has been misinterpreted and appropriated for sectarian purposes by those who do not understand the universality of Sanatana Dharma. I don’t think he ever rejected the speech, because the same theme is repeated in the “five dreams” message he gave when India became free in 1947.

  • mike
    ”Shankara‘s Doctrine of Maya was like a thorn in my flesh. I could not accommodate my life to it nor could I easily get rid of it. I required another philosophy to take its place. The reconciliation between the One and the Many, between God and Creation, which Ramakrishna and Vivekananda had preached, had indeed impressed me but had not till then succeeded in liberating me from the cobwebs of Maya (the theory that the world is an Illusion). In this task of emancipation, Arabindo came as an additional help”
    Yes, this business about the world/creation being an ‘lllusion’ confused me for a long time. Everything l read seemed to be saying this. lt was only When l read Sri Aurobindo [letter’s on Yoga, l think] saying that the world is NOT an lllusion, only the WAY WE SEE IT is an lllusion. This totally cleared up my confusion – the way SA said the Divine is everything, so everything is Divinely REAL. Only, until we see the Divine in all things we are not seeing the whole Reality, just a small part of it – the surface reflection, lf you will , but even so, everything in the creation IS a REAL manifestation of the Divine. At least l think that’s what SA mean’t].
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