Thursday, June 25, 2009

Knowing India

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The problem with Indian history, IMHO, is faulty translation of words like Raashtra, Dharma, Sanskriti to Nation, Religion, Culture respectively. The word civilization is translated to Sabhyata. The word Sabhya literally means Decent. Sabhyata means decency. It can also mean civilized nature. But, Bhaaratiya Sabhyataa when translates as Indian decency, it becomes a dicey word to be used in historical context.

The state of being "civilized" in western sense has something to do with nobility in Indic context, and our ancestors have typically used the word "Aarya" to refer to such nobility, aristocracy. Instead, it is made up as a racial word. It is the most ridiculous thing conjured up in past century reagarding racial connotations of word Aarya. This was the most poisonous venom ever spewed in Indian psyche by anyone throughout the history. Aarya is synonymous to civilized.

An Aarya can be sabhya (Yudhishthir) or asabhya (Duryodhan), but he is Aarya (civilized, from Indian context) nonetheless.

The Sanskriti of Bhaarat has been Dharma-based. This understanding of Dharma as concept has spread outside domains of subcontinent and retreated back to the heartlands of subcontinent many times. But, subcontinent (Bhaarat) remains the heartland of Dhaarmic-Sanskriti. All Indic philosophies espouse following one's Dharma. They may or may not differ from each other in supernatural context or Moksha/Nirvana. Irrespective of different takes on moksha part of life, emphasis on Dharma remains constant in Bhaarat.

Hence, Bhaarat is an a single and continuous entity throughout space and time, from point of view of Dhaarmic Sanskriti. Emphasis on Dharma is the glue which gives Bhaarat its identity, continuity and uniformity.

In his book "The Philosophy of Civilization", Albert Schweitzer defines civilization in 1923 as -
It is the sum total of all progress made by man in every sphere of action and from every point of view in so far as the progress helps towards the spiritual perfecting of individuals as the progress of all progress.

According to wiki article on civilization, most widely used definition,
civilization is a descriptive term for a relatively complex agricultural and urban culture

Complex agriculture and urban lifestyle might be the standards applied to determine and define a civilization, but how can it be used to determine the Sabhyataa of a society is something which is beyond logical reasoning.

Rigvedic people, "supposedly", were unable to till land and lived in villages. Yet, they composed literature which is revered until today as one of most complex philosophies of world. By above mentioned definition, Rigvedic people are uncivilzed. So be it, but then how can they be termed as people without Sabhyataa, is again beyond logic.

Mis-translation and inability of the "History Re-writers" to understand the meaning of such basic terms which are so frequently used in vocabulary of Indians is the reason for such mess-ups.

From point of view of memetics, the region of earth, where people value the Dharma based meme-complex as their world-view is Bhaarat. For most of the time in history, that region has been Indian subcontinent.

This commonality offered by Sanskriti based on Dharma is the glue which identifies Bhaarat as one and continuous entity, in spite of the diversity in space and time.

In such system, the concept of nation-state with fixed inviolable boundaries and concept of religion interfering in all Dharma-Artha-Kaam-Moksha aspects of life, which are essentially segregated in Indic system, when applied without Vivek, creates a huge confusion. This is exactly what has happened, IMHO.

The real meaning of terms like Dharma, Sanskriti, Sanskaar, Sabhyataa, Raashtra etc is very well understood by common Indian people while speaking in their language. Even while speaking in English, ordinary Indian man knows exactly what he means when he uses these words. However, their English counterparts become dicey because they mean somewhat differently in European and Abrahamic context.

Hence, when Dharma is translated to Religion, the conflict begins in Indian mind. Due to power of westernized educational institution, passage of time, he starts doubting his real understanding of these terms and begins to commit the same mistakes which the original "mis-translators" committed.

What is required is re-education of Indian mind to remind them that their original understanding of these terms was right and that these Indic terms and their popular English synonyms mean different things. If this happens, slowly, people who say that there was no India before arrival of british will slowly start decreasing.

They will understand that India is not merely a nation-state... India is an idea, a concept, a phenomenon which is continuous, coherent, single throughout its expanse in space and time. It is very easy to feel her, experience her, but very difficult to grasp and understand her if one relies on faulty understanding of these basic terms.

1 comment:

Govind said...

Chhan. Aaj barech lekh wachale.
Vachatana chhan watle. Tula yewadha wel milto ka lihayala ? Pan lihile mast-ch aahe and shows
balanced thoughtful way of thinking
Aai la pan aavadale.
... baaba