Monday, November 30, 2009

Nuclear Terrorism - Options left for Pakistani Army and Taliban - Part 1

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Author - Dr. Shivshankar Sastry

Both the Pakistan army and their jihadi allies are rational players of the great game just like India, USA and China. They are looking for their own survival and the survival of their power and ideology. Hence They are not planning on suicide anytime soon. Furthermore,let us use Occam's razor and stop differentiating between Pakistan army and Jihadi groups. At one central level, the Islamist Pakistan army and the Jihadi groups are one and the same and their long term aims are the same. I am assuming that they have joint control over nuclear weapons.

Whatever their long term aims may be, suicide and self destruction are not on the agenda. They are willing to take losses of their cadres as long as their overall aims are achieved in the long term. They are rational enough to realise that they require some base,some land and some infrastruture to survive and have nuclear weapons. Nukes do require some facilities and personnel for maintenance and use, even if manufacture is not needed.

When it comes o the nitty gritty of survival, for the Pak Army/jihadi combine - a direct fight with the US is suicide. Especially if they nuke US forces. If the US decides to use its force on them - especially nuclear forces - they will be eliminated even if the US expends 2% of its available nuclear strength on them. So the only route to victory in the long term is to ensure that they do not provoke the US. Better still would be to get the US to keep funding them. So you can safely rule out a nuclear attack on the US or on US entities.

Now it is fashionable to state that India is a soft target. "Everyone on here knows all the truth and India is set to get nuked by a jihadi and our fizzles won't work" - this is a statement that will get no arguments because it is a comfortable bottom line for all to follow. That is why I have been asking that we step out of the boxes we have built for ourselves. It is my contention that a jihadi nuke on India is as risky as one on a US entity. India will hardly get cowed by a couple of jihadi nukes and even if our missiles are fijjiles and our nukes are 15 kt fission only - air dropped nukes and conventional forces will damage the future of the Paki Army-jihadi nexus enough to upset their longterm survival plans. So a jihadi nuke on India, is risky for Pakistan. Kasab may be claimed by lunatics in Pakistan (Like Jahil Hamid) as Hindutva agent but a nuke on India will not be looked at that way.

The question that arises is,if Paki-jihadi nukes are no good against India or the US, what use are they? They are perfect for blackmail. And they are perfect for long term protection of Paki-jihadi nukes. The blackmail is the suggestion that Paki nukes may go "out of control" if the Pakistani army is pushed too hard. So both India and the US are forced to bend to this blackmail and not push the Paki army too hard, imagining, in their naivete, that the Pakistani army is keeping control of all its nukes.

In fact rationality demands that the nukes should be spread out and distributed to all islamist factions so that is the Paki army is finally cowed down by the US and or India, the Islamist forces will still have nukes to blackmail the world.

Nuclear Terrorism - Options left for Pakistani Army and Taliban - Part 2

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Author - Dr. Shivshankar Sastry

Being rational players of the game, neither India nor the US are going to attempt a direct annihilation of the Pakistani army. In that sense the Pakistani army has rightly assessed that its nuclear weapons are a true deterrent. It is not that India or the US are afraid of getting defeated, but the fear is starting a nuclear war with its horrendous consequences if it is avoidable. So a direct military threat to the Paki army is not on the cards unless they use a nuke first. But they are rational enough not to use a nuke on India or on US interests.

India does not want to see the Paki army stronger, but the US which has always supported an overly powerful Pakistani army as long as that army does the US's bidding. Until recently the Pakistani army has never been a threat to the US and the US typically arms and funds anyone who might help them if they are not seen as a threat. That is what they did to Iran after all.

But the Pakistanis have not been stupid.They outsourced their own work to irregular mufti militias. "Irregular" is the wrong term. They are regular Pakistani army-men in mufti(Kargil '99 and Kashmir '48 and '65). That way the Paki army could appear to be toeing the US line while the militias did what was needed to maintain Paki interests.

Paki army interests and jihadi interests are the same. And military threats have been neutralized by nuclear deterrence. Any non military threat to the Pakistani army from outsiders - such as cutting off funding or applying pressure on a particular border is countered by claiming that the jihadis are taking over and "Do you really want Pakistan to be occupied by jihadis". This is the same threat that is being made by Hudoodbhoy and Irfan Hussein in the Paki thread. That threat "Do you want jihadis to win" is swallowed hook line and sinker by the Americans. Luckily Indians do not fall for that. India knows that there is no difference between the Paki army and the Taliban. It is only a matter of time before the US catches on to this fact. The Pakistan army's real test of survival will come when that happens, and there are many signs that the Paki army is reading the signs exactly like this and reacting.

The ideal solution is a war with India. 26/11 was the most blatant attempt at doing that. A war with India will get the Americans pouring money into the Pakistan army. But India is not taking the bait and the US is beginning to see the light. The survival plank of the Pakistani army is collapsing without war. The Pakistani army does not want to lose. They want to survive intact and with power. Unlike the US, China and India, their power has always come from gifts, begging and blackmail - not from a powerful internal economy with a cash rich Pakistani industry filling the army's coffers. Begging and blackmail are easier, faster and "more traditional" than setting the Pakistan economy in order which is nearly impossible. Setting the Pakistan economy in order will need a downgradation of the Paki army to Sri Lankan army levels.

The only way out will be to ally with religion based interests. I would judge that some degree of nuclear expertise among the so called "Taliban" and the "jihadis" is a given. Sharing with Saudi Arabia and Iran is likely. Sunni might not like Shia, but both don't like Israel and the arming of Iran and KSA with nukes seems likely. But none of these things will help the individual leaders of the Pakistani army to survive intact with power and privileges. One possible option is to shift allegiance to the jihadi groups. See a large scale "retirement" of officers from the Pakistan army to serve as behind the scenes leaders and advisors for the Taliban(David Headley case). The official designation of some Taliban/jihadi groups as being in control of some nuclear weapons is also a possibility. Once that begins to happen, we can see a gradual winding up of the power of the Pakistan army which will become subservient to the jihadi groups. The US will resist this and try to "save" the "moderate" Pakistani army, but if that fails they will star negotiating with the Taliban and offering to pay them money for not attacking US interests.

If that happens it will really be an acknowledgement of a US that is becoming weak and handing over power to new power centers. The US begging the Taliban for favors is just the situation that the Pakistani army is looking for and the best way to do that is to keep the Taliban strong while squeezing the US to keep the Paki army strong. It is win win either way for the Paki army/Taliban combine. Another win-win situation would be to get India to make concessions on Kashmir. that will only strengthen the islamist hand and prove that their tactics are effective.

A powerful Paki army/Taliban combine with nuclear weapons is what is being sought by the forces of islamic extremism. That will be a shot in the arm for the Wahhabis of KSA, for iran as well as other assorted groups and things will get really dangerous for Israel. The threat of nuclear bombs being detonated wherever there is an Islamic interest will then become reality and nuclear terrorism will be on our doorstep.

I am currently not clear in my mind what can be done about this and what is being done about this. The US, China and India are key players here and to a lesser extent European players and Japan. And of course the "aam junta" - the people of Pakisan have a big role to play - in fact their role this may be the biggest role. Having argued above as to how the Pakistan/Army/Taliban combine have a great synergy that will keep them powerful with no guarantee that only the army will keep control of nuclear weapons we also need to look at factors that will spoil this Paki army-Taliban party.

Nuclear Terrorism - Options left for Pakistani Army and Taliban - Part 3

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Author - Dr. Shivshankar Sastry

India is a huge spoiler. India does not accept that there is any difference in the intention of either the Paki army or the Taliban. India will treat an attack from either entity as one and the same. Given India's strategic depth and size, whatever losses India faces, in a desperate situation neither the Paki army nor the Taliban will emerge victorious in an all out, direct confrontation. If the war goes nuclear the end result will be the same and the long term Islamist nuclear aspirations in Pakistan will be badly mauled in a debilitating war with India, no matter how much India is damaged in return. Such a war would essentially be suicidal. Even if India is badly damaged, US goals for Afghanistan will be met more easily.

India also deserves some credit for being the only player that has consistently been concerned about human development in the subcontinent - i.e roads, education and healthcare. The Pakistani army have not given a damn about that in their own country and the US has played ball with them, making the army stronger while not giving a rat's ass for human development in a Pakistan that is now inching towards 180 million people. The US has never been interested in human development of anyone other than Americans. For others funding and arms are provided to meet immediate tactical goals for the US. To be fair, the Afghans too were interested in their own human development until the US-Pakistan alliance (Soviet invasion '80s) allowed the Taliban to rape Afghanistan. So both Pakistan and the US, for their own individual interest were responsible for unleashing the Taliban on Afghanistan.

It is precisely the fact that India has stood as a solid wall against Pakistaniyat and Islamic extremism that has caused Pakistan to expand towards Afghanistan. This coincided with US anti-Soviet aims. But that led to 9-11, and now the US is the confounding factor in Afghanistan. That is why the Paki army-Taliban combine want the US out of Afghanistan, and that is what explains their game of"Pay us (the army) or we will lose to the Taliban" For the first time there is a coinciding of US and Indian interests in Afghanistan and keeping the Taliban out, while developing Afghanistan.

Pakistan resists this by claiming that India is out to surround Pakistan by its presence in Afghanistan. Pakistan also claims that it is unable to fight the Taliban because of India, and Pakistan claims that its army needs to be paid more (by the US) for fighting the Taliban. These claims are a strawman because getting India out of Afghanistan or getting Kashmir into Pakistan will in no way stop the Taliban. It will only make their survival easier. The main problem is US stupidity/blindness that keeps paying the Pakistani army that has the Taliban as an ally.

The fallout of this US blindness can have one of two consequences:

1) The US keeps on funding the Pakistan army which keeps supporting the Taliban
2) The US suddenly wises up and makes an effort to stop funding the Pakistan army

Scenario 1 - Let us say that the US keeps on funding the Pakistan army. The Paki army will keep on pretending to oppose the Taliban and the Taliban will remain intact and strong while the Pakistan army bets stronger. The US will keep taking losses in Afghanistan and the fissile material stock of Pakistan will keep on increasing. At least some of this will have to be spirited away for safekeeping by their Taliban allies in the hills.

If and when the US gets out of Afghanistan we will have a powerfully armed and nuclear Pakistan with poor illiterate people (as usual).Rebellion among these people wil be ruthlessly put down by the Pakistan army/Taliban combine, and the country will need external campaigns to keep the nation busy. Controlling Afghanistan will be the first step. The only question is how the US will react to this. By stopping funding to the Paki army at this late stage, the US will be reneging on its "promise" not to forsake Pakistan again, and there will be no reduction in the nuclear risk - once nuclear arms get into Afghanistan - even if they are under Paki army control.

A total Talibanization of Afghanistan and Islamization of Pakistan and a powerful Pakistan army will serve as a threat to many nations apart from India. But India's role in this would be limited to hoping that the US is not that stupid or weak. But this is a possibility that can happen. The only two possibly positive things that can happen is a renewed Russian interest in Afghanistan as Russian Islamic republics are threatened and Chinese interest as Xinjiang comes under pressure. It is hardly likely that the Taliban/Paki army combine will be worried - having seen off both the Soviets and the Americans.

Scenario 2 - On the other hand, if the US "wises up" and decides to keep engaged in Pakistan and stop funding the Pakistan army, and seeks to fund only civilian projects (with accountability) the Pakistan army will being to squeal and protest. They will start "losing" to the Taliban and try and provoke incidents with India. This is exactly what has started now and the US will feel the pressure in two ways. The first is an increase in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, and a choking off of supply convoys from Pakistan. This is going to be a difficult phase for the US. If the US can remain engaged in AfPak and tide over hi phase we are likely to see more signs of civil war in Pakistan and more signs of the army "allowing" the Taliban to take over Pakistan.

But I believe the Pakistan army's bluff needs to be called. It is OK to have the Taliban in Swat, but Pakistani people are not going to tolerate Talibanization in the Pakistan heartland. In the fertile areas of Punjab and Sindh there will be resistance to the Taliban. The resistance will come from teh Pakistan army itself whose cadres will otherwise have to observe their own villages and homes being over run by the Taliban. It is one thing to love the Talibs as long as they are in FATA. It is different when they are in your home town.

But if the Taliban come so deep into the Pakistani heartland - the elite are finished. They will flee in numbers. If a Pak army-Taliban war starts in earnest in Pakistan, we can expect to see a nuke exploding in Pakistan if the Pakistanis have already made the error of handing over control of some nukes to the forces of jihad. If they have no yet done that - then they will be fighting a last ditch battle to protect the nukes. In the long term it is better to squeeze Pakistan and reduce its ability to make nukes. China may not want that - They need to be persuaded using Xinjiang Card.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

North Indian Polity - Lack of Permanence in Power Projection

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The course of history changes when the power shifts from the hands of one beholder to next. After all, history is indeed a report of events from the point of view of survivor, who most of the times is also a victor in the conflict for power-inheritance. If the change in power-centre of a particular region is sudden and drastic, so is the change in Geo-Political and Socio-Economic outlook of individuals, societies, nations and civilizations. Thus, we see that the flow of power determines the course of history. Softer the transition of power, smoother is the change in the course

In India, usually it is just a sequence of small insignificant chain of events which brings about a change in the history, sociology of a civilization over the period of time, rather than big events which rarely influence the course of history as much. Moreover, a vast country like India in term of space, time, population and diversity, trait of accepting the changes rather slowly is typically observed when viewed from neutral perspective.

As stated earlier, the shift of power-centre is a result of complex web of forces which are acting in tandem. The net direction of the forces decides the inheritor of power. The method in which power transition occurs successively, largely depends upon the inherent power-structure of the region. The inherent power-structure of a region largely depends upon climate, geography, social and religious customs and world-view of the power-holders. It also depends upon the outlook and the world-view of the rival meme intending to shift the equilibrium in its favour.

Buffering of power transition by local power-centres.

The power structure of Indo-Gangetic plains is primarily feudal in nature. The Zamindari OR feudal lords of the region have vested power-interests of self-preservation in spite of all the global changes. Thus, it rarely mattered to a peasant who the king in Delhi was because his immediate ruler, the feudal lord and his system, remained unchanged in average life-span of an ordinary citizen. The feudal set-up is deeply entrenched within the social hierarchy and power-structure of Indo-Gangetic plains.

This deeply entrenched feudal system had a very favourable impact on preservation of Indic identity during 800 long Islamic onslaught on North Indian plains. Every conqueror OR invader from central asia who succeeded in displacing the incumbent ruler of Delhi Sultanate, had to enter into some sort of power-sharing agreement with these local power centres (who were primarily Indic) which possessed very high degree of mercantile and mercenary character. For example, Mughals had to initiate Mansabdari system (by Raja Mansingh under Emperor Akbar) to accommodate and share power with these very feudal lords. In fact, this system was encouraged and strengthened in order to enlist the help of feudal lords in imperial conquests of Mughals.

This tremendously dilutes the ability of the conqueror/invader to flawlessly project his power. The chain of local power-centres throughout Indo-Gangetic plains made the progress of invader (in terms of implementing drastic change in existing socio-economic and political system) rather slow.

Thus, India was saved from suffering the fate of Zoroastrian Persia and was able to retain the Indic identity in spite of all the onslaughts.

Emergence of North Indian local Satraps - A Historical Perspective

The region of Magadha (modern Bihar, eastern UP and West Bengal) has been the traditional powerhouse of India since the dawn of civilization. This region is blessed with all natural resources, fertile land, amicable climate and above all, its a very large reservoir of extremely talented human resource. This remained (and to certain extent, still remains) the core and the heartland of India. The zeal with with Bimbisara, Nanda, Maurya, Sunga, Gupta, Vardhan, Pratiharas consolidated the power over entire swathe from Khyber to Assam time and again, shows the character of Indian polity. The mercenary and Mercantile character which we see today in this region was by and large minimal in Indic rulers of ancient and early-medieval times.

Something happened over the course of history. After defeat of Harshavardhan of Kannauj at the hands of Chalukya king Pulikeshi in 640 AD, the tendency to consolidate the power for longer and farther started evaporating from Gangetic plains. Even though Gurjara-Pratiharas consolidated much of North and entered into tripartite struggle for control of India with Paal dynasty of Bengal and Rashtrakoot dynasty of Deccan, this evaporation did not stop. Pratihara dynasty had to invest lot of energy in consolidating the feudals of gangetic plains and could not strike back at Rashtrakutas when Dhruva Dharavarsh and later Govind-3rd, defeated Pratiharas and conquered Varanasi and Kannauj.

The decentralization that set in Indo-Gangetic plains since defeat of Harsha could not be undone. The local feudal lords started garnering more power than any central authority. Thus, power became dispersed and impermanent. The last effort of successful consolidation of power in Indo-Gangetic plains was during Battle of Bahraich (1033 AD) when confederacy of all the kings from Punjab and Ganga plains united to defeat Masood Gazni decisively. Since then there has not been a single instance of an Indic power from Indo-Gangetic plains which successfully tried to consolidate entire North Indian plains from Attock to Guwahati. All the subsequent consolidations of this region (until 1947) were achieved by foreign invaders.

The mercantile mentality of buying off temporary peace and power at all costs without complete consolidation power set in and became deeply ingrained in the psyche of people from Indo-Gangetic plains.

Brief comparison with South Indian Power-Structure

If we carefully study the politics of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of modern Republic of India, we see the tendency of pampering to the local dissipative forces by all the political parties to sustain in power at all costs. On the contrary, the South Indian politics strives for consolidation of power. Irrespective of political party, the ruler tries to consolidate the power centrally while correcting all the local anomalies. Certain regions were under rule of one dynasty for as long as 5 to 6 centuries. Compared to north, the south Indian politicians tend to consolidate absolute power in their hands. The local nuclei or the power centres tend to coalesce to form a larger power-droplet in South, where as in north, they tend to remain segregated.

When government consolidates total power of the state in its hand and provides an environment of stability, prosperity sets in no time. The region which was ravaged by Tughlaqs, Khiljis and Bahmanis, became the most prosperous region of India within 30 years when Vijaynagar kings consolidated the power. Same goes for Mughal Consolidation of Indo-gangetic plains brought about by Akbar. Permanent power encourages trade. Trade brings in prosperity and resources to protect and expand the power over space and time.

What was it that led to the loss of consolidating tendency of North Indic polity? Perhaps it was the flight of intellectuals to the south during Islamic onslaught. But then, the decay was set in long before advent of Islam. Was it because of too much of prosperity for too long? The uprising of 1857 showed a momentary promise, but soon it died out as well.

What is the reason for all this brain-storming??

The Gangetic plains still is the largest reservoir of talented human resource. Most of the IAS come from this very region. The issues of this region still are very relevant while thinking of rise of India in coming times. Without consolidation of Gangetic plains and eradication of this mercantile mentality which dissipates and discourages the consolidation of power, India cannot rise. This mercantile mentality is still seen in policies of Indian government which in turn comes partially due to mental shackles on the minds of bureaucrats and people from this region. The enormous zeal for political consolidation of entire subcontinent shown by Chanakya, Chandragupta, Samudragupta and Vikramaditya has to return in this region.

Unless this happens, India's rise on India's terms will continue to remain a distant possibility.

* Discussions with Mr. Kartik Srinivasan and Mr. Niraj Patel sparked the basic idea for this article.

Nostalgia - Retrieval of lost Kaleidoscope - Surabhi

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Yes, those born in late 70's and early 80's will definitely remember and feel nostalgic on seeing these videos. Surabhi... India's online database of knowledge and culture, which became a cult and was immensely popular owing to its originality, creativity and honesty...

Surabhi – a cultural magazine that has been voted as one of the top ten television programmes of India. For over ten years Surabhi has travelled all over the country, covering fascinating facets of Indian culture, in the widest sense of the word.

The life and living of the various peoples of India is brought to viewers with all its rich plurality. But Surabhi brings to viewers not just a record or report but insight and understanding of India in evolution, mirroring the changes of an ancient culture metamorphosing into a modern nation.

And in the process of presenting the various dimensions of India’s vast heritage, interactivity has been an important goal. The Sawal Jawab (the Weekly Competition Section in the programme) was the first of its kind to elicit audience response.

It is pleasure sharing these videos here with the readers of the blog. It is sad to
compare the quality and authenticity of the reports shown on this program with
today's shallow news channels shouting out information. The quality of Indian
media should have increased, but sadly has gone southwards since opening up of
the media post liberalization era. This program was truly of prime-time calibre on
Discovery or National-Geographic channels. The simple yet passionate deliverance
of information without having to resort to shouting and gaudy music and subtitles
makes it further more respectable.

I long for such dignified shows to reappear again on the arena of Indian television.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

सुनता हैं गुरु ज्ञानी - Sunta hain Guru Gyani - Nirgun Bhajan by Kabeer

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संत कबीर रचित निर्गुण भजन - Nirgun Bhajan by Kabeer

Rendition of this Bhajan by Pandit Kumar-Gandharva

Another Rendition of this Bhajan by Rahul Deshpande (I love this version more)

सुनता हैं गुरु ज्ञानी गगन में,
आवाज हो रही झिनी झिनी - (धृ)

पाहि लीयाये नाद बिंदु से,
पीछे जमया पानी हो जी
सब घट पूरण बोली रह्या है,
अलख पुरुष निर्बानी हो जी ll 1 ll

वहां से आया पता लिखाया,
तृष्णा तौने बुझाई ..
अमृत छोडसो विषय को धावे,
उलटी फाँस फंसानी हो जी ll 2 ll

गगन मंडलू में गौ भी आनी
भोई पे दही जमाया...
माखन माखन संतों ने खाया,
छाछ जगत बापरानी हो जी ... ll 3 ll

बिन धरती एक मंडल दीसे,
बिन सरोवर जूँ पानी रे
गगन मंडलू में होए उजियाला,
बोल गुरु-मुख बानी हो जी ll 4 ll

ओऽहं सोऽहं बाजा बाजे,
त्रिकुटी धाम सुहानी रे
इडा पिंगला सुखमन नारी,
सुनत भजन पहरानी हो जी ll 5 ll

कहत कबीरा सुनो भई साधो,
जानी अगम के बानी रे..
दिन भर रे जो नज़र भर देखे,
अजर अमर वो निशानी हो जी ... ll 6 ll

Attempted Translation

Says the all knowing teacher from the sky, if you care to listen His gentle whisperings... (Dhripad)

1. I am unable understand the full significance of this verse as yet.. :-)

2. When You arrived from There at a particular address (took birth in particular family), spotless and desireless you were.. why then are you falling back in trap by desiring worldly pleasures over eternal peace and complete knowledge?

3. The celestial cow (of knowledge/Brahman) is milched for the benefit of everyone.. The knowledgeable opt for butter (spiritual knowledge), while the commoners out of ignorance are content in butter-milk...

4. Instead of seeing at earth, understand that it is merely a circle... Just like seeing at lake, one should understand that it is (in principle) nothing but water.. When one starts experiencing the underlying unifying principle over apparent diversity and duality, the knowledge dawns.. Says the words of the Teacher..

5. When this happens (verse 4), then all the questions like "Who am I" and "So am I" are answered and one easily can meditate on Agnaa-Chakra (आज्ञा चक्र ) and experience peace and pleasure. Ida and Pingala Naadis are pacified and Sushumna Naadi is activated upon listening these protective hymns... Says the Teacher from sky....

6. Says Kabeer, listen oh righteous brothers.. Understand and experience and become one with the Non-Aging and eternal One-Principle who looks after this entire universe every single moment..


The composition of this song in Raaga Ahir Bhairav is highlight which makes it enjoyable, even if one decides to overlook the deeper esoteric meaning of the words being sung. However, it is bound that listeners who get stuck with these beautiful renditions and listen to it often, enquire about the meaning of the composition.

To analyse and comment on experiences of Kabir authentically requires a spiritual qualification far beyond my current understanding and status. Furthermore, my incomplete knowledge of Bhojpuri language makes it further more difficult. I wish and hope that at some point of time in future, when the complete significance of these verses dawn on to me, I will update this blog-article and share it with my readers..

Meanwhile, if any of the readers have any greater understanding and insight of the verses than the one provided by me, please feel obliged to correct me.. :-)

P.S. - I would request the Sikh-readers of the blog to please comment on this article and let me know whether this bhajan is included in Sri Gurugranth Saahib or not. If yes, what is the elaboration of this Bhajan from Sikh perspective. My translation is slightly influenced by Advaita-Vedanta world-view. I would appreciate the Dvaita and Sikh take on these verses.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Dharma - A Fundamental and unique Indian world-view

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

According to Indian world-view, there are four achievements of a human being in his life; Dharma-Artha-Kaama-Moksha. Pursuit of all four is required for anybody to be referred to as successful human being. As long as all of the four are not achieved, a person can't be successful.

Few basic terms which should be understood before hand.

Shaastra - शास्त्र - Science; Knowledge; Understanding
Dharma - धर्म - Righteousness; Duty; Basic nature
Artha - अर्थ - Wealth and Material success; Legacy; Fame
Kaama - काम - Desires
Moksha or Nirvana - मोक्ष or निर्वाण - Liberation; Attaining everlasting peace with Self and Universe owing to some spiritual pursuit.

Since Indian world-view asks for achievement of all four of these Purusharthas (पुरुषार्थ), there are methods OR sciences or Shaastras which are designed by thinkers of India in various ages for easier achievement of each of these four.

1. Dharma-Shaastra - 
धर्मशास्त्र - The science of Righteousness and Duty (Individual, societal, national).
2. Artha-Shaastra - 
अर्थशास्त्र - The science of earning and protecting wealth and power (individual, societal and national)
3. Kaam-Shaastra - 
कामशास्त्र - The science of fulfilling all the desires (primarily Individual). Kamasutra (कामसूत्र ) is but one of the many Kaam-Shaastras available.
4. Moksha-Shaastra - 
मोक्षशास्त्र - The sciences of attaining liberation OR nirvana OR peace by spiritual pursuits (Necessarily Individual). Ideologies like Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Vedanta, Saamkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vaisheshika, Tantra, Buddhism, Jaina, Sikh, Charvaaka, Ajivika etc are essentially various Moksha-Shastras available.

Careful look at all the Indian religious ideologies, we understand that all the religious ideologies(especially Indic ones) are nothing but Moksha-Shaastras and are strictly personal endeavours. In fact, Ishaavaasya Upanishad (ईशावास्य उपनिषद् ) conclusively states that sciences for obtaining Spiritual gains or Moksha is completely segregated from the sciences for obtaining Dharma, Artha and Kaama. However, it is essential for a human being to master both the domains of the sciences in order to lead a successful life. 

अन्धं तमः प्रवेशंती ये अविद्यामुपसिते ततो भूय इव ते तमः ये उ विद्यायाम रताः ll 9 ll

Those who worship Avidya alone fall in dark pit of nothingness... But those who worship Vidya alone fall in a dark pit which which is deeper than the one in which worshippers of Avidya alone fall.

अन्यदेवाहुर्विद्यया अन्यदाहुर्विद्यया इति शुश्रुम धीराणाम ये नस्तद विचचक्षिरे ll 10 ll

The seers say that the fruit of Vidya is different from that of Avidya

विद्याम चाविद्याम च यस्ताद वेदोभायम सह अविद्यया मृत्युं तीर्त्वा विद्याया अमृतमश्नुते ll 11 ll

Hence one who understands Vidya and Avidya together, he overcomes death using his Avidya and gains Moksha using his Vidya.
Here is Avidya refers to Material knowledge i.e.sciences to attain Dharma, Artha and Kaama in life) and Vidya refers to sciences for gaining Salvation/Moksha/Nirvana. The sages say, both Vidya and Avidya are equally important and should be pursued simultaneously.


Out of all four, the correct understanding of Dharma is direly missed in India. Every Indian knows in his mind what he means when he uses the word Dharma. But since colonial times, Dharma has been incorrectly referred to as synonym to religion. 

Religion is defined as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

Careful inspection of this definition will reveal that there is nothing like Religion in Indian civilization which simultaneously addresses Spiritual, Social, Moral and Political issues of life. The spiritual aspect is segregated from rest of the aspects of human life. The term which is used as synonym of religion in India, Dharma, is not exactly similar to religion at all.

What is Personal Dharma?

While I speak of "personal Dharma" I wish to make clear that, Dharma is a system which is built on ensuring a sustainable and just evolution of every component of ecology. Since apart from "sane human being" no other compartment of ecology has the ability to perform "karma", it becomes necessary that every sane human being understands the crux of Dharma. But it is not seen so in society. Either due to lack of education, time, propensity or resources not everybody has the understanding the "universal aspect of dharma" with its interlinking intricacies. Hence, it becomes important for sustenance of dharma that every "sane human being" or in other words, every "Kartaa" of every "Karma" is a stake-holder in this system. Hence it is important to make sane human beings realize the personal aspect of Dharma which is commonly known as "duty" and usage of Sat-asat-viveka-buddhi (intellectual ability to distinguish truth from untruth) while performing the personal duties OR dharma.

1. Dharma is understanding that one plays different roles in life such as self, parent, son/daughter, spouse, lover, friend, neighbour, worker, colleague, citizen of country, city, state, follower of particular ideology for pursuits of Moksha, fellow citizens, society, community, environment and ecology so on and so forth.

2. Dharma is understanding to prioritize the need for fulfilment of one role over other in given space-time and situation.

3. Dharma is fulfilling the duties related to those particular role with sense (Vivek) and righteousness in given space and time.

4. Dharma also refers to an inherent swadharma (basic nature) of an entity (living or non-living). Based on its swadharma, the responses and choices towards self and other non-self entities are modelled.

Dharma is nothing but prioritizing one's duties and performing them righteously. Thus, Dharma inherently stands for sensibility, efficiency and sustainability of prioritization and performance of duties.

The epithet of "personal" when attached to the system of Dharma does not make it individualistic. Perhaps, more appropriate title would be "Dharma with Ego" or as we say in Indic language "Swa-Dharma". The "swatva (I-ness)" here refers to various levels of ego, a sane human being recognizes. If we add up all the levels of ego (aatman) in Indic system we start from 
Brahman (or Shunyata) -aatman (Ahamkaar) - Buddhi (intellect) - Maanas (mind) - Indriyas (organs - sensory and motor) - Sharira (Body) - immediate family - joint family - caste (with all its internal stratifications) - society - Raashtra - Sanskriti - Humanity - Universe (which is again same as Brahman)

Thus, in thus cyclical energy levels of "I", lie all possible egos which are recognized by all the Moksha-shastras of Indic origin, all the artha-shastras of Indic origin, all the kaama-shastras of Indic origin and all the Dharma-shastras of Indic origin. All these egos contribute towards "Swa-dharma". While performing different roles, a sane Indic human being is in different levels of this cyclical levels of egos and prioritizes his duties accordingly on the basis of his viveka-buddhi. All those duties are segregated from each other to various degrees. Most importantly, all those levels of duties are recognized and addressed in Indic systems.

Reiterating my point of emphasis, the Indic system has the inherent design to peacefully and efficiently segregate the social-economic-political pursuits of life from personal ones. Indic system goes one step ahead in segregating the spiritual pursuits from other personal pursuits arising out of material desires and thereby influencing socio-economic-political and Moral aspects of life.

The Dharma is governed by Dharma-Shaastra (Understanding/science of Dharma/righteousness) - The understanding OR the Shaastra of defining righteousness changes from time to time, and this constant evolution is allowed in Indic system. The Manu-Smriti, for example, was one of the many social codes (dharma-shastras) prevalent in India in different times and which is no longer followed. Today, constitution of India is the Dharma-Shaastra according to Indic understanding of Dharma because in social-political-economic domains of life, the dictats of constitution plays a key role in determining whether a "karma" was righteous or not. In other words, whether Karma was Dharmic OR not.

Deracination - In past 100 years, we have been taught that Dharma = Religion onlee, which is totally and utterly false. Spiritual pursuits of life are governed by numerous Moksha-Shaastras available in Indic and Non-Indic domains. In Indic system, whatever the choice of moksha-shastra is, it is Dharmic as long as it remains personal. The social damage owing to mistranslation of key-words by British is enormous, which we must understand. This is exactly what most of the Indians subconsciously mean, when they use the term Dharma. It is hardly anything to do with religion OR Indianism OR Hindutva. It is more to do about knowledge that righteous performance of one's duty is more important than belief in god OR otherwise. 

The Abrahamic Moksha-Shaastra (spiritual part of abrahamic religions) does not segregate itself from other Social-Political-Economic-Moral aspects of human society. This system was forced upon Indian memes during Islamic and British times. And Indics were too overwhelmed owing to confident propaganda of abrahamics in ignorant medieval times. Abrahamic memes, at least in India, strive and propagate on lack of Shaastra among Indics and Indians. Dharma is one factor which runs vitally common in all the religions of Indian origin. 
Hence, relearning of this vital concept is extremely important for India.