Friday, July 09, 2010

Investigating the Cultural unity of India - What is being Indian? - 1

Creative Commons License

Deracination: Deracination is the process of loosing the roots, the connections with the grounds one is standing upon. This term is classically used for the people who forget their cultural identity and start assuming identity which was taught to them OR which is "in fashion" in their space and time. On its own, there is nothing negative OR positive connotation about the term Deracination. However devil lies in the context. This term OR terms like this are typically used on the philosophical and literal scene of Indian market (commodities and ideas). That more and more people are loosing their "roots" and getting westernized. There are proponents and opponents for this process. This is an attempt to understand what is Indian culture and whether or not the trend of modern generation to do what they are doing, be termed as deracination OR rediscovery.

A glimpse at the History: 

The history of India begins with cave-paintings from Chalcolithic era. Biologically, it is proven that man came from Africa to India. India acted as an incubator and it is from here that man spread across the planet. Mother India indeed. Then begins the period of Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization (SSC) and composition of Vedas. The term "civilization" denotes a degree of urbanization which is demonstrable archaeologically. Thus, from this perspective, there was no "Vedic Civilization". While "aryan invasion theory" has been thoroughly debunked and its benign version "Aryan Migration Theory" is on the verge of loosing out, there is lack of acceptable theory of those times in modern era. The "Out of India" theory is although a viable alternative, it is not accepted universally amongst the scholarly circles as yet for the want of some clinching evidence. 

Thus sticking to available facts alone, SSC vanished with disappearance of Saraswati river and while composition of Vedas was ongoing, Mahajanapadas started appearing on the political scene of India. The concept of Sapta-Sindhu is related to India and expands with the expanse of people following the life-style and socio-polity described in Vedas. The earlier Sapta-Sindhu (Punjab) later became "Aryavarta (indo-gangetic plains)" and in further course of time, "Jambudwipa". The gods changed, and with time various philosophies of "Knowing" the universe were propounded by wise-men. With times and changing climates, various tribes from central asia, middle-east invaded India, and got assimilated into the local way of life where they settled. It must be noted that there was no uniform "Hindu" way of life because there wasn't any need. 

Thus, Indic civilization prior of Islamic advent was a loosely knit confederacy of societies with common factors like nominal, partial OR complete adherence to Varna and Ashrama system and nominal, partial OR complete reverence to concepts of Dharma, Karma and rebirth. This is the least common factor which makes up the characteristic of "Indic civilization" or "Hindutva". To be more precise, it was the mutual acceptance of the "Free-Market" system with respect any ideological meme, while adhering to the concept of "Dharma" as the main arbitrator.

The acceptance of this "free-market" system of ideas (pertaining to every aspect of life of everybody - individual, communal, national and universal) is Hindutva. This is the "least common factor" of Dharmic religions. This common factor was the "Unifying principle" of Pre-Islamic India. In my limited capability that I have acquired so far in my life, I think this is the "inherent cultural unity" that we talk about. It is in this aspect, that India is considered as a "Civilizational State" and not a "Nation-State". It may sound far-fetched to be termed as a "state" from western point of view. But this "LCF (least common Factor)" was strong enough to gel the people even before advent of Islamic memes and hordes. 

One example. Modern Hinduism is conglomerate of all those ideologies which accept the complete OR partial OR nominal supremacy of Vedas. All the tribal gods and the local gods are affiliated to with Vishnu family OR Shiva family OR Devi Family. Devi is in turn related to Shiva and Vishnu on various occasions in various forms. All the other vedic ideologies which are not popular are tolerated under the organized religious movement under these three principle deities. After Adi Shankara's revolution, these three have gelled beautifully with each other. This was aided by Islamic conquest. However even before Adi Shankara, all these ideologies showed tacit acceptance of India's boundaries. The Shakti-Peethas of Devi are found all over the subcontinent including Baluchistan, NEFA, NWFP, Kashmir and rest of the Indian subcontinent. This story encourages pilgrims of Devi to visit as many Shakti-Peethas as possible in life. That would mean visiting the cultural boundaries of this "Civilization-state" that is India. There is no shaktipeetha in Kandahar OR in Iran simply because there wasn't a free-market system of ideas arbitrated by concept of Dharma. The Dharmic arbitration is crucial. Similarly, Jyotirlingams, 4-Dhaams, 4-peethas of Adi Shankara all point at similar cultural domain which was being governed by similar system.

This confederacy of meme-complexes united by Dharma and right to disagree, were forced to amalgamate more solidly with advent of Islamic ideas and more importantly, Islamic horses and swords. This is similar to formation of micelles of hydrophobic molecules in presence of water. That formed micelle which resisted the water was called as "Hindu". There was ample amount of antagonistic interaction between Islamic and Indic ideas for considerable amount of time, after which it has emerged that Islamic ideas were not accepted by 85% of population in 80% of India (area wise).

However, that long interaction and the modifications which were required to be accepted in order to withstand the onslaught has left quite a few influences on Indic way of life as well. This is where my question arises.

Deracination from what?

The "Indic" system which was handed over to generations born after 1900 AD was already influenced negatively by Victorian, Macaulian and Mohammedan values. When we speak of restoration of "Dharma" and reinstating "inherent cultural unity" of Indic civilizational state, what are we talking about? The unity which was present in mutual acceptance of everybody's right to disagree while coexisting in the "tantra" (thread) of relevant social code (Dharma) which ensured sustainable evolution of everybody. The method to bring about this change and method to "maintain" the new system need to be relevant too. So, in this case, what is the meaning of castigating the term "Deracination" when looking closely, it is deracination that we are dreaming and aiming of. Deracination from a system that was handed down to our generation (generation sane enough to read and understand this post on July 2010) by our immediate forefathers and education system is what we want. Castigation of this term is specious and misleading, IMHO.

Deracinated from what and where? from already corrupt Indian society? When we so casually use the term "deracination", one has to set up a time-line. One of the snap-points is establishment of stable Islamic polity in any particular region marks the departure from aforementioned ""inherent cultural unity". For Pashtoon areas, deracination began in 1000 AD. NI Indo-Gangetic plains, it began in 1200 AD. Deccan and south, it remained fluctuating although for Hyderabad region, deracination began in 1770 AD. It became uniform all over NI-plains and Deccan after Macauley's system of education was introduced in India with imposition of "victorian morals".

In these particular regions after these particular dates, deracination began. Any attempt to break away from this "entrenched" system of mental slavery is not "Deracination" in my opinion. Deracination, according to me, is when an Indic starts mimicking the beliefs of Abrahmic system vis-a-vis standardization and removal of "anomalies" (diversities) of India in such a way that those steps will benefit abrahmics in next 100 years. This is different from harmonization of Shankaracharya. The artists, people who try and "show off" their rebel side to defy the given system and do "whatever they want to" are aping the middle-eastern memes of standardization. The famous example is that of Valentines day, Pink-Chaddi campaign and all the antics related to it. The "Custodians of Indian Culture" or the "Moral Police" too ignorantly are aping the middle-eastern memes of bringing about standardization and violent removal of any anomalies. 

If a person is attempting to escape (in his limited capabilities and understanding), from this corrupted system, how justified is it to call him "Deracinated"? There are chances that this behaviour might lead to his returning to inherent "cultural unity" based on coexistence in spite of disagreements. His attempts will depend upon how knowledgeable and perceptive he is in understanding the system which he is trying to escape from and the changes that have taken place in that system over the period of centuries.

I guess, this is what defines and demarcates an "Indic" from a "Abrahmic". In today's "connected" world, it is hard to suppress individual's creativity. Any attempts by any "Indic" individual to return to the original "open-sourced" nature of the system is welcome. Abrahamic memes can't be defeated (if that is the aim) by trying to be more crystalline and fanatic than them. They are already optimised for that. Indic strength is plurality and diversity. If that is unleashed upon abrahmics in India, their crystal structure won't last long, it will dissolve. 

As long as the "drive to excel and evolve" is respected by everyone for everyone, there is no problem in imagining whatever one wants to imagine and propagate. The "intrinsic drive to evolve and excel" is called "Dharma". And it cannot be localized, it has to be "Universal". Since, Dharma is not universal today, some novelties may be misconstrued by macaulay-putras OR by abrahmics proper to bring about the "standardization" in India as implied in "abrahamic system". Any attempt of any individual, community which upsets these plans of "bringing about standardization" in India and Indics is not Deracination. It is impossible to return to system which was flourishing 1400 years ago, that will be undoing all that we have gained (knowledge and experience of defeat). The only option is the understand the crux of that system, the core value which it stood for and strive to bring that value back again in day-to-day lives of Indic people. 

1 comment:

al brazzakh said...

Diyar Cheerharanudin,
Good series of artical.
Bliss to continue from D to A to K to M.

Phor your reference, since you started on Karma, here ij a al-kitab:

The law of karma by Robert Svoboda. Now bhestern author i don't like ( like james laine :P), but Robert is almost half yindu now that he spent so many years in India in Mumbai/Pune.

Also i dont know for Artha, bhwere "Shukra-Neeti" is availble, but phor Kama you have phull refernce hiyar

Contents hiyar :

Written by peearef phamous PK Varma. The online version i cannot find, so you will have to order it home :P

Till then, AoA.