Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thought Stream : Indians, Matinee Idols & Ego

Reading 'The Argumentative Indian'; here Amartya Sen talks about the scepticism and dialogic traditions of Indians from ancient times, including the inherent rational inqiry in the Vedas about god, the ideals in Gita as also the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata by giving anecdotes and instances from these parables that highlight this questioning attitude. Opposing views in these epics are not totally banished, and as he says 'an argument that refuses to die out definitely remains alive, only to come back into life'. In the essay that I am presently reading he has refuted the isolationist and narrow-minded approach that the so-called Hindutva movement (namely BJP, RSS etc) wants to portray. Also discussed are the selective history propagated by changing the school syllabi to demonify the Moghuls and the tendency of the fundamentalist forces to mix up the Vedic and Indus valley civilizations as one, including creating fraudulent scholarly works to prove the same. He states that the Vedic culture and Sanskrit came from Indo-European regions and not from the region of the Harappan civilization - this of course has been a debatable topic since decades. India has always accepted and accomodated races such as Muslims, Jews and others who faced persecution in other nations which even Swami Vivekananda states in his works. It is a secular nation state with Hindus as the majority, not a theocratically Hindu nation.

Was watching 'Dev' an excellent movie yesterday - could catch only the last part of the movie - with Amitabh Bachhan in the lead role, a movie which draws parallels to the Gujarat riots and the hand in glove scenario of the police force and the government with perpetrators in targetting muslims. Om Puri in the role of one such senior police officer gets a house with several families burnt alive as retribution for getting a politician arrested in a riot case, when Amitabh having witnessed the carnage reports to the government, Inspector Tej (Om Puri, who is Dev's long time friend) gets Inspector Dev killed, and finally commits suicide. Other actors included Kareena, Fardeen, and Amrish Puri.

Today was an officially declared holiday.
With the passing away of the kannada matinee idol, Rajkumar - the state saw unprecedented violence; the police being the target of the mobs' ire. He was indeed a much admired personality, but the sort of violence unleashed due to emotional outbursts, only goes on to tarnish the icon's image. I remember some of the movies that used to be telecast on DD and had watched a few in which Rajkumar plays James Bond'esque roles. Loved the song 'Naadamayaa', not sure if he had formal training in singing but this raga-based song was an absolutely amazing, lovely rendition by him.

With all this happening, I was thinking about the nature and consequences of ego which tries to establish itself as prime and rejects everything else, a false illusion that it creates. The 'I or you' concept is indeed very foolish. It has to be 'I and you' - everything has a rightful place in this world and cannot be wished away. What one decides to follow of course is a pruned path; saying no to certain things and accepting others more benefitial in the wordly pursuit.


  1. Liked the last part of your post a lot! I agree and if more of us see the light in that argument, the world would be a better place!

  2. "India has always accepted and accomodated races such as Muslims, Jews and others who faced persecution "
    I have always had this question.
    Did India even exist before the advent of the Europeans? Geographically at one point of time the entire Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanisthan was India and even more before that. There has been no dynasty that has been in absolute power nor there has been a defined geographical boundary to India until the britons took over. Even after their taking over, we were a big chunk of land divided and ruled by Nawabs, Rajas etc. So when we refer to India before independence
    what are we referring to?


  3. Shreyas: A basic thing that people forget.
    Naveen: For that matter lets say Indian subcontinent to be politically correct (Or this part of the world).