matriwords

Research, Essays, Commentaries – Inspired by the Social-Cultural-Political Thought of Sri Aurobindo (PLUS a bit of photography too!)

India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 1)

INTRODUCTORY NOTE FROM MATRIWORDS

Matriwords is happy to present this important 5-part series, written by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay. I came to ‘know’ Subhodeep through Indiblogger and gradually became more familiar with his wide-ranging and deep intellectual, philosophic and spiritual pursuits every time I visited his blogs, The Advaitist and The Tiny Man.

His well-reasoned and well-formulated comments on some of my blogposts in the past few months also helped me appreciate more his line of analysis (see here and here, for example). It became apparent that we share similar perspectives on topics such as: deep colonisation of the Indian mind, challenges for Indian civilisational renaissance, and the necessity to deal strongly with many divisive elements which have the potential to harm the integrity and unity of the Indian nation.

It was also clear that we have been reading some similar things, not only the spiritual and philosophic works of Sri Aurobindo, but also some of the path-breaking social-political-cultural analyses by an Indian-American public intellectual, Rajiv Malhotra. This convinced me that there is a definite need to bring some of that perspective to Matriwords.

In the pr11951765_10206256592387808_5348065959889758985_nesent series, Subhodeep is presenting some highly important facts, perspectives and ideas. As rational individuals equipped with an ability to critically evaluate and assess different facts and perspectives, and as citizens of our motherland India who dream of a bright and glorious future for her, it is essential that we engage with these facts and perspectives with an open mind.

We recognise that to appreciate several of the points mentioned here further elaboration and analysis is required. In fact, many more essays will be necessary if these points are to be explored fully. We encourage interested readers to do their own study and analysis. And to facilitate that, a bibliography is given at the end of the series.

Accepting  and/or engaging with some of these truths can be a bit challenging and even somewhat disturbing for some readers, especially if this is their first exposure to such an analysis. However, this doesn’t take away any of the truth-value of the claims made here.

Why is this analysis important? And how does it fit with Matriwords?

In his primary work on political philosophy titled, The Ideal of Human Unity, Sri Aurobindo makes it very clear:

“At the present stage of human progress the nation is the living collective unit of humanity” (CWSA, Vol. 25, p. 304).

He explains that the unity of nations is possible only when each nation has first realised its intrinsic and essential unity.

But what makes the nation a living collective unity? And why should we care for the nation in this globalizing world?

The answer to such questions may be found in both the fundamentals of human psychology that have to do with the gradual self-development of the individual, as well as the natural tendency of humanity’s gradual progression from smaller to larger aggregates for their collective life. From family to clan to tribe to nation. Let us hear again from Sri Aurobindo:

“Self-sacrifice involuntary or veiled by forms of selfishness is,…the condition of our existence. It has been a gradual growth in humanity. The first sacrifices are always selfish—they involve the sacrifice of others for one’s own advancement.
“The first step forward is taken by the instinct of animal love in the mother who is ready to sacrifice her life for the young, by the instinct of protection in the male who is ready to sacrifice his life for his mate. The growth of this instinct is the sign of an enlargement in the conception of the self. So long as there is identification of self only with one’s own body and its desires, the state of the jiva is unprogressive and animal.
“It is only when the self enlarges to include the mate and the children that advancement becomes possible. This is the first human state, but the animal lingers in it in the view of the wife and children as chattels and possessions meant for one’s own pleasure, strength, dignity, comfort. The family even so viewed becomes the basis of civilisation, because it makes social life possible.
“But the real development of the god in man does not begin until the family becomes so much dearer than the life of the body that a man is ready to sacrifice himself for it and give up his ease or even his life for its welfare or its protection. To give up one’s ease for the family, that is a state which most men have attained; to give up one’s life for the honour of the wife or the safety of the home is an act of a higher nature of which man is capable in individuals, in classes, but not in the mass.
“Beyond the family comes the community and the next step in the enlargement of the self is when the identification with the self in the body and the self in the family gives way to the identification with the self in the community. To recognise that the community has a larger claim on a man than his family is the first condition of the advance to the social condition. It corresponds to the growth of the tribe out of the patriarchal family and to the perfection of those communal institutions of which our village community was a type.
“Here again, to be always prepared to sacrifice the family interest to the larger interest of the community must be the first condition of communal life and to give one’s life for the safety of the community, the act of divinity which marks the consummation of the enlarging self in the communal idea.
“The next enlargement is to the self in the nation. The evolution of the nation is the growth which is most important now to humanity, because human selfishness, family selfishness, class selfishness having still deep roots in the past must learn to efface themselves in the larger national self in order that the God in humanity may grow.
[…]
“There is a yet higher fulfilment for which only a few individuals have shown themselves ready, the enlargement of the self to include all humanity. A step forward has been taken in this direction by the self-immolation of a few to humanitarian ideals, but to sacrifice the interests of the nation to the larger interest of humanity is an act of which humanity in the mass is not yet capable.
“God prepares, but He does not hasten the ripening of the fruit before its season. A time will come when this also will be possible, but the time is not yet. Nor would it be well for humanity if it came before the other and lesser identification were complete; for that would necessitate retrogression in order to secure the step which has been omitted. The advance of humanity is a steady progress and there is no great gain in rushing positions far ahead, while important points in the rear are uncaptured.” (CWSA, Vol 8, pp. 137-139)

(A tip: In order to fully appreciate the depth and significance of this long passage, you may want to read it again, with as open and wide a mind as you can muster. Trying to apply some of the truths mentioned here to one’s own experience, observation and context helps further. ).

If India has to take her rightful position in the comity of nations and is destined to become once again the world’s spiritual guru, it is critical that she first puts her house in order. This necessitates that we as her children become armed with the knowledge of that which can be potentially harmful to her integrity, unity and sovereignty. The present series is an attempt to help us do that.

For anyone who still asks – why should I as an individual be concerned at all with things such as national unity and integrity, the answer is:

“The nation-unit is not formed and does not exist merely for the sake of existing; its purpose is to provide a larger mould of human aggregation in which the race, and not only classes and individuals, may move towards its full human development.” (CWSA, Vol. 25, p. 382)

 

India, Indology and Deep Colonialism  |  Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay
| http://www.thetinyman.in | http://hoorayforlife.com | http://www.mukhopadhyay.in/ |

Rising India

India is hurtling at break-neck speed towards a great and wonderful future – a future of massive growth, superlative development and transformations at scales which are not even remotely imaginable.

We as Indians are finally on the cusp of unprecedented changes and after centuries of stagnation we start reaping the benefit of a “demographics dividend”[i]. (Times of India, 2016)

“Never before have there been so many young people. Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress. How we meet the needs and aspirations of young people will define our common future”. (Engelman, Monica, Levy, & Luchsinger, 2014)

Some other notable facts:

  • Substantial portion of the growth experienced by India since the 1980s is attributable to the country’s age structure and changing demographics. (Aiyar & Mody, 2011)
  • India will surpass China as the world’s largest country by 2025, with a large proportion of those in the working age category.
  • Over the next two decades the continuing demographic dividend in India could add about two percentage points per annum to India’s per capita GDP growth. (Aiyar & Mody, 2011)

In other words, India is on a heady growth trajectory, the scale and magnitude of which is something most people today cannot wrap their heads around.

That’s where the good news ends.

TO BE CONTINUED….

GO TO PART 2


 

[i] Demographics Dividend – the economic gains which can occur when a county’s working age population is larger than the population that is dependent

Image credit: Vijayal

 

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About Beloo Mehra

Beloo is the author of two books, one on Indian Education, titled "ABC’s of Indian National Education" and an ebook featuring a selection of her essays, titled "The Thinking Indian." She holds several degrees in Education and Economics, has extensive teaching experience at school and university level in India and the US, and has a keen interest in the educational, social and cultural thought of Sri Aurobindo. She currently lives in Pondicherry, spends her time doing some reading, some writing, some teaching, some gardening and a whole lot of reflecting on life, living, society, politics, religion, art, literature, India, the World, and everything else under the Sun and the Moon.

24 comments on “India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 1)

  1. Love, Life and Whatever
    February 22, 2016

    Such inherents been rightly put and it led to a deeper perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nabanita
    February 22, 2016

    There is so much we need to know, read and analyse about India…You know , Beloo gradually I’m beginning to understand how wrong I used to be about our country a few years back..I guess with each passing day I’m trying to learn more, understand before forming an opinion and your posts are helping me do that

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beloo Mehra
      February 22, 2016

      Thanks for reading this, Naba! I am so glad to read your comment. For generations we have been taught such distortions and falsehoods about who we are as a people and a country, we have been made ashamed of being who we are. There is a very big need of decolonising our minds, bit by bit. I hope you will come back to part 2 of this series, where some difficult truths will be uncovered.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder
    February 23, 2016

    I’ve visited Subhodeep’s blogs a number of times and have been amazed to see his mastery over different subjects and, the vast realm of his knowledge. Glad to see him here… 🙂

    We need to know about our country and the people. I think it’s perhaps impossible to comprehend the diversity of India in our lifetime. We can just try and, the more we know, we understand how much more is left to explore…
    A wonderfully conceived post… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      February 23, 2016

      Yes, it is a lifetime worth of project to know our country and its diversity. But the bigger problem is not the time, but the mental attitude, I think 🙂 We seem to have mindlessly accepted that whatever our colonial masters have told us (and continue to tell us through neo-imperialistic organs like foreign media, western intellectual theories and fads, pop culture that is a blind aping of the western pop culture, and the hired bunch in our own media houses and universities) is the only truth about ourselves. This is the biggest roadblock in our learning about ourselves in our own way, using our own cultural, civilisational and intellectual frameworks. That’s the challenge, I think.
      Yes, Subhodeep is quite a prolific writer with a wide range of interests. I am so happy he agreed to do this post for matriwords.
      Do come back for part 2 of the series, much more challenging stuff coming up in that! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dagny
    February 23, 2016

    I am eagerly waiting for part two. Subhodeep is indeed and excellent writer. I would dearly like to read what he says in the rest of the series.

    Always good to have your mental cobwebs swept away.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Zephyr
    February 24, 2016

    Thanks to you, I had also discovered Subhodeep’s blogs and found a mine of information there about our country and culture, not to speak of, history. I am eagerly awaiting the next part and to discover the difficult truths that you have hinted at.

    As someone who had begun her journey of faith many years ago, I can vouch for the fact that there is so much more to learn, to evolve spiritually and try to reach a place a little higher than where I am now. Thanks for giving that opportunity to do so through this space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      February 24, 2016

      Yes, Subhodeep’s blogs are indeed rich and educational. I am happy he agreed to write this piece. The part 2 is uploaded now, and perhaps some of the points raised there may raise some eyebrows 🙂 These truths are not really about Indian spirituality and faith but more to do with forming a positive national and cultural and civilisational identity for India. But without facing some difficult truths how would we proceed in forming a positive identity?

      Like

  8. Pingback: India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 2) | matriwords

  9. Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay
    February 24, 2016

    Hi Beloo – Thanks a lot for featuring my essay in your prestigious blog. The way you have taken my write-up and molded it with Sri Aurobindo’s thought is simply wonderful.

    India is a great Nation and I would not wish to be anything but an India. But there are subversive forces at work trying to break India. And unless we face the issues squarely and resolve them from the root, as a Nation and as Collective Humanity, we will not be able to progress.

    Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity for sharing my thoughts and views on how to squarely tackle the negative forces and how to embark on a positive and spiritually elevating journey as a nation and as a People.

    And I thank everyone sincerely for their wonderful comments.

    Regards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      February 25, 2016

      Thank you Subhodeep for writing this excellent piece. It is absolutely my pleasure to feature your article here. I share the kind of deep love for India that you speak of. And it is that love that compels me to say that for the sake of our country, I hope more people spend time going through and seriously considering the points raised in this series.

      Like

  10. Pingback: India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 3) | matriwords

  11. Varun Yadav
    March 2, 2016

    How many educated and liberal women can agree with Shri Aurobindo that
    “To recognise that the community has a larger claim on a man than his family is the first condition of the advance to the social condition. It corresponds to the growth of the tribe out of the patriarchal family and to the perfection of those communal institutions of which our village community was a type.” ? Biologically ,Women are incapable of having strong affiliation to a tribe . See ,matriarchal Europe welcoming Medieval invaders

    Like

    • Beloo Mehra
      March 2, 2016

      Thank you Varun for this thought-provoking comment. I am not sure I fully agree or understand why you say that biologically women are incapable of having strong affiliation to a tribe. When I look back at Indian history, I find plenty of women from many parts of the country who were great rulers, administrators, warriors, social reformers, spiritual leaders, educators. How could they do all that if they didn’t feel a strong sense of connection with a unit larger than their own immediate/extended families? I will give you this that most ordinary folks are over-occupied with fulfilling their hopes and desires, dreams and wishes for their most immediate family unit (and perhaps extending a bit to their extended families). But this is true for ALL – women and men. If women are more tied down to their families, it is perhaps more because of their social, mental and emotional conditioning. Not necessarily biology. That’s how I see it, at least for now.

      Anyway, the larger point to consider here is to figure out to what extent we, each one of us individually, are capable of going beyond our excessive attachments to the concerns of our immediate families, clans, tribes and think of doing the right thing for the nation, for the unity and integrity of the larger collective that we are a part of. I am saddened when I see so many of the educated Indians only engrossed in their individual and familial lives with no concern for the society or nation at large.

      Like

      • Varun Yadav
        March 9, 2016

        What is Nationalism but tribalism/group behaviour . I hope that Indian experience be different from Europe’s where Liberal Parties welcome Migrants (most of them men) while their own men are shamed with “Rape Culture” remarks ( see how Left use the same tricks in India ) .But in the long run ,Liberal Democracy is incapable of fighting with Barbarism and India will fall like Civilizations of the past unless we restore some form of Monarchy . Although I respect you and other Indic Intellectuals like Rajiv Malhotra ji ,but I feel most of the work is blue pill coated in red colour .Thanks for the reply

        Like

        • Beloo Mehra
          March 24, 2016

          As a student and follower of Sri Aurobindo, I am fully convinced that the kind of democracy we have in India (or elsewhere for that matter) is not the right political system for India, given her civilizational strength and cultural core. Sri Aurobindo gave hints about the future political system for India’s civilizational renewal, though the actual form will evolve with time. But one thing is for sure that the true democractic system for India will have to be based in Dharma, not the conflicting ideas of rights vs. duties, minority vs. majority, which the present form encourages. A Presidential form of democracy with a much more democratic and decentralised system at local levels – based in the eternal values of Dharma – that may be offer us some hope. Thanks for engaging with the thoughts presented in this series. Appreciate the exchange.

          Like

  12. Pingback: India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Conclusion) | matriwords

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