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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 2)

CONTINUED FROM PART 1

Introductory Note from Matriwords

In the text below, we have added a few relevant passages and quotes from Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s writings to provide additional context as well as wider and deeper significance to the arguments presented by our guest writer, Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay. He has approved of these additions. For a larger discussion on the deeper significance of this series, please read our introductory note in Part 1.

India, Indology and Deep Colonialism  |  Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay

| http://www.thetinyman.in | http://hoorayforlife.com |  http://www.mukhopadhyay.in/

 

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“The unity of all the nations is the compelling future of the world. But for the unity of all nations to be possible, each nation must first realise its own unity.” (The Mother, CWM 12, pp. 250-251)

“God’s world advances step by step fulfilling the lesser unit before it seriously attempts the larger. Affirm free nationality first, if thou wouldst ever bring the world to be one nation.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 12, p. 467)

Breaking India

There are forces at work which do not want to see a “Rising India“. They would rather engage in “breaking India” and these subversive anti-national forces have been well-documented in a number of texts and books. They are listed below.

1. Christian Evangelical groups from America under the influence of Christian fundamentalist Joshua Project who have an open, stated and well-defined strategy of converting Indian Hindus to Christianity.(Chakraborthy, 2014)


2. Dravidian Separatism, Afro-Dalit ideologues, Dalit Christianity groups who consider themselves as separate from India and Hindu culture and are funded by US and European bodies, think-tanks and Churches. (Saxena, 2016)


3. Islamic fundamentalist groups in India aided and funded by ISI, ISIS, Saudi etc. (Ahmad, 2015) (HHR, 2015)


4. Leftist and anarchy groups especially in media and academia who denigrate Hinduism and who side with the above 3 groups.


5. Foreign funded NGO’s, think-tanks in top academic institutions, charitable foundations like Greenpeace, Ford Foundation etc., who want to derail India’s growth in the guise of “environment protection”, “human rights abuse”, “gender discrimination” etc. (Times of India, 2014).

 

While all these 5 groups have different agendas, they have a 5-point common modus-operandi:

1. Denigrate India and show India in a bad light by highlighting and generalizing stray incidents of rape, gender violence and human rights abuse, and finally blaming Hinduism for all evils.


2. Denigrate Hinduism by showing stray incidents of caste abuse and justify it by quoting a random stray Sanskrit text on gender inequality as proof of Hindu oppressiveness.


3. Accuse Hindus of being racists and not “secular” and “plural” and popularize terms like “Hindu terrorism”, “Saffron fundamentalism “ and “Wahabi Hinduism” (Times of India, 2015).


4. Highlight and internationally publicize “atrocities” against Dalits, Muslims and Christian (Malhotra & Neelakandan, 2011).


5. Distort India’s history to present a “loser history” (Alexander invaded India, Muslims invaded India, British ruled India etc.) and completely deny all Hindu victories and achievements in science, technology, Ayurveda, mathematics and spirituality so that Hindus always feel terrible about themselves, their heritage and culture. In other words, dismiss anything Hindu as myth and generalize the religion as being oppressive. (Sanyal, 2016)

 

All these patently flawed narratives are nurtured by breaking-India forces and allowed to grow despite facts to the contrary like:

1. US having among the highest rapes per capita (273 rapes per million) compared to India (40 rapes per million) (Unodc, 2012).


2. Saudi Arabia and Muslims nations like Pakistan having abysmally low gender rights protection. (Molschky, 2013)


3. Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, having zero protection for minority Hindu human rights. (Wilkinson, 2014).


4. Islam and Christianity needing “secularism”[i] because they are by default exclusive faiths whereas Hinduism is structurally accommodating and adaptable.


5. Caste system as commonly understood and practiced today, particularly for vote bank politics and other divisive social-economic-political ends being actually a British creation in 1800s[ii] for Census purpose. (Malhotra & Neelakandan, 2011, pp. 51-59)

 

Thus as is evident there is a huge “synergy of anti-India forces that have India in a stranglehold at the political, and to a far greater extent even at the intellectual level.” (Koenraad Elst, quoted in Malhotra & Neelakandan, 2011).

Effectively all the gains and benefits which accrue on account of a “Rising India” are being negated systematically by the players in the “Breaking India” campaign.

****

“When, therefore, we speak of a nation, we mean the separate life of the millions who people the country, but we mean also a separate culture and civilisation, a peculiar national temperament which has become too deeply rooted to be altered and in all these we discover a manifestation of God in national life which is living, sacred and adorable. It is this which we speak of as the Mother. The millions are born and die; we who are here today, will not be here tomorrow, but the Mother has been living for thousands of years and will live for yet more thousands when we have passed away.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, 7, p. 1116)

National Identity

National Identity is the answer to the question, “Who are we as a People?”

How a nation defines itself, and its relation to the rest of the world, is the most important aspect of nation-building. A nation which does not know who it is or what it represents is bound to disintegrate sooner rather than later.

Let us take the example of the U.S., the oldest democracy in the world and a “nation founded on the proposition that each individual is born with certain rights and that the purpose of government is to secure these rights” (Science Encyclopedia). The beginning point of the American core national identity was Anglo-Saxon Protestant, which over time widened and assimilated into itself what can be termed as Liberal Christian values.

A study of the history of identity formation in the US shows that “whiteness,” a term which denotes not necessarily race but a power structure based on a politically concocted ethnic and cultural identity, over time became the American identity (Rajiv Malhotra, 2007). Left-wing or right-wing ideology does not matter – all Americans must find their individual/group identities within this core national identity. All racial/ ethnic/ religious groups, all immigrants to the US must therefore make their voices heard and must lobby to find a space in this national identity.

The Irish whites had to go through this process of assimilation, the Blacks had to go through this process and every new immigrant group must find a way to align itself with this framework of becoming American. The framework of National Identity will not change because certain groups demand special privileges. (Malhotra, 2016)

China has an identity based on Confucianism. Russia has an identity based on “individualism placed at the service of society and the nation . . .personal self-realization, the love of large-scale projects, the urge to develop and defend the Motherland and to increase prosperity and knowledge.” (Likhacheva & Marakov, 2014)

In other words, “when discussing the national identity, it makes sense to define the main landmarks which transcend the boundaries of our national character and represent a synthesis of its traits, historical circumstances and morality: collectivism vs. individualism, democracy vs. authoritarianism and the need for ‘large-scale undertakings’ vs. exhaustion from heroic deeds.” (Likhacheva & Marakov, 2014)

“In building up her human aggregates, Nature has followed in general principle the same law that she observes in her physical aggregates. She has provided first a natural body, next, a common life and vital interest for the constituents of the body, last, a conscious mind or sense of unity and a centre or governing organ through which that common ego-sense can realise itself and act…Nothing must be done which will have the result of emphasising disunity in sentiment or perpetuating the feeling of separateness from the totality of the rest of the organism; for that will tend to make the centre or governing organ psychologically unrepresentative of the whole and therefore not a true centre of its ego-sense. But we must remember that separatism is not the same thing as particularism which may well coexist with unity; it is the sentiment of the impossibility of true union that separates, not the mere fact of difference.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 25, pp. 326-327)

Identity Crisis and Bhagavad Gita

Now if one were to ask an Indian who he is, he will most likely not have any cogent and cohesive answer and will mumble something about “largest democracy” and “secularism.” But he does not know who he is as a People and what he represents. Indians suffer from an identity crisis because of false notions of “secularism” and “communalism” imbibed in him from the last 65 years.

More than 98% of Indians are Hindus – ethnic Hindus and Muslims / Christians who had Hindu ancestors. In fact almost all Pakistan and Bangladeshi Muslims have the same Hindu genetic makeup (Khanna, 2015).

So in terms of culture, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are Hindus, and there is no denying this fact. Islam is 1500 years old and Christianity is 2000 years old. Since Hinduism was essentially the only game in town from 2000 BCE or earlier, logic dictates that India is a nation based on Hindu religion, ethos and values. Moreover, Chinese call us Hindus, Afghans call us Hindus, Mongolians call us Hindus, Iranians calls us Hindus and even Pakistan refers to us as Hindustan and only rarely as India. Only we, being still mentally colonized with deep colonialism reject our ancient hoary Hindu past and call ourselves Indians.

Chapter 2 of Bhagavad Gita, beautifully illustrates the pitfalls of not knowing who one is. When we are ignorant of our identity or when we forget our identity, delusion (moha) about what to do arises. Confusion or delusion about what to do (moha), leads to grief (shoka). It causes endless tension for us and others. Arjuna faced this delusion in the Kurukshetra battle-field when for a moment he had forgotten that he was a Kshatriya and was filed with angst at having to kill his family members.

As a nation, this ignorance of one’s identity as a People leads to national identity crisis and disintegration of values and systems. When we are, however, made aware of our identity or reminded of it, then the confusion and grief disappears.

Unless we as a people know who we are, we are in for trouble. And that is the biggest internal challenge we Indians are facing today.

“…to live in one’s self, determining one’s self expression from one’s own centre of being in accordance with one’s own law of being, swadharma, is the first necessity. Not to be able to do that means disintegration of the life; not to do it sufficiently means languor, weakness, inefficiency, the danger of being oppressed by the environing forces and overborne; not to be able to do it wisely, intuitively, with a strong use of one’s inner material and inner powers, means confusion, disorder and finally decline and loss of vitality. But also not to be able to use the material that the life around offers us, not to lay hold on it with an intuitive selection and a strong mastering assimilation is a serious deficiency and a danger to the existence.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 20, p. 49)


 

[i] “The struggle between the Church and the monarchical State is one of the most important and vital features of the history of Europe. Had that conflict ended in an opposite result, the whole future of humanity would have been in jeopardy.” (Sri Aurobindo, CWSA 25, p. 376)

[ii] Caste System – for the purpose of a census which in turn lead to rigidity and fossilization of 4 castes. Earlier Hindus had a dynamic jati-varna system with regional variations with 1000’s of castes – all sorts of inequities would get resolved internally and inter-caste movement was quite natural.

Image credit: Vijayal

TO BE CONTINUED…GO TO PART 3

Have you read PART 1?

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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.

8 comments on “India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 2)

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

  2. Zephyr
    February 28, 2016

    Though I have read several of these facts elsewhere, they have a lot more impact when the words of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are used for annotation. A lot to read up on…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sunila Vig
    February 28, 2016

    Great reading and imbibing the series. They are quite the need of the hour. My thought process is similar and I feel deeply fidgety wondering how I could contribute to my nation and people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      February 28, 2016

      Thanks, Sunila for appreciating this series. I think you are already contributing in a very important way by spreading the awareness about the holistic way of health and healing through your yogasana and meditation workshops 🙂 I am reminded of something one of my teachers here once told me – to aspire to connect with our soul is to aspire to connect with the soul of India. (Something to that extent). Every time I reflect on this, I find deep comfort in this thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dagny
    March 5, 2016

    Just like corporates write their vision and mission statements to define a framework of their values, priorities and ethos, so must nations. Unfortunately, India is such a hugely diverse nation that finding consensus in creating a mission statement will be well neigh impossible. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beloo Mehra
      March 5, 2016

      But underlying all that diversity there is a very concrete sense of indivisible oneness. And it can be easily felt if we open ourselves to it. I am reminded of something one of my teachers once said – to try to get in touch with one’s soul is same as trying to get in touch with India’s soul. (Something like that). There is so much truth in that, I feel. We have to accept (because we can so easily feel it) that the soul of India is in her spirituality, her seeking for Truth beyond all truths, no matter what the cost. A simple example to see is the continuing tradition of pilgrimage we see in every nook and corner of India. What is it that compels millions and millions of people to go on pilgrimages. And this tradition is there in EVERY religion, not just Hinduism. What is behind this? There can be many such examples that can give us clues to the answer. We just need to ask the questions in the Indian way, and look for answers in the Indian way. We can’t keep on applying Marxist stuff – oh all this religion is the opium of the masses – and all that and then say India doesn’t have a narrative of its own.

      About the Indian narrative, let me share one quote from some notes I once jotted down for a class I was teaching. I think I will at some point put together a post based on those notes. But for now, here is one quote that I think speaks of some distinguishing features of the Indian narrative –

      “For me, there is an Indian way of thinking. This way is not restricted to India, but we have better access to it than the West does. Our thinking is not logocentric and exclusive, but symbolic or inclusive. This has major implications on how the two civilizations evolve and develop. The West does through substitution. It rewrites itself again and again. The same fundamental text, at the source, seems to be rewritten again and again in new languages. India develops through accommodation. New ideas may supplant older ones, but the older ones linger on. They are allowed to co-exist with what is new….The West is literal-minded. India is metaphorical-minded. The West moves from the past to the future; India moves from the present to the present. To sum up, India represents a space in which certain life forms and life choices are available.” (Makaran Paranjpe, 1993, Decolonization and Development, Hind Swaraj Revisioned, p. 71).

      I am not saying this is the only way to understand the Indian narrative, but it could be one way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: India, Indology and Deep Colonialism (by Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay -Part 1) | matriwords

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