Monthly Archives: June 2014

Saamethalu (Telugu Proverbs) 2

Hello Everybody!! Here is the second installment in our series on Saamethalu. As we mentioned previously, Saamethalu are proverbs in the Telugu language. They communicate time-tested wisdom in the form of earthy, frequently poetic single line sayings. Here are some new ones I came across (I provided transliteration and translation below). Enjoy! 🙂

 

 Transliterations and Translations:

“Adusu thokkanela kaallu kadiginela”

Why step in mud then struggle to clean your feet later?

 

“Poruginti Pullakoora ruchey”

Neighbors curry tastes better [Meaning: grass is always greener]

 

“Adigeyvaadiki cheppeyvaadu lokuva”

The person who asks looks down on the person who tells [Meaning: people don’t show value to free advice]

 

“Andani draaksha pullanaa”

If we can’t reach the grapes, we tell ourselves they must be sour

 

“Adukku thineey vaadiki aravai aaru kooralu”

The beggar has 66 curries (i.e more variety because he begs from place to place)

[Meaning: It’s easier to beg than to earn]

 

“Anuvugaani chota adhikula manaraadhu”

We can’t rule what’s not possible to get

 

“Attha sommu alludu daanam chesinattu”

It’s easy to donate someone else’s money

 

“Anaga anaga raagam thinaga thinaga rogam”

If you eat too much, you become unwell [Meaning: taking too many freebies is not good ]

 

“Anumaanam praanasankatam”

Excessive suspicion can be dangerous

 

“Angitlo bellam, atmalo visham”

Be wary of sweet talkers for they may have poisonous souls

 

“Attha meedha kohpam dutta meedha chuppinattu”

Angry at someone else, so you take it out on lesser person

 

“Andharini meppichadam alavi kaani pani”

You can’t please everyone

 

“Adhrushtam cheppiraadhu, duradhrushtam cheppi podhu”

Good luck doesn’t announce itself, bad luck doesn’t leave quietly

 

“Attavaari aiswaryam kanna puttinti genji maylu”

In laws money is not worth even your own family’s broth

 

“Anda untey konda kadiginattey”

If you have support, you can clean (i.e. move) even mountains

 

 

Problem of Indians: Unrepentant Stupidity

At first glance, many of you may be taken aback by such a damning, and some would even say, questionable, assertion.

After all, aren’t Indians known for their intelligence? Aren’t we famous in the US as Silicon Valley “tech geniuses” and medical wizards? Aren’t many of us scoring off the IQ charts? Don’t we win Geography and Spelling Bees?

But the reality is there are many types of intelligence–even animals and robots now have some degree of intelligence and some types of intelligence. Nevertheless, the single most important type of material intelligence is strategic intelligence: raw ability to understand what happened, why it’s happening, and what one should do. And it is here that Indians (at least modern ones), fail miserably.

This, of course, is not the first time we have critiqued Indians (and as usual, Andhras represent exaggerated versions of both the best and worst qualities). We previously evaluated whether we were a Serious People, and then whether we were Talkers or Doers, but the reality is, the core problem of Indians is Unrepentant Stupidity. In this post, I will evaluate precisely why this is the case.

The prime reason for this disconnect is that mere acquisition of knowledge has become wisdom and accomplishment for our people. It’s as if this alone has become a substitute for actually doing. Winning all these math competitions or becoming exam toppers and getting into some “School from Phoreign” is akin to a monkey or poodle performing a trick on command. That is the problem with our parents today: Instead of raising wise men and women, they are raising poodles that they can showcase to make their frenemies jealous–all while their enemies plot against them and their civilization.

But the end goal of education is not a poodle. Rather, as a certain former resident of Anantapur district said, “The end goal of education is character”. What we choose to or choose not to do in this world. The knowledge that we gain is ultimately lost—all that echoes in eternity is our action.

Thus, thought without righteous action is not character, but our stupidity is so great, we don’t realize this.

Our stupidity is so great we talk more than we think, and we think the mere reading of a book or copying and pasting from an article is the attainment of knowledge. We think knowledge means intelligence, and intelligence is wisdom.

Our stupidity is so great facts can stare us in the face time and again and we’ll still fall back to emotional reaction  rather than an educated basis for argument and problem solving. Rather than reevaluating our previous views, in irrational prickliness, we hold onto them even stronger and without providing logical reason– as though letting go of an obsolete/invalid view would somehow undercut our fashionability or negate all our previous posturing (a commenter graciously acted out this role for us recently).

Our stupidity is so great we think our friends are our enemies and our enemies are our friends. We engage in fratricidal disputes to split already meager inheritances, while enemies smilingly wait to mop up the mess. We think the enemy is genuinely seeking to further our ambitions in the name of friendship, when he is merely acting with diplomacy (which is the art of letting someone else have Your way).

Our stupidity is so great, when the enemy declares exactly what he is about and what he intends to do, we think we can rely on our shopkeeper skills to negotiate our way out. We think that through some too cute by half rhetorical gymnastics, some last minute lungi dance will be enough to save our skin. But we forget that,”Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

The worst part is, Indians aren’t even apologetic, circumspect, or reflective about this ignorance. Even when the stupidity has been diagnosed and confirmed, they will arrogantly and petulantly declare “Are you saying I am moron (sic)?!” “Nuv evuru ra?!” “Who do you think you are?”, “Yes, that is how we do it!“.

Where does this undeserving entitlement come from??? Why this stubborn unrepentance?? Many don’t even feel bad about it, but practically bask in it, or hide behind fancy degrees, as if the brand name university alone conveys competence and intelligence.

Oh yes, we may have a “wily Amar Singh” here or a “clever KCR” there, but this is the low cunning of nimrods who think they are big deal guys when in reality they are buffoons. They are called smart because they gain today by losing (or more specifically, selling out) tomorrow. People forget what ultimately happened to Amar Singh—he was used as a money man in 2009 and then disposed—ejected from the very party he helped build. And there is no reason to think the same won’t happen to KCR as CM.

The recent alliance between the TRS and MIM is emblematic of this mind-numbing stupidity. The party of Razakars which committed untold atrocities against Telangana men and women in the lead up to liberation in 1948 is not only influencing government policy, it is changing logos, and seeking to marginalize and eventually displace Telugu with Urdu.

People may say “oh well, KCR knows how to keep them on leash”, “he is running the show”, but historically speaking, the Maharajah of Mysore famously promoted Hyder Ali in the name of fighting his enemies. But what ultimately happened? Hyder Ali ultimately used his military position to gain power—the Maharajah ruled only in name…

Thus, ultimately what does it matter that you have a 180 IQ, memorized the four Vedas, or are a chess grandmaster—did Chess Champion Gary Kasparov defeat Vladimir Putin or was it the other way around?

Worst of all is this Dhritarashtra, “pohnley paapam” approach parents take with their kids. Ee pohnley paapam tho chastunaamu.Parents don’t have the moral courage to correct their children’s stupidity and then whine about the disastrous end product.

Pohnley paapam tho brathukuthey, manam paapam loney padtaamu (consider that your saametha for the week).

Parents or not, we then get outraged by the fact that someone actually tried to give us advice. Some even have reached a level of malice where they habitually teach people lessons for no reason other than their own malice. Rather than trying to teach others a lesson, teach yourself a lesson in humility by learning the value of “Shut up”

The Value of “Shut up”

The rapid-fire hysteria that possesses Indians when their conceits or even passing assumptions are challenged by anyone held in anything less than absolute adoration, is astonishing.

Rather than trying to hear and digest what the other party is, or at least ending with “that is my opinion” and agree to disagree, there’s an immediate and uncontrollable urge to debate to oblivion. It’s as if our greatest fears will be realized if the other side doesn’t concede and agree to exactly what we think. It doesn’t matter whether or not we ourselves have examined the view—or even studied the subject matter in depth—they have to accept—otherwise, “ZOMG!!!, our fear!!!“Broader strategic alliance is forgone for immediate but minor differences in opinion.

 Rather than spending years understanding an area—the bits and pieces of received wisdom are congealed to create a walking moron of heuristics. Instead of firmly establishing views on logic—logic is contorted to fit the view. And the frenetic, even nervous, energy is fired off in a machine gun burst of buffoonery.

If someone points this out, then our beloved Indians burst out in an inane babble of “you are saying I am moron (sic)” –well you would have to be, wouldn’t you?

 Think, adjust your views as needed, and even modify your approach to new actors and new information—this is called strategy. If you don’t do this, then yes, “you are moron”.

Unfocused babble is not the means for civilized discourse or conversation, and simply repeating the past is not a strategy for victory. Victory is not determined by who fought the bravest, or was thought to be the most knowledgeable, but by whomever defeated the strategy of his adversary. So don’t proudly say you have “no knowledge whatsoever” in an area. If you don’t, then shut up and learn. Shutting up doesn’t mean you agree. It just means that you had the good sense to shut up…and LISTEN!!!

 “What is this Shtupidity”

Stupidity amongst Indians comes in many forms. The first is the inability to distinguish between poodle showmanship on exams and real intelligence.

Recitation of pointless facts and memorization of mantra is meaningless if you can’t protect those you love and perform your duty to them. Real intelligence refers to the ability to make the logical connections necessary to determine what is needed to preserve what matters. What is the point of your upanishadic knowledge if you don’t know how to save your land and women? For a Rajput, his honor was based on safeguarding his sword, his horse, and his womenfolk–the House of Mewar safeguarded all three. So if you call yourself a real man, remember that a real man is not determined by how many women he”scored with” or what his bank balance is, but by his will to stand up to fight for what he believes in and protect those for whom he is responsible.

Stupidity, on the other hand, misses the woods for the trees. It focuses on irrelevant minutiae, ignoring the broader patterns and strokes. In the process, it forgets right from wrong, and necessity from nice-to-have–thereby putting all at risk, in the name of its recalcitrance and false ego.

Stupidity also extends to foolhardiness, after all, it is not for nothing that they say that discretion is the better part of valor, and that there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity. It is also no coincidence that Odysseus survived the Trojan War and rescued his wife, and Achilles did not. Getting worked up into a fit of hyper-emotionalism due to some stupid movie that became fashionable (despite how it easily collapses under the scrutiny of logic) accomplishes nothing. Even worse is watching openly stupid, nonsensical movies that rot our brains (sorry Khiladi bhai, I’m a long-time fan, but you have so much more potential than this).

But the single-worst form of stupidity that plagues Indians today  is pointless malice and baseless jealousy, resulting in infighting. Andhras appears to have cornered the market here too, with the recent fight to split their state. In fact, it is often said that Maharishi Viswamitra cursed his 100 sons (who became the Andhras) to suffer from fratricidal infighting…sadly, it appears the tradition continues…If you take one thing from this article, hell, even the entire blog, it’s to stop picking avoidable fights with members of your own team.

You don’t have to agree with everything they say, or can even respectfully debate with them, but for God’s sake, stop airing out such disputes publicly and tearing down someone you feel is eclipsing you. If they are older, learn from them; if they are the same age as you, admire them and compete with them(in a friendly fashion that doesn’t tear them down) , or team up with them (if you can’t beat them, join them);and if they are younger than you, advise or encourage them. And if you absolutely 100% can’t get along with them, ignore them. It’s not hard guys. Indians have enough enemies, we don’t need more egotistical Jaichand’s who destroy the cause due to their own ambition and ahankaram.

 Indians could perhaps be forgiven for their gullibility, which time and again has been their undoing. After all, a civilization that posits truth above all, can’t be entirely faulted for believing others will keep their word or represent themselves truthfully. But what cannot be forgiven is refusing to learn from history. Time and again, the stubborn refusal to remember the lessons of the past, comes back to bite them. It’s as if Indians bask in this apoplectic amnesia. “Marchi po!”, “Bhool Ja!”. But that’s not a recipe for serious people, that’s a recipe for drunks…

For those of you who want to play “secular” with the mim

And for God’s sake, enough with this cine-obsession! Truly obsessed. Why do you care so much about who said what about your favorite star? Are they real life heroes who will beat up anti-nationals when they come after you? Chances are that when things get rough, they will be the first to relocate to Singapore, London, or Toronto. Same goes for politicians. After all, we all know who was partying at a farmhouse when Mumbai was under attack.

The origin of this stupidity however is the inability to focus. When the monkey mind is unrestrained, and hyper-actively driven to swing from mental vine to mental vine, it’s time to learn how to focus. In fact, Swami Vivekananda himself stated that the ability to concentrate is greater than actual knowledge. This is because the ability to focus in a disciplined fashion allows us to not only absorb knowledge, but also process it faster and better.

How to Stop being Stupid

Before we begin, please give yourself a firm slap across the face, so that you will remember the need to stop being stupid.  You’ll never remember the lesson if you don’t chastise yourself for prior stupidity.

The first step for Indians to come out of their mess (to some degree self-inflicted) is to self-diagnose this stupidity and accept it.

The cure is to follow a prescription of consistent and continuing doses of our Culture. Culture—real culture, not the chest-thumping, hot air gassing “kulchhar” of buffoons—will open our eyes, discipline us, and teach us about ourselves and our history.

Why is this important? If we don’t know what happened, we don’t know where we’re from. And if we don’t know where we’re from, we don’t know where we’re going. And to do nothing about it?—well folks, that’s effectively the definition of stupidity.

Second, as explained above, learn the value of “Shut up”.

Just read the comments of an R.Sowiyal and associates in this article. Instead of engaging with the wisdom of what the writer is communicating, the bozos are referencing– in a fit of irrational sentiment–irrelevant filmy songs that have nothing to do with anything. Rather than analyzing what is being said, a continuous bout of verbal diarrhea is projected. Thus, to counter this stupidity, Indians first need to know the value of shutting up (no one does this better than the Chinese). It is not for nothing that there is a saying “Better to be thought a fool and keep silent, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”. Indians are experts at removing all doubt. They need to know the value of shutting up—and where and when to do this.

What’s more, even our most celebrated strategists routinely miss severe dangers—off fighting the battles that they want to rather than the ones they need to. When this devastating propaganda campaign was launched, not one of India’s major strategists organized an immediate counter in Indian and International newspapers. It took many days for a lame-duck NSA to make a mild, half-heated rebuttal that barely scratched the surface. It fell to a naturalized Indian of European background to point out the ramifications of this—not only on international perceptions but domestic perceptions as well. Thus, if Indians ever want to rid themselves of this perception of being children (yes, it’s there…) they need to first slap themselves across the face, stop being stupid, and start being serious. This means knowing when to shut up–and when not to shut up. This also leads to the third point.

Third, understand how to analyze the world and current events. Merely running around like a chicken with its head cut off won’t solve the problems of the state, country, or civilization. You have to act, but also act wisely. This means not operating on the basis of assumptions, but on the basis of reality. Understand what happened, why it’s happening, how it will affect you/your people, and think of what to do. This comes not only from studying history, but from studying our classics, like the Arthashastra and Hitopadesa. Even Sanskrit plays like Mudrarakshasa can help us better understand the interaction between countries and the games played by their leaders.

Fourth: DO!!! My God, sometimes I honestly wonder if Telugus aren’t the laziest people in the world when it comes to doing what matters. Oh sure, they will run like the wind if there’s food, money or some other immediate incentive involved, but ask for strategic action–or even a contribution to those engaging in efforts for the public good, and a strange antipathy develops in them. It’s as if anyone who asks for even a modicum of help, is somehow being bossy and overbearing. The smallest request becomes an Herculean, even Sisyphean labor that immediately renders them in a state of suspended animation. Remember that being part of a society, especially a republic, means that each individual has a duty to do, and good conduct  is premised on this.

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Fifth, don’t just do your duty–do it properly! Of late it has become fashionable for people say that one should only be concerned about duty and not be concerned about the outcome. They even misquote Sri Krishna on this, saying this comes from him, and completely misinterpret the Mahabharata and Dharma. But this is nonsense (half our problems come from half-wits misquoting our scriptures—even to support AAP…further emphasizing stupidity as the problem of Indians) . Krishna says

Phalesu, or phalam is not outcome, but fruit. Thus, while we should be concerned about  the outcome, we should not be concerned about the reward or benefits or fruits from this performance of duty. Merely mechanically doing one’s duty without aiming for victory is no way to protect Dharma. We should be concerned about this outcome (and ensure its harmony with Dharma), but if we, or even society, do not enjoy the fruits or even attain this victory, that is another matter. It is similar to studying for an exam. You have an obligation to study as best you can and hope for a good result–but your motivation should not be the new car your parents will buy if you get an “A”. Just as elders say, “if you did your best, that is all that matters”, so to should we think “I worked for the best outcome, but God will determine it and whether I receive fruits from it”…

Conclusions on Stupidity

So dear readers, understand that the best correction for stupidity is action, because stupidity doesn’t like Action, it prefers Reaction, because rather than strategizing, it is used to navel-gazing. Simply reading, talking, tweeting will accomplish nothing.

 When W.Bengal is in flames, when riots are taking place from UP to Hyderabad (not to mention from Kashmir to Kanyakumari), when entire states are being undemocratically divided, and water supplies dwindling, it is time to wake the hell up and do something constructive that will change things for the better. To sit and watch as your civilization fragments due to loss of culture, loss of ethics, and a myriad of threats is not only stupidity, it is downright treachery. It is not the time to Padutha Theeyaga, but the time to act, for this is the price of lazy pleasures and brainless inaction and these are the type of dangers that lay ahead.

It is almost trite now to say Vinasha kale vipareetha buddhi, but what else can explain such unrepentant, even congenital stupidity?

No, my brothers and sisters in Dharma. No more. Enough of this thoughtless addling through life. It is time to wake up and reclaim your birthright with seriousness and strategy.

It is time to rise and break the shackles of helpless torpor. It is time to shake the gutless, knock sense into the brainless, punish the treacherous, and inspire the fearless.

 

Uttishta!

 

Gadwal Sarees

Uh oh, quite a bit of controversy these days not only in undivided Andhra, but on ACP 😯 . I will lighten the mood with everyone’s, ok we girls’ favorite topic, fashion! 😎

To recognize the birth this month of India’s 29th state, this week, I will continue  our multi-part Spotlight on Sarees from old Andhra with the fourth installment: Gadwal Sarees.

History

Gadwal

Gadwal Sarees are from the town of same name in Palamooru district (Mahbubnagar),  Telangana state. If Venkatagiri is luxurious and dignified, then Gadwal is the most impressive saree from Gulti-land. It’s considered a mark of high status.

The brocade weaving skills have been traced by some to Varanasi, though they are said to show no signs of the Banarasi style, and is considered authentically undivided Andhra.  While the cotton typically comes from Bangalore and the gold jari from Surat, it is pure Telangana and Telugu.

The colors are very unique (gacchakayyi rangu you don’t see anywhere–“neither green nor grey” color as shown by model above).

Varieties

Originally Cotton, Silk and SICO (silk-cotton mix) varieties have been introduced since.

The traditional cotton version had mulberry or tussar in the border, with unbleached cotton. This cotton variety is known to be very breathable, making it ideal for the hot summers of the South.

Older varieties show earth tones (like gacchakayyi above), but brighter contrasting colors are now becoming popular also.

Everyday and Party wear types of Gadwal are common, but it has long had a reputation as a Puja saree, due to being able to be classy, trendy, and traditional all at the same time!

Characteristics

It is known for a distinctive jari pattern. But it’s really weaving pattern of the body of the saree that stands out for its notable squares, created from “an interlocking weft-technique” known as Kuppadam. Motifs such as nemali (peacock) and rudraksa are also very common.

It is maintenance-heavy, as starch is required to retain its crisp look. Copper, silver, and gold tipped jaris are used.

The real genius of the saree is that it has a reputation for weavers to be able to take the full almost 6 meter long saree and fold it to the size of a matchbox!!

The most impressive saree of old Andhra rashtra, Telangana’s Gadwal gets the Velugu Thalli Stamp of approval!!!

Choodaganey Gadwal ani telusu

As soon as you see, You can tell it’s Gadwal!

 

References:

  1.  http://www.bharatplaza.com/gadhwal-saree.html
  2. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/300210/gorgeous-gadwal.html
  3. http://www.metromela.com/gadwal-sarees-6-yards-of-tradition/

Indians are Talkers not Doers

Let us face the facts, Indians are Talkers, not Doers. As usual, Andhras are the worst example of this.

We can talk for hours on end, over tea, over toddy, over tokkudu ladoo—but what does it matter, still we are stuck at square one. We complain about current events, we complain about family, we complain about how other people are better at things—but what do we actually do about it?

The enemy can declare his intentions, he can even begin subverting a government, he will even declare he has no obligation to secularism, but still our people will only talk

Our people are such pathetic talkers they will even continue just talking even after getting all enthused about doing. Hyperventilating in a paroxysm of excitement, the talk itself becomes cause for celebration. To them sloganeering and rhetoric or even reading alone = accomplishment…but they should remember that wasn’t the lesson of the Gita.

But why take my word, that of a mere mortal, when the greatest Karma Yogi of all Himself explained thus:


Famous Talkers who weren’t Doers

Since the dawn of history, India has had no shortage of talkers. In fact, Satyajit Ray famously directed a movie on our dreaming “Chess Players”:

Based on the novel by Premchand, this exquisite cinema demonstrated how many zamindars and rajas of the time famously talked and played petty games in their heads, instead of playing the real game of life.

Nehru

Debate Kashmir at the UN instead of liberating it? Silly Indians!

People may say Nehru was responsible for “building Modern India”, but compare him to Vallabhai Patel, and it is the ultimate study in contrasts of talking versus doing. In one particular story, Nehru famously droned on and on, waxing verbosely on this and that while Kashmir was being invaded by a Pakistani tribal army, when an impatient Sardar finally interrupted and said “Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir or not?”. It was the Iron man who advocated for quick action, gained the instrument of Kashmir’s accession, and sent troops to defend J&K. It was this same Sardar Patel who saved traditional Telugu land (what is now Telangana state) from the grip of Rizvi and his Razakars, while Nehru’s talking and dithering nearly led to a cancer in the belly of India.

Nevertheless, even the prolix Nehru failed to hold a candle against India’s most famous, or should I say infamous, talker of all time.

V.K.Menon

Vkkmenonfaintun.

The pompously self-important and unjustifiably arrogant V.K. Krishna Menon is without a doubt India’s worst defense minister of all time (though fellow Mallu A.K. Antony came perilously close).

Why does this man even have a statue? His most “impressive accomplishment” was famously (infamously?) giving an 8 hour speech at the UN Assembly. Just what was he hoping to accomplish with this nonsense?! In fact, he more than anyone else represents this disease of chat-alysis that plagues our people. Had he spent less time talking and insulting India’s generals and more time preparing for inevitable hostilities against Mao, perhaps India might not have been humiliated in the 1962 War.

So we know Indians are talkers rather than doers, but why is this the case?

The problem with habitual talkers is that they are so caught up in their own assumptions and rationalization, that they fail to realize that somebody actually has to implement.  Worst of all, by talking all the time (giving away their vulnerabilities to the enemy), they rarely know the value of silence.

Beyond not knowing the value of silence,however, a lesson that can be traced back to the Panchatantra (“Silence is Golden”), there are certain characteristics of the Modern Indian that stand out:

Lack of focus/seriousness

The Chetan Bhagat and Happy Days approach to problem solving may make life seem straightforward, but the reality is, the issues of the world cannot be solved with a simple song, poem, or thought. Furthermore, as Krishnarjun gaaru wrote in his excellent piece on Dharmanomics, far too many NRIs rely on mindless application of B-school frameworks. It must be recalled that irrespective of how well-intentioned many of these people may be, surface level analysis simply won’t cut it. And it should also be remembered that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

Furthermore, we consider talking or tweeting itself some sort of accomplishment. Rather than launching a successful institution or organization, we judge our success by the number of followers or facebook “likes” we get.

Additionally, our Twitterati style themselves as unquestionable Gyaanis. They imagine themselves doing a global service with their peer-edited encyclopedia pontification–because you see, copying and pasting something one doesn’t understand in order to sound profound is a productive and meaningful use of everyone’s time…

Worst of all, is the modern Indian approach to debating. The Children of Adi Sankara, Mandana Misra, and Ubhaya Bharata have fallen far from the tall tree of those days. To the modern (“Global”) Indian, debating is a means to entertainment (“arey time pass, yaar“) rather than ascertaining truth. Ironically, the idea of ascertaining the truth is at the very heart of the definition of the word dialectics.

Jealousy

The famed Indian crab-mentality is without equal in this world.

If we can’t get it, do it, or benefit from it, we’ll be damn certain no one else can. We go to great lengths to tear down our own people. Andhras, of course, are the most famous at this–a characteristic likely dating back to Maharishi Viswamitra‘s curse that his sons (who became the Andhras) be afflicted with perpetual infighting. This was seen again and again with the Rachakonda Rajas, the Araveedus, and the Madurai Nayaks.

However, one of the great tragedies in Medieval Indian history was not so much the obvious (Turk atrocities on civilians) or the oft-mentioned (destruction of Somnath), but rather, the little-known (Lahore). The great city of Lavanapura had an ancient lineage that dates back to the Ramayana. While it had eventually been taken by the Ghaznavids, it  came tantalizingly close to be recaptured by the Rajputs.

Indeed, while the current historical paradigm is slowly reconciling itself to the stout resistance to and even roll-back of invaders (courtesy of India’s Kshatriya houses as evidenced by the Battles of Rajasthan and Bahraich), less but steady light is now being shed on efforts at reconquest. The most notable of these efforts took place once the Ghaznavid invasions had been halted. In fact, the fractious Rajput clans actually invested the city of Lahore (then under Turkic) rule. Just as the city was on the verge of recapture, however, the squabbling Rais and Rajas called off the nearly successful siege. Why you ask? Not because of Turk reinforcements, or issues back home, but because they couldn’t agree on which petty ruler would keep the city. This crab mentality is emblematic of the costs of short-sightedness.

Selfishness

Everybody wants to be the big deal guy. More tragically, this is not even a question of being the best among peers, as our people are terrible at merely encouraging the next generation of talent. Even if there is no interest or the person seems rather naive, young people must at least be encouraged. But no–our gyaanis are far too concerned with advancing their own immediate agenda and preserving their cloistered little worlds of privilege. After all, God forbid anyone else outshines them.

The Madurai Nayaks are perhaps the most tragic example of this. At a time when the Vijayangara empire was in its greatest need, rather than coming to the aid of Raya, they actively encouraged the Bijapur and Golkonda rulers to invade. Why, you ask?–in the hopes that these self-same petty rulers could selfishly rule without Imperial overlord. But you see, this is the price such selfishness–because these same rulers stupidly dug their own graves, as the very sanguinary potentates they treacherously encouraged eventually turned on them and extinguished their piddly dynasty.

This is the cost of Ambition. Ambition is nothing more than burning a picture to collect the ashes.

Sometimes this selfishness also masquerades in the guise of selflessness. Those very men who pass themselves off as “men of conscience” are simply looking for excuses not to act–either out of attachment to their friends/loved ones, or even to a deluded idea.

 

Delusion

Sab kuch chalta hai

Let them bark! Who cares!

and WORST OF ALL: “Someone else will do it” or its latest incarnation (“Acche din aanewale hai!“)

In a previous piece I wrote at length about how moha is attachment rooted in the mistaken thinking that we are the body. But moha is also pure delusion–or stupidity. In nowhere in the world is this characteristic greater than in India.

 Mindlessly repeating “acche din aanewale hai’ like a parrot, won’t make it so. Even the most patriotic politicians can only do so much and have their own constraints. This slogan cannot be seen as some magic “mantra” that will free you of your cares  so you can go back to playing in your irrelevant, and eminently un-serious world.

The cult of personality must cease henceforth. We all sit around hoping for a Shri Ram or Shivaji , but they had their lieutenants and allies to help them too. Most of all, they built/maintained institutions that recognized and rewarded loyalty and talent. You too must do your part as well, as Ram Raj was not built in a day .

You must do your part. No one is saying you have to take a vow of celibacy and become a new Adi Sankara, but for God’s sake, do your fair share to contribute to the civilizational cause…even 15 minutes a day learning/teaching dharma, preserving/building from/beautifying our samskruthi(i.e. Artist Keshav), or at the very least, support those who do (and keep your word). Above all, you must pay attention!—because even the best intentioned can still make mistakes.

Worse, there are others who weren’t even concerned about the past election, and feel no concern about the state of affairs and the barbarians within and without.

Why would this happen?—this is all in past! Think of future!

Arey this is new era, we are new generation!!

Be progressive! Be Human first–why should we care of these regressives!!”

You should care, dummy, because this is what Razakars and Pakistanis did, this is what they are doing, and this is what they are planning to do. So wake the hell up and get your stuff together, you lazy bag of bones!

When our alliances mean nothing, when our promises mean nothing,when our actions equal nothing, then not only do you not have the right to complain, you don’t even have the right to talk…because your inaction, dereliction of duty, and even criminal negligence is the reason why your enemy gets stronger by the day in your own backyard.

…but yes, do go back to raving about how “Pawan is God”, how you are a Mahesh bhakt, or how your particular “caste is shupremely powerful”…just remember to fold your chairs and turn off the lights when the enemy comes to carve you up…

Knowledge without strategy is fecklessness, Strategy without knowledge is foolery. Action without aim is witlessness, Talk without action is buffoonery.

But for those of you who still do have some sense, who recognize that thinking and talking must be followed up with action, remember this wisdom. And if you yourself do not have the time to facilitate positive change, at least learn from those who do and support them:

Introducing New Blogger: Mahamaya

Fig1 BuddhaBrot fractal an illustration of dependent origination, what appears to be a structure that appears to have a form   actually is a fractal a recursive functional  dependent structure.

Hi. I am Mahamaya. I am an aerospace engineer. I live in NY for now, but brought up in Hyderabad. My parents are from West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. My blogging interests include philosophy, physics (there is a link between the two 🙂 ), beauty of Andhra, and current events. My first post will be on philosophy and begins with a story.

On coming to know that an Indian Buddhist teacher is visiting his kingdom, Wu, the king of Southern kingdom of China, invited the Indian monk to his court. Wu showcased his benevolence towards his subjects and asked Bodhidharma the Indian teacher, how much merit he had gained through his acts of benevolence. On hearing Bodhidharma replied “No merit what so ever”, on hearing the king thundered, “who is that speaking to me thus?” to which Bodhidharma answered “I don’t know”. Interestingly with just three words, Bodhidharma had explained the essence of Buddhism to the king, yet king Wu couldn’t realize nor was he able to comprehend that what Bodhidharma had just said was one of the profound concepts of Buddhism – Sunyata.

Existence and Sunyata are duals in dharmic darshanas. Both form one of the main pillars of dharmic darshanas.  Suffering and pain, ubiquitous in life, motivated dharma masters like  Buddha and Adi Shankara and many others to understand the nature of oneself. This inquiry led to distinct trajectories of thought which formed Buddhist and Sanaata Dharmic darshanas.

In the case of Buddhist schools, the sriti-dristi gaze turned to proclaim that one doesn’t exist, that there is no actor behind the doing, that there is no thinker behind the thinking, that everything is void. Another way of stating the same is through dependent arising. Since one has no independent existence, one exists only because of the other. This is also called conditioned existence. Even though many in the West misunderstand and misinterpret this as nihilistic, the great Andhra Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna explains how this is erroneous:

 Objector: If all this void, then there would be no creation or destruction?

Nagarjuna : If all this weren’t void then there would be no creation or destruction.[1]

Thus emptiness or voidness far from being nihilistic is the basis for relative existence. Because Buddhist darshanas find no concrete objects to grasp but are only “shadows of shadows” as put by Sakyamuni Buddha, one’s own mind becomes the instrument of cognition, therefore they contend that one’s own intellect is enough to know dharma.

This view contradicts astikas’ view point, where in they use the same sristidristi gaze to proclaim the supremacy of the Vedas and that there can no other authority to know dharma and this position is vehemently is defended by Mimamsakas like Kumarila Bhatta, who forms a formidable defense in Slokavartika to invalidate the Buddhist stand. Interestingly shunyavada or maya is similar in both the traditions, each essentially talks about the impermanence of the self and non existence of it in the former case, but the reasons they propound are completely different reasons and understanding.

Sakyamuni Tathagata Buddha first laid the foundation of sunyata when he expounded on “self” and showed that the 5 aggregates  (form, sensation, perception, volition, discernment) have no basis for one’s existence to his disciples. If one has to understand sunyata, it is imperative that one first understands the concept of perception, which forms the bedrock of sunyata as will be described later.

Sunyata which perplexed many a westerner posits that anything and everything has no real basis of existence what so ever and that the cognition of a particular is only transitory at best. Because nothing actually has a real existence, one’s suffering is due to false apprehension of the self which has no real existence than of a dependent arising through apprehension of aggregates which depend on particular basic elements, thus lacking a real self . Because nothing has an existence and exists of its own, one falsely assumes that one exists and this false understanding leads one to cling to certain vairagyas and vasanas making one bound to the karmic cycle of rebirths as dictated by the 12 steps of conditioned genesis.

In the case of Buddhist schools, the sriti-dristi gaze turned to proclaim that one doesn’t exist, that there is no actor behind the doing, that there is no thinker behind the thinking, that everything is void. Even though many a western misunderstand and misinterpret this as nihilistic, the great  Madhyamika teacher, Najarguna explains how such thinking is erroneous.

To understand Sunyata or even to understand why Vedas weren’t considered pramaana (basis or recognized source) for dharma by the Buddhist schools, and to understand how Kumarila Bhatta trounced Buddhist philosophers like Dinnaga and Dharmakirti, one must first understand Perception. Perception as the basis of pramaana forms the basic thrust of these philosophers. The Buddhist and Vedic epistemological positions of Buddhist philosophers like Nagarjuna, Dinnaga, Dharmakirti to that of Mimamsakas like Kumarila Bhatta is very subtle and yet very profound that one is left mesmerized at the depth of their respective positions. Concept of sunyata as well as the Mimamsakas upholding the supremacy of Vedas depends on the proper understanding of pramaana perception.

Epistemological underpinnings of Sunyata

Buddhist and Vedic philosophers dealt with the proper definition and what forms the basis for perception. Perception can be either conceptual or non-conceptual. In the former case, conceptualized perception can be understood as cognition of an object and identifying the object as this particular type or that having specific attributes and properties.

On the other hand, non-conceptualized perception is when there the perception is not of that object that is present, but an image of the object formed in one’s mind or can also be a yogic experience, but never the object that is present. The whole edifice of Buddhist thought rests on the argument that perception is non-conceptual. And because of the Buddha’s understanding of the self negates any real existence in the five aggregates, Buddhists understanding of perception requires that the perception be non-conceptual in nature. Dinnaga and later Dharmakirti expand this stand. Since cognition is always non-conceptual according to them, object cognized as such are mere images in the mind apparatus. Since this perception is that of an image of a real object, but never the object , what is perceived and apprehended is a non-conceptual in nature.

Dinnaga reduced the number of genuine pramaanas to perception and inference, for him, perception and inference don’t apprehend the same object. Perception apprehends a concrete particular while inference apprehends universals, which are not  real but imaginary, that is, mentally constructed. Thus for Dinnaga perception is a cognition devoid of conceptual construct. Secondly, perception need not arise from the contact of a sense faculty with an object, that means that the object that appears in a perpetual cognition may not be external physical object,  but in fact a merely a form of which itself becomes aware[2].

Dharmakirti who gave commentaries to the work of Dinnaga expanded and fortified the concept of non-conceptual perception. According to Dharmakirti, something is real if it is capable of causing a certain effect – pleasure or pain, the realization of some purpose. This pertains to the svalaksana, the momentarily existing, concrete object, an aggregate of atoms, which is initially manifest to us as a bare sensum or more precisely, a series of which- we then interpret as a single, conventional object- a pot, a chair, a human and so forth. It is not the conventional object, itself a kind of universal, which we imagine as an enduring object possessed of certain properties[2]. Thus true perception of true is “without conceptual construction”. Dharmakirti’s critique of conceptualized perception can be summarized in 3 main points:

I. Conceptualized perception is not caused by the object as there is a delay after the initial contact of the sense faculty with the object before the conceptualized perception arises. Moreover, memory intervenes that means that what the mind apprehends is not the object but its image.
II. It is self evident that perception is devoid of conceptual construction.
III. Object of perception is generally recognized as being a particular. Words, however, apply to universals, hence it cannot be a true perception.

As one can see from above definition the emergence of contours which form the basis of Buddhist philosophy of Maya/Sunyata/emptiness. On the onset, it appears as if the Buddhist masters built a formidable defense of sunyavada canon. Because perception forms the basis of one’s existence they argued, an object exists only when it is perceived, but what is inferred is not the object but the image, an universal not a particular. And since universals are aggregates made of basic elemental building blocks, one grasps a mere universal image not particular, therefore, objects are objects that which lack a real existence whatsoever. And because of this voidness, it is nothing but foolishness to hold on to objects as if they are real, being aggregates they lack an identity as the mind perceives.

How Kumarila Bhatta demolishes this defense is will be the subject of perhaps another article. He nevertheless demolishes, and reestablishes the preeminence of Vedas as the sole pramaana of dharma and that one’s intellect is incapable of grasping the dharma.

References:

1. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture by Vimalakirti, Robert A.F.    Thurman Aug  2003

2. Hindu Critique of Buddhist Epistemology by John Taber 2005