The following Post was composed by £avanya garu. You can follow her on Twitter.
On average everyone has been into social media for the past 5-6 years. We have seen everything from Desktop sites to android apps, and many people with different mentalities.
And now – What was your first thought if I ask you this question:“tell me in one line what is social media” to you ?
Okay everyone has their own answers now. But I am damn sure nothing related to country and patriotism. Is that not true?—at least, for the majority of you?
Sometimes I wonder..okay let me be more specific, every year in August I wonder why there won’t be any major trends until the great day, August 15th, arrives.
All the year, 24/7, we see trends on movies, actors, political scams, or politically biased views by journos. Most of the trends based on love and hatred, either-or, yes-no, left-right…everything except right-wrong. But not even a meaningful, two day trend on our country… I wonder, nearly 200 years of our Indian struggles, and not one even eligible to be remembered and spoken about for a week at least?
India Independence is not a simple history subject to be remembered at exams or on just Independence day – it’s a freedom we are enjoying everyday with every breath!!
But here no one speaks, or no one trends, or not even tweets single hashtags. Leave aside the common man, not even self-attested “intellectual” journos or celebrities. There are lot more topics to spread. There are many leaders to be praised to remind us of their struggles to bring back our beautiful rich country that once was.
Hopefully a single post or single tweet per day is not so tough a task to anyone who visits and spends time in social media everyday.
I assume there is a problem with our education system too in this particular topic. Patriotism is something to be taught from childhood as a subject. There is much more to teach than just Gandhi & Nehru dynasty in English subjects. And finally just assembling on Independence Day, and declaring holiday by giving chocolates to children, is not enough either. Technology brought many changes in society. And I thinkits time to change education system of India too.
Coming back to point: Using social media once in a while for good is definitely not a bad idea, friends. We have many browsing sites which gives us information on our fingertips…such as this one!
Patriotism is not just showing up one day; it’s a feeling that should be in our heart, every minute of our heartbeat.
Even we know that trends on silly things like actors or movies are in no way useful to our career or life. And politics are always politics. They became part of our awareness about what’s happening. My opinion does not mean to stop everything and to hold the flag and carry everyday. Just start reading about our freedom fighters or even people today doing good things for the country rather than for the camera . There are not only just fighters, there are leaders and inspirational people who can guide us in our day-to-day lives for good.
I just want to say that –
Social media is a powerful tool which can do good and bad, at our fingertips. Try to use for good. Try to use it responsibly to spread information that might be useful instead of only fun. There are many people doing useful things who need our support now, as they may not be around later. Even if you can’t do something big for Bharat, help those who are!
If you appreciate and Like my idea of posting, hope to see many stories of great freedom fighters in social media this August.
Happy Independence day to every Indian! JAI BHARAT!
Continuing our Coverage of Pandit Kota Venkatachalam’s work is an excerpt of his Telugu book on The Andhras, called Andhrulu evaru? (“Who are the Andhras?”). In the previous installment on ACP, we reviewed the preface written by the famous poet Sri Viswanatha Satyanarayana for Pandit Venkatachalam‘s book “The Plot in Indian Chronology”. We also discussed how there are many, even today, who are corrupting what our traditional textsactual said about the History of Ancient Indians and even the Identity of Andhras.
If the archaeological evidence and even texts have been tampered with by Scientism advocates, how can we scientifically arrive at the truth? That is the value of tradition.It is a one thing to take everything at face value, and it is another thing to study our tradition and then use scientific inquiry to confirm what it says. Rather than 1 or the other, both can be helpful in ensuring the Truth—the Real Truth—is determined.
Here is what an actual Pandit, learned and qualifiedto interpret our Vedas and Puranas, actually wrote. Sri Kota Venkatachalam’s own English translation is provided below [Emphasis and proofing ours].
The following Post was originally Published at True Indian History on June 21, 2009
సృష్ట్యాదియందు “ఆర్యజాతి” తప్ప వేరుజాతి లేదు. ఆర్యులు భారతవర్ష మంతటను వ్యాపించి నివసించియుండిన కాలములో నాయా దేశభాగములను పరిపాలించిన రాజుల పేరున ఆయా దేశములు పిలువబడినవి. అట్టి దేశములలో నివసించిన ప్రజ లాయాదేశనామములచే పిలువబడ జొచ్చిరి. అట్లు పిలువబడిన పేర్లతో వారే వేరువేరు జాతులుగా గుర్తింపబడి యుండిరి.
ఆర్యులు దేశవ్యాప్తము నొంది నివసించియుండిన పిమ్మట ఒకానొకకాలమున తూర్పుభారతవర్షము “ప్రాచ్యక దేశ” మనిపేరు గలిగి “బలి” యనెడి రాజుచే పరిపాలింపబడుచుండినది. ఆతని కుమారులా దేశమును విభాగించుకొని తమ పేర్లతో నా దేశభాగములకు పేరులుపెట్టి యేలిరి. వారిలో “ఆంధ్రరాజు” పరిపాలించిన భాగమునకు “ఆంధ్రదేశ”మని పేరు పెట్టబడినది. ఆ దేశమున నివసించుచుండిన చాతుర్వర్ణ్య ఆర్య ప్రజలు నా దేశముపేరున “ఆంధ్రులు” అని పిలువబడిరి. ఆర్యజాతియే ఆంధ్రజాతి యని పిలువబడినది. అది వేరుజాతి కాదు. ఆంధ్రుల పుట్టుపూర్వోత్తరములలో సృష్ట్యాదినుండి “ఆంధ్రు”లను పేరు వచ్చువఱకు ఆంధ్రుల చరిత్ర ఆర్యుల చరిత్రయే గాని వేఱు కాదు. అందువలన సృష్ట్యాది లగాయతు ఆంధ్రుల చరిత్ర ఆర్యుల పేరుమీదనే చెప్పబడును. దానిని ఆంధ్రుల చరిత్రగానే తీసికొనవలయునుగాని అది ఆంధ్రుల కంటె వేఱుగాగల ఆర్యుల చరిత్ర యని భ్రమించకూడదు. ‘ఆంధ్రులు’ ఆర్యులేగాని యితరులు కారు. ఒకేజాతివారు ప్రారంభములో “ఆర్యు”లనియు, కొంతకాలమునకు వారే “ఆంధ్రు”లనియు పిలువబడిరి. వారు రెండు జాతులవారు కారు. ఏకజాతీయులైయున్నారు. ఇదేప్రకారము భారతవర్షములోని వివిధ రాష్ట్రములయందు నివసించెడి ఆర్యులును ఆయా దేశనామములచే వివిధ శాఖలుగానై వివిధ జాతులుగా పరిగణింపబడుచుండిరి. కాని ఆసేతుహిమాచలముగా గల ఆర్యులందరు ఏకజాతీయులైన ఆర్యులే యైయున్నారు. ఈవిషయము మనసునందుంచు కొని ఈ గ్రంధమును (కోట వెంకటా చెలం గారి ఆంధ్రుల పుట్టుపూర్వోత్తరములు) చదివిన “ఆంధ్రుల పుట్టుపూర్వోత్తరము” లేవియో వివరముగా సృష్ట్యాదినుండియు తెలియగలవు.
ఒక దేశముయొక్క గాని, జాతియొక్క గాని చరిత్ర వ్రాయుటకు ప్రాచీనకాలమునుండి వచ్చు చుండిన సంప్రదాయముగాని లేక వ్రాతమూలకమైన పూర్వచరిత్రగాని ఆధారముగా నుండవలెను. అట్టిదేమియు లేక కేవలమొక మనుష్యుని యొక్క ఊహలు, కల్పనలు, నమ్మకములు, సంభావ్యతలు మొదలగువానితో వ్రాయబడినది సత్యమైన చరిత్రలు కాజాలవు. అవి కల్పనాకథ లనిపించుకొనును.
ఏదియో యొక వార్తను విని దానిని తనయూహలతోను, కల్పనలతో డను పెంచి ప్రస్తుతము తన యనుభవములో గల యొక విషయమున కదుకుపెట్టి తాను మొదట వినిన వార్త యొక్క యథార్థ చరిత్ర యిదియేయని గ్రంథములల్లి లోకములో ప్రకటించినంతమాత్రమున అది యథార్థ చరిత్ర యనిపించుకొనదు. అది చరిత్రకు ద్రోహము చేయుట యగును. ఇప్పుడు పాశ్చాత్య ప్రాచ్య చరిత్రకారులచే వ్రాయబడిన ఆధునిక భారతదేశ చరిత్రలనున్న వన్నియు వారివారి యూహా కల్పితములై యున్నవి. అందు సత్య మావంతయును కానరాదు.
మానవజాతి మధ్యా సియాయందు పుట్టి భూగోళమంతటను వ్యాపించిన దనెడి వాదము పాశ్చాత్య చరిత్రకారుల యూహాపోహలతో కల్పింపబడినది గాని దానికి పూర్వ చరిత్రాధార మేమియు లేదు. ఒక చరిత్రకారుని యూహ మరియొక చరిత్రకారుని యూహకు ప్రమాణమై తాము ముందుగా నిర్ణయించుకొనిన యొక నిర్ణయమున కనుకూలముగా నుండునట్లు పర్యవసానము తేల్చబడి లోకమున ప్రచారము చేయబడినది. చిరకాలము వినగావినగా అదియే సత్యమైన చరిత్ర యని లోకులు భ్రమించి దాని ననుసరించి చరిత్రలు వ్రాసికొనుచుండిరి. పాశ్చాత్యులచే వ్రాయబడిన అట్టి కల్పితకథలే భారతదేశ చరిత్రకాధారభూతమై తదనుసారముగా నాధునిక చరిత్రలు వ్రాయబడి మనకు పాఠాశాలలలో నేర్పబడుచున్నవి. వీనిని విసర్జించి మనము మనవాఙ్మయాదుల ననుసరించి యథర్థాచరిత్రలనువ్రాసికొనుట అత్యావశ్యకము.
ఇప్పటి సృష్ట్యాదియందు ప్రకృతినుండి స్వాభావికముగా పంచ భూతములును, అందు భూమినుండి ఓషదులును, ఓషధులనుండి సర్వ భూతకోటియు దేవమానవాదివర్గములు క్రమక్రమముగా నుద్భవించినవి. అందు మొదట వచ్చినది ప్రజాపతి. ఇతడు ప్రధమ ఆర్యుడని ఋగ్వేదము 4-26-2-2; 2-11-18 ఋక్కులయందు వినబడుచున్నది. ప్రధమ ఆర్యుడైన స్వాయంభువప్రజాపతి మానవసృష్టిని జేయబూని వసిష్టాదులైన పదిమంది ప్రజాపతులను(వీరికి దేవఋషులని పేరు) సృజించెను. పిమ్మట స్వాయంభువప్రజాపతి భూమి మీద మానవసృష్టిని జేయబూని భారతవర్షమునగల సరస్వతీ, ద్రుషద్వతీనదుల మధ్యస్థనమై భూమియందు ప్రధమమున నివసించి ‘శతరూప’ యను భార్యతో కలిసి ప్రియవ్రత, ఉత్తానపాదులనెడి ఇద్దరు కుమారులను, ఆకూతి, దేవహుతి, ప్రసూతు లనెడి ముగ్గురు కుమార్తెలను కనెను. అతడు ప్రధమమున నివసించిన భూమి “బ్రహ్మావర్త” మని పిలువబడుచున్నది.
మానవజాతి మొదట భారతదేశమునే యుత్పత్తిని బొందినది. ఇప్పుడు భారతదేశమునగల యమునానదికి పశ్చిమమున ‘సరస్వతీ’ నదియు, దానికి పశ్చిమమున ‘దృషద్వతి’ యనెడి దాని యుపనదియు నుండెడివి. ఈ సరస్వతీ, దృషద్వతి నదుల మధ్యగల ప్రదేశము ‘ బ్రహ్మవర్తమని ‘ అనాదికాలమునుండియు పిలువబడుచుండెడిది. ‘ బ్రహ్మవర్త ‘ మనగా బ్రహ్మ యను పేరుగల స్వాయంభువ ప్రజాపతి మానవజాతిని భూమి మీద నిలుపుటకు ఆదికాలమున స్థూల దేహధారియై నివసించిన స్థలము.
ప్రతిసృష్టియందును ఆదిమానవుడైన ‘ స్వాయంభువ ‘ ప్రజాపతి స్థూలదేహధారియై మానవసృష్టి నిమిత్త మెచ్చటావర్తమును బొందుచు నివసించుచుండునో అట్టి దేశము ” బ్రహ్మవర్తమని ” అనాదికాలము నుండియు దేవతలచే పిలువబడుచుండినది. ఋగ్వేదమున వినబడిన ” యోనిం దేవకృతం ” (ఋగ్వేదము 3-33-4) దేవతలచే చేయబడిన మానవజాతి జన్మస్థానము అనువాక్యమును మనువు తన మనుస్మృతి యందు ” తం దేవనిర్మితం దేశం ” (అనగా దేవతలచే ఏర్పాటు చేయబడిన ఆప్రదేశము) అనివివరించి దాని హద్దులను కూడ ఇచ్చియున్నాడు. (మను 2-17) తూర్పు – సరస్వతీ నది, దక్షిణము సరస్వతీదృషద్వతీనదుల సంగమస్థలము పడమర దృషద్వతీనది ఉత్తరము హిమాలయపర్వతములలో సరస్వతీ, దృషద్వతీనదుల జన్మస్థలముల వఱకు.
బ్రహ్మర్షి దేశము (ప్రధమవలస)
అట్టి బ్రహ్మవర్త దేశమందు పుట్టి ” ఆర్యులు ” అనబడు మానవజాతి తాము జన్మించిన ” బ్రహ్మవర్త ” దేశము వదిలి దానికి పశ్చిమమున గల ప్రదేశములందు నివసించి దానికి (మను 2-19) బ్రహ్మర్షి దేశమని పేరిడిరి. ఈ వలసలను విశేషముగా మహాతపశ్శాలులైన బ్రహ్మర్షులు నడిపి వారలే వారి శిష్యప్రశిష్యులతో అచ్చట నివసించి యుండుటవలన దానికి బ్రహ్మర్షి దేశమనెడి నామము సార్థకమైనది. ఈ ప్రదేశమున ఇటీవల కురుక్షేత్రము, మత్స్యదేశము, పాంచాలము, శూరసేనము, ఉత్తరమధుర యను పేర్లతో రాష్ట్రము లేర్పడినవి.
మధ్య దేశము (ద్వితీయవలస)
వింధ్యపర్వతము, హిమాలయపర్వతముల మధ్యయందు ప్రయాగకు ( అలహాబాదు ) పడమరగా సరస్వతీనదివరకు గల ప్రదేశమంతయు ” మధ్యదేశము” అని పిలువబడుచుండినట్లు మనువు చెప్పుచున్నడు. (మను 2-21 ) బ్రహ్మఋషిదేశము నిండిన పిమ్మట రెండవ వలసలో వెడలిన ఆర్యసంతానము ఈ మధ్యదేశమున నివసించిరి.
ఆర్యా వర్తము (తృతీయ వలస)
అటుపిమ్మట ఆర్యజాతీయులు మహర్షుల యనుజ్ఞవలన వారి రాజుల నాయకత్వమున మూడవ వలసగా బయలుదేరి వింధ్యహిమాచలములకు మధ్యనుండు ఖాళీప్రదేశ మందంతటను వ్యాపించి స్థిర నివాసము లేర్పరచుకొనిరి. ఆనాటికి భూగోళమంతయు నిర్మానుష్యముగా నుండి యున్నది. భారతవర్షములో గూడ నిప్పుడు మనవిచారణ యందుండిన ఆర్యజాతీయులు తప్ప యితరమానవు లెవ్వరును లేరు.
నాల్గవ, ఐదవ వలసలు
అటుపిమ్మట విదేహమాధవు డనెడి రాజు తన గురుదేవుడైన గౌతమరహూగణుని ప్రేరణమున నానాటికి వృధ్ధినిగాంచుచుండిన ఆర్యజాతీయుల వెంట నిడికొని బ్రహ్మవర్తాది ప్రదేశములనుండి యొక గొప్ప వలసను బయలుదేరదీసి సరస్వతీనదికి తూర్పుగా గంగానదివఱకు బోయి అచ్చటచ్చట ఆర్యనివాసములు నేర్పాటుచేసి యుండిరి కాని అచ్చట ” సదానీరా ” అనెడి యొక నది అడ్డమురాగా ఆవలస నంతటితో నిలిపి అంతవఱకు వచ్చిన పొడుగునను, గ్రామముల, పట్టణముల నిర్మానమొనర్చిరి. సదానీరా నదికావల ప్రదేశము నివాసయోగ్యము కానందున దానిని నివాసయోగ్యముగా చేయుటకు తగిన యేర్పాట్లు చేసి తిరిగి పశ్చిమముగా వెళ్లి గంగా, యమునా, సరస్వతీ, దృషద్వతీ నదులను దాటి ఉపనదులతో గూడిన సింధునదిని దాటి పశ్చిమమున సింధునది కుపనది యగు ‘ కుభా ‘ (అనగా కాబూలు నది ) నదీతీరముల వఱకు తమ వలసలను విస్తరింప జేశి యుండిరి. ఈ వివరములను ఋగ్వేదము, శతపధబ్రాహ్మణము, మనుస్మ్రుతి మొదలగు వానియందు సవిస్తరముగా వివరింపబడి యున్నది.
“ఆర్యాః అత్ర ఆవర్తంతే పునః పున రుద్భవంతి ఇతి ఆర్యావర్తః “. ఆర్యులు లెచ్చట పుట్టి, పెరిగి, చచ్చి, తిరిగి పుట్టుచుందురో అది ఆర్యావర్తమని చెప్పబడుచున్నది. దీనిని బట్టి ఆర్యులు ఈ ప్రదేశముమందుననే సృష్టి ప్రారంభమునుండి పుట్టి నివసించుచుండిరని మనుస్మ్రుతి యందు స్పష్టము చేయబడినది. ( పాశ్చాత్యులూహించినటుల ఆర్యులు మధ్యాసియా యందు పుట్టి భారతవర్షమునకు వలస వచ్చినరుట కేవలము వారి కల్పనయే కాని పూర్వ చరిత్ర వలన ధ్రువ పరచబడినది కాదు )
దక్షిణా పధము ( ఆఱవ వలస )
అటుపిమ్మట ఆర్యుల దృష్టి వింధ్యపర్వతములకు దక్షిణముగా గల ప్రదేశములమీదకు ప్రసరించినది. ఆనాడు దక్షిణదేశమంతయు నిర్మానుష్యముగా నుండినది. ఆర్యులు ‘ సదా నీరా ‘ ప్రాంతప్రదేశము నంతను మానవ నివాసమున కనుకూలముగా నొనర్చి పిమ్మట తూర్పున గల వంగదేశప్రాంతములమీదుగా దక్షిణమునకు క్రమక్రమముగా వ్యాపించిరి. అనేక సంవత్సరములు గడచుచుండగా అట్లు ఆర్యులు వ్యాపించిన భారతవర్షపు తూర్పుదక్షిణములగల ( అనగా ఇప్పటి మద్రాసు దిగువ వఱకు ) ప్రదేశము ” ప్రాచ్యక దేశ ” మని పిలువబడినది. దానికి దక్షిణముగా దక్షిణసముద్రమువఱకు గల దేశము దక్షిణ దేశమయ్యెను. ఆరెంటికి పశ్చిమముగా గల పశ్చిమకొస్తా ప్రదేశము పశ్చిమదేశమయ్యెను. అదే విధమున ఆర్యులు ” దక్షిణాపధ ” మంతయునాక్రమించి వృధ్ధిపొందిరి. ఆసేతుహిమాచలముగా గల దేశమునంతను ఆక్రమించిన ఆర్యులు వైదిక ధర్మావలంబులై చాతుర్వర్ణ్య వ్యవస్థ గలిగి యుండిరి.
Who Are the Andhras?
Origin and early History of the Andhras 
In the beginning, there was only one race, the Aaryan race. In the ancient times, when the Aaryans were spreading all over the continent of Bharat, the different regions and parts were named after the Kings that ruled over them. The people too were named by the names of these regions and came to be considered different races.
In those remote times in Eastern Bharat was known as ‘Praachyaka Desa’ and ruled by a king named Bali. After his death, several of his sons divided his kingdom, and each named his part after himself, one of them being Aandhra. The kingdom of prince Aandhra being known as Aandhra Desa and the Aaryans (of the four castes) inhabiting the region were called Aandhras. Thus only one group or division of the Aaryans came to be known as Aandhras. The Aandhras were not a separate race from the Aaryans. Hence the history of the Aandhras till the emergence of the Aandhra race (the name) coincides with the history of the larger race named Aaryan. The history of the Aaryans is the history of the Aandhras and vice versa. Aandhras are Aaryans and none else. It is all one race known as Aaryans in the beginning, some of them later coming to be known as Aandhras from the name of the region inhabited by them. It is the same case with the Aaryans inhabiting the other different parts of Bharat, all of them of the same Aaryan stock but developing into various branches and coming to be considered different peoples and named after the different regions occupied by them. But all of the Aaryans of Bharat from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] belong to the same racial (Aaryan) stock. This axiom should be kept steadily in mind in the study of the history of the Aandhras from the beginning of creation, attempted in this volume.
The Process of Creation
In the beginning the five elements evolved naturally [f]rom primordial nature or Prakriti, and from earth, of the five, living matter and living beings of all kinds. The first among the living creatures was Prajapathi. He is the first Aaryan. Rigveda 4 26 2-2, 2-11-18. He resolved on the creation of the human race and first created the ten Praja-pathis (the Devarishis). Then he himself residing in the region enclosed by the rivers Saraswati and Drishadvati, and cohabiting with his wife Sataruupa gave birth to two sons ‘sons Priyavrata and Utaana paada and three daughters Aakuuti, Devahuuti and Prasuuti. The region he first lived in came to be known as “Brahmavarta”. The human race first appeared in Bharat only. To the west of the present Jamuna in North India there flowed in ancient times Sara-swati and to its west a tributary by name of Dru-shadvati. The region between these rivers Saraswati and Dri-shadvati was known as ‘Brahmavarta’ from time immmo-rial [immemorial]. The name indicates that the Swayambhuva Prajapati named Brahma resided there in gross physical form to cre-ate the human race on the earth.
At the beginning of every cycle of creation, this place where Swayambhuva Prajapati, the first man resides on the earth in his gross physical body, to create the human race is known as Brahmavartam’. In Rigveda-3-33-4 we hear ‘Yonim Deva Kritam’ and ‘Tam Deva Nirmitam Desam’ in Manu 2-17. This region is bound by the river Sara-swati on the east the junction of Sarasvati and Drushad-vati on the South Drishadvati on the West and the Hima-layas on the North.
The First Migration— Brahmarshi Desa.
The Aaryans thus born in Brahmavarta left the place of their origin and inhabiting the region to the west of it gave it the name ‘Brahmarshi Desa’ (Manu 2-19). These migrations and colonisations were led by Brahmarshis of established spiritual eminence who settled down in the new regions with their disciples and hence it was called ‘Brahmarshi Desa.’In later times this region came to comprise the kingdoms of Kuru, Matsya, Panchala, Surasena & Uttara Madhura.
The Second Migration— Madhya Desa.
According to Manu, the region bounded by the Vindhyas in the South the Himalayas in the north, Allahabad [Prayag] in the east and the river Saraswathi in the West, was called Madhya Desa. (Manu 2-21). This was the region colonised by the second migration of Aaryans after the Brahmarishi Desa was fully occupied.
Aryavarta (The Third Migration)
Thereafter the Aryans, on the advice of the sages and under the leadership of the kings, started on the third migration and spread all over the plains between the Hima-layas and the Vindhyas and settled down in permanent homelands. At that time almost all the surface of the earth was uninhabited and even in Bharat there were no people other than the Aryans.
Fourth and Fifth Migrations.
Thereafter, a king by name of Videha Madhava, on the advice of his teacher Gautama Rahuguna, accompanied by the Aaryans who were rapidly increasing in numbers, orga-nised a great migration from the Brahmavarta and neigh-bouring regions and proceeded “to the east of Saraswati upto the river Ganges and established Aaryans settlements at several places. But confronted by the river Sadanira, the progress was halted and villages and towns were constructed all along the march up to the river Kubha or Kabul, and extended their settlements so far. These details of the migration are available in the Satapatha Brahmana, the Rigveda and in the Manu Smriti
The land in which the Aaryans are born, grow and die and are born again is known as ‘Aaryavarta’. Thus it is clear the Aaryans were living in this region from the beginning of creation, according to the Manu Smriti.
The sixth migration “Dakshinapatha”
Then the Aaryans cast their eyes on the region to the south of the Vindhyas. In those days this part of the country was uninhabited. After rendering habitable and fit for colonisation, the neighbourhood of the river Sadanira and proceeding through the regions to the east of it, Viz. Vanga, etc, they spread to the south along the coast. The south eastern coast lands of Bharat, which were thus occupied by the Aaryans gradually down to modern Madras and below, were then known as ‘Prachyaka Desa’ and this region beyond further south to the sea ‘Dakshina Desa’ and the west coast and adjoining tracts ‘Paschima Desa’. Thus the Aaryans spread in course of time over the whole of the Southern peninsula and the Aryans who came to occupy the whole of Bharat from the Himalayas in the north to the Indian ocean in the south were the followers of the Vedic culture and the social order of the fourfold division of society) which formed an integral part of it.
“ఆంధ్రులు”. True Indian History. June 19, 2009
Kota, Venkatachalam Paakayaaji (Pandit). Chronology of Ancient Hindu History Part I. Vijayawada: AVG. p.121-124
With a sense of gratitude we note that our recent post on the Cultural Resonance of Baahubalimade something of a splash on social media. A number of long-time readers, as well as recent twitter followers responded very positively. While I’m truly flattered, and in the case of some of our leading lights, truly honoured by the response, our task has only just begun.
As many of you know, we wrote a series on one of the key impediments to safeguarding the future of the Telugu Language, Andhra Culture, and Indic Civilization. Despite the much vaunted Indian Intelligence (which received a fillip from the selection of a certain new tech CEO), we recognise that this was balanced by a quality known as Indian Stupidity. As such we completed a 5 part series that concluded with Culture: The Cure for Stupidity.
Having not only identified the ailment, but established the appropriate medicine, the question that now remains before us is: “how to ensure healing and recovery?”. If Bharatavarsha has been on the cultural defensive for the better part of a millennium, how then is this highly accomplished and ancient civilization to revive itself? In short, What is Needed for a Cultural Revival?
Contrary to many of our over-memorizing, but under-thinking commentators, it is not a matter of simply dusting off a few palm leaf manuscripts and tamra patras to revive our samskruthi and recreate the Satya Yuga. A society, a culture, and indeed, a Civilization, is more than just a collection of texts that has to be implemented when an elite again has agency. What’s more, alleged leadership that spends day in day out reviling its masses and imposing a uni-dimensional vision of its ideal-state has no business, let alone legitimacy, to stake claim to authority. The purpose of leadership, political or spiritual, is to recognise the tremendous responsibilities that come with tremendous privilege. It is not a question of ruling jatis and service jatis. By any schema, all are service jatis only, as everyvarna is mandated to serve Dharma, not itself. That is the path to a spiritual and cultural revival.
To catalyse a cultural revival, we cannot merely replicate the past, but must use it to inspire us to build a new future.
While the fundamental motives, the governing ideas which constitute the essential spirit of our culture are a part of our very being, they should receive changing expression according to the needs and conditions of our time.-Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan[1, 9-10]
To catalyse a cultural revival, more than mere saastric vidya will be necessary to defend Dharma in the days ahead. Like it or not, mind-boggling material advances have been made, primarily in Western institutions (quietly drawing from the East), that have overwhelmingly increased the sophistication and stakes of man’s material knowledge and power. Entire new fields such as nano-robotics, game theory, information technology, and marketing have come into their own and matured beyond prior mortal conception (at least in this Chaturyuga). Not only learning our own itihasa, but in depth global history, will become crucial, even disqualifying if found lacking, for any putative cultural leader.
To catalyse a cultural revival, cosmopolitan and worldly-wise women and men will be required to collaborate (rather than compete) and create a response to the vast array of cultural kalakeyas arrayed against them and the Aryavarta. From AIT to ADN, there is an alphabet soup of insidious intellectual mechanisms, memes, methodologies, and meta-groups all salivating at the prospect of carving up Bharata by divide and rule. Semiotics and non-governmental organizations have been equally deployed to devastating effect for which there is no sastra to serve as playbook. Indeed, if culture is the new politics, how can dharmic politicians not be the one’s strategising its re-introduction? Some self-serving, self-appointed circa satya yuga samskruthi senapatis think art, music, and the host of civilizational accomplishments must be left unsullied by leadership—as though mere snobs a-sniping would ensure artistic traditions would remain unscathed from those who would hoodwink the hoi polloi. Yes, I believe these self-same sage views were held by the Russian aristocracy on the eve of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution…
To catalyse a cultural revival, national and civilizational culture must be balanced by regional culture. Just as the sub-culture of a single varna or jati cannot be imposed, so too cannot the regional culture of a single group be imposed on the nation at large. Does this mean no Indic national and administrative language? Certainly not. But it does mean regional culture must be allowed to express itself in all its Dharmic glory. After all, both Sanskrit and Tamizh fell from Lord Shiva’s damaru. In light of that, while the nation and even civilization can unite around a common devabhasha and desa bhasha, rashtrabhasha and samskruthi must—absolutely must—be respected. If you want a united India, act like it, and learn the language of your state of residence!
To catalyse a cultural revival, responsibility will lie not only with the elite, but with the masses as well.All sections will have a role to play in the upcoming upheavals, and will have to determine whether they will give in like so many hedonistic helots to their baser instincts and life of unthinking dependence, or rise to the Himalayan heights of nobility that their ancestors came to define.
As as a result, our vision of Bharat Mata as not only safe, secure, and splendrous, but also as Jagad Guru (teacher to the world), will materialise only with concerted, critical, collaborative, strategic, and serious thinking.This is not the place for woolly-headed, caste-obsessed, insular, and impractical amateurs. It is precisely this reason why this site is open for all, but challenges serious people—the supposed current and future elite—to stop squabbling and competing like jealous, immature children, and work together for the common good. This requires not only a high culture, but a sense of organizational culture. Instead of each moron fighting and operating as an army of one to create an un-collaborating “organism”, each man or woman of serious intellect and inclination must learn to work with others (even rivals) in the name of the common good. This means taking initiative when the need or even opportunity presents itself, having the people skills to avoid needlessly [ticking] people off, and utilising sense and buddhi to step aside when someone else will prove better at the task.
A man who needs no introduction, Shri Rajiv Malhotra has discussed many of these issues already, perhaps in slightly different terms.
In a recent talk, RM spoke of three components for a cultural revival:
1. knowledge 2. training of leaders 3. institutions. These are the 3 arches that he listed.
Ever the original thinker (a far rarer quality than is commonly admitted), Rajiv ji has listed three components for reviving our culture and punya bhoomi. These indeed form the required framework. But a strong, fundamental foundation is needed to construct a stable bridge to Nutana Bharata.
As such, we complement his components with our own. While knowledge, training, and institutions will all prove invaluable, there is no point in trying to explain what the expert has already done better. Therefore, this essay will focus on fundamentals. The critical elements to a cultural revival are as follows:
Good values make a good individual. Good individuals make a good family. Good families make a good community. Good communities make a good state. And Good states make a good nation.But to accomplish this, as discussed above, we need Awareness, Team ethic, and Bottom up solutions.
To institute good values, the clay itself must be suitably malleable. The aridity of stupidity must be rejected by identifying and curing its origins. Following that, the individual must then study dharma. Not the philosophical dharma, not the intellectual dharma (both of those are for advanced students), but the everyday dharma, the practical dharma . This is attained through the proper study, absorption, and most important, the practice of culture. Arts are merely the alankara (ornament) of culture, dharma is its true identity. Proper study of the stepping stones to dharma require learning (in some cases re-learning) sabyata, saujanya, maryada, and acara. Having understood this, the individual is then prepared to be a valuable and contributing member of a team.
Families are the building blocks of society, which is in turn the building block of culture and civilization. Families raise good dharmic children. Individuals weaned on the welfare state and entitlement economy are selfish and servile, and in some cases, outright vile. Dharma ensures respect and self-respect. Therefore the key to establishing good teams and good families is through rejection of selfishness.
Society must operate not on the basis of hermetically sealed communes, but with a sense of community and common purpose. Paths and panths may vary, kulacaras may differ, but dharma is for all. This is because dharma mandates that we think of society before ourselves. Community comes before korika (iccha or personal desire). Therefore, ambition must be rejected. This is the key to not only community, but also character.
The governance of a state (rashtra) or country (desa) requires serious people. One must not only be selfless, and strategic, but also serious. This means not deceiving ourselves about the serious issues that face us, whether it is a newly bifurcated state, or a 65 year old republic, or a millennia old civilization.
It also means producing people of subtlety. One dimensional nationalism, lose the region. Excessive regionalism, lose the nation. Lose Dharma, lose everything. Too much centralisation is brittle. Once broken, the nation or civilization is gone. Too much regionalisation, however, and centrifugal forces result in states being easily divided and played off against each other like puppets. Therefore, we need bottom up solutions, but top-down strategy. Regional variations of civilizational ethos will build “Integral Unity“, which is more flexible and resilient.
[Ram Raj was not built in a Day] but it was built upon tyaga and nishkama karma (selfless service). When individuals attempt to anoint themselves as Acaryas with no clue to their character, personal agendas come into question. Work cannot be done in the name of nationalism, but secretly to the benefit of special interests. Whether dynasty or durbar, individual families or communities cannot operate only in their own interests. All elements in the system must be respected to ensure a single-minded but decentralized dharma, in place of a putative papacy.
It must not seek to directly or indirectly abuse and revile our co-Dharmics, but bring them along not only as “labour”, but as stake-holders, decision-makers, and fellow Bharatiyas. Varna and Jati Dharmas may vary, but it is the principle and uniting sense of Saamaanya Dharma that must be the clarion call. What’s more, in response to the widespread targeting of certain castes, we cannot simply dismiss the very real mistakes that were committed by some sinners against dharma.
As the foremost intellectual kshatriya of the hour has spoke, “There can be no whitewashing here”. All jatis, and in particular our dalit jatis, must be welcomed in this joint-venture of reviving our culture and civilization. Indeed, whether caste itself may or may not disappear, one thing is clear, generational and systematic untouchability (and the terrible offenses against dharma committed by those who would misinterpret it) must be declared null and void.
Whether it is a matter of identifying original varnas or jatis on the basis of last names, etc, it is the height of idiocy to treat 200 million people as “untouchable”, especially when many (or even most) North Indian Dalits abstain from go-mamsa, and quite a few are outright vegetarian and are generally interested in Dharma. Out of curiosity, how many beef-eating, non-Indian (I’m being euphemistic here) marrying upper castes have similarly been “outcasted” and declared patitha? One cannot have one’s cake and eat it too—and untouchability not only by law, but also as a collective social rank must end forthwith! Dalits must be returned to dignity as fellow brothers and sisters in Dharma.
This is the foundation and framework, but what is the woodwork? What is the flesh and blood to the bone structure we have laid before you?
Many of you may now argue, “ok Nripathi, so what’s the problem? Seems straightforward. Let’s implement!” But not so fast. What is it exactly that we are implementing? It is easy to say let us teach good values—but how? It is easy to say let’s create good families—but how? It is easy to say revive a good nation—but how? Frequently in this materialistic world, in this kali yuga, it is not so much what we do, but how we do it. Frequently in this materialistic world it is is not so much what we say, but how we say it.
This must be done not in a pedantic or puerile or even primitive way. It must adapt to time, place, and manner. Stupidity may be the single biggest sickness afflicting Indian Society, but the single biggest obstacle is the gyaani.
The Gyaani Complex: Introduction to the Gyaani
Previously we discussed Rajarishi Janaka. The father of Sita was a man not only of astonishing self-control, and virtue, but also of compassion. Indeed, rather than ahankar driving him, it was those with ahankar who chose to test him–a self-realised man who remained on Earth out of compassion to teach those who had not yet attained self-realisation . This showsthat correct interpretation is necessary, based not on questionable translations or ahankar, but Acaryas—real Acaryas.
Similarly there is a story of Maharishi Yajnavalkya, who features prominently in the Upanisads, especially the Brihadaranyaka. Yajnavalkya had grown haughty with pride due to knowledge, and his guru forced him to vomit what had been taught. All the other jealous students therefore quickly turned into partridge birds (tittira) to eat up the knowledge that had been regurgitated, giving the name Taittiriya to the related Upanisad. Today, we have gyaanis (as distinguished from jnanis) and sarvagyaanis, who make false pretense to the truth while turning into little birds to consume vomit, etc, only to vomit it again without understanding what is relevant to the time, place, context. Aiming to be Yajnavalkya, each is a mere Tittira (a bird) seeking to specialise in simplified knowledge, but failing to understand its collective complexity. They quote logic and procedure, but are unable to apply it to their own arguments. This the danger of pompous fools who have knowledge, but not wisdom. Theory but no practice. A pound of practice, however, is worth a tonne of theory.
We must differentiate between adhyatmika and laukika vidya. After all, despite his brilliance and wisdom, would you have asked Sri Ramana Maharishi to be your general? We must also differentiate between vidya and buddhi (not to mention vidya and jnana). Simply because a person is well-read or learned in lore does not make him wise or self-realised. An illiterate can have wisdom from sheer anubhava (experience). Simply because one has memorized the Dharmashastras, does not make him a jnani. Vidya is lost at the end of every life. It is only jnana that makes an impression on the soul, and this comes from humility—in many cases, well-deserved. So do not be bowled over by clever talk and sophisticated phrases. Look for clear logic, not a mere exegesis of it. That is how you know not only whether the proposed action is wise or your path fruitful, but whether your guru is true…or false.
It also means adapting to changed circumstances. In an era where knowledge is power, not only do we need Sastra and Suhstra, but where necessary and justifiable, we must use Sastra AS Suhstra. When the adversary is breaking all the rules, you cannot be so foolishly hidebound and unrepentantly stupid as to continue to observe them to the most trivial letter. This is where maturity, and above all, judgment come from. After all, “Deficiency in judgment is is properly that which is called stupidity”.
Like Ravanasura, grandson of Pulastya, they are wrapped up in pride about adhyatmic knowledge and lineage rather than asking if their conduct is worthy of the lineages they claim. What’s worse, these same thin-skinned, false preachers of truth take ideas from others and claim them as their own as though they were divinely inspired!—what cheek! As Ravana shamed the great and venerable Saptarishi Pulastya, so too do they shame their progenitors with their lack of character. They are unable to reflect upon their own behaviour and shameless thievery of the original work and property of others (Ravana stole Lanka from Kubera), when it is so obvious that they had neither the knowledge, nor wisdom, nor competence, nor ability to create it in the first place. But what truly haunts them, is they realize they never will…
In their quests to demonstrate their knowledge, they engage in petty one upsmanship, not realizing the foolishness, and inability to tell right from wrong, that they have fallen into. Themselves mired in delusion, they label others as deluded. They pusillanimously claim the mantle of Dharma, only to pervert it to their own petty, self-serving ambition, even at the cost of the common societal good. They may come from any caste, but they are perennially obsessed with the idea of it. But this is of no surprise, for they don’t even have the capacity to properly define dharma—how then can they teach it let alone implement it and defend it?
It is logic and lesson (niti) that must be digested. Arguments cannot be “well Dharmashastra says this! This is the rule of Apastamba!”. No other way of life has emphasized time and place more than Dharma. Indeed, it is not for nothing that there were not 1 but 4 separate Dharmasutras (Vasishta, Gautama, Baudayana, and Apastamba), each one updating the other and even rejecting whole rules outright or legalities outright as obsolete. Just as the Chhatrapati adopted Ganimi Kava (enemy tactics) as needed, so too must we be open to external ideas and approaches and altogether fresh fields of study. This doesn’t mean ejecting dharma, it means separating the ancillary (or non-essential) from the essential.
What’s more, simply because one has read the Arthashastra does not make him or her a master of politics and war. Just as Vidya and Buddhi are different, so too are vidya and karma. It is for this reason Dharmic society traditionally had separate vocations for especially brahmanas and kshatriyas. This is because just as fundamental science is not the same as applied science, so too is vidya different from karma (action). Rajarishi Janaka represented a bridging of the two. In our era, this has become even more critical and standalone, hence the call for bauddhik kshatriyas. This is not to disparage one varna or bloat the head of another, or even make the designation dependent on caste lines (though a Brahmin, Arun Shourie gaaru recognized the need to focus on application of knowledge and logic to intellectual and strategic clashes. Rajeev Srinivasan is a notable other, and of course, most appropriately today, Rajiv Malhotra).
Paleo-purists may decry this as a violation of our astika principles—but these are also the same ahankaris who stood idly by during the criminal disrobing of Draupadi, citing law and rna (debt). They needlessly and endlessly pick fights with many countrymen in the face of a common enemy. Even more tragic, they need a team of supporters just to muster the manhood/womanhood to take on one honest questioner.
Indeed, because stupidity is deficiency in judgment, they might even sacrifice the national cause in the futile hope that they may upstage a superior rival—all in vain. Unable to propose and implement workable solutions—let alone imagine and conceive them—they serve as obstacles to those who do. But true leadership does otherwise, of which a gyaani is not capable. Not only does it show accountability, but vision and implementation as well. In contrast, these “mimic men” of another sort are truly incapable of an original idea, so they viciously and pettily attack anyone who upstages them. Like Ravana, they ride their chariot of ahankar to their doom and demise, taking their kin along with them.
Therefore, our Individuals, of whatever caste, however accomplished and once well-meaning, must reject the Gyaani complex. If not, society must come together and punish them for being the errant school children that they are. It is incumbent upon Dharmic Brahmanas and Kshatriyas and other classes to speak up against such Adharmic behaviour, even if it comes from their own caste and kin. It also requires a new complement to the modern intellectual aristocrat. To assist the Bauddhik Kshatriya, we need not the Brahma-Kshatriya, but rather, the Laukika Brahmana.
The Laukika Brahmana
Please note, while some circles may use the term disparagingly, this is in fact meant to be complimentary. This is because the Laukik Brahmin is not the ascetic and isolated adhyatmic brahmana or the ahankari gyaani, but is simultaneously spiritual and worldly wise. Indeed, the correct distinction for brahmanas in the material world is bhogi brahmana versus laukika brahmana. In the Telugu tradition, it is the difference between Srinatha (the romantic poet enjoying royal pleasures) and Pothana (the poor farmer who preserves his adhyatmic integrity). Though both are brahmins, they adapt to this age in different ways. The Laukik Brahmana may or may not be born in the Brahmin varna or pursue its traditional vocations, but he embodies the ideals of it and the Sattva guna it represents. He does not merely pay lip service to Satya as a means to achieve his ambition (while appropriating the work of others), but actually dedicates himself to working with others to protect it. Because he checks his ego and rejects ambition, he can coolly advise the intellectual Kshatriya who requires fiery Rajas to complete his daunting task.
The true Laukika Brahmana may no longer pursue the old spiritual vocations, but he is not the adharmic brahmana who strays from the spiritual path due to ahankar and svaartha. As the Kali Age, The Age of Disorder, is such that non-traditional, though still dharmic, occupations are permitted so that he may supported himself, the character of the ancient Brahmanas still shines through him.
The time has come for hyperventilating hypocrites and greedy gyaanis to step aside. Bauddhik Kshatriyas are the need of the hour, but the need of the day or decade will ultimately be Laukik Brahmanas.
Where will we find such men you ask? They are already among us. They do not make a great show of themselves and their alleged bhiksu bags, but quietly do their work without ego, knowing the work itself is its own reward. I know of one already. He has been a long time supporter, but he is too modest and selfless to allow himself to be named, as he is forever praising others while never seeking praise. Therefore, I will speak of another whom I do not know personally.
Shri Swaminathan Gurumurthy has been one of the most tireless voices speaking out for the good of society. While his tam-bram background serves as happy coincidence to this point, it only underscores the validity and need of such truly dharmic men. True, he does come from an orthodox family and holds many views that may seem conservative to us, but in his own way, he does not merely speak for harmonious good in society, but searches for pragmaticways to achieve it. This is the tri-fold combination of adhyatmic, sastric, and modern that we require.
The laukik brahmin understands the expertise and even authority with which professionalsspeak and has the ingenuity to combine it with dharmic principles for appropriate dharmic responses. The laukik brahmana uses his vocation to combine his sastric knowledge with his modern knowledge of the samediscipline, and advance civilizational knowledge and understanding. S. Gurumurthy is again illustrative here. Formally trained as a chartered accountant, he has an expert understanding of his field, and so, is in an exceedingly well-placed position study and reflect on ancient finance and economics in the arthasastra, vidura niti, and elsewhere. This practical understanding of needs can then identify the correct saastric principle or even determine if a new rule or text is required altogether. Thus he builds upon knowledge, rather than merely regurgitating it like the gyaani.
When culture itself has been commoditised, how can hidebound gyaanis be expected to provide good counsel? The blind fail to see the import of media shaping tastes. They think art, music, poetry, etc. cannot or must not be harnessed as mediums to contest false adharmic ideas and reassert dharma. What else can be expected from one who is more concerned with position and privilege rather than principle?
The naivety and stubbornness of the gyaani leads to societal destruction.Neither able to lead the way nor willing to get out of the way, gyaanis stand as vignas to the protection and restoration of society even while chanting the sacred name Vigneswara.
That is the danger of rote-memorization and blind application of sastras—they do not take into account the time, place, and context. Practices and even entire sastras which applied in one era, may have no place in another, because circumstances have changed. Some of the most unwitting assistants of evil are those who serially cry “adharma” at every response to adharmic attacks. This is the danger of casuistry—often the result of those who first discuss the structure of logic without applying it to their own thoughts or dialogues.
These same characters appeared when Sikhandi fought Bhishma, Yudhisthira uttered the one lie, and Arjuna fought Karna. Where were these alleged high-minded souls during the unjust killing of Abhimanyu or the attempted disrobing of Draupadi? Like Shalya, they develop a “conscience” only at the wrong place and wrong time, all while impotently whining at all other junctures.
When culture itself has become the new politics—can such unworldly whiners be expected to lead us, even spiritually? It is not working a 9-5 job in the modern word that makes us worldly, but being aware of the nature of the world and the designs of adharma and how it uses every tool at its disposal. The Laukika Brahmana is aware and chastises the clinical klibas using casuistry to misguide the masses. He not only has adhyatmic learning but laukik discretion to not only know what to speak, and when to speak it, but also how to speak it.
In an era when medium is the message, unworldly naifs cannot be expected, nor can they be allowed to arrogate, leadership. This is because they have not studied leadership beyond the sastras. When organizations, laws, tactics, strategy, science, art, and even culture have become cataclysmically complex, adhyatmic knowledge must not only be balanced with saastric knowledge, but modern knowledge (desi or videsi) as well.
In Telugu, there is a saying Vajram nee vajram thoney koyyali. You can break a diamond only with another one. We Andhraites know something of this matter, after all, is that not how they split our Andhra?
Recognizing how even western economists are now starting to view “caste” (varna/jati) as social capital, Gurumurthy ji attacks stigma and prejudice instead, seeing past mistakes correctly as corruptions brought by hypocrites. Despite his orthoprax household, he speaks of the need for theSaamaanya Dharma, the common dharma—from which individual dharmas originate.
Above all, there is no cognitive dissonance for him between saastric principles and laukik realities. Recognising cookie cutter solutions are not possible, he links not the letter, but the spirit and principle to the correct time, place and manner. Instead of merely paying lip-service to purva paksa, he like Bauddhik Kshatriya Shri Rajiv Malhotra, actually conducts it in a continuous and rigorous fashion. He knows his Bairoch as well as his Baudhayana, and his Huntington as well as his Hastamalakacarya. No individual can know the entire global canon (let alone the Indic), but he makes effort to do both, and has been for decades.
Laukik Brahmanas are not born, but made.They embody sattva, study sastra, and adapt to samaya (time). They do not espouse the view of fools crying “it is a kingdom of conscience or it is nothing!”, but understand that enemy tactics must be matched to protect and restore dharma. He or she recognises that knowledge and wisdom not only come from reciting shruti and studying smriti and sastra, but from sadhana/pure-hearted tapas, and most importantly, philosophising. Philosophy has been perverted today to mean any ideology from any rancid corner. Rather, Philosophy literally means “love of wisdom”. Thus the true philosopher (the term by which ancient visitors referred to our brahmanas), does serious original thinking. He thinks and reflects on what the actual problems of society are and how they are to be faced and solutions actualized.
The Bauddhik Kshatriya is forever engaged either in conflict, preparing for it, or resting from it.While Rajivji has been tirelessly alerting our spiritual (adhyatmic) leaders, as he himself said, there is only so much one man (however talented) can do. As such, Laukik Brahmanas can be in constant contact with the Adhyatmic leaders, to only to gain spiritual knowledge but in turn apprise them of required material knowledge to guard against threats to our ancient paramparas, and ultimately, to dharma sanatana. Laukik Brahmanas do not replace the direct contact society requires with these great Paramacaryas via their interaction and discourse, but rather, supplement and complement it. They can survey the landscape (intellectual and spiritual) dispassionately, and do not have the burdens of training and tactics and taekwondo in modern dialectics. The true brahmana who is pure adhyatmic can pass on our vaidik and saastric tradition (unbroken and uncorrupted by the globalized material world) of which they, and only they, are the keepers. Meanwhile, the true brahmana who is laukik, alerts our true Paramacaryas of the insidious nature and designs of deceitful adharmis (desi and videshi). Duly surrounded and thrashed by these two spiritual powers, where then can the self-serving gyaani hypocrite or collaborator run?
That is the imperative of and the need for the prideless and pragmatic Laukik Brahmana.
The Road Ahead
Some post-mandal pithicanthropi have been circulating various memes aimed at disparaging Dalits in matters pertaining to reservation (itself a complex issue). What’s more, they claim that matters facing many poor Brahmins (particularly impoverished temple priests) are due failure to maintain unity. A united front to join the reservation wars is not the path salvation, but the path to destruction. It is not mandal-maddened vote-bank unity that will secure well-being for Brahmins, but Lok Kalyan.
“Lok kalyan?”, you ask? “Naïve”, you say?—but is it really? The entire purpose of the brahmana varna was precisely that–pursuing lok kalyan. While various Kings would periodically forget their duties, the disciplined spiritual life of brahmanas was meant to ensure an entire philosopher class that would not only teach good values, but embody them. That is what made the brahmana. Not “IQ“, not poseur pedantry, but character. The true brahmana was the embodiment of egolessness, because he knew or at least was aware of Brahman—the source and power of all things, including intellect and learning. The humility that this inspired spurred him on to good conduct and provided not political authority, but moral authority to counsel kings and minister to the masses. While the best poor old Plato could conceive was the Philosopher King (flip a coin on that one), and Aristotle, his rule of the aristos, varnashrama dharma was meant to secure sage advice to even the most stern or most sybaritic of kings. The Raja can punish a wrong-doing Brahmin, or even imprison a troublesome one or ten or a hundred, but to routinely ignore the counsel of the entire philosophical class would raise doubts in the country’s confidence in the king and erode his mass support. Wealth, power, and hedonism are all barred to the true Brahmana—that is the price for his moral authority.
Forever in analysis, the gyaani would otherwise be in paralysis were it not for the original thought of others which he shamelessly and dishonestly appropriates–and is no example to the public. As such, we need fewer gyaanis and far more Gurumurthy’s.
Our attitude must be that of Ekam Samaajam—One society. We may have many varnas, many panths (religions), many duties, but we are one society and civilization of people with a common purpose of state and national good, and a common saamaanya dharma. That attitude, more than anything else, is what is needed for a cultural revival.
To conclude, we will end rather uncharacteristically, with a tale from not India, that is Bharat, but rather, thatpragmatic civilization to the north, China, that is Zhongguo. It is the Parable of The Wheel and the Light:
“Emperor Liu Bang, in the third century B.C., became the first ruler to consolidate China into a unified empire [technically, it was Qin Shih Huangdi…but read on]. To celebrate his victory, Liu Bang held a great banquet in the palace, inviting many important government officials, military leaders, poets, and teachers, including Chen Cen, a master who had given him guidance during the campaign.
Chen Cen’s disciples, who accompanied him to the banquet, were impressed by the proceedings but were baffled by an enigma at the heart of the celebration.
Seated at the central table with Liu Bang was his illustrious high command. First there was Xiao He, an eminent general whose knowledge of military logistics was second to none. Next to him was Han Xin, a legendary tactician who’d won every battle he’d ever fought. Last was Chang Yang, a shrewd diplomat who was gifted at convincing heads of state to form alliances and surrender without fighting. These men the disciples could understand. What puzzled them was how Liu Bang, who didn’t have a noble birth or knowledge comparable to that of his chief advisors, fit into the picture.
“Why is he the emperor?” they asked. Chen Cen smiled and asked them: what determines the strength of a wheel?
“Is it not the sturdiness of the spokes?” one responded. “Then why is it that two wheels made of identical spokes differ in strength?” asked Chen Cen.
After a moment, he continued, “See beyond what is seen. Never forget that a wheel is made not only of spokes but also of the space between the spokes. Sturdy spokes poorly placed make a weak wheel. Whether their full potential is realized depends on the harmony between. The essence of wheel making lies in the craftman’s ability to conceive and create the space that holds and balances the spokes within the wheel. Think now, who is the craftsman here?”
The disciples were silent until one of them said, “But master, how does a craftsman secure the harmony between the spokes?”
Chen Cen asked them to think of sunlight.“The sun nurtures and vitalizes the trees and flowers,” he said. “It does so by giving away it’s light. But in the end, in which direction do they grow?” so it is with a master craftsman like Liu Bang. After placing individuals in positions that fully realize their potential, he secures harmony among them by giving them all credit for their distinctive achievements. And in the end, as the trees and flowers grow toward the giver, the sun, individuals grow toward Liu Bang with devotion.””
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968
Gurumurthy, Swaminathan. India’s Culture, Society, and Economy: Past, Present, and Future. http://lookintoculture.blogspot.com/
Is Culture the New Politics? http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-is-culture-the-new-politics-zee-jlf-panelists-debate-2055654
The scores are in, the box office has reported, and the people have spoken: Baahubali-The Beginning is a box office behemoth. S.S. Rajamouli’s smash hit is truly a magnum opus that has swept all of India, South and North of the Vindhya. Indeed, much ink has already marked the proverbial paper, and a number of columns, cookie cutter top tens, and well-penned essays have made their mark. What’s more, long derided regional Telugu cinema is no longer seen as merely a source for remakes, but as even foreigners note, is a source of jealousy for Bollywood insiders. As Krishnarjun gaaru has written, the industry itself has the potential to go back to its golden age 3-5 decades ago, with classics such as Maya Bazaar and Missamma.
Nevertheless, while ACP typically analyzes movies long after the glitz and glamour of a premiere has passed, there is something special about this film that has come to underscore the present zeitgeist.As such, this post is not our standard cinematic analysis, or a fine study of symbology, or even a well-crafted commentary on the industry’s future. Rather it is about understanding the cultural resonance of Baahubali and why it’s relevant and indeed a revelation at this place and at this time. We have sought to do this with ** No Spoilers** for those of you who have yet to see it.
First, a Rejoinder
Despite all the acclaim— not only in the Telugu rashtras or even just Bharata desa, but also globally—sour grapes from the standard set has been increasing from dribble to a deluge. The bitter wine they swill is in the hopes of poisoning the popular opinion. As such, a rejoinder is in order.
Almost two weeks in, the knives are now out courtesy the usual suspects: “Idea of India” indoctrinues (copyright pending for portmanteau), Dubai-gang ghulams of bollywood, and assorted sordid-sickulars of all sorts are now slashing at this movie, after a proverbial puissant punch to the solar plexus. Gasping for breath, these pill-popping, phillim-hopping philistines have the gall to tear down this movie by hook or by crook. The “un-original” charges (Tarzan this, Lord of the Rings that) are particularly asinine, especially coming from bollywood. After all, Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay drew from Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, which drew from John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven, which ultimately drew from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It’s invariable that inspiration here and there may come from different sources–the question is breathing new life, new vision, and new context into them, and weaving them into a unique piece. Baahubali has accomplished this to the shame of Bollywood.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Setting aside their ignorance about the Kalakeyas in the Mahabharata (yet another example of what happens when you don’t know your own epics), the question isn’t whether Bharatvarsha, the land of Rama’s friend Guha, Pratap’s friends among the Bhils, or Rani Durgavati’s own in-laws, treated its tribals well, but what happened to the tribes of Europe? Bharat respected the tribal way of life, and even saw its merits by encouraging vana prastha (forest life) for retired kings and other elites.
In any event, the body blow from Baahubali had left them in a week-long stupor that they are only now gurgling back from. Left with little other than Bajrangi Bhaijan to salve their wounds, they have united around this flick touting everything from “sentiment & emotion!” to “profitability” (a.k.a. the Sonam Kapoor defence)—poor dears. And yet, why this movie and why such mendacity? After all, Magadheera showed a native Bharatiya kingdom in a complimentary fashion. It too balanced CGI and Story with dramatic action and theatric performances. Those who point to a display of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) in positive light, forget the Kala Bhairava Statue that served as the sentinel of cinematic climax. No, the reason why Bahubaali-The Beginning, this movie, at this time, has stirred up a hornet’s nest of hate, is because it is true cinematic splendour celebrating Dharma.
Despite the laughable claims about Bajrangi Bhaijan touting an emotive ideal, while Baahubali did not, it’s quite clear that this movie was refulgent with an ideal. Dharma, in all its myriad forms, in all its numerous nuances, is immanent throughout this Sistine chapel in celluloid. And unlike that metaphor, the fact that Rajamouli’s Masterpiece drew on native Indic forms (architecture harkens to Angkor, Amaravati, and Avanti) , native Indic fashion (Tamannah’s transformative couture is more the ancient standard), Indic names (Avantika, Baahubali), Indic Sacred History (Rishabhadeva’s sons are an overarching influence), and Indic Geography (Mahismati was the capital of Kartaveerya Arjuna), only roiled our stealth regressive royyalu (that’s Telugu for “shrimp”, btw) further. That it was able to do this by bringing Bharatiyas of all panths (religions) in to enjoy the ride and make them feel a part of the experience, was the last straw.
In a way, it’s almost poetic that a movie so redolent in Dharma Culture was distributed and promoted by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. Though obviously written, produced, directed, and lead acted by Telugus, this multi-starrer provided a tale and experience to which all Bharatiyas could relate.
We saw a dharmic society in action. From artistry and architecture to the traditional sastras and functioning of statecraft, it was an image of an India that once was. True, it was balanced by elements of fantasy and drew directly from the Puranas, via the Kalakeyas. But we also a saw a version of how our ancestors lived and the principles that drove them: patriotism, loyalty, self-sacrifice, motherhood, love, and above all Dharma.
What’s more, it was an image of not just how the elites might have lived, but the commoners as well. We see how villagers and elites coexisted honorably. Albeit underneath a fantastic and fantastical waterfall, it was a portrait nonetheless of the idylls of rural and even forest life. It too was replete with Dharma–not the philosophical or intellectual dharma,but the everyday dharma, the common dharma. Society may have different classes, but if the elites behave properly and with humility and a sense of social duty, then society is at harmony. The Brahmanas we see on film present a living memory of such great yet humble men.
In a snub to faux animal welfare activists (who think eating fish is inhumane, but are miraculously pro-beef), a version of Jallikattu is presented as a martial pass time. What’s more we even see an internal rebuttal regarding animal sacrifice. A Right hand Tantra riposte of the Left hand is given, demonstrating that Dharma offers alternatives internally to such practices in the name of Kulacara.
We see shakti in action, with numerous strong roles played by numerous women. Rather than mere chattel, our women, our queens , commanded respect, and Shakti balanced her counterpart. We see glimpses of love and even a version of Gandharva Vivaha, where lovers came together through choice. Rather than merely loving and leaving, it was union of souls. That it was indeed marriage was emblematic when the obligation of the girl also become the obligation of the boy. As such, more than anything else, it was duty, and in particular, Kshatriya duty, that truly made its mark on screen.
The Kshatriya Ideal
Magadheera was certainly a cinematic benchmark, but Baahubali is a cultural phenomenon. The title role is not a common soldier, but a Kshatriya incarnate. As ‘The One with Strong Arms‘ he fights not only with his weapons and fists, but also with his wits. Indeed, we see that the true Kshatriya, the true King, is the one who protects his people and has their interests at heart. What’s more, this embodiment of Kshatriyata was not merely limited to men. We see a true Kshatrani in action, in conjunction with many strong and even warrior women. Ramya Krishnan alone deserves applause for her compelling and moving performance. In many ways it is she who presents the fulcrum of the film. Not only checking ambition within herself and her own family, she asserts that the true Kshatriya is not a usurper, but executes his duty to the ruling house loyally. Indeed, she provides a firm feminine rebuke to pig-headed male ambition.
The great Kshatriya vamsas of old not only had great power but expectations of great responsibility. The Kshatriya ideal of balancing education, training, statecraft, wealth, and power is the need of the hour. Rote-memorization and blind application of and training in the sastras will not win the Kurukshetra. It is for this reason that adhyatmic and laukik knowledge were separated. Adhyatmic vidya is verily the soul of our tradition. But due to the high minded principles it inspires, it requires protection from evil via laukika vidya.
Therefore, Kshatriyas were the natural leaders of society. They had an understanding of and respect for the adhyatmic principles, but the pragmatism to recognize the era of falsehoold that we live in, and the improvisation it requires. Hence, the true Kshatriya is not a hot-blooded, hot-head who loses his temper in blind anger, but is a strong willed defender of truth, by whatever means necessary. Varnashrama dharma certainly has degenerated in the past millennium into arrogant and brainless casteism from all ranks, and surely has its issues, but when properly conceived, it is one of balance. A society with an over-sized head, cannot be supported by the rest of its body. The true brahmanas of yore understood that as the teachers and philosophers of society, material living was not for them, and neither sought power nor wealth nor demanded sycophancy or undue influence. The true brahmana after all, is without ego. They also understood the limits of the brahmana varna, and as Parashurama corrected the imbalance of Kshatriyas crossing their limits, so too did Bhagavan Rama correct it with Ravana, and ironically, Parashurama himself.
The traditional partnership of Kshatriyas and Brahmanas is today mired in predation or pretentiousness. Those who aspire to those ideals must remember that Maharishi Veda Vyasa’s own son, the brahmana Suka deva, completed his education under the Rajarishi Janaka. Thus, while Kshatriyas were the natural political leaders and brahmanas the natural spiritual leaders, both required elements of the other to properly conduct their duties.
Competence is not mere aptitude or ability. After all, potential energy exists even in still water. Competence is being good at what you do. Ability too has varying degrees, but competence means you have sufficient ability for the job—not merely on the basis of natural talent, or studies, or even training, but due to habit of improvisation and adaptation confirmed through practical experience.
The sastras afford us with guidance, but it is the job of the general, the job of the Raja to not only learn and understand knowledge, but apply and improvise it. This is not done in the gurukul or ashram, but on the battle map or field of battle. After all, the tactics used by Chhatrapati Shivaji were evolved by Maharana Pratap—who had no Samarth Ramdas.
Therefore, leadership in society requires balance. Of the spiritual with the practical, of the traditional with the necessary, of the brahmana with the kshatriya. That this movie was able to present the kshatriya spirit, the aristocratic ethos, without ridiculing Adarsh liberal’s favourite punching bag–Brahmins–is only fuel for the fire of indigestion they’ve been suffering since July 10th. That is what Baahubali presented–and oh so very artistically at that.
From its waterfalls to its mountains to its maps, this film is pure artistic splendour. The cinematography is truly outstanding and world-beating, and all elements of cinema, from the visual and auditory to the dramatic and literary are in sound balance. A complete movie, it serves as a grand canvas for not only fantasy, but indeed, on-screen poetry.
One of the more interesting aspects wasn’t the research into our Puranas or even the dress and architecture of the ancients, but the subtle inclusion of our classical literature’s approach to drama. Though perhaps not noticeable to our non-Andhra friends, the dialogue features different forms of Telugu, based on orders of society–a practice commonly used by the ancients. Thus, we see literary forms of the language ( granthikam ), along with dialectal ( mandalikam ) and colloquial ( janapadam ).
We are also given a vision of fashion and femininity that is nevertheless strong and full of Shakti. Traditional designs are forms are presented in a manner that is sensuous but not titillating.
Even rati bhava is treated with delicacy in a restrained manner. The artificial is blended with the natural, rather than challenging it. It is not the conquest of nature by man, but the harmony of man and woman with nature.
In short, this movie is a marriage of tradition and tastefulness, form and function, masculine and feminine, elite and common, ancient and modern, art and technology.
Inflection point for the Industry?
Long time readers may recall our early pieces on the Telugu film industry (tollywood no longer) bemoaning the state of the sector. Ironically, one of them actually touched on film and kshatriyata. Rather than being merely seen as an object for derision, it has an opportunity again to rise to its early heights in the 50s and 60s.From kitsch, are we truly seeing a return to art? One hopes that the smashing success of the film will ensure at least a few movies that at least aspire to such a level, even if they do not scale such Himalayan heights. The upcoming release of Rudhramadevi affords an opportunity. Indeed, Baahubali served as an exquisite launch vehicle for Anushka Shetty to a national audience. Whether Gunasekhar is ultimately able to balance CGI with cinematic depth and action with taste, remains to be seen. We remain hopeful.
A Riposte to the “Idea of India” & The Breakthrough of Bharat
This movie was nothing short of a riposte to the ineluctable “Idea of India”–hence its resonance with all classes. This colossus of a success has shown that cheap laughs, titillation and tawdriness, and the apotheosis ofall things non-native, no longer need be the way to box office success, or more importantly, cinema and culture.
Above all, was the sense of belonging to a common society that truly resonated. This wasn’t just a Telugu movie about Telangana or Andhra Pradesh, but an Indian movie about India. The India that once was. What’s more, rather than attempting to pass for Persians or Syrians, the lead actor looked like he might actually be one of them–Indians. Full credit to Prabhas for the physique he developed to give a vision of a royal hero that actually looked like the people. A reality underscored by his own real life pedigree. Rana brought the glamour, but the heart and soul of kingship was played by the first lead.
Indeed, our brothers and sisters in the North have long been deprived of cultural expression of native high culture courtesy Bollywood. They have been taught and even expected to see themselves as part of that spectrum rather than the subcontinent’s as a whole. This movie changed all that. Perhaps nothing emphasized that more when Katappa’s native Indic khadga smashed the prized Persian sword. This scene was fitting not only in an artistic rejoinder to the Idea of India brigade, but in an historical and technological one as well. The famed wootz steel (ukku) ingots of India were what made the finest blades of the era. Indeed, the historical Andhra desa was distinguished for its khandas, and made the Kakatiya kingdom all the more splendrous.
Make no mistake, this was an original movie. Ostensibly, the fairy tale jibes will lead to the obvious Lord of the Rings, Tolkien comparisons. After all, suited simulacra can never see anything beyond the western. But what these indoctrinated ingénues forget was that Tolkien himself drew on Norse and biblical mythology to create one for the English. S.S. Rajamouli had no such need. He was able to draw on the incredible fountain of Classical Indic Literature, with all its epics, sophistication, beauty, and nava rasas, and use his talent, vision, and entrepreneurial courage, to bring them to life and make them relevant to the times. So let the pop-psychologists, Freudian hacks, Lutyens insiders, foreign sympathisers, and serial slanderers run their ignorant mouths…We, the native public, the real public, know the real reason behind The Cultural Resonance of Baahubali.
Predictably ignorant of the native Literary canon, serial rudaali, PK pablum peddler, and apochryphal activist Aamir Khan is said to have remarked after watching Inception “we [Bollywood] can’t even think at that level [Hollywood]”. Perhaps Bollywood can’t think at that level, PK, but Bahubaali has shown that Bharatiyas– real Bharatiyas–certainly can.
Switch on the TV and with almost frightening regularity you will see an instance of horrendous rape being reported or a young girl being snuffed in the prime of her life by her husband and in-laws in what is known as dowry deaths. On local TV channels it becomes 24/7 screaming headlines until the next breaking news event occurs. It’s a case of lots of noise with expert analyses which gives the viewer no new insight nor tackles the underlying causes for it. This then is picked up by international media and “atrocities on Indian women” becomes the talking point internationally. The result is that the image of India that gets perpetuated internationally is one of a country of rapists and wife beaters/burners where women are simply not safe.
My point here is not to deny that such things take place but to state that we are no wiser at the end of each such episode on how to tackle the underlying cause for this deviousness. Instead what we have in the TV studios are assorted women’s rights activists who do not offer much more than outrage at the events and who use the opportunity to vent ire, usually at male dominance and patriarchy. The terrible fallout of all this loud “debate” is the international image of India. At this point it is important to ask if being pro-women, as activists claim to be also includes being pro-society. I ask this question because it often seems to me from the TV debates that one is exclusive of the other: that to be a truly liberated woman, one has to essentially be anti-society and a rebel. Does being a truly liberated woman mean that one is divorced from society, and if so is that really a pro-woman stance?This is a question that should be asked by women and particularly young women. I would like to show here that there is a different way to approach this issue. In Dharma lies the solution to correct the ills of society if we only take the time to rediscover it and respect its profundity. We have to revive the Shakti–the Divine Feminine– in Indic Society.
Status of the Indian Woman today
Indian society did and does have its share of ills and baggage, but the context and situations of Indian women are not the same as in the West. India is the one land where women enjoyed an exalted position in the past. India is the only culture that sees divinity in women so much so that goddesses are the custodians of the domains of wealth and knowledge. Lakshmi and Saraswathi are the goddesses in charge of the two respectively. Apart from this it is again a goddess who is said to be the Ardhangini or the other half of a divine marital couple. Goddess Parvati is the Shakti to Shiva and Shiva is often depicted as Ardhanareeswara (a complete form with one half male and the other female). However, as we should be willing enough to admit, India is now also the land where girls are killed even when they are in the womb resulting in a skewed sex ratio in many parts of the country. Women are beaten, oppressed and exploited by males especially when poverty which is widespread in this ancient land, is also accompanied by alcoholism.
Alcoholism which is a major problem both in the extremely poor sections as well as the extremely well-to-do sections of society is generally ignored by the government and powers that be; for alcohol is a major source of revenue for the State. Hereis a very revealing article on the state of affairs in Tamil Nadu, but which in varying degrees can be the story right round the country. This menace can have a devastating impact on women in general. It is compounded further when the State colludes to exacerbate the problem.
If alcoholism is one kind of problem, the male gaze is another (though not unique to India). Sexual advances are regularly made by males on the streets and in public places, and generally women are too diffident to speak out against it for fear of being branded dishonorable. Generally it is assumed that it is the girl who invited the unhealthy attention, and it is her lot to bear up. Honour is very intimately tied to chastity.
Girls are discriminated against in households where there is preference for a male child, and while there is a perception that this generally not explicit, there are many subtle ways in which the discrimination plays out.
It has come to the point where the Central Government is thinking of measures to undo the imbalance. The centre has announced the scheme called Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the girl child, Educate the girl child). India’s Prime Minister Modi in a very telling addressto a large gathering at the launch of the program, describes very poignantly the ills that plague Indian society today with respect to the girl child. This initiative shows that the Indian state has started responding to the skewed balance and slowly this will then drive the Indian society to change their attitude too. But what are the forces driving this positive change? Are they external and foreign or internal and indigenous?
Indeed, the trajectory of Indian feminism has been quite interesting. For all the global discourse about India being a patriarchal society, the feminist movement in India was initially spearheaded by males.In the 19th century, Indian males were the first to own up to the problems that Indian females faced and worked to abolish the system of sati, child marriage and encourage widow re-marriage to name a few. They were also the first to demand that women need to be better educated. Women joined the men only much later, and then the movement got put on hold while the nation was engulfed in the throes of nationalism. Men and women from all across the country worked shoulder to shoulder to oust the British from India.
Gandhiji brought women to the fore exhorting them to join the freedom movement, but this call was always in sync with the ethos of the Indian woman’s way of living. He made it a point to accord utmost reverence to the roles that an Indian woman played as a caring, sacrificing, giving mother, sister, wife. And probably on account of that, he inspired millions of women across the country to rise in revolt against the British.
Independent India drew up a constitution that guarantees equality to women. The constitution also gives Indian women the right to vote, and indeed she exercises her franchise most decisively at every election. This is something for which the Western woman has had to fight. It is also interesting to note that rural women go out to vote more than their urban counterparts. So do rural women understand their rights better and indeed care more about whom they ask to govern them, compared to the urban? It’s a point worth thinking about.
Post-Independence Indian Feminism
Post independence, a brand of feminism that has been championed by the West has gained ground in India. Some of the ideas are indeed good and need to be implemented fully. For example, equal wages for similar jobs among men and women is certainly a much required and indeed necessary demand of the Indian woman. Access to education is another which unequivocally is a must for restoring the dignity and importance of the role an Indian woman plays in all spheres of human activity. While these are positive and affirmative actions in the social and economic spheres, when western feminist notions enter the familial space, it is a different ball game. I tend to think that such notions play havoc with the fabric of the familial identity in ways that could be potentially devastating for the future of the family as a unit. Worrying signs are present even as we speak, but it is still not too late to reclaim them.
India has been a family oriented society since millennia. The western idea of the primacy of the individual and her/his rights are not part of the genetic make- up of Indian society. India is a very traditional society that has rights and more importantly duties built into the family structure.Hence, the way the family unit has functioned here is vastly different from the way it has panned out elsewhere. Dharma is the bedrock of the Indian family. Dharma works on the concept of Purusharthas loosely translated as the objects of human pursuit. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are considered as the valid purusharthas for man. Briefly, Dharma is living by the rules of the universe. It means going by the primordial rhythm that makes life possible. In short, it means the “right way of living” which includes having rules, laws, and conduct in all spheres of activity and for all manner of organisms.
Artha is the pursuit of means to sustain life, or simply put, it is the pursuit of wealth or economic success. Kama is the pursuit of pleasure, physical, emotional and psychological. Moksha is the ultimate goal of all living beings. It is the liberation or release from the cycle of birth and death. It is the state when one is not different from the One. However, our shastras state that Dharma alone is the means to this Moksha and is placed above Artha and Kama. What this essentially means is that the right way alone is to be used for the pursuit of the other two. If Dharma is sidelined in the pursuit of Artha or Kama, it leads to social chaos.
I find this an extremely profound way to regulate lives. And in it, I clearly see the way for progress of society. But the Western idea, being a very seductive and attractive proposition in the short term while being ruinous in the long term, has women being drawn to it like flies. And it is slowly beginning to take its toll on the Indian family. S. Gurumurthy insightfully provides us with a lesson in what Indian society is all about. He says, “Ancient Indian literature in all Indian languages reveres parents, teachers and women as the divine in human form. But reverence, on which tradition rests, is anathema to modernity”.
The discourse, that has its roots in the western feminist movement, has surreptitiously slipped into the small conversations, messages and jokes that get shared on social media platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook etc. Sample this message which came as a forward on Whatsapp. It goes like this:
“She changes her name, changes her home, leaves her family, moves in with you, builds a home with you, gets pregnant for you, pregnancy changes her body, she gets fat, almost gives up in the labour room due to the unbearable pains of child birth, even the kids she delivers bear your name. Till the day she dies everything she does, (cooking, cleaning your house, taking care of your parents [….])” and then says, “So who is really doing whom a favour?” It rambles on further and then does an expansion on the word “Woman”. All good, except that when giving an explanation for the letter “n” in “Woman”, it says, “N-NICEST GIFT TO MEN FROM GOD”. The caps too are part of the message by the way.
There are many problems with such ubiquitous messages which are supposed to be uplifting for women. I will dwell on just a few, those which have been marked in bold.
Does the woman in a marriage get pregnant for her husband? I do not think any educated Indian woman will really subscribe to this. It would then mean that the coming child is an unwelcome oneto at least one partner in the marriage who in this case happens to be the woman. Are urban Indian women ready to accept that? Now, let’s come to the fact of getting fat after a pregnancy. Since when did Indians start obsessing about the statuesque figure?
Yes, it is very much in vogue today. However, I see this obsession to be thin and reedy only in the women of today.I think Indian men by and far still like women to be voluptuous. I agree that it’s not healthy to be obese but this obsession with maintaining a figure dictated by western mores is something that has gained currency since the advent of satellite TV and global content, which has resulted in the import of Western notions of beauty to India. Body image is a huge problem in the West affecting many a girl’s self esteem and self worth.
Do we want to replicate this syndrome among Indian girls? Do we want our girls to start dwelling so much on that perfect figure that they turn out to be bulimics or anorexics?
Now let’s tackle the favor aspect of the marital relation. When you say “So who is really doing whom a favor”, are you not making it a case of tolerance on the part of the wife towards the husband? Is tolerance the basis of a modern urban marriage? Then it is certainly a bad commentary on the state of the institution of marriage in India. When faced with such explanations, I am sure most women and indeed some men too, forwarding such sexist messages in the garb of glorifying womanhood, will and should pause to think.
Finally, after supposedly championing the cause of the woman, the message ends with a blatantly regressive remark stating that a woman is the nicest gift to men from God. Is the woman not entitled to an existence without being a “gift” to men? Is she not someone who has an equal right to existence just as the man has? It is seriously a message which is completely confused about its content. It is peddled in the garb of liberating the woman and making her feel special and instead at the end, she is finally told that she has an existence only as a gift for man. Nothing about partnership, nothing about complementarity. And this is a message which I believe must have been forwarded countless times by women and also by some men who thought they were celebrating women.
Its not just Indian women; there are women who live in the West who have been so fully influenced by the Western narrative that they have only the most hateful things to say about India and its culture which is a rather sad thing. Sample this article where a daughter talks of the anguish and daily hell that her mother endured while she went on living the pretense of a marriage with her ever absent father. The daughter heaps abuse on Indic traditions for the plight of her mother because she feels her mother lived exactly by the rules laid down by Indic traditions and obliterated herself for family when married. She talks of how getting a divorce and giving wings to her dreams and ambitions has helped her mother become free.
This is how a self hating, inferiority complex ridden native informant trashes her mother culture without any credible knowledge of the deep and profound essence of its teachings. Many young Indian women may express indifference as they may feel Indian men are being rightfully criticized, but they should remember that they too are under the scanner…
It is rather amusing when Western media comments about Indian culture and Indian mothers as this article does, with nary an idea about what it is. The article talks about the preponderance of mother-in-law, daughter-in-law conflicts and serials in India. While I do not endorse the over the top, ludicrous caricaturing, it’s rather hypocritical of the Western media to comment on a different society when the structure of its own is in shambles. Maybe its better for them to analyze their own before they proceed to analyze others.
This assault on Indic culture was first started during the period of colonial rule in India.It has its origins in the atrocity literature which was regularly churned to highlight ills (imagined and real) which existed in Indian society by the British. A similar thing happens even today when Stanley Kurtz, an anthropologist specializing in Indian studies makes a ridiculous statement like this on Indian women and his interpretation of how they treat motherhood (hear in this 30 Second Clip) :
I am sure no Indian woman would subscribe to the above view of the Western scholar.Indeed in a talk during the launch of Invading the Sacred held at Mumbai in 2007, the audience could only laugh heartily to see such absurdities being peddled in the name of Indian motherhood.
We find it very amusing but the westerner takes it in all seriousness, and this is the kind of information that gets compiled into reports which are then used to paint a horrible picture of the human rights scenario in India. Such kind of scholarship mainly emanating from the West and lately being further facilitated by Indian scholars completely out of sync with the true story of India, is serving to demonize this ancient society and certainly this does not bode well for the future of Dharma. Do we need this human rights report from outsiders? Is it even factual? And if not, isn’t it time to question whether this human rights industry seriously has any real concern for the Indian woman.
The background picture of this twitter handle IndiaRapeWatchshould make you wonder whether there is any real concern for the Indian woman by this supposed watchdog. The picture seems to want to state that white women are unsafe in India which is full of leering, loutish men. There is nothing whatsoever (in the visual) about the Indian woman for who it ostensibly professes concern.
Evolution of Indic Society
Given this atrocity literature industry dating back to the colonial era, perhaps this is the time to take a look at our roots and a second look at whether our own ancestral heritage can provide the inspiration to elevate Indian women to their rightful position in society. Indic society is very old. In Vedic times, women enjoyed an exalted position in the social order. “The Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptures give numerous examples of women philosophers, politicians, teachers, administrators and saints” . There were women like Gargi, Maitreyi and Lopamudra among others who were equal to or more accomplished than their male counterparts in their knowledge of the Vedas and their grasp of philosophy. We also have the example of Ubhaya Bharati, the wife of Mandana Mishra who was defeated by Adi Shankara in a debate in as late as arguably the 8th century C.E. Ubhaya Mishra, a woman, was chosen to be the judge for the philosophical debate between Adi Shankara and Mandana Mishra for she was considered to be a very accomplished scholar in her own right. The beauty of the story was that Ubhaya couldn’t declare a winner until she too was rhetorically defeated by Sankara, because she was her husband’s other half.
These are only some examples of the prowess of our Dharmic women. However, like in any society, norms established for societal behavior, changed over time and certain unwanted elements crept in too. Certainly, every system goes through an evolution from birth, to youth, maturity, degradation and demise and rebirth. And so it was with Indic culture. Indeed, Bharat was a self correcting society and whenever societal structures stagnated, there would come a movement which would infuse new life into society and give birth to another movement. In India, all changes until about the 10th century C.E came from a system that was inherently grounded in Dharma be it the Jainism movement or later, the Buddhism movement. Both these systems were born from the bedrock of Vedic Dharmic culture. Hence reforms happened without the dismantling of the basic foundation of Dharma which is considered to be Sanatana or eternal.
Something happened around the 10th century C.E which would repeat over the next few hundred years. This would go on to take a toll on the Dharmic cultures that had existed side by side in this country until that point of time. Wave after wave of foreign invasions by people of non-Dharmic faiths from about the 10th century C.E. engulfed India in a tide of civilizational Total War. This was followed by colonial subjugation for a period of over 200 years. Obviously, in the course of this 1000 year continuous assault many things worked their way into the collective psyche giving rise to all sorts of societal ills. For example, the Sati system where the wife gives up her life when her husband dies, by immolating herself on his funeral pyre, became widespread. What was originally a voluntary act at first became a way to safeguard honour when the Turkic hordes came invading and began to ravage the spoils of war. Whole groups of women began to commit what was called jauhar, a mass self immolation, to escape becoming slaves of the foreigners. This later began to be considered as an obligatory act when the husband died. Thus it began to take on the colour of oppression and patriarchy, whatever its original intent.
Similar stories can be found for the practice of wearing of the ghoonghat (covering up one’s face or head when in male company. Interestingly, this practice was never followed in south India which was generally shielded from the worst impacts of the invasions). Dowry considered as such a scourge in India today is an interesting phenomenon that merits study. Veena Oldenberg, author of the book Dowry Murder, The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crimesays in an interview to Times Of India, “Prior to the arrival of the British In India, land was not seen as a commodity which could be bought and sold”. She goes on to then say that the British made land property ownership exclusively the right of males which led to the creation of a male economy. This then made the practice of female infanticide more rampant for people who wanted a male heir to their property.
The attempt by the British to codify all social and cultural practices which were inherently flexible, into a set of legal codes which of course excluded women, made the systems frozen and hostile to women. Dowry–originally known as Stridaan–began as a local practice of honoring a bride with a property gift from her father which would only be inherited matrilineally. However, it later began to be looked at as a means to extort money by grooms who were anyway in high demand due to the administrative policies of the British. In the midst of this corrupting of the Indian society, it must be emphasized that the British were no champions of women causes. They had absolutely no qualms in treating Indian women as chattel via indentured labor.
Such practices later, began to be used as tools for oppression and exploitation of the Indian woman. The sad consequence is that the girl child has today come to be looked upon as a burden rather than an asset to a family. 20th century saw India getting independence from the British but the independence was only in name and we had as a civilization just become incapable of picking ourselves up in any meaningful way. Our mindset had become colonized and the foreign system of education that was thrust upon us (incidentally started by Macaulay for a specific reason) ensured that we remained chained to the way of thinking that the British had institutionalized over the course of their 200 year stay here.
Along with impoverishing our nation theybrilliantly succeeded in impoverishing our mindstoo. And if we had the British then, we have the foreign funded NGO movement today which does its utmost to work on the faultlines existing in Indic society, exaggerating them even more and making divisions where none existed before. We would do well to listen very carefully to what Madhu Kishwar has to say about the workings of these NGOS in the below video. The video touches upon the aspect of how these NGOs treat the incidents of sati, dowry and the newest phenomenon under their scanner, the Khap panchayats.
So what is the Feminist Movement?
Feminism can be called as a collection of movements and ideologies that have a common goal. What is this common goal? This ostensible goal is to define, establish and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights for women. It also includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.
To understand the feminist movement, it is important to understand the role of Christian theology regarding the status traditionally accorded to women in the West. Linda Woodhead, a professor in the sociology of religion states that it’s the Book of Genesis that first mentions the Christian theological basis for forming a position on the roles of women. In the Book, the conclusion is that women are generally inferior to men. It also states “that the image of God shines more brightly” in men than women. All Abrahamic faiths and Christianity is no exception, have traditionally accorded a very inferior status to women.Women had no rights, social, political or economic and indeed no rights even over their own body and how they related to it.
Sin is at the heart of Abrahamic theology and hence while it is a truth claim of Christianity that all mankind is sinful, the woman is exceptionally so for it is she who initiated that first act of sin in the Garden of Eden. Eve, the biblical first woman on earth, was the one who was tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. She not only ate from the tree herself, she also made Adam do the same and hence compounded her guilt. This eating of the forbidden fruit made both of them realize they were naked which fact they weren’t aware of until that point. Thus was born sin. This then was what shaped attitudes to women in the West. So the first wave of feminism was a reaction to the general status of women in Western society and their lack of political voice.This first movement, which started in the late 19th century, brought voting rights to women.
The second wave of feminism which began in the 1960s was more about the skewed gender relations and the effects of that on economic and social equality. Second wave feminists strove to change the sexism inherent in power structures whether they be in the political, economic or social spheres and were greatly influenced by the communist ideology. There is also a third wave of feminism which co-exists with the second wave and deals with issues of sexuality which, according to them, were not addressed properly during the second wave. While second wave feminism was firmly and shrilly of the view that pornography was a form of violence against women, third wave feminists prefer to look at it as an exercise of free will.
Andrea Dworkin was a leading feminist voice and was called a radical feminist. Such feminists are of the view that patriarchy is the sole reason for all of woman’s problems. They posit that the woman is the “Other” who needs to be suppressed and marginalized by the patriarchy. Dworkin’s astonishing views on sexual intercourse have very deeply influenced third wave feminists who are advancing a trajectory of gender relations that has potential for immeasurable harm to the natural relations between sexes. Dworkin’s strong views made her a very controversial person and her detractors say that she peddled hate in the garb of feminism.
Third wave feminists are associated with the “raunch culture” as they see it as “expressions of femininity and female sexuality as a challenge to objectification”. They believe that women should be allowed to dress, act or express themselves in any manner they pleased since they are only exercising their basic freedom. Third wave feminists are also at the forefront of what is called as reclaiming abuse words like “b*tch”, “slut” and so on, associated with women and giving it an expression that they think defines the word for today.
Has Feminism helped the Plight of the Western Woman?
After taking a brief look at the movement and its evolution, let us now look at some statistics. “Nearly 1 in 5 women in U.S Survey say they have been sexually assaulted”. The fact is that women, for all the feminist movements, do not find themselves in a safe place in the West. “Approximately 2/3rd of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim”. These are stats with respect to rape in the West.
Women of course have become more independent and earn on par with their male peers in the West. They are very much in control of their destinies in general but what about the institution of marriage and the concept of family? An eye opening article by Pew research points out that, “Less than half (46%) of U.S kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage”. The article also says that the trend is that Americans generally seem to be delaying marriage or not reposing faith in the institution at all. It is worthwhile to go through the articlefor some very interesting stats. Fatherlessness is another of the fallouts of this movement. It is a growing concern in the U.K. and is often accompanied by economic disparity. “Fatherlessness is now reaping a whirlwind of destruction in U.K society” says Jonathan Bellamy .
Has Feminism helped the Indian Woman?
If the feminism of the West has been so liberating, why is it not borne out by facts? Worse, why is India buying into the idea? The horrific gang rape of a woman in Delhi in 2012 saw a spontaneous outpouring of emotion on the streets and there were many in the West who were indeed warmly surprised by the reaction of the Indian people. While such righteous outpouring is welcome, let’s see some stats on where India stands globally on the issue of rape. “United Nations data shows that in Sweden the rape rate is 63.5 per 100,000. In the US, it is 27.5; but as more than four-fifths of forcible rapes in the US are not reported at all (National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center Report July 2007), the effective rapes in the US will be more than 137.5 per 100,000! And what is the figure for India? Just 1.8!”.
The extreme left in India has what is called the Naxalite movement and this movement has abused and exploited women under the guise of women’s or worker’s rights, especially in the tribal areas where they are ostensibly there to improve the lot of the tribal woman. “Sexual exploitation of tribal women cadres in the Maoist camps have been disclosed in statements of several surrendered women CPI (Maoist) cadres of Odisha, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states. Such instances of sexual exploitation include rape, forced marriage and molestation by senior male CPI (Maoist) cadres”. The draconian anti-dowry laws are instruments used by feminists to willfully extort and demonize men as Deepika Bharadwajwill testify.
Sankrant Sanu in an article said. “Violent gang-rape is indeed an aberration in our society, hence the outrage”. But we have to indeed analyze and understand why such heinous acts are committed for it is not there either in our millennia old texts nor has it been prevalent in our society on such a scale until recently. We have to think and reflect on whether the “increasingly sexualized mass media message” is responsible for the changing behavior patterns. Sankrant’s article argues also in favor of lower marriageable age at least for rural communities as was the practice earlier so that youngsters can be sexually active at an earlier age within the bonds of a legal relationship like marriage. While this may or may not be an acceptable solution to all, and is indeed open to debate given our shock at any suggestion so contrary to our laws, it nevertheless is one which should be explored. In a bid to correct the wrongs of a previous era, we have arbitrarily applied a one-size-fits-all kind of law without pausing to understand the ramifications of such a draconian move.
The Way forward: Reviving Shakti
All this is relevant to me as a woman and as a member of Indic society. Dharma has always been context sensitive. It has never been about rigid unbendable absolutes. There is right and wrong, but it is always placed within a context and a situation. Society always occupies background space applying reasonable restrictions which helps to keep individual relations in equilibrium. Dharma is even handed and follows a middle path veering neither towards one extreme of mortification of flesh and ascetism nor towards the other extreme of selfishness and hedonism.
Therefore, measures for restoring the dignity of ideally half of India’s population should be in accordance with Dharma: context sensitive and in keeping with the times. Dharma offers the best chance for an individual and specifically for a woman to find herself fully. We have many examples of Dharmic women from history who were trailblazers for their time.
Today, an Indian woman may be educated and be part of the workforce driving the economy of the country. However, she should have the choice to also step out of it to nurture her family if she so desires. And there should be no derision attached to this choice. Often, we now hear people (especially those wanting to make a point about feminism) deriding the choice of a highly qualified woman choosing to stay at home to look after home and hearth. Education can never go in vain. It will help her guide her children to make the right choices and become responsible individuals. Such individuals then make a responsible society.
Creating a responsible society is no less a valid choice than one to pursue Artha in material terms. Kama is a valid pursuit in Dharma, but it is not a commodity to be paraded on the streets. It is to be enjoyed privately between two loving partners according to norms that are mutually comfortable without having labels of misogyny and misandry attached to it. The ultimate aim of a person’s journey according to Dharma is Moksha. Isn’t it better to aim for it in harmony with the rhythm of the cosmos than to seek it kicking and screaming and trying to bend nature’s will to yours? Would take you that many more lives if you try the second path…
Purusha and Prakriti or Shiva and Shakti: whichever way you want to look at it, one is not complete without the other. It is only the partnership and complementaritybetween the two that can lead to the One. And therein lies the potential of awakening Shakti in Indic society once more.
“The special relationship between the Hindu mother and her son appears here as a variation on a distinctive Hindu pattern rather than as a mere intensification of a style of intimacy found in the West . . . Nursing is not therefore, an occasion through which mother and child cement on an emotional union. The child is frequently fed, yet the mother seldom lingers to mirror the baby’s satisfaction. Thus, while the child no doubt develops a strong emotional attachment to the mother as a result of the physical gratification she provides, the mother does not respond by setting up a Western-style loving, emotional partnership.”