A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on August 7, 2013
To understand Dharma is to understand Indic civilization and its myriad cultures.
It is Dharma that is the organizing principle of Bharatavarsha and indeed, the most powerful idea in the literary heritage of the Indian Subcontinent in general, and India in particular.
The four native religions of Bharat (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh) all emphasize the centrality of Dharma as the core ideal of our Sanskriti and Bharatiyata. Therefore, to understand and appreciate the culture of Indic Civilization, one must be conversant in the ways of Dharma. This Post will highlight the subtlety, context sensitivity, and profoundness of Dharma.
The essence of Dharma is not based on an obsession with caste or ritual. Rather, it is about righteousness and duty and sacrificing one’s self for others. To understand dharma is to understand the cosmic order of the universe, Rta, which is rooted in truth, Satya. Dharma’s root word in Sanskrit is dharyate (literally, to uphold the order). Thus, practitioners of dharma must uphold this order.
The core of this order is not focused on the trivialities of caste and the divinely intended accident of birth, but rather, of mother raising child, husband protecting wife, child taking care of old parents, and rich assisting poor. It is about strong defending weak and putting societal interest before self interest–that is the heart of Dharma.
This essence is expounded not only in Sanatana Dharma, Hinduism, but also in the great texts and philosophies of Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, all of which venerate Bharatavarsha as their punyabhoomi, or home of their holy sites (both North and South of the Vindhyas). Whether it is the Eightfold path or Ashtanga Yoga, the same concepts of right conduct and yama-niyama form the foundation of all these paths, and therefore, transcend all panths (religions). Whether it is the Five Main Vows or the Five K’s (kesh, kanga, kirpan, kara, kachera), the guidelines (and the symbolic ideals that they embody) have a similarity that is identifiable to even the unschooled. The common values, courtesies, and guiding principles are immanent in the Purvas and Guru Granth Sahib alike. The same distinguishment between illusion and reality and encouragement of self-study and spiritual knowledge can be found in the Dharmasastra as well as the Dhammapada. Even the same reverence for life through common practices and encouragement of vegetarianism is apparent. This is because Dharma (righteousness), and especially Bharatiya Dharma, transcends religion (panth).
Vaidika Dharma (sanatana dharma as expressed by the Vedas) has three parts, karma kanda (which requires ritual and yagna), jnana kanda (knowledge of the truth as contained in the Upanishads), and upasana/bhakti kanda (which emphasizes compassion for all and devotion to God as seen in the Bhagavata Purana).
Karma kanda is the spiritual kindergarten (Swami Vivekananda himself spoke of this). It disciplines the individual so that he is fit to receive knowledge of reality (jnana). This knowledge and awareness of God, or Brahman, in all things, is what leads to worship/devotion and compassion (upasana/bhakti and karuna) It is for this reason that Vedanta, literally the End of the Vedas, is the object, rather than mere yagna and ritual.
Those who misunderstand or even misinterpret dharma get lost in the trivialities of karma kanda. They grow arrogant of their religious merit and birth and forget the true purpose of the exercise. If we are all mere creations of God, where is the place for arrogance and contempt towards our fellow man or even living thing of whatever background? After all, could not the brahmin have been a dalit in a previous life? Could not the dalit have been a brahmin in a previous life?
Arrogance of birth, lineage, caste, knowledge, and religious merit are some of the most dangerous as they lead away from the path of sanatana dharma to false ego, pride, anger, and destruction. Mere puja and archana doesn’t take us to God; they are but a start and also an aid to the troubled and anxious. Dharma is the path, and it is acted in the outside world. How we conduct ourselves in all settings (not just in the puja room) and how we treat others is how we are ultimately judged for fitness to reach God (or attain Nirvana).
Vaidika dharma does stipulate Varnashrama Dharma. Literally this emphasizes the division of labour (varna–caste is a misnomer) and stage of life (ashrama) as stipulating the right course of action in a given context. The logic behind this is that no member of society will simultaneously have spiritual, politico-military, commercial, and labor power. Any concentration of power with 2 or more of these types of power leads to tyranny, oppression, and adharma.
While historically traditions naturally passed from father to son (even outside India), in our era, people foolishly believe that birth itself grants privilege. What people forget is that with privilege comes duty.
As such, it is conduct that is the key determinant of a person’s true varna. The dharma or duty that one chooses to follow, whether as teacher/spiritual guide, administrator/warrior, merchant/farmer, or artisan/worker must not be cause for arrogance, but cause for humility. With each varna dharma comes a responsibility to society.
Each individual, no matter how privileged his birth, has a solemn and inalienable duty to society, and should not only behave in harmony with his varna dharma, but must behave in line with the moral commands of Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Dharma, which is the origin of all dharmas. Each varna is but a mere spoke in the wheel of society, and it is the Chakravartin who turns the wheel in order to uphold Dharma under the auspices of God. Thus those who become arrogant should remember that God has the ability to both grant and take away their position, and they must not abuse their power. Stewardship must be the mindset. Kings do not rule for only their pleasure and glory, and brahmins do not conduct yagnas for their own privilege; both operate as stewards, ruling and teaching respectively, while being ultimately accountable to God.
To move Dharma forward into the modern era, the mistakes of the past must be rectified. This means that the dalit communities of Indian Subcontinent have to be fully integrated. As is the law of the land, so to must untouchability be eliminated at the social level. After all, if the original thinking behind the system was that those who transgressed Dharma would be ostracized from society, how can upper and middle castes continue to bar dalits if they don’t outcaste their own caste brothers who eat beef, etc. today? People cannot ask for privilege while failing to do their duty. What kind of system gives only rights without responsibility? This is certainly not Varnashrama Dharma, let alone Sanatana Dharma.
According to the dharma sutras themselves, outcasted members of society or their descendants can be readmitted after prayascitta (penance/observance) and shuddhi. It is possible to do this by properly and sincerely readmitting the Subcontinent’s dalit jatis back into religious society. This is the best means of not only ensuring social justice to a wronged community, but of ensuring Dharma itself.
Accordingly, there have been many misinterpretations of dharma along the way. One such example is the treatment of the leather worker. While it is one thing to outcaste brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas, and sudras who commit personal sin, it is another to unfairly outcaste entire jatis of honest workers performing a service that all of society requires. If leather-working itself is sin, then let all those who wear leather be outcasted as well. People cannot have their cake and eat it too. Leather working is honest work as is sanitation and all members of Indic society must be integrated. Certainly, God himself will not enter, let alone bless the entrants and employees of, a temple that bars his devotees from entering.
Ultimately, what must be remembered by the more ritually inclined of whatever varna is that karmakanda is merely the kindergarten. It is the starting point so that people are fit to receive true knowledge of the existence of God in all things and all living creatures, and most importantly, all human beings. While one can read to know, reading is not understanding. So whatever are the requirements of ritual, be kind and courteous in the performance of those duties, for one will find that jnana and upasana kanda will lead to understanding why humility and compassion for all living things are the gunas that God ultimately wishes to encourage.
Think of others before you think of yourself, that is the surest path to God and at the heart of Dharma.
A version of this Post was published at Andhra Cultural Portal on April 14, 2015
There is an old and ancient saying that you can’t fix stupid or “you can’t cure stupidity”. We disagree.
Concluding our Series on Indian Stupidity, is our fifth and final piece Culture: The Cure for Stupidity. It further investigates the consciousness and behaviours of the Indian people. While culture is partly about celebrating our heritage and traditions, it is also about understanding what we need to improve and even correct in a changing world.
In our preceding Post, we identified the following as the elements of Indian Stupidity: Attention Deficit Disorder, Missing the Woods for the Trees, Rote Memorization, Status Obsession,Sentimentality, Sore-loserness, Inability to Shut up, Action vs Reaction, & Lack of Focus resulting from Loss of Culture.
This Post will focus on the last element, Culture.
What is Culture
Culture can mean many things to many people. To the average deracinated Indian or clueless foreigner for example, Indian culture means “caste, curry, cows” or at best, Bollywood. To others it may mean only the arts, dress, festivals and rituals of a people. The textbook definition of culture however is as follows:
In fact, the literal Latin word means “cultivated” or refined, which incidentally, is the precise meaning of Sanskrit and Sanskriti. Refinement, not only in song and dance, or food and painting, but in thinking and above all, action. Indeed, the dictionary definition is:
Action. The very thing our modern Bharatiya bolna babus are infamous for being incapable of. This is because they have conflicting interests and motivations, rather than a common virtue, a common Dharma, a common culture. Naysayers may protest saying, “What do you mean they don’t have culture?! They know Ghalib and ghazals!“. But that is not the sum total of culture nor even the culture of the entire Civilization.
Arts are the Alankara (ornament) of culture, not culture itself. They provide medium for the expression of timeless values that give meaning to life. It is not restricted to a panth (religion), but transcends it, and connects relative with relative, neighbour with neighbour, and Bharatiya to Bharatiya. It is for this reason we have stressed Bharatiya dharma, as dharma transcends religion. Your religion is your own business, but praja dharma (the dharma of citizens) is common to all.
Why it is the Cure
Culture teaches behaviour, Culture teach etiquette, Culture teaches good conduct, Culture teaches history, Culture teaches classics, and above all, Culture teaches Wisdom. And as has been taught since the time of the ancients, Knowledge is Not Wisdom.
Because our Dharmic culture, our Bharatiya Sanskriti, teaches these things, it counters stupidity by providing a reference point for the very ability of judgment stupid people lack. As the stupid person has a deficiency in judgment, culture instills in him or her the compass to navigate through his or her problems and through life itself.
Dharma is the protection & upholding of the righteous order Rta as expressed by Satya
Culture is critical as maps may change, but the cardinal directions do not.It is precisely why the distinction is made between Sanatana Dharma and Yuga Dharma. The principles are timeless, but the rules will have to adapt to time, place, and manner. What is appropriate in one era (Satya Harishchandra) may not be in another (Yudhisthira). It is this very flexibility of Dharma that Krishna expounded on the field of the Kurus. The principle of protecting truth via dharma is superior to the rules of civility, etiquette, propriety, and good conduct.This is because dharma is the fountain of all of these, and while it can survive without them, they cannot survive without it. Without Dharma, a so-called “civilised society” may look outwardly polite and gentlemanly, but inwardly be brutish and barbaric.
As defined above via the Latin root, the cultured person, is the cultivated person.To use the time-worn platitude, as the land left fallow does not produce fruit, so too does the untilled mind remain a fruitless existence. Indeed, a rootless person, is like a flower in the wind, blowing in whichever direction the winds of fashionability or pop culture take him or her without the benefits of…
And that is precisely the problem. This generation has failed to pass on the language, material, objects, rituals, institutions, and art to the next generation–not to mention, failed to teach their value.In the quest to ace exams, get seats in engineering, and get jobs in IT companies, a generation of rootless individuals has been produced. Macaulay’s great task has been completed. Because the sum of their attitudes, customs, and beliefs are no longer distinguishable from European, American, Arab, or even Persian views the fashionable winds of Bollywood and NCERT lead them to believe, they have become alienated from each other and themselves.
Many may argue that destruction of our attitudes and beliefs is indeed desirable, as caste and gender issues will then be discarded. But is that really the case? Even “militant” atheist and avowed secular modernist Richard Dawkins described himself as a “cultural Christian”. And all this despite the legacy ofinquisition, burning womenat the stake, slavery and even more unmentionable crimes that plague various churches to this day. Christianity and European civilization are given the benefits of the doubt and ample time to allegedly reform, but time’s up for the turban-wallahs? Why the exception for Indic Civilization?
America can have its “Freedom“, Europe can have its “Human Rights” (or “Christian Love“…they’re still deciding…), Persia can have its “Adab“, and China can have its “Tianxia“, but India must be denied its “Dharma“?
Others argue that this is a “brahminical conspiracy” to impose uniformity on their [ineluctable] “Idea of India”. But that is precisely why we have stressed Dharmic Culture as the foundation, because if there is an Idea of India it is Dharma, and even dyed-in-the-wool “secularists” like Romila Thapar have realized this. Dharma is an idea and ideal that transcends the modern definition of Hinduism and extends to at least 3 other modern religions, not to mention various other nastika doctrines, and the ideal of Saamanya Dharma transcends the narrow strictures of caste and creed.It is the principle that binds couples, families, communities, and the country together.
So no wonder our “baboos” have been unable to concertedly act in unisonand have this shared basis for social action. The anglicized baboo is clashing with the arabized baboo who is clashing with the “brahminist” baboo who is clashing with the persianized baboo, all while the youth start dreaming of being something else entirely. This is what happens when India and Indic Civilization is denied its Dharma. No wonder its denizens have a “deficiency in judgment”–what civilizational basis does our cultural schizophrenic have to judge the proper course of social action?
Countries must become strong, yes, and adapt their values to the present era, sure, but they must not forget who they are or discard their identities wholesale in the name of progress and modernity.
Hot-Cold, Up-Down, Left-Right, Ascetic or Hedonist, Primitive or Modern, Parochial or Global, Secular or Communal, Capitalist or Socialist, Cool or Lame. Loss of culture first and foremost leads to simplistic binary thinking, and in the process, gives us a severely limited understanding of Right vs Wrong.
Typically these dichotomies are driven by heuristics. Like so many mice in a maze, rootless individuals are taught only by shocks that indicate their progress to the cheese. Shock-No shock, Yes-No, With me-Against me, Friend-Enemy. Limited binary thinking leads to unexamined heuristics.
Such a society also leads to extremes in gender roles. Men are expected to be hyper-masculine and women hyper-feminine (usually a euphemism for hyper-sexual). But look up the reputation of the Sacred Band of Thebes and Amazons to understand what uni-dimensional gender constructs create.
It is why our Indian heroes…our real Indian heroes…our great Kings and Emperors were not either 1 dimensional blocks of testosterone or milquetoast, emasculated savants of the arts, but possessed both manliness and cultural refinement: the bow in one arm and the lute in the other . Therefore, in raising children, the question is not boxing or book-reading, kalari or karnatic, vaana or veena, but both.
Maharajadiraja Samrat Samudra Gupta with veena & vaana
Even our heroines weren’t uni-dimensional damsels in distress. They were (and are) strong women with minds of their own (from Sita and Savitri to Upakosa and UbhayaBharati). Indic Civilization valued not only the matchless beauty of our women but also the peerlessness of their brains and the timelessness of their values.
It was, and is, also not a society that shied away from female sexuality; rather, it celebrated it. One need only read a verse of Kalidasa to see this. Indeed, it only recognized that kama was appropriate based on time/place/manner per one’s Dharma. But while binary thinkers only see sexually-liberated vs prude, Dharmic thinkers are context sensitive.
Dharma is subtle, and so, it recognizes changes in situations, and circumstances, that make absolute rigid rules difficult–and so, it stresses principles instead.
Lack of Emotional Awareness
Our average Indian plain and simply lacks emotional awareness.
A creature of pure sentiment, he laughs when he is happy, tears up when he is emotional, complains when he is hungry, and becomes pusillanimous when he is fearful. Rather than keeping his wits together and asking what is the proper course of action in his long term interests, his sentiment of the moment dictates his action, which is duly rationalized later. When internal conflict isn’t delayed or minimized, what society can cohesively tackle its issues?When individuals can’t manage their emotions, how can they keep their friends and allies, let alone deal with their enemies and problems?
Without stepping outside of one’s self to evaluate our own behaviors dispassionately, how do we know if a course-correction is required? How can we judge whether we were right or wrong? We can’t, hence deficiency in judgment being the near text book definition of stupidity.
Low Threshold for Tolerance
With the lack culture comes lack of patience. And with that, comes a low threshold for tolerance. Tolerance of pain, opinions, fear, odds, and even scale of work ahead.
Like bipolar children, de-cultured individuals begin to respond to incentive in a manner similar to Palvov’s proverbial dog. As such, not only internal impulse, but external stimulus drives behaviour, rather than judgment.
Lack of Shame
This is one of the few areas where India has not been completely transformed for the worse…yet. The words “kuch tho sharam karo” still have some meaning. And so, we will have to turn to avante-garde America for illustration.
From Paris Hilton, to the Kardashians to the proliferation of reality tv, the death of shame has been documented in detail by Western societies.
America in particular, for a period, decried the demise of self-respect. But the birth pangs of the 2000s have led to the terrible two’s of the 2010s. Shame simply no longer exists in vast areas of societal interchange, and attention has become the invaluable currency of ingénues.
Leave aside ourBindaas Big Boss shows, the wholesale Bollywood mainstreaming of Sunny Leone has and will lead to the death of shame in India as well.
And this is not a broadside only at ladies. Men too have been and are subject to this. Slowly but surely, their sense of responsibility has been diminished. Many no longer take care of their parents, leave aside supporting the children they sire out of wedlock. The entire purpose of marriage has been diminished from the joining of two souls and the foundation of family, to a notch on the bedpost of life.
Of course, this doesn’t mean being a repressed person for repression now can lead to eruption later. Rather, it means finding balance between prudery and prurience. If one chooses the path to asceticism, it should only be through guidance and with yogic balance. As Lord Krishna says, one who represses is lying to himself. The key is awareness and management. That is why Grihasthaashrama (being a householder/family man/woman)is prescribed for most people, as sanyaasi is very difficult, especially in the prime of one’s life. It also means have a sense of self-respect and a sense of shame. Without shame, we end up looking like buffoons.
Don’t be this guy
Read one article, and our morons and moronis think they are educated. One word of praise, and they gush with bollywood sentiment. Release motivated media campaigns, and they think foreigners have no agenda when “they are showing us the mirror”…
These youthful yutzes proclaim “oh don’t be stubborn, don’t just recite statistics”. But statistics matter, not your personal anecdotes. There are even statistics for under-reporting. If you don’t take even those seriously, who then is being stubbornly illogical?
Using foreigners to settle your own scores is the time tested tactic for self-destruction, and emblematic of gullible buffoonery. This is because people who share a culture know they have less reason to suspect the intentions of the other towards their society. In fact, True Romans were considered to be those who were suspicious of foreigners. This doesn’t mean paranoia or xenophobia, but merely healthy self-respect and societal regard. After all, a fellow citizen has a duty to your society, a foreigner does not.
As we have written previously, rather than spending years understanding an area—the bits and pieces of received wisdom are congealed to create a walking moron of heuristics. Instead of firmly establishing views on logic—logic is contorted to fit the view. And the frenetic, even nervous, energy is fired off in a machine gun burst of buffoonery.
This is compounded by obsession with global perception rather than national principle. Perceptions are important, but perception is not reality. When you are driven by perceptions rather than principles, you become putty for pop-culture. Driven by fashionability, you feel that anything you have or do that is not trendy is inferior.
Many people often suffer from inferiority complex. They feel whatever they have, whatever they eat, or wherever they come from is not as good as certain parts of the world. As we said above, youth may even want to become something else entirely. Accents are faked, even sports affiliations are affected, all in the name of trying to fit in somewhere else. What these poor pathetic souls don’t realize is that the in group they are trying to join is laughing at that the self-declared affiliations, even if they are polite to your face. There is nothing more pathetic than a wannabe.
In fact, rumors have it that the entire reason Nehru affixed the undeserved “Pandit” as an honorific was because he was jealous of Shri Ambedkar’s academic accomplishments. As such, even superiority complexes are very frequently (though not always) the product of an inferiority complex. .
It also causes people to debate to oblivion. Debate in its intended form is about discerning the truth. That is the literal meaning of Dialectics. While competitive debate, vad-vivad, is a great skill to develop, it must be done using logic, nyaya/tarka, and with the understanding that arguments must be logical. But this is what debate has become today.
As a result, our decultured Indians are unwitting chumps in a game that requires high confidence and high emotional awareness and high threshold for tolerance. Being angry, losing one’s self-control, unleashing a flurry of f-words is not the way to win the audience. In fact, rather than revealing the truth about the topic, it only reveals the truth about one’s self being a coddled little mama’s boy.
Mummy Approved Egos
It is not for nothing Mothers are referred to as the first guru. Thus, our inferiority complexed individuals are overly dependent not only their mothers’ received wisdom, but their approval as well. “But Mama said” becomes their byword. A mother’s authority is not to tyrannize or train to do tricks like a poodle, but to teach how to think and relate to the world.Her child, boy or girl, should be armed with principles and given advice that can beadapted to time and place. A mother should also not smother her child so much that he cannot take criticism, or not have his views challenged. A slight or even an insult, should not set him off into a wild rage.
Mummy approved egos place premiums on received wisdom
Received Wisdom: AKA Policy over Principles
Better known as the Gyaani complex, received wisdom and rote memorization is the modus operandi of our decultured person. It is in effect, hearsay. While their fellow de-cultured may decry, saying culture just imposes dogma, which is itself received wisdom, this is incorrect. Culture gives us principles so as to evaluate. Rather than a rigid rule book that is a one-size-its all for all time, it gives us principles and stories and practices to evaluate truth. Marxist minions may shriek “there is no truth, only perspective!“, but they are trained to deconstruct to oblivion. Rebels without a cause, relativism is their religion, hence truth isn’t accessible to them. When even Wikipedia emphatically asserts the need for a Neutral Point of View, how then could there not be truth? Of course there is, it may not be completely perceivable to mortal eyes, but logic, judgment, and patience eventually allows us to discover all or at least most of it.
But our sarvagyaanis aren’t concerned with truth or principles, they are concerned about policies.Whatever their guru-sishya parampara has taught them, they shop around intensively, from soapbox to soapbox. That is received wisdom–not flexible principles for dealing with problems, but the same solutions for every problem. Binary thinking teaches them to respond only to whether a person supports or opposes their policy. “You are not for free-market capitalism?–Well you must be ya-gainest wealth and for socialism!“. “You are not absolute pro-choice, then you must be against women’s rights!”Thus, the de-cultured person is trained to think only in terms of policy, not principles. Nuance becomes neutered, and emotional screeds substitute for rational argument. This also leads to Personality Cults.
One of the oft-frequent complaints of gurus throughout the ages was focus of sishyas on master rather than message.There is a proliferation on social media of would be saviours who specialize in reciting the mahavakyas of the adi acharyas of their paramparas, memorizing those lineages, and fan club ization of their personae. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in reverence or idol worship, idolization is problematic.
Idol Worship (more correctly called Murthi Puja) is perfectly righteous in Dharma traditions. Idle Worship, however, is not. Karma, especially, thoughtful action, is critical.
Received wisdom may not even have the veneer of being wise. Simple even brainless pop culture trends drive fashionability rather than genuine merit. We saw it on TV so it must be cool, we heard it on the radio so it must be good, our peer group is doing it so it must be followed. While pop culture can indeed be fun, it cannot be a foundation. This is all the more when pop culture, even culture itself, has become commoditized. This makes high culture and a classical education all the more important, so that mores and morals can be separated from markets. Trendy thought leads to Group Think. Group Think, in turn, leads to Group Action. Therefore, such individuals become devotees of personality cults, rather than practitioners of problem solving.
Inability to Problem Solve
Our IIT grads and engineering batch may revolt in general at the very notion, but is it really so far from the truth? Sure, after many years of coaching centers they are trained to answer questions. They may even learn how to build rockets and put them into space based on prior scientific breakthrough. But the question is, do they know what to do when a completely new problem or multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary issue stares them in the face?
They may even be trained to analyze, but is this analysis to problem solve or analysis to paralysis?True problem-solving takes into mind that one cannot possibly know every fact in a situation. A degree of uncertainty will be required, as well as willingness to consider alternatives by stepping outside of the situation. Rather than viewing the world as mere functions, entire paradigms must be evaluated, and then reevaluated. That is the difference between merely getting an answer and solving a problem. That is the difference between tactical thinking and strategic thinking, which is at the heart of real world problem solving. Rather than viewing it through the tunnel vision of just engineering, just politics, just economics, or just philosophy, true problem solving attempts to understand the relationship from all those perspectives and determine the best outcome for an organization or society.
Act First, Think Later
When one has lost his or her culture, there is a pressure to act immediately. Rather than pay attention to social obligation or have basic etiquette, impulse becomes the driver. The immediate need to know what else is there or to chase after what we might be missing becomes more important than what we actually have.
This is precisely what happens when people lose their culture. No etiquette, no decency, no brains.
Preoccupation with the Mundane
The de-cultured person is easily drawn to the mundane and distracted by mere trinkets. Dwelling forever in the realm of the senses. Money, Lust, and Gluttony become the chief occupants of his or her life.
Because culture teaches values, because culture teaches delayed gratification, because culture teaches that there is more to life beyond animal impulses, the deracinated person becomes chiefly occupied even obsessed with mundane sense gratification. Relationships, careers, even life itself suffers under slavery to the senses. Ignorance becomes bliss.
How Culture Cures Stupidity
In our previous piece, we provided a Kant quote that defined it as the following: “Deficiency in judgment is properly that which is called stupidity”. As we’ve explained above, culture is the cure for stupidity as it provides a principled base for judgment drawing from the time-tested history and experience of a tradition and people.
So how does culture provide judgment?
High Threshold for Tolerance
Dignity, Honour, and Respect
Principles Prior to Policy
Ability to Problem Solve
Think First, Act Later
Elevation rather than Debasing
How did they beat you?
While the binary thinker is subject to Macaulay’s colonial attitudes demarcating x as inferior and y as superior, the holistic thinker does not view the world in zeros and ones. He or she doesn’t simply assume a circumstance for all time, but understands and evaluates…why?
Contrary to commie commentators, the Classical Indic Education is not merely about rote memorization but is about constant questioning. The Upanishads themselves are an exploration into the “why” and “how” and “what” of existence. The Classical Indic Education, whether self-driven &/or gurukul-based, ensures rootedness that does not substitute for, but should be combined with, modernity-derived knowledge. In doing so, one is equipped to critique the origins and originators of “modern” knowledge. Rather than mice in a maze or robots programmed to operate on command or poodles trained to jump through hoops, we begin to think independently, consider matters from all angles, and above all, keep our wits.
When you are an holistic thinker, you begin to understand that you are not just an individual or a consumer in a market, but a member of a society. This does not mean socialism or communism, because systems that overly concentrate or overly centralize at the national level, begin overtly interfering in families…even breaking them.
Holistic thinkers have internal discipline that comes not from the pain of lash, or fear of an exam result, but from commitment to an ideal. They recognize that a society is more than the sum of its parts. That relationships matter, families matter, communities matter, and that country matters. Rather than viewing nations as merely composed of individuals, such a person considers all these elements. Feeling a part of a society means not feeling alone either–yet another driver for sputtering hyper-activity and aimlessness. But above all, the holistic thinker has a ready arsenal of niti, lessons, that stem from his or her education.
While the great Sanskrit epics are a veritable storehouse of niti, it is the Panchatantra, with its pithy maxims, that is most accessible to even the common man-child. Silence is golden. Every dog has its day, Knowledge is not Wisdom, all these simple guides not only provide practical lessons to survive conflict in society, but reveal the universality of our tumultuous emotions…and how to manage them.
Every human being feels envy at some point, but culture provides the insight into being aware of one’s emotions and how to manage them by recalling such time tested lessons, which neutralize envy in favour of optimism for our own day yet to come. This emotional maturity, in turn, helps us deal with adversity, even in the most trying of situations.
High Threshold for Tolerance
Adversity not only tests a Man or Woman’s valour, but also a Man or Woman’s Dharma, a Man or Woman’s culture. It is such adverse circumstances, where injustice is done, where relatives divide, where property or wealth is at stake, that a family, indeed a society, shows its culture.
It is the culture of Sri Rama and the House of the Raghus that allowed them to bear the burden of not one but two tragedies. It was their Dharmic Culture, their sense of virtue, of right and wrong, that ensured that the rightful heir would ultimately, after all vows and promises were kept, be restored to his rightful throne. Rather than selfish individuals looking to maximize personal utility, they selflessly competed with one another in altruism, ensuring that Dharma, rather than matsya nyaya (big fish eats little fish) determined the best outcome for all.
Look at the supreme and peerless grace of Bhagvan Shri Ram, and the forbearance with which he accepted being disinherited in favour of his younger brother. Look at his unselfishness (and that of other family members) in thinking of the good of the family, the kingdom, and the fame of the Ikshvakus as a dynasty that always keeps its word. Sons have given up their lives to keep their father’s throne, but which other son has given up his own throne to keep his father’s vow? Such is the nobility of Rama and the refinement of his culture that he had this high threshold for tolerance.
Dignity, Honour, and Respect
With a high threshold for tolerance, comes dignity, honour, and respect. This comes not only from the regard people have for the unselfish and commendable conduct of individuals like Sri Rama, but also from the self-respect that comes from virtue.
Before our culturally confused pseudo-secularatti screech and holler in outrage, let them read what the author of The Social Contract and famous European Enlightenment thinker himself said. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that simplicity is better than complexity, but if we must have a sophisticated culture, let it celebrate virtue:
It is by following this example that the truly great monarch…drew from the very bosom of the arts and sciences…the dangerous trust of human knowledge…yet the sacred guardians of morals…
Those Academies also, which, in proposing prizes for literary merit, make choice of such subjects as are calculated to arouse the love of virtue in the heart of citizens…not only by agreeable exercises of the intellect, but also by useful instructions. p.92
Our globalized sepoy sophisticates may balk at the Indian’s dharma, but what will they say to the Frenchman’s virtue? “What is the need?”, they may ask “We have secularism, science, and…technology!” But here’s what Rousseau himself wrote:
We have physicists, geometricians, chemists, astronomers, poets, musicians, and painters in plenty; but we have no longer a citizen among us
Thus, it is love of virtue that leads a citizen to do his duty or give respect to another. After all, a gentleman behaves with courtesy to a Sita or Surpanakha alike, not because of what it says about them, but because of what it says about him. It is his sense of virtue, his sense of Dharma, that not only gives his respect to others, but commands respect from others, affirming his own confidence in self.
Respect from society and self-respect lead to self-confidence. The poor hapless, deracinated Indian is subjected with mockery for not looking like a European or a Persian, given fairness creams to allegedly become lovelier, taught foreign language and history rather than native ones, and told native traditions and sciences have no value. Is it any wonder he or she has an inferiority complex today? This is the result of alienation from culture.
Whenever someone insults you or your people (“dark”, “invaders”) culture teaches you to deflect those bullets (“beauty in eye of beholder”—”some prefer less some prefer more pigment”, Battle of Rajasthan, Vijayanagara, Marathas, Sikhs). This applies even in the case of gender “women are weak” (Vivekananda: “How are women weak? What man has the internal strength to give birth”[paraphrase]). That is the value of culture.
It also means being able to innovateand even adapt as being cultured doesn’t mean being hide-bound. One can be rooted and cosmopolitan at the same time–it is merely a question of prioritizing.
Principle Prior to Policy
The gyaani complex is one that is oft-complained about and is oft-analyzed; what is not oft-discussed, however, is the solution, and that is culture.
As we wrote above, received wisdom is the mantra of the gyaani. He touts his un-analysed assortment of heuristics and hearsay as the solution for every problem, and not only will he brook no opposition, he won’t even listen to opposing views. His “chankian” strategy is the silver bullet.
In contrast, culture in fact teaches to problem solve (study the history, study the nature, read the accounts of the ancients, adapt to the circumstances). Culture will also help us determine the difference between useful learning and pedantry. As Rousseau decried “We do not ask whether a book is useful, but whether it is well-written” (ibid). This is yet another problem with our gyaanis today. They are more keen on demonstrating their intellect, hence the IQ obsession, rather than doing something useful. In contrast, culture doesn’t emphasize poodle tricks on an exam, but competence and character. Unlike our sarvagyaanis, it recognizes that knowledge in one area doesn’t certify knowledge in another.
We must distinguish between our Kautilyas and our Mandana Mishras. Just because you read a book or two on philosophy doesn’t make you Adi Sankara, just because you read a book or two on history doesn’t make you Shivaji. Bloated egos must be put aside; ambition and tempers deflated for common good…or at the very least, personal prudence.
Binary thinking leads to inability to deal with significant grey areas and pervasive uncertainty. People don’t always show their hand. Shakunis don’t always reveal themselves to their Nephews, if at all. This is the value of the value of “shut up”. Big mouth know-it-all Indians live in the binary world of best friend-worst enemy. They need to focus on interests. Interests, values, objectives, tactics, strategy, and above, all, culture.
Because it helps us prioritize correctly, it also helps individuals and even groups to problem solve.
Ability to Problem Solve
Even the most skillful strategist cannot lead his team to success if it’s composed of stupid, argumentative idiots. No matter how brilliant the strategy, a team of selfish, jealous, petty unthinking people cannot accomplish a major task. Thus, to fix the stupid, one must rely not on strategy, or “reforms”, or laws, but culture.
Rote-memorizers cannot be senapatis. Sarvagyaanis cannot be sainiks. Logic, the School of Nyaya, must help us navigate this deep into the Kaliyug. It cannot just be recited without thinking, logical bases must guide the use and recitation of knowledge.
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 (action). 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.
Finally, culture teaches individuals to usefully apply their knowledge and to resolve conflict with humility. To non-profanely paraphrase a French saying: “[Crap] in a silk stocking is still [crap].” Mere expensive clothes or literary pedantry or even outward piety is not culture. And that is the case today in India. Not only with our nouveau elite, but with our paleo-elite as well. If the former behaves brutishly due to its “global” education and pseudo-secular attitudes, the latter behaves arrogantly due to puja, punya, or punaskara. Neither brutishness nor arrogance are good for society, nor for solving its problems. One leads to its unraveling or explosion, and the other by alienating non-elites, to implosion. Therefore, real culture places problem-solving above poseur pedantry.
Think First, Act Later
While the culture-less are driven by hyper-activity or a desire to embrace the fashionable, the cultured take a moment to reflect on the proper course of action and have the ability to follow through. This is why culture eats strategy for breakfast. An individual, a family, an organization, a society at harmony will have the ability to not only devise the right strategy and implement the right tactics, but have the cultural wherewithal to execute properly.
What’s more, a sound culture, has a strategic culture that teaches you to think about and reflect upon your actions. It will advise you on the importance of drawing from other sides as needed. As Rajiv Malhotra has re-popularized, Purva Paksha (studying the other wing or camp) is part of our culture. By properly studying the other side even before we open our mouth, we will know when to keep it closed.
Above all, it teaches you when not to act and how not to act. Rather than being driven by your senses or thoughts to the mundane, culture elevates you to act in accordance with the elevating.
Elevating instead of Debasing
Culture redirects from the mundane and commonplace to the complex and transcendental. Notice we didn’t say simple. In fact simple living is considered the ideal not only in our Dharmic tradition (we will touch on this in a future post), but in others such as the Daoist of China.
Some may argue by saying, “Vell, aren’t there societies with vulgar art and prurient poetry. Are you saying then that they don’t have culture?“. I’m saying such a culture has degenerated or perhaps was degenerate ab initio. Culture as we defined above means cultivation or refinement, not only of the arts, but also of behavior. Ours is a culture where even the most animal of actions, sexual intercourse, is spiritual in its highest and most correct form. That is culture. Not one that reduces pleasure to selfish button pushing or chemical release, but that shares pleasures with one’s other half. Indeed, when done correctly, sex becomes about prioritizing the giving of pleasure rather than receiving…ultimately making the experience for both greater than the sum of parts. This is why society explicitly attaches sex with love. Because if you really love someone, their pleasure becomes more important than your own. It’s also why teleologically, it’s an act meant for two, and why monogamy is ultimately superior to polygamy.
A rancid culture is selfish, self-serving, and debasing. No act becomes unacceptable in the quest for pleasure. This is the danger of hedonism. Not because of where we start, but because of where we ultimately and even unintentionally end up.
Though by and large discredited as either debunked or derivative, Freudian Psychology remains relevant with respect to thetheory of the Super Ego.
Id, Ego, Super-Ego
When we first experience animal urges in great strength—lust being the most infamous—it is often quenched with abandon. The less spiritually inclined among us may wonder “why would we ever want anything else”, “forget how, why should this even be resisted”. In effect, all other actions become merely ancillary in our central quest for this feeling, this rati bhava , this Id.
But the Ego reminds us that we have responsibilities if not consequences so that our other needs may be met. And the Super Ego provides us with a conscience. That voice that says, this may be good, even very good for a while, but ultimately it leads to bad. We ever so slowly grow to realize that prioritising the feeling (rather than enjoying it as a byproduct) turns it into a drug. As Swami Vivekananda replied to the question “What is poison?”—Anything in Excess.
Thus, physical pleasure is not poison, lust is. Tasty food is not poison, gluttony is. Culture therefore teaches us to prioritize correctly. Love before sex (but certainly in conjunction with it). Nutrition before taste (but certainly in conjunction with it), Logic before sentiment (but certainly in conjunction with it), Duty before relational attachment (but certainly in conjunction with it), Public interest before self-interest (but certainly in conjunction with it), Civic pride before personal pride (but certainly in conjunction with it), and Societal advancement before personal advancement (but certainly in conjunction with it).
The perceptive among you would quickly see how I have founded the above paragraph on our Dharmic caveats against the Arishadvargas (six enemies: Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Matsarya) or better known in its variation as the Seven Deadly Sins (lust, gluttony, anger, greed, pride, envy, sloth ).
Therefore, culture cannot just be rhetoric, but must be lived. This means more than just chest-thumping about theorized accomplishments of the past. It means understanding your heritage, who you are, where you came from, and why your family maintains certain customs, and why they matter. This is more than just about rites and rituals, but understanding the ideals and principles of your society that make life worth living, and your civilization worth protecting. That is the true value of Poetry, Philosophy, Art, Architecture, and Literature: to inspire the unselfish and virtuous in society.
If stupidity is the inability to prioritize, selfishness in many ways is about a refusal to prioritize (society above self). That is the importance of dharma, not merely as a slogan or a convenient umbrella, not merely an excuse for self-glorifying pedantry or show of learning, but as a principle to be lived as part of a living culture. Thus, we once again come to culture as not only the glue for nations, but the nurturing soil that germinates virtuous sons and daughters, selfless leaders, and strong societies.
The pervasive problem of Indian Stupidity is one that will not disappear overnight. Indeed, it is one that will take as much individual effort as it will community consciousness. This multi-part series, this exegesis on stupidity is not one that was done to demoralize or to deride. Rather it was done to diagnose and cure the problem facing India and Indic Civilization today.
When a people do not know where they are from, how can they possibly know where they are going? Foreign colonial languages are touted as native “link” languages, because you see, it is better to have everyone under an equal slavery than have a first among equals. Because culture has been reduced to merely the arts, and increasingly, merely the crafts, India and indeed, large parts of the world, are active musically, artistically, gastronomically, and even poetically, but have declined culturally and spiritually.
The colonial meme of the 3 blind men of “hindoostan” has become the most appropriate description for the proponents of the neo-colonial “idea of India”. In the name of “composite culture” they subsume everything and in the process, reduce an ancient civilization to nothing. India is a multi-cultural civilization, but it is not a multi-civilizational civilization. How could it be? When people have no sense of respect for their own heritage and don’t even have a proper sense of their own identity, how could they possibly engage intelligently with the modern world?
Thus, rather than merely continuing in this recursive loop of retrograde behaviors, it is time to recognize the core origin of this stupidity: Loss of Culture, real culture. Dharma is the foundation and well-spring of our culture, and should be adapted to the needs of the present. It is not “modernity or tradition”, but both. It is not “pop or classical”, but both. It is not “cosmopolitan or rooted”, but both. And it is not development or dharma…but both. Only then, and then only, can Indian stupidity be cured.
The timeless truth of individuals, nations, even civilizations is that if you don’t know where you are from, you don’t know where you are going.
We have railroad, cannon and western clothing, but we cannot forget who we are and where we come from
In our previous piecewe touched on how Lack of Focus was the Origin for this (and Action the cure for it); however, in order to accomplish successful inoculation, further examination is required.
Now, I’ve always liked Origin stories. Some of my favorite movies are The Godfather Part II, Star Trek the Reboot (Star Wars Episode I not so much), and Batman Begins.
This is not so much because chronology is important to me–although I do like going in chronological order–but rather, because it is important to understand what makes a person tick. Why does he or she behave that way? What turns a nice guy looking to make his way in the world into a ruthlessly efficient Gangster? What makes a man dedicate himself to an ideal and beat criminals into a pulp night after night…
And…what makes so many Indians so consistently stupid, so much of the time, and on so many platforms( both online and off)?Part of what ACP does is to restore the self-respect of our people and their pride in culture. But culture is not always about feeling good or resting on laurels. It’s also about understanding what we do right, what we do wrong, and what needs to change so we can meet the challenges ahead. This piece is not about any individual Indian. Rather, it is about the consistent bad habits, hyperactive thought processes, and ad-hoc approach to life that modern Indians across the board have picked up. To cure the disease, however, diagnosis alone is not sufficient. The Etiology must also be conducted. So here we begin our study of Indian Stupidity’s Origins.
Origins of Indian Stupidity
Attention Deficit Disorder
Missing the Woods for the Trees
Inability to Shut up
Action vs Reaction
Lack of Focus resulting from Loss of Culture
Yes, I understand the correct medical terminology is ADHD, but Attention Deficit Disorder is now common parlance, and perfectly illustrates our point about Indian hyperactivity. “Not all Indians suffer from this” you may say–but not so fast. Even the relatively sharp and well-informed easily fall back into this habit given the zeitgeist. Action is good, and is certainly better than talk. But Action without judgment…ehh…not so much. Refusal to think before acting leads to consequences like this.
As they say, the definition of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results”. This is the problem with ADD Indians. They don’t spend time actually thinking about the wisdom of what they are doing or what their ancestors did and why. They just do for it’s own sake, because they feel like it. They don’t understand that it is better to think and evaluate the consequences of action and then act, and sometimes, better to do nothing at all.
Instead, when they are not aimlessly talking, they react every time there is a provocation and don’t think about whether they are equipped or have sufficient team support to counter this.They don’t think about whether the adversary they are facing maybe well organized, and they don’t think about whether what they are doing even makes sense. Worst of all, because they don’t do these things, when they act, it is not with overwhelming force. Thus they tire quickly in the face of a deluge of facts and logic. Because they haven’t done their homework (on both the subject and their adversary) they may even devolve into flurry of insults. All these things are signs of ADD. It is this proclivity for hyperactivity that lays the foundation for the stupidity of Indians.
As is done in the Armed Forces, discipline is the cure for this. This is because it permits emotion control. Superior to emotion control is emotional awareness (why am I feeling this, is it right to have this emotion, is this emotional action correct?). More on that later.
Missing the Woods for the Trees
Hyperactivity, in turn, contributes to missing the woods for the trees. This very common phrase is uncommonly or frankly very rarely understood by Indians. Indians love detail. They live in detail. They may even live for detail. Virtually every Indian middle class home drilled the importance of “GK” (general knowledge). Thus Indians are obsessed about learning trivia (and winning Spelling Bees). Learning this trivia and amassing as much knowledge as possible became equivalent to victory itself! “I know this statistic! I know that factoid! I memorized entire plays!“. Ok, but how does this help you solve your problem? How do you deploy this knowledge to achieve your aim?
To not see the woods for the trees also meansobsessing over the puppet rather than the puppet master. If someone rubs our Modern Indians the wrong way, then they will completely fixate on that person, rather than ask whether he is merely a disposable instrument and whether the shadyantra goes higher up.
To not see the woods for the trees also means getting wrapped up in petty squabbles and letting them ruin otherwise sound alliances. Indians are notorious for this, and Andhras most of all. Disagreements happen, arguments take place, but have the good sense to contain them and not air out grievances (especially petty ones) in public. At the very least, don’t air them out at critical or foundational moments. This is what happens when people rote memorize rather than critically think. They live by assumptions rather than logic. They don’t prioritise.
Memorizing facts and figures without understanding the greater overall picture allows people to live in their nice and neat little fantasies. It just makes you feel good about your knowledge without solving your problem. The real world is about problem solving, not feeling good.
In over-emphasising rote memorization of fact without understanding how all the pieces are related, or at least useful, our Modern Indians end up looking naive…even stupid.
Don’t get me wrong. Rote memorization per se, isn’t bad in and of itself. In fact, there are tremendous benefits to it. But Rote Memorization by itself cannot substitute for critical thinking.Critical thinking, or more specifically, Strategic Thinking, allows individuals to take the knowledge they’ve gained, and apply it effectively.
Unfortunately, too often among our Indians, we see this tendency to rely almost exclusively on received wisdom. Formulas, frameworks, and even whole texts are memorised, without taking the time to understand how the parts relate to each other. Information is merely regurgitated or frameworks applied as though they were one-size-fits all, rather than properly modifying them for their purpose. In effect, it’s the instinct of fitting a square peg into a round hole.
In any event, after reading a few books, getting a few degrees, finding a cushy job, our resident rote-memorisers believe they’ve found the key to the universe. Like salesmen, they peddle their single-serving solution, and combust into a paroxysm of pompous pronouncements if challenged. This is because what little knowledge they’ve acquired has in turn fed their ego, creating a false sense of status. He who is obsessed about status cannot take it if his opinion is not taken, or taken seriously.
Indians are obsessed with Status. “Who got into what school? Who got married first? Who drives what car? Who wears what clothes? Who has bigger house? Who has more money? Who can chant what mantra?”
What’s more, this fuels India’s credential culture and pursuit of false prestige. Degrees are equated to expertise and colleges with qualification. “Eh who are you to tell me, I went to IIT-IIM so I know what to do!” This in turn comes from Ahankar, False Ego, that our value or worth is determined by what we have, or what hoops we’ve jumped through rather than who we are.
While this ailment comes from materialism, it is germinated by the cult of Hero Worship in India. After all, the closer we are to our Hero, the more we can bask in his aura. This in turn leads to influence over others due to the reflected glory of other “IIT-IIM” graduates and the like. Correspondingly, if our hero of the moment fails to validate our sycophancy he may become an enemy.
So Indians, please stop this Hero-worship. It is alright to admire someone, it is good to be loyal to family/patrons, but personality-driven movements more often than not fizzle fast. Institution and Ideal driven revolutions are what stand the test of time.Stop obsessing about status and start thinking of societal needs. Heroes come and go. This is the natural order of the world. Worst of all, hero-worship leads to sycophancy premised on Sentimentality.
Indians are suckers for sentiment. As we have said this over and over. A little flattery here, a song and dance there, and Indians easily become pawns in the hands of those who conspire against them.
Apologies again to our Tamizh friends, but I think the nature of state politics in TN is known to all–and as a well-wisher I do hope it changes–but we all know how a certain ideology has addled the common man there. Nevertheless, excessive sentimentality leads to closed-mindedness, mob-mentality, brainless thinking, and feckless responses to problems. Sentiment is fine here and there to appreciate the beauty of life. But sentiment is not a solution.
This is not a uniquely South Indian phenomenon, though it might lead to its comical or even tragic extremes here due to film star worship. Congress supporters love to tell the story of how Nehru famously wept when Lata Mangeshkar sang “Ae Mere Watan ke Logon” after the 1962 War. But what’s the point?! Would it not have been better to have been prepared, not get swept up in Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai sentiment, outwit Mao who was looking provoke war, or at least win the war through proper planning?
Obsession with sentiment further compounds hero-worship. This is the origin of the slavish sycophancy that the West used to (and still does) mock Indians (and other “Asiatics”) for. I am increasingly of the opinion that this is not wholly without merit.
Leadership must be taught, but who teaches it?Oh yes, managers are trained to implement processes, nominal brahmins or kshatriyas by birth or colonial certification are taught to look down on others, but who teaches to lead? Therein lies the problem. Hierarchy obsessed hyperventilators who look only at pecking order and number of followers, not ability and merit, chase after passing fads and stars of the moment. False prestige rather than genuine logic and talent continues to be the driving motivations of various sections, even though dyed-in-the-wool Brahmin Kautilya himself plucked Chandragupta Maurya from relative insignificance to raise him to the throne. This is because the true Brahmana or Kshatriya is not swayed by sentiment or Moha, but by duty.
That is the danger of sentiment. Men of sentiment ultimately become Karnas, and “Men of Conscience” ultimately lead to Bhishmas. This brand of leadership ultimately leads to disasters
During the height of the UPA government, a Chinese person commented the above about India’s Army. It truly is an Army of Lions and Paramvir Chakras, but the politicians leading it historically have, more often than not, been donkeys.
The Roman General Scipio Africanus (who defeated Hannibal at Zama) once had his bravery questioned by a subordinate–Scipio retorted “my mother gave birth to a general, not a soldier”. Soldiers are taught to obey orders and managers to implement processes, but executives and generals are taught to lead. But if this is the sentiment of future generals today, how is leadership possible? The answer lies in establishing proper Thinking and proper Training. Without these things, “heroes” may fight very bravely but will die very quickly…
Inability to Shut up
Sentiment leads to over-animated and over-emotional behavior.
As we wrote previously,Indians are Talkers not Doers. This in turn means they don’t know the value of “Shut Up”. We touched on this point in our previous piece when we wrote that “Rather than analyzing what is being said, a continuous bout of verbal diarrhea is projected. Thus, to counter this stupidity, Indians first need to know the value of shutting up (no one does this better than the Chinese)”.
By Shutting up, they can then think through a situation. Hyperventilating achieves nothing. Panic leads to defeat. By thinking through the situation you can plan for what ever may happen if things go bad. Rather than reacting via instinct, you can act with intelligence. And if you lose, you can have the good sense to use your wits, and live to fight another day.
Indians are sore losers. That’s right, you heard me. This trait is so genetically ingrained that even our neighbor to the west reflects it (and they have much to be sore about).
Where does it come from? Many sources: Mummy-approved egos, inability to step out of comfort zones, reluctance to cleverly banter (vs idly talk) . But the root of it all is lack of emphasis on Team Sports. Indians are taught how to study as individuals, not cooperate as part of a team.When fighting as an individual, it’s zero-sum, winner-take-all, tear the other “basterd” down, even if I may need him tomorrow.
In contrast, team sports not only teaches you how to cooperate and win alongside others, but builds character as well .This is why I have always been a fan of field hockey over cricket. That may be sacrilege, even blasphemy, in a nation of Kircket obsessed Sachin-bhakts, but it’s time someone took a stand. Whatever Mr. Tendulkar’s accomplishments, they were individual. For India to truly grow as a team, it must start turning to sports figures like Dhyan Chand. This is why, despite my biological aversion to SRK, I appreciated his role (and for once, his acting) in Chak De! India.
Some may ask why Selfishness by itself isn’t treated as a prong. This is because there are some extremely selfish, but extremely smart people in the world as well. That is why the stakes of Indian Stupidity are so high. You can be stupid. You can be selfish. But you can’t be both.The stupid but unselfish person will at least take advice from the wise and orders from his superiors. But the selfishly stupid person thinks only of his “conscience”–usually a mask for sentiment–hence the critique of the conscientiously stupid. It is also why, in the end, selfishness may influence stupidity–but it is not the catalyst for it.
There is a famous quote about how there is no greater a uniting force in the world than greed. So like jackals, thieves and schemers are quick to join forces and cooperate, however temporarily, then fight over the plunder later.
Action vs Reaction
Indians very often confuse action for reaction. They wait for an attack, and when it comes, they rely on instinct or [insert scripture sanctioned archaic custom here] to determine how to tackle their foe. But that is not action, that is reaction.
Action is the resulted of anticipating and thinking through your problem. Rather than merely running like a hamster in a wheel when the mood or need strikes, it means something else entirely.
Action requires first being aware one’s self. It means understanding who you are, what you face, and what you may be feeling (this is called emotional awareness). By questioning the logic of your own emotions, you won’t be subject to impulses. Next, one should be aware of one’s surroundings, i.e. gather intelligence. It involves analysing whether one has the capacity to take on the challenge. Third, if capacity is lacking, it must be either acquired through training or R&D or through the acquisition of allies. Finally, rather than jumping headlong into a conflict, it means understanding when and where conflict should be entered into. To do all this things do all this things involves understanding strategy and tactics.
Markaz i jahalat: Crassly Stupid. Babur at the Battle of Khanua is reputed to have made this remark. It is not because he didn’t admire the manliness and courage of Rajputs–he did. Rather, he recognized that they fought bravely and chivalrously, but not sensibly and tactically. It is not mardangi that wins wars, but strategy and circumstances, which are ultimately influenced by leadership. The Mughals won Khanua either with cavalry flank attacks or with concentrated use of cannon fire (i.e. tactics/strategy). The Rajputs lost it with frontal assaults that forgot the flanks. Merely attacking your enemy when you see him is not the way to victory. While all true patriots honor the sacrifice of Rana Sanga and the Rajput Confederacy he assembled, they should have known that even the most powerful of bears must use his wits when fighting a pack of wolves.
Lack of Focus results from Loss of Culture
Ultimately, as we discussed in our preceding piece, Indian Stupidity originates from Lack of Focus, and Lack of Focus ultimately results from Loss of culture.
Culture teaches behaviour, Culture teach etiquette, Culture teaches good conduct, Culture teaches history, Culture teaches classics, and above all, Culture teaches Wisdom. And as has been taught since the time of the ancients, Knowledge is Not Wisdom.
The words Maryada, Saujanya, Acara, and Dharma have all been discussed and explained in this cultural portal. Don’t just read to know or read to brag, read to understand, apply, and improvise. These concepts will help Indians to focus this energy, thinking, and action towards what matters. Culture helps us prioritise, so we are not subject to the whims of our sentiments and impulses and the passing fads of our peers. Many of our patriotic people genuinely mean well. However, due to loss of culture and lack of cultural knowledge, they have lost focus, and thus, have been unable to cope with the modern world. We hope to help change that.
Solutions to Indian Stupidity
Learn your Culture
Don’t just be a fanboy…learn to apply..and Improvise
Always have a Plan B
Read Widely and Observe Carefully
Understand the Importance of Pragmatism
Work as a team, Dummy
Throw away the Defeatist Mentality
Learn to Take Constructive Criticism…and to have your Criticism Criticized
Think Before you Act
Learn Your Culture
This means more than just chest-thumping about theorised accomplishments of the past. It means understanding your heritage, who you are, where you came from, and why your family maintains certain customs, and why they matter. This is more than just about rites and rituals, but understanding the ideals and principles of your society that make life worth living, and your civilization worth protecting. That is the true value of Poetry, Philosophy, Art, Architecture, and Literature.
Don’t just be a Fanboy…Learn to Apply..and Improvise
This prong is directly related to the point about how Indians are far too dependent on personality-driven movements, rather than institution or ideals. Gandhianism, Nehruvianism, Indira is India: All these notions fuel sentiment rather than sound thinking.
To build a strong country and protect it from external and internal threats, the focus of Indians must switch from their heroes/heroines of the moment to the common cause. They must not only apply what their teachers have created, but build upon the foundation and improvise as needed. Most importantly, they must also ask: If a leader should fall, who will take his place?
Always Have a Plan B
This is the danger of relying on Personality-drive movements. Great men fall, coincidences happen, stuff hits the fan. The question is, did you, and your society, have the good sense to think about a plan B? Naive Indians spend too much time studying the stars or relying on new friendships to shape their world view. Allies don’t shape interests, interests determine allies. And if things don’t work out, they should have plan b. They need to understand that not every man God sends is a Godsend. Not every leader is an Avatar of Vishnu, and virtually no leader is infallible. Rather than sycophants, India needs lieutenants.
This also why one must not simply study the works of our hero or our Gurus. It is critical to read widely and observe carefully, both that which is favourable to us and that which is irritating to us.
Read Widely and Observe Carefully
When Trilochanapala, the last King of the Hindu Sahi dynasty was fighting in the hills of Himachal against Mahmud of Ghazni, he perched himself on the high ground and waited for reinforcements. He didn’t attack directly, but observed. The King of Kashmir sent reinforcements led by a favourite Captain, who had neither read widely, nor was familiar with the enemy. He haughtily laughed at Trilochanapala’s caution about the nature of Turk warfare and how it did not conform to the civilized rules of battle Indians were used to. However, our cocky commander went ahead and his unit was destroyed, while the Sahi Scion continued his fight with strategy and seriousness.
Now Trilochanapala did not ultimately succeed, because the odds were against him (sometimes that is the case), but at least he fought intelligently. And others, like King Vidhyadhara of Kalinjar (MP) were able to rollback and drive away Mahmud, because they fought with strategy and seriousness. Similarly, by observing carefully, doing the analysis, and striking when conditions were favourable (rather than rashly and blindly), the Marathas were able to defeat the Mughals in their 27 Year Liberation War.
That is why the greatest of commanders and leaders read widely. They don’t just read the flavour of the month or merely apply the time-worn custom,but read the situation and combine their knowledge with their observations.Indians must stop living on their opinions and assumptions and must start understanding the real world for what it really is.That means reading widely and studying your adversary. That is real intelligence.
Understand the Importance of Pragmatism
Idiot, loud mouth Indians need to stop behaving like children and start behaving like adults. This means putting your emotions and conceits to the side and focusing on what’s important and what works. This is called pragmatism. The most pragmatic people in the world today are the Chinese. Before them, the Americans. And most famously, it was the Romans. Pragmatism has no time for sentiment, it has no time for navel-gazing, and it has no time for obsolete custom. It plays to win and looks to what works.
Thus, Bharatiyas must learn to adapt what works from people around the world while keeping their essence: culture and heritage. As Virgil wrote: “It is right to learn, even from the enemy”. So start doing purva paksaand stop pontificating on how Indians shouldn’t do this or that. As Shivaji demonstrated, adopting Ganimi Kava where appropriate (while observing the essentials of Dharma, i.e. respecting women, etc) is the path to victory and civilizational defense.
That is why all the stupid idiots running around talking in bipolar terms of black and white, my side your side, enemy or friend, are undoing their own cause without realising it. They fail to see that we live in the Kali Age—and are deep in it (5116 years), and must therefore live in the grey.That means separating the essential from the ancillary. It means prioritising principles we must absolutely keep while compromising on second or third order principles. Sri Krishna demonstrated this time and time again in the Mahabharata War, when small fibs were told in order to ensure that a woman’s honour was protected and vindicated.
Fundamentally, Dharma is about outcomes—not the same as fruits. Fruits only refer to benefits/rewards. Outcomes may not benefit us personally, but ultimately benefit society. Thus, the question before people is how to work for the best societal outcome.
This also means learning to work together.
Work as a Team, Dummy.
Indians are the absolute worst at working as a team.Each nimrod operates as a brainless puppet or thinks he’s an army of one, single-handedly equipped to defeat all the common adversaries. The moment he realises either he, or his chosen hero of the moment can’t do it alone, despair overwhelms our fanboy. He must learn to work and win as a team. This means taking up team sports. This is the best antidote to the bipolarity of over-confident dummies vs defeatist complainers.
Throw away the Defeatist Mentality
When despair overwhelms our stupid idiots, then all is lost. The flagellation begins. He questions everything, from his fate, to his manhood, to everyone else. But that is not the way to face the challenges of life. Defeat doesn’t mean your adversary was right. It may just mean he was better prepared, or occasionally even that the cards were in his favour. And that is the point of this exercise. Between chest-thumping and self-flagellation is a veritable alphabet of options. The best is to study dispassionately what is happened, why it happened, and what can be done. Internalising your enemies’ (and their traitor-accomplices’) insults and intellectually bankrupt conceits is not the way to victory or even self-improvement.
Your enemies don’t respect weakness, they respect only strength, and they show no mercy to those who beg. In fact, your pleading and defeatism only give them pleasure and confirm their lies, conceits, and invented superiority complexes. If your peers still aren’t convinced of the importance of soberly facing losses and doing triage, there is another solution.
In Telugu there is a saying: manishi k’okka maata, gedhu k’okka debba [a word for humans, a slap for buffaloes]. Perhaps all Indians need a tight thappad across their faces to wake up and soberly face what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. It also will help them gain the maturity to take, give, and have criticism rejected.
Learn to Take Constructive Criticism…and to have your Criticism Criticised
When a liaison from the US Navy was interviewed after a long tour with his Indian counterparts, he was asked for his thoughts on the culture. He said “Indians are prickly”, meaning they are too thin-skinned. Not everyone who praises you is your friend, not everyone who criticises you is your enemy. This is why Immanuel Kant wrote that stupidity is deficiency in judgment. Judgment is knowing what to do, what not to do, and when to do. Knowledgeis merely knowing how to do something. Judgmenthelps you apply it.
Judgment also means knowing how to take criticism and not to get outraged at every passing remark. So our Indians must have the judgment to learn how to handle criticism, and also to do it privately. No one likes a traitor, not even the enemy traitors side with. So don’t air dirty laundry in public, but do critique yourself and your society.
Think before you Act
We all make typos from time to time, but for God’s sake, will you people take at least two seconds to proof a tweet or a blog post.Again, this is where over-emotional hyperactivity frequently undoes dharmic causes.
Knowledge without strategy is fecklessness, Strategy without knowledge is foolery. Action without aim is witlessness, Talk without action is buffoonery.
To cure Indians of themselves, they must first know themselves, know what faces them, and figure out a way, however small (whether it’s cataloging their heritage, correcting misinterpretations, writing articles, writing books, or building institutions ), to comprehensively act and cooperate against common threats.But to become the men and women they are capable of being, stupidity inspired action is not the way. Strategy is. But for strategy to be implemented, they must train themselves with seriousness, and dedicate themselves to the ideal that unites them with everything they hold dear: their family, their state, their country, and their civilization.
A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on June 26, 2014
At first glance, many of you may be taken aback by such a damning, and some would even say, questionable, assertion.
After all, aren’t Indians known for their intelligence? Aren’t we famous in the US as Silicon Valley “tech geniuses” and medical wizards? Aren’t many of us scoring off the IQ charts? Don’t we win Geography and Spelling Bees?
But the reality is there are many types of intelligence–even animals and robots now have some degree of intelligence and some types of intelligence. Nevertheless, the single most important type of material intelligence is strategic intelligence: raw ability to understand what happened, why it’s happening, and what one should do. And it is here that Indians (at least modern ones), fail miserably.
This, of course, is not the first time we have critiqued Indians (and as usual, Andhras represent exaggerated versions of both the best and worst qualities). We previously evaluated whether we were a Serious People, and then whether we were Talkers or Doers, but the reality is, the core problem of Indians is Unrepentant Stupidity. In this post, I will evaluate precisely why this is the case.
The prime reason for this disconnect is that mere acquisition of knowledge has become wisdom and accomplishment for our people. It’s as if this alone has become a substitute for actually doing. Winning all these math competitions or becoming exam toppers and getting into some “School from Phoreign” is akin to a monkey or poodle performing a trick on command. That is the problem with our parents today: Instead of raising wise men and women, they are raising poodles that they can showcase to make their frenemies jealous–all while their enemies plot against them and their civilization.
But the end goal of education is not a poodle. Rather, as a certain former resident of Anantapur district said, “The end goal of education is character”. What we choose to or choose not to do in this world. The knowledge that we gain is ultimately lost—all that echoes in eternity is our action.
Thus, thought without righteous action is not character, but our stupidity is so great, we don’t realize this.
Our stupidity is so great we talk more than we think, and we think the mere reading of a book or copying and pasting from an article is the attainment of knowledge. We think knowledge means intelligence, and intelligence is wisdom.
Our stupidity is so great facts can stare us in the face time and again and we’ll still fall back to emotional reaction rather than an educated basis for argument and problem solving. Rather than reevaluating our previous views, in irrational prickliness, we hold onto them even stronger and without providing logical reason– as though letting go of an obsolete/invalid view would somehow undercut our fashionability or negate all our previous posturing.
Our stupidity is so great, when the enemy declares exactly what he is about and what he intends to do, we think we can rely on our shopkeeper skills to negotiate our way out. We think that through some too cute by half rhetorical gymnastics, some last minute lungi dance will be enough to save our skin. But we forget that,”Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
The worst part is, Indians aren’t even apologetic, circumspect, or reflective about this ignorance. Even when the stupidity has been diagnosed and confirmed, they will arrogantly and petulantly declare “Are you saying I am moron (sic)?!”, “Who do you think you are?”, “Yes, that is how we do it!“.
Where does this undeserving entitlement come from??? Why this stubborn unrepentance??Many don’t even feel bad about it, but practically bask in it, or hide behind fancy degrees, as if the brand name university alone conveys competence and intelligence.
Oh yes, we may have a “wily Amar Singh” here or a “clever KCR” there, but this is the low cunning of nimrods who think they are big deal guys when in reality they are buffoons. They are called smart because they gain today by losing (or more specifically, selling out) tomorrow. People forget what ultimately happened to Amar Singh—he was used as a money man in 2009 and then disposed—ejected from the very party he helped build. And there is no reason to think the same won’t happen to KCR as CM.
The recent alliance between the TRS and MIM is emblematic of this mind-numbing stupidity. The party of Razakars which committed untold atrocities against Telangana men and women in the lead up to liberation in 1948 is not only influencing government policy, it is changing logos, and seeking to marginalize and eventually displace Telugu with Urdu.
People may say “oh well, KCR knows how to keep them on leash”, “he is running the show”, but historically speaking, the Maharajah of Mysore famously promoted Hyder Ali in the name of fighting his enemies. But what ultimately happened? Hyder Ali in time used his military position to gain power—the Maharajah ruled only in name…
Ultimately what does it matter that you have a 180 IQ, memorized the four Vedas, or are a chess grandmaster—did Chess Champion Gary Kasparov defeat Vladimir Putin or was it the other way around?
Worst of all is this Dhritarashtra approach parents take with their kids. Parents don’t have the moral courage to correct their children’s stupidity and then whine about the disastrous end product.
Parents or not, we then get outraged by the fact that someone actually tried to give us advice. Some even have reached a level of malice where they habitually teach people lessons for no reason other than their own malice. Rather than trying to teach others a lesson, teach yourself a lesson…in humility…by learning the value of “Shut up”
The Value of “Shut up”
The rapid-fire hysteria that possesses Indians when their conceits or even passing assumptions are challenged by anyone held in anything less than absolute adoration, is astonishing.
Rather than trying to hear and digest what the other party is, or at least ending with “that is my opinion” and agree to disagree, there’s an immediate and uncontrollable urge to debate to oblivion. It’s as if our greatest fears will be realized if the other side doesn’t concede and agree to exactly what we think. It doesn’t matter whether or not we ourselves have examined the view—or even studied the subject matter in depth—they have to accept—otherwise, “ZOMG!!!, our fear!!!“Broader strategic alliance is forgone for immediate but minor differences in opinion.
Rather than spending years understanding an area—the bits and pieces of received wisdom are congealed to create a walking moron of heuristics. Instead of firmly establishing views on logic—logic is contorted to fit the view. And the frenetic, even nervous, energy is fired off in a machine gun burst of buffoonery.
If someone points this out, then our beloved Indians burst out in an inane babble of “you are saying I am moron (sic)” –well you would have to be, wouldn’t you?
Think, adjust your views as needed, and even modify your approach to new actors and new information—this is called strategy. If you don’t do this, then yes, “you are moron”.
Unfocused babble is not the means for civilized discourse or conversation, and simply repeating the past is not a strategy for victory.Victory is not determined by who fought the bravest, or was thought to be the most knowledgeable, but by whomever defeated the strategy of his adversary. So don’t proudly say you have “no knowledge whatsoever” in an area. If you don’t, then shut up and learn. Shutting up doesn’t mean you agree. It just means that you had the good sense to shut up…and LISTEN!!!
“What is this Shtupidity”
Stupidity amongst Indians comes in many forms. The first is the inability to distinguish between poodle showmanship on exams and real intelligence.
Recitation of pointless facts and memorization of mantra is meaningless if you can’t protect those you love and perform your duty to them. Real intelligence refers to the ability to make the logical connections necessary to determine what is needed to preserve what matters; in short, it is the ability to prioritise. What is the point of your saastric knowledge if you don’t know how to save your land and women? For a Rajput, his honor was based on safeguarding his sword, his horse, and his womenfolk–the House of Mewar safeguarded all three. So if you call yourself a real man, remember that a real man is not determined by how many women he”scored with” or what his bank balance is, but by his will to stand up to fight for what he believes in and protect those for whom he is responsible.
Stupidity, on the other hand, misses the woods for the trees. It focuses on irrelevant minutiae, ignoring the broader patterns and strokes. In the process, it forgets right from wrong, and necessity from nice-to-have–thereby putting all at risk, in the name of its recalcitrance and false ego.
Stupidity also extends to foolhardiness. After all, it is not for nothing that they say that discretion is the better part of valour, and that there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity. It is also no coincidence that Odysseus survived the Trojan War and rescued his wife, and Achilles did not. Getting worked up into a fit of hyper-emotionalism due to some stupid movie that became fashionable (despite how it easily collapses under the scrutiny of logic) accomplishes nothing. Even worse is watching openly stupid, nonsensical movies that rot our brains (sorry Khiladi bhai, I’m a long-time fan, but you have so much more potential than this).
But the single-worst form of stupidity that plagues Indians today is pointless malice and baseless jealousy, resulting in infighting. Andhras appears to have cornered the market here too, with the recent fight to split their state. In fact, it is often said that Maharishi Viswamitra cursed his 100 sons (who became the Andhras) to suffer from fratricidal infighting…sadly, it appears the tradition continues…If you take one thing from this article, hell, even the entire blog, it’s to stop picking avoidable fights with members of your own team.
You don’t have to agree with everything they say, or can even respectfully debate with them, but for God’s sake, stop airing out such disputes publicly and tearing down someone you feel is eclipsing you. If they are older, learn from them; if they are the same age as you, admire them and compete with them (in a friendly fashion that doesn’t tear them down), or team up with them (if you can’t beat them, join them);and if they are younger than you, advise or encourage them. And if you absolutely 100% can’t get along with them, ignore them. It’s not hard guys. Indians have enough enemies, we don’t need more egotistical Jaichand’s who destroy the cause due to their own ambition and ahankar.
Indians could perhaps be forgiven for their gullibility, which time and again has been their undoing. After all, a civilization that posits truth above all, can’t be entirely faulted for believing others will keep their word or represent themselves truthfully. But what cannot be forgiven is refusing to learn from history. Time and again, the stubborn refusal to remember the lessons of the past, comes back to bite them. It’s as if Indians bask in this apoplectic amnesia. “Bhool Ja!”. But that’s not a recipe for serious people, that’s a recipe for drunks…
And for God’s sake, enough with this cine-obsession! Truly obsessed. Why do you care so much about who said what about your favourite star? Are they real life heroes who will beat up anti-nationals when they come after you? Chances are that when things get rough, they will be the first to relocate to Singapore, London, or Toronto. Same goes for politicians. After all, we all know who was partying at a farmhousewhen Mumbai was under attack.
The origin of this stupidity however is theinability to focus. When the monkey mind is unrestrained, and hyper-actively driven to swing from mental vine to mental vine, it’s time to learn how to focus. In fact, Swami Vivekananda himself stated that the ability to concentrate is greater than actual knowledge. This is because the ability to focus in a disciplined fashion allows us to not only absorb knowledge, but also process it faster and better.
How to Stop being Stupid
Before we begin, please give yourself a firm slap across the face, so that you will remember the need to stop being stupid. You’ll never remember the lesson if you don’t chastise yourself for prior stupidity.
The first step for Indians to come out of their mess (to some degree self-inflicted) is to self-diagnose this stupidity and accept it.
The cure is to follow a prescription of consistent and continuing doses of our Culture. Culture—real culture, not the chest-thumping, hot air gassing “kulchhar” of buffoons—will open our eyes, discipline us, and teach us about ourselves and our history.
Why is this important? If we don’t know what happened, we don’t know where we’re from. And if we don’t know where we’re from, we don’t know where we’re going. And to do nothing about it?—well folks, that’s effectively the definition of stupidity.
Second, as explained above, learn the value of “Shut up”.
Just read the comments of an R.Sowiyal and associates in this article. Instead of engaging with the wisdom of what the writer is communicating, the bozos are referencing– in a fit of irrational sentiment–irrelevant filmy songs that have nothing to do with anything. Rather than analyzing what is being said, a continuous bout of verbal diarrhea is projected. Thus, to counter this stupidity, Indians first need to know the value of shutting up (no one does this better than the Chinese). It is not for nothing that there is a saying “Better to be thought a fool and keep silent, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”. Indians are experts at removing all doubt. They need to know the value of shutting up—and where and when to do this.
What’s more, even our most celebrated strategists routinely miss severe dangers—off fighting the battles that they want to rather than the ones they need to.When this devastating propaganda campaign was launched, not one of India’s major strategists organized an immediate counter in Indian and International newspapers. It took many days for a lame-duck NSA to make a mild, half-heated rebuttal that barely scratched the surface. It fell to a naturalized Indian citizen of European backgroundto point out the ramifications of this—not only on international perceptions but domestic perceptions as well. Thus, if Indians ever want to rid themselves of this perception of being children (yes, it’s there…) they need to first slap themselves across the face, stop being stupid, and start being serious. This means knowing when to shut up–and when not to shut up. This also leads to the third point.
Third, understand how to analyze the world and current events. Merely running around like a chicken with its head cut off won’t solve the problems of the state, country, or civilization. You have to act, but also act wisely.This means not operating on the basis of assumptions, but on the basis of reality. Understand what happened, why it’s happening, how it will affect you/your people, and think of what to do. This comes not only from studying history, but from studying our classics, like the Arthashastra and Hitopadesa. Even Sanskrit plays like Mudrarakshasa can help us better understand the interaction between countries and the games played by their leaders.
Fourth: DO!!!My God, sometimes I honestly wonder if we aren’t the laziest people in the world when it comes to doing what matters. Oh sure, they will run like the wind if there’s food, money or some other immediate incentive involved, but ask for strategic action–or even a contribution to those engaging in efforts for the public good, and a strange antipathy develops in Indians. It’s as if anyone who asks for even a modicum of help, is somehow being bossy and overbearing. The smallest request becomes an Herculean, even Sisyphean labor that immediately renders them in a state of suspended animation. Remember that being part of a society, especially a republic, means that each individual has a duty to do, and good conduct is premised on this.
Fifth, don’t just do your duty–do it properly! Of late it has become fashionable for people say that one should only be concerned about duty and not be concerned about the outcome. They even misquote Sri Krishna on this, saying this comes from him, and completely misinterpret the Mahabharata and Dharma. But this is nonsense (half our problems come from half-wits misquoting our scriptures—even to support AAP…further emphasizing stupidity as the problem of Indians) . Krishna says
Phalesu, or phalam is not outcome, but fruit.Thus, while we should be concerned about the outcome, we should not be concerned about the reward or benefits or fruits from this performance of duty. Merely mechanically doing one’s duty without aiming for victory is no way to protect Dharma. We should be concerned about this outcome (and ensure its harmony with Dharma), but if we, or even society, do not enjoy the fruits or even attain this victory, that is another matter. It is similar to studying for an exam. You have an obligation to study as best you can and hope for a good result–but your motivation should not be the new car your parents will buy if you get an “A”. Just as elders say, “if you did your best, that is all that matters”, so to should we think “I worked for the best outcome, but God will determine it and whether I receive fruits from it”…
Conclusions on Stupidity
So dear reader, understand that the best correction for stupidity is action, because stupidity doesn’t like Action, it prefers Reaction, because rather than strategizing, it is used tonavel-gazing. Simply reading, talking, tweeting will accomplish nothing.
A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on June 20, 2014
Let us face the facts, Indians are Talkers, not Doers. As usual, Andhras are the worst example of this.
We can talk for hours on end, over tea, over toddy, over tokkudu ladoo—but what does it matter, still we are stuck at square one. We complain about current events, we complain about family, we complain about how other people are better at things—but what do we actually do about it?
Our people are such pathetic talkers they will continue just talking even after getting all enthused about doing. Hyperventilating in a paroxysm of excitement, for them the talk itself becomes cause for celebration. To them sloganeering and rhetoric or even reading alone = accomplishment…but they should remember that wasn’t the lesson of the Gita.
But why take my word, that of a mere mortal, when the greatest Karma Yogi of all Himself explained thus:
Famous Talkers who weren’t Doers
Since the dawn of history, India has had no shortage of talkers. In fact, Satyajit Ray famously directed a movie on our dreaming “Chess Players”:
Based on the novel by Premchand, this exquisite cinema demonstrated how many zamindars and rajas of the time famously talked and played petty games in their heads, instead of playing the real game of life.
People may say Nehru was responsible for “building Modern India”, but compare him to Vallabhai Patel, and it is the ultimate study in contrasts of talking versus doing. In one particular story, Nehru famously droned on and on, waxing verbosely on this and that while Kashmir was being invaded by a Pakistani tribal army, when an impatient Sardar finally interrupted and said “Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir or not?”. It was the Iron man who advocated for quick action, gained the instrument of Kashmir’s accession, and sent troops to defend J&K. It was this same Sardar Patel who saved traditional Telugu land (what is now Telangana state) from the grip of Rizvi and his Razakars, while Nehru’s talking and dithering nearly led to a cancer in the belly of India.
Nevertheless, even the prolix Nehru failed to hold a candle against India’s most famous, or should I say infamous, talker of all time.
The pompously self-important and unjustifiably arrogant V.K. Krishna Menon is without a doubt India’s worst defense minister of all time (though fellow Mallu A.K. Antony came perilously close).
Why does this man even have a statue? His most “impressive accomplishment” was famously (infamously?) giving an 8 hour speech at the UN Assembly. Just what was he hoping to accomplish with this nonsense?! In fact, he more than anyone else represents this disease of chat-alysis that plagues our people. Had he spent less time talking and insulting India’s generals and more time preparing for inevitable hostilities against Mao, perhaps India might not have been humiliated in the 1962 War.
So we know Indians are talkers rather than doers, but why is this the case?
The problem with habitual talkers is that they are so caught up in their own assumptions and rationalization, that they fail to realize that somebody actually has to implement. In fact, whilst giving gyaan, they frequently become cocky over the prospect of victory, having already won the war in their heads. Worst of all, by talking all the time (giving away their vulnerabilities to the enemy), they rarely know the value of silence.
Beyond not knowing the value of silence, however, a lesson that can be traced back to the Panchatantra (“Silence is Golden”), there are certain characteristics of the Modern Indian that stand out:
Lack of focus/lack of seriousness
The Chetan Bhagatand Happy Days approach to problem solving may make life seem straightforward, but the reality is, the issues of the world cannot be solved with a simple song, poem, or thought. Furthermore, as Krishnarjun gaaru wrote in his excellent piece on Dharmanomics, far too many NRIs rely on mindless application of B-school frameworks. It must be recalled that irrespective of how well-intentioned many of these people may be, surface level analysis simply won’t cut it. And it should also be remembered that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
Furthermore, we consider talking or tweeting itself some sort of accomplishment.Rather than launching a successful institution or organization, we judge our success by the number of followers or facebook “likes” we get.
Additionally, our Twitterati style themselves as unquestionable Gyaanis. They imagine themselves doing a global service with their peer-edited encyclopedia pontification–because you see, copying and pasting something one doesn’t understand in order to sound profound is a productive and meaningful use of everyone’s time…
Worst of all, is the modern Indian approach to debating. The Children of Adi Sankara, Mandana Misra, and Ubhaya Bharata have fallen far from the tall tree of those days. To the modern (“Global”) Indian, debating is a means to entertainment (“arey time pass, yaar“) rather than ascertaining truth. Ironically, the idea of ascertaining the truth is at the very heart of the definition of the word dialectics.
The famed Indian crab-mentality is without equal in this world.
If we can’t get it, do it, or benefit from it, we’ll be damn certain no one else can. We go to great lengths to tear down our own people. Andhras, of course, are the most famous at this–a characteristic likely dating back to Maharishi Viswamitra‘s curse that his sons (who became the Andhras) be afflicted with perpetual infighting. This was seen again and again with the Rachakonda Rajas, the Araveedus, and the Madurai Nayaks.
However, one of the great tragedies in Medieval Indian history was not so much the obvious (Turk atrocities on civilians) or the oft-mentioned (destruction of Somnath), but rather, the little-known (Lahore). The great city of Lavanapura had an ancient lineage that dates back to the Ramayana. While it had eventually been taken by the Ghaznavids, it came tantalizingly close to being recaptured by the Rajputs.
Indeed, while the current historical paradigm is slowly reconciling itself to the stout resistance to and even roll-back of invaders (courtesy of India’s Kshatriya houses as evidenced by the Battles of Rajasthan and Bahraich), less but steady light is now being shed on efforts at reconquest. The most notable of these efforts took place once the Ghaznavid invasions had been halted. In fact, the fractious Rajput clans actually invested the city of Lahore(then under Turkic) rule. Just as the city was on the verge of recapture, however, the squabbling Rais and Rajas called off the nearly successful siege. Why you ask? Not because of Turk reinforcements, or issues back home, but because they couldn’t agree on which petty ruler would keep the city. This crab mentality is emblematic of the costs of short-sightedness.
Everybody wants to be the big deal guy. More tragically, this is not even a question of being the best among peers, as our people are terrible at merely encouraging the next generation of talent. Even if there is no interest or the person seems rather naive, young people must at least be encouraged. But no–our gyaanis are far too concerned with advancing their own immediate agenda and preserving their cloistered little worlds of privilege. After all, God forbid anyone else outshines them.
The Madurai Nayaks are perhaps the most tragic example of this. At a time when the Vijayangara empire was in its greatest need, rather than coming to the aid of Raya, they actively encouraged the Bijapur and Golkonda rulers to invade. Why, you ask?–in the hopes that these self-same petty rulers could selfishly rule without Imperial overlord. But you see, this is the price such selfishness–because these same rulers stupidly dug their own graves, as the very sanguinary potentates they treacherously encouraged eventually turned on them and extinguished their piddly dynasty.
Sometimes this selfishness also masquerades in the guise of selflessness. Those very men who pass themselves off as “men of conscience” are simply looking for excuses not to act–either out of attachment to their friends/loved ones, or even to a deluded idea.
“Sab kuch chalta hai”
“Let them bark! Who cares!”
and WORST OF ALL: “Someone else will do it” or its latest incarnation (“Acche din aanewale hai!“)
In a previous piece I wrote at length about how moha is attachment rooted in the mistaken thinking that we are the body. But moha is also pure delusion–in effect, stupidity. In nowhere in the world is this characteristic greater than in India.
Mindlessly repeating “acche din aanewale hai’ like a parrot, won’t make it so. Even the most patriotic politicians can only do so much and have their own constraints. This slogan cannot be seen as some magic “mantra” that will free you of your cares so you can go back to playing in your irrelevant, and eminently un-serious,world.
The cult of personality must cease henceforth. We all sit around hoping for a Shri Ram or Shivaji , but they had their lieutenants and allies to help them too. Most of all, they built/maintained institutions that recognized and rewarded loyalty and talent. You too must do your part as well, as Ram Raj was not built in a day .
You must do your part.No one is saying you have to take a vow of celibacy and become a new Adi Sankara, but for God’s sake, do your fair share to contribute to the civilizational cause…even 15 minutes a day learning/teaching dharma, preserving/building from/beautifying our samskruthi(i.e. Artist Keshav), or at the very least, supporting those who do (and keep your word). Above all, you must pay attention!—because even the best intentioned can still make mistakes.
Worse, there are others who weren’t even concerned about the past election, and feel no concern about the state of affairs and the barbarians within and without.
“Why would this happen?—this is all in past! Think of future!”
“Arey this is new era, we are new generation!!”
“Be progressive! Be Human first–why should we care of these regressives!!”
When our alliances mean nothing, when our promises mean nothing,when our actions equal nothing, then not only do you not have the right to complain, you don’t even have the right to talk…because your inaction, dereliction of duty, and even criminal negligence is the reason why your enemy gets stronger by the day in your own backyard.
…but yes, do go back to raving about how “Pawan is God”, how you are a “Mahesh bhakt”, or how your particular “caste is shupremely powerful”…just remember to fold your chairs and turn off the lights when the enemy comes to carve you up…
Knowledge without strategy is fecklessness, Strategy without knowledge is foolery. Action without aim is witlessness, Talk without action is buffoonery.
But for those of you who still do have some sense, who recognize that thinking and talking must be followed up with action, remember this wisdom. And if you yourself do not have the time to facilitate positive change, at least learn from those who do and support them:
A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on March 12, 2014
Outsiders play Indians like pawns… They know how easily Indians can be taken in through deception and praise.
Chhatrapati Shivaji is reputed to have said that the British are the most dangerous of enemies because they “kill by tickling”, i.e flattery. After flattering or deceiving their way to victory, other parties then kick and disrespect Indians. What follows is thisand this and this
That is the price of our naïve self-involvement (and foolishness in thinking outsiders can save us from ourselves and solve our problems—“white man’s[woman’s]burden?”). And yet still we have not learnt our lesson. Evenings are spent with idiotic, low grade pop culture trash that are poor knock offs of deracinated shows elsewhere. Why? Because “I work hard all day”. Arey baba, just working hard all day doesn’t cut it. You have responsibilities beyond work, to your immediate family, your country (whichever one you are a citizen of), your culture, and mankind itself.
People obsess about keeping up with the Jones’ and living the good life—not understanding what the good life really is. It is one thing to enjoy a good party once in a while and appreciate the finer things in life; however, this must be balanced with the notion of being a good and informed citizen. But how many of us are? We play, dance and sing, and when the enemy comes we cry “betrayal!”, “how could this happen!” and then yell and scream like children. That is why wisdom and philosophy (that is love of wisdom, rather than love of knowledge) and serious thinking are important.
It is not enough to make a last minute stand at Panipat or Karnal. Unplanned, emotional or last minute action is a surefire way to defeat.
People and leaders must be aware of the enemies’ designs and defeat their strategy even before they set foot on our land or traitors take power. This is the cost of not paying attention..of not being serious.
There is a difference between buddhi and vidya. Our people think the mere gaining of knowledge means they’re great—without having accomplished anything. Accomplishment is derived from wisdom which tells us how to use knowledge for the benefit of ourselves and society-at-large. Indians freely give away their knowledge not realizing that that same knowledge will be used against them.
Instead of trying to be lamer versions of others and also-rans being contemptuously treated or mocked behind backs by those they imitate, Subcontinentals should strive for originality, dignified culture, and virtuous living–then only will we be taken seriously.
Even the Greek thinker Aristotle recognized that the key to happiness is virtuous living. Virtue, or more properly Dharma, is the foundation of our civilization. Indeed, it is the most appropriate name for it, our religion, and our way of life.
To be a serious people, we must recognize that we are affected by and influence more than just our immediate household.We have responsibilities and obligations that transcend our immediate selfish interests. But whom today can even be mentioned in the same breath as Krishna Nayaka orMaharana Pratap? No, rather than sacrificing their wealth and blood for their nation, we have people sacrificing their nation for their wealth and blood.
To be a serious people, we must conduct ourselves with honor and dignity. No system of government–no matter how perfect and democratic– can fulfill its obligations to the people if the governing people themselves become corrupt. In a democracy, the people themselves provide the governing elite and thus must operate with or at least aspire towards these values. As Arun Shourie said, though historically our kings would lead by example, Yatha Raja Tatha Praja, in a democracy it is Yatha Praja Tatha Raja.
Instead today we have politicians masquerading as honest to mask their incompetence–while smirking all the way to the bank.
Instead today we have people who insult their betters to advance their own delusional ambitions. We have younger brothers (Duryodhanas) who wrongfully feel entitled to property of their elder brothers (Yudhisthiras), and what’s more, we have Dhritarashtras and Gandharis who instead of correcting or punishing Duryodhana either play Bhishma and cave in or actively egg on these delusions of grandeur—putting aside or twisting all question of worthiness, competence, and dharma. Thus, parents and grandparents must first correct themselves, then correct the younger generation—that’s what stops internecine and fratricidal warfare that weakens peoples, nations, and civilizations.
To be a serious people, we must understand the difference between Rajniti (politics) and Rajdharma (statecraft).Politics may get you elected or protect your position, but Rajdharma protects the nation and people.
To be a serious people, we must understand who we are, what we face, what we did right, and what we did wrong. This is done through the study of history, high culture (literature & cinema rather than filmi gilmi nonsense), science, current events, and Dharma. That is the purpose of this site .
Caveat: there are no filmi song and dance sequences—so only serious minds may have the aptitude to listen and understand from start to finish…(for our busy professionals though, it makes for humorous and informative bedtime listening)
A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on May 21, 2014
While this is by now a line so well known that it is almost cliche, few of us meditate on it. But what is lesser known is that even fewer still meditate on another insightful history quote.
Frederick the Great was a brilliant Soldier-King of Prussia (a leading German kingdom of the 17-1800s) who is considered one of history’s finest generals. He wrote that:
“History is the School of Princes”.
And yet, our parents today consider this history to be “fluffy stuff” and an unworthy pursuit for their little rajakumaras. Why? Because understanding history makes for good rulers but poor servants.Despite the silly conceits of Indians in general, and NRI Andhras in particular, engineers, doctors, and coders are not rulers—just glorified workers. Real ruling classes and true elites have a sound understanding of history, and how it is frequently manipulated.
But to understand the importance of history, let us first understand what history is.
What is History
“Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear.”
― Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War
History is the study of past events as they apply to the human condition. It seeks to understand what happened, why it happened, at what are the ramifications of it. It is more than mere national myth, kaakamma kaburlu (old wives’ tales), or the dry recitation of dates and personalities. While an element of Romance and Adventure adds excitement to it, as Thucydides (the Ancient Greek historian) wrote, history is ultimately about the cold hard study of recorded facts weighed against the truth. Thus the entire modern Marxist method of emphasizing that “there is no truth, only perspective” is in fact the greatest lie of all. There is objective truth, there must be objective truth, for without it, we have only relativist subjectivity that allows fools to be led astray and the wicked to believe their own lies.
As such, while there may be a rhetorical flourish here, and a romantic tale there, history is ultimately about the the dispassionate and truthful study of human events and society.
What is the Use of History
“Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft” – Winston Churchill.
While Westerners point to Herodotus as the father of history, and the British routinely loved to insinuate that Hindus had no concept of it, the reality is that the Dharmic tradition is replete with not just assorted puranas, but also charitras (chronicles), avadanas (narratives) and true itihaasas (histories) such as the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (the Kashmiri historian). Itihasa literally means so indeed it was, “iti ha asa”.
Our own Kautilya advised that a prince undergo strict training, for “intellect is the result of learning”and “in the latter part of the day, he [the prince] shall listen to Itihasas]”. Thus, lack of historical curiosity is not an historical trait of Indians in general, but a trait of colonized Macaulay-putras who reject their own heritage without understanding its value. When our ancient political thinkers themselves advised of the importance of history, particularly in political matters, why do we continue to propagate the British-imposed fallacy that Indians had no concept of history–they did and they do, they have merely forgotten or been made to forget…
How History is Used
Most of us think that the history we read in school should suffice and serve as the benchmark for how we view ourselves. However, what is taught in India today, and about India in much of the rest of the world, is colonial in nature and British in bias.
As we’ve said repeatedly on this site, if you don’t know where you are from, you don’t know where you are going. And Indians (especially Andhras) continue to remain the most clueless bunch. Easily swayed by praise, they thoughtlessly bring outsiders into their innermost ranks. They fail to recognize that China’s closest equivalent to Chanakya said this millennia ago: “All warfare is deception”. Yet we continue to sway under the naïve notion that for “civilized people” war and politics remain separate from economics, religion, culture, and even history. In fact, another great Prussian General, Carl von Clausewitz said “War is the continuation of politics by other means”. Thus if war is political and politicized, why wouldn’t history be? If knowledge is power, why wouldn’t the war of ideas be a matter of life and death?
The British use of history was no accident. It was a conscious move to play with the native historical record and to alienate Indians from their own tradition.It is for this reason that the entire “Invasions” leitmotif continues in Indian history to this day. The colonial monologue goes that “India was always invaded and invasion brought civilization, i.e. “Aryans” so the British were merely taking the next step to “civilize” Indians. In fact, India is an invention of the British”.
The irony of course is that anyone remotely acquainted with British history realizes how many times those islands were invaded (Romans, Angles/Saxons/Jutes, Vikings, Norman-French). In fact, their entire culture is a product of invasion, and if one reads the History of the Kings of Britain, even their mythical history is traced to the Asiatic Trojan invader Britannicus. Perhaps it’s true what they say: superiority complexes are built upon inferiority complexes.
Irrespective, this reductive view of Indian history is nonsense. For starters, many invasions–in fact the majority–were beaten back.Ancient India historically had a reputation for defeating and utterly routing foreign invaders. Alexander of Macedon had himself been cautioned about India, having been told of how few soldiers the Assyrian Queen Semiramis (circa 9th century BCE) returned after being humbled by the Indian King Stabrobates, and how Cyrus of Persia lost his life on the Indian frontier. Alexander himself did not fare much better–but remains the subject of debate due to colonial British lionization of him. The same Huns that killed the Persian Emperor Firoz had been first defeated by Emperor Skandagupta and ultimately tamed by King Yasodharman of Malwa. Even the Arab Caliphate had virtually given up invasion of India, having been defeated many times, as established by their own histories (Chachnama). What’s more, even Bin Qasim’s conquest of Sindh proved short-lived, with the Rajputs of western India decisively defeating the Arabs, succeeding where Persia, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, and even Chinese-ruledTurkestan (in modern Xinjiang) had all failed.
Even the Indian worldview was reflective of this according to the Khorasani chronicler Alberuni: ” the Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid…According to their belief, there is no other country on earth but theirs, no other race of man but theirs, and no created beings besides them have any knowledge or science whatsoever.”
“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”
“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, –a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.”
What better way to do this then to make Indians ashamed of their own history?After all, if an Indian had pride in his history (as Alberuni angrily confirmed was the case once) or understood the true worth of Sanskrit and other Indian languages such as Telugu, he would not think so overwhelmingly about English, and give importance to it regarding “tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect“.
But before Macaulay-putras and their fellow travelers again attempt to attack the strawman of the first quote (crying “fascism, chauvinism, brahminical conspiracy,” and God knows what else), perhaps they should first recognize that Macaulay himself was an historian of sorts, and a dubious one at that by the accounts of his own fellow Englishmen. So it seems neither he, nor his fellow European imperialists, were unaware of the uses of history and how the past can be distorted to serve present and future ends…
…and is Still Used Today
Nowhere was this better seen than in the unfortunate case of the Telangana agitation. While the bifurcation is said and done (so don’t worry my dear TG readers…), the way it was done was absolutely appalling. Not only was brother turned against brother, but history itself was turned upon its head. This gang went as far as to even praise the very oppressors of their own ancestors. Thus, the destruction of these statues, particularly that of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, who defeated and humiliated the Qutb Shahis of Golkonda, shows whose dirty work they were actually doing.This is why it’s important to understand who the puppets and puppet masters really are.
A scholar/propagandist was enlisted to not only create a case for Telangana, but to even invert history by diluting the word “Andhra” (the glorious ancient name of all Telugu speakers to mean only those from the Coast). While observers may glibly refer to this as a minor issue, the reality is, by diluting the Andhra brand, the case for another brand is slowly being made. After all, the best way to boil a frog is to slowly raise the temperature, rather than all at once.
After seeing just how history has been used (and abused) in the hands of others, many Dharmic Indians may be think, let us just rebut this slander and write a glorious nationalist history. But two wrongs do not make a right. Replacing a nation-breaking history with an overly glossy nationalist one actually does a disservice to the nation. For a nation that only thinks of glorious achievements without understanding and analyzing past mistakes is doomed to repeat them.
Still others may say ask that if others have distorted our history why should we not do the same? But for the very nation whose motto is Satyameva Jayate, such an action is not only contrary to our traditions, it is foolishness. For you see, the society that has ever-prized the truth above all things, even given the world such noble lovers of Satya as Satyakama Jabala, Satya Harishchandra, and Dharmaraja Yudhisthira, the truth will in fact be the very light the reveals our glory. For while the lie lives ever in fear and doubt of discovery, truth knows no fear.
Though it unmasks the machinations of others, with the sword of truth lies not only our greatest weapon, but our redemption itself. Lies divide, but it is the truth that unifies, whether it is all Andhras, all Indians, or all of Humanity itself. Therefore, it is incumbent on Dharmics to use history for precisely the purpose it was meant to–only we must do it better.
While our traditional scholars may have been meticulous at recording facts, communication of these facts must not be done in a mechanical manner. They must be done in a way that not only educates and inspires, but also instills a rational compass allowing the young student to read history, and if necessary, navigate it. As Frederick the Great of Prussia said, “Past facts are good to store away in the imagination and the memory: they furnish a repository of ideas whence a supply of materials may be obtained, but one which ought to be purified by passing through the strainer of the judgment“. Even the great Greco-Roman historiographer, Polybius wrote in his work that “personal investigation” is the greatest quality of an historian. He went still further by emphasizing how men of action, rather than mere arm-chair observers, made the best historians–for they knew the value of what they were recording.
Thus mere rote memorization of history alone is not enough; one must use logic, analysis, and the historical method to understand the applicability and validity of these past ideas, so that students, politicians, and even generals, will draw the correct lesson–Acharya Kautilya would expect nothing less of us.
In light of all this, the history of the descendants of Dharma and Indic Civilization must be based on the truth, rooted in our Indic tradition, weighed by the historical method, valid in educational purposes, and communicated in a way that inspires.
In doing so, the next generation of responsible citizens, Army Chiefs, and Prime Ministers will recognize that India’s unity is not only worth defending, but will also learn how best to defend India’s unity. In tandem with that, they would see that our Dharmic Kings were worthy of emulation given that they were manly and trained in the arts of war in addition to being equally cultivated and cultured (as seen here with Emperor Samudra of the Gupta dynasty and below where he uses a bow in one coin and plays a veena in the other)
The same Soldier-Emperor who became the paramount ruler of India was skilled not only in the force of arms, but in the mastery of music. This demonstrates that among the archetypes for our leaders was not a dichotomy between unschooled barbarian and milquetoast musician, but the cultivated and cultured King, who could protect civilization all while engaging in its highest artforms.
Ultimately, it is not enough to merely study history in school or even earn a degree in it. Rather, what must be taught is how to navigate history using the historical method, logic, and analysis. While indigenous chronologies and chronicles can serve as a foundation for our historical record, they should be tested against the evidence of the time as well. Trust, but verify. For in an era where knowledge is power, the war of ideas becomes a matter of life and death…and what is history if not that?
Frederick the Great. p.47,49
Rangarajan, L.N. Ed., Kautilya. Arthashastra. New Delhi: Penguin. 1992.p.143
A version of this Post was published on Andhra Cultural Portal on April 8, 2014
There is a famous saying that “Rome was not built in a day”.
Given our exhaustion and frustration with Rome Raj, however, our model should be Ram Raj—but the lesson still holds.
On this Sri Rama Navami, it seems this occasion, this year, is more appropriate for reflection rather than greetings. After 10 years of misrule, the Indian people are fed up, and are in the midst of one of the most important elections in recent history. While slogans and frequent proclamations of Ram Rajya are well and good, it is important that we all understand exactly what that means…and how in fact, it is built.
Our people (at all levels: mass up to intellectual) seem to think that periodic paroxysms of effort and emotion are all that are required. Activity is premised not on disciplined performance but flashes of inspiration based on mood and interest.
“Naaku interest leyyyyyydu!!!” [I’m not interested!!!”] is a common refrain from our middle class moms and dads, as though interest were somehow the only determinant for activity.
One day they will say in childish excitement “Yes sir! We will do it—we will show them!!!” Commitments are made, follow up is promised and then the next day, they will taper off into tamasic stupor or get distracted by Chicken 65 and Hakka Noodles. Then correspondences and responses cease, and people, yet again miss the woods for the trees, focusing on insignificant matters rather than the broader Kurukshetra.
Jugaad cannot be a philosophy for life. Not everything can be improvised at the last minute. “Delhi dur ast”—aka the Panipat strategy—is not a formula for success.
Vijay Amritraj was frequently considered one of the most talented tennis players of his time.
But flashes of brilliance cannot make up for consistent and committed effort, hence the dominance of Grand Slam Champions like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe.
When it comes to missing golden opportunities—India ranks in the first echelon. We get distracted by the glitz and the glamour, rather than focusing on our main objective.
Celebrations and celebrities are for after victory, not before.
In all fairness to Vijay gaaru, his performance at Davis Cup and even his occasional victory over the Grand Slam Champions of the time definitely made all Indians proud (and gave a measure of athletic respect that is sorely, and justifiably, lacking now). But as much as we love him for his accomplishments, Grand Slams and Top 10 rankings are what ultimately measure Tennis Champions.
Similarly, as much as Indians may want to complacently revel in the surface-level popularity of yoga and Bollywood, they need to pay attention to the marketing hit-job that has been done to their brand (and has been since the days of Macaulay and Katherine Mayo).
And as for Information Technology, being a glorified body shop or coding farm (sorry Infosys/Wipro) does not an IT superpower make. This determination is based upon finished products, i.e. End user applications and expensive software packages (like Windows or Photoshop). But how many Indian applications are world beaters? Can we name one? There may be an Indian CEO of a Fortune 500 Software Company, but there is no Fortune 500 CEO of an Indian Software Company.
The very real fact is, power determinations and respect are achieved through Comprehensive National Power… not through flattering words given to a chaprasi in chief (sidenote: what ground- breaking economic paper has the economist PM published?) by disinterested foreign leaders. Ram’s power came from not only the greatness of his Dharma and the wealth of Ayodhya, but also from the strength of his bow. Appointing corrupt morons to important defense positionsis not the way to Ram Raj. To do this you don’t need a clueless anti-corruption brigade, but hard-minded strategic thinkers…aka Serious People.
Serious people do not make evaluations based on flatteryor words of comfort. India and Indians have a myriad of problems facing them, their culture, and their civilization today. How to tackle this?
The brayings of our tamasic donkey public can usually be summed up in one line “who caaaaares! Let them bark! Ignore them”.
It took Turkic invaders 200 years to break through all major resistance and finally set themselves up in the gangetic plains of India. What were our people doing before? One cannot wait until Tarain or Panipat to act. Once you know what he plans on doing, you must act before the enemy does, rather than passively react. So instead of braying “who cares! Let them bark!”, get off your rear and recognize the challenge that faces you instead of spending all your free time watching mindless movies and idiotic game shows.
Now that people are finally start paying attention, they have to plan.
Things cannot be done at the last minute. Jugaad is not a strategy. So take the time to read, reflect, understand, and plan. This means understanding what faces you, understanding what you can do, determining your long, medium, and short term objectives. Determining a strategy for each, and finally a method and detailed plan to implement, evaluate, and adjust. You cannot do this when the enemy is already at the gates.
Pedantic gyaani tweets and ahankari ego-stroking is not the path to victory. This is where free time and spending 15 minutes a day (at least) on something useful, comes in handy.
3. Consistent Effort
People think a single flash of genius is all that is necessary or one savior is all that is required at the last minute to save the day. But the reality is, God helps those who help themselves. Thus, for all us average, non-divine mortals, consistent effort is what is required to develop the requisite inner and outer strength to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.
That’s why I keep repeating the importance of 15 minutes a day. Plenty of you are reading, but how many of you reflect or even participate? That is the problem. Everybody wants a Shivaji, but only in the neighbor’s house. But the reality was, Shivaji had a host of people helping him and eventually succeeding him, from Samarth Ramdas to Tarabai.
An historic problem in India is the personality-based movement. This can no longer stand. Accidents happens, stray arrows hit their marks, and leaders come and go like the ocean waves. But who is there to pick up the flag if they fall, who is there to take the fallen king’s place in the midst of the battle?
So rather than simply praying like children for someone to help, do the hard work yourself to be a second-in command or a lieutenant. The most successful movements are not based around a single leader, but institutions, as was the case even withthe Roman Empire and the British Empire (through the Company). The Khalsa survived long after the 10 Sikh gurus, just as the Maratha cause survived long after the Chhatrapati. But just like dirt cannot grease the gears, idiots cannot man institutions (no matter how perfect). So take the time needed to prepare and be a contributor, not just a cheerleading free-rider .
Rather than complacently remaining thoughtless tamasic rabble, our people must aspire to become disciplined, independent thinkers and contributors.
After spending all this time thinking and planning… implement!!!
Whatever little thing you have time to do, whether it is correcting that Wikipedia article that you know is wrong (no matter how long it takes) or teaching Carnatic Music or running for municipal political seats, DO SOMETHING (intelligently) to protect and perpetuate our heritage and inheritance. Don’t just whine about how bad things are and go back to stuffing your face with sweets, do something about it!!
That is the great significance of the Vanara sena’s contribution to Ram Setu. Each vanara, by contributing a handful of stones, was able to construct the bridge to Lanka. Rama’s bridge stands to this day as testament to not only the Bhakti of the Vanaras, but as to how great structures can be built, andRam Raj achieved, through small contributions by many individuals. So while you may think your little stone may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you may in fact be laying the foundation for the very great deeds for which you are hoping and praying.
And also, be sure that ambition does not blind you and others. Not everyone can be a Krishna Deva Raya, but one can still be a Timmarasu or Tenali Ramakrishna or a Nayaka. Thus, one must evaluate one’s own capabilities and strengths with respect to others in order to ascertain the optimal way one can contribute.
No one is or can be above the law and no one man (or woman) is greater than the movement. Thus, if after fair evaluation over a reasonable period of time (i.e. several years, a term in office, etc.), a leader, no matter how beloved or feted, has not performed as required, or worse, is negligent or even complicit, then said leader too can step down and be replaced.
Ultimately, we must all remember that Rama was not able to rule in a simple flash of divine brilliance. He himself spent many years in the wilderness with only his Dharma to guide him. It took the consistent effort of Gurus like Vishwamitra to educate him, Fathers like Dasaratha to guide him, Mothers like Kausalya to acculturate him, Brothers like Bharata and Lakshmana to loyally protect him (and his interests), allies like Hanuman to serve him, Wives like Sita to care for him, and a Population like Ayodhya’s to be worthy of him.
So for all those clamoring for Rama Rajya, the question they should ask is “Are we worthy of it yet?”
Whether the answer is yes or no, people should take these lessons to heart—and plan/act more and talk less…
So don’t just idly read here or even thoughtlessly comment (ok…do comment…heh), but also plan and participate intelligently.
What’s more, a generation of Telugu speakers (and other Indians) have now grown up with Ross and Rachel as their role models instead of Rama and Sita. This is the cost of neglecting one’s own high culture, which nourishes the soul through aspirational figures and timeless civilizational values communicated through sophisticated literature, dance, music, art, architecture, and cuisine.
The Andhra Cultural Portal was established because pop culture (Bolly & Tollywood) cannot take the place of High Culture (Kavya, Sangeeta, Natya, etc) and because Indians of all backgrounds are increasingly alienated from their own transcendent cultural heritage and utterly unaware of its unmatched accomplishment.
But deep down, even they know that their lies are precisely that—baldfaced lies. While they may even believe it, fortunately the APJ Abdul Kalams of this world knew and know better. Despite being an observant Muslim, former President Kalam was an avid connoisseur of not only his regional Tamizh culture, but the national & civilizational Sanskritic high culture and its epics. Sanskrit high culture is verily the bedrock of Indic civilization. Sanskrit as a language truly has no equal, as computer scientists and even Colonial era Europeans have waxed eloquent over it. It is this very language of the Gods that has enriched Telugu.
And yet, this same bollywood/Delhiite delusion about culture has infected some sections in Telangana. See how the fundoo MIM is already claiming that Urdu should take Telugu’s place as the official language of Telangana state. By KCR’s logic about a sprinkling of Urdu words in their dialect of Telugu justifying a new state, can’t other regions claim a new state because they have more English words?
Can this sophistry about India being a land of immigrants really be the notions of high culture that we teach ourselves and our children? Read the text, while he speaks of Sanskrit as a language of science or even occasionally literature, it’s quite clear his goal is to push only Urdu as the literary tradition of choice, particularly for poetry. Kalidasa is mentioned only to preemptively occupy the space, so that bollywood will continue to privilege the Shayari over the Shloka.
While there’s nothing wrong in appreciating a bollywood urdu shayari (though I personally prefer Kalidasa to Ghalib) , we must also take the time to learn about Sanskrit slokas and Telugu prabandhas…and Marathi Abhangas…and Rajasthani Rasos. All things must be taken according to measure. While it is a sign of maturity when a Civilization can be open-minded to imported ideas (or syncretic traditions in Urdu’s case), India is the only country that privileges all things foreign (or foreign derived) above the native. This must cease henceforth.
Even more dangerous, Pakistanis and their Gunga Dins on the Indian side of Wagah, have even been digesting native Indic high culture as their own. It’s one thing to stake claim to Biryani and Qawwali (which are certainly imports, no denialism here….)—but quite another to take Tandoori (the Tandoor is native to Rajasthan) and Classical Indian/Music and Dance. They masquerade as though the Natya Sastra did not exist or Classical traditions did not exist prior to Hindustani and Kathak (themselves primarily based on the Natya Sastra only tweaked to Mughal tastes). For God’s sake, some are even claiming traditional Bengali Sweets as “Mughlai”! You may now ask, “have they no shame?”, but the question really is, “don’t we?”
That is the importance of documenting , propagating, and celebrating one’s own high culture. If we don’t clarify mistakes, if we don’t disprove propaganda, if we don’t perpetuate our own glorious high culture, someone else will deconstruct and digest our own culture whilst disparaging us. Before you laugh, let us not forget how the nefarious Nazis appropriated our Symbols (Swastika) and even our name for our Dharma (“Arya Dharma”) tragically perverting the meaning and auspiciousness of both. Language truly is culture.
Appreciating Urdu does not mean pigeon-holding Sanskrit or deriding Telugu. Diversity does not mean diluting one’s own culture. Cosmopolitanism does not mean negating one’s true identity, and Secularism certainly does not mean forgetting who we really are.
By all means, let Indians unite and allow both Majority and Minority to celebrate their respective traditions—but in fair and accurate measure. Enjoy your biryani and watch your bollywood, but also celebrate your own khichdi and Thyagaraja kirtanas. India is the home of Dharmic civilization—let us not forget this.
Above all, High Culture transmits Values.What are the principles that we must govern ourselves by? Who are the examples we must aspire towards? Whatever the laws may be, what moral code should guide our personal/private conduct? That is why it must be preserved at all costs. After all, Modernizing does not mean Westernizing and Globalizing does not mean De-localizing, because if you’re from Everywhere, you’re from Nowhere.
Even the very British emigrant to America Christopher Hitchens recognized this when he said, “Globalization is only really interesting if we all bring something different”.
So tell me my dear reader, do you know what we as Indics bring?
It is with great excitement and pride that we announce the formal launch of the Indic Civilizational Portal.
Those of you who know of our maiden venture, Andhra Cultural Portal, might be familiar with us and our objectives to preserve and pass on Dharmic culture and Indic heritage. When we first conceived of that idea for our native region, it was only natural that we ourselves saw the potential to launch a mathru site and connect not only the Andhra people, but all of Bharatavarsha.
As such, this Civilizational Portal is just that: A network, interface, and database for the serious Indic person. It is a web space not for parochial thinking or regional feeling, but dharmic collaborating and idea exchanging. The site founders believe in decentralised Dharma. Therefore, each layer has its place to play. While regional culture must be preserved and expressed, all the pradesas must come together for the common cause and clarion call of Saamaanya Dharma. Therefore, this site is not dedicated to one community, one caste, one region, or even one religion, but the cause of Dharma itself and its native homeland, Bharata. It is not a site for men only, but encourages women to learn, participate, and teach as well. Discussion of not only Vedic Rishis, and mighty Avataras, but also Jain Tirthankaras, Buddhist Bodhisattvas, and Sikh Gurus is gladly and respectfully invited.
Those who hold true to the Indic concept of Dharma from whatever corner of ancient Bharatavarsha from Nepal to Sri Lanka, and everywhere in between, are more than welcome to read, learn, participate, and contribute. No mortal individual knows everything. As such, we aim to not only write, but also learn ourselves, and encourage others to do the same by listening with an open mind. All that we ask in return are the basic stepping stones to dharma of sabyata (civility) and saujanya (etiquette). This is not a place for headstrong egos and stubborn special interests, but selfless people with a sense of common cause and belonging. While difficult issues can and must be discussed, and differing views welcomed, there is zero-tolerance for casteism here. Neither anti-brahmin nor anti-dalit (nor anything in between) remarks will be considered acceptable. Good nature joshing about various regions is permitted, so long as its done respectfully and in good fun. Butbe prepared to get back as good as you give. Respectable speech, however, is urged, and slurs and uncultured language to be avoided by participants. Elders (when their seniority is apparent) are to be respected.
A people, a society, and indeed, a civilization are defined by their culture. What are the values they hold dear? What are the principles that inspire them? What are the factors that drive them? These aspects, more than anything else, are the foundation for a culture. Those of you following us on ACP or on Twitter would have read our essays and tweets on the topic. You would also have seen not only the discussion of what we did and do right and what we did and do wrong, but also a cataloging of our cultural heritage to inspire innovation. Culture is not static. So in conjunction with studying the Language, Literature, Art, Architecture, Festivals, Cuisine, Dance, Music, and Cinema of our Civilization, we will also encourage discussion of the issues that we have dealt with in the past, are dealing with now, and will deal with in the future. A strong understanding of not only dharma and literature , but also history and global politics will help individuals understand the strategic space we are in.
Many have written about the intellectual Kurukshetra of our time. This is the place to discuss it. With saluting sankhas we welcome you all to the Indic Civilizational Portal.