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Sringara (Romance) is also Part of Our Culture

sringararasa

After our preceding article on Romantic Sanskrit Poetry, it is only natural for people to ask whether our illustrious culture should be romantic, let alone, romanticised. Indeed, the current dispensation in the natural discourse seems to believe that everything but the legitimately native and authentically Indic, can be associated with such a feeling.

While we previously established not only the contours for Classical Indic Literature and provided redolently romantic examples of its high culture poetry, it is also important to understand the place of Romance in our culture. If there is opposition from libertine liberals to anything Sanskritic on the one end, there is opposition from Krypto-conservatives and their dour dreams of dreary duty only. But a marriage and a relationship between a man and woman is more than just about duty.

Dharma provides the basis to govern and preserve a relationship, and even makes a marriage meaningful, but it is the sentiment of Sringara that nourishes it. Even our greatest Kings, Warriors, and Avataras knew that Sringara (Romance) is also Part of our Culture.

Introduction

Shringaar

Sringara, or as it is said stylishly in Shuddh Hindi, “Shringaar“, is of central importance not only in Indic Civilization, but in Dharmic culture as well. After all, the society that celebrates Siva-Sakti, and the equal halves of one soul that make a marriage of man and woman, can never be far from the Sringaaric.

Sita-Rama

Sri Rama‘s incarnation as Maryada Purushottam was the Perfect man doing Perfect duty, to the point of self-denial and self-abnegation. In our callous and foolish era, libertines disrespectfully refer to him as “misogynist”, despite his proper behaviour and even charming gentility around women. But selfish creatures cannot be expected to understand the self-sacrificing. Perfect Dharma demands that a King’s duty places his subjects before his own family, even his own wife. But that degree of perfection was only possible in an era of perfection, or near perfection (the Treta Yuga). In the Kali Yuga, even great and self-sacrificing men should not be expected to give up their faithful and loving wives today due to idle gossip, because subjects themselves have become corrupt and immoral.

Sita could expect the protection of a Maharishi like Valmiki—but where are such venerable elders today? As such, it is important to understand that, beyond the Dharma of Ram, beyond the Sacrifice of Ram, was the Romantic Nature of Ram. In an era when Kings commonly took many wives, Rama restricted himself to only one…why?

Chahe rajsinghasan par ho ya kusha ke asan par, har sthan par, Ram Sita ke bina adhora rahega.

Whether on the Throne of Kings or the Seat of Ascetics, in whatsoever place, Ram without Sita, is incomplete

Dharma does not mean denying our emotions and feelings. Dharma means relying on duty to channel and refine our feelings, so that we take the course of action that benefits the most people, rather than just the few, or ourselves.

A handsome, narashardula (tiger among men), peerless warrior, and great Emperor, lived the rest of his life in loneliness, pining over Sita, the only woman he ever loved, and ever married. He even commissioned the fashioning of a gold statue of her in remembrance.

goldsita

As such, while Veera-rasa predominates throughout the Ramayana, there is undoubtedly a strong element of Sringara-rasa. The Romantic Love Sita and Rama shared for each other transcended not only their time, but inspires for all time. In an era when people fall in and out of relationships, or due to android applications—don’t even need them, how insolent to cast aspersion on such transcendental lovers? If newly wedded couples today are blessed with the benediction that they be like Sita & Rama, it is not merely so that they do their duty for society together (although that too is important). Rather, it is so that they too may have such a love.

Fraternity boys may not have time for such a conception of women. Red pill retrograde reading may be the present fraternal fashion. But to be properly prepared for marriage, a more sophisticated understanding of the opposite gender is required. To deny women love, is to deny women life. Abuse is certainly criminal, but neglect is truly sinful. Different women may have different natures, and not all women may be hopeless romantics (some may in fact exploit that sentiment, courtesy 498A, etc), but to not understand their general need for romantic love, and to perennially obsess over the anatomical and chemical, without contemplating the emotional, is foolishness. Lust is fleeting, and Duty is lasting, but it is Romantic Love that inspires and renews.

Ironically, the many pretenders to “player-hood” and catatonic khiladis who tom-cat about, fail to recognise precisely why the much-married Sri Krishna was so successful with women, even in his youth. Lust and the carnal are ephemeral; romantic love, when sought with skill is transcendental. Six-pack abs and well-heeled fabs may get attention, but it is charm that captivates it, and character that keeps it.

Confident attitude may be important, but charming disposition and gentlemanly conduct are crucial. Brutish behaviour may get attention, but it is not always good attention. The brazen braggart and boorish bouffon, are mere infants in the eyes of women, who prefer men to mere boys. Krishna was an invincible warrior, a cunning strategist, and a clever king among men, but he was also a cultivated gentleman, a charming conversationalist, an intoxicating instrumentalist, and above all, a cultured romanticist.  Funny how would-be “hypermasculine”, self-declared “defenders of Dharma” forget that today. That is why it is important to study Nara Dharma properly, rather than merely concoct uni-dimensional understandings of Dharma and Nara and Naari.

Lord Krishna was the complete man, that is why women craved him.

The true defender of Dharma, is thus, neither brutish nor churlish, nor is he a braggart nor a bouffon. Rather than stomp about in aggressive assertion of his alleged greatness and “proficiency in ritual”, he exudes his values through his conduct, character, and conversation. The Redpill movement, personified by such storied lotharios as this lout, may have plenty of wrong ideas, but they are right about one thing: how you project yourself is more important than what you say.

How ironic that the most misogynistically medieval of forces, and the most oppressive of ideologies, have come to occupy the romantic space in the Indic mindspace today, due to bollywood. But while anti-national producers are to blame, the public at large bears its share of responsibility. After all, what measures has it taken to rollback this romantic monopoly marketing attempt? What of the volcanic growth of revolting “item dances”. Why must we look elsewhere, when Bharatiya Sanskriti perfected Romance?

radhakrishnaflute

A culture that knows not the import of courtship, is a culture that has collapsed. When Romance becomes a mere veneer for Lust, when it too becomes a commodity for one day of candy sales, then lovers become nominal, replaceable, and interchangeable. Sringara is not mere Rati bhava (erotic feeling). Kama deva and Rati are indeed wedded together, but it is the combination of both that gives us the full spectrum of romantic love.  It is why grihasthashrama is Dharma in fullness, not merely because of rati-bhava, but because of Sringara.

Prema comes in many forms: Vatsalyam, Bhakti, Mitrataall are important. But as great as these all are in their own ways, Sringara is the most ecstatic. It is not for nothing that the author of the Natya Sastra, the great Sage…

…Bharat consecrated ‘Shringara’- love, as the apex of all ‘Rasas’, as if he was pre-determining the course of Indian arts – painting and sculpture, which later discovered their relevance and prime thrust mainly in love. If anything, Bharat said, was ‘sacred, pure, placid and worthy for eye’, it would be some aspect of ‘Shringara’. [5]

Arranged marriage has been the traditional model in our society, but that has never denied the importance of either romance or consent. Rukmini’s letter to Krishna asking him to rescue her, is a prime example of this. This is the society of the Svayamvara, where women cannot be seen as mere pawns for political alliances courtesy of the marital. They have their own adhikara too. Yes, they must choose wisely (something many aren’t doing of late), and Arranged Marriage with Consent, offers one such avenue, which is certainly less risky than commercialised industrialised “live-in” arrangements, which maybe start  “in love”, but usually end up in “the clinic”. As such, there must be a balancing of interests:

1) Preserving the societal fabric for the next generation, 2) Providing a healthy environment for the nurturing of children, and yes, 3) Romantic compatibility.

The rights of women cannot be trampled upon in the matter of marriage. True, difficult times reduce freedoms for both men and women. But there is a difference between filtering eligible suitors from which to choose, and taking away choice completely. Rukmini was herself put in such a desperate position. This is where this daughter of Vidarbha demonstrated her strength as a woman and wrote a letter to Krishna declaring her love for him.

But Rukmini chose wisely, not merely based on fleeting caprice, but on character (and yes, charm). She exercised her rights responsibly. It is important to consider character compatibility along with eligibility and mass-marketed marriageability. Match-making must not be a simple meat-market or political calculation that makes pawns of progeny. It is also a sacred union of souls and a sentimental bond. The Lord himself answered her call, and respected her choice.

Why wax nostalgic over DDLJ, when our Ancient Civilization already produced the real deal?

Main Yoddha bhi hoon!

For a long time, poets and commentators  have used the wrong term, haranam to refer to the Rescue of Rukmini, when it is Rakshanam. The correct word is rakshanam or nistaaranam, because as Krishna himself says, he did not kidnap her, Rukmini called him. He responded to her letter asking him to rescue her and take her away from Vidarbha.

Lord Krishna’s example, in Rukmini Rakshana, was emulated by none other than that most Ideal of Rajputs: Maharana Pratap. Mewar’s greatest son chivalrously rescued a Rajput Princess who wrote a pleading letter to him. She was despicably being forced to marry a mughal.  He heroically liberated her from her foolish relatives, and taking her back to his kingdom, he then married her, with all religious rites. Thus we see not only the intersection of Legend with History, but Duty with Romance. Dharma and Sringara are not polar opposites or antipodes, but are complements. Sringara gives Dharma sentiment, and Dharma gives Sringara meaning.

maharanapratap

“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze” – Elinor Glyn

All this is naturally causing indigestion to our krypto-conservatives on the dolt-right, so let me properly contextualise this for their edification:

Compatibility is not based on fleeting fancy or temporary lusts of the moment. Romance is not a mere veneer or hallmark style commodisation of sentiment. Sringara is meant to ennoble us beyond the everyday erotic. Where others see mere biologyor TFR, Sringara in its full sense, exhorts good character and great conduct. Rukmini, Sita, and Savitri all sought out Sringara, but they pursued it the right way, looking for the right match based on long-term interests, societal good, and yes, noble romantic sentiment.

Savitri’s own choice showed her superiority over the women of today (and the less said about the men of today the better…but I digress). This Princess of Madra chose a man down on his luck but with good character to marry. She then became the veritable Lakshmi of the House by not only restoring him to his family’s ancestral kingdom, but restoring him to life. Sita herself forever abided by duty, but not only did she resist the lustful seduction attempts of Ravana in the face of imprisonment, inducements, and threats over the course of a year of torment, but she also sought out her Romance with Rama the right way.

Even the tale of Usha, and the grandson of Krishna named Aniruddha (a chip off-a chip off-the old block), is a romantic one. Usha sees the handsome Aniruddha in her dream, has her friend draw pictures of the illustrious princes of her time, and falls in love with this Prince of Dwaraka after hearing of his good qualities.

aniruddha

 Usha-Aniruddha

 Thus, the surrender of Sringara is the single biggest strategic blunder by our Samskruthi Senapatis. Even more vile, has been the venal conflation of it by these copycats with mere “sensuality” and prioritisation of the ever compounding, compound-hungry, self-serving pedantry to pervade it. Before teaching others to certify them in their little social media certificate programs, it’s important to actually learn our culture & history correctly.

flute-radha-krishna

Sringara, therefore, is a critical aspect not only to revival of culture and civilization, but revival of civilized life and the beauty of life itself.

The Kashmiri commentator Anandavardhana wrote  in his Dhvanyaloka : “In the shoreless world of poetry, the poet is the unique creator. Everything becomes transformed into the way he envisions it. If the poet is emotionally moved (lit. ‘in love’) in his poems, then the whole world is infused with rasa. But if he be without an interest in the senses (vitaraga), then everything will become dry (nirasa). (Dhvanyaloka, III. 43). [1,156]

Radha-Krishna_chess

The game of life must not only be played with discipline, and skill, but also with style, and in the right places, occasional sentiment.

Those identifying with the Dharmic view in India typically fall into two camps with respect to this topic. On the one hand we have those looking to create a drab and charmless society, where culture is only about mechanical karma, and Prema is only valid for Bhagavan (God). On the other we have the hippie free spirits or libertine liberals who, despite their undoubted patriotism, are tribalists (i.e. modern global types who nevertheless cheer for their home team) who seek to map their “liberal”/”feminist”/”new age Male” views on to Hindu Dharma, and frequently see sex detached from love.

Despite their diametrically opposing views, both of them fail to understand the importance of Sringara to our tradition. To the paleo-conservatives, romantic love is seen as a valentine’s day derived western import and an impediment to their dream society of boring severity. To others, romance is seen only through western rom-coms or bollywood buffoonery, where “love” is a commodity, and thus, not truly romantic, nor specifically, “True Love”.  In the wake of all this, we chart the middle path.

Whether it’s Sita-Rama, Savitri-Satyavan, Indumati-Aja, Malati-Madhava or even the nameless Yakshi & Yaksha of Meghadootha, Romance has always been an inseparable part of our Indic Culture, Tradition, and Civilization.

It has, in fact, been a part of it from the very beginning. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us in the Fourth Brahmana, of how the Supreme Being became lonely and wished for a second. Dividing into 2, what once had no gender, re-emerged as two lovers: a man and woman in eternal embrace. That is the beginning of creation. [8, 164]

And, for all the attempts to brand Hindu culture as regressive towards women on account of Sati, how many people know of King Aja who inconsolably climbed upon his wife’s funeral pyre? He had to be dragged down, because he had a responsibility to rule. As soon as his minor son came of age, he starved himself so as to reunite with his beloved Indumati. Separating cases of societal misconduct on involutary Sati (anyways barred by Dharmasastra in the Kali Yuga) from the nature of certain ideals is important; otherwise, it is emblematic of a desire to misconstrue and misportray. Aja, by the way, was none other than the grandfather of Rama.

Classical India was replete with such famous pairings. Even great romantic heroes such as Udayana Vatsaraja (the King of Vatsa) appeared in numerous romantic escapades that would put Don Giovanni to shame. But while the latter featured in eponymous operas,  whither the Vatsaraja in bollywood? Dramas abound in his name, with such classical works as Svapnavasavadatta and Ratnavali, and yet, no knowledge, let alone mention of this Romantic Hero. It’s why this article by sickularatti is so ignorant. Ancient  India did have such figures, but Lutyenswallahs simply refuse to acknowledge this, due to their own agendas.

Sringara Rasa is Romantic Love and Romantic Sentiment. In fact, so sophisticated was Bharatavarsha’s approach to romance, that our literature even divided it into two main categories: Vipralambha & Sambhoga.

Vipralambha Sringara—Love in Separation

This is further divided into two kinds:

Ayoga- the Non-consummation of marriage, and

Viprayoga-the Separation of the lovers deep in love (after marriage). “The former which arises from the dependent position of one or the other of the parties through distance or the intervention of adverse fate, has ten stages, ‘abhilasha, chinthaa etc., mentioned in the com.; the latter occurs through maana, pravaasa or some such cause.‘” [2, 3]

Sambhoga—Love in Union

Sambhoga is Love in Union. Vivaha is naturally the best form of this, and birth of a child, also part of the romance. After all, what demonstrates the love of another than wanting to join your qualities together?

Sambhoga has many elements including seeing, conversing, embracing, kissing, and consummation.  In fact, the word Sambhoga literally means “mutual enjoyment”—which characterises not only the Indic view of love but also of sex…so whose society is patriarchal now?

This topic, in fact, will merit a deeper discussion in future articles already prepared. In any event, all this is well and good for a “classical” construct. But what of modernity? What about the here and now?

“Modern Romance”

Many of you may be concerned. Parents may be bewildered at the notion of their children being distracted, and college boys fretting that their anime fantasies may now be spoiled. But look around, youth are already distracted, and are increasingly becoming depraved. Modern media, be it movies, TV, or most powerful of all, the internet, has made it possible to not only mould young minds, but to misinform and even misguide them. Is it any wonder divorce has sky-rocketed, and fidelity has plummeted? Many are having more sex than ever before, with more ‘lovers’ than ever before, but how many actually love? More importantly, how many are actually happy?

If Romance is Dead today, both genders are responsible. Young men deservedly get the lion’s share of the blame, but young women are not so innocent here either. If chivalry is dead, feminism killed it. In chasing after “pyaar, ishq, aur mohabbat” they have conveniently forgotten that Shringaar comes with responsibility. A capricious lust, or srk-inspired stalker does not automatically deserve the title of “beloved”. Merely because some schmuck is temporarily giving you attention, does not mean you give it all away.  Many people frequently fake love to advance their own political & ideological agendas.

Romance is best when it is balanced with responsibility. Charisma is a passing fad, but Character is timeless. Character & Charm best of all.

smartgirl

If men are guilty of superficiality based on looks and lust, then women are guilty of weighing only material gains and fashionability. Just because bollywood portrays pardesis as “romantic” doesn’t mean that is the case. Just because you only see a particular medieval set of monarchs doesn’t mean they embody nobility. Stop doing merely what you are told is trendy, and use your own judgment to judge what is right for you.

beautycharacter
What women (and men) should start focusing on again

Looks fade, and even Romance ebbs and flows, it is a common Dharma rooted in a common ideal of character, and a common lifestyle, with common loyalties, that binds couples. Romance is most meaningful when we admire not only looks, but also inner nobility. True, individuals can enhance their looks & appeal (marketing is in fact not all that new after all), and can put their best foot forward. They can even become accomplished like Ravana was. But it is character that is the true bond of any relationship. Superficialities are a means of catching and keeping interest.

But as with weapons of war, these Suhstras of Sringara are not to be used irresponsibly. To seduce is sinful, as it is deceit with ill-intention. It is superior to charm and to in turn, be charmed. Suhstra too requires Sastra, and wiles must be wielded as weapons are…with care. Woman too, wields many weapons, none more devastating than her eyes. But before you can get to the intermediate and advanced levels, learn the basics.

  • Learn how to wash properly
  • Learn how to dress properly
  • Learn how to behave properly
  • Learn how to charm properly

What is charm? It is the implicit appreciation of the presence of another. It is assuredness, without imposition. It is social grace and charisma. This does not always require song, and dance, or painting or a Versace wardrobe or a huge performance. It can be as simple as knowing how to have a conversation, or interject it periodically with poetry. It’s not so much what you say, but, how you say it.

Much may be made of the scene ending here, but for those who know dharmasastra, Gandharva vivaha was also a legitimate form of marriage. Though usually preceded by rounds around the fire or at least garlanding or giving of rings, Gandharva vivaha (gandharvas style of marriage) required no rituals and results in union of mutual consent. Though it is not recommended, as men in this era duping women have shown, in the ancient times, it nevertheless resulted in commitment, as those who have seen Baahubali know both characters effectively considered themselves married after this song.

Since we’re on the topic of the Romantic, I thought I might use this topic as a segue to a little advice to all the would-be womanisers and wannabe Carrie Bradshaws out there.

As we’re now well into the era of “Love Marriage” I thought I might bring a healthier perspective to those of us who have dipped their toe (or dived headfirst) into the dating scene. I know there are plenty of working professionals today who continue to go the “Arranged” route and others who go the dating route—I am not judging either way, just giving helpful advice for both. This applies especially for guys DBD and ABD —but gals as well. Whatever you decide to do, always better to first learn from those older to you. Then make your own choice.

Courting Advice

1.Do Not take rejection personally.

I can’t stress this one enough, whether it’s an arranged Match that didn’t work out or a college girlfriend/boyfriend. It’s admittedly very hard to do (especially when we are young and obsessed with what others think (early vs late 20s)), but most people aren’t told this early enough. There are several ways to cope with this. One is the tried and tested “plenty of fish in the sea”/ “your loss”. Another, per Ovid, is to take a trip with a trusted friend to some safe place, and gain perspective. But perhaps the all time best, in my opinion, is that the other person simply isn’t “the One”. Many people may not believe in soulmates, but for those who navigate the treacherous waters of the dating world—this is the best defence when a romantic escapade doesn’t work out. Even if you don’t believe in “The One”, accept the fact that you weren’t right for each other, because no matter how much sense it makes in your head, your theory is invalid if it doesn’t work in practice.

Not constructively processing rejection is fraught with dangers. We’ve all heard the old adage “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, and the frequent and tragic cases of acid throwers in South Asia are simply horrid. While strong punishment may deter some of this, it is imperative that fathers, uncles, and elder brothers/friends need to dissuade their idiot juvenile sons/nephews/brothers from such ideas by telling them this factoid from day 1.

A real man, knows how to control himself. Same goes for you ladies.

2.Don’t Date; Court.

Unfortunately, the romantic scene has become something of an extra-curricular activity or time pass. Courting and Courtship was once a high art, which has now devolved into the hookup culture or irresponsible and frequently unprotected sex. Rather than the rare exception, the one-night stand has, for all too many people, become the rule.

This one is appropriate especially for the gals, because, well, let’s face it, the biological clock starts ticking earlier for you (you don’t have to take my word for it) . This makes #1 easier, since the approach is to find the person you should marry. In essence, girls and guys should focus on Mr/Miss Right rather than Right now.

Ladies, I hate to say it, but this one is up to you. So if you’re not going the arranged route, and decide early on to put yourself in the market for a boyfriend-en route to-husband—don’t date on in an endless relationship to nowhere, or have a string of affairs to the bottom if you break up, but make him court you with long-term intentions.

There is plenty of nonsense out there, especially in this post-SATC world that makes the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle glamorous—but check in with your single female friends/cousins in their late 30s and 40s—and ask if what the third wavers call “sex-positive” really is all that fulfilling.

And to all the wannabe khiladis, look no further than one of the all-time great fictional playboys, Sam Malone. The latter years showed just how empty his life was, no matter how many women filled his social calendar. The allure of fast times, fast women, and fast cars runs out real fast when father time comes knocking. So find a path that works for you, maybe even at your own pace, but don’t get suckered in by fashionable puffery in cosmo, playboy, MGTOW, jezebel, or whatever other intellectual cul-de-sac in which you find yourself.

3.Guys, don’t complain, Up your game

One of the reasons arranged marriage has been emphasised by elders for so-long is because expectations are never the same. Many women can expect the world and, well let’s face it, we guys are lazy.

If you think boorish behaviour and being a jackass will get you far, you need to get your head examined, or at least see a different kind of doctor.

There is a difference between self-assured confidence, and off-putting crudity. You may gain the fleeting fancy of the lowest common denominator, but if you a looking for a quality girl, of good character, that is not the way.

Learn the fine art of charm. Don’t just awkwardly sing or poorly play the guitar. Master the fine art of conversation, refine yourself. Learn Poetry.

What is charm? It is the tacit expression of pleasure in the company of another. In contrast to self-serving sharks and self-involved screechers, a charming person is neither looking to “dominate” or lead on a person, but is self-assured, confident, and calm. Exude charm.

4.Put your Best Foot forward

There’s a difference between trying to be the best version of yourself and doing a little brand-building, and out and out pretending to be something you’re not.

It’s why Vatsyayana stresses the importance of the 64 Arts. Graduating from a good school is good, so is having a great job or “high iq”. But finding the right person to marry isn’t simply a matter of exchanging genome charts. This is where cultivating yourself (something we have stressed throughout many topics) comes in handy. If you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, merely finding “a girl who likes playing playstation” is probably not the way to go.

Also, hygiene is very important—and yes ladies—this means you too.

5.Be courteous

Guys, don’t get into this moronic trend of “negging” where you openly insult girls to catch their interest. But do be playful and politely joke around with them. The point is for both of you to have fun . If you’re not interested in the girl, don’t be mean and destroy her already fragile ego ( girl world is ruthless enough as it is—and photoshopped magazines certainly don’t help).

Learn to listen. Don’t just hear what the other person is saying, listen and digest it.

And ladies, politely let down guys you are not interested in. It’s the best way to ensure (though not necessarily guarantee) they don’t end up walking on the dark side  or enter the forbidden land of Darr. But, also do recognise that some people are unfortunately obsessive groupies or creeps or mentally ill—so do be careful, and if it becomes apparent, then avoid and take action to distance and protect yourself. I should note that, this is yet another reason why many advocate and even prefer the arranged courting/marriage path.

Your relatives and family friends can already do a decent job of filtering out most people with such issues. They can certainly do this much better than WhatsApp, Tinder, OkCupid, and whatever else you kids are on this days.

 6.Don’t lead people on

There was recently an internet meme  that asked men and women to break the cycle of players/jerks and [rhymes with witches]. It showed how debutante-ingénues and blue-eyed boys are taken in by these characters and turned into the very thing that once harmed them.

The single easiest way to break this cycle is to not lead people on. If you’re not interested, or you simply don’t see a future, break it off early—or best of all, don’t get involved in the first place. Yes, every now and then we run into a hottie who captivates us, but self-restraint is part of being an adult as well.

 7. Think long term

 I’m not saying declare your love on the first meeting itself, or ask what the other would name a first child on the first date, but don’t be a flake either.

Don’t put off the tough questions till after you’re deep into a relationship or reached a point of no return (i.e. engagement, moving in, etc). Questions about a future child’s religion, culture, language—or your future place of residence are all important.

These should be anyways factors in deciding whom you enter into a relationship with either right away—or where appropriate, after a few weeks/ months in.

In fact, one particular case merits mentioning. An NRI college girl a long time ago was known to not date at all. When asked by the boys and girls in her friends circle why,  she said she just couldn’t bear the idea of going through serial and pointless heartbreak without any commitment. To go through serious emotional pain without any certainty of some commitment seemed to dilute the potential of marriage in her mind.  She figured she’d be better off focusing on her studies, and then have her family suggest eligible suitors from which she could choose. This may not be everyone’s view, and certainly there are those who find their spouses in college, etc. Nevertheless, it is a useful anecdote to explain why even if you choose to enter into relationships, make sure they’re ones with serious long term potential.

8.Be age appropriate.

Dating in high school is generally not advisable, whatever the stories may be coming out of DPS. I’m not saying go crazy in college when the cage door is opened, but it’s a good idea to focus on your education and discipline yourself before you go off to University (it’s why our ancient texts referred to student life as “brahmacharya”). True, a bachelors’ is often itself a stepping stone to a masters’ degree or beyond, but there’s no point in distracting yourself even before you’ve secured that first step (college admission) in your career/profession.

A degree of emotional maturity too is also advisable. And the whole May-December Romance thing is a mirage. Don’t waste your time pursuing something that clearly has no chance at long term viability (just ask Demi Moore or the countless old millionaires with gold-digging wives).

9. Be careful. Looks can be Deceiving.

Sometimes, parents of a boy or girl don’t know, sometimes they try to pass them off as something else.

I hate to break it to you boys and girls, but not every woman with a pretty face is a lady and not every man with seductive sophistication is a gentleman. There are goldiggers and players/cads out there who play with your hearts to advance their own agendas and vanities. That’s why it’s important not to fall head over heels—but to use your head and evaluate and even test whether the person who has so enamoured you really is what he or she claims to be. It’s also additional reason to not get too intimate too quickly (or further reason to wait until you’re married, if you feel that’s best as our sastras do). “Everyone is doing it” is not a reason to start, especially if you’re a girl. Actions do have consequences, so choose wisely. (If you’re a girl, test the guy to see if his profession of love is genuine. Make him wait…best of all…until marriage)

All too many innocent girls end up not only breaking ties with their family, but engaging in a life that they would not otherwise embark on because an abusive boyfriend takes predatory advantage of their love. Remember, if he really loves you, he won’t make you degrade yourself, or do something you feel would compromise your character, or end up in some internet video (like poor Miss Hilton)…he may walk off and sulk or grumble, but will thank you (years) later and admit you were right—if he actually loves you. If he doesn’t love you, then well, he’ll drop you faster than you can say “Mujhse Shaadi Karoge”.

In fact, while the best advice is to “wait until marriage”, the second best advice is “no sexting” ). And if the black-heart reveals itself and tries to blackmail youyou are ALWAYS better off going to the police, parents, or at least your friends/cousins/siblings. If you made a mistake, don’t make a bad situation worse by doing a deal with the devil. The existence of slimeballs  is well known now, so don’t think your reputation can’t be rebuilt or even excused due to their crime.

What’s more, due to the influence of some malignant fundoos (guys and girls), not every person out there is harmless either and may shower you with attention and affection one minute, then withdraw it the next if you don’t go along with them—repeating the process with several other partners, sometimes simultaneously. So please use your best judgment when you meet someone new—and take care to keep your friends (and ideally families) in the loop as well. This is the best way to make sure you find your someone special—while staying safe.

10.Be Honest

This of course is within reason, but the general principle does hold. If you don’t want to move or you don’t want kids, say so from day 1. Don’t fudge the issue so as to make someone commit on false pretences. While those who go the arranged route aren’t as (generally) encumbered by questions of romantic pasts, this is a factor for those who date. Again, better to be honest—within reason of course.

There is of course plenty more advice I could proffer—but I can’t give away all the crown jewels of House Nripathi …I will conclude with this though: The most important thing is to try to have a good time, and remember if it isn’t meant to be, it isn’t meant to be, and if it is—it is…

Conclusion

It is symptomatic of the topsy-turvy age that we live in that concerted attempts have been made to remove the Romantic from the Indic. How ironic that the civilization which practically invented the concept of soulmates (see the symbolism of a Hindu marriage) is asked by sepoys if it knows how to love?

Yes, bollwood sickulars, Indians (real Indians) know how to love. Bharat perfected romance millennia ago. Excerpt from Dasakumaracarita, regarding the love of Princess Avantisundari for Rajavahana:

“There, in the course of conversation with regard to her lover, she, coming to know his family and name from Balachandrika, was overcome with intense love (with the fall of Cupid’s arrows), and began to grow emaciated day by day, like the crescent of the moon in the dark half of the month, from the pangs of separation.”

She gave up taking food and her other daily pursuits, and in her secret chamber restlessly rolled her creeper-like (slender) frame on a bed formed of (tender) leaves and flowers wetted with sandal-juice. Her female friends, seeing the delicate princess in that state withering with the fire of love, and feeling very sad, tried to cool her body, with materials for relief from the torment, such as water prepared for her bath, mixed with sandal, usira and camphor and kept in gold vessels, garments of lotus-fibres, and fans of lotus-leaves. Even that application of cooling reeds simply [causes] fire to appear on all sides in her body like water dropped in heated oil…”[1, 50]

She said:

Subhaga kusuma sukumaaram jagadana vadhyam vilokya te roopam |

Mama maanasa mabhila shathi tvam chinttam kuru tathaa mrudulam ||

[she spoke;] ‘only the prince, who surpasses even Kamadeva in masculine beauty, can successfully cure this heat of the fever of love. But he is beyond my reach; what am I to do?’ [1, 69-70]

Prince in Dasakumaracharita:

 “There is no real happiness for those who lead a single life, or for those who have no wives of corresponding virtues. How then shall I obtain an accomplished consort?” [1,158-159]

So enough. Don’t degrade yourself with Fifty Shades of Grey, and don’t be prey for those who just want a lay. Be wise, be smart, and think long-term. Forgo the False Dichotomy of Pleasure or Family life. Responsible marriage choices and Romance are not diametrically opposed. Sringara (Romance) is also Part of Our Culture—you must only learn it correctly.

Whether it is Kamadeva or Kalidasa, Ratidevi or Radha, Indic Civilization perfected the Romantic. Sanskrit, Prakrit, Braj, Telugu all were languages of love.

The time has come again to not only dream & converse in our own languages, but to love in them as well. The masses mastered  Prakrit & desa bhasha,but Sanskrit was the elite’s.

Sringara is not an obstacle to Dharma. In fact, Sringara can inspire it. The most beautiful of women, after all, inspire men to climb the most difficult of mountains.

To reconstitute a Dharmic Indic elite, its romantic aesthetic, courtly etiquette, and noblesse oblige must all be reconstituted as well and adapted to the present time.

DharmaMandir

But crooked kupamandukas and selfish gyaanis bereft of nobility cannot revive the romantic with their bumpkin aesthetic—they forever dream of the erotic and pass off sringara as merely sensual.

Sringara is more than just sensuality: it is the self-sacrifice and refined affection and cultivated commitment of the gentlemanly and ladylike alike. These couples live on not only in each others arms, or the pages of history, but in the hearts and souls of a people.

References:
  1. Kale, M.R. Dasakumaracarita of Dandin. Delhi: MLBD. 2009
  2. Vatsyayan, Kapila. Bharata: The Natyasastra. Sahitya Akademi.2007
  3. Kale, M.R. Malatimadhava. MLBD: New Delhi. 2010
  4. https://twitter.com/BookQuotesHere/status/587518078285701120
  5. http://www.exoticindiaart.com/article/rasa/
  6. www.astroyogi.com/articles/astrologyarticles/signs-you-have-met-your-soulmate.aspx
  7. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=2501480
  8. Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968

The Global Crisis of Character

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Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.

—Heraclitus Ephesus

Like many words in our post-modern dystopia, character is one that has increasingly become of receding importance. It too, like virtue, has been mentioned here and there by the ever more reticent and the socially brave. It is the great tragedy of our times that to mention the words character or virtue (or lady or gentleman) has become a curiosity at best or an offence on the “rights” of others at worst.

We have created a society that thrives on Politically Correct protection of Characterless-ness. We have created a society that valorises IQ-obsessed hoop-jumpers who are nothing but glorified poodles performing tricks to the applause of fellow canines. This is touted as the purpose of our education: “Get job, earn salary, have money for children’s marriage, retire”. But

the End goal of Education is Character.

Why do we learn? What is the value of learning?

A quick google-search demonstrates that “crisis of character” remains more of an eye-catching book title, and  “Global crisis of character” an even more circumscribed, circumvallation of religious, new-age’y bent.

Ironically, the much ballyhooed Ivy Leagues for all their aptitude tests are now increasingly questioning whether their methodology is creating a meritocracy at all. What is merit? Is it going to a coaching centre to rote-memorise and regurgitate [if you have the money or caste connections]? Is it the increasingly dubious measure of IQ [which ignores different types of Intelligence]? Or is it the benefiting from privileged socio-economic backgrounds?

Shouldn’t the test for merit be capability in your circumstances, character to apply your education to useful things, and competence to do the job properly & honourably?

That is the problem today. Generally, the Elite School Grads in the US have wanted to be “Bankers, Consultants, & Lawyers”, and in India, primarily engineers (or unemployable Humanities graduates) desiring to go abroad to make money…generally doing the same. The Reservation system is admittedly broken—after all, government positions exist to ensure competent officers to do the work of the public…not as a socio-economic experiment. Past injustices should be remedied, but not to the extent that the purpose of a job or a position is forgotten. And this applies for our so-called “merit” candidates as well. Merely demonstrating ability to take a test is not demonstrative of competence for the position.  The present poor reputation of IAS babus is emblematic of that. For all their read and regurgitate, the only real capacity most have demonstrated is capacity to secure sinecures. Even the much vaunted scientist ultimately works for someone, generally more strategically intelligent than they are. What then is the purpose of education?

Is it merely to create individuals substituting one form of power (analytical) for another (wealth or lineage?). What happens when alleged “high iq types” sellout the national interest, because they have calculated that to be the most “efficient” course of action? What kind of society does this create?

Once upon-a-time, societies the world over would have families that sacrificed themselves for the nation, or individuals who would sacrifice themselves for families. That was the meaning of nobility, true nobility. Today we have families that sacrifice the nation for themselves, and individuals who sacrifice their own families for their own egos.That is the meaning of bastardy, true Bastardy.

This is the crisis of character we face today. And make no mistake, for all our cutting criticism of India and Indians, this is a global crisis. In India it is in fact least obvious due to Bharat remaining one of the last refuges of traditional, family-oriented culture—but this too is flailing fast.

The characterless have inherited the Earth, And they hide in many forms to justify their bastardy: Beauty, Wealth, Caste, Ritual, IQ, and now, of course, Genetics. But Might, in whatever form it is found, doesn’t make Right. If knowledge is power, so is beauty. If money is power, so is (caste) privilege. When elites (of whatever type) are formed for their own enjoyment, when power for its own sake becomes self-justifying, when no higher ideal beyond “cause we are” or “cause I can” is appealed to, then not only is the Kali Yuga deep, but the characterless have inherited the earth.

For our desi alt-right wrathofgnon promoters conveniently skipping over this

That is why the means of their power becomes sanctified as the most important quality, rather than merely another cog in the wheel. “Because she’s hot”, “Because he’s rich”, “Because they’re my caste”, “Because Holy Ritual”, “Because High IQ”, and now “Because Good Genes”. Character, what makes the world livable, what makes burdens bearable, what makes romance meaningful, what makes an individual trustable…character itself is near nowhere to be found, let alone, emphasised. The removal of racial quotas in American universities is well and good, but the removal of character as a qualifier has wreaked havoc.

It is because teleology has gone by the way-side our society has become inert and ineffectual. Addled not-only by sensual pleasure but by over-indulged ego, we have lost sight of why we do things at all, and do them for their own sake, or because others are doing it to.

app.hedgeye.com

  • Why do we eat?
  • Why do we sleep?
  • Why do we have sex?
  • Why do we live?

But perhaps, most important of all, why do we learn?

Many may ask, why learning has become more important than living, and that is because we live in an era where quantity of life has become more important than quality of life. Similarly, quantity of learning has become more important than quality of learning (wisdom). Lack of learning, true learning, is emblematic of this. The pedant of myriad memory tricks has become more important than the practicing pandit. The philognostic more important than the philosopher. Mere quantity of learning, mere quantity of knowledge, and competitions to showcase it in unseemly ego displays to the applause of the clueless and the tasteless, has resulted in wisdom being sidelined.

What is Character

character

Before one can construct character, or even understand how crucial it is, one must first learn what it means in its full sense. Moral character is only one aspect of personal character. Purity of conduct is important, but only one element. In our era, one of the all too tragic tragedies is that women (and men) who may have stumbled once on the moral purity aspect, wonder what at all the point is in preserving the rest of their character. But that is unfair (to them) and all too dangerous for society. Everyday you have a choice as to whether you decide to be a good person or a bad person. It’s upto you whether you want one fall to multiply into many.

Admittedly, it is very difficult to negotiate the treacherous waters of college popularity, and pressure to preserve relationships often leads one to do things one may not wish to do. But rather than a binary of 1 and 0, think of character as a spectrum. Even if you cannot be that absolute sterling character in katha or purana, keep the essence of who you are, and try to be some modern version of the ancient standard.

Strength in character consists of having the qualities that allow you to exercise control over your instincts and passions, to master yourself, and to resist the myriad temptations that constantly confront you.

  • Strength of character allows you to carry out your will freely, while enabling you to cope with setbacks. It assists you to accomplish your goals in the end.
  • It allows you to inquire into the causes of ill-fortune, instead of just complaining about it, as many are inclined to do.
  • It gives you the courage to admit your own faults, frivolousness, and weaknesses.
  • It gives you the strength to keep a foothold when the tide turns against you, and to continue to climb upward in the face of obstacles. [1]

More than Trivial Pursuit, GK games, IQ obsession & Eugenics theories to preserve your favourite perspective, wisdom and intellectual humility are needed to do the intelligent thing. That can only come from character. Udhaarabhaava (good character) or Aryabhava (Noble character). That is what is lacking today. Instead we have people full of Kusheela or Paapasheela (Bad and Ignoble Character). The Rishi has been replaced by the Marjaar.

Character (especially Noble Character) is about having integrity to do the right thing when obvious, even when difficult.It’s about who you are when no one else is watching.

Character is about building a community, not using people and throwing them away after.

Character is about “dancing with the one that brung you”, not running off with the one who shows up later in the fancy car.

Character is about building institutions for the common good, not just promoting your own brand or clique.

Character is about having the courage to do the right thing, even if it is the difficult thing. It is in putting societal duties above personal obligations. It is in looking after the common welfare rather than merely private social-climbing.

Character does not consist of putting up dp’s and gravatars showcasing severity to hide behind. Real character is not tough talk or braggadocio. It is about setting aside one’s ego to come together for the common good.

And yet, what do we have today. The self-same self-anointed saviours of society don’t even have the character to introspect, and ask whether they are doing the right thing or supporting the wrong voices, stubbornly hold on to illogical colonial theories. In their culture of “bros before hoes” they have forgotten what it means to be gentlemen of noble character (Aryabhava). They talk of “red pill” manliness, while failing to have the thumos to defend women.

Worst of all, they don’t even have the character to intelligently and intellectually confront those fundamentally harming the common interest, leading the innocent internet hindu off a cliff. Content to merely troll each other, the intellectual descendants of Tilak don’t even have the manhood to intellectually counter neo-Revolutionary views that would destroy their society. And forget introspection, that is the least of their worries. Follower counts are far more important. So much for thumos. So much for the self-anointed “The Best and the Brightest”.

Best and the Brightest

In our IQ and genetics obsessed era of error, the examples of history, even recent history, are often forgotten. Credentialed hoop-jumpers are quick to point out that they must axiomatically be “the best and the brightest”. But what they forget is that, this term has actually acquired a duly negative connotation.  But it is not just politicians who are worthy of censure and condemnation.

The laundry list of professional doctors, lawyers, MBA’s, and yes, even scientists, have set aside their responsibility & duty, in their money or sinecure-snorting state of hubris.

And yet, how quickly we forget the lessons of ethics. How quickly we forget the responsibility of knowledge. When you only ask whether you can or could without asking whether or not you should, this is what happens.  “The Best and the Brightest” indeed…

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. [1,92]

We have physicists, geometricians, chemists, astronomers, poets, musicians, and painters in plenty; but we have no longer a citizen among us

But compare his example to what we have today. Perennially mocked, our self-proclaimed “high iq types” crave power…if only their sheer genius could be appreciated.

Even beyond the obsession with mathematicisation, model-based thinking has produced “erudite” but common sense lacking solutions such as this:

The council of “Alphas” vs “Sub-Omegaloids”. Food for thought for our “High IQ Types”. Why mere “analytical horsepower” isn’t enough for developing and implementing practical, strategic solutions to societal problems.

The intelligent, IQ, EQ, or multiple-intelligent, all can be corrupted by power. It is not a dearth of genius that destroys societies, but a dearth of character.

Dearth of Character leads to Death of Societies. And perhaps that is the greatest tragedy of our times. Sarasvati is sought by those craving learning—yet they forget that she is venerated above all as the apotheosis of the Truth. Vagdevi is Speech personified, and that speech is that which is true.  Sarasvati is the Truth, and rather than mere learning, it is preservation of the Truth that is most sacred, and automatically brings prosperity and power, but most importantly, gives us purpose. But today the pleasant lie is preferred to the unpleasant truth. Individuals hold on to what they have been taught so they can see themselves as “learned”, failing to ask whether what they have learned is in fact erroneous. Ego has become more important than reality.

It is not “high IQ types” who guide society. IQ is a limited and increasingly questionable measure of intelligence–even among those with the highest of IQ’s. In fact, the multiple intelligence model is increasingly taught in the Western Academy.  What good is IQ if the position requires management of individuals? What good is IQ if reading of emotion is required? What good is IQ if strategic thinking is required to pull disparate bits of information across disciplines? Suitability for position is determine beyond test-taking ability.

Make no mistake, subject-matter understanding is required But mastery of theory is one thing, competence in practice is another.

Do you take the candidate who gets 100% marks but is characterless and will engage in corruption?–or do you take the candidate with 90% marks, but who has a reputation for honesty and competent job performance? What good is your (self-proclaimed) IQ if you are a coward, and cannot withstand pain or pressure (or even momentary discomfort), to safeguard the common good? That is the problem today. India (and other parts of the world) are training “high iq” hoop jumpers who excel as slaves, rather than as citizens of character. But a high iq slave is still a slave.

In our era of Jan Lokpal and entitled hypocrites of all sorts attempting to anoint themselves guardians of society, the eternal question is not just rhetorical, it has an answer:

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

constructingcharacter

The Cost of Characterless-ness

Characterless-ness may seem to be cost-free to those without character, but that is because they tend to be the primary beneficiaries. In fact, they freely engage in it only until the costs are visited upon them–at which point, they become the loudest (and most hypocritical) of bemoaners. We all know that person.

Then of course, there are those voices who will proclaim, “Well, that’s to be expected, we have to maximise utility, and all I am doing is utility maximisation”, or “Ayn Rand tells me its ok to be selfish”.  This is what happens when consumer culture (yes, even experiences and love can be consumed–just ask expedia.com, yatra, or hallmark) becomes the driving guide rather than relationships. We have become so driven by fear of “missing out” and “YOLO [which any thinking Hindu should axiomatically reject]”, that having that experience or doing what you want becomes more important than who you are doing with.

Social media and mobile phones have made it even easier to bail on our friends and family (when something better comes along). This too is characterlessness. True, there is a difference between skipping out on your friend’s 30th so you could see Coldplay, and missing a family event because you have a rare chance to meet the President. But proportionality has long ago gone out the window, especially for Indians. Sentiment and consumption based-living devolves into precisely that animal instinct of doing something because it feels good (or not doing something because it hurts bad). That is calculation not consideration. Consideration for others is at the heart of character, because we ask what is the best for all or most, rather than what is just pleasant for ourselves. When man (or woman) cares more about how much, rather than, with whom, this is the end result.

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce.png
Intellectual heiress to SATC?

Others may demur, saying “Well, it’s what’s fashionable”. True, media-messaging across the spectrum has been promoting the fast-based consumer life-style. False dichotomies are presented across the board (i.e. old fashion vs hyper-modern). But one can live in the modern world while maintaining some semblance of ethics and morality. The problem is, that there is no support for voices that use the medium of modernity to support traditional values. For all the stereotypes of the African-American community and their music, it was never just “gangsta rap” or “bitches and hoes”.  This is a song from the late 90s when all that was at its height.

What was the message for young men & women alike?

Girls: Who you gon’ tell when the repercussions spin?
Showing off your ass ’cause you’re thinking it’s a trend

Guys: How you gonna win if you ain’t right with them?

This Lauryn Hill ‘feat is in many ways a lament of Post-Modernity and the tragic downfall of her community (mentioned here). The obvious contrasts between 1967 and 1998 are clearly seen in split-screen. She soulfully sings of how easily women are prepared to “give it away” for material things and how men are prepared to take advantage of women for “that thing”.  She asks men, how can they think they win if they don’t treat women right?  But no, that’s ok, gangsta rap, red pill, and racist IQ theories are more important to hide behind  to slander a race or community.

But wait, in India, we now have “Char bottle Vodka”

The reality is, such songs as Lauryn Hill’s are ignored by those who only want to be told what they want to hear. If you don’t value the right thing, if you don’t have the right moral aesthetic, you embrace a soulless one [particularly if you understand subtext]. Before people complain about “moralising”, bear in mind, even yester-year songstress Lauryn Hill sang that she’s not perfect, and was once young and in the same shoes, the “same predicament” as today’s young ladies. But character is not about falling for the trend if you ever fall, but in bucking the trend if it lacks aesthetic, especially moral aesthetic.

The reality is, it’s not a false dichotomy, a false choice between fun vs tradition(-al boredom), between barefeet vs high heels, or dhotis vs blue jeans.

The choice is between no respect and know respect.

Character is about not only respecting others and their genuine interests/well-being but also about respecting yourself. Self-respect.

Everyone wants fun, but the question is, what are they prepared to do to get it? Everyone prefers to avoid pain, but what are they prepared to do to avoid it? Any idiot can knock up a girl, but it’s taking responsibility for your actions that separates the men from the boys.

Any fool can have a child, that doesn’t make you a father“. Being a man is about taking responsibility for your actions. A real man isn’t the one who “gets with as many chicks as he can“. A real man, is one who shows character in looking after those from whom he is responsible, and not just following fashion, but bucking the trend when necessary. And for those who argue, Vell, vee are all animals, so we should not be ashamed of instinct”, well, there’s this to think about too:

Ladies, of course, are no less innocent. They too have made poor choices. If men have become obsessed about sex, women have become obsessed about material possessions–each gender tormenting the other over having “more”. Character isn’t about not wanting to have fun. Character is about not wanting to hurt others in order to have fun. Do you value the experience, do you value “that thing”, more than the human being?

And when others are hurting those for whom you are responsible, standing up and doing the right thing to defend them, is also character. In fact, it is national character.

National Character

The Global Crisis of Character is also reflected in the Comity of Nations. A nation is nothing but a community, a family, writ on larger scale. It is national character that determines national priorities, and even the willingness to prioritise properly.  The problem invariably comes when individuals want to have all the exceptions, all the tax deductions,  all the national service exemptions, while others must do their duty with due diligence. Do as I say, not as I do.

Declining national character is increasing even in the most powerful of nations.  How to secure the national character? The strategically clueless continually look for any excuse to drum up ritual. Their latest theory is that “holy ritual” is the origin of the martial–joke. Perhaps that may be the case for the characterless, but the origin of the martial is in Rajo guna. Those who fail to value rajas are usually mired in tamas (whatever their claims to the sattvic). It is Rajo guna that drives the martial and Rajo guna that is required to secure the national character. It is what drives individuals to endure, to not cave in when facing terrible odds, and to hearken to their allies when common interests are threatened. No wonder the ritualistic are confounded…they practice none of these things. This is a Jaichand complex in the making.

Loyalty to obvious Jaichands whose treachery is exposed is as good as being a Jaichand yourself. Arjuna was very loyal to Drona, who was his “AchArya”. But as Krishna conveyed to him, Drona was on the side of Adharma, and he had his own hidden agenda. Whatever past goodwill or Rna, the needs of Dharma are higher. That is how character is demonstrated. Not by sacrificing the vulnerable like Yudhisthira did to Draupadi, so that he could keep his word on the wager, but by making the difficult decision to set aside your own Rna, your own personal obligation, for the common good.

India’s record is actually slightly better than that, as there was resistance and even rollback throughout the 1000 years (which is closer to 5-600 years if one thinks of all of India, rather than just Northwest India). But the point of the honourable Minister is spot on. In our obsession for IQ, we are forgetting the need to evaluate character. Do you hang tough and stand by your countrymen when the going gets tough–or do you cut a side deal to keep your ill-deserved kingdom or because you feel he wronged you.

More than the Jaichands, it is the selfish crab who, despite repeated calls to unite by Shivaji, preferred to slink in his own lair, feigning ignorance or arrogance. The British too did not even require every Indian king to betray his fellow Bharatiya; John Company only needed them to not give support to their countrymen at crucial times.

Failing to join together to preserve the common interest is not only a recipe for common slavery, but indicative of a loss of character. The ability to endure pain is the sign of the statesman. It is the sign of the kshatriya (intellectual or otherwise), and that incidentally gave away Karna’s true birth. But in our era, whatever your birth caste,  if you play a role in civic affairs, if you wish to have a hand in the destiny of the nation, you must have the character to make the painful decision, when it is clear that it is the right decision.

Enjoying the bonhomie of the decade-old digital salon is easy. Recognising a Jaichand in your midst and disavowing when apparent is the sign of true character…not dp’s of grave looking old men.

The Romans had many intelligent slaves to serve as tutors in intellectual matters—yet, they remained the rulers. After all, “High IQ” slaves are still slaves.

Alcibiades too was “high iq”, but ultimately betrayed his nation. Carthage had the more brilliant general in Hannibal, but Rome’s character & citizenry ensured Scipio had the support to defeat him.

Talent is good. But talent, plus hard work, plus character is even better. Great talent will be defeated by medium talent with better character.

More than that, the desire to coast on talent, the desire to rely merely on clever talk, rather than concerted and consistent efforts is what threatens the national cause.  Parables and Panchatantra fables abound over the value of consistent and concerted action rather than coasting on talent. From the tortoise and the hare to the grasshopper and the ants, many a children’s story emphasises this importance. Even the career of Vijay Amritraj is emblematic of this. That is because…

hardworktalent

The Power of Character

The Sanskrit drama Mrcchakatika is famous in Classical Indic Literature for many reasons. The author Sudraka was himself a king, but the story is notable for the character of Charudatta, who was noted for his…character.

charudatta
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The archetypal dhiroshanta, Charudatta was a Brahmana of famed noble characteristics. So great was his character and virtue, that the courtesan Vasantasena fell in love with his qualities and gave up her life of luxury, pleasure, and comfortable wealth, for the mere chance at marrying such a good man. Charudatta underwent many difficulties and injustices in his life, and even came very close to death. But his character was his guide throughout it all, and he endured terrible risks in order to preserve it. That was why he was respected by all and venerated for his wisdom and advice…tested by circumstance and demonstrated by example.

characterpaine

To conclude, there is a famous legend about King Vikramaditya of Ujjain. The ever vigilant Maharaja was also a famed adherent of the truth. One night, when he was silently guarding his capital incognito, he saw a beautiful woman, verily a Devi, clad in red, leave the city. He stopped her, asking, “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?“. She responded, “I am the Goddess of Power. I am leaving this city as the citizens have become criminal, and it is no longer a fit abode for me”. “I understand“, replied Vikramaditya .

Then, another beautiful lady, clad in gold, began leaving. Vikramaditya asked her too “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?“. She replied, “Oh Maharaja, I am the Goddess of Wealth. I am leaving your capital as the citizens have become corrupt, and it is no longer a fit abode for me”.  “I understand“, he relented again.

Finally, a third beautiful lady, clad in white, began leaving. Vikramaditya asked her too, “Oh Devi, who are you and why are you leaving?” She replied, “Oh Rajan, I am the Goddess of Truth. I am leaving your people as they have become immoral“. This time Vikramaditya said “Oh Devi, please do not leave. I can live a life without Power and Wealth, but I cannot live a life without Truth. I beg you, please stay in my kingdom“. The Goddess smiled, and said “So, be it”.

Soon, the Goddess of Wealth returned. Surprised, Vikramaditya asked “Oh Devi, why have you returned?“. She replied “I am the Goddess of Wealth, I reside where Truth resides”.  Then finally the Goddess of Power returned. Amazed, Vikramaditya asked “Oh Devi, why have you returned?”. She replied “I am the Goddess of Power, I reside where Wealth resides”.

The moral of the story, of course, is that power, wealth, pleasure, all can be given up in the name of Truth (of which Dharma is the expression), because they are dependent upon it. This is because men and women of character can lose every material possession in the world, every opportunity for pleasure, every right of power, but their character is in their own hands.

If wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If health is lost, something is lost. But if character is lost, then all is lost.

Dharmachakra

References:

  1. http://www.wikihow.com/Strengthen-Character
  2. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract and Discourses. BN. 2007

Why Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society

LucasSkywalker
Scene from the (Post-Modern) Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Shri S.Gurumurthy wrote in an article from 2015 that we are creating a Shameless Society. While he did cite statistics of divorce, and in subsequent articles, childbirth outside of marriage, being a respectable gentleman, he didn’t dwell on it, and examined other aspects causing shamelessness as well. We, however, are more visceral in such matters, and will pick up where he so graciously left off.

The core issue facing Mankind today is not merely stupidity, or selfishness, or stubbornness, or sanctimonious hypocrisy. It isn’t even about being spoiled, but rather, the core issue facing mankind today is the society of bastards.

“A Proud Tradition” of Bastardy

History has had many famous Bastards. Some of them constructively influential, many of them, not so much. One of history’s most famous bastards is British, not by birth, but by invasion. In typical brit fashion, this aspect is usually dealt with in an understated manner; nevertheless, William I may be called “the Conqueror”, but to the French this Anglo-Norman Duke  will always be Guillaume le Batard (William the Bastard).guillaumlebatard

Now as history has it, things worked out rather well for William the Bastard. This Frenchified Viking Duke of Normandy managed to defeat the actual English King, Harold Godwinson, at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. But the net effect was the air of illegitimacy that stained and continues to stain English “royalty” ever since. After all, Anglo-Normans or (as evidenced by the Battenbergs and Saxe-Coburg Gothas) Anglo-Germans, aren’t really English, are they? In fact, one of the reputed reasons for the American Revolution was the illegitimacy of the German King George (House Hanover) in the eyes of many colonial Englishmen of America. But since then, due to the wonders of marketing, Battenbergs became Mountbattens and Saxe-Coburg-Gothas became Windsors. Quite a rebrand.

But like all bastards, when it came to the Aryan Invasion Theory, the British were always better at analysing others than analysing themselves.

Bastardy isn’t always a direct consequence of illegitimacy. There are a number of children born out of wedlock who have gone on to productive and respectable lives. Whatever origin in gentleman’s clubs or high societies or rahasya societies, the much vaunted college fraternity is no longer the august dining club of the Porcellian era, or assorted post-graduate colonial holdovers. Indeed, it too, in its official and unofficial form, has also devolved into a society of mutual bastardy. Nevertheless, Bastardy’s root origin remains in the behaviour of most bastards, either as a result of resentment from it, or in the case of children born within wedlock, under the social influence of irreverent and ingrate bastards.

Many Indians think that modernity means fashionable clothes and western manners, urban habits and the English language. But it means far more. It is the intrusive ideology of the West. It even calls upon the Rest to give up its traditions as a precondition for economic growth. [1]

This theory, better known as ‘Western anthropological modernity’, mandated the Rest to become a carbon copy of the West. But things have drastically changed after 2008 and the West has now conceded that its model may not be as good for the Rest. But the psychological damage done to the Rest over hundred years cannot be easily undone. Modernity, which was marketed as a must for growth, has by now become a habit and fashion. [1]

As S.Gurumurthy has analysed, and as Western commentators are now analysing, out-of-wedlock birth may seem fashionable and even within the norm, but it has consequences, for both the West and the Rest. Even our sacred Dharmic texts speak of the consequences of children being born as a result of lust, rather than love, in sacred marital bond. Due to the mutual effect of bastardy and fashionability, however, attitude is king and spoiled children the queen.

quote-at-the-core-of-liberalism-is-the-spoiled-child-miserable-as-all-spoiled-children-are-p-j-o-rourke-257086

The Bastard society doesn’t just promote mediocrity by happen-stance; it promotes obnoxiousness and “unlimited confidence” rooted  in simple self-apotheosis or in security in numbers. But these are not wolf packs, doing something useful like thinning the deer population, but jackal packs that only occasionally assemble for general nuisance. The Bastard society promotes mediocrity on principle. Because the bastard is perennially dissatisfied with himself, his desire is to promote those beneath him, so he can (by contrast) look good, or engage in sycophancy and flattery of those far above him, that he may benefit from association & osmosis, or eventually be dubbed “legitimate”.

So what then is the opposite of Bastardy? It is Nobility. No, not the nobility of title, not the nobility of lineage, but the nobility of Character. That is why the Bastard is ever concerned with titles of nobility and “peerages” emphasising status because the reality is it is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles. Those who lack good qualities are always the quickest to point out their titles and lineages and “rights”.

Sri Rama too was an Ikshvaku (Ikshvaku himself being a great king in his own right), but it is Rama who is referred to as the Ikshvaku-kula-tilaka (ornament of the Ikshvaku dynasty). He needn’t have name-dropped as his nobility of character was its own character reference. Rather than his greatest possession, his lineage was a responsibility to fulfill. Rather than Satya Harishchandra’s sacrifice being a point of braggadocio, it was a legacy to live up to. But bastards (real or by character) know no such burdens.

They take initiation into the “cult” of their patron, and then purvey that tradition without thought to ramification. Many may laugh at such notions, but the model has been more widely successful on an organised basis too. Such Whiney Brotherhoods/Sisterhoods are always built upon a myth of grievance and hand-wringing at present circumstances in contrast to past glory.

This is why the anglicisation of Indian society is exceedingly problematic. Not only due to the issues with any attempt to recreate Indic society on the blueprint of another, not only because of the cultural annihilation that would occur, but because there is a psyche of bastardy in British society dating back to William the Bastard. While it is useful to distinguish between the British (an artificial people based on the Union of distinct cultures in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and England) and the English, even the history of English society has roots in such ingratitude. “The Venerable Bede’s” Ecclesiastical History of the English People is illustrative here.

bede

The Angles are invited to Britain. At first they repel the enemy, but soon come to terms with them, and turn their weapons against their own allies. [6,62]

They engaged the enemy advancing from the north, and having defeated them, sent back news of their success to their homeland, adding that the country was fertile and the Britons cowardly. [6,62]

These new-comers were from the three most formidable races of Germany, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. [6,63]

It was not long before such hordes of these alien peoples vied together to crowd into the island that the natives who had invited them began to live in terror. [6,63]

Germanic_Migration_to_Britain

Perhaps that is why they are always projecting the image of the “Central Asian Aryan” taking over the birthright of the materially civilised Indus Valley “Dravidian”—did they not do the same to the Romano-Britons?

The Celtic Brython is in fact the true native of the Island of Britain (along with the Picts and Scots of Scotland), but they were pushed to the small corner of Wales—where the Welsh and their unique language survive today (Sound familiar?). In fact, the entire history of the British (distinguished from Brythons/Britons) is one of such usurpation and Bastardy. They arrived as Anglo-German & Saxon soldiers and soon in-laws, took advantage of the situation and imposed their own rule. Is it any wonder this blueprint has been successfully imposed elsewhere?—not only India, but even on poor and innocent Ireland.

Perhaps that is why the English (and their intellectual children ) are forever projecting this “history” of usurpation and bastardy via “Central Asian Aryan Brahminism”, they themselves are usurpers and bastards…historically speaking, of course.

Whether it was usurpation of the land of the Celtic Britons or the legacy of Anglo-Norman William the Bastard, the Ecclesiastical History of the English People is ironically exactly that which they seek to project on to India. Only not satisfied with the demise of their official colonial empire gained not through “leonine” valour but through patient political bastardy, they and their acolytes now seek to usurp the role of Traditional Adhyatmika Brahmanas in Agraharas & Mathas, by usurping their authority to interpret and pass on our Vedic Tradition. They have even recruited nominal “Laukika” Brahmanas (better termed as Bhogi Brahmanas) by Birth, to betray the tradition their ancestors once preserved. Some such use discredited Freudian frameworks, others Marxist methodology, others the debunked Aryan Invasion theory, and now even some sepoy’ed “traditional scholarship” to invert and pervert our Sanskriti. Such is the blastoma of British Bastardy. The bastard is ever jealous of the legitimate child, so he seeks to usurp that which is not his. He may put on airs, he may take etiquette lessons, he may dub himself a gentleman, he may wear fine clothes, but he never manages to get character.

vivekanandagentlemen

But this is not over. Post-modern society is itself an outgrowth of this “bastard intellectual” lineage. As Rajiv Malhotra has prolifically studied, uncovered, disseminated, and written, the perverse undercurrents of Post-Modern society are undercutting the very root of our Sanskriti and Identity.

A Clockwork Orange

For all those who believe bastard societies to be benign, here is Stanley Kubrick’s vision of a dystopic Post-Modern society, and the delinquents who characterise it. While this scene itself is relatively tame, a general advisory to those of more genteel sensibilities about the movie A Clockwork Orange, in general. It is not for the faint of heart (or not yet old enough), but this scene illustrates the end game of bastardy: delinquency-driven sadism.

Many of our fashionably ignorant may protest, saying “It was just a movie, yaar“. But was it? Setting aside the fact that the film itself was based on an earlier book, modern Britain itself is beginning to see the rise of a class of youth with similar propensities, borne of nihilism, and yes, bastardy.

The Disgruntled Child

chav
The English “Chav”

The Chavs of the UK are not a new phenomenon, and date back to at least the early 2000s, though likely even the 90s. Classist overtones aside, there is the more concerning aspect of disgruntled and alienated youth, leading directionless lives of short-term thinking and short-term “kicks”. Cheap thrills may be all the rage today, but they eventually lead to sensory-fueled rage. The proclivity of disaffected and maladjusted youth to violence is well known, and threatens the very existence of decent society.

Of course, our half-read half-wits may blurt in a tamasic haze “Vell, so what, who cares, they deserve it“. Be that as it may, the contagion is spreading, and the disease, like it or not, is part and parcel of the very post-modernism that you associate with your prosperity today. Even the wealthiest country in the world is now at the edge of that precipice.

 

Coming_Apart

Coming Apart  is a book by noted conservative commentator Charles Murray. In it, he examines the unraveling of “White America”, due to a decline in values, moral character, and sense of overall nationhood. A key factor here was illegitimacy, and he studies the effects at great length. Murray has been criticised for earlier studies on race and genetics, but his views on illegitimacy were also echoed by a recent nobel prize-winner, as discussed in this video.

The African-American community is unfortunately demonised by many of the same voices aghast at Charles Murray’s study above . Nevertheless, the unfortunate state of that community was predicted by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1960s itself. Tracing the effect of narcotics on destroying the family unit, this former Senator from New York predicted the current epidemic of illegitimacy and absent-fatherhood (doubly exacerbated by the “New Jim Crow“). Above all, however was the destruction of culture, resulting in the rise of crime (as seen in the clip above). Whatever culture might be there is a mere veneer, but the overall loss of High Culture, evident.

Thus, the main aspect of the Bastard, of whatever race/ethnicity, is that he is a disgruntled child. Naturally filled with resentment at having an absentee father (or not even knowing who he is) fills him not only with shame, but also anomie.  Perhaps that is why our rootless wonder are forever seeking to remake India in the image of another. But more concerning than that, is the false confidence of “unlimited confidence”. This is not only borne from unlimited internet, but also unlimited permissiveness. After all, if anything goes, then the most outrageous behaviour is the most refreshing and most socially rewarding. This toxic cocktail has even filtered into the rohipnol heavy circles of “red pill” pick up artists and even accidental yuppies. Again, if confidence is currency, then unlimited confidence, solipsism, and obnoxious behaviour is deemed the highest good. There is nothing more solipsistic than the absolute certitude demonstrated by dweebs.

They may garb themselves in ritual as the pirate Brit did in title, but the reality is they do not appreciate its sanctity or malleability. Make no mistake, ritual is important. But it is not ritual that makes civilization or even religion. A spiritual society is the product not of ritual; ritual is only its outgrowth, confirmation, aspect of (cosmic) participation, and a means of cultural preservation. But the origin of our society is in Tapasya. It is not philognosis, but philosophy, the love of wisdom that made, as the ancient Greeks referred to them, the ancient brahmanas the wisest of men, and ancient Indic society, the wisest of all civilizations. It is tapasya that was the origin and tapasya that is the first leg of dharma, and tapasya that is missing today. We have “traditional scholars”, but they lack sadhana. We have young, commited men, but they behave as though they have been committed to the lunatic asylum.

So what is the opposite of the society of bastards, it is the society of nobles. No, not necessarily Arya Samaj (though pun intended). Rather, a society of nobility, rooted in actual Tapasya, Saadhana, and Shraddha. But it is Tapasya that is the marker, not ritual. Ritualists have come and gone since the age of De Nobili (and before). It is genuine Tapasya, as Tapasya is one of the 4 legs of Dharma in our tradition (the other 3 being Saucha (Cleanliness), Krupa (Mercy), and Satya (Truth)). It is no wonder Tapasya is rarely prized by this set of lil bastards, after all, in the Kali Yuga, Dharma only stands on 1 leg (Satya), and even that too is now bent.

But as before, it is not illegitimacy that makes every bastard. After all, Satyakama Jabala was the son of a prostitute (or a woman who lived like one), but through his character and love of the truth, he proved his nobility. Today, we see young men fighting for the dignity of their mothers, and demonstrating their own nobility in the process.

Whether you believe in Lord Shiva and consider him the origin of not only Dharma but the Universe itself, or you are a nirishwarvadin who believes our tradition to be the inheritance of the collective wisdom of Rishis, it is Tapasya that is the basis for not only Ritual, but our entire tradition. Thus, ritual is important, but shraddha is higher. Shraddha is important, but Saadhana is higher. Tapasya is the means of Saadhana.

The problem is there is a batch of ritualists who have neither Shraddha nor Saadhana nor time for Tapasya, and thus, having been initiated into this society of bastards, they are working as termites to undermine our society from within. That is the danger of casteism, because it is assumes your caste to be above question and above trial. But a teacher can only punish an errant child for so long. At some point, a society must come together to pronounce the sentence for aparaadhis.

When tapasya drops, saadhana can sustain. When saadhana drops, shraddha can sustain, when shraddha drops, ritual can sustain. That is why ritual is important. But when ritual drops, or worse, becomes infected with asatya due to self-interest or selfishness that prioritises ritual above all, then society is on track to oblivion. It’s only defence then becomes Satya. Satya, Truth, that not only expresses itself as Rta, which is upheld by Dharma, but Satya that evaluates the validity of ritual to reinforce it. It is Satya discovered by Tapasya, enshrined by Saadhana, and revered by Shraddha that makes ritual (Kalpa) what it is. But bastards, by their very nature, are selfish, and thus, despite living in the material world, garb themselves in ritual and Rna, ignoring or minimising Satya.

And nothing minimises Satya more than Post-Modernism. After all, according to Po-Mo theorists, “there is no truth”.

Post-Modernism

The nihilism of Postmodern society has been evaluated by many. But one need not be Bazarov to be subject to its influence. As deconstructed by Rajiv Malhotra,  the core danger of nihilism is not that it doesn’t deconstruct effectively, but rather, that it fails to “provide the foundation for a positive existence“.

[5] Being Different. ‘Audacity of Difference’, subsection ‘Postmodern Evasiveness’ 

That is why it is important to de-construct the deconstructionists, as Malhotra has done. Those that demand tearing down the existing model without creating an alternative first are those who are hiding something. Much like Napoleon the Pig in Animal Farm, the Agenda of Cultural Marxists (and their unscrupulous co-operators), slogans of Equality and “uncompromising” fight for freedom are all cover for more authoritarian (socialist or otherwise) agendas . But the great irony of course is that in this story, they are not napoleon the pig, but snowball, who is eventually driven out. Cultural Marxist cooperators, like all traitor/useful idiots, are the first to face a firing squad.

That is the danger of the masters of the small picture. It is not that detail doesn’t matter, it’s who controls the details? Who controls the data? What is kept, what is left out, what is even recorded? That is why Dharma must be the model forward, and not  “anglicisation”, or “socialist-authoritarianism”, or “alt-right”, or or “neo-nippon”, or “nava-hindutva eugenics”, and a laundry list of other hare-brained schemes that all ultimately orient India toward foreign models. The latter one, in particular, is a hold out of Aryan Invasion aficionados, but the net result of eugenics theories is that they invariably pigeon-hole people and create inferiority complexes (taking you out of the game even before it begins). Sadly, even some well-meaning people have now bought into this under the weight of scientism. Perhaps this gang should watch Gattaca and mull over their position.

Even more incredulous however are the emotional children blissfully following cultural Marxist pied pipers off the deconstruction cliff. Like lemmings, they fall for a little pro-Indian, pro-Hindu talk about “uncompromising this” and “uncompromising that”, but forget that “politics is the art of compromise”.  This doesn’t mean selling out, but means you can’t always be a martyr like Subhas Chandra Bose, whose honourable attempt at freedom ultimately failed. It’s the figure who lives to fight another day, like Shivaji, who ultimately wins you freedom—not the uncompromising. “A great man can bend and stretch“. To be uncompromising on nothing (but your ethics) in this day an age, is not only “plain dumb”, but “plain suicidal”. Of course, cultural Marxists always know or believe they will escape, and it is only the workhorses who will get sent to the butchery.  But why take my word for it, here’s what an eminent authority himself said.

All this is ultimately why any deconstruction of any mythos built around any Indian figure must be on our terms, using our approach, not foreign ones.

Was Gandhi the “Father of the Nation” like Subhas Chandra Bose himself said in 1944? Are the rumours about Gandhi true? Is there more to Gandhi than we know? All these questions shouldn’t be dusted under the carpet, as they have been for the last 70 years,  but should be asked not under a foreign methodology like cultural Marxism, but under a native one like Dharma. That is how Gandhi’s callousness towards Hindu suffering can be assessed.  But agenda-oriented ideologues have no such interest in deconstruction on such terms, because ideology refuses to ask questions that obviate itself. After all, nothing is more self-contradictory than cultural Marxist derived Critical Race Theory and even Feminism ultimately originates from the same cultural Marxism.

All this is ultimately why whether it is Anglobalism, cultural Marxism, post-modernism, scientism, or fraudacharya-ism, foreign frameworks all lead to the creation of a bastard society. Not just one where illegitimacy may be rife, but one where a bastardised, inauthentic India is the aim (open or otherwise). One cannot properly understand a culture without being immersed in it. One cannot  properly provide alternatives without understanding its originating principle. And the core framework of our culture is Dharma, and the originating principle Satya (Truth).

Yet today, there are not just attempts to Anglicise India, but attempts to Arabise it, Persianise it, Japanicise it, and even Sinicise it.

There are of course, many reasons for all this, all very meticulously studied by Malhotra, but there is another aspect here too that merits study.

The Indian over-emphasis of the Guru-Sishya relationship remains one of the core reasons for the lack of self-respect. For half-read 20 somethings who have trouble reading, read again carefully. I did not say emphasis, but over-emphasis.

The Guru-Sishya parampara is one of the great traditions of Bharatavarsha. It truly must and should be celebrated and preserved in our gurukulas, agraharas, devalayas, and mathas. But if all the relationships we have can only be Guru-Sishya, Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Raja-Praja, then relating to and working with peers becomes difficult. Further, if teachers from phoreign are given the same status as our gurus, then the net result is videshis taking advantage.

It is the height of bastardy that a foreign institution, educational or not, could appropriate the sacred name of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. Yet, this proposal was only stayed because someone of Malhotra’s strategic sense, discovered and stalled it.

Not every educational relationship is that of Guru-Sishya or Raja-Praja. Nor is there perfect equality between peers. After all, each individual has his or her set of strengths, and seniors outrank juniors even in college. But a senior is not a guru. When there is no longer the danda of ragging (or punishment from administration) to keep juniors in line, juniors run amok like school-children at recess….that is unless the prism of mentorship becomes pervasive under the aegis of Dharma.

Mentorship

A society bereft of self-respect basks in sycophancy on one end and tyranny on the other. For all its great accomplishments, Indic Civilization is presently facing a deficit of self-respect. Whether they are anglicised, persianised, arabised, or even patriotic or anti-national, Indians are lacking in self-respect, and sycophancy (ji-huzoori) has become the common currency.

The best way to stem the advance of bastardisation, be it anglicisation or otherwise, is through mentorship. Not everyone can be a guru, and not everyone has time to be a sishya. But the value of the mentor-protege relationship lies in the existence of a mild status differential, without the total surrender and dedication demanded by a guru. A mentor is there not to shape you and save you for soulful salvation, but to guide you, to give you hints, and to help you grow as an individual and a contributor.

Be a mentor to someone younger, and seek a mentor in someone older. This professional “parampara” is the best way to establish not only an efficient chain-of-command/unity of purpose/cultural cohesion, but to also grow and help others grow in the process. Demanding that all things emanate from you and be credited to you may often be symptomatic of a guru complex. So if you are not one, don’t pretend to be. The mentor, on the other hand, recognises that even the most modest and most illiterate of persons has something to teach. It will also end this dichotomy of total obedience or complete non-compliance. Be obedient to your guru, but be respectful to your seniors and mentor your juniors.

DharmaMandir

That is the importance of Dharma. Not only as a framework, but also as the origin of civility (sabhyata), etiquette (saujanya), propriety/courtesy (maryada). But in a society obsessed with kulachara and kula, these three have gone by the wayside.

The problem today with Indians (particularly a demographic of half-read twenty somethings, and their feckless forty-something fellow travelers) is that they are spoiled brats, and well, probably something comparable to the title of this article.

There is no point in trying to save the world if you yourself don’t even know how to behave and organise. Selective reading and willfully ignoring nuance is easy.  Petulant and rude behaviour is even easier. Closing your ears to retain the efficacy of ideology easiest of all. But the truly knowledgeable person is not the ideologue. He is the one who realises he knows nothing, and seeks wisdom instead. That is the basis of philosophy, not love of knowledge, but love of wisdom.

Philosophy vs Philognosis & Phil-ideology

The love of ideology is one of the great dangers facing human society. This is because ideology, unlike philosophy, demands compliance and reduces honest, critical thinking. The combination of ideology with bastardy is quite possibly the most combustive of all. It marries (pardon the pun) the worst of the certitude associated with an ideology, any ideology, with the worst of the bastard (anomie, alienation, constant need for self-assertion, sniveling and spoiled brattiness). When the rootless wonder finds his [imagined, Central Asian] roots, then a new persona is assumed. Filled with the zeal of a new convert, all worthiness is judged on the basis of conformity (to the ideology) and sycophancy (to a pseudo-clerical sovereignty). On the basis of by-birth brahminhood, real Brahmanas in the agraharas and mathas are being sidelined, their interpretations dismissed as “unscientific”, and their authority usurped by “by-birthers”. But a true Brahmana, born or otherwise, is known by guna, sattva guna.

All this is ultimately why we must reject Ideology and Philognosis for Philosophy. It is the love of wisdom and the love of truth (the origin of wisdom) that makes it possible to live not only well-meaning, full-filling, and prosperous lives, but also practical ones that preserve us and our society.

This is ultimately why the Post-Modern Society is a Bastard Society and must be rejected. And this is why our culture is the cure for Post-Modernism. It is not rigid, as other civilizations are, nor is it a black hole of self-annihilating nihilism (as is post-modernism). Our culture is based on Dharma consisting of uncompromising principles, but flexible application.

The Dharmic tradition shows the importance of Philosophy over Ideology, any Ideology.

  References:

  1. Gurumurthy, Swaminathan. “Society”.http://vskkerala.com/society-was-the-source-of-knowledge-for-deendayalji-s-gurumurthy/
  2. Gurumurthy, Swaminathan.”Modernity has Failed to Stop Deviance”. http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinion/columns/s_gurumurthy/Modernity-has-failed-to-stop-deviance/2013/10/15/article1835599.ece
  3. Malhotra, Rajiv. https://www.pgurus.com/pandavas-can-provide-hindu-leadership/
  4. Malhotra, Rajiv. Being Different. New York: Random House.2011
  5. Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. London: Penguin.1990
Acknowledgement: My thanks to Shivoham whose insights and reference material were valuable for the composition of this article.

On Dharma II: Rta vs Rna 2

Karna-choice

Readers may recall our Post last year on Rta vs Rna. In it, we explained why Rna is necessarily subordinate to Dharma, and that the proper schema was in fact Satya then Rta then Dharma.

However, because we live in an era where knowledge itself is no longer seen as sacred but as a means of emolument, there are some fraudacharyas who are imputing wrong meaning into traditional definitions…partially out of their ignorance, but partially out of malevolence. Because their attempts to force Rna as somehow central to the Dharmic schema have been exposed, and realising they have left something out, they have tried to circumvent by saying everything is Sat. Everything is Sat, and Satya does express Rta. But Rta itself is the motivation for Dharma, not Rna. Rna is not the core of Sanatana Dharma: Satya, Rta, and Dharma are. Rna uber alles is the foundation for slavery—precisely what videshi slaves want.

This is because they have sold themselves out, they are privately paying off their own personal Rna by selling off Satya. Rna is below Dharma. Here is the correct schema:

Satya→Rta→Dharma→Rna

It is important to not only understand the distinctions between the four, but also their order of derivation. rnas

These Rnas come in many forms: Daiva-Rna, Rishi-Rna, Pitr-rna.  Those are the traditional tri-rnas, the Vedic rnas that all must pay to the Devas, to the Rishis & Gurus, and to our Ancestors. After paying them, moksha is then possible. These are traditionally paid by yagna, by vedic study, and by progeny. [2, 416] But there are also other rnas. Matr-rna, Mitr-rna, and the most dominating one, Desa-rna. One is a rni (debtor) to his Mathru-bhoomi too. So how to determine which comes first? After all, is not Daiva above Desa? Is not Mathru above Mitra? Is not spiritual debt above monetary debt?

It is precisely because material rna can be easily conflated with spirtual rna, that we must repay Rna through the guidance of Dharma. It is precisely that Dharma is the guide for Rna and not the other way around that definitions matter. And it is precisely because some murkhs prize material heaven above moksha that they continually ignore Desa-rna and Desa-Dharma, to the detriment of their countrymen, whom they betray. This is what happens to those who prize knowledge above wisdom…they end up neither breathing nor living & drag everyone else down with them.

hayagriva
Bhagavan Hayagreeva

Saying that Rna creates Dharma is like saying Vedas came from Man. Real Brahmanas know this to be otherwise. Just as the Vedas are Apaurusheya and were given to man from by God, so to does Dharma determine Rna, and specifically, which Rna should be paid when, or even be paid at all. Those in thrall to foreign funders naturally celebrate Rna—for they have assumed a lifetime and multi-life debt.

It is for this reason our Civilization is one of Truth not Debt (like some debt-driven societies). It is for this reason India’s national motto is Satyameva Jayate not Rnameva Jayate. It is Satya-Harischandra who is lauded not Mitr-rni Karna. It is love of Satya that constructs the order Rta and recognising the need for its preservation that creates Dharma. A society motivated by Rna is one first collapsed into chaos then caught in slavery.

The people who advocate Rna being the driver of Dharma are those who sold their souls and wish for you to the do the same.

Rna is used to buy the souls of Men, as Duryodhana bought Karna’s with Anga

He may be called “Daanveer Karan”, but his Daana, his Generosity, his liberality were all misplaced. Generosity to sinners is not generosity, it is signing one’s own death warrant, which is what Karna did when he gave everything, even his life, to pay off his debt to Duryodhana. His noble sentiment in sacrificing everything for the one person who stood by him is a noble one, but also a selfish one. Noble sentiments too can be selfish and misguided. Bhishma’s noble sentiment in taking his pratignya (oath) is the classic case.

We may all praise Bhishma for accepting the terrible oath of celibacy, despite being a royal prince, but he nevertheless violated Dharma and Rta by denying Hastinapura of a great king like himself. See how it suffered instability and uncertainty from the days of Chitrangada and Vichitraveerya on. This is the price of Rna and Moha. Desire to chase fame through sacrifice or to surrender to sentiment is also selfish. Noble, but misguided and harmful to society. To pay his personal debt, Karna was prepared to preside over Draupadi’s Vastraharan (attempted disrobing) and the unjust killing of Abhimanyu. What right does he (and those like him) have to lecture on Dharma?

Yudhisthira, on the other hand, was the opposite. He followed Truth to an extreme in the desire to be Satya-harishchandra, that he failed to prioritise his Dharma to his wife. It was a selfless mistake (he gained only shame and reprobation from this episode, not fame like Karna on the Kurukshetra), but a stupid mistake. He forgot that Harishchandra was in the beginning of the Treta Yuga (almost the Satya Yuga), while Yudhisthira was in the Dvapara (and that too, the very end). As the Yugas pass, people become more corrupt and sinful, and Dharma can no longer be so pristine, let alone naive. Yudhisthira was a king, and could not afford the luxury of being naive. When kings and politicians are naive, their prajas suffer.

When Satya-harishchandra honoured his promise to pay off his rna, his wife’s honour was not violated, but see what happened when Yudhisthira did the same thing. This is why the Panchatantra and Niti becomes important. In the present time, one must use viveka (distinguishment) to distinguish between right and wrong, wise and foolish, real and fake. Remember, a true Guru will never seek to confuse or confound, exploit or enslave, but will only seek to set you free, first from the torment of the senses, then from all Rnas.

The price of Rna

Science has no authority over our Vedic Tradition. Only our trained Bharatiya Acharyas do. Those who are rooted in the land for millennia, understand its traditions the best.

Above all, remember, it was Sri Krishna himself who tried to educate Karna that Rna is used to buy the souls of men. It is fine to fulfill Rna for fruitive rewards, but only if it is not in conflict with Dharma, Rta, and Satya. This is the eternal way.

Bhagavad Gita 2:42-43

yam imam puspitam vacam
pravadanty avipascitah
veda-vada-ratah partha
nanyad astiti vadinah
kamatmanah svarga-para
janma-karma-phala-pradam
kriya-visesa-bahulam
bhogaisvarya-gatim prati ||

Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.

There are of course some fashionable modernistas with superficial knowledge who use this to then say there is no point to ritual. But this is also false. Between Hippies without Obligations and material Ritualists without Compassion, is the happy middle of responsible and Dharmic living. Ritual gives us structure to life, but philosophical knowledge (jnana) and worship (bhakti) give us meaning in life.  Ritual does have its place, as does the karma-kanda to those eligible for it. As the saying goes, “the same key that takes you to heaven can take you to hell“. Ravana used it to go to hell. Our Rishis like Vishvamitra used it to, forget going to heaven, but actually created an alternate material heaven for Trisanku. Such is the power of the Veda. But the wisest use the Veda to attain liberation (moksha) from the bondage of rebirth. They recognise it is possible through the structure of the Purushartha to neither lead a depressing and dour life without the rang (colour) of kama (pleasure) nor the life of the irresponsible hedonist, concerned only for his or her own pleasure. The Puranas give us many stories of those who live a happy, content, but responsible life and attain moksha in the process. The Satyanarayana Vratha also facilitates this process for those not eligible to do Vedic yagna.

Those who study the Veda have to take utmost precaution, not only when chanting mantras, but also in understanding the purpose for which they perform ritual. That is why the traditional Brahmana was traditionally respected…it is a very difficult, disciplined life to lead.

The ancient Rishis of yore would perform yagna for the benefit of all mankind. Further, the stringent life of traditional brahmanas as prescribed in the Dharmasastra, ensures a level of discipline that helps individuals transcend the cravings of the senses so that they may become fit for philosophical knowledge. Thus, Lord Krishna is not diminishing the importance of the Vedas, he is only putting them into the correct context. The Vedas are ever in consonance with Dharma. For those who pursue a certain way of life, Vedic ritual is eminently good—Krishna is only advising them to use their knowledge responsibly.

In any event, having contextualised the Rnas stipulated in the Vedic tradition, it is important to understand the need to live a life of balance. Because the Kali Yuga is such a terrible time, full of pleasurable but sinful distractions and many fraudacharyas (there are still some real Acharyas though, so find one), mere japa (chanting of God’s name) is sufficient for the average person. Rather than fighting the impulses causing sense-craving, the Saints say channel those impulses into good and productive efforts. Don’t fight the energy with a dam, but like an irrigation work, channel it to Artha, Moksha, and Kama in the right proportions through Dharma. Do your work during the day, complete your rituals/prayers in the evening, enjoy pleasure in the night. This is the traditional division for the parts of the day. In this way it is possible to do your Dharma to society, fulfill your rna to your obligators, and enjoy the pleasure of life. The happiest life is the balanced life.

The Purusharthas stipulate a life of balance. Artha, Kama, and Moksha are all important, but it is Dharma that guides all three. One cannot point to pitr-rna or daiva-rna or rishi-rna or mitr-rna to explain why their treachery is justified, as they wish to attain svarga (material heaven of pleasures) or moksha (ultimate liberation). Betrayal of one’s country is not justified. Vibhishana made every effort to bring Ravana to the right path, despite being Ravana’s rni. It was only to save Lanka from annihilation, and only because Sri Rama was the incarnation of Dharma, that Vibhishana went over to the other side. Thus, he is the exception and not the rule.

Therefore, rather than mocking the Veda (which one can only understand through proper Adhyapana, meaning “instruction”), respect those who have chosen the arduous path, and do your own duty. If you are upset at mean-spirited or hypocritical priests, find some sincere priests—there are actually many suffering from dire poverty and absence of benefactors. You may not feel Rna to those leading a traditional life, but give support out of a sense of Dharma to society, and its vulnerable sections. Even if you are agnostic, and don’t believe in ritual knowledge, at least give support to those who preserve our tradition and protect it from materialist foreigners misrepresenting our culture & history.

Here was one such traditional Pandit who deserves our respect for preserving our historical memory. We are all rnis to him.

DharmaMandir

Despite this Rna, preservation of Dharma knows only Rta, which must be preserved as it is the expression of Satya. By upholding Rta, all are benefited. By obsessing over Rna, only 1 or a few are benefited. Pandit Chelam may have had rnas to his foreign instructors of English and other subjects, but it was through his prioritisation of Dharma, Rta, and ultimately Satya, that he published 24 books documenting our true history. That is why Satya is the highest, most absolute concept. Dharma may bend the transactional everyday truth (“Ashwattama attaha”) to preserve this absolute Truth. But it is Satya which is absolute.

The order of hierarchy is Satya, Rta, Dharma, then Rna. Because if people don’t know which Rna to pay when, they end up like Karna…who chose his Rna to Duryodhana. Pitr-rna, Deva-rna are all to be paid when the common Dharma isn’t violated. A world of competing Rnas leads to chaos, in which each individual focuses on his (perceived rna) rather than than Saamaanya Dharma. That is why Rna is a secondary priority. Dharma is the first.

Opponents may argue that by prioritising Rna as the roots, the tree of Dharma will flourish. But the rebuttal is “yes, one tree will flourish, to the detriment of others“. The tree of Dharma in this case is the tree of Sva-Dharma (the personal Dharma). If you greedily prioritise your own Rnas, your own roots, other will not have water to be able to pay off theirs, and the other trees and plants die. A Dharma-driven society ensures the whole community flourishes. A Rna-driven society, is a selfish society, and is not “sustainable”.

Dharma is the righteous upholding of the Cosmic Order Rta which is expressed by the Absolute Truth Satya. Rna only ever comes after.

References:

  1. Bhagavad Gita. http://asitis.com/2/42-43.html
  2. Kane, P.V. History of Dharmasastra. Vol.3.P.2. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 1973.
  3. Suresvaracarya, Shoun Hino & K.P. Jog. Sureśvara’s Vārtika on Saptānna Brāhmaṇa.Delhi: MLBD.1995.p.94

Indic Sports: Culture of Kreeda

KrishnaVsChanoora

Amid all the discussion on one of India’s worst ever showings at the Olympics, a question arises about the Indic proclivity for Sports. As one foreign commentator recently asked, “Why is India so bad at the Olympics”. While we should not forget the legitimate point that the Olympics is no stranger to skullduggery, as the entire Russian Olympic Team and poor Narendra Yadav can attest to (his case should be reviewed again by an independent commission of concerned citizens), self-reflection is also critical.

Our own people have made attempts to understand. Others, to analyse. Interestingly enough, the Chinese have already conducted an analysis. And if it is authentic, it seems fairly spot on—after all, no one knows you better than your own shatrus, declared or undeclared.

Of course, by now, we’re all familiar with Indian twitter’s flooding of fading C-list celebrity Piers Morgan’s TL.

The more embarrassing aspect, of course, wasn’t Piers Morgan (unceremoniously fired from his pathetic hosting at CNN ) and his blunderbuss badinage. Rather it was that Indiots still clamber after the 2 pence opinions of a brit  “nobody-cares” after 70 years of Independence. See what nationality brought it to this professional troll’s attention in the first place.

Why do we care whether they care? Why do we care what they think? Rather than be upset about what they said, do something about what they see…next time. It’s not his place (or any foreigner’s place) to tell us, but he is right…be embarrassed. All praise to not only the two medalists Sakshi and Sindhu, but all the fourth placers like Abhinav Bindra (former gold medalist) and hardscrabble athletes who fought against all odds (Dipa Karmakar). But while giving them credit, criticise yourself. You are to blame.

If you only obsess about one sport and don’t give viewership or patronage to others…you are to blame. If at 36 years of age you still divine over the chicken droppings of yester-year celebrities of a certain sport, yes you are to blame. And if you still obsess over genetics rather than training, yes you are to blame. All these things breed and re-emphasise inferiority complexes, because only being good at one thing and useless at everything else, makes for good poodles, but incompetent individuals.

The root of this, frankly, comes from continuing to prize colonial culture (English—see the undistinguished Germanic dialect in which I must write this article, literature, and of course, cricket) long after those with self-respect have stopped caring. The root of the Indian lack of self-respect comes from lack of leadership. And the root of the lack of leadership comes from lack of team spirit and team sports. Even if the other team is better than you, it is only the Indiot who publicly accepts it and publicly self-flagellates about it, instead of privately doing something about it. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog. All the more so if he works as pack.

In any event, the obsession with the colonial game of cricket aside, it does lead to a natural question—have Indians been traditionally averse to Sports? The answer is an obvious NO (even the traditional 64 Arts mentions “Skill in youthful sports” as one of them). For social media gyaanis on public journeys of self-discovery: there have been entire books written on this matter. Nevertheless, this rather ridiculous question is primarily due to the modern tendency in the knowledge-based economy to only focus on two aspects of traditional societal Dharma. That physicality and team collaboration are required by the other two are well-known, and in all likelihood, explain the current decline for internal collaboration and penchant for external cooperation. Until the concept of “win as a team” is beaten soundly back into the heads of headstrong, overly-proud know-it-all yet “under-informed” Indians, such embarrassing showings are all but predictable. The repeated failure of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi to work together for national honour is one such example.

That is why culture is so central to the problem Indic Civilization faces. The same hypocritical hindus who whine day in day out about why medieval Indian kings didn’t work together, are the least likely to do the same today. But as we covered in our previous article on the Dharma of Collaboration, it is not some single “delicate genius” who diffuses victory through sheer, incomprehensible levels of self-proclaimed “IQ”, but a competent society dedicated to team success. In fact, we specifically used the example of the American Olympic Men’s Basketball team in our Post on Collaboration above.

Individually brilliant people who don’t work together, will, time and again, be defeated by average people who work together very well. Not just the players, not just the organization, but society and civilization as a whole should serve as secondary and tertiary support structures. The problem is while stuffing their face with hakka noodles, most Indians would in fact rather watch and play “kircket”, a near individual sport, with tennis, an actual individual sport, filling the remaining void.

Genius and Genetics (and TFR) provide a baseline (pun intended). These keep you in the game and provide a reservoir of potential. But unless there is training,dedication, and above all, (internal) collaboration, this potential energy, cannot be turned into kinetic energy, let alone kinetic action. Feckless, penny-packet, eleventh hour-last minute efforts are no more advisable than an all-nighter before the JEE or the EAMCET. That is why the spirit of Kreeda, true Kreeda, team Kreeda, must be re-ingrained in the modern Indian.

The renowned Chinese travellers Hieun Tsang and Fa Hien wrote of a plethora of sporting activities. Swimming, sword – fighting ( fencing, as we know it today ), running, wrestling and ball games were immensely popular among the students of Nalanda and Taxila. In the 16th century, a Portuguese ambassador who visited Krishnanagar was impressed by the range of sports activity, and the many sports venues, in the city. The king, Raja Krishnadev was an ace wrestler and horseman, himself. [1]

Kreeda, of course, is most famous to us due to the infamous dyut kreeda from the Mahabharata. But Kreeda is more than just mere gambling or pass-time amusement. It in fact covers a range of activities, some mental, some physical, some recreational, and some martial. I am deliberately leaving out “kircket” because that colonial game is really an individual sport masquerading as a team one—and it is also one of the twin causes for the catastrophic decline in Indic competence…the other being mass masala films. However, I will purposefully add a non-native game, field hockey, because it is one of the sports that for a variety of reasons, must be emphasised, invested in, and encouraged today.

I should also note that full credit goes to our teammates over at Tamizh Cultural Portal for presciently recognising the importance of this and doing something about it long before we did. While we will build upon the foundation they laid, we recommend first a full read of their excellent section here.

For our purposes however, what are the various aspects of the traditional Indic culture of Kreeda? This list is by no means exhaustive and is meant to serve as a preliminary structure upon which we can continue to build.

  • Martial Arts
  • Sports
  • Games
  • Personalities
Martial Arts

Kalaripayattu_weapons

Kreeda literally means “Sport” or “Play”. Yet despite including the harmless and the childhood amusement, it also extends to the violent and martial. While these may have had applications on ancient battlefields, or for self-defence, they can also be engaged in harmlessly by responsible adults, for recreation.

It is unsurprising that martial arts would be so closely related to sport in general. Just as neuroscientists assert that dreams help us simulate and deal with difficult scenarios in the future, so too do sports help us deal with the martial and security scenarios of life. One look at the Afghan game of buzkashi alone shows the type of tactics used by Central Asian horsemen on medieval battlefieds. Karate and Kung Fu are, naturally, more famous and more obvious in their applications. Lesser known, and more important, is that Classical Martial Art of India from Kerala.

Kalaripayattu

kalaripayattu-martial-art-of-kerala-500x500

The famed martial art of Kerala, Kalaripayattu has become the de facto classical Martial Art of India. Rooted in Dhanurveda and Ayurveda respectively, it demonstrates the Indic origin of the concept of vital points (marmas), showcased in a certain hollywood movie. Indeed, it is considered the origin of the great spiritual East Asian martial arts traditions, such as Kung Fu and Karate. Tradition holds that the Buddhist monks taught it to the Chinese at the Shaolin Monastery. This is considered by many to have led to the development of Kung Fu and the martial arts tradition of the East. [8]

kalari_lock

Kalaripayattu is practiced to this day in its home state. Beyond the energetic and acrobatic armed and unarmed combat, it features both men and women practitioners hailing from different jatis, nationalities, and even age groups.

kalarilady

But why simply read about what you can see. Here is a well-known video of an elderly women trained in Kalari, fighting against a man half her age!

Malla Yuddha

20130125175804-malla-yuddha

Malla Yuddha forever has a place in the hearts of the Hindus for the great wrestling bouts not only between Krishna and Chanoora and Bheema and Jarasandha, but even today. While the Olympics predictably favours greco-roman style, there are many wrestlers in India, both male and female, folk and entertainment.

200px-Khali_cropped
The Great Khali of the WWE

There are some who might add pehlwaan, but it is about as Indic as qawwali. Malla Yuddha is our traditional name, and should be the terminology. There are none, however, who are more famous or beloved than the man who played Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan.

Dara_Singh_with_Wrestling_Cupdharas012hanuman

Wrestling historically takes place in Akharas, and there are many such even today.

Mushti Yuddha

With descriptions dating back to the ancient period, and texts such as the Manasollasa, Mushti-Yuddha is the traditional Indic art of Boxing. The Portuguese visitor Nunez was astonished at how ferocious the style of boxing was in the Great City of Vijayanagara. [2]

Boxers could routinely end up with broken teeth or battered eyes. While the modern era demands a bit more consideration for the health and safety of boxers, perhaps it is time to look to the past to take inspiration for our future.

Gadha Yuddha

Archery may be the most iconic and most common, but quite possibly no martial art remains as dear to the Indian imagination as Gadha Yuddha. Whether it is Balarama, Bheema, Duryodhana, or Lord Vishnu himself with his famous Kaumodhaki, the mace has a celebrated place in the hearts of Hindus. The rules for Gada Yuddha are simple…no hitting below the belt. But the rules for Dharma Yuddha demand the destruction of dushtas like Duryodhana, who himself cheated at Dice and committed injustice against Draupadi.

Gatka

The Armory of Gatka Practitioners

Like Kalariyapattu, Gatka (the great martial art of the Sikhs) is less for spectators and more for warriors. Nevertheless, the need for self-defence aside, it offers a number of potential competitive aspects beyond the obvious fencing. The Charkha (chakra) throwing aspects alone offer potential for competitive sport.

Officially dating back to the venerable Guru Hargobind Singh ji,  “Gatka can be practiced either as a sport (khel) or ritual (rasmi).” It features aspects of armed and unarmed combat, as can be seen above. It is practiced to this day.

More importantly however, again like its Southern counterpart, Gatka is a direct connection to the ancient Indic warrior ethos. It is an outgrowth of traditional Sastra-Vidya, which in Punjabi is called Shastar Vidya ਸ਼ਸਤਰ ਵਿਦਿਆ, but has become a tradition in its own right. Sikh Dharma may be centuries old, but it draws from and is part of a millennia old Dharmic Civilization. Whether for sport or for safety, preserving and passing on its proud traditions remains important for Sikh, Citizen, and Soldier alike.

Dhanurvidya

arjuna-draupadi-swayamvar-mahabharata

From Rama Dasarathi to the modern Limba Ram, archery has long been considered the crest-jewel of Indic Kreeda. Equally valuable on the pre-modern battlefield as it was before a bullseye (or as above, below a fish eye), prowess with a bow was prized by men and women alike. Draupadi may have rejected Karna despite his skills with a dhanush, but Arjuna still had to prove himself to her in order to win her hand.

Boxing and wrestling are often referred to, but were not generally the hobbies of respectable young men…who performed for the amusement of an audience. The archery contest, however, was a much-loved amusement of the warrior class, and vivid descriptions of such contests occur in the Epics.”[2, 209]

Even Bhagavan Shri Ram had to demonstrate his power, by stringing the great bow of Lord Shiva. Such is the central place of Dhanurkrida, Dhanurvidya, and Dhanurveda in our culture.

Traditional Sports

Beyond martial arts, there are many traditional Sports that owe their origin to the Indian Subcontinent. Some are popular, some are regional, but all are part of the panoply of Bharatiya Kreeda.

Kabaddi

Part-game, part-sport, all excitement, Kabaddi is instantly recognisable to the average Indian, and an increasingly profitable business venture. Well-known to children and adults of all ages, it is now on track towards becoming a spectator sport in India, and perhaps even, other counties.

Not only national leagues in India, but many among the diaspora are making their mark.

Kabaddi is a high intensity contact sport, with seven players on each side; played for a period of 40 minutes with a 5 – minute break (20-5-20). The core idea of the game is to score points by raiding into the opponent’s court and touching as many defense players as possible without getting caught; in a single breath. One player, chanting Kabaddi!! Kabaddi!! Kabaddi!! Charges into the opponent court and tries to touch the opponent closest to him, while the seven opponents maneuver to catch the attacker.

Jallikattu

Banned by the Supreme Court on controversial and discriminatory grounds, Jallikattu is the traditional game of Bull-taming of Tamizh Nadu. While there are variants in other parts of the country, unlike Spanish bull-fighting, the animal is left alive and unharmed. It is only the players, who play voluntarily, who may be under any risk. Such is their veertha (warrior spirit).

Mallakhamba

Malkhamb_team_of_the_Bombay_Sappers

This legendary sport was revived by the Chhatrapatis for the purposes of the Maratha Navy and its multi-masted ships, but Mallakhamba is the ancient art of pole gymnastics. It is conservatively dated to the medieval period, but in all likelihood, is much more ancient.

Mallakhamb dates back to the 12th century and finds reference in the classic Manasollasa (1135 AD) by Somesvara Chalukya. [9]

It is still done today by the Bombay Sappers of the Indian Army. There is a push to make it a more popular sport.

Games

The distinction between Sports and Games is often very difficult to discern. There are many Sports with limited physical exertion (Golf) and many games with a surfeit of Physical Exertion, Kho-Kho. Which is which is a matter of subjectivity, but board games, card games, and school yard games, all fit the bill more for game than for sport.

Chess

ChessSet

Traditional and especially Ancient India had many games of which to boast, but the king of them all was the game of kings: Chess.

Foreign deniers may be a plenty (with Europeans, Chinese, and even the Persians attempting to claim it), but there is no denying Chess originated in India. Bharatavarsha can boast of not only the ancestor to Chess (Chaturanga), which featured as many as four players and used dice,  but the precursor to the modern version that “had developed into a game of some complexity, with a king-piece, and pieces of four other types, cor-responding to the corps of the ancient Indian army–an elephant, a horse, a chariot or ship, and four footmen. “[2, 208]

Radha-Krishna_chess

The earliest reference to Chaturanga is found in the Harshacharita of Banabhatta, dated to the 6th century.  It is said to have spread to China and was the ancestor of many strategic games there as well.

In the 6th century the game was learnt by the Persians and when Persia was conquered by the Arabs it quickly spread all over the Middle East, under the name shatranj, the Persian corruption of caturanga.” [2, 208]

While many have attempted to claim it, in whatever form, it is an Indian original, with the only distinction that matters being between the Indian version and modern Chess. The irony, of course, is that while Indians have produced Grandmasters and champions like Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy, they continue to succeed at Chess yet fail at strategy. Perhaps it is time to view Kreeda as a way to win at life.

Dyut Kreeda

dyutkrida
The Infamous Dice game, and the Chaupad board

The Infamous Game of Dice naturally makes its place in the rankings. Gambling was obviously popular in ancient India. “Six-sided dice have been found in the Indus cities, and the ‘Gamester’s Lament’ of the Rg Veda testifies to the popularity of gambling among the early Aaryans“. [2,207]

The word aksa in the context of gambling is generally roughly translated ‘dice’, but the aksas in the earliest gambling games were not dice, but small hard nuts called vibheesaka or vibheedaka; apparently players drew a handful of these from a bowl and scored if the number was a multiple of four.” [2, 207]

Played on the chaupad board, it was a popular recreation not only between rival kings, but those other famed competitors in life: husband and wife.

Dice may have been popular in Ancient India, but it remains relevant even in the modern Era.

Mokshapatam

We all may be familiar with the childhood game of Snakes and Ladders. Less familiar, however, is how it originated in India.

Even the traditional game of snakes and ladders had a traditional name “Mokshapatam”. The roles of the devas are likened to it, as fulfillment of one’s role results in promotion up the ladder of creation. It was, therefore, based upon the principle of Karma. The Jain version was called Gyan Chaupar.

Gyan_chaupar

Kreedapatram

Often called Ganjifa, Kreedapatram is the ancient name for Indian card games, of which there were many. Traditional Indian cards were round, but the variety of games were plentiful, and it is still a popular pass time to this day. Here one effort to revive one.

Kho Kho

The game of kho kho is very simple and can be played by all ages. It is thought to have originated in Maharashtra, and it is considered one of India’s most popular traditional games. It is described as a “modified form of run and chase“. [1]

Each team consists of twelve players, but only nine players take the field for a contest. A match consists of two innings. An innings consists of chasing and running turns of 7 minutes each. Eight members of the chasing team sit in their eight squares on the central lane, alternately facing the opposite direction, while the ninth member is an active chaser, and stands at either of the posts, ready to begin the pursuit. Members of the chasing team have to put their opponent out, touching them with their palms, but without committing a foul. All the action in Kho-Kho is provided by the defenders, who try to play out the 7 minutes time, and the chasers who try to dismiss them. A defender can be dismissed in three ways: 1) if he is touched by an active chaser with his palm without committing a foul, 2) if he goes out of the limits on his own, 3) if he enters the limit late. [1]

Gilli-danda

Well known to children in school yard throughout India, Gilli-danda is a game of sticks.”The bigger one is called “danda” and the smaller one is called “gilli“. The player then uses the danda to hit the gilli at the raised end, which flips it into the air. While it is in the air, the player strikes the gilli, hitting it as far as possible. Having struck the gilli, the player is required to run and touch a pre-agreed point outside the circle before the gilli is retrieved by an opponent.” [10]

It may not have applications to stadium spectator sport, but Gilli-danda remains another Iconic game of Indic Civilization.

The Spirit of Kreeda, more than anything else, is one rooted in Team spirit. What is the Indic word for team?—perhaps therein lies the problem as most of our gyaanis seem to have forgotten it (if they ever knew it). Various words such as dal, vahni, and prayuj have been used. Due to a combination of semantic politics and narrative aesthetics, the last one is likely best suited for our times.

There are many, many, many more sports and games such as Boat racing, Polo, and various ball games which could be discussed here (and are discussed elsewhere). But either their origins still remain uncertain, or concision demands we focus only on a few here. Nevertheless, it is easy enough to see here that there has long been a tradition of Sport, a culture of Kreeda, throughout Bharatavarsha. The issue before us is not only whether we can revive them, but whether we can take inspiration from them to reinvigorate our approach to Modern Sports.

Modern Sports

Field Hockey

dhyanchand

From Dhyan Chand to the recently deceased Mohd. Shaheed, India’s field hockey heroes are perennially over-shadowed and under-appreciated it. It is time we did them justice. Naysayers may argue that football should be the priority non-native sport stressed by Indians, but I disagree. Indians already have a strong traditional track record in Field Hockey. To see short term results, Field Hockey will give us the best ROI, and boost in national sports morale.

Football (also known as Soccer)

Quite possibly one of the most simple and most easily recognisable of games, Football is an international phenomenon. It does not carry weight because a nation of a billion people, and some former colonies and their erstwhile coloniser play it, but because the entire world plays it. Kick the ball into the goal, pass to your teammates, defend your territory. It is the simplest most elegant expression of team collaboration. Everything a certain wicket-based sport is not.

Football must be an important long-term investment for the Indian public not only because Baichung Bhutia was popular with the ladies (ok that’s a private reason for gents), but because it remains the uncontested “Global Sport”. To see much smaller countries and even non-South American/non-European/non-African countries be ranked and notable teams should be a national insult for India. This is the cost of cricket.

Non-native sport though it is, it is the unofficial game of humanity (at least at present) and even if a World Cup is unthinkable and a distant dream, it should begin to at least be an aspiration. Even if you can’t play, start watching these games, start forming football leagues, and start joining your kids in a sport that will actually help them in life, even if they can’t become the next Ronaldo.

Personalities

Along with remembering our traditional sports and games, and the culture that drove them, it is also important to remember and honour the great personalities who contributed to our Sports culture. Such lists are usually subjective, but certain names tend to crop up, and thus, are mentionable either for merit or for fame. In any event, they should be remembered nonetheless:

Women

Kunjarani Devi

Karnam Malleshwari

India’s first female olympic individual medalist, Malleshwari Karnam hails from Andhra.

P.T. Usha

Mithali Raj

Anju Bobby George

Saina Nehwal

P.V.Sindhu

Sania Mirza

Sakshi Malik

Anushka Sharma may have played a wrestler, but young Sakshi Malik is the real deal. Champion wrestler and Olympic Bronze medalist, she deserves our respect (and a healthy fear for her strength…) for what she accomplished. She is proof again that the Bharatiya Naari may be seen as a pretty package, but packs a powerful Shakti too.

Mary Kom

Dipa Kalmakar

Dipa Kalmakar represents not only the potential reservoir of talent in India, but of simply how much of a difference a culture of training and support (institutional or societal) makes. That she was able to place fourth despite being the first Indian woman to even compete in Olympic gymnastics, speaks volumes about the greatness of her spirit, and why India citizens need to stop talking and start putting their money where their mouth is to support such athletes.

Men

Dhyan Chand

Ravi Shastri

Dara Singh

Dara Singh ji may be most famous for playing Lord Hanuman, but he was a great strong-man in his own right, in his own day. He may have been a champion Pehlwaani, but Dara Singh would have been right at home in traditional Malla Yuddha.

Limba Ram

Viswanathan Anand

Vijay Amritraj

India’s greatest tennis player who never won a Grand Slam. Perennial top ten threat, international celebrity, and one of India’s most recognisable sports figures, Vijay Amritraj of Tamizh Nadu represents Indian Sports almost to the T. Full of talent, with many missed opportunities, and the potential to dominate, only if he trained like the Borgs and Connors and Mcenroe’s of the world.

Mohd.Shaheed

Dhanraj Pillai

Sachin Tendulkar

Saurav Ganguly

Kapil Dev

Sunil Gavaskar

Harbhajan Singh

Navjot Singh Sidhu

Pullela Gopichand

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Abhinav Bindra

Leander Paes

Baichung Bhutia

Considered India’s greatest football player, Baichung Bhutia should be a household name simply for the effort he has put in to popularise the sport and give support to young talent. This now retired “Sikkimese Sniper” started a football school in Delhi.

Vijender Singh

Olympic and now up-and-coming Professional Boxer, Vijender Singh is an athlete to watch for. He hails from Haryana. With a current W-L ratio of 7-0, he is a true Mushti-Yoddha in the making.

Most of these personalities are well-known enough that they do not require description. All of them, for the sake of brevity, are from India. But over time, we hope to add on to this and describe in greater detail.

Conclusion

winasateam

India is not a sports averse culture. India does not lack a sports culture. India lacks a team sports culture. That is the problem today. The cure for its millions upon millions of middle class, mummy’s boy, spoiled brats, does not lie in Sachin Tendulkar, but in Dhyan Chand, who played a true team sport. It does not lie in importing yet another foreign coach (or foreign saviour), but in building in-house talent through team thinking.

Kircket” is not a team sport. It is effectively an individual sport played by a team, with very little equipe-wide coordination. But between fire-teams and the entire army, there are intermediate levels of multi-person units (company, battalion, division, etc). The problem with Indians is that they forever vacillate between tyranny and sycophancy. “Kick the person who licks, and lick the person who kicks”. This is the “team” motto of our iq obsessed, barely genetically male gyaanis. How about doing neither? How about respecting authority and treating subordinates with respect? Even the Indian Army’s officers could learn this simple principle.

The concept of the loyal lieutenant is utterly lacking. Rather than a first among equals, it is “I must either oppress or be oppressed”—how is unity, team spirit, and coordination possible in such a toxic atmosphere?

kreedagames

Kreeda also has been able  to create awareness by documenting information on traditional games. “We can get a lead for a game from anywhere, even the most unlikely places. The history of some games are unknown and some have many versions, but we do everything to find and get to the bottom of it. I can give you the history, origin and rules of any game!” she beams. [5]

There are many efforts to revive not only traditional sports but traditional games today. Instead of just playing whatever Star TV tells you is “fashionable”, support these efforts and revive these games. Instead of snakes and ladders, play moksha-patam. Instead of playing hide-and-seek, tell your kids to play kho kho.

For all his obsolete lameness, Piers Morgan was right about one thing: Indians need training (just as he and his fellow brits need therapy). Even more pathetic than the 2 medals (Indian men, be ashamed of yourselves), is the fact that Indians not only don’t know how to conduct themselves, they don’t care to learn. “Absolute subservience. Or Unrestricted freedom of action and pontification”. No wonder Indians can’t get anything done unless it’s for a foreign MNC or for a paycheck or for punya…For anything else, it’s “Either I or my caste-brother is team captain, or I don’t play!

This is why for all the gyaani obsession over “merit” (i.e. ability to read and regurgitate for marks), the focus for positions must be “competence”. Are you competent to do the job? Are you competent to contribute to the organization? Despite your knowledge, are you competent to work in teams? When it’s an idiot Indian movie and the theme is “me against the world” the concept of team disappears. When you are forced to work and win as a team, however, then questions of competence (rather than marks and parrot pedantry) come up. See, incompetence. The national slogan should be Work Hard, Play Hard. Not the present one: Work only if I have to, Play only if the mood strikes, and Eat & Drink always.

It is time to get rid of this recipe for incompetence. It is time to throw away the bipolar monkey of the past century and rebuild the national character. Bharatiya Kreeda is one way to do it. Pick a team sport (a real sport, kircket doesn’t count) or team game, and begin today.

Being a single-line sports country has made obstacles for development of other sports in the country. You might be able to name the whole team that represented the country at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but most of you would not know who PD Chaugule was. Chaugule was the first Indian who represented the country at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium and took that same oath: “For the honour of my country, and glory of my sport. [7]

Many of you may still wonder, why despite all insistence on the Indic, we have given pride of place to a non-native sport like Field Hockey. Beyond just ROI, beyond even national sports morale, it offers the potential for something else. Something that, amid all the religious wars, and caste wars, and petty feuds, gives a vision of greater possibilities. If divide et impera was the motto for foreign imperialists & native sepoys, then the one for all true patriots and rooted Indians should be simple….

I am no SRK fan, kintuChak De India.

References:
  1. Traditional Indian Sports. http://sports.indiapress.org/ancient_indian_games.php
  2. Basham, A.L. The Wonder that was India. New Delhi: Rupa.1999
  3. http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-female-athletes-from-india/reference
  4. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/games-in-india/1/475954.html
  5. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/The-tradition-of-playing-long-forgotten-games/2016/08/17/article3582674.ece
  6. http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/the-plays-the-thing-a-history-of-sport-in-india/
  7. http://www.sportskeeda.com/cricket/sports-fanaticism-in-india-history-and-where-are-we-today
  8. Sreenivasan, Rajeev. The Buddhist Connection: Sabarimala and the Tibetans.http://www.rediff.com/news/dec/31rajeev.htm
  9. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111103/jsp/orissa/story_14698853.jsp
  10. http://www.thebetterindia.com/10492/lesser-known-traditional-games-sports-india/
  11. http://www.newsgram.com/ganjifa-an-indian-card-game-is-revived-by-sunish-chabba-of-sydney-australia/
  12. http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/gatka-a-traditional-martial-art-associated-with-sikhism-now-a-national-sport/story-RTMaURkzAMlaRPtb5jMlDN.html

Personalities: Savitri

savitri

After the great King Sagara, the time has come to study the life of yet another exquisite Royal Personality in Bharat’s great tradition. Not just men, but inspirational women too, have set an example on how to balance personal dreams and aspirations with familial and national duties.

Our next Personality in our Continuing Series is none other than the legendary Savitri.

Background

More than just a timeless, girl-saves-guy love story, Savitri & Satyavan is nidarsana katha in its highest form.

Savitri is among the five Satis of Sanatana Dharma and is held up as being a role model for pativrata. The story of Savitri and her husband Satyavan, first occurs in the Mahabharata in the Vana Parva. Her story is recited by sage Markandeya when Yudhisthira asks him if there is any woman who is as devout a wife as  Draupadi.

Princess Savitri was the daughter of the King of Madra, Asvapati, and his wife, Queen Malavi. Asvapati was a childless ruler, and as he grew older he began to feel anxious that he did not have an heir to succeed him. He thus undertook all sorts of penances and prayed to the goddess Savitri, residing in the sun, to bless him with a son to carry on his line. 18 years of hard penance earned him the goodwill of the goddess who appeared to him and told him he will be blessed with a spirited daughter. Soon, a daughter was born to him and he named her Savitri in honour of the goddess who blessed him.

Aryavarta

Savitri grew into a beautiful young woman and her beauty was so bedazzling that suitors got intimidated by her. Hence no one came forth to ask for her hand in marriage. Finally, her father told her that since no one was coming forth to marry her, she must go out and find a husband for herself. She set off on the search for a husband, and soon fell in love with Satyavan, the son of the  blind and impoverished king Dyumatsena. This ruler had been exiled from his kingdom (Salva desa) and was living as a hermit in the forest.

Savitri’s father was very displeased with her choice and wanted her to make another choice, but she refused to change her mind. Her father wished to hand over the kingdom to the groom so that his daughter would have a comfortable life. However, she refused this too and was adamant that she would stay in the forest with her husband and his parents.

But there was something even more dire than all the previous issues with the choice that she had made. Satyavan was destined to die one year from the day they got married. This was unbearable for Savitri’s father, who tried to dissuade her from going ahead with her plan. But Savitri, being the ever independent minded person said to him, “Once only one gets one’s inheritance, once only a daughter is given away and once only a father says, ‘I give her”’ These are three ‘once only’ acts. I have once chosen my husband, long-lived or short-lived, virtuous or wanting in virtue, I have chosen my husband once, and I shall not choose for the second time”. Faced with such strong resolve, Savitri’s father could only give in to his daughter’s wishes. Thus were Satyavan and Savitri married.

Savitri had not the slightest hesitation in giving up her royal robes and riches for the simple and humble attire of a hermit’s wife. She settled into her new life as wife and daughter-in-law and won the hearts and minds of all in that hermit’s abode, with her conduct. However, she never lost sight of the fact that in a year from the date of her marriage she was destined to lose her husband. She kept close watch on the count of days passing by and when there were but four days left to the date of Satyavan’s death, she undertook a fast for three days and three nights in order that her husband might be spared.

AchievementsPhoto: kidsgen

  • Saved her husband’s life
  • Restored her father-in-law’s health and wealth
  • Safeguarded her father’s future and her native kingdom’s security

On the appointed day of his death, when the day was halfway through, Savitri’s in-laws told her that she should break her fast. But Savitri refused, saying that she would eat only after sunset. Satyavan, in the meanwhile, had picked up his axe and was going out of the hermitage when Savitri came to him and told him that she would accompany him into the woods. Satyavan tried to dissuade her from accompanying him, telling her that her fast of the past three days would have tired her out. This, however, did not deter Savitri, and she followed him into the forest.

As Satyavan was working, he suddenly felt his head beginning to ache and began to sweat profusely. He felt so weak that he felt unable to stand. Savitri immediately took him in her arms and sat down, letting his head rest in her lap as he began to collapse. Yama, the god of death (and Dharma) appeared before her said that Satyavan’s life on this earth had reached an end and he was going to take his lifebreath away. So saying, he took a thumb length of Satyavan’s sookshma sareera even as his material body lay lifeless on the ground, and started proceeding southwards.

Savitri began to follow Yama and seeing her follow him, Yama asked her why she was following him. This was Savitri’s answer. She said, “I must go wherever my husband goes. It is established by the eternal ancient law that the wife should always follow her husband wherever he goes or wherever he is taken. By virtue of the austerities I have practised, and by the power of my love for my husband, as also the potency of my vow, and by your grace too, unimpeded I would go.” This was the Pativrata Dharma (one echelon of Stree Dharma) that she had been taught and what she lived by. Savitri then began to converse with Yama in her most elegant and refined manner, which gladdened the heart of Yama though he disapproved of her accompanying him. At last, her cultured and refined behaviour wore down his defences and he told her she could demand a boon of him as long as it was not the life of her husband. She demanded that her father-in-law’s eyesight be restored and that he be allowed to become “strong and shining in spirit like the sun and the fire.” That boon was granted and yet Savitri continued to walk with Yama.

After a while, seeing she had no intention of turning back, Yama inquired of her why she was still trailing him and whether she wasn’t tired. To that, the ever virtuous Savitri replied, “Why should I be tired when I am with my husband? I go wherever he goes. Besides, even a solitary meeting with the great is desirable; it never goes in vain. It is always beneficial to be in good company.” Now, Yama is not a welcome entity, normally, because he is the harbinger of death and hence grief. But Savitri living by her Dharma of seeing the goodness and greatness in everyone and stating that, made the normally bad tempered Yama feel honoured.

He asked her to name a second boon that did not involve bringing her husband back to life and she promptly asked that her father-in-law’s kingdom be restored to him. That wish was also granted and they continued on their way. In her pleasing manner, Savitri thus received additional boons; the third was that her own father should be blessed with a hundred sons, the fourth that she herself would be blessed with a hundred sons. Yama smiled, and said so be it.

As Yama began walking away, Savitri again followed him. Finally enraged, Yama asked how Savitri could continue to follow him after he had blessed her with so much. The clever Savitri then said “Oh Yama deva, you have graciously blessed me with a hundred sons, but how can I conceive them without my husband?“. Realising he had been out-witted, the Deva of Death praised this wise and devoted wife as an example for all time, and happily told her to ask for final boon (but this time he omitted his previous injunction against asking for Satyavan). She naturally asked for Yama to return her husband to life, which he did. Yamadeva  blessed Savitri and Satyavan, and disappeared.

In all the above chronology of the wishes expressed by Savitri, we see her selflessness shining through. Though her burning desire was to see her husband brought back to life, she was always aware of her duties a as a daughter-in-law and daughter to the elders that made up her family. Her concern for her in-laws and her own parents was placed before her own concerns and this alone was enough for Yama to understand the depth of her love for her  husband and her deep understanding of the values that a woman has to uphold and live by. Both women and men are expected to be unselfish under Dharma.

What is the lesson to be drawn from this story?

Satyavan_Savitri

The lesson of Savitri is that even the Gods bow before a woman who is forever protecting her husband and safeguarding his well-being. What she achieved through wisdom and prayer, other women may also do through the sword and strategem. But more than that, Savitri is a model for how husbands and wives are expected to be devoted to each other—that is the true driver of love.

We all are governed by the karmas we have accumulated over our many lifetimes and hence our destiny is pre-ordained. But, while that is the broad grand plan, how we respond to them and the dignity and unselfishness with which we conduct our lives, determines who we really are.

However, there are no short cuts or quick fixes to achieve it. Only by upholding dharma in the highest possible way and living life according to the Dharmic principles prescribed for each one of us, as daughters, women, wives, daughters-in-law, mothers and so on (in the case of women, with a similar list being there in the case of men), can we hope to overturn destiny. The greatness of Dharma lies in the fact that there is a possibility to make changes in our destiny but that it requires great will and tapasya to actually be able to accomplish it. The most meaningful lives, for both women and men (yes, I mean you too, boys..), are those that are lived for others. The selfish existence is the empty existence. Savitri stands as a shining example for all time. She was an empowered woman who charted her own course in life, but while she asserted her rights, she never forgot that rights go together with duties.

Such selfless women are rarely ever matched by men, and fewer still are the stories where the girl saves the guy. Savitri is one such heroine who commands our respect and admiration.

Legacy

SavitriVsYama

Contrary to modern debutantes, Savitri is a strong character and embodiment of Bharatiya Stree Shakti. Neither passive nor aggressive, she is assertive. She is intelligent, knows both her duties and her rights, and is not afraid to live up to the former while asserting the latter. But she does so with maryada (courtesy & propriety)—this is the true mark of culture and refinement.

Like the Great King Sagara, whether she too is Legendary or not, Savitri is an example and exemplar of Dharma. She exemplifies the very concept of ardhangini, which demonstrates that women cannot and should not be trod and trampled upon, but have 1 half of the share of responsibilities and rights in society. They are not worth only half of men like other cultures, but in fact the other half of men, and entitled to their share of respect and influence in society. Savitri personifies precisely how real strong women command respect.

vat_savitri_vrat_sms_wishes_3735098624

Savitri is an extremely wise woman from our epics who outwitted Yama himself and brought her husband Satyavan back to life through her intelligence. This was truly the ultimate girl-saves-guy love story. She is revered as a pativrata, as one of the pancha-satis and “Women worship Savitri by tying colored sacred threads to the Vata (banyan) tree as part of observance during the rainy season in many parts of India, the occasion being called Vatasavitri”. [2] This festival is to this day honoured, so that women too can hope to gain the wisdom and character of such a complete woman.

mahaSavitri

Beyond movies in languages such as Hindi and Malayalam, the English composer Gustav Holst was even inspired by the story to write an opera on it in 1916. What inspires even foreigners, Bharatiyas take for granted.  From the ancient Puranas to modern Popular culture, Savitri of Madra is one of the dazzling lights of our sanskriti, who attained eternal fame, and even gave the very name “Sati-Savitri”.

It may be a common joke in today’s jaded, pub-hub, dance club age for “liberated” girls to say “don’t be such a Sati-Savitri!“. But if Savitri means being an empowered woman who chose her own husband, saved his life, and secured the happiness of her family, in-laws, and nation, maybe we in fact should be.

References:

  1. Sarma, Bharadvaja. Vyasa’s Mahabharatam. Academic Publishers. 2008. pp. 329–336. Vana Parva
  2. SarDesai, D.R. India: The Definitive History. Westview: Boulder, Colorado. 2008

An Indic Perspective to Mathematics — 3

mahaviracharya

(This is the concluding part of the sequel to ‘Introduction to Ganita’)

Part 1 (Introduction) 

Part 2 (Ganita – Math Encounters)

Part 3 (below): Ganita prevailed over Math in their encounters, but what did it really win? While Ganita’s results were absorbed into Mathematics, the underlying pramana and upapattis were rejected. We explain why this happened, and its implications.

Digestion Of Ganita, the Needham Question, and the Road Ahead
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less - Marie Curie.
The Digestion of Ganita

It appears the ancient Babylonians had something in common with the Indians: they were pattern-seekers. As far as trying to understand how the world around us works, Richard Feynman rejected (Greek) Mathematics in favor of what he recognized as a Babylonian method, as discussed in this lecture below. Despite this endorsement, it is the Greek approach that drives Mathematics today, while the Babylonian culture can be found only in famous museums today. Why?

It would not be a problem for any civilization to view and benefit from imported knowledge by employing a native lens, without denigrating and destroying the external source tradition, and based on mutual respect. However, when knowledge from another culture is deliberately cannibalized and appropriated as a predator, it is a serious problem. It turns into a process known as’digestion‘. We now describe how Ganita was digested into Mathematics after their encounters.

The Digestion of Ganita into Mathematics

This process of digestion has been laid out by Rajiv Malhotra in [4]. We apply this description step-by-step to see how Ganita was digested into Mathematics.

Step 1.The less powerful culture is assimilated into the dominant one in such a way that: the dominant civilization dismembers the weaker one into parts from which it picks and chooses which pieces it wants to appropriate“.  During their encounter, all the important results of Ganita, starting from the place value system with zero, to algebra, trigonometry, algorithms, combinatorics, … to calculus were accepted by Europe to obtain real-life benefits. However, the underlying epistemology and approach of Ganita that has worked so well for 2000+ years, and could be used to generate such astonishing results in the future were amputated from Ganita. Only the results were retained within Mathematics.

Step 2.appropriated elements get mapped onto the language and social structures of the dominant civilization’s own history and paradigms, leaving little if any trace of the links to the source tradition“. The formal Math rooted in the Greek tradition was enhanced and expanded so that the Ganita results could be systematically re-derived and reinterpreted in a compatible manner. Later, the beneficial features of the native Encuvati system of pedagogy was appropriated into the British teaching approach, and ‘undesirable’ features were deleted to ensure compatibility with ‘Christian values’ [15]. Once this process was complete, the source tradition of Ganita was expendable.

Step 3.the civilization that was thus mined gets depleted of its cultural and social capital because the appropriated elements are modified to fit the dominant civilization’s own history, and these elements are shown to be disconnected from, and even in conflict with, the source civilization“.

A. The credit for a re-engineered calculus was given to Newton/Leibniz and not Madhava and the Kerala School. We are taught the Pythagoras theorem and proof, not Baudhayana’s result and validation procedure. Fibonacci numbers, not Gopala-Hemachandra series. The IEEE journals recognize Arab numerals, not Hindu numbers, and so on. The list is long. In almost all these cases, the standard reason is that the Indians had not proved their results using the formal system devised by the west, even though each of these results were generated first by Ganita and also satisfactorily validated within the source tradition, often centuries earlier. The Ganita tradition was erased from the history of Mathematics.

B. On the other hand, the following types of claims are created:

  • Vedanga Jyotisha was full of astrology and religious mumbo-jumbo
  • Ganita was some kind of elite “Vedic Mathematics”
  • Hindu tradition was backward, caste-ridden, superstitious and incapable of producing such advanced scientific results.

Whereas, the exact opposite is true.

  • Vedanga Jyotisha is the science of time-keeping, and “the entire Jyotisa does not have a single sentence relating to astrology or prophecy” [1], whereas the main goal of European calendar reform was to advance the cause of organized religion [1]
  • Ganita was pragmatic and accessible to ordinary Indians including vegetable vendors who taught the greatest Arab scholar of their time [14], while today’s formal Mathematics is indeed the preserve of an elite few [1].
  • Hinduphobia is rampant in the Humanities departments of Western universities, which is subsequently exported to Indian universities, even as the digestion of Hindu science and technology results continues unabated [16].

Step 4. The final result is catastrophic for the source civilization: “the depleted civilization enters the proverbial museum as yet another dead culture, ceasing to pose a threat to the dominant one. After being digested, what is left of a civilization is waste material to be removed and destroyed.”  A mathematical monoculture was imposed on India during the colonial era after uprooting the ‘beautiful tree‘, India’s indigenous decentralized education system whose Ganita curriculum was sensitive to local requirements. Few students and teachers in Indian schools and universities today are aware of the source Ganita tradition. Among those who recognize the word,  few realize it is not an Indian neologism for Mathematics. Is this not an instance of cultural genocide?

How can we protect and revive the authentic and practical Ganita tradition that was the head of all the Indian sciences? To do this, we must identify the nature of the civilizational ‘Poison Pills’ within Ganita.

Civilizational Poison Pills

Rajiv Malhotra introduced the idea of civilizational poison pills from an Indian perspective in ‘Indra’s Net’. [13]. “Poison pills are those elements or tenets that cannot be digested into the DNA of a predator, because consuming them would lead to the destruction of the predator’s constitution. If a predator absorbs such an element, it will mutate so profoundly that it will lose its original identity and qualities.”  We now try to identify the poison pill in Ganita that needs to be preserved.

Ganita’s Poison Pill

The Indians achieved a smart reduction in uncertainty in calculations to a contextually admissible level, instead of beating themselves up trying to attain complete certainty. Ganita and Vedic thought recognizes that human understanding of the cosmos is never fully complete. In [4], the Indian and western mindset is compared thus: “Indians indeed find it natural to engage in non-linear thinking, juxtaposing opposites and tackling complexities that cannot be reduced to simple concepts or terms. They may be said even to thrive on ambiguity, doubt, uncertainty, multitasking, and in the absence of centralized authority and normative codes. Westerners, by contrast, tend by and large to be fearful of unpredictable or decentralized situations. They regard these situations as problems to be fixed. As we shall see, there is in fact some scholarly evidence that demonstrates this view of Western attitudes.” For a mindset that revels in perfection, this element of uncertainty that was acceptable within Ganita is a poison pill. This anxiety was evident in all stakeholders in Europe during the Ganita-Math encounters.

Western Fear of Uncertainty

Practically every Western point of view from the ultra-secular, to the religious during the Ganita-Math encounters was in conflict with Ganita’s poison pill:

  • In the abacus-algorismus battle, Ganita’s idea of ‘one manifesting as many’ in its place value system and the way it managed non-representability was suspect, given the scope for ‘chaos’ and ‘fraud’.
  • For a reasoning mind like Descartes, measuring the ratio of curved to straight lines involved an irreducible uncertainty, an understanding of which was beyond the human mind. This gave rise to the term ‘irrational numbers’ [1]. Not surprisingly, he rejected the idea of infinitesimals too.
  • Philosopher Thomas Hobbes was no friend of the Jesuits. But he too found the absolute, perfect order found in Euclidean geometry was its most appealing aspect and reflected his own perspective. As noted in [12] “in their deep structure, the Jesuit papal kingdom and the Hobbesian commonwealth are strikingly similar. Both are hierarchical, absolutist states where the will of the ruler, whether Pope or Leviathan, is the law.”
  • The Jesuits, Protestants, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicans, and a vast majority of Christian sects may have disagreed on some theological points, but all subscribed to the history-centric truth claims of the Nicene Creed [4]. At least three aspects of Mathematics would’ve appealed to them:
    • Calendar and time-keeping helped preserve history centric dogma and reestablish the importance of clergy.
    • The top-down, hierarchical perfect Eucliean order.
    • Proving theorems without need for empirical demonstration. History-centric Christianity treats the body as a vessel of original sin. Embodied knowing is problematic for this mindset.
  • Pioneer Jesuat monk Cavalieri underwent an inner struggle [12] after ingesting this poison pill, and all but disowned his Ganita-based idea of ‘indivisibles’.
  • Scientists who championed the cause of the infinitesimals, and their successors could never come to grips either. The Tagore-Einstein conversation is a good example. As mentioned in [4] “Not even Einstein was able to reconcile himself to the uncertainty inherent in quantum mechanics, prompting him to remark: ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’ But Shiva and Parvati, the Hindu cosmic couple, do happily play dice. Indian philosophy is receptive to the uncertainty theories of physics.

See Article 

However this poison pill does not negatively impact the Indian mindset. Why? Our Ganita Post discusses in detail, but we briefly summarize here for the sake of completion.

Ganita’s Comfort in Dealing with Uncertainty

The Indians were comfortable working with contextually accurate estimates for non-quantities like √2 and π, recognizing that the result could be improved upon.  Hindu society has no central authority that could ban innovation or the exploration of the realms of uncertainty. Its decentralized structure produced independent thinkers and innovators in every era. Dharma systems have built-in safeguards against Hobbesian/Church absolutism. As Rajiv Malhotra explains in [4] “Chaos is entrenched in the Vedas, the Puranas and Hinduism in general for a reason: its role is to counterbalance and dilute any absolutist tendencies as well as provide creative dynamism through ambiguity and uncertainty.” Ganita inherits all these features, and must retain all these properties for best results.

The inevitability of uncertainty was no cause for panic. It even opened up a degree of freedom for (dharmic, ethical) optimization using Yukti.  This comfort with uncertainty is visible right through Ganita’s storied history from Paanini‘s Ashtadhyayi before the common era, to the Aryabhatiya in the 5th century C.E, within the calculus results of Madhava in the 14th century, to Ramanujan in the 20th century. This perspective placed the Indian creation of all its algorithms, interpolations, calculus, etc. on solid epistemological ground. Let’s look at the Aryabhatiya, as an example.

Aryabhata‘s R-sine difference table shown below required an algorithmic package that managed uncertainty every step of the way in a transparent manner: one method for estimating square-roots, another for interpolation, and yet another non-mechanical exception step to generate an optimal final estimate for each value in the table. The Kerala Ganita experts extended such prior work to infinite series, including their own innovative exception terms [1].

Source: Indian lecture series on Mathematics [14]

Western mathematicians who reviewed Ramanujan’s notes found that he often used the terms “nearly” and “very nearly”[10]. Ramanujan came up with clever, non-mechanical approximations for specific quantities like π. Some of his approximations eventually lead to exact results. His exact infinite series for π triggered the most dramatic leap in accuracy since Madhava [14]. Some examples of his approximations are shown below [10].

ramanujan-1

ramanujan-1

The Indian approach seeks balance between chaos and order [4] and represents a dharmic optimization under uncertainty.

Eliminating uncertainty and deleting Yukti, Upapatti, and Pramana from Ganita to digest it, drains it of key features that make it a powerful and reliable approach for solving real-life problems. Furthermore, lack of Pramana can lead to pseudo-science and fraud, as we will see shortly. Preserving these features within an Indian approach to Mathematics has the twin benefits of recovering pragmatism and making the subject understandable and usable by everyone. It protects against further digestion and denigration of the source tradition.

Finally, How can Ganita preserve this poison pill while continuing to retain its open architecture [13] and confidently exchange knowledge with other cultures?

The need of the hour is a thorough and systematic purva paksha of Mathematics and Modern Science, employing an Indian lens.

We don’t have to be a Manjul Bhargava to experience some differences between Ganita and Math.  We can simply try out the basic instruments employed within each subject.

Indian Rope vs Euclidean Geometry Box

One of C.K. Raju’s most important contributions is his cogent argument for a fundamental change in the way math is taught in Indian schools and colleges.

Source: fastudent.com

The rope is a key entity in Ganita and the Darshanas. A fundamental feature of the rope is its flexibility, reflecting the idea of ‘one manifesting as many’. The night-time confusion between a rope and a snake is an example that has been used Dharmic seekers to communicate the deep ideas about the nature of ultimate reality.

Source: Library of Congress

The knotted rope is a critical component of the ancient Indian navigational instrument known as the rapalagai  or kamal [1]. The ‘Sulba’ in the Sulba Sutras means ‘cord/string/rope’, and the rope served as a measuring tool since ancient times. Consequently, as C.K. Raju notes, the circumference can be the independent quantity measured quite naturally using a rope, with the straight line radius derived from this. A mathematical mind measures the straight line (Euclidean distance) first. A geometry box consists of an assortment of rigid straight-edged tools, and each one is used for a specific operation.

source: Indian Mathematics Lecture Series [14]
A knotted string can measured curved lines. When it is stretched taut between pins, it becomes a straight line, and with one of the pins freed, it behaves like a compass. This strings-and-pins set can be used to construct squares, rectangles, circles, etc, i.e., its flexibility reproduces the functionality of an expensive geometry box at a fraction of the cost. It unlocks the creativity of Ganita and is available even to the poorest student.

Indian Nyaya versus Aristotelian Logic

From the Indian point of view, two-valued (Aristotelian) logic can play a supporting role (e.g. like tarka [22]) but does not enable a person to attain a higher level of consciousness [4]. Note that such reductive logic is different from the holistic logic of Nyaya, which accepts multiple pramanas. In fact, no major school of Indian thought directly mentions deductive logic as pramana [22]. On the other hand, all major Indian schools of thought accept pratyaksha pramana, which in rejected by Mathematics [1]. Misusing two-valued logic (that has no place for uncertainty) as pramana negates Ganita’s poison pill.

Mathematics in India Today

The  current approach to teaching mathematics in India appears to be a stressful  and boring mixture of bits-and-pieces of Ganita mashed up with partially understood formal Mathematics imported from the west. This digested teaching approach has been successful in confounding multiple generations of Indian students. The modern rote/mechanical mode is a distortion of the original approach of recollective memory, which was a distinct mode of learning that cultivated the amazing computational (Ganita) abilities of the Indians [15].

Repeat after me:

“An acre is the area of a rectangle

whose length is one furlong

and whose width is one chain” – Pink Floyd, The Wall.

The 2016 Hindi movie ‘Nil Battey Sannata’ (~ 0/0) dramatizes this state of confusion. The movie claims that Math is a natural enemy of girls (“Ladkiyon ko Maths se purani dushmani hain“). While this may or may not be true,  the daughters of Lilavati  should not experience any difficulty with Ganita. For the great Shakuntala Devi, Ganita was a bandhu, not an enemy. The sophisticated Ganita within Kolam designs attests to the embodied learning capability within women. Let us also not forget the women engineers of ISRO who mastered the Ganita of rockets and spacecraft (yes, Ganita’s calculus without limits can do this well [1]).

ISRO staff celebrating ‘Mangalyaan’ success. credit: www.aniruddhafriend-samirsinh.com

The intrepid mother in the movie tells her daughter that “maths yaad karne ki nahi, samajne ki cheez hai“, while the maths-savvy classmate advises: “ek baar maths se dosti karke dekho, usse majhedaar aur kuch nahi“. A key scene in the movie shows everyday, familiar objects from real life being used to convey this ‘samaj’ – clearly a Ganita rather than an Euclidean solution to an Indian problem [15].

In formal math, even something as simple as a point (Bindu) gets hairy. (Euclid: A point is that which has no part, then graduate to this).  A blind import of western approaches into the Indian classroom without subjecting it to a thorough purva paksha,  is a folly not just restricted to Ganita, but one that been repeated in different areas of study including social sciences, economics, religion, art, etc. The net result is years of misery for most Indian students followed by a trip to the west to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. S. Gurumurthy has repeatedly noted the negative impact and the poor track record of such a reductive mathematics in solving practical problems in the Indian economic context.  We close with a discussion on contemporary mathematics and the way forward.

The Needham Question
"With the appearance on the scene of intensive studies of mathematics, science,  technology and medicine in the great non-European civilisations, debate is likely to sharpen, for the failure of China and India to give rise to distinctively modern science while being ahead of Europe for fourteen previous centuries is going to take some explaining” - Joseph Needham.

Many Indian scholars have attempted to answer this complex question. However, virtually all of these responses that try to provide social/religious explanations offer little insight due to a shallow understanding of dharma and Ganita traditions, and the inability to do a systematic Purva Paksha of the western approach using an Indian lens. We quickly summarize three perspectives below noting that we are only scratching the surface here.

A. Several centuries of foreign occupation

This occupation of India ranked among the worst and longest-running genocides in history and was characterized by violence that specifically the Indian intellectuals. Such a strategy is likely to have taken a heavy toll on Indian R&D output and institutions. When there was a sustained break from this violence, e.g., the time period of  the Vijayanagara empire,  we observe that Ganita, Ayurveda, astronomy, and other sciences achieved significant progress.

B. Civilizational inertia: complacency or weariness?

The sharpest debates in India occurred internally, between the various darshanas, which may have shifted the focus away from the study of external cultures entering India. There appears to be no evidence of a thorough study of the axiomatic approach from a native perspective. The Indians may have identified the lack of integral unity in the western approach and rejected it without any further examination of possible useful features.  CK Raju notes in [1] that it was only in the 18th century that India got the Elements translated from Persian into Sanskrit (by Jai Singh). This lack of a systematic Purva Paksha is not limited to Ganita alone but is also seen in many other areas, as pointed out by Rajiv Malhotra [16], suggesting an overly inward focus, careless disunity against an external threat, and a lack of strategic thinking.

C. The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

Roddam Narasimha’s analysis examines a question complementary to Needham’s: what are the reasons for a sudden European resurgence after 1400+ years of backwardness in science and technology? He cites a key reason for their resurgence in the 17th century: the mathematization of science. Galileo is his study of the motion of falling bodies, used the calculus (via Cavalieri) to came up with the ‘law of the parabolic fall’. This is considered the first ever quantitative representation of motion using mathematical equations [12].  Scientists thereafter began to develop effective quantitative models relating different physical quantities like velocity, momentum, etc. using abstract models and calculus.Newton titled his famous scientific work as ‘Principia Mathematica‘. These mathematical models, however ‘wrong’ they may be, helped in new discoveries.

Indian Ganita experts too may not have anticipated this unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics when they rejected it for centuries. Narasimha summarizes this in [17]:  “Modern science seems to have acquired, perhaps by fortunate accident, the property that the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna called prapakatva: i.e., it delivers what it promises; it may not be the Truth, but it is honest“.

The Road Ahead

Ganita, in the more recent interactions with modern science and math has made positive contributions, e.g., Satyendranath Bose and Narendra Karmarkar. The Bose-Einstein statistics comes out of counting exercise and is a significant contribution to Quantum Mechanics[17]. Karmarkar is famous for inventing the first practically effective algorithm for solving linear programs that is also theoretically efficient. Karmarkar’s proof of convergence demonstrates Yukti in gradually reducing the level of uncertainty in the solution quality in way that is both practically viable, and theoretically rigorous (a teeny bit of uncertainty remains in the end but it can be safely ignored).  Clearly, interacting with and exchanging ideas with other cultures can be beneficial, provided it is done with eyes wide open.  Scientists and applied mathematicians today employ a variety of different methods, including deduction, induction, inference, etc., along with empirical validation, etc., to come up with new findings and inventions.

Per Roddam Narasimha, the Indians paid a price for rejecting the axiomatic approach, but their stance was vindicated later by the 20th century developments in Quantum/Classical Mechanics and Logic [17].  Furthermore, modern science is being increasingly plagued by a variety of harmful ‘viruses’ that would not affect a ‘Ganita OS’.

Unreasonable expectations from Mathematics

The mathematization of science has succeeded, but only when the order it brings is honestly balanced by the reality check of an unpredictable nature.  The unbalanced mathematization of economics has resulted in a series of spectacular failures when applied in real life. Indian thinkers like S. Gurumurthy have studied these economic models in depth, and opted for a balanced Ganita-like method, bringing in empirical validation and Yukti to determine practical solutions anchored in Indian reality. Western social science, which mimics the axiomatic approach is degenerating into a self-serving pseudo-science that offers little insight. A sizable proportion of results published in modern scientific journals are not reproducibleThis highly cited 2005 article discusses the implications.  And then there is the issue of fraud that is peculiar to the western modeling approach based on Aristotelian logic.

Falling for Supermodels
Without+photoshop+_305e904f954ae7c6b82bd7893278408d
Source: funnyjunk.com

Supermodels sell an advertising pitch, not reality. Yet the temptation of falling for the perfection of abstract math models and ignoring the uncertainty of the real world can be too strong. As [17] notes: “The history of Western science is shot through with the idea of theories and models and of fraud. Ptolemy himself has been accused of fraud; so in more recent times have Galileo, Newton, Mendel, Millikan and a great variety of other less well-known figures. I believe the reason for this can be traced to faith in two-valued logic.” All models approximate reality. When this gap gets too wide, it makes sense to reject that model. However, it is tempting to reject reality in favor of a pet model or preferred hypothesis by cherry-picking data, fudging results, or tweaking the model in ‘creative’ ways to ‘make’ it work (e.g. some ‘AIT’ models in the Indian context).

Ganita does not suffer from this issue. Why? As noted in [17] that when “observation is the starting point and one has no great faith in any particular physical model, which was the prevailing norm of Indian scientific thought, the question of fraud does not arise. Indian scientists, even classical ones, do not appear to have accused each other of fraud. This could not have been mere politeness, as they did make charges of ignorance or even stupidity against each other (as Brahmagupta did on Aryabhata, for example). We could say that fraud is the besetting sin of a model-making scientific culture“.

Synthetic unity has its advantages and has revolutionized modern science, but progress based on Integral unity is more sustainable.

Some western scientists and mathematicians may have sensed this lack of Pramana. Poincare explored the role of intuition and inference in his candid 1905 essay [18]. We even get a hint of integral unity here. Albert Einstein was aware of the limitations of Math when he noted “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” Contemporary mathematician Terrence Tao recognizes that there is more to mathematics than just rigor and proof [19]. Thus, we see a limited move by Math toward the Ganita position while remaining firmly grounded in its native western tradition. Ganita can reciprocate in mutual respect, anchored in its own epistemology. We conclude with an informal discussion on emerging technologies.

Digestion by Machine: Math versus Ganita

Ganita is well-suited for this era of decentralized internet, analytics, big data, and digital computing which is algorithm driven. The emerging world of Artificial Intelligence is also very interesting. We touched upon AI citing an important observation of Subhash Kak [20] in our post on Ganita. As AI becomes highly sophisticated, it will be able to automate many human capabilities. It may eventually master the axiomatic approach and digest the Euclidean mathematician.

On the other hand the Indian approach to knowledge is rooted in the correspondence principle of Bandhu. Potential fallibility is acknowledged. Machines cannot replicate embodied knowing since they lack Bandhus, and they will not have the ability to attain a higher state of consciousness. For example, machines cannot chant mantras. Next, this ‘Euclidean’ robot will be able to master scriptures, and emulate all text-prescribed functionality of a cleric. It can function as a virtual holy establishment by delivering impeccable discourses. It will become an expert of theology by encoding history-centric truth claims as axioms and applying two-valued logic. However, it cannot become a Yogi.  Learning Ganita and internalizing the Dharmic worldview offers job security in the world of robots!  India can lead the way forward by carefully reintegrating useful features of modern science and math into its Vedic framework [21].

References:
  1. Cultural foundations of mathematics: the nature of mathematical proof and the transmission of the calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, C. K. Raju. Pearson Longman, 2007.
  2. Plato on Mathematics. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. 2007.
  3. Plato’s Theory of Recollection. Uploaded by Lorenzo Colombani. Academia.edu. 2013.
  4. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011.
  5. Axiomatism and Computational Positivism: Two Mathematical Cultures in Pursuit of Exact Sciences. Roddam Narasimha. Reprinted from Economic and Political Weekly, 2003.
  6. Use and Misues of Logic. Donald Simanek. 1997.
  7. Computers, mathematics education, and the alternative epistemology of the calculus in the Yuktibhasa. C. K. Raju. 2001.
  8.  American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Phil Goldberg. Random House LLC. 2010.
  9. Logic in Indian Thought. Subhash Kak.
  10. Ramanujan’s Notebooks. Bruce Berndt. Mathematics Magazine (51). 1978.
  11. C. K. Raju. Teaching mathematics with a different philosophy. Part 2: Calculus without Limits. 2013.
  12. Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World. Amir Alexander. Farrar, Straus and Giroux reprint / Scientific American. 2014.
  13. Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011
  14. Mathematics in India – From Vedic Period to Modern Times: Video Lecture Series, by M. D. Srinivas. K. Ramasubramaniam, M. S. Sriram. 2013.
  15. Mathematics Education in India: Status and Outlook. Editors: R. Ramanujam, K. Subramaniam. Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR. 2012.
  16. The Battle For Sanskrit. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2016.
  17. Some thoughts on the Indian half of Needham question: Axioms, models and algorithms. Roddam Narasimha. Infinity Foundation. 2002.
  18. Intuition and Logic in Mathematics. English Translation of Essay by Henri Poincaré. 1905.
  19. The Pragnya Sutra: Aphorisms of Intuition. Subhash Kak. Baton Rouge, 2006.
  20. There’s more to mathematics than rigour and proofs. Terence Tao. 2009.
  21. Vedic Framework And Modern Science. Rajiv Malhotra. Swarajya Magazine. 2015.
  22. Epistemology and Language in Indian Astronomy and Mathematics. Roddam Narasimha. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 2007.
  23. The Math Page. Plane Geometry: An Adventure in Language and Logic based on
    Euclid’s Elements. Lawrence Spector, 2016.
  24. Continuity and Infinitesimals. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005, substantive revision 2013.
  25. The Indian Origins of the Calculus and its Transmission to Europe Prior to Newton and Leibniz. Part II: Lessons for Mathematics Education. C. K. Raju, 2005.
  26. Why Write: Legos, Power, and Control.  F. D. Poston. Johns Hopkins School of Education.
  27. Indo-Portuguese Encounters: Journeys in Science, Technology, and Culture. Edited by Lokita Varadarajan. Indian National Science Academy. 2006.
  28. The Kerala School, European Mathematics and Navigation. D. P. Agarwal. Infinity Foundation Mandala website.
Acknowledgments: I'm deeply grateful to the ICP blogger and editor for their constructive comments, review, and feedback.

An Indic Perspective to Mathematics — 2

This is the Second in a Set of Posts as a follow up to our ‘Introduction to Ganita’.


AlgorithmGanita
Source: IIT Lecture Series on Indian Mathematics [14]
This Set of Posts on the Indic Perspective to Mathematics is the third installment of our continuing Series on Ganita.  Our first article in the Series celebrated Srinivasa Ramanujan. The Second provided an Introduction to Ganita. Emphases within quotes are ours.

Topic Outline

Part 1: (Introduction) 

In Part 1 of this Set of Posts on the Indic Perspective to Mathematics, we provided a background on the historical paradigms that drive the engines of Ganita and Western Mathematics respectively.

Part 2: (below) Ganita-Math Encounters. Ganita and Math came face-to-face when Indian Algorithms and Calculus traveled to Europe to help solve two critical problems: calculating with big numbers and managing the infinitely small. In a tense battle, Ganita’s balance of order and chaos prevails over the top-down Euclidean order backed by the church. We become aware of the massive contribution of the Vijayanagara empire to modern science.

Part 3: We adopt an Indic civilizational perspective of the Math-Ganita encounters. This gives rise to  interesting questions like ‘What was lost when Mathematics digested Ganita?’. We also look ahead, exploring the importance of Ganita and its Indian approach in a futuristic world.

Ganita-Mathematics Encounters
Experts have their expert fun
ex cathedra 
telling one 
just how nothing can be done. - Piet Hein.

In the Introduction to this Set of Posts, we studied the Greek origins of ‘Mathematics’. The abstract nature of Mathematics resulted in a drastically reduced practical output and Europe plunged into a 1000+ year dark era. During this period, Ganita contributions from Dharma thought systems helped keep math practically relevant in other parts of the world, right up to the 17-18th century CE. In particular, this injection of Ganita helped resolve two Math crises in Europe [1]. For the purpose of this post, we oversimplify and classify these problems as the ‘big’, and ‘small’ number’ crises. By helping resolve these crises, Ganita played a leading role in the birth and progress of modern science.

Big Number Crisis (Abacus vs Algorismus)

Here is example of a 10-digit Hindu number and its Roman numeral representation.

large numbers
credit: http://forbrains.co.uk/free_online_tools/convert_to_roman_numerals

There are several such websites that allow us to perform this conversion and three aspects stand out. First is the reference to ‘Arab numbers‘ in many sites. Second, is a maximum limit on the input. Third, ‘0’ or negative numbers are not valid input. The idea of ‘Arab numbers’ is of course, deep-rooted in the western STEM community to this day (IEEE journal publication guidelines still refer erroneously to ‘Arabic numerals’) since a large body of Ganita knowledge made it to the west via Arab translations of Sanskrit works. As can be gauged from the conversion tool, the Roman system is cumbersome for doing actual calculations. Its representation is additive in nature and there is no place value for zero, and the idea that placing a ‘0’ after a number would increase its value was befuddling. The west relied on the abacus / counting board, which was adequate for simple arithmetic calculations (the Indians did most of their routine arithmetic mentally). The introduction of ‘algorismus’ from India via Arab sources  around the 11th-12th century CE provided the merchants of Florence with an incredibly advanced way of quickly and accurately performing all kinds of numerical calculations [1].

Although traders found it to be practically useful, resistance to the alien method was stiff and it was several centuries (16th century) before the Hindu system gained unanimous acceptance. Well, almost. The British treasury preferred to place their money in the ‘secure’ hands of the abacus and held out until the 17th century [1].  By that time, the second math crisis in Europe was well underway.

Source: wikimedia.org.

Smiling Boetius‘ works with Hindu numerals to prevail over his opponent, Pythagoras, who is sadly stuck with a counting board abacus. This depiction of the victory of ‘algorismus’ is on the cover of Gregor Reisch’s Margarita Philosophica (1508) [1].

Aside from the suspicion of an Arab source in a crusading world, a technical reason for the distrust appears to be Ganita’s approximation techniques combined with the fear of zeroes being added to make sums bigger. To a mind accustomed to the perfection of Euclidean math, not even the tiniest quantity could be discarded. Such unacceptable imperfections could open the door to fraud and chaos [1]. The Indian approach, since the Sulba Sutras, recognized the non-representability of certain quantities (e.g. √2) and employed pragmatic and epistemologically secure approximation methods without anxiety, in order to reduce uncertainty (round-off error) to within an acceptable level [1]. ‘Algorismus’ was absorbed into European practice in order to resolve real-life calculations, but not the underlying pramana and empirical rationale (e.g. upapatti).  Why?

Small Number crisis (Infinitesimals and the Indian Origin of Calculus)

The Indian Background Story

Source: HaindavaKeralam| Zenith of Vijayanagara Empire
Brothers Harihara and Bukka, with the blessings of Rishi Vidyaranya, laid the foundation for one of the most important empires in Indian and world history in 1336 CE. In particular, the global scientific community owes the Vijayanagara empire a debt of gratitude.

While most regions of 14th century India reeled from the attack of fundamentalist invaders who had already destroyed India’s top universities and institutions, the Vijayanagara Empire became an oasis that protected and nurtured the Dharma. In particular, a school of Ganita was etablished in Kerala thanks to the prosperity and security enjoyed by the region during the Vijayanagara period, between the 14th and 16th century CE. An important member of this Ganita tradition was Madhava of Sangamagrama (~1350-1425 CE). This school produced a illustrious line of scholars who were the genuine adhyatmic and intellectual successors of Aryabhata, Bhaskara, and other great seekers. A major part of the foundation for modern science was laid by the Kerala school and the Ganita tradition they carried forward.

Recall that Aryabhata had already come up with finite difference equations for interpolation by 499 CE to generate fine-grained sine values. His practical approach essentially translates into Euler’s  18th century method for solving ordinary differential equations (ODEs). These results were subsequently improved upon by Brahmagupta (his second order interpolation result is known as ‘Stirling’s Interpolation Formula‘ today),  Bhaskara-2, and others [1]. Today, Indians are familiar with the phrase ‘Tatkal booking’ of train tickets. The ancient Ganita experts had developed algorithms  to calculate the Tatkalika gati of planets, their instantaneous velocity (an important quantity in Newtonian physics), as shown below.

Source: Lecture Series on Indian Mathematics [14]

We can observe a continual progress in India toward calculus, right from Aryabhata [1]. For all practical purposes, the Ganita school in Kerala during the Vijayanagara period can rightfully claim to be the developers of Calculus (from a formal mathematics perspective, western historians credit them for ‘pre calculus’). C.K. Raju has demonstrated the all-around practical viability of this epistemologically secure calculus without the use of ‘limits’ [11].

Madhava gave the world some beautiful and important results in infinite series by 1375 CE, centuries before Newton/Leibniz/Gregory/Taylor/McLaurin & Co.

madhava_collage
Source: Indian Mathematics, An Overview (https://youtu.be/p2WankcGP3Q)

In the derivation of these calculus results we can observe a smart management of the non-representability of infinitesimals based on order counting, along with a judiciously chosen exceptional / end-correction term (right side of the picture above). This is a really cool and important innovation that serves twin purposes, as explained by C. K. Raju below [1].

correction_term

There are many other novel ideas and instances of such Yukti within the Indian approach.  The interested reader can refer to [1] for a detailed description of the techniques employed.

It is worth comparing the meaningful Sanskrit non-translatable abhiyukti (expressing, or translating one’s Yukti in action) to its nearest English counterpart ‘algorithm’. The latter from the Latin ‘algorismus’, which in turn came from Al-khwarizmi who had translated Sanskrit texts of Ganita (see the picture at the top of this post). Jyesthadeva published the Ganita Yuktibhasa around 1530 CE in Malayalam, which provides the detailed mathematical rationale validating the Calculus results[1].

Why was Calculus Important to India?

Madhava’s infinite series with end-correction terms, allowed him to quickly calculate estimates for trigonometric values and π (pi) to very high levels of accuracy. For example, Madhava was able to calculate π to 11 decimal places, which represents both a quantitative, and methodological leap over prior brute-force type approaches (the next such dramatic leap was also due to Ganita, via Ramanujan) [14].  A natural follow-up question is: why were precise trigonometric values useful? Isn’t calculating π to many decimal places purely an academic exercise?  We summarize the reasons below, referring the interested reader to [1] for a detailed description.

Agriculture and Trade were key contributors to an Indian economy that played a dominant role on the world stage from 0 CE (and earlier) through 1750 CE.

Agriculture
  1. Krishi was and is a dominant component of the Indian economy. It was (and still is) dependent on a successful rainy season, which means that accurately calculating the arrival time of monsoons is important. A couple of weeks ago, the Indian government announced a $60M supercomputer project to better predict monsoons.
  2. Vedanga Jyotisha is primarily a science of time keeping that has numerous applications and has been recognized by researchers as a key source of knowledge in the ancient world [1]. It enabled the Indians to maintain an accurate calendar. Thus, from a Krishi perspective, the Ganita of Jyotisha acted as a decision support system for planning and scheduling key agricultural activities.
  3. The Indian calendar date and time was calculated with respect to the prime meridian at Ujjain (long before Greenwich), which was then re-calibrated to obtain local times at locations all over Bharatvarsha that covered a vast area (ancient India was united by time too!). This local re-calibration:
    • ⇒ required the calculation of the local latitude and longitude (lat-long)
    • ⇒ which (in the Indian approach) used the size of Earth as input
    • ⇒ this required a value for π
    • ⇒ trigonometric values were also needed for lat-long calculations
    • Precise numerical values were required since tiny errors get magnified after multiplication by big numbers (in the order of the Earth’s radius). Thanks to the Ganita tradition, the Indians had access to good estimates that were continuously improved upon.
ujjainmeridian
Source: builtheritageconservation| The Ujjain Meridian
Overseas Trade

India has a culture of calculation and embodied knowing that goes back thousands of years. Many ordinary Indians even today take pride in their ability to think and calculate on their feet, or pull off some Jugaad without the aid of electronic devices. The pattern-seeking Indian nature is visible in their traditional approach to navigation, reflecting an ability to discover sufficient order even within an ocean of chaos. The metaphor of the Samudra Manthana truly comes alive here.

  1. India, thanks to its manufacturing and technological prowess, had established lucrative trading relationships as a net exporter with several countries, from ancient Rome to the far east. Much was this was done through open sea routes, and not just sailing close to the coast [1].
  2. Prior to the 11th century CE, accumulated navigational knowledge included seasonal wind patterns (‘wind lore’), nature of ocean currents (‘current lore’), etc., and the empirical wisdom of sea-craft. The ancient Tamizh seafarers made use of the Saptharishi mandalam (Ursa Majorin the southern hemisphere. This database of seafaring wisdom and best practices were preserved, improved upon, and transmitted from generation to generation via the oral traditions of the seafaring Jatis [27].
  3. Thus, the Indian sailors had already established a tradition of navigation and deep sea voyage without written charts (they rejected the method of dead reckoning‘ in order to stay alive). Their approach included an empirical understanding of ocean patterns, Ganita, and instrumentation like the rapalagai (kamal) for celestial observations. Tamizh navigators deciphered currents using a simple device known as mitappu palagai [27].
  4. Such historical data further debunks the theory that oral traditions were ‘pre-rational’ and the sole preserve of Vedic scholars. Hinduphobic Indologists like Sheldon Pollock are dismissive of such priceless oral traditions [16]. The western universal idea of history begins with written text and it is tough for this mindset to imagine open-sea navigation without written charts.
  5. Accurately determining the local lat-long using celestial observations (solar altitude at noon, pole star at night, etc.) was part of this approach.
  6. More reliable navigation in the open seas is possible if the 3L: latitude, longitude, and loxodrome can be accurately obtained for any given location. These were indeed calculated in multiple ways by the Indians using trigonometric values [1].
chola sea route pic
Source: Indo-Portuguese Encounters [27] | Chola Sea Route
Continual Progress in Calculating Accurate Trigonometric Values
  1. Aryabhata’s astounding publication of his R-sine difference table along with an interpolation method stepped away from the geometrical approach that was employed until then [1]. The Aryabhatiya was a prized intellectual property of its time. It significantly improved the accuracy of trigonometric values (given the sine value of an angle, one can use elementary identities to calculate all other trig values).
  2. Aryabhata’s work paved the way for Calculus. Over the next 1000 years, the Indians steadily improved upon prior estimates.
  3. Calculus was a natural outcome of this process of deriving ever more accurate trigonometric values. The Kerala school’s calculus extended the finite series based trigonometric results to a highly accurate infinite series based approach.

We refer the reader to this essay [28] by D.P. Agarwal for his summary of the Kerala School, European Mathematics, and Navigation. It is highly likely that this Ganita knowledge traveled to Europe via European missionaries in Kerala and played a key part in revolutionizing physics and mechanics via Newton’s Principia Mathematica and other works.  This story serves as background for the question: why did the idea of ‘infinitesimals’ which was a non-issue in the Ganita world, spark a crisis in Europe?

The European Background Story

Ancient Greek math hit a roadblock after encountering paradoxes tied to infinitely small quantities. Mathematics could not deal with the irritating uncertainty around infinitesimals and the problem of non-representability: For example, an infinite number of threads of minuscule but nonzero length, joined end-to-end should yield an infinitely long thread. On the other hand, combining even an infinite number of threads of ‘zero’ length would only yield zero. Aristotle believed that continuum could be divided endlessly and could not be made up of ‘indivisibles’.

A famous paradox (which used to be popular among those preparing for engineering school entrance exams in India) is that of Achilles and the Tortoise. Around 500 BCE,  Zeno of Elea came up with several such paradoxes that exposed the gaps in a seemingly perfect mathematics and two-valued logic. Unable to satisfactorily resolve such contradictions and deal with non-representability of certain quantities (a fundamental requirement for numerical calculations), Greek progress halted. The dark ages robbed the west of native expertise and appears to have hurt them in key areas including, but not limited to [1, 27]:

  • Astronomy, Navigation, Instrumentation
  • Calendrical Systems, Ship Building
  • Medicine and Botany

After more than a thousand years, between the 12th-16th century, we can observe the emergence of a new kind of Mathematics in Europe, which was fundamentally different in its epistemology from the Euclidean approach. This knowledge first arrived via Arab/Persian translations of Ganita works in Sanskrit, and later through Missionaries who had direct access to Ganita’s latest results in Sanskrit and local Indian languages. We kick off this discussion using the European calendar as a case study.

Trick question: What came after Thursday, October 4th, 1582 in Europe?

The answer is Friday, October 15th. The European (Julian) calendar was slow by about 11  minutes per year for about 1200 years across their dark age. Church and Biblical dogma reigned supreme from the time the Nicene creed was formalized in 325 CE. This dogma can be best understood as an instance of history-centrism [4], and a key to preserving the credibility of this ‘history’ of unique divine intervention is proper time keeping and dating of these events. This was a key motivation behind the European quest for a better calendar.

The Indians had maintained accurate calendars since ancient times thanks to Vedanga Jyotisha for use within multiple applications, and Buddhists even helped with calendars in China [1] (helping the Chinese is an old Indian habit…). The Roman Church realized in 1582 that their calendar was trailing the correct date by 11 whole days. This key project of calendar reform was taken up by Christopher Clavius (1538-1612 CE), a Jesuit priest. Thanks to his painstaking work, Pope Gregory was able to press the fast-forward button on the calendar (thereafter named after him), recommend a leap year correction, and the rest is history.

Milanese artist Camillo Rusconi’s sclupture, 18th century. Pope Gregory is on top of an urn depicting the 1582 promulgation of the Gregorian calendar. Source: http://vminko.org/ under GNU Free Documentation License 1.3.

C.K. Raju has uncovered the Indian source of this calendar bug fix [24, 1]: “Jesuits, like Matteo Ricci, who trained in mathematics and astronomy, under Clavius’ new syllabus [Ricci also visited Coimbra and learnt navigation], were sent to India. In a 1581 letter, Ricci explicitly acknowledged that he was trying to understand local methods of timekeeping from “an intelligent Brahmin or an honest Moor”, in the vicinity of Cochin, which was, then, the key centre for mathematics and astronomy, since the Vijaynagar empire had sheltered it from the continuous onslaughts of raiders from the north. Language was hardly a problem, for the Jesuits had established a substantial presence in India, had a college in Cochin, and had even started  printing presses in local languages, like Malayalam and Tamil by the 1570’s.“. The Jesuits have continued to exercise their influence on the Indian education system to this day. They also played a key role in the second Math-Ganita tussle.

Jesuit (Euclidean) Order versus Indian (Ganita) Chaos

The Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, an organization founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) and rooted in Roman Catholicism. Per [12] “In the broadest sense, imposing order on chaos was the Society’s core mission, both in its internal arrangements and in its engagement with the world.

Sir Peter Paul’s ‘The Miracles of Saint Ignatius of Loyola’ (Source: wikimedia.org)

This painting of Ignatius of Loyola is richly symbolic. It depicts the victory of a perfect top-down hierarchical order over chaos. Loyola and his back-robed Jesuits are in the middle, watched over by angels at the top. Loyola is calmly performing an exorcism, expelling the chaotic evil spirits possessing the bodies of terrified people at the bottom of the picture. [12] provides an insightful description of this picture, noting the role of the black robed Jesuits of Loyola’s Society of Jesus: “They are Ignatius’s army, there to learn from their master, follow his directions, and ultimately take over his mission of turning chaos into order and bringing peace to the afflicted. For that was indeed the “miracle” of St. Ignatius and his followers. Like no one else, they managed to restore peace and order in a land torn apart by the challenge of the Reformation.“.

The Church gained immensely via this decisive mathematical triumph of calendar reform, and Clavius who played an instrumental role, realized the benefits obtainable by investing in mathematics. This was a time period characterized by fissures and dissent in Christianity, with several alternatives and reformations (e.g., led by Calvin) cropping up that challenged the exclusive authority of the catholic church. In this climate, Clavius felt that the top-down hierarchical perfection within Euclidean geometry would be a great fit for the Jesuit curriculum, and in sync with the primary goal of their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola.

As mentioned in [12] “It was clear to Clavius that Euclid’s method had succeeded in doing precisely what the Jesuits were struggling so hard to accomplish: imposing a true, eternal, and unchallengeable order upon a seemingly chaotic reality. Just as Ganita was recognized as the foremost of the sciences in India since ancient times, Euclidean Mathematics became a most important subject in Europe after the calendar reform. The Society of Jesus embraced Math and all was well for a while. The focus had shifted to other pressing topics. For example, navigational challenges had to be overcome in order to ‘discover‘ reliable sea routes to new lands.

The Indivisibles

Calculus created a rather sudden splash into Europe within 50 years of the calendar reform [1]. By that time, the calculus, which was rooted in Indian epistemology had already been developed and studied for two centuries.  Bonaventura Cavilieri (1598-1647), a Milanese Jesuat monk and a student of Galileo was an early adopter. While the Jesuits were more like a MNC, the Jesuats were a local group of Italian monks lower in the pecking order. However, Galileo’s endorsement boosted Cavalieri’s profile significantly. Cavalieri introduced the ‘method of indivisibles’, in which “planes and solids had an indeterminate number of indivisibles” and authored the book Geometria indivisibilibus (Geometry by Way of Indivisibles) in 1635 [12].

While the idea of indivisibles was embraced by the Galileans, the Jesuits were not as welcoming. Those who worked with infinitesimal quantities did so for its practical value in generating realistic new results and could not really establish any logical consistency needed to prove infallible theorems. Unlike Euclid’s Elements which used top-down deductive logic to prove specific theorems from axioms, the use of infinitesimals required the ground-up Ganita approach: to start from physical reality and work toward generalized results, which could lead to innovation and potentially unpredictable discoveries. Clearly, Yukti was not welcomed by the church whereas Galileo’s methods were more compatible with Ganita.

Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642 CE)

Galileo had become a formidable opponent by that time. He had earlier discovered the moons around Jupiter, and as a prashasthi [16] to a rich grand duke who ruled Florence, named the moons after him and his family. In return, he was rewarded with benefits that included the post of ‘Chief Mathematician’ to the Duke in 1611, which also freed him up to pursue his work as an independent researcher. As [12] notes, “The Galileans also sought truth, but their approach was the reverse of that of the Jesuits: instead of imposing a unified order upon the world, they attempted to study the world as given, and to find the order within.” This started a conflict between the Galileans and the Jesuits.

For the church, the idea that matter could be broken down into infinitely small indivisible atoms was unacceptable. The archives of the Society of Jesus in Rome records for posterity the ruling of their leaders in 1632 on infinitesimals [12]:” Judgment on the Composition of the Continuum by Indivisibles”. …The permanent continuum can be constituted of only physical indivisibles or atomic corpuscles having mathematical parts identified with them. Therefore the said corpuscles can be actually distinguished from each other.” The church basically ducked the question of non-representability and banned the idea and the mathematical study of ‘indivisibles’.

Among the critics of these indivisibles was Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher author of the Leviathan, who deeply influenced Western thought. Hobbes was also an excellent mathematician and a devotee of the Euclidean approach. He was bitterly opposed in this battle of the infinitesimals by John Wallis of England, one of the founders of the Royal Society, the new science academy [12]. Wallis had little time for eternal proofs, and was firmly rooted in what we can unmistakably recognize as the pragmatic Ganita approach for solving real-life problems. Hobbes had tried in vain for several years to prove that he could ‘square the circle‘, and each attempt in this futile exercise was eagerly demolished by Wallis and exploited to the hilt in their public feud [12]. Eventually, Wallis’ team ‘won’ the contest (possibly in terms of cultural and scientific acceptance) and Newton came up with his famous work Principia Mathematica that relies heavily on calculus. Interested readers can refer to [12, 1] for a detailed discussion.

The Ghosts of Departed Quantities

It is worth noting some logical inconsistencies in the positions of both sides in this battle. The church was fighting to save their dogmatic belief in an infallible and orderly Euclidean math against a group injecting a practically useful but poorly-understood imported concept into this math. Every researcher seemed to have his own pet model showing how the math of the infinitely small worked.  In an important and devastating piece of satirical writing, Anglican church bishop Berkeley ridiculed the questionable fluxions of Newton, and Leibniz’s ‘infinitesimal change’ as “the ghosts of departed quantities”. CK Raju concludes (as do others) that this calculus was not on firm epistemological ground.

The European approach appeared to be mechanical and did not, for example, employ the end-correction terms that had helped keep Indian derivation transparent and anchored in a valid pramana [1]. Mathematicians could not accept, understand, or were unaware of the Ganita rationale behind the amazing calculus results derived by the Kerala School. For example, it is known that “Newton later became discontented with the undeniable presence of infinitesimals in his calculus, and dissatisfied with the dubious procedure of “neglecting” them” [24].  Mathematics was enhanced so that calculus was eventually placed on a firm formal foundation in the 20th century [1].

Transmission of Calculus from India to Europe

The etymology of ‘calculus‘ (17th century CE, Latin) relates to ‘reckoning’ and ‘accounting’. This focus is entirely empirical and on calculation, far away from the Euclidean world of theorems and proofs. On the other hand, it is directly corresponds in meaning, intent, and usage to Ganita. So far, research has uncovered three kinds of evidence linking Indian Calculus transmission to Europe: documentary, circumstantial, and epistemological. The interested reader is referred to [24, 1] for details. A primary, initial motivation for appropriating Ganita’s calculus results appears to be the practical problem of navigation: to obtain accurate trigonometric values required to calculate the 3L mentioned earlier [1].

A note in [24] on the circumstantial evidence is worth stating: “Unlike India, where the series expansions developed over a thousand-year period 499-1501 CE, they appear suddenly in fully developed form in a Europe still adjusting to grasp arithmetic and decimal fractions“. The 1400+ year discontinuity in the study of infinitesimals  in Europe was followed by a sudden upsurge in results in the 16th-17th century [12], right after Ganita’s documented achievements in Kerala and the establishment of European missions along the west coast. In fact, this was also a period when results from Ayurveda and Siddha began traveling to Europe giving birth to modern Botany, and similarly revolutionizing western medicine, health-care, and sanitation.

Epistemological Evidence

The epistemological evidence is fascinating to read [1]. A barrier in the western mindset as far as dealing with uncertainty manifests itself clearly in both the first and second math crises. As noted in [24]: “The European difficulty with zero did not concern merely the numeral zero, but related also to the process of discarding or zeroing a “non-representable” during the course of a calculation—similar to the process of rounding. Though the Indian method of summing the infinite series constituted valid pramana, it was not understood in Europe; the earlier difficulty with non-representables zeroed during a calculation reappeared in a new form. This was now seen as a new difficulty—the problem of discarding infinitesimals… In both cases of algorismus and calculus, Europeans were unable to reject the new mathematical techniques because of the tremendous practical value for calculations (required for commerce, navigation etc.), and unable also to accept them because they did not fit in the metaphysical frame of what Europeans then regarded as valid“.

Another instructive story (see page 3 of this essay), highlighting the outcome and unintentional humor caused by a borrow-copy-paste of Ganita without fully understanding its epistemology, is about how ‘sine’ and ‘cosine’ entered Europe. These mistranslated terms destroy the insight behind the original Sanskrit terms jya and kojya [1], baffling generations of Indian students studying Trigonometry.

To this day, neither organized religion and its theology, nor secular mathematicians, have been able to fully embrace the epistemology and validation procedure of Ganita. Why is this? And examining this question from the other direction, why did the Indians not take Euclidean math seriously for two thousand years? What is the future of Ganita? We study these civilizational perspectives in the third and concluding Post of this Set.

Selected References
  1. Cultural foundations of mathematics: the nature of mathematical proof and the transmission of the calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, C. K. Raju. Pearson Longman, 2007.
  2. Plato on Mathematics. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. 2007.
  3. Plato’s Theory of Recollection. Uploaded by Lorenzo Colombani. Academia.edu. 2013.
  4. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011.
  5. Axiomatism and Computational Positivism: Two Mathematical Cultures in Pursuit of Exact Sciences. Roddam Narasimha. Reprinted from Economic and Political Weekly, 2003.
  6. Use and Misues of Logic. Donald Simanek. 1997.
  7. Computers, mathematics education, and the alternative epistemology of the calculus in the Yuktibhasa. C. K. Raju. 2001.
  8.  American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Phil Goldberg. Random House LLC. 2010.
  9. Logic in Indian Thought. Subhash Kak.
  10. Ramanujan’s Notebooks. Bruce Berndt. Mathematics Magazine (51). 1978.
  11. C. K. Raju. Teaching mathematics with a different philosophy. Part 2: Calculus without Limits. 2013.
  12. Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World. Amir Alexander. Farrar, Straus and Giroux reprint / Scientific American. 2014.
  13. Indra’s Net: Defending Hinduism’s Philosophical Unity. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011
  14. Mathematics in India – From Vedic Period to Modern Times: Video Lecture Series, by M. D. Srinivas. K. Ramasubramaniam, M. S. Sriram. 2013.
  15. Mathematics Education in India: Status and Outlook. Editors: R. Ramanujam, K. Subramaniam. Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR. 2012.
  16. The Battle For Sanskrit. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2016.

(A full list of references will be published along with Part-3).

Acknowledgment: Big thanks to the ICP blogger and the editor for their constructive feedback, patience, and comments that helped shape and improve this post.

An Indic Perspective to Mathematics — 1

This is the first of a 3-part set of Posts that follows our ‘Introduction to Ganita’


baudhayanatheorem
Pythagorean or Baudhayana Theorem? (from Bhaskara’s Lilavati)
Topic Outline

This Post studies from an Indic perspective, the path taken by Mathematics from ancient Greece to reach its present form. We compare and contrast Math with Ganita (introduced in our previous post) and in this process, also gain a better appreciation for Ganita. In some places, oversimplifications are employed for ease of understanding, and to bring into focus certain latent aspects of the discourse. All emphases within quotes are ours.

For convenience, this Post has been divided into a set of three, to be published consecutively. The first part is presented today, but the entire set is previewed below:

Part 1: We study the origins and motivations of Math and the pivotal roles of Plato, Aristotle, and Euclid (via Elements) in shaping the initial course of Mathematics. We compare the Indian and Greek logic, noting the non-universality of logic. To each civilization and culture, their own: Pramana versus Proof. A fundamentally different understanding of the nature of ultimate reality guides the Math and Ganita approaches: The integral unity underlying Ganita versus a synthetic unity in which Math lives as a separately independent component.

Part 2: We observe and learn what happens when Ganita encountered Math. Sparks fly in a tussle between order and chaos when two sharply different approaches clash.

Part 3: We adopt an Indic civilizational perspective of the Math-Ganita encounters. This gives rise to  interesting questions like ‘What was lost when Mathematics digested Ganita?’. We also look ahead, exploring the importance of Ganita and its Indian approach in a futuristic world.

Part 1:Introduction
Dolores Umbridge: It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be sufficient to get you through your examinations, which after all, is what school is all about.

Harry Potter: And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what's out there?

(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J. K. Rowling).

Mathematics is the ‘science of learning’ that originated in ancient Greece, and comes from the Greek root mathesiz, or learning [1]. Plato’s Republic (~375 BCE) mentions the five specific disciplines of mathematics as: Arithmetic, Astronomy, Plane and Solid Geometry, and Harmonics [2]. Plato founded the Academy in Athens and gave Western (Greek) philosophy to the world.  ‘Learning’ had a specific meaning in this philosophy. His ‘theory of recollection’ indicates that ‘mathesiz’ is all about a soul recollecting the knowledge it has forgotten. We cannot learn anything new, and only recall what we forgot [3]. His teacher was Socrates, and Aristotle was his famous pupil.  Plato took as ideal that which was perfect, unchanging, abstract, even spiritual, and regarded the phenomenal world riddled with uncertainty as inferior. He favored the rational over the empirical, and the goal of uplifting the soul as superior to the task of performing mundane calculations. For example, when it came to arithmetic, his views as the narrator in the Republic were pretty clear [2]:

I must add how charming the science of arithmetic is! and in how many ways it is a subtle and useful tool to achieve our purposes, if pursued in the spirit of a philosopher, and not of a shopkeeper!’

‘How do you mean?’, he asked.

‘I mean, as I was saying, that arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect, compelling the mind to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against the introduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument.”

Several elegant results came out this Greek approach which can be broadly viewed as a sequence of axiom/model followed by the use of deductive logic to prove an infallible theorem [5]. The exemplar for this approach is Elements, the treatise on geometry attributed to Euclid (~300 BCE), and this ancient work played a very powerful role in shaping the course of Mathematics. The impact of Euclidean geometry is visible to this day. However, progress in the realm of practical application and calculation was curtailed by the downgrading or even the elimination of the empirical.  While logic and deductive reasoning are indispensable in detecting inconsistencies in arguments and help in viewing existing ideas more clearly, scholars have recognized the limitations of logic when it comes to understanding the nature of ultimate reality:

  1. Logic can be misused when it is employed to find Truth. About Aristotle [6]: “it was, for him, a tool for finding truth, but it didn’t keep him from making the most profound errors of thought. Nearly every argument and conclusion he made about physical science was wrong and misguided. Any tool can be misused, and in these pre-scientific days logic was misused repeatedly“.
  2. Deductive reasoning can help us analyze existing ideas better and lead us to a different way of tackling a problem, but in itself cannot lead us to new knowledge.  “deduced conclusions are just restatements and repackaging of the content contained in the premises. The conclusions may look new to us, because we hadn’t thought through the logic, but they contain no more than the information contained in the premises. They are just cast in new form, a form that may seem to give us new insight and suggest new applications, but in fact no new information or truths are generated. This is especially noticeable in mathematics…“[6].

This Mathematics lived in an abstract infallible world divorced from reality.  One cannot also overemphasize the impact of Aristotle’s ‘law of the excluded middle’ on western thought – a law that leaves no room for uncertainty. The intellectual ideas of Greece were eventually digested [4] into Christianity via the so-called ‘Hellenic-Hebraic’ synthesis. This should come as no surprise given the motivation for the studying mathematics included ideas of absolute perfection and ‘uplifting of the soul’. Mathematics thus became intertwined with the theology of an organized religion. A comparative study of the Indian and the Greek approach bring out the sharp differences between the Ganita and the Mathesiz approaches. Ganita, the integral science of computing, is not the same as mathematics. Unlike the five categories of Mathematics laid out by Plato, Ganita is all pervasive.

via @Calvinn_Hobbes

In [4], Rajiv Malhotra comments on the influence of Aristotle on western thought: “The Law of the Excluded Middle dictates that the principle ‘P or not-P’ separates one thing from another in an absolute sense. All physical and logical entities are invariant units, mutually exclusive of each other. This is not just a pragmatic criterion for distinguishing one thing from another; it is the very nature of reality in both concrete and abstract realms. The law eliminates the possibility of things being mutually dependent, interrelated and interpenetrated. It is diametrically opposed to the intertwined and fluid relationships characteristic of integral unity…”.

There appears to have existed a state of tension between the fallible-and-real and the infallible-and-perfect domain in the western thought since the time of Plato, which manifests itself today as the anxiety-filled binary of ‘religion versus science’. Since this gap was never breached, only a synthetic unity was ever possible [4], and the resultant western approach is reductionist. The independent parts have to be subsequently synthesized to achieve unity. For example, we read in  [25] that “much of Western civilization is based on separating the parts. One date is separate from another, history separate from math which is separate from biology. It’s a world view we inherited from Newton and Descartes, so useful in many ways and disastrous in others. However, there has always been an alternative view of the universe as a single, totally interconnected system. You’ll find that in Eastern traditions.“. To this day, Mathematics and Science are treated and taught as two different school subjects. A key tussle here is between the ‘lower’ empirical world we can experience, and the ‘higher’ abstract-theoretical domain, with the latter being considered superior. This western view is even being taken as the universal approach to knowledge.

Western Universalism

Today, we can observe the promotion of the notion of a western universalism that traces its origin to the intellectual tradition of ancient Europe. For example, the choice of the logo for UNESCO, a world body, reflects a desire to preserve the memory of Parthenon in ancient Greece, which was damaged in wars eons ago. Key buildings in several prominent universities in the United States are designed to remind viewers of the glory of ancient Rome and Greece.

The UNESCO logo (Credit: wikimedia.org)

The belief in the dominance of Euclidean Mathematics is reflected in the argument between the ancient Greeks and Epicureans.

The Epicurean Ass

The Epicureans opposed the followers of Euclid who, from their perspective, appeared to be proving obvious results. For example, consider the following proposition in Elements as discussed in [23]:

Any two sides of a triangle are together greater than the remaining side.

In other words, a straight line is the shortest distance between two points!

If anyone wanted to ridicule mathematics for its insistence on the axiomatic method of orderly proof, this theorem offers a wide target. In fact, the Epicureans (those Athenian free-thinkers, who defined philosophy as the art of making life happy) did exactly that. They said that this theorem required no proof, and was known even to an ass. For if hay were placed at one vertex, they argued, and an ass at another, the poor dumb animal would not travel two sides of the triangle to get his food, but only the one side which separated them.”

C. K. Raju explains both sides of the argument [7]: “Proclus replied that the ass only knew that the theorem was true, he did not know why it was true. The Epicurean response to Proclus has, unfortunately, not been well documented. The Epicureans presumably objected that mathematics could not hope to explain why the theorem was true, since mathematics was ignorant of its own principles..” In the end, the Greek response cites the authority of Plato that mathematics “takes its principles from the highest sciences and, holding them without demonstration, demonstrates their consequences. [7].

Let us now introduce an Indic perspective.

In contrast with this Greek view, all Indian schools of thought accept empirical means of verification (e.g., pratyaksha pramana [1, 22]) while acknowledging the potential fallibility. All darshanas would reject any axiomatic approach that lacked valid pramana. The use of empirical rationale has existed in India since ancient times, including the Sulba Sutras (800 BCE or earlier) and is different from the axiom-theorem approach. C. K. Raju puts this in perspective: “Because no proof was stated it does not, of course, follow that the authors of the sulba sutras did not know why the result was true. But the method of proof that convinced them may well have  differed from the current definition of proof. Thus, it is incorrect to assert that the constructional methods used in the sulba-sutras implicitly lead to a proof in a formalistic sense. It is incorrect because the rationale for the formula for a right-angled triangle, from the constructional methods of the sulba-sutras right down to the 16th century Yuktibhasa, explicitly appeals to the empirical“. [7]

The Epicurean Ass argument has been kept alive in some form or the other to this day in a western worldview. From an Indian point of view, a Ganita expert like Srinivasa Ramanujan too was deemed a ‘wizard’ [14, Lecture 1] who did not know why his results were true, despite his point that he employed his own valid method, which produced so many astounding new and true results. He had to move from Kumbakonam to work in the U.K. to prove his results to the satisfaction of the formal math community in order to gain acceptance.

Indian Gurus, Yogis, Siddhas, and Tantriks who, through years of practice and sadhana, demonstrated amazing results in transcendental meditation, mind sciences, and medical sciences are sometimes labeled pre-rational Indian ‘mystics’ [4] as opposed to western ‘scientists’ who came up with sophisticated instrumentation that subsequently confirmed these results. Universities like Harvard periodically comes out with a research report ‘proving‘ prior findings in Yoga and Ayurveda from the Dharma traditions, which have been practically employed for centuries.

Public intellectuals like Rajiv Malhotra also ask: How often are these Hindu and Buddhist monks, who are the primary producers of this knowledge, credited as co-authors in the journal papers? This bias is propagated subtly by western scholars who study Hinduism. For example, Phil Goldberg who teaches at Loyola Marmount University, an institution rooted in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, compares ‘Indian philosophy and Western science’ in [8]. He also endorses the rejection of the ‘orange’ [saffron] robe of Dharma in favor of the authoritative western scientific garb of a ‘white lab coat’ in order to increase the credibility of Yoga and meditation techniques in the minds of westerners. Note the approach is one of extracting the benefits, and then rejecting/denigrating the Dharma source. Such biased attitudes have also helped feed an increasing Hinduphobia within western academia.

Two-valued logic is not universal. India had not one but several different schools of thought that also studied logic [22], including Nyaya and Navya Nyaya, as well the Buddhist Catuskoti, and Jaina Syadavada. In fact, the Buddhist understanding of integral unity as encapsulated in Nagarjuna’s brilliant arguments has been recognized as nothing short of a “death-blow to all synthetic unities that start with different essences and then look for unity” [4].

Indian Logic vs Greek Logic

There are several papers available that discuss the Indian approach to logic. For example see this work of Subhash Kak [9] and this discussion of Indian and Greek logic. In the popular textbook example for Indian syllogism versus that of Aristotelian logic, the first thing we notice are the ‘five steps’ in the Indian approach versus three in the Greek template [22]. The steps in the Indian rules of inference are not redundant and serve as a reality-check based on the correspondence principle of Bandhu [9], whereas the Greek argument is restricted to the infallible abstract domain. As Roddam Narasimha notes in [5] where he compares Greek Axiomatism and Indian Computational Positivism, the Indian distrust of deduction-based logic “appears to have been based on the conviction that the process of finding good axioms was a dubious enterprise. Note that logic in itself was not something that was shunned in India; without going into a detailed discussion of Indian systems of logic, it is enough to note here that time and again Indians use deductive logic to demonstrate inconsistencies or to refute the positions of an adversary in debate, rather than to derive what western cultures have long sought through that method – namely, certain truth.“.

The intellectual prowess of the ‘deductive logician’ has been promoted in popular western culture. For example, Sherlock Holmes is recognized foremost for his superb deductive reasoning, and is considered the most portrayed literary human character in history. However, an analysis of his stories show that Holmes relied a lot on anumana (inference) including the so-called abductive and inductive methods, and Conan Doyle did consider Holmes’ methods to be fallible, which resembles a Ganita approach to sleuthing!

Sherlock Holmes Portrait Paget.jpg
‘Sherlock Holmes’ By Sidney Paget (1860-1908) , Public Domain. Credit: Wiki Commons

CK Raju [1] calls out some flaws in the claim to universality of two-valued logic. First, the Hindu darshanas, Buddhist Catuskoti, and Jaina Syadavada offer solid alternatives from a different culture. These alternatives have always been compatible with the latest developments in science at every point in time, including Quantum Mechanics. We do not find any serious ‘religion vs science’ problem in India [4]. Even the materialist Charvaka school would reject this reductive logic for not accepting a Pratyaksha Pramana [1, 22]. Finally, it is tough to justify two-valued logic citing empirical evidence if its claim to dominance lies in its empiricism-free perfection [1].

A remaining argument in favor of a universality of two-valued logic and axiomatism is the endorsement by ‘higher authority’, representing a distorted version of Sabda pramana [22]. Indeed some proofs published in journals today are so abstract and technical that they can only be decoded by top formal mathematicians. The remainder of the global math community take it as truth based on the verbal authority of an elite few.

Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true - Bertrand Russell.
Vignette: Demotion of a Theorem

In middle school geometry, we learn about the congruence of triangles and come across the side-angle-side (SAS) postulate [23]:

“The fundamental condition for congruence is that two sides and the included angle of one triangle be equal to two sides and the included angle of the other.”

This result can be easily verified using empirical rationale (proof-by-superposition, as Euclid himself did), and would be perfectly acceptable in Ganita, but not in mathematics. This is because superposition involves moving one triangle and placing it on top of the other, which is considered a ‘fallible’ process. The SAS result is difficult to prove using logic alone and thus the SAS theorem was demoted to the status of an unproven postulate.

We conclude Part 1 by delineating a key, irreconcilable difference between Ganita and Mathematics. This difference also manifests in virtually every other field of study.

Summary: Fundamental Difference between Ganita & Mathematics

The ancient Indians recognized Nyaya (logic) and employed Tarka (reasoning) and even mastered it, but did not put it on a pedestal because of certain limitations. Results in Ganita, like all other Indian disciplines, are tied to a valid Pramana and rooted in reality, rather than an axiom-based proof operating in a separate abstract domain. The empirical approach can elevate the practitioner to a higher state of consciousness (The Bhagavad Gita recognizes it as a valid way to transcendental knowledge [4]).

Subhash Kak summarizes the Indian approach to acquiring knowledge based on bandhus [9]: “The universe is viewed as three regions of earth, space, and sky which in the human being are mirrored in the physical body, the breath, and mind. The processes in the sky, on earth, and within the mind are taken to be connected. The  universe is mirrored in the cognitive system, leading to the idea that introspection can yield knowledge“.  It is worth repeating what has been said before: In nature, the western civilization is intellectual, the Chinese civilization is philosophical, and the Indian civilization is spiritual (adhyatmic).

Ganita is rooted in an integral unity whereas Mathematics exists as a separately independent part of a synthetic unity.

This integral approach produced some of the most important contributions, from Hindu numerals, place value system with zero, to symbolic language for managing equations [5]  and calculus. On the other hand, the abstract nature of Mathematics resulted in a drastically reduced practical output while Europe drifted into a 1000+ year Dark Age. During this entire period, Ganita contributions from all Dharma thought systems proved to be crucial in keeping mathematics practically relevant in other parts of the world, up to the 17-18th century CE. We discuss these Ganita-Math encounters in the upcoming second part of this set of Posts.

Selected References
  1. Cultural foundations of mathematics: the nature of mathematical proof and the transmission of the calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, C. K. Raju. Pearson Longman, 2007.
  2. Plato on Mathematics. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. 2007.
  3. Plato’s Theory of Recollection. Uploaded by Lorenzo Colombani. Academia.edu. 2013.
  4. Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. Rajiv Malhotra. Harper Collins. 2011.
  5. Axiomatism and Computational Positivism: Two Mathematical Cultures in Pursuit of Exact Sciences. Roddam Narasimha. Reprinted from Economic and Political Weekly, 2003.
  6. Use and Misues of Logic. Donald Simanek. 1997.
  7. Computers, mathematics education, and the alternative epistemology of the calculus in the Yuktibhasa. C. K. Raju. 2001.
  8.  American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Phil Goldberg. Random House LLC. 2010.
  9. Logic in Indian Thought. Subhash Kak.

(The complete list of references will be published along with part 3).

Acknowledgments: I would like to thank the ICP bloggers for their constructive feedback and the editor for his incisive comments and ideas.

The “Modern” Hindu is a Spoiled Brat

spoiledbrat

There. I said it. We were all thinking it. Our parents were saying it. Even our enemies know it. But the average modern Hindu has yet to accept the fact that he (or she…yes, even you ladies)  is a spoiled brat. Mummy has pampered him. Daddy has financed him. And Ayn Rand has corrupted him. This is the triple threat that has created the world’s biggest cry baby.

Self-loathing in public. Arrogant in private. And stubbornly selfish beyond all belief, to the point of stupidity. The recent closing of Niticentral is emblematic of just that.

Make no mistake, the Modern Hindu is not a fool. He knows right from wrong and is not deluded into thinking he can escape any crime by a simple, mea culpa. He merely rationalises whether they were in fact crimes in the first place. “How can neglect be a crime” he may ask? “Ayn Rand told me selfishness was a virtue”, “others are doing it too”. “Arey, let me watch my cricket match“. But the fact is there is such a legal offense as criminal neglect, and Selfishness is never a virtue. Only morons, and the degenerates who bestowed a pseudo-philosophy on them, think selfishness could ever be a virtue or that greed is good.

But Ayn Rand was a naturalised American and Gordon Gekko was a fictional character in an American movie, why are Americans not spoiled brats? There are many American atheists too. Why are they not subject to this?

This is because most Americans may laugh at the idea of “virtue” or raise an eyebrow at a discussion involving duties rather than rights, but they have not forgotten the meaning of the word “civility”. They may be over-pampered, and there may be outliers here and there, but as a general populace, they are not spoiled brats. And there is good reason for it.

The modern Hindu, however, grows up with maryada (propriety) and kulachara/kalpa (ritual). To him that is the be all and end all of religion and culture. This is because parents (and traditional teachers themselves) failed to teach the essence of true religion in an era of consumer choice. When everything, even one’s religion or even passport is a matter of the marketplace, then people choose what is most pleasing (preyas) to them rather than what is good (shreyas) for them.

DharmaMandir

But leave aside Dharma, Rta, and Satya, whither sabhyata (civility), whither saujanya (etiquette)? In only obsessing over propriety and ritual, the Hindu has become a drone. Ritual is important, but only an idiot thinks that is all there is to religion or even the most important aspect of it. Ritual and Achara is the building block, but Dharma and Rta and Satya are all higher principles.

The same parents who cheated at business, were contemptuous to their help, and tyrannical to their staff, puff out their chest in religious sanctimony after going to the temple and doing ritual. Do they think their children do not see this hypocrisy? If Niti (lessons/principles) only comes into play when you want to sit on your high horse and lecture, no wonder your own children will become unprincipled. No wonder Niticentral went belly up, the Modern Hindu actually says “Nitulu koodu guda pettavu”. Rough translation from Telugu: “Niti doesn’t put food on the table”. If you stupidly think principles don’t matter in earning one’s livelihood or social relations, don’t whine when someone does the same to you.

dealing-with-childrens-tantrums

Overcome by emotion like a child, he may often give away the whole store. It is his emotion and his need that determines his (re)action, not the common need. He would rather anoint and promote videshi saviours than work with competent desis. He constructs a superiority complex to mask a Macaulay nurtured inferiority complex, ensuring either he or his anointed saviour alone can lead the way. Every step is taken to ignore,stifle, and stymie those he sees as rivals, because only his asinine Ambition matters, despite lip service to the common good.

In fact, there are many such conscience-wallahs today who purposefully promote mediocrities to secure patronage to increase follower bases, no matter how obviously detrimental their thinly thought out “theories” are. In truth, the “modern” Hindu deserves a good, sound thrashing (with a bamboo cane), as he wails to the heavens whilst ignoring opportunities for team collaboration, out of Selfishness. It is no wonder he is thought of as a knave. Perhaps there really is something to the Pauranic prophecies that Hindus would suffer a difficult thousand years so they would learn the true meaning of Dharma…Had enough?

whoswillingtochange

But of course, rather than start with himself or herself, the spoiled brat would rather revel in commentary about decline. It is as though the play-by-play and minute-by-minute statistic of downfall is itself a glorious achievement, rather than merely the starting point to collective synergy. At some point, one would think even brats would see to begin with a change in behaviour, rather than expecting fan worship for doing basic and required research.

A friend summarised the juxtaposition between the two nationalities the best. In his anecdote he mentioned that in his experience, Americans supported his website efforts and encouraged him…so long as it didn’t eat into their own market share—a logical response. Indians, on the other hand, were quick to condescend and diminish his achievements to make themselves feel better—even if he wasn’t their competition. That is the very definition of a spoiled brat.

There may be American atheists in large numbers today, but other than a micro-set of micro-brained mba’s, few intelligent people take Ayn Rand seriously. And these idiot bankers are on the verge of losing their shirts on Wall Street or Fleet Street anyway. This is because the fundamental decency and civility woven into society puts even the most immoral and promiscuous of youth to pause. Propriety may be out the door along with Virtue in America. Culture may be out the door in favour of Multi-culturalism (like “Composite Culture” in India). But an underlying sense and need to be civil and decent is still there, outside the professional environment. Team sports have taught Americans to be good winners, team players, and honourable losers. They understand the value of Collaboration. The Modern Hindu is a sore loser, a tyrannical winner, and a pusillanimous player. He rejects domestic collaboration but specialises in external cooperation.

American society may be falling apart due to moral folly, but India is not far behind, and its populace is far less competent. American society has prospered as long as it has because there was and is a fundamental need to be competent and civil in the workplace. India has survived despite lack of competence, due to various forms of nepotism,  but endured due to its culture. But now even that culture is being replaced by bollywood garbage and trashy languages of the camp that have the cheek to anoint themselves as having “evolved from Sanskrit”. They haven’t “evolved” from Sanskrit, they have devolved from Sanskrit. They mock our Traditional Acharyas and anoint “eminent” Public Intellectuals in their stead who are for sale to the highest bidder or enemy nation.

But the incompetent Indian does not have the sense to take his cues from leading commanders or lieutenants. Each moron has to reinvent the wheel—a journey of discovery mapped out over his twitter TL. When this is the case, how can a cohesive strategy ever be put into play when each moron “must be allowed to fight his own way”. No, if you are getting in the way, if your “narrative” is actually countering our “counter-narrative” due to your sloppy, amateurish wiki research,that is a problem. If you are actually timing your critiques of others to help our common shatrus, that is a problem. If you are helping launch sickular troll sites at the regional level, that is a problem…and you are unqualified to be on the Kuruskshetra due to your greed and stupidity.

Leave aside Kurukshetra, the Third Battle of Panipat is a classic example of the dangers of this attitude. The military leadership of the Marathas may be to blame for allowing them to come, but the lakhs of civilians who insisted on being campfollowers so they could go on a “yatra” of the North only demonstrates the dangers of this unserious attitude to life. One can only imagine the childish and unreasonable behaviour of these civilians insisting on joining this military camp so they could do their “Dharma”. Rajas have a Dharma to protect civilians, but Prajas also have a Dharma to not hinder the duties of a Raja. But spoiled brats do not care for such things, and cause harm to themselves and those responsible for protecting them. Unless a population is duly disciplined, it will destroy first its leaders, then itself. The fate of Sadashiv Bhau, Vishwas Rao, and the Maratha civilian women enslaved by Afghans itself was testament to this. Of course, if the spoiled population is disciplined or punished, they go over to the enemy to avenge their unjustifiable egos on their leader, then what other recourse is there but Vyasana.

The guy who thinks he’s God’s gift to the Earth can only be corrected if he loses his Mandate of Heaven.

Even more amusing are the intellectually lazy but overly ambitious mediocrities who only do surface level study and end up shooting us in the foot. They continue canards so obviously spread by our enemies in order to humiliate us via “histories”—because these chaps have no responsibility to preserve the dignity of the tradition. Even worse is when they play public editor, attempting to give their worthless opinion on internal disputes, simply because their own dufferhood emotionally assigns them to the offending side. When there is a sophisticated game being played, and you don’t have the mental discipline let alone strategic understanding to make heads or tails of it, stop pontificating to the PM or RM or anybody else.

When you yourself have facilitated the rise of digital doras due to your own ambitious jealousy, kindly shut up. Knavery, at its core, is the incapacity to self-reflect. If we are in dire straits today, it is the fault of idiots like you. You whine about bollywood and aamir khan yet watch his idiot movies and support his moronic causes. You are the problem. Too dumb to do anything useful, and too ambitious to work with others as part of a team. It is the ambitious mediocrity who cannot self-reflect and cannot feel a sense of responsibility to anything beyond his own ambition that destroys societies. Such knaves are worthy only of destruction. A squirrel too can contribute to Ram setu, but he cannot throw stones or drop stones in the other direction…When someone has dedicated decades to understanding how our shatrus think and work, and has competently and successful waged war against them, two bit tweeps have no business giving their two bit commentary, or worse, setting up competing narratives that actually hinder ours and aid the enemy’s.

But that’s precisely the point. By being such puerile, spoiled brats, they promote their own enemies while tearing down would be allies. And this is just the much ballyhooed “internet hindu”, what of the average clownish buffoon who still sings amar,akbar, anthony with his topi on tight, and stupidly laughs at aamir khan movies that mock his own culture? He parrots asinine shibboleths about saffronisation all while being an unwitting and witless accomplice to obvious blanchification of the south and olivification of the north. And the less said about the naxal rouge, the better. As for the simpering neanderthals heehawing and guffawing at the lame and obviously jamaati-run parody sites that pretend to be neutral but push a clear agenda with giveaway, non-politician targets, well, stupid is as stupid does.

unpleasanttruths

Of course, you can’t even tell him this because he is a spoiled brat. And spoiled brats cannot listen because spoiled brats don’t believe anyone should be allowed to teach him (or her) anything unless it is his degree providing institution, his anointed saviour, or his mummy. Otherwise, spoiled brat knows all, and how dare you teach him something? Because if you tell him something for his own good, that means you knew something he didn’t…and if that’s the case, how can he ever win the gyaani sweepstakes?! The ahankari sikhandi cannot permit this!

After all, in his mind, victory goes to the greatest gyaani. And if our self-appointed “acharya” is the greatest gyaani, then we too can one day become his successor through slavish sycophancy and attain supreme gyaanihood through diffusion…

Why does the spoiled brat behave this way? Because, “More”. Like all human beings he wants to enjoy, but his mummy approved ego makes him think he deserves more than others. When someone wants more and thinks he deserves more, but lacks the competence to get it, what else will he become but a spoiled brat?

That is the danger of the over-inflated ego we have today. We have too many people who undeservingly believe they deserve more, but unlike the East India Company or the Jamaatis (both of which are still here in different forms), they are too incompetent to get it. That is the problem. That enemy of mankind. The destroyer of all good things. The perverter of minds.The poisoner of souls…Ahankar. After it is done destroying others, the ego falls upon and destroys itself through infighting or addiction.

That is the core problem: Over inflated sense of self. It doesn’t matter if our little prince or princess went to IIT or ITT Tech, Princeton or a polytechnic school, Harvard or Harvard driving school. Years of pampering from mummy have resulted in 1 or 2 generations of utterly spoiled brats. Just as an example, Telugu mothers literally refer to their sons as “Raja nanna” [little King]. What else can be expected if even a duffer who is spoilt with excessive love, acts like one.

The point isn’t for Indian mothers to stop loving their boys—in fact, it is one of their great qualities, which none can match. Rather, it means understanding when to love and when to scold or even punish. After all, the greatest desserts are not those which have a surplus of sugar and are dumped with chakkar. Instead, there is a sense of proportion. The right amount of sugar, and the right amount of staple.

Some may argue that our over-proud duffers may be completely respectful in the workplace, but that is only out of instinctive self-interest or fear of losing a job.

After all, his first instinct is self-preservation. It is only when he can be totally free that his inner “vedhava” comes out.

pedda vedhava

This should be the watchword of especially the recent college graduates. Sarvagyaanis are not made merely by studying Sanskrit grammar while ignoring strategy. It is logic and lesson (niti) that must be digested.  No other system of philosophy has emphasised time and place more than Dharma. Just as the Chhatrapati adopted Ganimi Kava (enemy tactics) as needed, so too must we be open to external ideas and approaches. This doesn’t mean ejecting Dharma, it means separating the ancillary (or non-essential) from the essential. That is the Dharma of Sri Krishna and the Dharma he expounded for the Kali Age. If you cannot do this, please keep your opinions to yourself and get off the kshetra. You need to know how to shut up, and that comes from discipline. Not the discipline of studying 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, not the discipline of performing puja as a substitute for dharmic action, but the social discipline that teaches you how to manage your emotions and put aside personal differences for common, community objectives.

People may further ask why I, who have traditionally tried to address as wide an Indian audience, of all religions, as much as possible, suddenly zeroed in and picked on Hindus. It’s cause they deserve it. The Hindu has become a sanctimonious selfish brat—a.k.a knave. To him even a weekly RT is too much to ask, leave aside crowd funding a site like Niticentral. He is so individualistic beyond all belief, that the very idea of community is quaint, even obsolete. “I want something for myself, my own!”. When asked of community, “Arey, I am a global citizen, yaar”, says the dumbass. How many Indian Sikhs, Muslims, or Christians say that? It is because they are not morons, the “modern” Hindu is. They still retain a sense of larger community no matter what their internal problems and issues. Some castes in india are in fact notorious for cheating their own caste!

Even now, there are a gaggle of Hindu idiots who quietly read this site & mine it for ideas. That is because these selfish knaves would rather compete with their own, or failing that, would rather raise a competitor (even a civilizational enemy) in order to take vicarious pleasure in competing with a rival. There was a word for that in undivided Andhra: “Dora”. In fact, there are some digital dora blogs that have arisen and praise the very cowardly nizam and his razakar descendents who oppressed them. Some shameless, self-proclaimed “RW’ers” write for such blogs all while shedding tears over Vijayanagara….clearly self-awareness isn’t a strong suit here.

For those of you who don’t know the history of the Devarakonda Doras, these traitors of Telugus represent exactly the cancer that is eating the fabric of Hindu society today. It has been eating away for centuries, but atheism and Ayn Rand have served as the carcinogens that have metastasised it. As America has demonstrated, the issue isn’t atheism itself per se—that merely provides fertile ground. But atheism divorced from any sense of obligation or duty—that is the real problem. That is where Ayn Rand, and her pseudo-philosophy come in.

“Modern” Hindu girls aren’t innocent either. Finding happily ever after, or trying to punish certain men, doesn’t mean throwing sense out the window and marrying someone a decade younger than you.

Nor is making a career out of demonising your own menfolk in order to gain sympathy points from foreigners looking to make trophy wives out of you.

And, of course, who could forget this delectable little number from the mid-2000s. If ever there were a warning sign on where “modern” Hindus society is headed, it is this.

In his pathological need to be called the smartest or “most knowledgeable” the Hindu has become the stupidest and least wise. Even when errors are pointed out, “Who are you to tell me?!”, “I am the Smart?!”, “Mummy loves me the best!”. Mummy’s boys to the core, Daddy’s girls where relevant, does the modern Hindu even understand what faces him or her? Does the modern Hindu even understand the sacrifices men and women in uniform make? What could middle class India know of this? He and She only pray for a visa. Lower class Hindus knows it full well; they are the primary bearers of this burden. That is why there is still some semblance of community in the gaon—there has to be.

The Modern Hindu is an army of one who may see the value of numbers but not cohesive community. A black hole of selfishness, he is also a universe of one, a veritable cosmos in corpus—impermeable to all extra-individual concerns. He takes the phrase “every man is an island” to its most preposterous and incredulous extreme. He is not only selfish to the extreme, but self-centered to the point of oblivion. Even knowing about or tweeting about the world is only important either in so far as it is immediately affecting him, or so that he can show off his GK and knowledge of Current events. He would rather die and destroy his own civilization than unite with an erstwhile rival in the face of a common enemy. In fact, he thinks it is “good politics” to unite with the enemy to defeat his rival…vinasha kale vipareetha buddhi. In Telugu we say “Donga ki Donga buddhi, Dora ki Dora buddhi”. This explains the topsy turvy politics of a certain state that its denizens are only just beginning to fully recognise.

Even when it comes to greed, the economist is familiar with the concept of diminishing returns. But the “modern” Hindu is such a greedy donkey, he wishes to extract even the last drop out of something. Even if it negatively affects his health “no, I paid for it!”.Mine!”. There is a difference between frugality and self-defeating stupidity.

cocacolaindia

Then there are the contrarian idiots who axiomatically have to counterargue against something that, forget is not even against them, but even neutral to them. They may say, “well Nripathi, haven’t you violated your own line about not washing dirty laundry in public?” Well, the reality, dear moron, is that the hour is so late, and the Modern Hindu has become so stupidly, stubbornly, superciliously selfish, that everybody knows this fact but him.

He whines about Kashmiri Pandits or Pakistani Dalits one minute, and then the next minute Mine!”. “MY CASTE MY CASTE”. “You had reservations for thousands of years, now its our turn!” or “No yaar, I can’t allow it, I hate these reservation wallahs”, “only high iq types can rule the world”. The idiot doesn’t even recognise cognitive dissonance when it hits him. It’s one thing to have a justifiable issue with reservation, another thing to insult and push away the very people whose support you need in Kashmir, in Pakistan, in Bengal. Whatever his caste, that is the degree of stupidity among Hindus. In fact, the more he rants and raves about IQ, the stupider he likely is. That is because deficiency in judgment is properly that which is called Stupidity.

In the obsession over knowledge, the Hindu has forgotten the need for judgment and the importance of wisdom. Ancient Brahmanas were once called the wisest men in the world by visitors (and rightly so). Can the same be said of their descendants? It is because ancient Brahmanas knew the importance of Buddhi over Vidya.  Most of their descendants instead obsess about IQ, genetics, and how Bill Gates has anointed them the second smartest (but best poodles). Meanwhile, Rajputs and Jats puff their chests up over “mardangi” (as if that is what wins wars…) and still others tout the merits of “dominant agricultural caste” or reservation status.  This is what the land of Maharishis and Maharajadirajas has reduced itself to—poodles and roosters. All this because the descendants of Vishwamitra and Vikramaditya would rather be pets or on the plates of videshis than work with each other.

The CEO or owner is not where he is because he necessarily has more memory, mardangi, computing capability or Intelligence Quotient . He is where his is because he has more strategic intelligence and Emotional Quotient. Many may snootily laugh at EQ, not realising that in the game of (global) poker, you don’t play the hand, you play the person.  In obsessing over IQ, the idiot Hindu of all castes has forgotten EQ. In only thinking about knowledge, he has forgotten wisdom. In obsessing over smarts, he has ignored judgment. That is how the British beat him…and the Hindu still doesn’t realise this. It is not a question of cowardice, but a question of collective cohesion. Individually brave, collectively disunited, because “not my problem“. But wars are fought not as individual spoiled brats, but as united teams.

The problem ultimately boils down to this: Once upon a time, mummy told the modern Hindu he was special, and 30-40 years later, the idiot still believes it—due to lack of proper Cultural education and Dharmic education. That is why he is perpetually dissatisfied, because he has to have his cake and eat it too. Because to be special, it is not enough that he succeeds, but others must fail.

Only he can marry that girl (after stringing her along for years), or no one can

Only he can score the winning goal, or no one can

Only his caste can be the best, or no one’s can.

Only his state can be the best, or no one’s can

Only his guru can be right, or no one’s can

And only he (or by proxy, his appointed saviour) can save his society, or no one can. That is why Andhra and India are all in the doldrums today. All due to obsession with Ahankar.

All of you must by now be despondent. But we Hindus engage in enough self-flagellation. So I will give you some hope instead.

If there is hope today, it is not because of the middle classes, and it certainly is not because of the upper classes. If there is hope today, it is because of the lower classes. It is the lower economic class hindu that holds hope for the future of his panth as well as his nation. This is because the upper class hindu is too compromised, and the middle class hindu is too much in need of a good thrashing to knock out at least a degree of his ego and selfishness. The lower class Hindu has not been spoiled rotten to the core by modernity. He may not score the highest on exams, but he does not suffer from selfish, stubborn stupidity.

Whatever his faults, whatever the caste riots, whatever the hideboudness of khaps, the lower class hindu still has a sense of community. The upper class hindu may be obsessed with [page 3]“society” and the middle class “with being a global citizen”. But the lower class hindu understands the meaning of community and what it means to be a part of one.

He is more concerned with doing right by a girl than being a khiladi

He is more concerned with his neighbour’s safety than bank balance

He is more concerned about his mother tongue than “ingliss”

He is more concerned about achieving results, than being an academic hoop-jumper

Above all, he is not concerned with having the entitlement of a spoiled brat, because he cannot afford to have it. He knows the meaning of deprivation. He understands the concept of accommodation. He realises the need for adjustment. He knows the world is not happily ever after. He sees the need for responsibility and collective compromise.

True, he may also be the first to join in if there is a good riot, but that is the result of being forced to give back as good as you get.

“Finding yourself”, “Journey of Self-discovery”, “My time!”, “Me, mine, my own”, these are all the dreams of upper classes and their middle class wannabes. The Lower class Hindu knows how to simply be content and share what you have. Learn to be like him or her.

Despite coming from a lower economic class, he has far more class than higher economic class Indians could ever have. He may not have taste, but he has far more basic decency than high class snobs ever could. He may have bouts of violence, but he could never match high class cruelty.

How do my actions affect others?”. If selfishness is the real root of all evil, then this is the root of goodness. When we acknowledge the existence of others, when we acknowledge the needs of others, that is the root of conscience, consistent conscience.

And finally, those foreigners who may stumble upon this article and may say “see, this is why we’re trying to save you”, I say “stuff it”. You have your problems too (far worse and far more pathological), so I suggest you take your own medicine and look closer to home. We may have our problems, but they are ours to solve. And solve them we will. All it takes is one person to join…and then another…then another…

Some have wondered here and there why I bother to write at all, knowing these things about “Modern” Hindus. But the truth is, I don’t write for the benefit of spoiled brats, selfish knaves and opportunistic gyaanis. I write for them

…and them, and them, and the thousands upon thousands of others stretching across caste, regional, linguistic, economic, and even officer/enlisted lines.

They are not spoiled brats, but people who have sacrificed. These people know the real meaning of Tyaag (self-sacrifice). These people know the stakes, and why we must come together. These people know the real meaning of community, and whatever their background or lineage, they are all “my community”.

And that is why I write, to honour them…whether they are named Adhvaryu, Ahuja, Agarwal, Ahir, or Ambavadekar.