Sabhi ko Holi ki Shubhkamnayein! A very Happy Holi to all our readers celebrating day 1 of this exciting festival today.
Holi’s roots are in fact very ancient in origin. Though today it is primarily celebrated in Northern India, it was once part of an all India, vast, virtual month of Festivities known as Vasanta Maha Utsava.
Spring has a definitive place in the minds of most people and most cultures. It not only signifies the end of winter, and the end of the previous year, but also a time of renewal, rejuvenation, rebirth, and revelry. It is truly a celebration of life, youth and the young-at-heart alike.
Vasanta Mahotsava, Vasantha Utsava, or Vasant Utsav or Basant, is the ancient Spring Festival of Indic Civilization. It is mentioned in many old works from the Kathasaritasagara to the Kamasutra. Vatsyayana refers to it as Suva-santaka. Kalidasa’s Malavikaagnimitra and Sriharsa’s Ratnavali both include this festival, and the latter, in fact celebrates it in the opening act. [1, 353]
Vasanta Mahotsava was, therefore, a seasonal festival celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox. [1, 353]
“The new year begins with Spring around the vernal equinox. But the poem begins with Summer so as to end with Spring; and auspicious ending, for Spring is renewal. The old year is dead and the advent of Spring is welcomed with song and dance and religious ceremonies. In ancient India this was known as theSpring Festival or the Festival of Love and it was celebrated with uninhibited revelry in a carnival atmosphere. New plays were written and staged as part of the festivities. The prologue to Kalidasa’s first play Maalavikaa and Agnimitra mentions it as the new play presented at the Spring festival.”[2,18]
But while the modern North excels in celebration and festivity, it is important to note that Vasant was once an all-India festival. Here is an account of its celebration in the Reddi Kingdom of Andhra:
“Beautiful descriptions of this spring festival are furnished by the Telugu works Simhaasanadvaatrimsika, Bheemesvara Puraanam and Kaaseekhandam produced in this age. These works give us a clear idea of the celebration of the festival and the different ceremonies practiced on this occasion. As the authors of these works lived in this age when the spring festival was at its zenith of popularity, we may be certain that, much influenced by the realistic grandeur of this carnival, they introduced it into their works, and provided us a good picture of the festival, as it was in vogue” [1,355]
There was a great carnival and the King would go to a park specially decorated for Vasant. There would be a pandal for Kama & Rati, Vishnu &Lakshmi, Siva & Sakti, and Sachi & Indra. Perfumes such as camphor, musk, civet, saffron, sandal were used, rosewater was freely sprinkled on people along with water mixed with turmeric. A bamboo water soaker was used (like the pichkari in holi). People mixed freely and the Reddikings gave it royal grandeur. The king and queen were sprinkled with saffron-water by passersby. [1, 357]
The Reddi King Kumaragiri himself so came to embody this celebration that he received the title Vasantaraya (Emperor of Spring).
The Rayas of Vijayanagara were Emperors in their own right, and Vasant is famously featured in temple sculptures of this Empire in Karnataka.
“The festival of Holi also finds a reference in the sculptures on walls of old temples. A 16th century panel sculpted in a temple at Hampi, capital of Vijayanagar, shows a joyous scene of Holi. The painting depicts a Prince and his Princess standing amidst maids waiting with syringes or pichkaris to drench the Royal couple in coloured water” 
It is likely that what is being referred to as Holi above was in fact the grand festival of Vasantha Utsava, as listed elsewhere:
“Vasantotsavam was celebrated in this mandapa [Mahanavami Dibba] during Tirumala-raya’s period.” [2,11]
There are of course attempt to digest and appropriate Vasant Utsav as “Basant” by Sufis. But the Vasant Utsav itself is far more ancient, and in contrast with Sufism (a velvet glove for an iron fist), our Utsav is far more in line with the Indic Dharmic view of balanced relations between the genders anyway. Recent sufi attempts to digest Holi are even more risible and show the importance of understanding authentic Indic culture, rather than obsessing over the colonising syncretic.
As such, it is far better to understand the significance, sanctity, and symbolism behind our traditions and culture, rather than merely exulting in “being recognisedby global!“.
In any event, Vasanta Maha Utsava is the traditional two-week long Spring Extravaganza in Bharatavarsha. Here are the components and the significance in detail.
Vasant Utsav is not merely 1 or even 2 days, but in fact extends over several weeks. While there are references tracing it back to Vedic times, it is almost certain that its celebration was documented in mid-first millenium BCE.
Traditionally, there are four navratras, the most famous being in Sharad. The Chaitra Navratri, true to its name, is also celebrated over nine days, and honours the Goddess Durga. Here is a description of it and the other components of Vasanta Mahotsav.
As most know the famous story, Holi signifies the evil Holika’s defeat by the devout Prahalad, a great Vishnu Bhakta. Holika was the sister of Hiranyakashipu, the rakshasa king who had grown powerful and full of arrogance, demanding all worship him instead of Vishnu. His son Prahalad was obedient, but refused this command, saying despite his father’s accomplishment, Vishnu was Supreme, and thus, should be worshipped. Hiranyakashipu’s ahankar was wounded, and thus commanded Prahalada to sit on Holika’s lap in a fire, to demonstrate whether Vishnu would save him. While the evil Holika (who was also a cannibal) had a saree that could protect her from fire, Prahalad had no such defence, and only his devotion to Vishnu. Nevertheless, he was saved and escaped unharmed from the fire.
Elsewhere, it is said that Lord Krishna killed Poothana (another killer of infants) on this day. Thus, Holi has acquired its importance and grandeur on account of these successive defeats of evil. It is thus traditionally divided over two days, starting with Choti Holi (on Chaturdashi) and ending on Phalgun Phurnima (full moon).
Choti Holi/Holika Dahan
This is the day that the bonfire is prepared. This is called Holika dahan, and articles from the past year are also burnt, signifying a fresh start for the upcoming year.
Interestingly, parts of the South celebrate this Holika Dahan as Kamuni Dahamu, signifying the burning away of all wrong passions and impulses and baggage of the previous year, and renewing ourselves in the New Year.
This day needs no introduction in most of the world. From the colours (gulal) to the pichkaris (bamboo water soakers) to the dance and revelry, this is quite possibly the most fun festival in the entire world.
People from all classes and backgrounds freely mix and spread cheer and song in the name of Spring and the triumph of good over evil. More traditionally, one can find some additional rituals, especially in the villages of Northern India, which further underscore the mixture of the sacred with the festive.
“Some women in the village offer special puja during Holi. Small twigs of the ‘Kamal’ tree are painted in red and yellow and then laid out in little bamboo baskets (khartoo) along with thread, kumkum, jaggery and roasted grams. The women carry this basket and little pots of coloured water in their hands and go for the Puja”. After it is offered, Holi is then played. [4,226]
Despite the calendrical variations, the two main divisions in the Hindu Luni-solar calendar celebrate New Year on the same day. Most of North India uses the Purnimanta Calendar. This Calendar ends every month with the full moon. The Amanta or Amavasyat Calendar starts every month with the new moon. Due to this discrepancy, Holi, which would normally align with the two-week long Vasant Mahotsav now has a month-long gap.
Restoring the Amanta calendar in the rest of India would restore the two week-long celebration. Interestingly, because the Purnimanta calendar starts with Krishna paksha, the Chaitra Sukla Pratipada (first day of the Bright half of the moon) is on the same day in both calendars. That is the reason why Ugadi/Gudi Padwa and Nava Varsha/Navreh are all celebrated on the same day, by both calendars.
When we say Navratri, most people think of the 9 days leading up to Dasara. But this is in fact just 1 of 4 (some say 5) Navratris, other than the famous Sharad Navratri. There is also the Magha, Ashvin, and relevant for Vasant utsav, the Chaitra Navratri. All of these celebrate the glory of Shakti.
Chaitra Navratri, in particular, is significant as it ends with the Sri Rama Navami. This is all the more symbolic as the original reason for this Navratri involved Ayodhya. Prince Sudarshana, one of Rama’s ancestors, was driven from his rightful throne. Through worship of the Devi, and her bija mantra, he was able to get married and become king. Bhagavan Rama too worshipped Shakti, and the timing of his defeat of Ravana is on Dasara (the tenth day of Durga’s Victory). As such, Chaitra Navratri ending with Sri Rama Navami is highly significant.
Sri Rama Navami
The Mahotsav appropriately closes with one of our most Sacred Days, Sri Rama Navami. This is the day of Lord Rama’s birth in Ayodhya. As he renewed our Dharma in the previous Treta Age, Spring renews our commitment to Dharma in the present one.
The overarching vision of Vasant Utsav, however, contrary to sepoys (LW and RW), is not unrestrained license or debauchery. Rather, it is a celebration of life in a tasteful yet enthusiastic manner. The full spectrum of all things, rather than mere obsession with the lower chakras. It is about celebrating all aspects of creation, whether personal or cosmic.
In ancient times, this was arguably the most exciting of Indian festivals, with a large part of the subcontinent featuring a carnival atmosphere, of music, dance, food, socialising, and general celebration. With so many days of significance, from Holi to Yugadi to Sri Rama Navami, it is only natural that this Utsav would become a Mahotsav.
Holi, of course, needs no explanation on how to celebrate. The only suggestion is to play safe and to use safe organic gulal. There are plenty of healthy natural colour-based options that individuals can draw from. They are not only “eco-friendly” but are also made by people who actually care about the festival and passing on our traditions.
Vasant Utsav in general is celebrated in many ways. Beyond Holi and its famous festivities (an article in and of itself), there are many spring sports, with music, theatre, and dance.
“After the termination of the sports, the king with his queens went to a lotus pond nearby and sported in the water for a while. Re-turning from the lotus tank he gave audience to the public and rewarded poets and artists according to merit. Dramas were put on boards; dance recitals were given; musicians, showed their skill in music, both vocal and instrumental; and magicians and others proficient in other kalaas or vidyas, came there in search of patronage, and displayed their feats of strength, skill and sleight of hand. It was a grand occasion for patronising Arts and Letters.” [1, 358]
Dandiya Raas (from the Sanskrit Dandaraasakam) is played , especially during the nine nights of Navratri. Puja is also done, especially for Devi, via the Ghatasthapana Muhurta, which has to be done at a specific time during the day. Doing so will activate the positive energy of Shakti via the kalasa (sacred pot).
Finally, Vasant Utsav is often associated with Kama Deva, the God of Love, whose friend and ally is literally the personification of the month of Spring, Vasanta. Kalidasa himself famously celebrated this month in his Rtusamhara.
Above all, however, Vasant Utsav was a great coming together of all sections of society, in fun and frolic. Spring is a time for renewal, not only of relationships and spirits, but of values and societies. And it should be once again.
Vasantamahotsava was the major festival of those days, which exercised great influence on the people culturally and socially. It was occasions like this that advanced the knowledge and culture of the common people. [1, 358]
M.Somasekhara Sarma. History of the Reddi Kingdoms.Delhi:Facsimile Publ. 2015
Rao, V. Kameswara.Temples in and Around Tirupati.1986.p.11
Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (1906-2001), the creator of Malgudi was one of India’s greatest storytellers and thinkers. Writing under the shortened name R. K. Narayan, a small sample of his works include Swami and Friends, Bachelor of Arts, Guide, and Gods, Demons, and Others. His equally illustrious brother Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Laxman (RK Laxman) brought Malgudi to life with his magical illustrations. The siblings were recipients of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honor. The popular 1980s TV series Malgudi Days, directed by the great Kannada artist Shankar Nag was based on the works of RK Narayan, and the 1965 Hindi movie Guide, a favorite of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was based on his book.
The Financial Expert
RK Narayan’s 1951 work ‘The Financial Expert‘  is universally regarded as a classic, and has been the subject of several excellent reviews from a western literary perspective, by both Indian and western writers. The book was made into a successful Kannada movie ‘Banker Margayya’ starring actor Lokesh in 1983, which went on to win multiple awards.
Here, we explore some of the themes in this WW2-era Malgudi story using an Indic perspective, and in doing so, are rewarded with insights that would not be obtainable using a purely western lens. In particular, we discover that the timeless lessons in Neeti and Dharma that used to be orally transmitted from generation to generation in India are embedded within the ‘Financial Expert’.
In ‘Financial Expert’, RK Narayan brilliantly encodes in simple English the sophisticated nuance and wisdom of Indian Itihasa and Purana, even as he unravels the multiple threads of thought running through Margayya’s mind. Margayya, like many a character in itihasa, undergoes intense penance in order to acquire some special power. His aim is to please Goddess Lakshmi, so that she will bless him with wealth and financial success. The story of Margayya’s journey from 14D Vinayak Street to 10 Market Street and back is rich in the symbolism and subtle suggestion that characterizes Indian art.
Margayya was named Krishna at birth, and his professional name (pronounced ‘Marg-Ayya’) reminds us of Arjuna’s charioteer who showed the way (Marg) of Dharmain the Mahabharata. Margayya employed his financial Ganitaprowess to game the system. He presented the peasants within a 100-mile radius of Malgudi a financial roadmap that enabled them to secure a endless sequence of cash loans from the Central Cooperative Land Mortgage Bank (est. 1914). The ‘Cooperative Bank’ part was an oxymoron as it neither co-operated with its poor shareholders, nor performed its banking duties with a sense of seva. Margayya, aged 42, made a living by aggressively filling this gap from his service location under a banyan tree right opposite the co-op, much to their irritation. Imagine a smarter Alan Greenspan in a topi, torn shirt, and brown dhoti.
Margayya wanted to progress beyond this tension-ridden low-end job. A tipping point is reached when the stained-dhoti clad financial jugaad master is humiliated by the rich, boorish bank secretary dressed in European attire, top to bottom. We can see in Margayya’s subsequent reactions, the self-loathing, and frustration, sense of inferiority, and confusion that infested many Indians in the 20th century. A transition of people who were progressively less grounded in the forest civilization  traditions of Dharma and harmony that India embraced during its prosperous history; a mindset increasingly attracted to a desert civilization’s zero-sum modes of survival and self-preservation that appeared more pragmatic in a once-flourishing land, but now looted and scorched by the British Raj, abounding only in scarcity.
Margayya’s natural entrepreneurial drive was in sync with the Vidura Neeti that promoted the virtue of self-employment. His mind constantly tinkered with ideas for startups. He wanted to secure the financial future of his wife Meenakshi, and son, Balu. When Margayya witnessed impoverished townspeople using an unclaimed corpse to extract small-change from passersby for a funeral (and booze), and when he observes people risking life and limb to earn a few paise, he is struck by the power of money. “People did anything for money. Money was men’s greatest need, like air or food…Money alone is important in this world. Everything else will come to us naturally if we have money in our purse.“. Here, he appears to gain some intuition about Chanakya’s words (dharmasya moolam artha). Indeed, a prosperous and developed nation is best equipped to preserve and propagate Dharma and harmony, else the rule of the desert will reign. His goal from the day he quarrels with the co-op secretary is to reach the top of the wealth pyramid and through this wealth, acquire everything else. And right there, Margayya parted ways with Vidura and Chanakya and followed his own path and rules.
Like a Yogi, but for all the wrong reasons, Margayya constantly meditated on money and through this manthana emerged all kinds of discoveries. His analysis enabled him to delineate the subtle differences betweenmoney, riches, wealth, and fortune. Wealth, in particular, contained elements of transcendence as well as Jugaad. “Riches any hard-working fool could attain by some watchfulness, while acquiring wealth was an extraordinary specialized job. It came to persons who had on them the grace of the Goddess fully and who could use their wits“. If Ramanujan‘s amazing ganita results were achieved through the blessings of Lakshmi as Namagiri Amman in his dreams, Margayya’s self-serving schemes too (in his mind) were due to the blessings of Lakshmi. Through the mind of this ‘financial mystic’, we get to see the infinite recursive patterns hidden within ‘interest’.
“There was probably no other person in the whole country who had meditated so much on the question of interest. Margayya’s mind was full of it. Night and day he sat and brooded over it. The more he thought of it the more it seemed to him the greatest wonder of creation. It combined in it the mystery of birth and multiplication…Every rupee, Margayya felt, contained in it seed of another rupee and that seed in it another seed and so on and on to infinity. It was something like the firmament, endless stars and within each star an endless firmament and within each one further endless … It bordered on mystic perception. It gave him the feeling of being part of an infinite existence.”
Such was Margayya’s devotion to the process of managing interest rates and accumulating wealth, that he was even able to give up his old addiction to snuff so that he could pursue his ‘yoga’ on all four cylinders which would free him from all worldly wants. A side-effect of this one-track meditation is Margayya’s general cluelessness and disdain for topics unrelated to his money, and therein lie the seeds of his downfall.
Margayya is never really happy throughout the story. He obtains wealth and power, but is never able to conquer his senses, and always yields to moha, lobha, and krodha, which ultimately combine to ruin him.
Margayya has no use for the Dharma that accords to the elder brother the respected position of a second father , being far more interested in grabbing his share of the family property. He is quite sad that the Hindu Samaj prevented a complete takeover of the house and had to make do with a half-share (“he would willingly have seen his brother’s family perish without water by closing it to them, but public opinion prevented the exercise of his right.”).
He has no use for Saraswati and learning, which is dismissed as a derivative product that can be purchased on-demand (“‘A man with whom the Goddess of Wealth favours need not worry much. He can buy all the knowledge he requires.“. The dharmic concept of profitability, Shubh Labh, is rejected in favor of amassing wealth regardless of all consequences to others, to his family, and even to himself.
He has no qualms about misusing kama and rejecting dharma in order to hoard wealth and acquire power. Moha blinds his eye like a Dhritharashtra to his son’s faults, and in any case, he convinces himself that a single-minded pursuit of Artha is the key that unlocked all the doors in this world for himself and his family. Every minute of his life is invested in this material quest, and it begins to acquire almost a spiritual quality. In short, Margayya’s misunderstanding of the priorities and implications of the Purusharthas leads him astray. Grihasthashrama Dharma takes a back seat. Moral relativism and a materialist clamor for rights overrides duties, replacing Hinduism’s contextual Dharma ethics  at every decision making fork in Margayya’s life journey.
Ultimately, Margayya begins to make money by the sackful. The more he made, the more it consumed him, until this activity completely drained him of his capacity to think straight. In a momentary lapse of reason, the coldly calculative Margayya is replaced by an angry, panic-stricken father. He loses control of his senses and strikes out against Dr. Pal, the very instrument that brought him all the wealth, and in one stroke, Dr. Pal ensures that all those earnings are taken away. Without the firm guidance of Dharma, Margayya the path finder himself loses his bearings, and returns to square one, financially bankrupt. There is some recognition in the end by Margayya of what he lost in his obsessive pursuit and why. The readers get a story filled with lessons from Dharma traditions.
The book has several memorable characters, but for brevity, we’ll focus here on Margayya’s friend, Dr. Pal.
Dr. Pal, Social Scientist
First, a brief introduction to Dr. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939). He was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Unlike India, where Kama was always recognized as one of the Purusharthas and celebrated in poetry, song, dance, painting, and sculpture, the Europeans in Dr. Ellis’ time were repressed by the strictures of Victorian morality. Ellis boldly shattered several taboos although he was indifferent to the dharmic/adharmic impact of his work. He appears to have been a proponent of Eugenics and oddly okay with the Nazi sterilization program. Freud appears to have borrowed some ideas from Ellis for his psychoanalytical theories .
Dr. Pal is the instrument that befriends, makes, and finally breaks Margayya (It’s unclear how he became “Dr”). He is a journalist and an author and a sociologist who is influenced by Ellis’ work. Like India’s eminent journalists, authors, and social scientists today, Pal too is a scientific expert.
He mashed together Vatsyayana’s Kamasutra and Dr. Ellis’ liberating ideas to create a scientific cocktail and distilled this wisdom into an illustrated book titled ‘Bed Life’. Margayya here represents the mentally colonized and under informed native who is overawed by ‘modern science’ label that claims to enhances and elevates an ancient Indian treatise. Margayya’s Lobha overcomes his instinctive disgust for Dr. Pal’s work and he benefits immensely from the proceeds obtained by publishing this bestseller (renamed ‘Domestic Harmony’ to avoid legal scrutiny and obscenity lawsuits). Margayya’s growth is seeded by the ill-gotten gain obtained from this salacious ‘digestion’ of Kamasutra.
Dr. Pal is the western-influenced free-thinking rebel for whom ‘anything goes’. Later, he brings to Margayya the steady supply of clientele required to sustain the latter’s Ponzi scheme. Dr. Pal is a double-edged weapon that Margayya tries to control. Despite Margayya’s best attempts to keep Dr. Pal away from his family, his corrosive influence begins to consume Margayya’s married son, and drives him to debauchery. At this point, Margayya loses his composure and beats up Dr. Pal who hits back by completely ruining Margayya, thereby completing the karmic cycle.
Lighter Side: Margayya versus Modi
Margayya loved cash, and only cash. “‘What am I to do with property?’ he said. ‘I want only money, not brick and lime or mud,’ he reflected when he reconverted his attached property into cash. Margayya seems happy only when he is counting cash. “…. the moment he reached home, he counted the notes again, bundled them up in tidy little batches, the lovely five-rupee and ten-rupee and the most handsome piece of paper – the green hundred-rupee note” .
Per RBI records, the thousand rupee note was introduced in 1938, withdrawn prior to independence, and reintroduced in 1954 . It is possible there wasn’t a significant percentage of high denomination notes (500/1000) in circulation during a time when these amounts were princely sums. Margayya’s Ponzi scheme attracted so many greedy and shady investors that nearby banks began to lose their deposits. However, no one in his office had any clue about his net worth. Margayya would’ve preferred higher denominations to hundred-rupee notes since he was running out of space for his cash stash at home (“there were currency bundles stacked up a foot high all over the floor.“). We’ve read in the newspapers how certain Indian co-op banks operate in present times, and why they’ve become a target for tax evasion investigators. Modi with his demonetization and push for a less-cash society could’ve badly dented both Margayya and the Malgudi co-op.
RK Narayan’s Writing
It is interesting to compare RK Narayan with Shashi Tharoor, another Indian writer whose English novels are popular. RK Narayan’s works are popular all over India for their relatively straightforward rendering and simple English, while Tharoor’s target audience appears to be the westernized elite in and outside India.
Maybe she's trying to learn English. I salute her spirit and am proud to contribute to her goal, despite your condescending elitist tone. https://t.co/MerK9HT557
It is not surprising that Tharoor chose to focus on, and expressed contempt for Narayan’s simple English, and was frustrated by RK Narayan’s indifference to a language that colonized Indian minds. Mocking his English as a ‘translation’ is actually a compliment, because when I read RK Narayan, it is like reading a timeless story in my mother tongue about our civilization, people, and way of life. On the other hand, the well-written prose in Tharoor’s ‘Great Indian Novel’ based on the Mahabharata gives it kerb appeal, but cannot mask its alienating lack of authenticity.
A purely intellectual view of itihasa is reductionist and guaranteed to fall short. While Tharoor has spoken eloquently about India’s heritage and its wisdom, he remains confused about the differences between religion and Dharma, and intellectual versus the adhyatmic . An entire generation of mentally colonized Indian writers in the last few decades, armed with excellent English, and indoctrinated in the Euro-centric humanities remains proudly clueless about the sacred art traditions of Bharatvarsha.Even if they wrote in an Indian language, it would still sound foreign. In contrast, RK Narayan as a child imbibed India’s Itihasa and Sanskriti from his grandmother. Perhaps it is this learning that is reflected in his stories.
There is no independent existence for, and artificial demarcation between, the secular/outer world and the sacred/inner realm in the ‘Financial Expert’. This reflects India’s unified view of reality. Preserving this integral approach  gives RK Narayan’s simple prose its powerful universal appeal. Injecting sophisticated western structures would actually interfere with, and diminish this impact. Just as Ananda Coomaraswamy noted in The Dance of Siva  that inserting western harmony in order to ‘enhance’ a sangeetam recitalwould be unnecessary and detrimental. Indeed, this integral perspective indicates that RK Narayan’s writings are part of a long, unbroken artistic tradition that follows the Natya Sastra (itself rooted in the four Vedas).
Bharata’s Natya Sastra  is the most influential ancient exposition on dramaturgy, performing arts, and aesthetics in the world , which was accessible to all sections of the society without geographical or linguistic restrictions. Rajiv Malhotra notes (emphasis mine) that the Natya Sastra “treats ‘natya’ as the total art form, including representation, poetry, dance, music, make-up and indeed the whole world. It is an organic and integral view encompassing the Vedic rituals, Shaivite dance and music, and the epic tales. The eight traditional rasas (love, humour, heroism, wonder, anger, sorrow, disgust, and fear) mirror the real world and come together in pursuit of the ‘purusharthas’ (human goal).” One can find all traditional rasas within the pages of the ‘Financial Expert’. We will end with RK Narayan’s own words in his 1964 book Gods, Demons and Others , where he shares his views regarding literature. He emphatically affirms the integrally unified perspective of Natya Sastra over a synthesizing approach (emphasis mine):
“Everythingis interrelated. Stories, scriptures, ethics, philosophy, grammar, astrology, astronomy, semantics, mysticism, and moral codes – each forms part and parcel for a totallife and is indispensable for the attainment of a four-square understanding of existence.
Literature is not a branch of study to be placed in a separate compartment, for the edification only of scholars, but a comprehensive and artistic medium of expression to benefit the literate and the illiterate alike. A true literary composition should appeal in an infinite variety of ways; any set of stanzas of the Ramayana could be set to music and sung, narrated with dialogue and action, and treated as the finest drama, studied analytically for an understanding of the subtleties of language and grammar, or distilled finely to yield esoteric truths“.
The fundamental characteristic of Bharatiya culture is that it looks upon life as an integrated whole. -Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya pic.twitter.com/zbUKILUIKh
Civilization is more than the mere sum of its principles, precepts, philosophies, and pasts. It extends beyond even an ideal or reciprocal duties. At its uttermost height, it is in fact, a sentiment. Bharatiya Sanskriti is very much about Dharma, Rta, and Satya, but that Satya that is at its heart, is also the timeless Truth of Prema.
For Indic Civilization, for any Civilization, to Revive itself, it must not only think, dream, and converse in its own language, it must also love and romance in it. Sringara (Romance) is also Part of Our Culture. For far too long have its masses been misguided by foreign thoughts ennobled by Indian implementations, or foreign thinkers using local rustics to change the meaning of our words. And for far too long, have they reduced the Indian, the Indic, the Hindu Culture we know & love as only ascetic or erotic., when it is also Romantic. The very height of the Romantic in Classical India was the Sanskritic.
And which wordsmith could be more romantic than than that master of Simile, Mahakavi Kalidasa,and his eternal Kavya. For almost 2,000 years, this most perfect of poets has made even the most pedantic recognise that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Long before Shakespeare asked “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day“, the Court Poet of King Vikramaditya had become the utmost paragon of Upama, with comparisons that were as fresh and unique as the flowers that garlanded the Gods.
Ours was, and is, a civilization and culture of not only great warriors and devout women, but also charming gentlemen and passionate princesses. But as all things in Dharma, it is time, place, and manner that takes a natural feeling and ennobles it to a timeless aesthetic. And what can be more aesthetic than the romantic?
Therefore, without further ado, we bring you the first in an Anthology (accompanied by commissioned artwork), a concept that was a decade in the making…
…and the next installment of our Continuing Series on Classical Indic Literature:
Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.
Ancient India had many timeless love stories. Katha, Kavya, Purana, and Itihasa are replete with lovelorn lovers, hopeless romantics hoping against hope, and eternal soulmates reuniting with each other across times and lifetimes. True, Rukmini & Sri Krishna, Sita & Rama, and Siva-Parvati, are all famous Divine lovers. But even we mortals figured in our ancient tales, in love stories worthy of not only drama, and opera, but even cinema.
Quite possibly the most famous of such prema kathas comes from the Land of the Kurus. The sons of Bharata take their name from that Bharata born to this couple, who entwined the legendary with the historical. The ancestors of the great Emperors of Hastinapura were the great Chandravanshi King and Conqueror, Maharaja Dusyanta & his lady love Sakuntala.
Mentioned in the Mahabharata, this courting couple was forever immortalised by Mahakavi Kalidasa. His famed drama was called Abhijnana-Sakuntalam: The Recognition of Sakuntala. This paramount of romantic poets produced a timeless tale of love, separation, and reunification. The composition was artful, the verses were tasteful, and the numerous productions of this play wonderful, across the centuries. Such were the Kailasan heights that Sanskrit Drama ascended to, that many thousands of years later, the famed German poet-philosopher Goethe exclaimed:
Willst du die Blüthe des frühen, die Früchte des späteren Jahres,
Willst du, was reizt und entzückt, willst du was sättigt und nährt,
Willst du den Himmel, die Erde, mit Einem Namen begreifen; Nenn’ ich, Sakuntala, Dich, und so ist Alles gesagt.
Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms and the fruits of its decline
And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured, feasted, fed,
Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine? I name thee, O Sakuntala! and all at once is said. 
So fascinated were foreigners by the Recognition of Sakuntala that there are 46 translations of this play in 12 European languages, going back to the first in 1789. Indeed, in Europe, even a libretto was composed and Operas performed on it, at the height of the Colonial era. While it is nice to impress the videshi, however, it is better to take inspiration from the Bharatvasi. Sakuntala was forever ceremonialised by Raja Ravi Varma in his celebrated paintings. She is seen here with friends, artfully posing.
Sakuntala has also been produced not only stage (a notable English language production in 1920) but on-screen many times starting with a silent film (also in 1920). Yet so-called contemporary “national cinema” seems to have forgotten it (except back in 1947) for the time-worn recipes and veneers-of-lust masquerading as romance produced with parasika playwrights. Production values and marketing and black money may make it big at the box office, but it is the beating heart of a civilization and the sentiments and emotional verses it perfected, that make truly time-tested art.
The time has come for a new production of the great plays of Mahakavi Kalidasa, the foremost of which was the Recognition of Sakuntala. If compromised producers don’t have the fortitude, than the public at large should crowdsource a production with a talented director armed with artistic talent. This great Sanskrit drama could elegantly flow with Shuddh Hindi (or in my case, Telugu) dialogue that sets the stage for elegant Sanskrit verses, across scenes. Serenading with song may be well and good; charming with poetry is even better.
As Bollywood may not have the national interest at heart, perhaps it’s time for Tollywood to again step into the vacuum and inspire the nation. To do so, let would-be directors study the composition first.
A play in 7 acts, it begins with the traditional Prastaavana (Prologue) and Benediction (Nandi). Despite being a drama, Abhijnaanasaakuntalam is a veritable treasure trove of poetry with 34 slokas in the first act, 18 in the second, 26, in the third, 21 in the fourth, 31 in the fifth, 32 in the sixth, and 35 in the seventh…a grand total of 197couplets.
This opus is interwoven with supple Sanskrit slokas, a multitude of characters, and the prominent theme of Sringara Rasa (Romantic sentiment). “The drama‘was meant for translating the whole subject from one world to another—to elevate love from the sphere of physical beauty to the eternal heaven of moral beauty’“. [1, xxiv]
The Nayaka (hero) is Dusyanta of the House of the Kurus and the Nayika is Sakuntala, daughter of Sage Viswamitra and the Apsara Menaka. She had been cared for by Saakuntas (birds) and was therefore called Sakuntala. She was later raised by Rishi Kanva, and grew up into a beautiful woman. The recognition of Sakuntala has in fact come down to us in two versions. The traditional one is found in the Mahabharata. Kalidasa gives us another, however, that brings us a brilliant battle in the Heavens with Dusyanta assisting the Devas in their war against the Asuras.
There are total of 4 recensions (a Devanagari, a Bengali, a Kashmiri, & an Andhra one) and two variations of the story. Nevertheless, both of these versions retell the birth of Bharata Dausanti, better known as Sakuntala-putra Bharata. Though the original Bharata who gave his name to our Land was the son of Rishabha of the Ikshvaku Dynasty, for a period of time, it was called Nabhi-varsha (after a king of the same House). But Sakuntala-putra was so famed for his world conquest and righteous rule, that the name Bharatavarsha came into fashion once more.
Whichever version you prefer, there is surely a blockbuster movie in the making here. If only the right director, with the right vision, and right talent (and right finances!) comes along. But financial matters are for the bean-counters. The aesthete is more concerned with the achievement of the author, and the talent that created this work.
The biography of that best of Kavis, Kalidasa, is a tale in and of itself—indeed, it is worth of a book, an article, a cinema, or several. Correspondingly, the writer who intertwined legend with history and delightful fancy with moral principles, led a life of similar meeting points. By the present foreign paradigm, he is dated to the 4th century CE, but it is more likely that he belongs to the 1st Century BCE instead.
The foregoing discussion is enough to justify the truth and the vitality of the age-long tradition that the poet belongs to the days of the glorious King Vikramaditya of Ujjayini—the founder of the Samvat era (57 B.C.) [1, vi]
It is not for nothing that Jayadeva (of Gita Govinda fame) referred to Kalidasa as “Kavi kula guru” (master of poets). Famous for his love of Ujjayini (in modern Madhya Pradesh) and praise of Vikrama, Kalidasa was and is the undisputed King of Kavya. Blessed by the Goddess from whom he takes his name, this ‘Servant of Kali’ would go on to marry a princess and be considered one of the Navaratnas—Nine Gems of Avanti’s Court. “Ujjayini was the city of his heart and he is delighted to sing of her glories and the romantic loves of her maidens“. [1, vi] He would set standards of excellence in poetry for millennia.
Abhijnaana-Saakuntalam is arguably the most immortalised of all of Kalidasa’s compositions. While his other dramas (Malavika-Agnimitram & Vikramorvasiya) have also been celebrated on canvas, it was the story of the Signet ring that has captured imagination throughout the centuries.
The weaving of beautiful poetry, in the form of slokas (Sanskrit couplets), into the rupaka (dramatic composition) gives the literary experience more resonance. With the exception of Meghadootha, Kalidasa’s other works of pure poetry don’t rise to the same love of pure romantic sentiment. Kumarasambhavam is one of his contributions to thePancha-Mahakavyas (the other being the famous Raghuvamsa), but it is an epic work with a hint of the erotic. Sringara-tilakam is very much a freshman work, but one that nevertheless gives us periodic foreshadowing of future talent, even in his younger days. And Rtu-samhara is very much a celebration of the seasons in all their splendour. Though Sringara rasa predominates, it is more of a descriptive work.
But while it is important to prepare the palate before cultivated taste can be appreciated in the aesthetic arts, one should not linger too long. This exegesis on this play, this poet, and this poetry, was all for the purpose of better understanding Sringara-Sanskrita-Kavya: Romantic Sanskrit Poetry.
To better prepare for married life, it is important to not only learn how to become eligible, but also marriageable. The courtly aesthetic is important not only in kingly courts, but in the courtship of couples.
Bharatiya boys, you may want to take notes, and Bharatiya ladies…you’re welcome…
I.Sarvat aapsara sambhavaisha
Maanushishi katham va syaadrsya roopasya sambhava |
Na prabhaatha ralam, jyothi, roodhethi, vasudaata laath ||
Truly born from a heavenly apsara
For what woman could give birth to such a lovely form
After all, the sparkling light of tremulous beams, does not rise from the surface of the earth. [intimation: ‘but descends from the heavens’] A.1 s.26
II.Kaamam priyaa na sulabha manasthu tabdaava darshanaa-srvaasi |
Akrutaarthe api manasije rati mubhaya-praarthanaa kurute ||
True, my darling is not easily attainable; yet my heart assumes confidence from observing the manner in which she seems affected.
Even though our love has not hitherto prospered, our mutual longing, nevertheless, causes delight. A.2 sl.1
III. (smitam krutva) Evamaatmaa-bhipraya sambhaaviteshta-jana-chittavrutti praartha-
Yitaa vidambyate | tadhyatha
(smiling) Thus is the lover beguiled, who judges of the state of his beloved’s feeling by his own desires. It is thus
The tender look she cast, even while she directed her eyes elsewhere; her slow movement caused by the heaviness of her hips, as if for grace’s sake; the angry words she spoke to her friend who detained her saying ‘Do not go; ‘ all this was, no doubt, on my account! Ah! How does a lover discover his own (everywhere!). A.2 s.2
IV. Chitre niveshye parikalpita sattva-yogaa
Roopa-uchchayena manasaa vidhinaa krutaa nu |
Stree-ratna srushtir-aparaa prathibhaathi saa me
Dhaatur-vibhutvam-anuchintya vapuscha tasyah ||
Was she conceived in a picture [painting] and then endowed with life?
Or was she moulded in the Creator’s mind from an assemblage of all lovely forms?
When I meditate on the power of Brahma, and my beloved’s lineaments, she appears to me a matchless creation of the most beautiful of women. A.2 sl.9
V. Anaaghraataṃ puṣpaṃ kisalayam aloonaṃ kara-ruhair
Ankitham: Dedicated to a Song Offering, who spent many a long & lonely night waiting to be sung and serenaded.
Acknowledgment: Gratitude to the amateur voice actor who brought these couplets to life & vibrant resonance—a Lothario in real life,no doubt.
Acknowledgment: My thanks to the Artist Archana,whose talent I'm sure, will blossom like the flowers she painted here.
Special Acknowledgment: My utmost appreciation for Nilambari. Her tireless work consulting on this effort and ever insightful counsel ensured this project finally materialised after years. Thank you.
*Minor Proofing for some translations
The essence of character is willingness to stand up for your principles and endure in safeguarding the principles you support. High-minded thinking may appeal to all or even most; but it is fortitude, and the willingness to endure in order to safeguard these principles, even sacrificing oneself in the process, which is the hallmark of character, and shows the calibre of the principle.
For Romans it was Virtus, for the Chinese its Tianxia, for Indians it is Dharma. The character of a nation or civilization is determined by the driving principle. It is an ideal that gives courage in dark days, high minded thinking in peaceful ones, and moral thinking in prosperous ones. Above all, it not only gives a nation its character, but builds character among its nationalists.
Our previous articles on the Global Crisis of Character and Why Character is so Important, were composed so that people, especially self-declared civilizational saviours, understand that their personal character is ultimately what deprecates or elevates National Character. Before you can save your civilization, before you can save your society, you must first save your own character. Spelling bees, IQ tests, entrance exams, College placement, or even delusional “genetic superiority” all come to naught if your character is atrocious. There have been many intelligent sellouts like Alcibiades and many farmer-soldiers of high character like Cincinnatus. Who is celebrated as saviour in the end? It is the one with character.
The starting point of character is self-respect. Respect yourself, and show it by respecting others. Between shameless, servile obedient sycophancy and arrogant non-compliance is the middle ground of self-respect. Find it, and no matter who you are, what your role is, or what your caste is, keep it and never let it go. It’s possible to respect or admire something and adapt it without putting yourself down or losing your identity completely—learn this. It is right to learn, even from the enemy…but do not lose who you are.
Learn the concept of “other people”. There is undoubtedly a concerted campaign to smear Indians, especially “Hindu Males”, as was seen with documentaries like “India’s Daughter”. Statistics are ignored in favour of individual stories. At the same time, while pushing back against such unjustified stereotypes, it is also important to avoid playing to stereotype. Undoubtedly this article too had an agenda, and to maintain credibility, some understanding was given at the beginning. The words at the very end however are the grain of truth in a heap of chaff. Due to Nehruvian Babooism, more than even casteism, a sense of self-entitlement and self-absorption drives far too many Indians. “Pata hai mera baap kaun?…He is the assistant secretary shoeshiner to the congress party president!”—ergo special privileges. This status obsession and self-centeredness have already been discussed here.
Not everything is a matter of short term, personal ROI. One generation plants the tree, another gets the shade. Furthermore, if you see a tree full of fruit, you don’t just feed your face, then cut down the tree to take back to your immediate family. Take what you need, and a few for your dependents, and leave the rest for others, who also rely on it. Live on the interest, not the principle of your inheritance.
Invest in public institutions. If you only support your caste/clique/social circle, if you only care about what affects you, no one will be there for you when you need their help. Most people think they’re very smart when they take advantage of someone else. But that only assumes you never bump into him again, or your circumstances don’t change. Don’t just win today, to lose tomorrow. Focus on winning tomorrow. Public institutions help here.
Learn the difference between a rival, an adversary, and an enemy. Indiots treat their enemies like rivals (or even friends) and their rivals like enemies. A rival is merely someone with similar talents who may be in competition with you—but is still part of society, and may even be your friend (after all, there is such a thing as friendly competition). A rival becomes an adversary when he is someone who is directly facing off against you, but whom you may need latersince you are in a common society. An enemy is someone who is a severe threat to you, and possibly even your family, society, and civilization. More often than not, such people have made up their minds.
Introspection.There is plenty of blame to go around. Singling out a single person for all the ills in your family, singling out a single community for all the ills in your nation, is not going to achieve anything. Some may be more culpable to others, but there is always something we each can correct, or at the very least, do better at.
Introspection doesn’t mean public self-flagellation. It means sitting down, every once in a while (every week/month & year), to think about what you have done, what you shouldn’t have done, what you should have done, and what you should do better. This is the danger in asinine theories of “genetic superiority” or molecular perfection—they ignore the place of character and taking responsibility for results. If your attitude is “things worked because I am genius/things failed because others are terrible”, then no wonder you’ve perfected the formula for national disaster. You are not that special. Most of you are morons—especially the IQ-obsessed among you priding yourselves on divining blog ramblings. Real intelligence lies in adapting to change, in adapting to our circumstances, and finding ways to correct course. Any idiot can give meaningless gyaan or vent on twitter or knock off memes from phoriegn. Take responsibility for your actions, be a man, and look for solutions.
Cultivate yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are only 10th pass (or LKG), it is never too late to start reading. Reading doesn’t mean reading only what popinjay gyaanis prefer. Reading means making an effort to teach yourself. It can be as simple as learning about different varieties of birds, teaching yourself a new language, mastering a new cuisine to cook, or even enjoying popular literature. The Classics are an excellent pursuit for those with the inclination. Make an effort if you can. But no matter what your age, cultivate yourself by picking up the practice of reading both the practical and the recreational.
Cultivating yourself also means developing other sides of yourself with hobbies. Merely watching serials or cricket or idiot bollywood movies is no way to spend all your free time. Some tv time is ok, but the rest of it, spend on developing your artistic or musical side. Pick up gardening, or a sport—a real sport—like wrestling, archery, or field hockey. It also means, not devolving to the emotional equivalent of a child. From godforsaken gameshows to stupid serials and soap operas to infantile cartoons, the modern middle class adult (young and old, male and female) has literally become infantalised through a life of idle pleasure-addling.
A life of pleasure-addled delusion and pain-avoiding pill-popping leads to the requiem for a dream. Don’t be dependent on pharmaceuticals. Take what you absolutely need, but when possible rely on a healthy lifestyle, traditional medicine, and non-fast-food diet.
I have actually seen women in advanced middle age watch lullaby cartoons for infants because “it makes them feel calm & happy“. You know the infantilisation of adults is complete when people reach such a stage. Women who should be matriarchs and role models have devolved to this state—and the less said about their menfolk the better.
Become practical.Whether you are a Pandit, Philosopher, IT worker, or loafer, we are of this world and in this world. It is good to keep an eye on the next one, but what you do in this life, beyond the puja room, beyond the office, is ultimately how you will be judged…in this life and the next. Being able to organise an Akhanda Bhajan anywhere in the world within 24 hours may be an impressive feat of Bhakti and logistics, but it is not fundamentally going to safeguard your cultural and civilizational inheritance. Bhakti (or ritual or jnana or what-have-you) is primarily about your personal spiritual path. Your true work in this world is outside the puja room, and is the legacy you leave behind for the public good.
[Ram Raj] was not built in a Day. Ram Setu was not built by a single individual, but by a team of individuals working together towards a common goal. Ram did honour Varuna deva, and did puja by the seashore, but he also oversaw the construction of the bridge. Gyaan is cheap, action is expensive. Unless you have “skin in the game” , keep your useless gyaan to yourself and start contributing in a useful fashion. You get out what you put in, and the value of your advice is determined on the basis of the competence of your record. Fortitude, endurance, and willingness to bear pain are all required for those wishing to become physically fit. For the nation to become physically and mentally fit, the same fortitude is required. Cowering gyaanis braying about “hypermasculinity” or “genetic superiority” will be given the ridicule they deserve, especially if they lack the courage and competence to lead by example.
Take responsibility. This means not only contributing to the national cause in some meaningful way, but in making it a point to safeguard that which you are immediately responsible for.
If you haven’t done any of these things in your spoiled little existence, start today. This is why we wrote of the importance of critical thinking. Gyaani-ism results in living in your own made up world of assumptions. Critical thinking necessitates understanding the world as it actually is. Dharma is not assumption-based. Dharma is reality-based, and reality changes based on circumstances . Modern/Post-modern living may make it seem like you are just a mall or a single-brand retail store away from food, fashion, and water, but what happens when the power goes out? 1 hour or 1 day power cuts are the norm in less densely populated towns and villages, and even many cities, but what do you do if you live in a crime-ridden metro? Gated community or not, foreign or domestic, these are things to consider.
Puja, Ritual, Havan, Bhakti, all are good—but not enough. God helps those who help themselves. Unless you are a pujari, you have no excuses. As a praja (as a responsible citizen) you have a responsibility think about these things we listed above.
Science is organised Knowledge. Wisdom is organised Life.—Immanuel Kant
Value wisdom over knowledge. Knowledge isimportant, but not what is pivotal in the end. Learn the differences. Debasing yourself like a gunga din, following orders, taking instructions, or just taking advice (or saying you’ll think about it) are not the same thing. Being an argumentative and opinionated idiot doesn’t make you smart—it makes you an idiot. Just because your mummy says you’re smart doesn’t mean you can spout off like buffoon. Just because you did well in school doesn’t mean you can actually read/listen to understand what someone said rather than just read/listen to argue to live in your opinions. Just because something was written in a book doesn’t mean its true. Sabda pramana is primarily rooted in Divine authority—not some native or foreign fraudacharya playing false guru. Learn from real Acharyas who live in Agraharas and Mathas.
This leads into the next point. While it’s good to differentiate between those who openly attack our culture and those foreigners who openly support it, understand that you don’t always know who’s doing what covertly. A traitor is still a traitor, but understand that there still is a difference between native and foreign. Foreigners can be allies and friends, but regardless of the behaviour of casteists, only natives are your real family. There are some things only natives can do. Have the self-respect to understand this.
Gandhi remains controversial, and this movie ever less appreciable by the day. Nevertheless, every now and then, there are some relevant scenes, and this is one of them.
It is good to appreciate friends, but your friends cannot run your own household.It is good to acknowledge well-wishers, but they cannot lead your way. It is good to be a good global citizen,but start by being a good national citizen first. Then, not only will you find that you will be more successful in attaining your objectives, but that your circle of friends (foreign and domestic) will increase, not because you are likeable, but because you are respectable.
Stop being useful idiots. If you don’t know, shut up. MTV veejays may have taught you to be loud or obnoxious or like these “bindaas” buffoons, but that’s the single best way to play into your opponents’ hands. It is the mark of an educated mind to consider without accepting. Learn from a real Mahatma, Mahatma Vidhur.
Next, understand who you are. Perhaps the biggest problem facing us today is that caste identity has become the be-all-and-end-all. This is in part due to reservations, but let’s not kid ourselves, is primarily driven by our own history. Now it’s one thing to wish to preserve your jati identity, which most Hindus do today, and its another thing to only care about it. A Jati group is but an extension of your family group, beyond that may be varna, but beyond that is the common religious community and the nation in general. Be able to flow in and out of these multiple identities rather than just spend 24 hrs a day in caste battles.
Those who think casteism is dead are fooling themselves—it has merely morphed with one side using AIT based genetics theories and another using AIT based oppression theories. Those who want unity must understand that they can’t pretend nothing bad never happened 2000 years ago or 200 years ago. Most people won’t say much if you wish to marry within your own caste, or preserve and pass on your identity, but stop being a jackass about it. Prove yourself on your own merit, not your clan’s. Taking pride in something is one thing, being a prideful idiot is another.
On that note, by now most of you are familiar with our own house blend of searing internal criticism (you just had a sample above). Unlike some, we don’t lay responsibility at the doorstep of one community, but recognise that there’s plenty of blame to go around. Advocating against self-flagellation (especially the public variety) doesn’t mean license to avoid responsibility. Enough buck-passing. The buck stops here. Take responsibility. Man up. And if you wish to rebuild the national character, start with your own character. Young or old. Upper caste, Lower caste. Man or Woman. Ph.D or only LKG. All individuals have a role to play in the days ahead. The days of treating others like dirt are over.
Start with yourself, and show you have self-respect by treating others with respect. This is the first step to rebuilding personal character.
1. Reject casteists and casteism.
If there is a single overarching obstacle to our unity today it is casteism. It is the biggest single problem facing us today due to its stakes, and it is not just something found in rural India. It has assumed a more subtle character in urban India, even among the professional middle classes. Most things aren’t said in polite society (unless doors are closed), but you can easily tag the casteists on twitter. They are found both in lower castes & upper castes, but all are societal termites. They can easily be identified by their genetics obsession and continued promotion of AIT on the one hand or hatred of a particular community on the other. They will even misquote shruti and smriti to that end, such is their shamelessness.
And for the caste obsessed, we also didn’t say varnashrama dharma. Caste endogamy or practicing your basic kulachara is not what makes you a casteist. Shamelessly feeling entitled to things which your character or your incompetence disqualifies from, does.
If you don’t believe in Varna Samkara, fine—free country . But remember, in Manu’s time itself there were many cases of inter-caste marriage; in fact, so much so, he himself gave a scheme of the new sub-castes created. Understand the difference and stakes between inter-caste, inter-religious, and inter-national. I am not against someone’s personal or familial beliefs. Marriage after all, is a personal/familial matter. But if you think inter-caste is the same as inter-religious or inter-national, you probably need to have your head examined. Have your priorities straight and distinguish between nice to have and need to have (yes, there is such a thing even under the strictest most conservative interpretation of Dharma). In times of aapaada, Aapad Dharma applies, irrespective of your caste-conceits.
So if there is a single thing you take away from this article, let it be this. If you can’t let go of your ancient views, at least have the intelligence to shut up about them in public—we don’t need pseudo-intellectuals like ruining the national cause with prejudice. This leads to the next point.
2. Emotional Discipline. Time and time again we have written of the importance of social discipline in general and emotional discipline in particular. Between uncontrolled joy and unsustainable anger, is the middle path of equanimity. Just because someone disagrees with you on 9% doesn’t mean you sacrifice the other 91% by engaging in a to-the-death online argument with them. Just because someone said something positive of your society, doesn’t mean they’re your friend. Just cause someone does all the rituals doesn’t change the fact that his actions are destroying the rashtra and its native culture. Don’t get fooled by appearances. Don’t be Gullible. Those who have strong personal religious beliefs frequently use them to further their own selfish public ambitions.
3. Plan & prepare for contingencies. Develop Survival skills.The ironically named Ramachandra Seuna provides a profile in foolishness on how failing to be vigilant results in ignominy. The great fortress of Devagiri (now ignominously renamed) was famed as the most impregnable in the Dakshinapatha. Despite being constructed upon an imposing hillock, it fell within weeks due to failure to keep account of adequate provisions in case of surprise siege. It would be centuries before the land of the Marathas would produce a Shivaji, who ensured a network of well-provisioned forts throughout Marathwada. If every man’s home is his castle, then the same applies to your house (or temporary shelter).
Just because you earned good grades/marks in school and went to a good school, doesn’t mean you are cultivated. Just because you “earn job make money” doesn’t mean you are finished with school. Your real education begins after graduation.
Don’t just watch tv/kircket/movies, develop your God-given abilities. Learn new languages, read books on topics that interest you and topics that help you grow. Try to better yourself as a person at least an hour a week. Everyone has at least 15 minutes a day to do something useful to grow or contribute (ideally both).
5.Develop standards for yourself.If anything goes, if hedonism is your compass, don’t be surprised if you become depressed by emptiness down the road. Ask yourself what type of person you wish to be, then make your decisions, rather than make a poor choice and rationalise it later. In our previous article we pointed out that along with Sita & Rama, there was Kunti & Pandu, and even Ahalya & Gautama. The only true judge is Divine, but ask yourself now what type of person you wish to be remembered as, rather than be short-sighted in your choices. Modernity may mean complicated romantic pasts for many, but it doesn’t justify ignominous romantic presents and futures. Some are men of honour, others are women of principle. Whether you can follow the rigid Dharma of Rama or not, there is no excuse for not having his Sabhyata, Saujanya, & Maryada.
6.Accomplishments over Credentials.Credentials and degrees and jobs are important. But prestige is ultimately a nice-to-have. At the end of the day, the Harvard/IIT grad who amounted to nothing is forgotten, and the Chaiwala who became CM & PM is remembered.
If you are intellectually gifted, cultivate your physical fitness. If you are physically fit, cultivate your intellect. Clever talk and even subject-matter expertise are good, but promote those who are actually using their gifts for the common good.
Develop physical fitness, crowdsource movies by struggling but culturally rooted directors, go to the theatre to see real drama (not bollywood), give patronage to struggling small business. These are the real things that make a difference at the end of the day. Accomplish something yourself, or support those trying to accomplish something.
7.Prioritise Family. Giving respect to elders. Looking after your children. Sheltering relatives and friends in need. These all may prevent your overall “utility maximisation”, but are critical for a common society.
This also means recognising the due place of women not just as mothers but as wives and co-equals and partners in society. Real men not only fulfill their duties, but know how to interact and behave around women, and enjoy the company of others in a respectful way. Become skilled conversationalists (rather than just idle gossips or grunting neanderthals).
1. Bharatiya Moms, stop raising Mummy’s boys. Learn from this mother about what it takes to raise a real man. Notice we didn’t say stop loving them or stop showing love. But stop being so unctuously permissive of all their misbehaviour. Treating them special at home is one thing, spoiling them so rotten that they act like they’re special in public is another. Time to bring an end to the Dhritarashtra and Gandhari Syndrome.
Raise men and women of character. It is not just sons who are spoiled but even daughters now. This is what happens when you don’t emphasise samskara and sadacharam at a young age. Philosophy and “choose your own way” is for when they are young adults. Children don’t have a vote in a democracy. They thrive in structure.
Rear your son affectionately till he is five yeas old then admonish him strictly for the next ten years. When he turns sixteen, start treating him as your friend. [1, 23]
Your grown children are your best friends. Good marks are good, good living is better, good character is best of all. Raise men and women of character.
2. Prioritise family over the individual.Yes, a repeat point. Yes, there is such a thing as individual dignity (something that has been lost to those promoting things like madde snanam…). But the head of family or the head of society has no right to degrade the dignity of others or engage in tyranny. But just as societal needs come before individual needs, so do family needs come before individual needs. Being the head of a household does not mean trampling all over members of your family, and being an individual does not mean you can willfully ignore family needs. Balance is the key.
3. Understand that that rights come with duties. As adults you may have freedom to act as you please. But actions have consequences. As we remarked in our previous article, lives of hedonism may seem appealing with their exterior gloss, but with agency comes responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and use what freedoms you’ve been given to act responsibly.
1. Start doing something to improve the community around you. Complaining on twitter is easy, actually doing something with your spare time is hard. Swachh Bharat is more than just another government programme. It is a national call to action. Cleanliness begins with you. Change begins with you. Temsutulu Imsong is now a celebrity for her Shramdaan effort.
When you are focused on trivia, you only attain the trivial. Real action isn’t ritualism. Real action is improving the world around you directly. Unless you are a pujari, you have no excuses. Plenty of people just like you are tired of just talking and are actually doing useful things. Don’t just RT and praise, follow their example, intelligently.
2. Be considerate to those around you.Time and again we have written about the importance of Sabhyata, Saujanya, and Maryada. Ironically, those most obsessed with kulachara seemed to have forgotten these components of Achara. Acharais good conduct, all-round good conduct. Part of it is ritual, but most of it is your own behaviour. Be considerate to those around you (young and old alike). You may expect the Temsutulas of the world to clean up after you, but do these national gems a favour and reduce their workload by ceasing your littering and inconsiderate behaviours.
3. Prioritise business to small business. So what if you might pay a few paise more. So what if the other guys have an app. Like it or not, trust is a critical part of the commercial relationship. Giant mega-corporations and malls may look slick and shiny, but it’s small and medium enterprise that employs the most people. Yes, there are crooks who do things like adulterate milk, but how does that compare with the plastic and cadmium rice of corporations in India’s neighbour to the east?
4. Have a plan for succession. Team, Family, Community, Business, Army, Government, all need depth not just in the ranks of enlisted man or common member, but depth in leadership as well. From Dahirto Anandapala to Hemu, too many battles have been lost because a cause was personality-focused. Personalities do matter, but institutions matter more. Have a plan for succession, and develop talent to replace you if you should fall. This point is also why loyalty is so important. If the person below you is too personally ambitious, then the more incompetent, but loyal person often gets promoted, affecting the whole team/system. Plan for succession.
Because the sons of Dasaratha were loyal to each other and put their desa dharma first, Bharatacould keep the throne ready for Rama, when he returned. To get loyalty from your subordinates show loyalty and respect (not the same as subservience) to seniors.
5. Invest in Team Sports.Contrary to the Olympics gyaanis, Kreeda is in our Culture. But stop obsessing about individualistic kircket, and start playing team sports like field hockey and football. If you are an older person, start coaching local youngsters so they know how to play well as a team. Take a page from Bhaichung Bhutia.
Many patriots pride themselves in being “nationalists”. But nationalism isn’t just “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan“. Each state has its own heritage and even language that is worth treasuring as well. If we have written in support of Shuddh Hindi as rajbhasha it is out of necessity. Our own love for own state and language is the reason Andhra Portal was launched in the first place. All other states beyond the Telugu states deserve a Portal. All states, no matter how big or small, have a culture worth celebrating and preserving. That is true Samskruthi. Don’t just tweet on anniversaries of state figures, actually take pride in your actual heritage by taking tangible steps to preserve it.
To rebuild the character of the state necessitates leaders.Real leaders, not just entitled buffoons who like to boss people around or boast of credentials, but real people of action. Real action is not in producing hackneyed memes that mimic analogues from the West, but in actually taking tangible steps in collaboration with like-minded people. There are too many Dhritarashtras and Gandharis who have become too comfortable in their middle class palaces and pleasure-addled lives of mall food and bollytrash movies. We have written about this complex before, but now an article was written on this very issue in a mainstream paper.
To rebuild the character of state necessitates people willing to work across caste lines.If you truly believe in merit, you recognise only your caste doesn’t have it. If you truly believe in courage/manliness, you recognise only your caste doesn’t have it. Put the genetics-obsessed individuals in their place and out to pasture, and gather together people who recognise character makes men and women of worth. And simply 1 word here or there is not enough.
This of course works the other way too. Whatever caste issues there were a hundred or a thousand years ago, “payback” benefits no one but anti-nationals. It will simply be a matter of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Don’t be a parrot of propaganda and a sucker for atrocity literature and drumbeater for reservations in everything. Self-respect is not just a slogan—show it. Empower yourself with your own hard work and God-given intelligence—and prove yourself to shut up the casteists. Many have already done this and have proven themselves in multiple spheres of life. Follow their example, and not the DMK’s. Picking on defenseless men and women is easy. Doing the hard work to correct societal problems is…yes…hard. If you are surrounded by casteists, ignore them, and reach out to us, or other like-minded people.
Once you have a group of like-minded folks, sit down, and discuss the issues of your state.In our case, we did this with individuals from our now bifurcated state. In addition, understand that women have an exceedingly important role to play—and if Jijabai is any indicator, an even more important role to play. Evaluate people’s strengths with an unbiased eye. Yes, we will have to place trust eventually in people. Some will let us down, so it is best to do filtering at the beginning.
This also means those who wish to participate and contribute must be patient. If you don’t get noticed right away, there is probably some reason. There are a million things going on and a crore Kalnemis in our ranks. It will take time. Rather than seeking to compete in resentment, build up your own repertoire in the mean time, via study or useful promotion of others. Show you are a team player. Those of you who compete anyways, at least have the responsibility to do your own thing and not get in someone else’s way.
Recognise core groups and peripheral groups. Example: In Karnataka, these would be Kannadigas, Kodavas, and Tulus,etc for the core. All other groups are peripheral.
1. Some of you have reached out to us.Most of you didn’t have the character to, and prefer to read in cowardly silence. Fine. But it’s never too late to course correct. If you want to do for your region what we didfor ours and another one, reach out. It may take time, we may not say yes, we may not even respond, but that is not the point. There are many ways to revive the character of the state. Such a platform is but one of them, and not everyone is suited for it. If you’re not, find something else and make your mark positively. There are still ways to work collaboratively without being part of the same sub-team.
2. Reach out to the local traditional Pandits.You can find ways to give qualified ones patronage or support the events they and others like them hold to teach all children. There is a lot of junk colonial history out there and junk colonial scriptural interpretation out there. It is only the traditional panditwho can give the correct interpretation and advise your effort to properly restore your regional history and culture. Only orthodox Pandits are the authorities on our scriptures anyway—not some beef-eating baboo, foreign or domestic, from the ivory tower.
3. Promote native/regional language & language bookstores.“But it’s cheaper on amazon” isn’t an excuse. That should be a last resort not a first one. Give patronage as much as you can and suggest book titles to your friends and family and followers. There’s no point whining about how your kids or the younger generation doesn’t speak your mother tongue when you didn’t make it a point to show them what to read, and why.
For a community that has suffered terribly, the greatest counter-move Kashmiri Pandits could make is to preserve & pass-on their knowledge of Sharda script. KP’s should teach their children Sharda (and of course, Koshur). This will safeguard not only the ability to read the treasure of Sanskrit literature that came from the Land of Maharishi Kashyap, but that there will be motivation to re-collect the many lost manuscripts of our civilizational heritage that are in that lipi.
Our Sikh brothers in Dharma have provided an excellent example in preserving not only the Punjabi language, but the Gurmukhi script. The linguistic aspect is all the more relevant in how they have kept it current. Not only did they infuse modern pop-music with Punjabi lyrics, but they updated a native folk-dance for international audiences . The traditional folk dance and language remained in harmony with the exigencies of contemporary reality.
On that note, other groups, such as many a Sindhi I know who did not learn her or his mother tongue, should do so now while the older generation is still around. Those speaking various Hindi dialects should begin emphasising them as well. We touched on that issue here. There is no reason why the purveyors of a persianised pidgin patois should look down upon the venerable bhashas of Braj and Avadh and Mithila.
4. Culture isn’t static.You can’t just regurgitate whatever traditional learning you were taught. Nor is it 1 dimensional or only religious in character. The next step is to revive cultural equities not just by documenting them,but by supporting artists, dancers, weavers, craftspeople, fashion designers, poets, etc etc.
Give patronage to the arts. Not just the occasional Odissi performance, not just the occasional Carnatic Katcheri, but giving 15 min a day or an hour a week to reviving Arts & Crafts. Find 1 or 2 things, and stick with the issue. Handloom workers across Bharat are in desperate need of business (and honest investment, from people who don’t take advantage). What is pocket change for you is a month’s livelihood for them. Give support to handloom. Even if you are not a “mercantile”, you can make a difference in helping these people update their fashion to current trends. Foreigners are constantly studying India to remake native styles and motifs for overseas sale. Indians end up buying from the same foreign brands. Don’t you think it makes more sense to just buy locally? Do you really think Levi’s or DKNY needs a few thousand more rupees? You don’t have sacrifice your entire wardrobe—but a kurta here and outfit or purse there, goes a long way. Don’t just Make in India, Wear from India.
And patronage is meant for not only the classical arts but for the folk arts as well. Harikatha, Burrakatha, Naga dolls, Madhubani, etc, all are deserving of investment and promotion. Kudos to Punjabis and Gujaratis who already showed the way with their embrace of Bhangra/Gidda & Raas/Garbha. Folk is not just for villages. It can be updated for contemporary metro kids as well—see the NRIs who created a new music/dance genre.
If you are fed up with bollywood insulting our culture, give the parallel vision, the real vision of real India. Enough talk. Put your money where your mouth is. They are plenty of short film directors and film students looking for funding online. Crowdsource. Pool your resources and give the ones with the right vision and right attitude the funding they need. One small film can lead to bigger ones.They are all one google-search away.
This also means investing in your regional language industry. If your own state industry produces mindless mass masala like Sandalwood, fear not. Tollywood (now TFI) was even worse—so much so that I swore off of it. It has now returned full swing beyond Bahubali. Yes there are still back-bencher flicks, but it has finally made a name for itself and is Tollywood no more. There is no reason why Bhojpuri films can’t do the same in the North.
If you see a director who goes against the grain, support him (or her). Crowdsource movies or prove to producers that your state too has the audience to make a Baahubali of its own. Culturally-relevant cinema should be the criterion. Move beyond the caste-agendas and prioritise the common state culture. Move beyond the regionalism, and prioritise the common national culture.
Also understand how the game is played. Overcompensating bravado, caste prejudice, and even overt religious bigotry are merely going to ensure you play directly into our shatrus’ hands with quotable soundbites—many of you are experts at this already…And misogyny is downright suicidal. We at this site reject it prima facie, but if you don’t reject it on principle, at least have some sense. Political sense. When your shatru is trying to pit women against men, you don’t play into his hands.
It is also means putting regionalism in check. The contributors to this site hail from different states, and even love their native languages dearly. At the same time, it is important to understand that a common native language, accessible to all, is required. We have already addressed this issue here. It is possible to support shuddh Hindi for national purposes while supporting local efforts like Kannada Baruthe.
Requiring all medium and long term residents of a state to learn the local language is the minimum courtesy for other regions like mine to accommodate another language for national governmental communication. If you disagree with this, at least disagree without being disagreeable, and give practical alternatives (neither universal translators…nor english). English is a colonial holdover, the time has come to start transitioning to the native. States like mine have accommodated the national interest. Migrants to my state can accommodate the state interest.
1. Buy native. Ask your salesman or merchant where your murthi comes from. If you have the money, give patronage to local murthi/diya artisans. Price and popularity aren’t the only things that matters. If you have the budget, have the sense to not buy from your “number 1 strategic threat”, or don’t be surprised when this happens.
2. Give patronage to Civilizational bookstores.They may not be perfect. They may have vsnl-era websites, but these publishers ensure that our common national and civilizational heritage is passed on to anglicised metro youth.
3.Be an ambassador for yourself, your family, your community,your state& your nation.Like it or not, people are constantly judging each other. The impression you make on someone else may be your prerogative, but also influences their impression of you and where you come from. You have freedom to act as you please, but don’t complain if your family or community then feels ashamed of you. Have fun, but be responsible. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But all play and no work makes Jack a rotten boy. Rotten boys can’t contribute to the national cause, just as rotten wood cannot be carved.
4. Put aside personal ambition and focus on the National Need.
Counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons
The days ahead will be tall and terrible. So much so that even the heretofore spoiled and brattish will wake up and be shaken from shirking obligation. While they will separate the boys from the men, but they will also make men, real men.
Different Dharmas exist for different people. Nevertheless, there is a Saamaanya Dharmaand a Bharatiya Dharma that exists above Kulachara and Varnashrama Dharma. Nothing is possible unless there is this unity. Not a feigned, falsely professed unity. Not a nationalism of convenience to advance own-side caste interests. Not apologia to justify power grabs or government jobs or party doles. But a genuine unity, that preserves nation, then state, then community, (then caste), then family, then individual.
The episode earlier this year where Rajiv Malhotra was attacked by a concerted casteist effort is a prime example of these issues. Under the obvious feigned pretence of “criticism” and “intellectualism” someone who had actually stuck his neck out for all castes was targeted by a section of casteists, ostensibly bought out by anti-nationals. Similar pseudo-intellectualism was seen in an attempt to pin the of blame on baniya communities for invasions. Casteism is no caste’s monopoly, and RM has been and still is defended by many from the same caste who oppose own-side casteists. The same occurred in the case against baniya community members. And that is the point. To be effective against casteists, inter-caste battles are not the way. Intra-caste battles must be fought to root out these societal termites, whether they are found among the clique that attacked Malhotra or the Periyar supporters that drove out most of a community from Tamil Nadu. If you don’t have the anatomy to do this, don’t whine when you and your caste are on the receiving end.
“A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”– Chanakya
What has a person actually done? What solutions have they actually provided? A poet or “evolutionary biologist” is not a strategist, and should know his place in the scheme of things or be put back in it. Put aside caste conceits,genetics rants& entitlement complexes. Such charlatans may be gone cases, but those of you who have been tricked into supporting such nonsense, introspect and rather than ask whether you are doing the socially profitable, ask whether you are doing what is societally responsible. Ask what your “saviours” have actually done. Ask whether you are doing the right thing.
For once in your lives, recognise we’re all in this together.Emotional discipline, cultured behaviour, professional competence, personal character, all these qualities, all this background literature was composed so that the one thing you truly lacked was the one thing you’d finally recognise you sorely needed: the right Attitude.
I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude.
It is more important than my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.
When my attitudes are right, there is no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me. 
Attitude is everything. It is the spark of character. It is the preserver of unity. It is the sail of culture. Your attitude stinks. We have spent the better part of 3 years explaining how and why. Without the right attitude, revival is doomed to fail.
Successful revival is only possible when the right number, of right thinking, right acting, righteous people with the right attitude come together. Either unite and rise to be taller than all your forefathers, or fall because you failed to put aside your personal ego. That is what makes character. These are the stakes of character. That is why we must rebuild it.
Chaturvedi, B.K. Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi. 2015
Whether you call it Makara Sankranthi, Lohri, Magh Bihu, Ghughuti, Pongal, Sakraat, Khicheri, Saaji, Suggi, Tirmoori, Uttarayan or “the transition of the sun into the constellation capricorn“, we wish you all a very Happy Harvest Festival!
Part of celebrating what unites us is understanding the beauty of the variety. Sanskrit is the language that unites us and Devanagari the most accessible to us, yet greetings come in many languages and many scripts. This year’s is written in the superfun script of the Odias of Odisha (ancient Kalinga, Utkala, & Oddra). To know how they celebrate today, here is a must follow handle or two for all things Odia, including ICP’s own@Itssitu, who was featured last year with her article on Odisha Fashion.
From Odisha we go to Tamil Nadu and a particularly emotive Pongal, where the great tradition of Jallikattu is presently prohibited. One need not participate or even be a fan of a tradition that is important to a different socio-economic group (in this case rural), but it’s important to respect all traditions, particularly when the animal is not harmed and is in fact treated as part of the family. Jallikattu is neither Spanish Bullfighting nor Cowboy Rodeo. The animal is safe, well-treated, and it is the unarmed players who are taking the risk given the powerful bull horns and hooves. It may be more martial than most may handle, but when the animal is treated well, it’s yet another part of festival fun.
For some, Makara Sankranthi is about flying kites, for others it is about drawing Kolam(Rangoli) or playing Jallikattu, and for still others, it is a brilliant bonfire, symbolising a fresh start and personal cleansing.
Punjab’s Lohri (like Bhogi in Andhra’s 4 day Sankranthi) is a great utsav of aag. It is celebrated by Punjabis the world over, and symbolises that spirit in a different way. And yet, the same voices who show no concern for say trees on Christmas, suddenly do when it comes to Lohri (leave aside New Years Eve vs Crackerless Diwali).
Do what you can to preserve the tradition and petition and protest peaceably. Use facts, logic, and calm patience to make the case and point out double standards. Some connect to their culture through intellectual endeavours, others through philosophical inquiry, but most through their traditions and festivals (and the delicious cuisine that goes with them).
Makara Sankranthi is not just a Pan-Indian, but a Pan-Indic festival, and is celebrated with great gusto by our brothers in Nepal.
So whether you say Sankranthi Shubhkamnayein, Shubheccha, or Shubhakaankshaalu, from all of us at ICP, we wish you the very best!
In our previous article, we discussed how there is a global epidemic of characterlessness. And contrary to characterless gyaanis, waxing eloquent on the glories of their genius and genetically determined birthright to oppress others, it is character that qualifies one for leadership of any sort (political or spiritual). This is not because talent and ability, etc, don’t matter, but rather that one with character will have the commitment to work to overcome deficits in talent and ability (i.e. the tortoise and the hare).
Naysayers may argue saying “Ok, Nripathi, character benefits society, but what does it do for me?”. Therein lies the other problem—the characterless ask, “What have you done for me, lately”.
Character is what gives meaning to life. Without character, everything becomes a consumable, even romance, and romantic partners themselves become interchangeable. The current courtship climate in the so-called “advanced economy”/”developed world” is more akin to musical chairs or Baskin Robbins. That is the reason why Sita & Rama are praised in our society, because neither viewed love and looks as a consumable. In an age where Kings (even his own father) had many wives, Rama only had 1, why? Character.
It is not that other kings did not have character, it is that Rama’s character was the highest. To him, the pleasures of life (even married life) only had meaning through Sita and sharing them with her—rather than successive or replacement trophy wives. This is because character fundamentally means that who becomes more important than what or how much. YOLO and “Live for Today” are constructs designed to specifically subvert this, because a mania is created causing individuals to rush to gain an experience now…before it’s too late! But this isn’t character, it is consumption, it is vampirism. “If I cannot extract this life experience out of you, I shall extract it from someone else”. This exploitative outlook, in both communists and capitalists, is what defines the current line of characterless economic thinking.
Character is also the counter to circumstance. In life, those who live long enough, realise that their own success is not directly proportional (r^2=1/-1) to their own efforts, talents, or “IQ/Genetic superiority/Molecular perfection”. Circumstances have a critical influence. The historian Herodotus famously wrote “Circumstances rule men, men do not rule circumstances” after his survey of kings, queens, and commoners across civilizations. But if circumstances are so influential to the course of our lives, some ask why bother; why not just go with the flow and accept them via “eat, drink, and be merry”? Circumstances may indeed determine outcomes, but we have the power to determine our response to circumstances.
When Rama’s circumstances became unfortunate, did Sita start considering other kings or did she remain loyal to him? Did not Ravana try this line of reasoning? After all, contrary to most recent popular portrayals, Ravana himself had looks, lineage, learning, and luxury (not to mention power)—all qualities most women consider, so much so, that many women voluntarily left their husbands to chase after Ravana (and they ended up as degraded objects of pleasure in his harem). Unlike the women of today, why did Sita not “consider her options”? –For the same reason Rama did not “move on” and remarry after she left the world—marriage is more than just about pleasure. Character itself ensures constancy, throughout the various vicissitudes of life.
Character is also what prevents abuse of power. As we see today, power comes in many forms, not just the traditional wealth and power, but knowledge/education, ritual, beauty, intelligence, and yes, even circumstance. Draupadi’s circumstance is the most moving. An empress of royal & religious birth, reduced to bondage and finally disguised servitude in a foreign court….all through no fault of her own.
That is why character is so important. No system, no matter how intelligently designed, can be free of tyranny if the people themselves are completely characterless. It is why Sarasvati initially leaves Ujjain—because the people themselves had become immoral. Lakshmi leaves due to corruption, and Parvati leaves due to criminality. Criminality can be found in all castes and communities of society—character, and a society that values character, is what counters this. But today, India is the society of “Neethulu koodu gudda pettavu” and “Esh karo yaar!”…who has time for character? Having urges is natural, but having standards (for yourself an others) is meaningful.
That is why, of all the qualities the eminently unromantic cynic Acharya Chanakya praised, the highest ( above all (above even birth)), was character in a potential spouse. It is character that matters most, that forges trust in each other (and in society), that gives meaning to our existence, and that defeats that universal feeling of “being alone” (perhaps that is the real reason why, despite temporary extreme highs, most hedonists are overwhelmed by the epidemic of loneliness today). If we only live for ourselves, rather than each other, then we truly are alone and without purpose.
Casteists ruin Varnashrama Dharma.This is because for them, caste is the only consideration, the only prism, the be-all-and-end-all of everything. Rather than looking after Desh Kalyan and Lok Kalyan, they say one thing and do another, as all tyrants do. But the greatest virtues are those which are useful to other people.
“all science no philosophy”.
It is character that gives us purpose, and a purpose to our actions, and meaning to any pleasure we feel, and a point (and counterpoint) to our existence. Pleasure for its own sake is exceedingly risky. It does not mean that those seeking pleasure are bad—seeking pleasure is a natural instinct. But the danger arises in that selfish purposeless pleasure (i.e. pleasure as lifestyle—hedonism—or irresponsible pleasure with abandon or cruelty) may lead to gradual, and often undetected changes in our own character.
Sa yathaakaamo bhavati, tat kratur bhavati, yat kratur bhavati, tat karma kurute, yat karma kurute, tat abhisampadyate.[2, 272]
The best known paraphrase is as follows:
As your desire, so your will. As your will, so your deed. As your deed, so your character. As your character, so your destiny.
The harmless fun of a youthful indiscretion can lead to life-altering choices. And even those of excellent character can make a mistake. But if we continue to engage in wrong action, then it becomes not only our character, but soon our destiny.
There are many of course who naturally object that character itself is not objective as it can be faked. After all, Ravana pretended to be an Ascetic, Kalnemi came in the guise of the Rishi, and [Insert here] in the guise of a “Modern Acharya” (to fool all the scientism fanatics). But that is why character is revealed (by circumstance and adversity). Individuals may do all the right things, and say all the right slokas, and even “perform all the right rituals”, but we subconsciously detect something off of about that person, and avoid anointing them “AchArya”. By waiting and watching, we observe their true nature, which incidentally, reveals itself at the right moment, when the Lakshmana Rekha is crossed, or the handler instructs.
Others of course protest that politics is not for goody-two-shoes, and “we cannot be Satya Harishchandra”. No argument there. Yuga Dharma adapts Sanaathana Dharma to Time, Place, and Circumstance (Yudhisthira found that out the hard way over a game of dice). The Perfect Dharma of the Satya Yuga, drops to the imperfect but Rigid Dharma of the Treta, to the Nuanced Dharma of the Dvapara, to the near-imperceptibly subtle Dharma of the Kali. It is also why Dharma, especially Rajdharma, is necessarily balanced by Niti. Do your duty…but don’t be a dummy.
'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' does not imply blind adherence to a 'unilateral disarmanent'. Subversives are booted out of the family. pic.twitter.com/zJUdYzyyAg
Even if personal sentiment, courtesy, or even Rnadictate one thing, Dharmadetermines another, and we must follow it, not for nationalism, not for ritualism, not even for traditionalism, but for our own personal character, which is rooted in Truth. It is Satya (Truth) which gives tradition, ritual, and even the nation their purpose.
That is why no matter how great a personality may seem, no matter how much knowledge or what-have-you they have to share, if something (or someone) seems too perfect, it probably is.
Character is also why renunciation is considered virtuous.This is because if we are willing to renounce something (if necessary), then we are not beholden to it, we are not enslaved by it. That is why hedonists are pitied as slaves to their senses—just look at a drug addict; what is he/she willing to do in order to get his/her next high? Is it any different than some relationships some “girlfriends” and “boyfriends” and even wives and husbands have today? “Give me this/Do that, or I’ll find it somewhere else, from someone else”. That is also why in our tradition we say:
Na jithendhriyaanaam vishayabhayam | 262
Those who have control over their senses are not afraid of their indulgence in sensual delights. [1, 160]
Those who have conquered their senses do not fear sensual indulgence [because they can renounce it any time—especially if it risks becoming dangerous to anyone or disgraceful]
Pleasure comes in many forms, the most obvious being marital. But even pleasure in our other relationships in society (be it with our friends and relatives or…AchAryas). The pleasure of being associated with a group can often countermand obvious higher duties to society. That is why not only the guru-moha of Arjuna to Drona, but also the bandhu-moha (the attachment to relatives) of Lakshmana to Rama also had to be renounced. His separation from Rama before the end of his life was necessary in order to show that despite his fierce loyalty to Rama, he would never let that interfere with his own personal commitment to Dharma. In contrast, we all know what Dushasana was prepared to do out of his loyalty to his brother Duryodhana.
That is why Prema is not Moha. That is why Dharma is so important—because Dharma is the path to perfect character. Rather than quantity of life, it is quality of life, quality of character, that matters. When character is perfect, not only the individual life, but existence itself has meaning, and we choose to continue to exist, not for ourselves, but for others…
In contrast, we have individuals reducing Dharma to only ritual. Ritual has its place, ritualism does not. This ritualism has in fact made man insensitive and even foolish. Like the hedonist who seeks the series of steps that will grant him physical gratification, the fruitive man ever believes in that series of steps to fruitive rewards—hence their perversion of Vedic Truth.
A person who uses Vedas for temporary advantages is like an animal, says the Upanishad.#Periyava
The subconscious assumption that in any given context of life, almost algorithmically, if we perform x,y,z ritual, we gain the result (“I have completed my task, so I deserve the reward. I have done my job so I deserve my salary”) has made men characterless. Ritual certainly has its value to Dharma, as do the Yagnas that are prescribed in Karmakanda, but it is not the be all and end all as the overcompensating publicly “hypermasculine” (but privately effeminate) charlatans declare. Ritual serves as a guide and as a regimen for men and women, but it is for a higher purpose. Just as the artist trains to create beauty and the aaesthete trains to appreciate it, the seeker of wisdom trains in ritual, and higher than that, tapasya, to improve character. Hence the traditional phrase: character-building.
We need people who will be living embodiment of nobility of Hindu religious beliefs. It is by them that Hinduism will continue to thrive.
But where is the importance of character building today? We want instant results, instant gratification, and seek knowledge only as the algorithm to attain them, rather than to appreciate the results or pleasure or beauty in all their layers. My Right (with pleasure as the aim) vs My Duty (with pleasure as a possible pleasant byproduct. Nishkaamya karma). No wonder women (and now men) are being objectified—it is not their duty to each other that matters, but how they have become objects from which to extract x,y, z, experience or pleasure or aim. No wonder relationship partners and even life partners are so replaceable today (given the epidemic of serial monogamy and polyamory), it is not the person (and her/his uniqueness that matters to us) but the experience or pleasure or objective that can be extracted…or given away.
Ritual & Tapas helps us build character, circumstances test character, but Dharma is the compass for character. The essence of Dharma is not ritual. The essence of Dharma is Rta (moral order/harmony) which is the expression of Satya (Truth). That is the true purpose of religion (not robotic ritualism and fruitive reward from the Devas), but moral order and harmony in the universe, in the nation, and in the home. The spirit of Dharma is thus Rta and, above all, Satya. If Dharma is the compass, Rta is the Cardinal Direction, but Satya is the inner magnetism.
And that is the problem today. Ritualism has resulted in precisely the type of societal incompetence that continues to plague the “Modern” Hindu. This being the Kali Yuga, whatever the protestations and prevarications of the ritualist right, religion too has undergone corruption and all varnas too have been guilty of this. As Acharya Chanakya wrote, “A fish first rots from the head”. Ignore the charlatans, and seek what you know to be true in your heart: the Truth. That is the spirit of our age-old Dharma. It is not Rna-meva Jayate or Ritual-meva Jayate, but Satyameva Jayate—this is the spirit of our tradition, and shame on the selfish creatures who define it otherwise. Their agenda is known for all who see through their characterlessness.
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.
What is beauty?—perfect nobility. What is ugliness?—imperfect character.
Even an ugly thought can be give attractive expression. It is only after we study the inner essence that we look beyond the makeup. It is why aesthetics is predicated upon the moral aesthetic of a society.
That is also why aesthetics cannot simply be translated as rasa, but is in fact rasalankara. The beautiful, ornamented expression of the flavours of life. Even the disgusting can be presented in aesthetically pleasing ways. Literalism is not the highest sophistication. Mere outward shows, even to the gods is not enough. It is pureness of heart, even with Bhakti.
Bhakti is important. But as with ritual, Bhakti can’t be the be all and end all for responsible citizens. Blaring Bhakti songs at 180 decibels does not substitute for having actual Godlinessin your heart. Merely showing your Bhakti (or even feeling it while stomping over others at Temple) is not enough. Bhakti is not about being a whirling dervish whipping oneself into a public frenzy, and advertising it to all, but in feeling spiritual oneness with the Divine and having gratitude in your heart. Those who advertise their religiosity the most are usually the ones who feel sincerity the least.
As with ritualists, so with the bhakti brigade.First a caveat: One should never dream of harassing either in their private dharmic endeavours…it is a matter between them and God. Bhakti, as with Knowledge, as with Ritual, is important, very important, and kudos to those who follow those margas. But the problem is when any of these become a substitute for character. That is the importance of Atma-vichara (introspection), and Viveka (distinguishment between right and wrong), and parinamavasya (willingness to change). The outwardly uber-religious donkey who justifies his ill-bred and even adharmic behaviour on account of his performance of ritual or bhakti kirthana is one who has completely missed the message to begin with. The path to perfection is not a one or two step move. It requires constant introspection of whether or not you are not only fulfilling individual duties, but general duties to society as well. But Bhakti has become a convenient excuse for individuals to forego any introspection let alone concrete accountability for civic negligence. “I work job, raise family, do puja…I am not responsible for anything else…who are you to tell me…I go to temple!”
When individuals so stubbornly dig in, constantly criticising or expecting change from others rather than asking whether they themselves might be in the wrong…this too is another type of characterlessness. That is why, time and again, we have said that the most valuable virtues are those useful to other people. Going to temple is very good, but it cannot be a shield for bad and irresponsible behaviour—otherwise it is hypocrisy. Doing ritual is good, but if you use that as an excuse to justify misbehaviour or develop greed for power, then it too is hypocrisy. All these things exist to perfect ourselves—merely doing them does not mean we have already attained perfection…no matter what mummy says.
Some men think they are God’s gift to women, and many women think they have license to behave as if they themselves were gods. That is the danger of Ego—it divorces us from the onus, or even the basic responsibility, to ask whether we were in the wrong and need to either do better or correct ourselves. Introspection. But we live in a time when individuals can be proven wrong, without any facts on their side, and they will still stubbornly say “I stand by what I said”. Bear in mind, this brazening out is often not even a matter of Bhakti and Faith, but simply Ego on simple matters like history. By all means, keep doing whatever makes you feel closer to the Divine, but for the love of God, start taking responsibility for your own actions. All the patriarchy memes in the world won’t change the fact that a real man is one who takes responsibility for his own actions. That is what real character is and why it is so important.
Have you done everything that can be reasonably expected of you?
Have you done contributed anything tangible at all to the cause you hold dear?
If you can’t do much, have you given minimal support or more to those that are?
Have you even thought about these questions while you were stuffing your face with samosa?
That’s our problem, people who are all talk but no action. Content that they have fulfilled their spiritual responsibilities they feel no obligation for their civic responsibilities—but they whine in impotent profanity or wait for Kalki.
From Satya Harishchandra in the Satya Yuga to Yudhisthira in the Dvapara to general Krishna Niti in the Kali, Dharma too has had to adapt, in order to protect Satya, sometimes with asatya. Chhatrapati Shivaji has embodied this. Similarly, Anusuya, Lopamudra, Sita, Sati, Savitri remain the highest standards of not only personal character, but moral character, and should remain so. Shakespeare may have said “Frailty thy name is woman” in Hamlet, but our Civilization has proven otherwise through women of characterwho held fast to their Dharma, whatever their external delicacy or circumstantial difficulty.
But character is not only determined by youthful pasts, but the behavioural present. Along with sexual morality there is ethical integrity and commitment to the common Dharma, the Saamaanya Dharma. Along with the golden Pativrata is the silver Sahadharmacharini of Kunti, Draupadi, Ahalya, Tara, & Mandodari fame. Arguably there is even a bronze (or copper/tamra) standard for women who are culturally & civilizationally loyal, whatever their complications. Moral judgment and condemnation is easy, living and leading by example is hard. If you demand character in others, demonstrate it yourself. Otherwise, expect to receive what you yourself have lived (whether you know it or don’t). Those who live for Dharma include aspirers to Seeta-Rama, but they also include those who have lived Kunti-Pandu.
Character is 3 parts:
1.Moral Character (living according to Moral Standards, religious, sexual, etc)
2.Personal Integrity (holding true to your obligations, beliefs, and promises)
3.Ethical Civility (treating other with respect and acting for societal good)
For too long, we have only emphasised the top most and used that to excuse all-sorts of treacherous behavior (“well, he goes to temple and does all the rituals, etc”). The net result is youthful allergy to morality or any sort of sexual constraint or personal restraint, due to this hypocrisy. But a moral or sexually moral traitor is still a traitor. Rather than browbeating youth from the inside out, encourage them to live with character from the outside in. Let us start with basic ethical civility, then go to personal integrity, and then some semblance of Sexual morality. Educate and inculcate the highest standards, yes. Teach them Sita & Rama. But also show them the way back if they take unfortunate detours. Dignity is notbrow-beating. Dignity is notseverity. Dignity is self-respect. People will fail and fall, but at least they will rise again, and seek to live lives of character and dignity.
It is not simple about karma, but about kriya (doing). Actual doing. Actually doing something to improve something, some small aspect of the world, the nation, the state, the city, or even the community around you. Something![Ram Raj] was not built in a Day. The characterless have all the time in the world to criticise others and give gyaan about what others should be doing…but what are you actually doing, gyaani? Simply hiding behind past glories of your caste or ancestry does none of us any good. What you actually do today is how posterity will judge you tomorrow.
Character, after all, is not simply a matter of personal entry into svarga or praise from your parents or even personal success. It is a matter of national & civilizational survival.
Chaturvedi, B.K.Chanakya Neeti.Diamond: New Delhi.2015
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli. The Principal Upanisads. London: Unwin Brothers. 1968
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 kathaor purana, keep the essence of who you are, and try to be some modern version of the ancient standard.
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. 
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.
He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods… – Thomas Jefferson pic.twitter.com/oCpNRolOk8
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:
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.
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.
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:
At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst. ~ Aristotle
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.
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 Dharmaare 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.
For 1000 of years India was defeated, occupied, looted & ruled by the invaders not because India was weak but there was always a Jaichand. pic.twitter.com/bZJ8IYHdsv
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 Panchatantrafables 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…
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.
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.
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.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Social Contract and Discourses. BN. 2007
Shubha Deepavali! Diwali Shubhkamnayein! Happy Diwali! Happy Tihar! and all the many regional variations of this sacred festival. Deepavali is the great utsav that unites us all, being celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists alike.
So enjoy this great Festival, and like last year, burst crackers to your hearts content!
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).
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. 
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. 
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.
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.
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]
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.
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
The Chavsof 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 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, anda 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.
Most famous Hinduphobics are well-trained in Indian languages & texts. What is lacking is shraddha, not book knowledge
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”.
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 nihilismis not that it doesn’t deconstruct effectively, but rather, that it fails to “provide the foundation for a positive existence“.
 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 Gattacaand 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.
Intellectual Kshatriya project results in: 1. More knowledge, less opinions 2. More action, less advice 4 others 3. More tapasya, less show
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.
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.
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.
In the aftermath of a recent furor over his remarks in Africa, some have unfairly remarked that Gandhi was fundamentally oriented towards “Eurocentrism”. But this is fundamentally flawed.
Gandhi and Gandhianism are deserving of a great many criticisms. His never-ending accommodation of never-ending series of unjust demands and his callous behaviour towards the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in partition era W.Punjab and Bengal is emblematic of what happens when you dedicate yourself to ahimsa, instead of Dharma.
Are the rumours about Gandhi true? Maybe all, maybe only some. Was he propped up specifically to serve as an albatross on the Hindu neck, only to gut him and our culture later on?—wouldn’t be the first time (there are certainly some such today). But who knows for sure?—only God. But as usual, the problem in our ranks is not uncertainty, but excess of certainty and certitude. Some of our guys and gals read a few books and blogs, and apparently have it all figured out. In the realm of binary-ism and false dichotomies, it is easy to set it up as Gandhi vs Godse or Gandhi vs Bose. But perhaps that is in fact the problem. Hindus are foolishly and forever making false choices between two extremes.
Whatever Gandhi’s sins (his “experiments with truth” certainly qualify as carnal), whatever the influence of christianity on his thinking, whatever the incredulity of his apologia for razakars and moplahs, there, nevertheless, were clearly strong streams of essentially Indic thought in his ideology that were crucial in an eminently un-Indic time: sanctity of the cow, vegetarianism, village economy as building block, and even varnashrama dharma (only with upliftment of dalits).
Funny how some side-remarks of Gandhi that are racist in our era must be publicly excoriated for the benefit of foreign platforms, but the core philosophies of Marx that are revolutionarilyracist in any era are explained away or ignored. Whatever Gandhi’s peccadilloes against Hindus, Marx was an outright enemy of Hinduism. Only a hypocrite carps and cavils about one while deftly utilizing the other sub rosa.
Similarly, today there are voices treating the legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose as beyond question. Netaji’s singular contributions to Indian independence are undeniable. Both British and Indic voices (even spiritual ones, have attested to this). But as always, the devil is in the details. Were the solutions and philosophies upon which Bose rode Indic in nature? Would India have traded feudal agrarians, mercantile compradors, and clerical hypocrites for totalitarian Marxists or Maoists, who would have betrayed Bose?
The rehabilitation of the Socialist Authoritarianism that drove the INA of Bose as merely “revolutionary” is a clever rebranding effort, but a rebranding effort nonetheless of fundamentally alien Marxist ideology. The Reds of Russia were “Revolutionary” too, but their fellow travelers wreaked havoc in the 20th century. Here is the fate of women in Post-“Revolutionary” Russia. Do we want this for our young women too?
Gandhi’s abandoning of Pakistan’s Hindus to their fates may have been un-Hindu, but Bose’s choice of Revolutionary Socialist Authoritarian ideology was downright un-Indian. Had he succeeded in totality, would Totalitarianism have been the agenda of the nation and the state of its political economy? Would the accompanying vast accretion of central powers have overturned native Indic social structures (Panchayats, Mathas, Devalayas, etc) even more than inefficient and federal Nehruvian Socialism?—these are the intelligent questions that must be asked, rather than merely trading one patron saint, one “father of the nation”, for another.
Hindu Leftism, Hindu Marxism, or even Hindu “Revolutary-ism” are all ultimately as un-Indian and un-Hindu as “Hindu Fascism” or Hindu Feminism or Hindu Patriarchy. Rather than promoting either only Bose-ian revolutionaries or Patriarchal “Pitr-bhoomi” advocates, perhaps our Mathrubhoomishould look within instead. Whether Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, or Hindu, it is Dharma (and the philosophies and approaches that emerge from or respond directly to the Vedas) that makes India Indian.
SC Bose was a patriot, and he deserves his due credit for creating conditions that made India’s Independence not only possible, but in inevitable. But this is the danger of personality-driven movements and personality-dependent ideologies. Whether Gandhi or Bose (or any one else…), when a personality becomes larger than life and beyond question, we don’t examine policy or play counterfactual. When Bhagavan Ram himself is questioned and even mocked today as a “misogynist” by secularly misbegotten mongrels, who are Gandhi and Bose before him? So question Bose we must: What would have happened if Bose succeeded? Would the Bharat we would have seen resembled Mao’s China more than Nehru’s India? For those who have no problem with this, I kindly direct you to China’s “Cultural Revolution” as exhibit A.
We saw the level of caste violence and violent targeting of Brahmins under the half-baked Dravidian theory in Periyar’s Tamil Nadu. How much more havoc would have been wreaked under “Revolutionary ” (i.e. Socialist Authoritarian) thought in a putatively Independent India?
Like it or not, whatever the true story of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, his philosophy gave a stream of Indic thought that allowed a physically and mentally colonised India to make its way back to the spiritually liberating Dharmic Common Culture of its ancestors. Those who pretend as though everything was perfect in Hindu society 200 years ago or even 1200 years ago, ignore the very real problems of ill-treatment of dalits and very real corruption resulting from general casteism, which are well-attested. Does this justify the atrocities and atrociousness of atrocious foreign rule—no. But it explains why it took so long to attain success against its various forms, and why we still have yet to fully succeed.
Any political movement, any Civilizational Revival is only possible if there is a common civilizational culture and a common set of priorities…rather than mere ambition checking ambition…or lying in expedient wait. Pretending as though this was and is “mere violence among lower castes” ignores the fact that the buck stops at the head of society, not the arms or feet. Philosophical justification for the ill-treatment or exploitation of communities is even more criminal, because like socialist authoritarianism, it provides pretext for violence. It may not wield the blade, but it points out the target for it.
But varnashrama dharma was not about exploitation. The caste systems of feudal Europe or colonial Spanish America may have been, but varnashrama dharma was and is about de-centralisation, specialisation, and accountability—with the topmost being the mostaccountable and living the mostdifficult lives. Those that violated the dharma were outcasted (this is the origin of untouchability, at least originally). Trading the downtrodden Dalit for the impoverished Brahmin as a target for exploitation is no solution, particularly for Periyarites and Razakars who talk of “final solutions”. But how could this be explained in a nation that still believed Aryans invaded India? –(some scientism advocates moonlighting as “ritualists” still believe this despite orthodox Brahmins clearly stating that per our Vedic tradition, Aryas originated in India, and Dravidas were Aryas).
Were there individual cases of Dalits rising in status in pre-colonial India?—yes. But as a whole, corruptions had certainly entered into varnashrama dharma, and many scheduled castes were indeed very wary of how an independent India would affect them. Ambedkar himself was concerned at the legal status and situation of Dalits in a post-independence India. After all, all the dalits of the desh could convert to Buddhism as he did, but what ultimately mattered was the fundamental consensus that governed the country.
The reality is, before Indira Gandhi amended the preamble to insert “socialist, secular” to the republic, before Nehru said Dams were the new temples where Indians would worship, it was Mohandas Karamchand’s Gandhi’s views that served as guiding principle for the inter-regional and inter-religious consensus. Like it or not, Socialism is ultimately an outgrowth and transition period to Communism. Both ultimately have authoritarian and even totalitarian undercurrents, particularly when they become not only economic frameworks but outright political ideologies. Thus, Gandhian philosophy, whatever its merits, served as a sort of halfway house back to dharma. That many of Gandhianism’s proponents belong in a halfway house is another matter altogether, but to completely deride it and him in favour of Socialist Revolutionary ideology or hyper-masculine European memes of patriarchy, only demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of today’s opinion-leaders, older or younger.
Dharma wasn’t about patriarchy or hyper-masculinity (see ancient Greece or medieval Japan for some of the externalities of this ). Dharma was and is about complementarity and balance of the genders. This is the problem even with patriotic Indians—they are mimic men of a different sort, but never authentically Indian. Forever propping up foreign models and foreign saviours in native garb, they have egotists, ideologues, and superiority complexes aplenty, but never any self-respect. Scientism, Japanism, and even the asinine “cuck heavy” Alt-right to justify casteism is the m.o. for these “cucks” and […] of foreign fads and ideologies.
Either Central Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, or the West, Indians can only ever come come from or look to inspiration from somewhere else. New left, alt-right, neo-nippon, medieval mongol, laurasia, gondwanaland…never anything authentically Indian or even really Hindu, for this bunch. This is why they are forever adopting the jargon and memetics of the very white nationalists, racist leftists , or middle eastern race supremacists who either openly spit upon them, or do so after the veneer is scratched (they even promote such bigoted blogs…buffoons). It is a patina, a veneer of Hinduism, or in the case of the left, a version of perversion in colonised medieval India, but never the true, unvarnished clarified essence of authentic India. This is because unscrupulous and ambitious people are ever only focused on empowering vehicles that empower their ambitions, or in the case of pathetically over-compensating frat-boys—their fantasies. “Mimic men”, as V.S. Naipaul wrote, only ever exist for securing their own position, authority, and enjoyment.
The same voices that correctly identify propaganda as a tool of British imperialists, must remember that pen has still not run dry, and the wielders of said pen have skeletons in their own closets. So perhaps the answer then is neither Gandhi nor Bose, but maybe selective aspects of both. The uncompromising national commitment of Bose that allowed him to fight for independence and the fundamentally Indic streams of thought that either intentionally or unintentionally emerged from the personage of Gandhi.
Was the “Mahatma” merely patterning Hinduism on a Christian template—maybe, maybe not. But whatever it is, his Gandhianism gave a common unifying political philosophy for a religiously riven, cultural cleaved post-Independence India to make its way back to its authentic self. Was Gandhianism obstructed by the obstructionist “Idea of India” brigade from the Fabian Church of Nehru…yes, but it eventually brought about a common sense of Bharatiyata nonetheless. Whether Gandhi himself was an authentic original or merely an instrument himself, is another matter altogether. But allowing him to be used as a means to caste (spelling intentional) Indian culture, and by default, the Hindu religion as racist, is emblematic of the veryintellectually pinheaded stupidity that has been an albatross for Indians for the past millennium. When your enemy is trying to fit you into a box, “racist/rapist/misogynist”, you don’t step into it and play to stereotype, or in the case of alt-right “cucks and […] embrace it. If you do, you yourself are a “collaborator” of a different sort, or yet another of one those unscrupulously ambitious amatyas Kalhana condemned.
Rather than forever alternating like schoolchildren between contrasting shades of whites and blacks, understand the greys that define our era. The jury may still be out on Gandhi, if not Bose, but whatever he did or was, we must understand what Gandhi represents or is today. He remains a global symbol of India and its native culture and philosophies, whether we like it or not. Native historical re-assessment and re-allocation of his legacy must be done internally, not serving as a vehicle for agendas emerging externally. That is true Swadeshi and true Poorna Swaraj.