Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cross stitches

I learnt making cross stitch work from my mother when I was around 10 years old.  My mother, who is 87 still making cross stitch works.  Added to the cross stich work, I also learnt making other hand crafts.  Wherever I go, if I see any kind of new craft, which I too can make, immediately I try to learn and began to do.  However, cross stitch still remains a passion for me.  Though I abandoned it for a long time, once I became a samnyasi, again I resumed it and now days make lots of cross stitch work and present them to others.

Others may wonder why a samnyasi should spend his precious time in such mundane art instead of spending time in meditation etc.  For me doing this art work is a kind of meditation.  And those who do such art work will agree with me.

So here I would like to share some of the cross stitch which I made.

Dayanand Bharati.

Old wine in new bottles

As a Samnyasi, I am not supposed to think or write on this subject.  Already one of my shishyas requested me not to post one article in which I mentioned about sex (Moral Police).  However, what I want to share is my observation in society as a fellow human being than a Samnyasi—who supposed to live alone and away from society.  However I have to mention that this artificial separation between samnyasi and society itself wrong.  And I always insist that without a society around him, even a samnyasi has no existence or identity.

Well, coming to my point, when Sunday comes, I eagerly wait to watch one of my favourite program in Vijay TV—Neeya Naana (you or me) anchored by Sri Gopinath.  Already I posted some of my thought based on this program.  So when yesterday, I watched the program, I was bit disappointed, as one more topic on ‘love-marriage’ is again discussed in this program.  In the past also Gopinath conducted several such program on the same topic from various points of view.  However as I have no experience or interest in that topic, I always switch over to some other channels, which too I don’t want to miss.  During commercial break I (we) mostly switch between channels when two of our favourite program are broadcasted at the same time—at least to catch some important points in another program.

Before switching to watch a Carnatic Music program in another channel (TTD—without commercial break) I listened the introduction given by Gopinath—Love marriage in Tamil culture: those who oppose and support.  In his introduction Gopinath also said that due to fast urbanization, lots of love marriages are happening in Tamil society as boys and girls have more opportunity to know each other.

Well my point is not about love marriage or the statistics showing a sudden increase in it.  But, at least in Tamil culture love marriage is not a new concept and if one reads Sangam Literature—particularly ‘aham’ literatures like ‘Natrinai, Kurunthohai, Iyung Kurunooru, Kalithohai, to mention a few, one can read nothing but poems about love marriage and the opposition to it.  There is nothing new to discuss on this topic as both the group (pro and against) are going to give a rhetorical view on this subject.  As I switched to watch Carnatic music I don’t know what they all discussed in this program.

My point is not about the love marriage, but how the urbanization lowered the standard that once was cherished relatively with moral commitment and responsibility in love marriages.  My concern is the high percentage of failed love marriages now haunting so many families and society not only in Tamilnadu, but the whole India.  In the name of modernism and progress (also human right) while individual rights are promoted rapidly, that too based on Western views and values, the Indian value of family and responsibility (dharma =duty with moral responsibility) is fast disappearing.  I don’t say that there were no failed love marriages in the past.  There were many, even from the distant past, as we have ample records in literatures.  But in such failed love marriages, again women remain a victim.  While men (or boys) who deserted the girls, can easily find another life partner, whereas, the girls remain single as the social value of Indian culture easily not approve or arrange for a second marriage for a divorced/deserted girls.

We Indians have several common values which we can find in other civilizations—like love marriage.  However, we have our own social value which provides check and balance to protect the interest of the individuals.  Family is such strong Indian value, which provides security and identity to any individual in India.  And marriage is the responsibility of the family/parents which never ends with the marriage of their children.  Through marriage the parents brining the ‘daughter-in-law’ to the family and not merely arrange a wife for the son.  In India marriage relates two families and not two individuals.  When youths, without patience try to persuade their parents to give their consent for their love marriage and marry against their wish, then they cannot turn to them when they face some problem in their married life—particularly in their relationship.  But going along with the fast trend of urbanization in the name of modernity, when infatuation drives youths, the damage is done not only in their personal married life, but also to their immediate families, who might wash their hands from the responsibility to provide security to the love marriage.

There is hardly a village will be left in India, particularly in Tamilnadu untouched by love marriage—with or without the support of the parents.  However, the social fabric of village provides some kind of security to the girl, when she will face some problem in her marriage with the boy.  The boy cannot easily escape from his responsibility and commitment to the girl.  Whereas in urban areas where individuals have to live without a face, many of our cherished values of the past—including love marriage is facing serious problems and challenges.  I wish and hope that Gopinath and other discussed this aspect in that program too.

Db. January 21, 2013

Don’t make us to incur loss

I still struggle with one thing in my understanding the way the skilled labors work.  The main reason for us to engage a skilled labor is that not only we can do that work but we cannot do it as we expect the result.  But in several times, even those skilled labors don’t do the work the way we expect them to do it, but even to the level their professional skill requires it.

Some of my personal experience can better illustrate what I try to communicate.  Irrespective of our repeated explanation, in several bath rooms the water will never go to the ‘nali drop’ side but always will come to the door side flooding the room.  The same is the case with the sink in the kitchen.  Water will always come to the stove side in stead of going to the sink.  Tails in the bath room will be fixed in such a way that after finish the bath we have to dry the room as some water will come through the door to the room.

During the construction of our ashram, I specifically told the contractor that I want the ‘serving’ window to be above three feet only.  But when I came after a week, the labors fixed it for more than four feet.  When I questioned about it, the contractor coolly without having any remorse said, ‘the labors didn’t understand what you said’.  When I asked him to change it, he suggested to put one foot elevated platform in front of the serving window to reduce the height as I wanted it to be.

One more final example will illustrate the carelessness of the skilled workers.  When the four inch pipe was fixed under the ground to take the night soil, I specifically told the Plummer that the pipe on the ground level should be fixed with slop so that the water can freely flow to the septic tank pit.  As I was busy with other work, I cannot stand with him when he was fixing it.  But before he fixes the pipe again I went and told him specifically to keep the level with slop.  After ten minutes I sent another person to tell him specifically to keep the pipe not flat but with lop.  But when I come back after an hour, he has done exactly opposite.  When I questioned about it and with anger asked why he has done it exactly opposite what I asked him to do, without showing any remorse he coolly said that he will fix it.  So not arguing with him I returned.  But when I went again to see how he is fixing it, I saw him cutting a new pipe to make a ‘color’ to join with slop.  Now more damage is done.  Anyhow as I cannot do anything about it, I told him not waste his time by making a color to join but go the shop and buy new one.  But he never listened and repeatedly assured me that he can make a color quickly and fix it.  But he spent not only 90 minutes to make a color, but wasted the liquid cement to burn the pipe to make a color.  When finally he fixed it, I become completely upset. Because as he made his own color by burning we can see the burnt mark on the pipe.  When I pointed it, he again coolly said, ‘you can easily paint the entire pipe’.  But the worst thing in it is that he cut a small portion of a costly big pipe which I kept to bring the rain water from the terrace to the rain-harvest tank.  It cannot be used as now it is short for that purpose.

That evening before he left after receiving the payment I told him, ‘for your work you receive fifty rupees for one hour.  And to make a color you spent nearly 90 minutes and also wasted liquid cement.  Now I have to paint the entire pipe to cover the burnt marks.  I have to buy another costly four inch pipe for the rain-harvest.   Whereas, if you were bit careful, you could have avoided all this.  Above all, I told you several times not to waste your time by making a color but get new one from the shop which will cost around Thirty rupees.  Now you not only spoiled the entire work but almost wasted nearly Seventy five rupees of your labor charge (90 minutes to make it).    Now I have to spent money to paint and labor cost for that plus a new four inch pipe for rain-water harvest (apart from the waste of liquid cement).  Whereas you to rectify your mistake you could have got a new color at my cost just for thirty rupees (Rs.30/-), whereas now I have to spend more than Rs. 600/-.

I tell to anyone come to work for me, ‘I never expect you to work faithfully for the money that you charge.  But at least don’t make me to incur any loss.’

However labor is skilled in his profession, he too prone to make some mistake.  But finally the owner alone end up in bearing all the loss.  Of course in every construction, the owner has to incur certain loss.  But the way they take it coolly without any remorse on their part for the damage that they have done remains a permanent irritation in our mind whenever we look that damage often.  And those who fight for the right of the labors never pay attention to this area in their struggle for Labor’s Rights.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam.  February 4, 2010

 

 

Scholarly Twist

As a student of Hinduism, for me scholars are always a blessing.  But several times their scholarship become a problem too when they try to iron out several contradiction in philosophy/theology to fix them all within a frame of their thesis on particular topic.  For example, in order to justify Krsna’s character, which according to Matilal ‘comes under serious criticism’ as the ‘concept of God’  which ‘must include a reference to morality and justice’ as it is ‘the dominant Hindu conception of God’, he brings various Hindu philosophy/theology within his topic of ‘Krsna: In Defence of a Devious Divinity’.

And to support his thesis, Matilal says:

According to the received doctrine, God is supposed to be omnipotent and he should also see that justice is done in the end.  But Krsna in the Mahabharata did not always claim to be omnipotent.  Apart from certain inspired speeches (e.g. in the Gita) he acknowledged his human limitations….

Krsna’s own admission that he did not have any power to stop the battle or devastation either of the Kauravas or of the Yadavas (his own race) is an important evidence to show that the Hindu conception of God does not always include the attribute of omnipotence.  I believe this constitutes an important difference between Judaeo-Christian theology and Hindu theology….…God in Hindu theology is not always a creator God—that is, he is not a Creator ex nihilo.  Nor (p.99) is the Hindu God always a personal being….Of course, it has been claimed that Krsna (or Rama) was mightier than anybody else, had intelligence superior to that of anybody else, but this is hardly equivalent to the claim of omnipotence or even omniscience.—pp. 99-100

What Matilal talks above, as if there exists only one ‘Hindu theology’ (p.99) raises several question in my mind.  Even what he says within the context of Mahabharata too is bit complicated, as it accommodated all kinds of thoughts considering its encyclopedic nature—which gave space for anyone to insert their thought through the characters.  However it is an interesting thesis (In Defence of a Devious Divinity) to reconcile various contradicting philosophies/theologies (—God is supposed to be omnipotent; justice is done at the end; Krsna is not omnipotent; God is not always a creator God, that is he is not a Creator ex nihilo; not omniscience etc.,) what Matilal proves is that he faithfully follow the long cherished Indian philosophical tradition of keeping contradicting views side by and giving a new twist by a cleaver scholarly presentation of creating his own philosophy.

But even those few speeches in the Gita, which Matilal acknowledges as ‘inspired’ ones, claims all Matilal denies (see below).  It is important to note that Bhagavadgita, which contains the inspired speeches of Krsna, along with Brahma-sutra and Upanishads is the cannon for any Hindu theology and not Mahabharata.1 Though Gita is part of Mahabharata, the latter was not taken as authority for Hindu theology.

Without scholars thankless job, a student like me cannot understand Hinduism in its totality.  At the same time, unless we are aware of the scholarly twist, we cannot understand what Hinduism intended to say than what scholars wish to say.

(The following points are taken verbatim from (R. C. Zaehner, The Bhagavad Gita, Oxford, 1966.)

GOD:

I. The Absolutely Supreme:  Krsna is God, the Supreme Being `highest Brahman’ (10:12), `highest Self’ (13:22;15:17), the `Person (All)-Sublime” (13:22;15:17).  He is the base supporting Brahman (14:27) and in Him nirvana subsists (6:15).  He is, then, as much the source of the eternal world, Brahman, as He is of the phenomenal world… (He) is eternally active–creator, preserver and destroyer (11:32).

God, as we have seen, transcends both the phenomenal and the eternal, the perishable and the imperishable.  He is both wholly immanent and wholly transcendent.  Beyond both perishable and imperishable He is the `(All-) Highest Self’; the three worlds He enters and pervades, sustaining them–the Lord who passes not away…(15:17-18).

God is the One; but He is not a One who obliterates and nullifies the manifold; rather He binds the many together in a coherent whole since the whole is His body and a body is an organism in which all the parts are interdependent (11:13 cf. 11:7; 13:16; 18:20)…In a very real sense the material world and the individual selves that inhabit it, whether `bound’ or `released’, form the `body’ of God; in this at least Ramanuja is faithful to the central insight of BG.

Krsna is also a God of grace, always ready to save those who are devoted to Him (9:26ff, etc.), yet implacable to those who willfully turn their back on Him (16:7-20)….

God:

(a)  Hid Creative Power and Activity:3:21-24; 4:6,13,14;

7:4-6,10,12-15,25; 9:4,5,8-10,17-19; 10:7,8,34,39-41;

11:33,43; 12:6-8; 14:3,4;16:19; 18:61.

(b)  His Incarnation: 4:6-8;7:24;9:11.

(c)  His Attributes:5:29;7:26; 8:4,9;9:11,16-18,24;

10:15,21-28,30,32-34; 11:9-45,16,19,32,40,43; 13:2.

(d)  The Changeless Source of Change: 4:6,13;

7:7,13,18,19,24; 8:21; 9:4-6,9-10,13,19,29; 10:2,3;

11:18;13:27.

(e)  The One in the Many:9:15; 11:7,13;13:30-33.

(f)  His Transcendence:6:15;8:22;10:12,13,42;11:37,38;

13:22;14:27; 15:17,18.

(g)  His Immanence:7:8-11;10:20;15:12-15;16:18;17:5,6;18:61.

(h)  Knowing the Unknown God: 7:3,26,29,30;9:17; 10:2;

11:38;18:55.

Dayanand Bharati.. January 25, 2013

Notes

1. “When Gita along with Upanishads and Vedantasutras became the Canon called ‘prasthanatrayi’  (the Trinity of Systems)…all religious opinions or cults which were inconsistent with these three works or which could not find a place in them, came to be considered as inferior and unacceptable by the followers of the Vedic religion.  The net result of this was that the protagonist acharyas of each of the various cults which came into existence in India after the extinction of the Buddhistic religion had to write commentaries on all the three parts of the prasthanatrayi (and, necessarily on the Bhagavadgita also)”.— Tilak, B.G, Tr. by A.S.Sukthankar, Srimad BhagavadGita-Rahasya, Seventh Edition, Tilak Brothers, Poona, 1986, p. 17

Karma, dharma and Seva

‘What is karma’ was a simple question asked by Ahemed (from Maldives) who came to the ashram with Anugrah for Pongal celebration (2013).  To his simple question, we had a complicated response, as the very topic on karma is very complex one.

In my response, I gave a short survey on few doctrinal aspects of karma (various kinds of karma like sanchita, prabdha, kriyamani, jnana as an antidote to karma, and bhakti as a synthesis of the two etc.) and pointed out the difference between ‘fate’ and karma.  Karma accepts personal responsibility (others might read it as ‘moral responsibility) @ whereas fate is arbitrary and even gods can’t change it.  Though common people do not bother about all the hair splitting differences, carry their lives switching between karma and fate that suits to their particular need and mood.  While fatalism often cripple a person, yet karma helps a person carry her life, accepting the situation as it is, at the same time giving space to work out the solution as per the orientation of her personal life (seeking remedy through prudence, bhakti or rituals [visiting temples, doing remedial pujas, seeking the help of astrologer etc.]).  However one thing is sure that, irrespective of their personal (religious) faith, no one can escape from the reality of ‘karma’ in their life.

But for me, the right approach to karma is to seek the help from dharma.  As dharma is an all-inclusive term, it could help one to carry the karma without going to one extreme like fatalism or too rationalistic.  For me dharma helps me to approach karma not merely as a ‘duty’ but a duty with moral responsibility.  That is why for me karma has only personal responsibility whereas dharma makes it a ‘moral responsibility’.  This will help one to do her duty with moral responsibility.  However the subtle danger in such dharma is that for many it might lead them to do it as mere duty out of compulsion as part of their ‘moral obligation’ (as a son, husband etc.).  Then there will be a lack of personal touch.  And in the long run, such dharma without a personal touch will become even a burden not only to the person who is doing it, but also once receive it.

A small digression will help me to explain my view about the lack of personal touch while doing karma as dharma.  For many there is not hope and place for emotion or sentiment in disposing one’s dharma.  However for me not having any emotion itself is a kind of emotion.  According to me, emotion is a beautiful feeling that we have and no human can live without any kind of emotion.  Few may not show their emotion like others, yet not showing one’s emotion with some outward expression like laugh, weep, sorrow etc., doesn’t prove any lack of emotion.  There exists no tastelessness.  We call a food tasteless if we are not familiar with that particular taste.  So ‘no taste’ itself is a different kind of taste.  Similarly ‘no emotion’ is another kind of emotion.

But to change dharma not remaining just as a duty with ‘moral responsibility’ without a personal touch, we have to make it as seva.  What is seva then?  My definition is this: a thing needs to be done.  There is no one to do it.  And if one does it voluntarily without expecting any recognition or reward; acceptance or award, then that is seva.  Seva not only help one to do her dharma joyfully but also will make happy the one who receives it. Then dharma will never remain a burden even with moral responsibility but add richness and meaning to life to all

So the Indian worldview of ‘karma, dharma and seva’ could help one to enjoy the life, provided if approach all three as complement to each other than try to handle them independently from each other.

Db. Gurukulam.

January, 17, 2013

@ Though ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘moral responsibility’ are one and the same, in order to make a progress from karma to dharma and to seva, I want to differentiate both with my own interpretation.  Let me explain it bit further:

For me just doing a duty with mere personal responsibility could be termed as karma.  Because I born with that responsibility as a son etc., I cannot run away from it.  The rule of a given society, which now could be enforced by law (parents can go to the police station and take legal help to get support from their children now in India) will force me to my duty as a personal responsibility—which others too can do as a charity.  This kind of karma with personal responsibility could be termed as mere ‘work’.  If I don’t work, I won’t earn.  Then to work in order to earn to survive for me personal responsibility.

However the morality of a given society/religion/culture could create a (guilty) conscience to do my work with moral responsibility without having any kind of emotion with that person and also with my work.  Then for it becomes ‘dharma’.  Several children know that their parents won’t go to the police station or approach the court to get help.  But driven by a guilty conscience, because of the personal ethics shaped by the moral standard of the society, the children could do their dharma.  They will send money regularly and make arrangement to take care of their parents etc.  For me here karma (with personal responsibility) becomes dharma (moral responsibility).

However when personal ethics shaped by bhakti, faith, ideology etc. when helps me to do my dharma realizing the emotional need of that person whom I have to do my dharma, could become a seva.  The emotional need is not only for the person whom I serve but I too need it.  Otherwise my dharma will become a burden for both of us.

In Tamil we have a saying, ‘kuulikku maaradikkaradu’.  In certain places in Tamilnadu, professional mourners will be hired to weep for a dead person.  Though they are not personally affected by the death, yet they will really weep with lot of tears.  Otherwise they won’t be hired for another time.  So doing their job with personal responsibility of weeping is their karma.

Let me take another example: As most of the people don’t know the only heavenly language on earth, viz., TAMIL, I have to write in English.  This is my personal responsibility.  But for all the mistakes that I make when I write in English, I need not take any moral responsibility—because the dharma (nature=pravrti) of English gives this scope and my editors don’t have time to do their dharma (moral responsibility) or seva (to ease the burden of many).   Contractors, in order to impress us and get other contract may do their work with personal responsibility.  But if they make any mistake in the construction, generally they don’t take any moral responsibility to rectify it.  And even if they do it, they do it at our cost or the rectified work looks bad than the previous mistake.  With the mistake that the contractor (and also the architect) made at least dhyanamandapa looked a (Kerala) style temple in our ashram.  But they accepting their personal responsibility rectified the mistake, now it looks more like a tent.  And when I pointed out this and my disappointment, they cannot take any moral responsibility to re-do it as I expected them to do it.

Cultural patrons

Recently we heard about opposition to a talk about Tamil woman’s chastity by an actress in Tamilnadu.  As I don’t know what they talked exactly, I cannot comment on them.  My intension is neither to support them nor to oppose them but bring out the common fact that in recent time, in the name of protecting and promoting (Tamil) culture certain groups, mostly affiliated with political parties (with political interest) suddenly become the guardian of all (Tamil) interest, values, culture and language.  But those who really are interested to understand appreciate and preserve (Tamil or any) culture will have a balanced view of accepting certain practices which are not agreeable now but existed in the past. And when such practices are pointed out as part of a culture, they should not be opposed as traitors of that culture.

For example, ‘going along with her chosen lover (known as ‘udanpohal’ in Tamil) before marriage and having sex’1 was known as ‘kalavu neri’ was part of Tamil life in the past.  One can read many songs portraying such scene in Tamil literature (see ‘Natrinai’ and ‘Kurunthohai’). And after that they get married and lead a family life was known as ‘karpu neri’.  But in modern time such things won’t be accept as part of norm in most of the Indian societies.  But this doesn’t mean such practice didn’t exist in the past (or at present).  Similarly when ‘kissing’ scene is introduced in Films, it was debated very heatedly whereas the fact is that even before Independence that scene was there in film but after Independence due to ‘Puritanism’ in Indian worldview it was banned.2

But such Puritanism was more a reaction against western cultures and also to portray as if in our culture such practices were not allowed.  In fact the way woman body is described in Indian literature that too in religious literature is very graphic.  Each part of their body is described that too not as an art but bluntly in the context of ‘sex’.  When I first read such poems in religious literature, I was surprised whether I am reading religious scripture or erotic literature.  Even modern Tamil literature won’t dare to describe woman’s private part this much openly. But to my surprise except describing the (broad) shoulders or some time (strong) arms, man’s body was not at all described in such a (graphic) way.  One reason could be that most of such scriptures were written mostly by men.

Well the point that I want to bring is that what is considered and celebrated as a ‘norm’ in one time may not be acceptable in another time.  For example widows remarriage, leviratical marriage were part of our culture.  Begetting a son through a surrogate father was a common practice in ancient India.3 And explaining them as if belong to the bye gone age is also part of objecting to them at present.4 But this doesn’t mean that those who quote or share about such things should not be victimized by the ‘Moral Patrons’ of modern time whose interest is more political and populist than presenting and preserving facts as it is.

Dayanand Bharati, February 10, 2010

1. In recent time many deny that in ‘kalavu neri’ they had sex and try to interpret in a different way.  But there are many songs both in Natrinai and Kurundohai clearly describing they the eloped couple had sex.

2. …In the 1930s, Himanshu Raj and Devika Rani could exchange a kiss in films like Light of Asia and Karma without much ado.  Most of the films of the silent era and the early talkies were quite uninhibited about showing a couple kiss.  But middle-class prudery grew over the years.  The result is that while the kiss has been substituted by the absurd depiction of two flowers bent towards each other….— Pavan K Varma, , Great Indian Middle Class, Pavan K Varma, New Delhi, Viking, 1998,bid. p.161]

3. Knowing the preceptor’s wife at the preceptor’s behest, does not stain the pupil. The sage Uddalaka caused his son Shwetaketu to be begotten by a disciple. [Vyasa to Yudhisthira] — M.N. Dutt, Mahabharata, Delhi, Parimala Publications, 1988, Vol. 6, Shanti parva, Ch. XXXIII, p. 48]

4. Fire sacrifice, killing cows, renunciation, offering meat at a sraddha and procuring a son through the (deceased) husband’s brother; these five should be avoided in the kali age. — Patric Olivelle, Yatidharma Prakasha, A Treatise on World Renunciation, Critically edited with Introduction, Annotated translation and Appendices, Part two Translation.  Publications of THE DE NOBILI RESEARCH LIBRARY,Vienna, 1977, p.204

…one of the several ways in which the conflict between several smrti texts was got over was to hold some of them as legislating for a bygone age [yugantra]….— P.V.Kane, History of Dharmasastra, vol. III. Ch. XXXIV. Kalivarjya.p. 885.

Context is important

Context is important whatever we say, read and interpret.  But this function more smoothly where we have to define a clear principle and policy.  But where pluralism and relativism is the centre of the worldview, there, however the important of the context is insisted, yet it is easily overlooked when self interest become more important than the context. Particularly in our Indian worldview where pluralism and relativism dominate every walk of life, we cannot avoid the way context is easily over looked.  The reason for me to say this is that some non-Hindus, quoting certain points from Indian scriptures question the lack of morality in such teachings.  If context is ignored all kinds of immoral and unethical teachings could be traced in every scripture.

Let us take one thought from Mahabharata to understand this.  In the famous story of Kunshika (a Brahmin) and the Fowler (hunter), the latter, answering and giving teaching to the former even went to the extent of saying: ‘I even do that which is not virtuous, to please them (my parents)’.  But if miss the context such saying will shock us.

In order to remind and point out Kunshika’s duty towards his parents, which he neglected, the Fowler (who of course was a Brahmin in his previous birth, otherwise a Fowler cannot, according to Mahabharata give such teaching that too to a Brahmin like Kunshika).1 says this. So there is no point of blaming Mahabharata for giving such teaching.  Similarly one can read several contradicting statements in Mahabharata.  And if we quote them out of context, to use them for our immediate (selfish) purpose, then we will miss the meaning and purpose of those teachings completely.

For example Mahabharata says: That person who desires to celebrate a sacrifice is regarded as righteous even if he happens to be a thief, a sinner of the worst of sinners. [Bhishma to Yudhisthira].2

Here the context is to emphasis the importance of sacrifice.  And Mahabharata not promotes or approves sin or theft here.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, February 10, 2010

  1. 18. …No vicious-minded man can ever expound the mysteries of virtue and vice.19. As it is very difficult for a Sudra to learn the mysteries of eternal religion.  I do not consider you to be a Sudra.  There must be some reason for all this. 20. You must have been born as a Sudra as a result of your past Karma (in a previous birth).  O high-souled one, I eagerly desire to learn truth of this matter.   Tell this to me with attention and according to your inclination. [Kunshika to Fowler]… 22. …I was a Brahmana previously (in my another birth); I was well-read in the Vedas and learned in the Vedangs. 23. Through my own fault I have been degraded to my present state… [Fowler to Kunshika].— M.N. Dutt, Mahabharata,Delhi, Parimala Publications, 1988,Vol. 2.Vanaparva,Ch. CCXIV. p. 323

 

2.         ibid. Vol. 6. Shanti Parva, Ch. LX. p. 90

Commercialization

We engage a professional thinking that she can do it in a better way than what we would do as an armature.  Accordingly the architect, after a loooong discussion with us, finally planed the window and give right drawing to the fabricator.  But when he delivered the window it was not as we wanted and as planned by the architect.  When I questioned about the Contractor said, ‘yes, the architect gave correct drawing but our boys didn’t understand it properly.  We will correct once you fix the window.’  But as he promised the contractor didn’t send any one to correct the mistake.  So after a week, when we were about to fix the window, again when I called him that time he said, ‘though the architect gave us a specific drawing, yet we thought that for such a big size window it won’t fit well and hence we changed the window opening as we thought would be best for it’.

Now my question is: First the Contractor said that his boys didn’t understand the drawing and have done the mistake.  Later contradicting himself he said that as the drawing and design of the architect won’t suit to the window he changed it.  Then what is the use of engaging an architect?  Who to decide whether a particular opening will look nice or not?  We wanted the window in a particular way so that we can fix the emblem of Gurukulam at the centre.  But the contractor, even after telling that we have to fix the emblem at the centre, make changes as he wishes.  When I questioned, over phone he said, ‘you should have discussed these things with me so that we can fabricate the window according to your need and desire.’  But when he came to see me a month before, I took a paper and even draw where the emblem will come and how I want the widow opening etc. And that time I told him very clearly, ‘though this is my plan, yet what the Architect says is the final one and she alone holds the final authority in deciding the drawings and design’. I even went a step ahead and said, ‘whatever she says is the Gospel truth for us regarding the construction’ Now, as we (I) cannot do a job with professional skill we take the help of the architect.  But the Contractor says that I should have discussed with him to have the windows as I wanted it.  Then what is the role of the architect here?  Of course the architect understanding my need exactly planned and gave the drawing as I wanted, but the contractors ignoring it, makes his own changes.

Due to commercialization, keeping the interest of the customers is slowly disappearing.  Starting from the darshan in a temple, outsourcing even saying prayer in a church1, education which was once considered a noble service, the spirit of commercialization depriving the dharma which should be the pivot on which our life should revolve.  Well anyone can make money, but the disappointment and lack of satisfaction of the customer will remain a permanent irritation—particularly in structures which cannot be changed often.  For example, due to the mistake of the contractor, the top portion of the dhyanamandapa looked like a tent than a temple—as I wished to have.  Now as it cannot be altered, we have to live with this structure with a permanent irritation about the contractor.

Well making a living exploiting the need and compulsion of customers is the religion of any contractors and we cannot expect high standard of morality from them.  I am not talking any idealism of a perfect Contractor here.  As I often say (to the labors) I never expect them to be faithful to the money which we give for their service, but they should at least not make any loss for us.  But most of the contractors often do it, leaving a permanent irritation in our mind whenever we look that damage in the construction.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, January 4, 2010.

1. …Catholic priests in the USand Canadasend prayer requests to their Indian counterparts. One can have a thanksgiving prayer said for Rs 40 (roughly a dollar) in an Indian church, whereas in an American church it would cost five times that amount.[Saritha Rai, ‘Prayers Outsourced to India; and ‘US Kids Outsource Homework to India’, both originally published in The New York Times, reprinted in The Asian Age, 14 June 2004 and 11 September 2005]— Ramchandra Guha, India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, London, Picador, 2007, p.698

Contractors and Consumers

Next to the politicians, (building) contractors are the one who exploit people’s ‘mazburi’ (Hindi word, ‘no other way’; dependency; compulsion) and make their life miserable.  Before getting the contract to construct any project for us, the way they talk will even make a pregnant woman to deliver a baby without any labor pain.  They will talk in such a way by giving all kinds of promises, assurances and even very humble as if they are real angels and guardian of our interest and need alone.  But once we give them the job and (advance) money–that is all.  Then they even become worst than a politician, even than a prostitute.  At least she uses her body though she will think about the money she will get than the service that she expected to give for the pleasure of her customer (sorry for such graphic way of putting things). But the contractors, using our own money will finally make us feel sad for the rest of our life.  It is like getting AIDS at one’s own expense.

Once our tuft is in their hand, then they will make us to dance according to their tune.  It is taken for granted that they will never complete the work in stipulated time and will give all kinds of excuses.  That is why, when we plan, though we give a dead line, we too are flexible in finalizing the date of inauguration of the building (like the way we plan extra money over the budget).  So that part, though irritating, we are prepared to accept.  But when the work is progressing, in stead of doing and making things as we asked them and expect them, they will do some mistake and then FORCE us to adjust with those mistakes.  For example, in our construction, we specifically asked the contractor to design the window in a particular way.  And as usual he made the mistake and after delivering the window, in stead of accepting moral responsibility and correct it, he began to give all kinds of reasons for that mistakes.

The contractors knowing our psychology drag the work in such a way that finally out of frustration we will ask them to complete the work somehow with all the mistakes and disappoints.  For example when we have to move to our own new house as our contract with a rented house would complete soon, I have seen people even doing the ‘grahapravesa’ (house warming ceremony) without the work being completed and moving in the house and allowing the contractor to complete the rest of the work.  Out of compulsion (mazburi) we will tolerate all the mistakes in the construction, but we cannot even overcome the way our spirit will curse them every time when we see the mistakes.  Of course every contractor becomes a ‘proverb’ and when guests and visitors come and we often complain to them the way contractor literarily persecuted us in that construction.  The common words that comes when we show the building to others is: ‘What to do’?

But Contractors forget the sentiment attached with any construction.  Suppose if a parent arranges the marriage for their child, they want to conduct it as a memorable one as it is going to remain a onetime event in their life.  But if they give the entire marriage function to any ‘event manager’ (like a contractor) and if he fails to arrange things properly and out of compulsion if the parents were forced to conduct the marriage in a temple and arrange the meal in a hotel, how they will feel hurt?  Lifelong that will remain with them as a bad experience. In the same way, for the contractors our building is one among the hundreds of other construction for them, but for us it is only one and we want to have it in our own way.  Several times we are forced to do our inauguration half heartedly even the building remain not completed (my neighbor at Mathigiri’s house even the tail flooring was done on the previous night of house warming ceremony) or accept all the defects and learn to live with them.

Well any such lamentation from our side is not going to make them to change as the contractors will never change their ‘religion’. But such lamentations will at least release our frustration a bit.  All the laws to protect the interest of the consumers and consumer courts are not going to server the purpose of common man, as the wheel of the law grinds that much slow that finally the consumer is more grinded than the offenders.  If all the owners began to share, we can even write a separate book on this subject.

Db. 01-04-2010.

Media coverage

On February 4th, (2011) in CNN IBN, in the ‘Last Word’ at 10.00 Pm. Sri Karan Thappar (one of my favorite TV anchors), shared his concern for lack of coverage on recent development in Egypt in Indian media of both electronic and printed ones.  Then the panel with eminent editors (like Sri Ram of The Hindu) discussed about the subject, sharing their views.

Though all three panelist agreed with Karan, yet giving their reason for the lack of coverage they shared their view from their point of view as intellectuals and editors.  And I respect it.  However, as a common Indian, when I began to reflect on the same topic, I began to ask a question to myself:  Is it reflects the fundamental Indian Worldview?

Of course our Indian worldview though shaped strongly by religious faiths and convictions, yet since the beginning of 20th century, particularly after the Independence it is heavily influenced by western thoughts.  Though we never lost the religious influence yet our Worldview no more remain based on religious faiths and convictions.  In fact, in the past also Indian Worldview was not an exclusive ‘any religious worldview’.

Well, I think in his visit to West, Swami Vivekananda one time said that while the people in the west spend their time in discussing and working for the economic and political ends, people in India spent mostly in religious things.  As I quote from memory, I cannot give his exact words or views.  However, if he lives today, he will reconsider his view, considering the sudden rush print and electronic of media on Indians.  Though the printed media developed slowly and steadily, giving some space for the educated people to cope with its contribution and demand in their life the sudden rush of electronic media mostly gave a jolt first and now we are in the phase of learning to adjust our life to cope with it.

At least this sudden rush of electronic media with so many channels with many competing satellite T.Vs, made all of us very busy.  Now the common words that we all hear from everyone is: ‘No Time’.  Even a lazy person has no time to enjoy her laziness.  All become very busy.  And this busyness now compartmentalized people’s life not only from each other, but also for themselves.  Not only in the Office and working place people are sitting in their cabins but now within the home, people began to live within their own cabins—women (after their office and kitchen work) glue to the mega-T.V. serials in the hall, men either with their computer or separate T.V. in their room with their (cricket) matches; children with their studies and video games, youths with their Internet browsing (even in sleep and dream).  (Recently I visited a house at Mathigiri in Hosur.  The entire house is around 1200 sq. feet with three bed rooms for the three boys and one common hall for the parents to live.  And they have four TV).  In the rural area, though, because of lack of space and financial constraint sit and watch in one place and one T.V. program, they too have their own mental cabins (women and children watching either mega serial or movies and men lying down after their drink).   So the sudden rush of visual media, instead of expanding the horizon of common people to think and involve on wider and public issues, forced them to become captives of their own personal need and interest (entertainment).

Above all, the way any issue on public interest and need are discussed with same kind of rhetorical approach, even educated people too become fed up with such discussion and want to use their leisure time to rest and relax than to follow these kinds of media discussion and coverage.  For example, in the recent tension between Indian and Pakistan after two soldiers were brutally killed (2013), you turn to any main channels (NDTV, CNN-IBN etc.) all the anchors asking the same old questions and all panelist giving their same old answers.  Even now I too stopped watching such panel discussion in which we hear the same old question and same old answers—which we are hearing from the past several years.  Unless media, not keeping their TRP alone, come out with innovative ways to reach Indians, common people are going to keep away from such matter of public, national and international issues. Once TRP become their mantra for survival, then naturally media is not going to cover on such issues on which Indians have no concern or connection.  The competition and TRP force media to fall in line with people as long as people have their remote control on their hand.  Then naturally there is no space for any coverage on such issues which do not affect Indians directly. After all ‘people get the program what they want and media deserves only such audience.’

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, February 9, 2011.

Revised on January 17, 2013