It seems to me that we Indians are quite talented at criticism. Rapier-sharp logic and critical reasoning has been a part of our heritage for millennia. Such criticality, in the right measure leads us to growth, but in excess leads us to pessimism, cynicism and eventually inaction. I often hear people complain about several historical blunders that we have committed and how it has brought us down, but I rarely get to hear solutions (especially ones we can implement at a personal level).
Ananda Coomaraswamy remains one of the most staunch defenders of the Indian tradition in the mold of what David Frawley calls an intellectual kshatriya. Coomaraswamy wrote a series of articles about the state of (the British-imposed) Indian education and alerted Indians about its perils.
Ananda Coomaraswamy mostly wrote for a scholarly audience, so he didn’t quite use the forthright language that Swami Vivekananda did:
A common and genuine fear among conservative Indians (specially the elders) is that the rampant westernization amongst Indians is leading to the gradual decline and eventual ruins of Indian culture and tradition. They suspect that Western goods, clothes, foods, festivals, style, language, and moreover Western thought is spreading across the populace. The purpose of this article is to look at the many reasons that cause such fears and analyze them by comparing with reality. This analysis is mainly from the Hindu perspective since that is where my experience lies.
ಶ್ರೀಮದ್ರಾಮಾಯಣದ ಉತ್ತರಕಾಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ಸೀತಾಪರಿತ್ಯಾಗವು ಹಿಂದಿನಿಂದಲೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಚರ್ಚೆಗೊಳಗಾಗಿರುವ ಭಾಗ. ಉತ್ತರಕಾಂಡವು ವಾಲ್ಮೀಕಿವಿರಚಿತವೋ ಅಲ್ಲವೋ ಎಂಬುದು ಕೂಡ ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಚರ್ಚಾಸ್ಪದವಾಗಿದೆ. ಅದು ವಾಲ್ಮೀಕಿಗಳಿಂದ ರಚಿತವಾಗಿಲ್ಲವೆಂಬ ವಾದವನ್ನು ಡಿ.ವಿ.ಜಿ. ಅವರು ತಳ್ಳಿ ಹಾಕುತ್ತಾರೆ. ವಾಲ್ಮೀಕಿಗಳ ಉದ್ದೇಶವು ರಾಮಚರಿತ್ರೆಯನ್ನು ರಚಿಸುವುದಷ್ಟೇ ಆಗಿರದೆ ಸೀತಾಚರಿತ್ರೆಯನ್ನು ರಚಿಸುವುದೂ ಆಗಿತ್ತು. ಹೀಗಾಗಿ ‘ಕಾವ್ಯಂ ರಾಮಾಯಣಂ ಕೃತ್ಸ್ನಂ ಸೀತಾಯಾಶ್ಚರಿತಂ ಮಹತ್’ (೧-೪-೭) (ಕಾವ್ಯವು ರಾಮನ ಸಮಗ್ರವೃತ್ತಾಂತ ಮತ್ತು ಸೀತೆಯ ಮಹತ್ತ್ವಪೂರ್ಣಚರಿತ್ರೆ) ಎಂಬ ಮಾತು ಬರುತ್ತದೆ.
How often have you heard this refrain or its variants: Naah! I don’t go to temples. I don’t like going to temples…I mean, there’s no point…all that noise, meaningless mantras and rituals…some are so unhygienic…I believe in God but I’m spiritual…after all, Hinduism is a personal religion and I don’t really need to go to a temple to pray…? How often have you yourself uttered this refrain? Answer honestly.
Nearly 5,000 years ago in Kurukshetra in Northern India, the hundred sons of King Dhritarastra fought the famous Mahabharata war against the five sons of King Pandu, King Dhritarastra’s younger brother. The former group was called the Kauravas and the latter, the Pandavas. Almost all major kings from the Indian subcontinent took part in this great war that was fought for eighteen days. Although the Kaurava army was larger, the Pandava army finally won the war.
An old farmer and his grandson lived on a farm. One day the grandson said, “I try to read the Bhagavad-Gita just like you but I don't understand it much. And whatever little I understand, I forget it very soon. What is the use of reading this book?”
The old farmer quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and said, “Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.”
3-11 September 2009
Places visited – Ujjain, Dhar, Bagh caves, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Indore, Bhopal, Sanchi, Udaigiri caves, Vidisha, Udayapura, Beda Ghat, Khajuraho, Markhera, and Deogarh (in order of visiting).