Friday, April 27, 2012

Ambedkar, Sikand, & Auroville

Bodhi Sattva’s Hindutva: Part 5 from Centre Right India by Aravindan Neelakandan
In his seminal but incomplete work, “Buddha or Karl Marx” Dr. Ambedkar had made a comparison between Marxism and Buddhist Indic philosophy with Parliamentary democracy as an important factor of distinction:
“Man must grow materially as well as spiritually. Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation was summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality.
We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasised that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha.”[xv] Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches, Vol-3, Education Dept., Govt. of Maharashtra, pp.452- 462

Living in an illiberal Indian Society from AV's politics by A. V. Satish Chandra
The contradiction here is that the sacred is invoked in order to perpetuate most unsacred and politically divisive agendas.  However, what concerns me here is the fact that this tendency of illiberalism is growing and restricting the freedoms and autonomy that various people are entitled to constitutionally and civilisationally.  An illiberal society that is tending to become fascist is also uncivil and unconstitutional apart from being an affront on the sensibilities of rational and sensible people. While it is not really possible to predict the exact consequences of this illiberalism, what can definitely be prognosticated is a society and nation that will be increasingly burdened with violence and lack of peace.
I will now conclude this piece by grinding one of my favourite axes. People who designate themselves as intellectuals and teaching professionals talk of the ills of Indian society as being a result of liberalism.  In doing so they are unwittingly strengthening the hands of the conservative fascists who use the idea of liberalism as being an enemy of the people. 

Yoginder Sikand's apology and clarification regarding his article 21 April, 2012 Dear Friends, This is with regard to an article that I recently wrote titled 'Why I Gave up on "Social Activisim"'. A number of friends and others were upset about the article, and hence I decided that I needed to write this note.
To begin with, I have to say that I am open to my mistakes being pointed out, for which I am grateful, for otherwise how will I know where I'm wrong? I do need to know this so that I am able to correct and improve myself.
I have to clarify that I did not seek to generalise about all activists, and a careful reading of the article will indicate this. I was talking essentially of folks who, wittingly or unwittingly, were making a living out of 'activism' and actually doing little for the people in whose names they spoke--and I have said I was doing quite the same in my own way (Surely, not everyone was doing that, of course, and I didn't claim this either). In making this point, I was trying to suggest that this was doing nothing much good for the poor people in whose names these folks were making money and careers for themselves. Obviously, all of this made the task of genuine activists even more difficult and had made it easy for their critics (Hindutvawalas etc.) to brand all forms of activism as tainted and to question the credentials of all activists as such. However, if what I wrote can possibly be construed as de-legitimising activism altogether, I have to apologise because this is not what I really intended.
Secondly, I didn't mean to downplay or ignore or minimize the reality of social oppression, in the form of imperialism, Hindutva fascism and caste/class/religious oppression and so on, and especially the sort of discrimination that caste/religious minorities face. I didn't intend to blame the victims for their own oppression, though I now realise and agree with some friends that the article could possibly be misinterpreted by others to suggest this. Let me clarify that I do recognise such forms of oppression as very real. And I certainly didnt mean to suggest that there was no need to meaningfully work against such forms of oppression. If what I have written seems to suggest anything to the contrary, I am honestly and truly sorry. I would be very sad if this article were seen as a means to legitimise oppression in any form.
I also have to say that I didn't intend to equate minority and majority communalism, or caste assertion by Dalits with caste oppression by 'upper' caste Hindus, but if that is what some people can interpret the article as suggesting, I really and sincerely apologise for the mistake. I have to thank folks who faulted my article for indicating to me where I had gone wrong, and once again say I am sorry for any mistakes I might have made, such as I've outlined above. With love, yoginder sikand

Beware of religion from auroleaks by auroleaks - We find it useful to republish here this article by Carel from the October 2003 issue of Auroville Today.
“Have we, the editors, become Indianised? For none of our Indian readers raised a concern and perhaps not even an eyebrow as living with images of gods and goddesses or of swamis and yogis is such a daily occurrence. In the West, however, it is different. It is a common experience for all those who endeavour to raise funds for Auroville’s projects that one has to be careful in describing the city’s spiritual aims. Funding agencies, particularly Western funding agencies, take a somewhat jaundiced view of anything that might appear a cult. So do income tax authorities in some countries. A few years ago, Auroville International Germany successfully defended in court that Auroville is not a sect, in order not to lose the income tax exemption German donors enjoy for donations to Auroville projects.”

It is the objective historian who will define the yoga for us. Nay he will redefine it, even improving upon what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother revealed. We are fools who have been poring our hearts and soul over Their writings, reading them without context with our poor knowledge of English and our emotional brains. That is not how we need to read and understand. It is Peter who will provide the context…
Oh yes and coming to originality of ideas, Sri Aurobindo borrowed the ideas of Western thinkers and expanded them into the Life Divine and the Human Cycle. In poetry He ‘could do nothing better than imitate’ some already outdated Western models though ironically and mistakenly He called it Future poetry. But that is excusable since He did not know what is coming in the Future just as He ‘did not anticipate the advances in molecular biology and used metaphors such as the Idea of the tree is in the seed’ that we foolish Indians interpret as some great fundamental truth. There is no idea out there, only genes. 

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