Category Archives: Culture

Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

The third chapter is about precepts applicable to all human beings;  the aacharyan speaks here on the panchadharmas and the panchashuddhi. The panchadharmas are : nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, the rejection of intoxicants,  and the avoidance of licentiousness. Dharmoyam Saarvavarnikah, say the earlier aachaaryas, mentioning nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, celibacy, and frugality as the five crucial dharmas. The Yogasastra mentions these five as the panchayamas. Continue reading Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

[The lockdown ought to work as a great leveler. For once, all who live in mortal bodies have been reminded of their inevitable mortality, of the absurd fragility of our existence on this planet. Even the living-gods who command a huge following have shut darshan. We have also been reminded that life on earth will not grind to a standstill if we go. Indeed, the signs are that it will thrive. 

But at the ground level, that is not happening. The better-off can see how, starkly, like never before, the privileges they enjoy, and given as they are to an amoral worship of consumption which inhibits their capacity for compassion, are more likely to shield this by resorting to any kind of ideology that justifies their privilege, probably eugenics or some kind of functionalist interpretation of caste oppressive practices. We are seeing how the poor are suffering for no fault of theirs at all. Indeed, the lockdown may help to normalize privilege even more, and render us all the more insensitive to the suffering of the working class poor. One reason why this happens is because we are already, as a society, afflicted by moral viruses — of religious bigotry, caste privilege, and ruthless capitalism. As a society, we are sick, and the pandemic is likely to exacerbate it

It must be this connection that made me turn to the work of Raghavan Thirumulpad, who was one of Kerala’s finest ayurvedic physicians, a multi-lingual scholar whose conception of individual and human wellness was inextricably related to the wellness of society and the natural world. I have long admired the ease with which he moved between theory and practice in ayurveda; but what really connected us as privileged-caste-born people who sought to become human  was that we found in Sreenarayana Guru a common refuge. For Thirumulpad, the Guru is not just a social reformer or preacher but a healer — a healer of society and individual, who drew upon Indian traditions to reinterpret a dharma adequate to the disease that afflicted society in his times.

Continue reading Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

Weaponising Idiocy: Milk-Drinking Ganesha to Taali Bajao

Then and now, a conservative Hindutva organisation had a role in spreading rumours.

coronavirus and cow urine

Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Deccan Herald

 

Yad ihasti tad anyatra, yan nehasti na tat kavcit. ‘Whatever is here might be elsewhere, but what is not here could ever be found’.—The Mahabharata, 1.56.33, from Meera Nanda’s The God Market: How Globalisation is Making India More Hindu, Random House 2009.

It was the fag end of the 1st decade of the 21st century when the historian Rink Shenkman wrote his marvellous book, Just how stupid Are We? Facing the Truth about the American Voter. In an interview, he said that Americans are “ill-prepared” to guide the world’s “most powerful” democracy. The book points out the astounding inability of even “two of five voters” to name three branches of the federal government, the fact that half of Americans think that their president can suspend the Constitution, and a large section’s ignorance of the 9/11 attack and the Iraq war that followed.

His concern was the mass of people who could easily, repeatedly and systematically be misled and manipulated by politicians and further “dumb down” American politics.

This “stupidity” was on full display in images of rowdy college crowds hitting California’s beaches during spring break, prompting the governor to close them down. New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned that “young people are not Superman/woman” when it turned out that people, especially the young, are not socially distancing themselves. But only Americans are not to blame. Media tells us that “virus rebels” are displaying their stupidity virtually all over the Western world, prompting crackdowns by authorities.

There’s perhaps no similar study for South Asia, especially India, probing our “stupidity” in this crisis-time, though there’s immense fodder for it.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/Hindutva-Coronavirus-COVID-19-WhatsApp-Fake-News)

Understanding the Rise of the BJP

Guest Post by PARVIN SULTANA

(Review of HINDUTVA: EXPLORING THE IDEA OF HINDU; NATIONALISM, Jyotirmaya Sharma ( Context 2019); M.S. GOLWALKAR, THE RSS AND INDIA, Jyotirmaya Sharma (Context, 2019) ; DECODING THE RSS: ITS TRADITIONS AND POLITICS Raosaheb Kasbe (Leftword Books, 2019) , RAJIV GANDHI TO NARENDRA MODI: BROKEN POLITY, FLICKERING REFORMS Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. (Sage Select, 2019) ; MODINAMA: ISSUES THAT DID NOT MATTER Subhash Gatade (Leftword Books, 2019) 

The 2014 general elections which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party return to power with an absolute majority is believed to have brought an important paradigmatic shift to Indian politics. Scholars commenting have termed it as a majoritarian shift. Post elections, there have been discussions which tried to understand the reasons behind this massive mandate that the Right Wing political party managed to get. This Right Wing shift in India’s electoral politics was further proven by the 2019 Parliament election results which gave the BJP a larger mandate. Scholars have written trying to understand the rise of BJP—is it an isolated event or a continuation of past developments? This becomes important because even at the international level, there is a shift towards conservative politics.
Indian academia has also taken an objective look at this shift. A number of books have been written on various aspects of present-day politics, the ideologies and icons that paved the way for this rise and continue to provide intellectual fodder for this politics, the liberal economic policies which have been taken to their logical conclusion by the present government, etc. And these books have provided us with important insights to make sense of the present-day political situation of the country.

( Read the full text here : https://thebookreviewindia.org/understanding-the-rise-of-the-bjp/)

Lessons from Ambedkar and Gandhi to take forward

They represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”

( Review of ‘Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and The Risk of Democracy’ By Aishwary Kumar Navayana, Rs 599)

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”.

In the early 1990s D.R. Nagaraj published The Flaming Feet, a compilation of his essays in which he admired both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Coming close on the heels of the phenomenon of Dalit assertion, it argued that “there is a compelling necessity to achieve a synthesis of the two”. But that has not been the only attempt to examine how the ideas of these two leaders interacted, challenged each other, and how they extended or revisited the meanings of different concepts.

The book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy by Aishwary Kumar, takes forward the conversation around the two “most formidable non-Western thinkers of the twentieth century, whose visions of moral and political life have left the deepest imprints”. For the author they “exemplified two incommensurable ways of forging a relationship between sovereignty and justice, force and disobedience”, or represented two foundational but antagonistic visions of “what we as a society, what we as a state should embody”.

Focusing mainly on Hind Swaraj — a monograph written by Gandhi on a ship to South Africa from London (1909) — and Annihilation of Caste, which happens to be the undelivered speech by Dr Ambedkar when he was invited by the Jat Pat Todak Mandal, Lahore (1936) — the organization rescinded the invite when it came across the ‘radical’ proposals he had put forward in the draft — this around 400-page book discerns “an insurrectionary element at the limit of politics” in the works of these two stalwarts. It is “an insurrection that sought to extract the political itself — and the social question — from the doctrinal prescriptions and certitude of its European past”

( Read the full text here : https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/books/lessons-from-ambedkar-and-gandhi-to-take-forward/cid/1747042?ref=books_culture-books-page)

Why Pakistan’s Islamists Don’t Want India’s CAA Repealed

Of all reasons to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC, most worrying is the Islamists across the borders feeling enthused.

Anti CAA Protest in India

Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the United States, recently made history. It became the world’s first elected body to pass a resolution asking the Indian government to repeal the CAA, stop the National Register of Citizens and uphold the Indian Constitution. It also sought ratification of United Nations treaties on refugees. The said resolution is being seen to be “leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA”.

Seattle is definitely not an exception.

Many concerned voices have spoken against the highly controversial discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, which excludes Muslims [and Jews] and enforces a selective citizenship criteria based on faith. This new law effectively reduces the status of millions of Muslims in India to illegal migrants. A similar resolution was tabled by members of the European Union Parliament last month. It stands postponed right now, but that will be a short reprieve, for the members have resolved to take it up again shortly.

For the first time in independent India’s history the Indian diaspora—which is normally projected as pro-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and which does participate in rallies in his support—has been protesting against the bill along with Indian students studying in the West. These protests have been going on for close to two months in different cities and towns in different cities in the West.

Couple this development with the resistance within the country spreading to new areas and broadening to include more sections of society, as people gradually wake up to the CAA’s grim portents. Definitely, there is growing discomfort against the Modi-Shah regime. Perhaps it is a sign of desperation that in order to legitimise this law the government has been peddling half-truths even in Parliament. Prime Minister Modi quoted selectively from the Nehru-Liaquat pact to buttress his case. He used the same Nehru-Bordoloi letter to defend the CAA, which his party had earlier used to slam the Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam after Independence.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/why-pakistans-islamists-dont-want-indias-caa-repealed)

Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle

 

Three incidents of firing in four days – two in Jamia Millia Islamia and one in Shaheen Bagh – quickly followed open calls to violence (‘goli maro saalon ko‘) by Union minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and the demonization of Shaheen Bagh protesters by BJP MP Pravesh Verma (‘the protesters will enter your homes and rape and kill your daughters’ if Modi and Shah aren’t there). In the case of the Shaheen Bagh shooter, Kapil Gujjar, the Delhi Police (which has till date not managed to find out the JNU attacker Komal Sharma’s affiliation) was quick to link him to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – an allegation expressly denied by his father. All these episodes, so obviously set up, basically aimed at provoking the protesters into committing some violence that the lapdog television channels would then play up, in their usual hysterical style (some of them may even have appeared on air in police uniform!), to vitiate the atmosphere.

On the very first shooting, one such channel did indeed keep doing precisely that till long after the identity of the shooter (in the clip above) had been clearly established. The clips were circulating almost instantaneously and you can hear the gunman shouting Delhi Police zindabad, and there was little chance of mistaking him for an anti-CAA protester. The channel knew exactly what it was doing and at whose behest but kept on at it till 9 o’clock at night.

Continue reading Delhi Elections and the Difficult Terrain of Antifascist Struggle