The Perfect Life.

In the Christian tradition, from a life of leisure and happines, after Adam and Eve eat the fruit of knowledge they are condemned to work and this has created the prejudice that all work is punishment in the education systems that have followed the Christian philosophy. We in India have been influenced by this belief due to the British education system that was imposed on us by our colonial masters. Little has been done to undo that.

In the Indian philosophical system, as enumerated in our scriptures, the perfect life follows certain stages of life. They are Childhood; Student days; Householder stage; Reflection Stage and finally, Renunciation stage. There is nothing special about this being exclusively Indian, and can apply to any society except for the last part renunciation. In that stage, in old age, the husband and wife withdraw from all attachments, physical and mental and withdraw into the forests to meditate and await their death.

In all the stages however, there is an undercurrent of Dharma. Dharma means virtue, duty or law, but is mainly concerned with doing the right thing. It is the moral law that gives structure to each human being and the cosmos. The concept is aimed at leading people through their lives and is concerned with the achievable rather than the ideal. In its simplest form a dharmic life is one where one lives the way he would want others to let him live. This immediately means, not doing anything to anybody or anything that one would not be done to him/her. Thus, the concept of Ahimsa, not causing any kind of discomfort to other beings. Throughout the journey of life, one is expected to strive for the ideal but adapt to the possible and the practical. It is also taught that work is a privilege and not a duty to be performed for reward. Reward is to be expected but to be accepted in whatever form it arrives, expected or otherwise.

In modern India, that ideal is as good as dead. I believe that it is so because of our confused state of mind, neither completely Indian nor completely Western. The ideal life is practiced in the breach by a minuscule minority of Indians while the vast majority strives for the modern “Perfect Life”. What does this translate to? Simply stated the same thing as all the world strives for. Materially prosperous, modern life with security and all conveniences available to the world, particularly, the material conveniences available to the Western world.

This has brought about a great deal of conflict between the modern and the traditional and in one particular aspect of life, that is the family, the old traditions have, or are in the process of complete breakdown. From the Joint family system of the past, to the modern unitary families with limited accommodation unable to handle dependents due to space, resources etc, alienation and stress with particularly hard impacts on the aged has taken place and one of the most touching phenomenon is the pitiable condition of our old people’s homes.

In my personal life, I have tried to live the Perfect Life without much difficulty. I however must emphasize that the ideal is still elusive whereas the having to adapt to the possible and the practical is constant. In this process however, the other players in my life are striving for their own Perfect Life and there lies the rub. Their ideas of what is perfect and my idea of what is perfect are rarely common. The frustrating reality is the inability to follow the traditional dharmic stages, which I would dearly like to, due to the pull of the other dharmic compulsions. When I confronted my Guru about this frustrating reality, he simply said, “Do your duty with an attitude that it is a privilege, to the best of your ability and that is Dharma.” In other words, I cannot run away from my responsibilities because the others in my life have not or do not, live according to our Perfect Stages of Life!

It is a perfect life or what?

This post is the Loose Consortium Bloggers’ Friday post when Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Anu and Ginger write on the same topic. Please do visit the other blogs to taste the different flavours. Some of these bloggers may be preoccupied with examinations, family problems and/or romance, so be a little indulgent in case they do not post or post late.

Swami Ramananandaji Maharaj.

Just look at that room. Is it not very appealing? I would love to live in a house with a room like that.

And what is more, it is part of a converted old chapel! It can only contain lots of good ‘vibes’, as just imagine how many prayers have been said there! What in India, we would call “Pavithra Bhoomi”, Sacred Ground.

By sheer accident, I landed up at this blog site which came as a complete surprise to me. I of course had heard of old chapels and churches being bought and converted but, old schools? That is a new one to me. Perhaps Magpie can elaborate on that. We have shortage of schools and new ones are coming up all the time.

What has been particularly intriguing me is the thought of getting hold of an old temple somewhere in rural India and converting it into a home! Unfortunately, the kind of construction that temples offer may not be amenable to alteration to suit residences! Just imagine remodeling something like this!

If I can succeed in locating one like that, remodeling it and take up residence in it, I shall be thenceforth called Swami Ramanandaji Maharaj. All of you will be most welcome to come and pay obeisance and take blessings. Just in case you forget, this is somewhat what I will then look like!

Love Is As Rare As Finding Aliens.

Here is a fascinating account from an economist based in London. A classic example of perhaps some one with nothing better to do. In India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, there is a proverb that translated says “An underemployed barber will shave a cat.” That was my reaction when I read this article.

The article however led me to introspect on my own condition. My father, and my son are convinced that my crankiness has something to do with my single status. They have been trying to get me connected to some woman or the other using the Internet with no success whatsoever. My father says that it is because I do not live among the traditional groups from which I come and that if I move down to South India, it should be cinch that I will find someone in a flash. He of course does not realize that I have no interest whatsoever in the matter. He is convinced that I am lazy.

I wonder what Peter Backus will have to say about it! I am sending a link to this post to him at his email address with a request that he comment on the post. Let us see what happens.

Republic Day.

India became a Republic on January 26, 1950. Yes, the Republic is Sixty Years old today.

India became an Independent country, shrugging off British rule in 1947. It took us about two years and some months to draw up our constitution which replaced the Government of India Act of 1935. The day January 26, was chosen as it was on that date in 1930, that Indians declared their intention to become independent from British rule.

It is a mature nation if you consider sixty years of existence as being equivalent to a human being. Like all sixty year olds, our nation too has many plus points and as many minus points about it.

I can wax eloquent about both the pluses and minuses, but shall leave my readers with two links to indedpendent views. I liked both of them despite their rather unflattering references in some instances.

One is by Anne Applebaum who writes in the Washington Post and the other is by Harmeet Shah Singh, who writes for the CNN.

I will be very happy to answer any questions that my readers may have after reading both articles.

The Road. Journey II

When the Loose Bloggers Consortium wrote on ‘A Journey’, in November last year, Magpie’s post led me to two books on journeys that he used to read to his students. One was “I am David” by Ann Holm and the other, by separate correspondence with Magpie, “The Silver Sword”, by Ian Serralillier.

Both left deep impressions on me and I have given them to some young children of my acquaitance to read with very gratifying responses.

I was discussing these books and the impression that they left on me with a friend of mine as to how these stories, take the reader on journeys to new life and new beginnings. He promptly suggested that I read another book which too talks about a journey but which while not quite leading to new life and beginning as one would expect, is powerful nevertheless in a disturbing and very realistic way.

That book is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

It is truly a powerfully moving book and for those of my readers who like such reading experiences, I strongly recommend it. I understand that a very impressive movie has been made of the book and I intend seeing it sooner than later, though I rarely see movies.

Magpie, thank you for starting this process off and I hope that you will read this book too.