Social Evolution, Revolutionary Change, Negotiated Settlement: What is Best When?

A very interesting question raised by my fellow 6/1 blogger Conrad.

In my not so humble opinion, the answer has been staring at our faces for decades. None of them work in the long term. All of them have been tried and found wanting. The human being is simply not willing to bring about a world that can live in harmony with all members like other species do.

The nearest society has come to some kind of a Utopia is when it engages in totally spiritual approaches to life. This simply means that we let what is innate in us to operate freely so that superimposed value systems of superior/inferior, good/bad, etc be replaced with what Frans de Waal calls our greater powers of abstraction, and involves “a move toward universal standards combined with an elaborate system of justification, monitoring, and punishment.”

At this point, for most people religion comes in as religion and morality has been inseparably enjoined since long. Oxford English Dictionary defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. This is not what will bring about morality in our lives but I strongly believe that spiritualism will certainly do. OED defines spirituality as “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”

Quite how a spiritual life can be inculcated in us is something that I am not qualified to suggest. I however think that small beginnings made in our schools right from the childhood can and does bring about this as, I have personally seen happening in many of our schools that teach our children good values from the beginning. For those interested, here is one such school and I reiterate that, there are many thousands more in India and hopefully, in the next couple of generations, at least in India, we will see a society that will be harmonious with sound moral values.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog post topic. The other five bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

A Common Enemy.

No, I will not talk about the latest common enemy.  For me, the common enemy has been for many decades, the idea of “the other”.  Mind you, I am talking about the idea and not “the other”.

“The other” has been the bane of human beings from time immemorial and there does not seem to be any end to it, not at least in my life time.

Let us take the most common today.  Islamophobia.  A conference of some Heads of Islamic States was recently held to address this issue. This is a global phenomenon and locally in India, I have recently been reading some very explosive material on the alienation that the Muslims in India feel. The first one is this book from a young mother and the other is from two very knowledgeable and erudite Muslims of India.

All the three links given above will give my readers some idea about the problems faced by the Islamic world in general and the Muslims of India. I am particularly concerned about the latter as it can have serious repercussions in the next few years with Right Wing nationalism growing in India, Pakistan imploding and Bangladesh in an economic crisis. If the problems faced by the two countries result in a refugee problem in India, there will be a major upheaval which I would rather that did not take place.

Let us talk about some other kind of “Others”. Here is an instance of old people becoming the other. I would very much like to meet this worthy when and if he ever gets to be as old as the people that he suggests die for the cause.

Need I say anything about the biggest “Other”, gender?

Every community has its share of “The Others”, thanks to inadequate education of the different types of people, religions, languages, colour, appearance etc and prejudices and fear drive bigotry and hate crimes besides discrimination.

The latest in the line of many “The Others” is China, thanks to the Coronavirus. It is extrememly difficult to determine how much of it is fact and how much just fake news but, the damage is being done.

If we delve deep into our prejudices, we will find enough and more “others” to keep us discussing them till kingdom come. I have just listed a few here to give a pointer to the IDEA of “The Other” as being our number one Common Enemy.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Spirituality And The Media.

This week’s Friday 2 on 1 fascinating topic has been chosen by Shackman. I am really curious to know quite what he will have to say on it and, I am sure, so will you be. So, without much delay, please go over to his blog to find out for yourself.

For me, the most important media is the print one. I prefer that to any other and I am lost without my quota of newspapers, periodicals and books. The largest of these is the newspaper one and India’s largest, The Times Group in two of its publications offers daily small stories and every Sunday, publishes a suplement devoted entirely to Spiritualism.


The next in the Print series will be my monthly dose of publications from five separate institutions, though three of them belong to the same order, The Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

The next in line for me are shows on religious / spiritual themes on our television channels. India has a long history of such serials starting with the famous Ramayana Series by Ramanand Sagar in the eighties. Today too, there are any number of channels offering such fare and I watch one on Sai Baba Of Shirdi every week day for half an hour.

India has any number of Godmen as they are called derisively by the sophisticates, and I occasionally get links through WhatsApp to Youtube broadcasts on spiritual matters by some of them. Here is one by Satguru, a very popular religious leader which should amuse my American readers.

One also gets bombarded by messages on spiritual and religious matters via WhatsApp, email and SMS messages, all using modern social media and I often get quite annoyed at the sheer volume of stuff that I have to delete every day.

I can therefore conclude that this must be the single largest subject for modern media and I am sure that my readers will agree.

Marriage.

The idea for this title for our weekly 2 on 1 Friday post where Shackman and I write on the same subject came to me when I received the following piece of humour from a friend:

Today is ‘World Marriage Day.Let us keep 2 minutes’ silence and read some quotes of fellow – sufferers.

A few interesting
*GLOBAL OPINIONS ABOUT MARRIAGE* :

After marriage, husband and wife become two sides of a coin, they just can’t face each other, but still they stay together.
– Al Gore

By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
– Socrates

Women inspire us to great things, and prevent us from achieving them.
– Mike Tyson

I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me.
– Bill Clinton

“There’s a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It’s called marriage.”
– Michael Jordan

A good wife always forgives her husband when she’s wrong.
– Barack Obama

When you are in love,
Wonders happen.
But once you get married,
You wonder, what happened.

I was a married man for forty years and never once had to crack a joke on the institution. My late wife used to say that it was because I was hardly at home due to the travelling nature of my job and so, whenever I was at home, I just enjoyed the comforts and security of home and was not exposed to the other realities that other stay at home husbands did. By the time I retired or chose to retire due to her illness, the nature of the relationship changed and there was no scope for humour.

We got married according to Vedic rites the most important parts of which are the seven circumambulations that the couple take around a sacred fire.

After that ritual, this is the shloka from Vivaha Karmakandaa that every bridegroom is made to recite after taking the seven steps holding the hand of the bride around the fire. I too did.

धैरहम पृथ्वीवित्वं
रथोहं रेथोभूतत्वं
मनोहंसमिवाकतवम
सामहंसमि क्षुत्तृत्वं
सा माँ अनुव्रता भवा.

Dhairaham pruthviveethvam.
Rethoham rethobhuthathvam
Manohamsamivaakathvam
Saamahamsami kshuthruthvam
Saa maa anuvrthaa bhava.

“I am the sky and you are the earth. I am the giver of energy and you are the receiver. I am the mind and you are the word. I am music and you are the song. You and I follow each other.”

How beautiful! We did indeed follow each other for as long as her health lasted. When it failed, we got joined at the hips as it were and that lasted for another eight years till death did part us.

Like all relationships, we had our ups and downs but, mostly it was all ups. There was rare chemistry between us which I think was due to our having been friends for eight years before we decided to get married. I can honestly say that it was a successful marriage.

I despair at the frequency with which modern marriages break down but I understand that the world has changed and different value systems and pressures operate now than those that prevailed in our youth and middle ages.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the subject.

Intolerance.

Intolerance is defined as an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own; or an inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.

Having suggested this topic for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog post, I shall address both and perhaps something else as well. Please do visit Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the topic.

Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own.

Ever since India’s Rightist Hindu Nationalist party, the BJP came to power in 2014, this word became synonymous with the Leftist Intellectuals in India and all kinds of things happened. Minor incidents of law and order took on communal tones like Hindu vs Christian, Hindu vs Muslim and Upper castes vs Lower castes and so on. Some took to mass media to condemn the majoritarianism implied in the result of the elections, some returned awards given to them by the previous dispensation as a means of protest, without however, returning the cash elements that went with those awards and generally made, what in my opinion was fools of themselves.

These were the English speaking, reading, writing urban self appointed intellectuals and their tantrums, simply did not reach the people who were none ot the above. The BJP came back to power last month with an increased majority in our parliament and now one sees the same breed of Tolerant Intellectuals analysing the results and coming to the conclusion that they misread the public mood and orientation. Some of these elements wrote for foreign publications as well crying themselves hoarse that doomsday is about to descend on India. As my readers can see, nothing like that happened and some even changed their tones post analysis of the results.

Being a Rightist supporter of the BJP, I tolerated these elements while they were intolerant of me! Now I am enjoying watching them squirm and the Schadenfreude is entirely enjoyable.

That is the beauty of intolerance. The ones shouting loudest that the other is intolerant is entirely unaware that they are being intolerant of the other to start with! And being completely detached, I simply enjoy trumpeting my own intolerance of the intolerant.

Coming to other types of intolerance, I know some wealthy people, the not so wealthy simply cannot be so, who are intolerant of the elements. During the summer months, they disappear to cooler climes and during the winter months to warmer climes. During the wet months they refuse to get out of their homes lest they get wet and miss out on a lot of fun. These people are also usually intolerant of everything around them and totally insatiable be it about food, drink or relationships.

I also know the unfortunates who are lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant or some other intolerant and I feel sorry for them while being grateful that I am not any of those. On the other hand, I recently discovered that I was allergic to one particular type of new antibiotics and it was entirely providential that I had anti allergy medication at home as otherwise, I would have been dead with the reaction I had after consuming that medication. Now that my doctor, family and I know that I am intolerant to it, hopefully there won’t be a next time.

Intolerance can take other shpes too and one of the most common in India is the mother in law, daughter in law conundrum and / or the older generation, younger generation one. Here again, it is difficult to do anything about it when one comes across it but one can be grateful that one does not go through this in one’s own life.

I am sure that there will be other types that my readers have come across in their experiences and I look forward to receiving comments on them.

The Third Eye.

This photograph is of Swami Dandapani. No, I am not a Sales Agent for him but am posting this here to illustrate something else. If you were to ever meet me in the mornings when I am at Pune, you will see me with the same kind of Vibhuti horizontal stripes on my forehead as well as the tilak just above the nose and between the two eyebrows.

These two applications indicate that I follow Shaivism. The horizontal lines are symbolic of inevitable destruction of the body as the material used is ash from our sacred fires. Ash is symbolic of the human body becoming ash after cremation. When one applies the ash on his body, one remembers that he is subject to becoming ashes.

The tilak is more important for this post. The spot where it is applied is called the Ajna Chakra in yoga. The material used is either sandalwood paste or kumkum powder or both. I use both. Applying this on one’s forehead during morning prayers is to invoke the earnest request to open the third eye of the individual, which would enable him to differentiate between the real and the unreal, or the permanent and the impermanent.

I am delighted that my favourite Comics character wants to become a Shaivite!