Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Synthesis of religion and political discourse

I have received some responses on my earlier blogs on secularism and political discourse which seems quite irrelevant and cliched.

A careful re-reading of my blogs would reveal some sentences like "I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse". Hence, reading BJP orientation, cultural nationalism, science vs religion, Hindu vs others seems a knee jerk reaction and is not really relevant to the main point that I have raised. I humbly would like to re-state the hypotheses for your comments.

For the last few months, my world view is that "Everything in the world is at it should be" and therefore the drive to "change" is no longer too active within myself. I am at peace with myself and with the world around. The earlier engagement with civil society and longing to improve society, nation or the world is not seeming imperative.

As I meditate, think and read - the inescapable conclusion is that existence has been created in a balanced,healthy and self correcting state. Whether it be the universe with its gravitation, its pressure, its temperature, its flora, its fauna, its evolution, its development, its elements or the human body with its various self-healing mechanisms, its homeostatis, its balance or the inter connectivity and inter dependence of various aspects of existence - all is naturally healthy and perfect, and mankind with its exploitative, fragmented instinct is messing it up.

While great discoveries and inventions is necessary, evolutionary and commendable - the basis on which it is driven, a mechanistic viewpoint of existence as separate and fragmented and therefore exploiting nature and its variants, needs to be corrected. The fragmentation has led to the present social, ecological, cultural crises. It is the root of all wars, violence,caste, religion and other differences.

Objective science (physics, chemistry and biology) which was the basis of all development, has suddenly been found to have been driven by false mechanistic concepts as new experimentation and validation confirmed that all matter is undifferentiated at the source. New philosophy also validate the unity and synthesis of all.The Ayurvedic and Homeopathic holistic medicinal system, which bring body back to balance, yoga which opens blockages to allow the body to come to its natural balance are getting more and more popular.Modern medicine, which used to say 20 years back, that physical ailments had nothing to do with the mind - is now stating that over 80% of the physical ailments are psychosomatic.

So, what relevance does this have to secularism and all that?

Well, as disease is described as an unnatural deviation from the ethos of the body, so also any deviation from the ethos of the nation, the soul of the nation creates an unnatural state, which seems to be one of the major source of misery, turmoil and violence in this country.

So, what is my premise?
1. Democracy is the best political system - as it allows freedom and air.
2. Non -religious governance system is the only process appropriate.
3. Allow religious symbolism in public life.
4. Remove the artificial barriers created within public discourse
5. Create middle ground sidelining parties using religious and casteist platforms

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secularism - separating politics from religion?

Some people thought that my last blog was too dense - my apologies. Do note that I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse.

Dis-ease is a state of the body where some extraneous bodies enter the body imbalancing the original prakruti (constitution). So, looking at the constitution of an average Indian - we see a very different species from the western piece. A religious, god-fearing, spiritual based mind set - praying every day, having a temple or more in the house, using god and religion in every second sentence and in general using religion or its symbolism in his entire life. Public life, commercial life, movies, plays, ordinary conversations and interactions substantiate all that Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda say about religion being the central tune of India.

A few months back, I had gone to a Congress party felicitation meeting, where they gave a Bhagwada Gita and Koran to each of the audience and every speech was laced with God, religion and culture. Once in a citizen movement meeting, the priest of the local church made a very pertinent point saying that " While we start every good event by invoking God, why should we not invoke God for every political meeting / event / issue for a cause which is meant to serve society?"

Since Independence, the communists have had complete control of the bodies (except for a short period of BJP rule) which decide the curriculum setting for the school, colleges and overall public debates in the nation and their viewpoint of anti-religion, anti-God has been prevading in the body polity. The JNU based sociologists and philosophers have been occupying the public mindspace with their western based ideology of separating religion and politics. Anyone who speaks of religion, God and values is branded as communal and rabid. The space for sensible, middle-of-the-road Indian leadership is reduced leaving in its place - extremists using the politics of hatred and vote bank driven religious platforms to vitiate the peace and growth.

Anyone understanding the ethos and the soul of India should realise that the division of public life and religion is an unnatural and artificial boundary. Gandhiji who travelled through the nation to comprehend its heart, used symbolisms and processes from all religions starting from the Bhajans, the Ashrams, the quotes from all religions, sects and bringing moral and religious values into the nation.He created potent and unique weapons based on the Indian ethos like Non-violence, truth, renunciation, dharma etc., which found such outstanding response from the millions of his countrymen.

Today, we have a nation torn apart from its roots, its moral and cultural heritage, its tremendous science and knowledge - we have a nation that is in a stage of disease, of imbalance and one of the thing that we need to do is to throw away this aspect of secularism which seeks to create this unnatural division, to bring back balance and health to this great unique nation.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Secular India - an oxymoron

The gap between the potential and performance of India in the past six decades could be due to the state of the nation being diseased. So, let us analyse whether the principles of secularism (separation of religion and politics) in public life, a western graft, is at the roots of creating the infection.

Disease - a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism. A diseased organism commonly exhibits signs or symptoms indicative of its abnormal state. Thus, the normal condition of an organism must be understood in order to recognize the hallmarks of disease.

The Indian world view emphasizes the basic unity of all existence and its interrelation and connectivity, whether it be an individual, family, society, nation or universe in all its dimension - religion, politics, science, social, psychological, physiological or legal framework in all its dynamic and fluid format.

The western culture had a similar worldview where science, philosophy and religion were not separated, till the Eleatic school of thought in the sixth century postulated an intelligent and personal God standing above the world and guiding it. This was the beginning of a materialistic trend that eventually led to a dualism between various aspects of a unified existence. By the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes had divided nature into mind and matter with the material world being a multitude of different objects assembled into a huge machine, to be used and exploited by different interest groups.

The fragmented, cartesian view is further extended to society which is split into different nations, races, religions and political groups. The belief that all these fragments - in ourselves, in our environment and in our society - are really separate can be seen as the real reason for the present series of social, ecological and cultural crises. It has alienated us from nature and from our fellow human beings.

The mechanistic, newtonian classical physics was shocked and transformed in the late nineteenth century by the advent of the new quantum physics which conclusively proved that the universe was an inseparable, dynamic and undifferentiated whole, connected with each other and within one's self at the subatomic level. Soon,the new biology, new chemistry and other sciences also proved the same hypothesis.

The recent worldwide popularity of various philosophers and thinkers, who are propagating the concept of unity and interconnectivity in all aspects of existence is resonating with the hearts and minds of all deep thinkers and laymen alike. It also makes me wonder whether the separation of various organic aspects of man - mind and body is the correct way or is it time to rediscover the principles of unity of all aspects of thought in private and public life. Isn't it time to abandon this artificial and foreign infection ailing the nation. Isn't it time to abandon the separation of private and public life and embrace the holistic and completeness of mind and action like Gandhiji?

PS: Swami Vivekanand says "Here in India , it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India". His definition of religion was "Any sect that may help you to realise God is welcome. Religion is the realising of God"

Gandhiji, who used to get inspired, sing hymns, talk and quote with various religions in public life was revered not for his strategies and principles, but because he was a "Man of God". Secularism is a Western graft unsuitable and unnecessary here as diverse communities here have been living together peacefully in the same geographical area. Gandhi did state that those who think religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics. As per Gandhi, " Indeed religion should pervade everyone of our actions. Here, the religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral Govt. of the universe. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. It does not supercede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality."