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Archive for August, 2006

The main arguments put forth against mandatory singing of the song are-

  • This is sheer injustice.
  • Muslims (and Jews and Christians) think singing this song goes against their faith. One may or may not agree with another think. But (as long as that does not affect the his freedom or hurt him in any way) he should respect the other’s sentiments.
  • Why is it so important to sing this particular song to prove your love for your countrymen? Even when the song is written by a person who supported the British Raj? Who did not want independence?
  • Does singing this particular song ensure that one loves his countrymen?
  • Nobody is going to gain from this conflict. We are only wasting our time by trying to force this song on Muslims. If the Muslims are forced to sing this, only their hearts and minds will turn sour. Love begets love. Hate does not create love. Force does not create love. The country will gain nothing by forcing Muslims to sing this song. In fact it will lose a lot. It will lose not only the Muslims, but all the people who respect others’ feelings, all those who believe in freedom and justice will be unhappy.
  • This will only further divide our country. This will prove that the country is totalitarian that does not know to respect it’s own citizen.
    This will sow seed of further violence and suppression.

But the question to be asked is more general. The question to be asked is ‘Why should anyone sing ‘vande mataram’?’

There is no doubt that one should love his countrymen. But why should love stop at the border?

What is India? It is but a set of people who happen to fall under the same goverment. India did not exist as today’s map even 60 years back. May not look like this in future.

Our countrymen are most imprtant to us because they are the ones who share the same goverment and same land. Because they are within our easiest reach to help and reach for help. Given that, there is no reason for sensitizing it any further.

Let us look at the issues at practical terms. Pretence is not good in any matter of life. Nor is emotion in place of reason. Blind loyalty to anything in this world is not good. Simply because nothing in this world is perfect. It is said that the country provides us food, drink and shelter. Which is, basically, a pretence. The country is nothing but a piece of land. A lifeless object. The boundaries are man-made. It is God who is providing us (Indians or non-Indians) food, drink and shelter. By claiming that the country provides us, we are being blasphemous. We are being ungrateful. Taking One’s credit and giving it to something else.

Blind loyalty to countrymen (was,) is (and will be) eqated to blind loyalty to the goverment. The rulers want to be sure that we shall follow whatever they say. Nationalism is a very good tool to ensure that. None but we shall be vulnerable and exploited. We shall die at frontiers fighting for the rich and powerful, without ever realizing it. In ancient Egypt king was held to be god. Simply because he did not want to be questioned. Same thing was seen at Rome, at a later time.

Remember Hitler‘s Germany. Love for country and pride of Aryan blood was a integral part of Hitler’s doctrine. The Jews were viewed as anti national. Propaganda inside the then Germany planted immense pride of being an Aryan into the hearts and minds of common German. This resulted in two things-

  1. The non-Aryans were feeling insecure.
  2. The other one was even more bad and dangerous. Non Germans were being viewed as lesser beings.

This form of nationalism teaches us to regard citizen of other countries as lesser human beings. At the end, it is this pride that will end our nation.

The politicians remember nationalism only when it helps them (nothing surprizing!). They forget it when they have to pay their share of responsiblity. By naming nationalism, bringing in some ‘bharat mata’ they want to cow us down. Stop us from questioning them.

Interested readers may read an article on nationalism by Bertrand Russell in his ‘Facts and Fiction’

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Samskar vs Culture

There would be nothing wrong with it if we were-

That’s how I have lived my son. Now decide how are you going to.

No. We are –

That’s how I have lived my son. And you HAVE TO live this way.

We don’t say-

Elders have lived the way they saw right. I shall as what I see

No. Instead-

I will live as my elders have. And so will my son.

What is samskar? Family traditions and rules. Community traditions and rules. Made permanent. By force and by preaching.

Here is the difference between culture and samskar. There is a strong element of force in samskar. Culture is habit. One grows up seeing things done in certain way. Gets habituated to it. One is free to break away or modify if that be his will. The moment force comes- it becomes rigidsamskar. Culture is fluid. Can, does and wants to change.

Why should we tie a string around our shoulder just because I am born to certain father? Why am I superior and free to extort those who were not born to the privilaged? Why? Why should I, for being born to a certain father, be denied education? Even though I may have more ability than they do? Why foster elitocracy? JUST because that is what was going on? Why are our fathers never wrong? The biggest weakness in our culture is that it emphasizes loyalty than justice.

A story from the Ramayana comes to mind. Ram’s name is being written on stones and thrown into the sea. The stones float on water and the ‘banar sena’ is making bridges out of them. Ram himself picks up a stone and throws into water without writing Ram on it. This one does not flow. The message? ‘It’s all in a name’. The person is unimportant. His name is. Terrible. This is the attitude that has enabled our age old samskar’s take on sensible people. We swear by the name and greatness of Tegore. ‘He was a great poet, so they say’ is our response. The name is important, the person is not. We don’t much know what he wrote and what he believed.

Amartya Sen. Even right wing hindutva champions cheered at his getting the Nobel prize. Sen had avidly criticized them. That voice went down in cheers of his getting Nobel prize. ‘When is he returning home’? ‘Where is his home’? ‘I went and have seen his house’. Idol worship. Voice got buried in mountain of pictures and photos. The name is important.

Buddha was silent about God. He said he was just a man. And he suggested how to live. ‘Don’t lie’, ‘Don’t cheat’… What have WE made out of him? Ohh… the nineth avtar of Vishnu. Rebirth of Vishnu, a god!

The message or the messenger? We chose the messenger. Or his name, rather. It’s easier. You don’t have to overcome temptations. Do wrong. Just name him. It’s far far easier.
Look at the messenger. Listen not. Follow not. Just name him. Make excuses in his name.

ADDENDUM: When I wrote this article, I wrote that Budhha did not believe in rebirth. That may not be correct. So I have edited the article later.

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