This is to introduce Rajive Malhotra’s recent work ” Being Different.”
Source : https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9jySISONeKibTItNU51QU52RkE/edit?pli=1
In the course of it, I would also adapt from observations about Albert Camus‘ works.
Source : http://www.enotes.com/albert-camus-essays/camus-albert-vol-9
And from Kartick Mohan’s article
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Rajive Malhotra’s work, ” Being Different,” is a challenging book. If literary classics are especially vested with riches that enable them to be read at different levels, Rajive’s matter-of-fact psycho-spiritual non-fiction demands a subsumation of all levels to a very specific understanding of the Indian way of life and thought, and how if differs from that in the West. The universe he lays on the table has an entire history to contend with, the evolution of values along it and how they express today in acts, thoughts and utterences of typical Hindu and Western or West-imbibed individuals today.
It reminds me of Albert Camus’ works and my own growing up in a partially Western scheme, if not values. His works show a subjectivity cut off from the supernatural paradigms in Judeo-Christian context and its alienation from the absurd world about him. His protagonist acts but only as drawn by situation and events and, very tellingly, fails to express the being he is privy to, of himself.
What value abides in a world without order ? What do we make of this existential chaos ? These questions preoccupy Camus through every one of his works, wherein he intuits answers while feeling the presence of the cosmos in his own being, and in the being about him. This mode is extraordinary, compared with how the Western laity and leadership dwell within the monotheistic framework laid out and imposed by the Church. But for the poetic souls who embrace the irrational, with capacity for extended sensibilities, it is especially uncommon among linearly inclined atheists, materialists, logicians and rationalists, scientists, politicians and businessmen.
Camus is different within the Western mainstream, as is the Hindu without it. Rajive’s Being Different juxtaposes the Western mainstream mind and the Hindu mainstream ways : the former caught up in its imposed Judeo – Christian orientation and Greek linear order, which collapsed with Bruno, and the latter with a sense of continuum anchored to reaffirmed cosmic truths and with guidelines to an illustrated way of life in dharmic tradition. The two are different, as the author details in the following terms :
History Centrism vs Embodied Knowing
Synthetic Unity vs Integral Unity
Anxiety Over Chaos vs Comfort With Complexity And Ambiguity
Cultural Digestion vs Sanskrit Non – Translatables
In the Indian context, Dharma is both morals and ethics, and is rooted in Truth that is not apart from our Self, God, Pervasive Energy and Conscious Immanence.
To the Hindu, Truth is said to underlie existence entire; it is consciousness itself, of which our I-sense is constituted and which illuminates our mind and intellect. It is the vitality flowing in the body, operative in sense organs and interfacing the mind with feelings and emotions. It is the undifferentiated bliss we experience in deep sleep and is the undeniable power of existence in each being.
Positioned between the mundane and the divine, the dharmic tradition envelops the Indian soul in the same inclusive reality that at once and directly links him ever with the cosmos and the world about him, even if one has not perceived it for oneself. There is always someone in the present, or not so long ago, who has refreshed the same truth announced in antiquity and has periodocally enunciated it in contemporary terms. In sum, the call is same : We live in truth and die in truth.
In contrast, truth in the Judeo-Christian scheme is either in the book or equated with phenomenal facts, knowledge about the other – the truth of the moment – discovered and known by those with some claim to scholarship. The Bible is community interpreted, compiled, edited and ordained, though of words issued by supposedly historic individuals. Deviations from the laid terms are generally considered blasphemous. Alternate notions, unless reinforcing that stated in the book, have no validity and acceptance. There are human arbiters, representatives of God whose word is final, with assumed authority of biblical historic characters. They have a right over a fraction of the fruits of one’s income and are empowered to channel the Lord’s forgiveness in confession boxes.
Everybody is a sinner and is exiled in the ungodly realm, to be finally judged at the end of history and take his place in Heaven or Hell till eternity.
In his works, Camus shows the Western mind in the order that prevails. He does not strive to create an illusion of reality, for it is precisely the real which is being questioned. His strange protagonist is tweaked to reflect the bizarre gulf between the inner self and outward acts. His work gives the sensation of fragmentation, the incoherence of a world which has lost its nuts and bolts… with just a hint of the answer that will later be arrived at in several treatises.
But not everyone is an artist or an intellectual; in fact very few are. How do the rest cope ? By chasing dreams where few succeed, mostly by creating opportunities by hook or crook. It doesn’t really work though : there are 42 – 45 milion poor people in the USA, the land of opportunities ! The West has the best of medical cures but few can afford some of that state of art . The UK is on the way to dismantling its National Health System. And EU will soon find it hard to sustain its mandatory welfare programs.
Since chaos and uncertainty is forever upon us, insecurity and anxiety is our base human condition. How would the man in psychological exile, without anchor and deeply alienated, handle it ? And that isn’t the end of it, too. God is dead and the world is unforgiving. It is legal to hoard and go for the kill : everybody has the right to make the most of opportunities. It’s a free market. Every cure, pain alleviating advance, or scientific research comes with a mountain of “opportunity” cost or royalty, to people who need them the most but have the least capacity to pay. Typically, cancer treatment drugs in the West cost 50 to 100 times of that which prevails in India.
A life led by truth, even while striving, is markedly different from a mind lit up to facts. Truth, in its universally inclusive meaning and indescribable form, infinitely deepens the mystery and magnifies the wonder. Facts, the ‘information or knowledge about,’ seek to quench the wonder and kill the mystery.
” It’s a wonder ! It’s a wonder !! It’s a wonder !!! ” says the enlightened one in Chandigya Upanishad. The culture nurtured for the path of enlightenment is quite apart in their values, concerns and behaviour, from one that is restricted to rationality.
“Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees,” explains St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Camus’ narrator has lost the key to his own secret : he has become a stranger to his own life. He holds only facts, and facts are nothing. Therefore, he cannot give his existence a meaning which would establish its unity. Having neither past nor future, he has only a present which is crumbling away and does not become memory. Time, until the final revolt, is nothing for him but a succession of distinct moments, which no Cartesian God pieces together, which no vital impulse spans, which no remembrance transfigures. Camus has rendered admirably this fall of the present into insignificance through a paradoxical use of the first person narrative.
We would be ascetics though if, I believe, our alienation was complete. A stranger to ourself and others, we forever have a homeland in sensation. Finding nothing within to engage ourself, we still have the body to ourself. We indulge then to find and have our bagful moments of happy sensation, in food and porn. Its excessive pursuit in the West is not only a protest against the false seriousness of pulpit morality but also a proof of the victory of the values – system that the Church, even the catholic one, dare not speak against.
Thus is the injustice of having been cast rootless in spirit, mind and body, addressed. Nothing is sacred anymore before the meaning that sensations offer. It is I and my sensations, my indulgence … take it or leave it. Cultism is preferable, family could be discarded or corrupted, and marriages annuled, but I must have it and you got to take it. In the age of freedom, the world must order itself among feminists, misogynists, sadists and masochists, leaving the middle ground to be ordered by the shrink ! Abuse, violence and arbitrary cruelty is never far away and an unspeakabe slavery, formed of freedom all about it, prevails.
Individual freedoms anywhere tend to prompt either getting carried away or being rooted in indifference. It gets exacerbated in the West in the absence of something greater than the individual to moderate it, or to urge him to step up. The family makes it clear that it is not going to provide or take care of anybody beyond a point. One needs to do that for himself; others might chip in then, not before.
To that extent, the family in the West is also not heeded to, beyond a point. As to community and society … the less said the better; it’s wholly optional. There are laws but they, as everywhere, would almost always kick in after the horse has bolted. The United States police and FBI do have the vision of preempting the excess, but getting organised and empowered to that extent also brings in the spectre of a Police State. As some will vouch, it already does.
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In a direct head on, historically and especially from the Hindu’s perspective, Christianity is hardly a religion – it has a political agenda in spiritual guise. Its end is subjugation of non-Christians, in common with the other Semitic derivative, Islam. To achieve that end, it has relied on propagation of lies and falsification of history – not to mention manipulation of our very notion of what is right and wrong.
For instance, Judeo-Christian religions cannot get over the idea that Hindus worship the male organ, as the Shiv Ling idol is perceived. The vertical cylindrical form is in fact placed over the Yoni ( vulva ) of Shakti, and the two together symbolise the transcendent Matter-Intelligence power, of which all being is manifest. The symbol connects the individual with the wonder of creation, in very everyday terms, and calls upon each to regard all life as sacred.
I believe, even Christians and Muslims are exhorted to have the same value; so, why is the most characteristic feature of life, the act of progenition, any the less sacred ? Why do they, in practice, consider it to be sin, dirty and unclean ?
It is not only the act of sex in focus here but the union of vast and qualitatively different energies, male and female, of which the Shiv Ling is a symbol. It acknowledges and celebrates the fact that mankind has two genders, each with its unique attributes and qualities; and, that, when they come together, they create MORE life of their own kind, becoming in the process more than the sum of their individual parts.
Many ancient civilisations recognised this wonder of creation. The Chinese represent it somewhat abstractly in their symbols of Yin and Yang. Such transcendent and sacred wonderment set in our awareness the idea of something pervasive, with which we can relate to through what we each are and have.
The perspective of someone with such extended consciousness beyond his individual idea of exclusive self, based on biology and not on creed or community affiliation, is wholly different from a faith limited to religious fantasies of a personal God or historical Prophet walking upon water or miraculously curing a cripple or a blind. The former lends to us a unity with faraway cosmos in our very being; the latter wrenches us away from close-at-hand life and baptises us into this belief in fiction.
Let us consider the assumptions that cause us to think of sex as something “unclean”? Why is a joke about sex or pictures of the naked human body labeled as “dirty” ? Because we have since been conditioned into thinking of it as something wrong and impermissible, by the pervasive manipulations of this nature-abhorring “ethics” imposed by western clerics and brain-washed laity. Islamists, of course, were simply barbaric during their 500 year rule in Indian subcontinent : they destroyed every institution or temple arm remotely connected with education.
However, the British occupiers and Christian missionaries more than made up with their sophisticated cultural onslaught. They started schools, not to teach but to school the unsuspecting young ones into their lies which, among others, included their cardinal belief that sex was evil, unclean and inherently immoral, in and of itself – perhaps their oldest lie of all. And like all of its lies, it was meant to serve a “control” agenda in spiritual guise.
India since antiquity has always had a central place for Mother Goddess. Hindus know her as Shakti and, in her manifestations, as Durga / Kali / Parvati. Akkadians worshipped Gingira. Sumerians had Inanna. North-eastern Semites knew her as Astarte. In Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, as Ishtar. In ancient Greece, as Hecate or Demeter, and later as Anaitis or Aphrodite. In Persian culture, which widely prevailed before the rise of absurdly puritanical Islam, people knew the Goddess Mother as Anahita. In Rome, as Vesta. Even in the New World, American civilisations of that era had temples and representations of Mother Goddess.
Israelites seem to be quite the odd tribe there, back then. They had a different kind of god altogether : a male god, with a Capital G. They called him Yahweh, and he is the direct antecedent of the ” Lord Our God ” of the Christians, and Allah of the Muslims. He was not about fertility or caring at all. He was wrathful, vengeful, jealous and angry god, full of violence, hatred and intolerance. He spoke out of a “burning bush” and instructed Moses that his followers must not worship false gods, that HE was the One True God, and then asked Moses to go with his staff and smite another people who believed in false gods.
It was their belief, stronger than any other, that the non-believer is a lesser human being than one of them … a belief that was later copied by Christians and Islamist. This signified a political agenda that was truly unprecedented untill then, exhorting, ” Go forth, multiply, and kill whatever stands in your way, because I Am That I Am and I am on Your Side.”
We know the bloodshed that followed from Old Testament times, from pages of history after Christ, and upon Mohammed’s proclamation in Mecca. The Jews did not go about converting people with the rabid fervour of Christians, but they had the same political agenda. They reviled other people in neighbouring civilisations of Egypt and Babylon, especially by discrediting their principal deity – the Mother Goddess.
In practice, they brought in their male dominated values and made it popular to despise and subjugate women, than treat them with respect as equals. The culture put an end to worship of any Goddess in societies where Jews and Christians, and Muslims, became predominant. They denounced fertility and procreation itself, declaring it as not miraculous but sinful affair. For them, the male – female intimacy, and sex, was the Original Sin; the human body in its natural state was dirty and unclean.
The world had not seen a fanatic until the Judeo-Christian paradigm had set in. Slowly but with unmatched doggedness, the anti-female script was enacted … It began with the murder of Queen Jezebel, described in Old Testament. The Temple of Astarte in Jerusalem was razed to ground, and one for Yahweh was raised by King David in its place.
The conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine I to Christianity in AD ca. 300 was a great advance to the cause. He led codification of the Bible as we know it today. However, recent finds have thrown up alternate forms of the gospels included in it and a few that were found as not appropriate.
The fall of Rome in 480 AD was followed by the Dark Ages, rise of Papacy and the blood-soaked Crusade centuries, degrading Colonialism and murderous Inquisition eras. The faith that had sprung from the Israelites spread like a metastizing cancer over the face of the earth and holds its sway even today, despite the feminist movement through the 20th Century … now more particularly in the Islamic world, where a monotheistic intolerant God descended from Yahweh sits high up yonder in his most perverse caricature.
We know how women are treated in Muslim countries : the recent Malala incident is symbolic and the Saudi order, which informs husbands every time the woman leaves or enters the country, is a telling symptom.
The world knew of the Mother Goddess once. The dharmic tradition in India alone continues with it today. It is the only one that has survived since antiquity. The civilisations of Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Americas, have all fallen to Judeo-Christian uniformity…Later, parts of Asia fell to the Islamic monstrosity.
All those cultures that have disappeared were marked with the same tolerance that makes the Hindu standout today. While the Western and Islamic worlds are today looking to cook up a humanism by the rivers of blood they have caused to flow, the true heirs of the tolerant, accepting and inclusive ways of yore are preserved in India, among the native Hindus who the world knows as “being different.”
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And we in India, who follow the dharmic tradition, must never forget this : we are different. We are hiers of this spiritual legacy of the most ancient civilised era, of which we are the last surviving inheritors.
One day, Christianity’s mighty edifice will fall under the weight of its own contradictions, just as Islam is falling today. Till then, we must bear the torch of the legacy of pagan humanism that will ultimately prevail.
From Moses to Jesus to Mohammed to Marx is a logical – and inevitable – progression on the road to tyranny. India and Japan are the only major cultures that have successfully resisted this onslaught.
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Some Of The Ways We Are Different :
Extending between the ephemeral and the eternal, the Dharmic tradition occupying the Indian mind not only permits but encourages a joyous acceptance of contradictions between potential truths and manifest facts. It has no qualms about setting in our awareness mutating facts, as truths of the moment, and immutable truths, being the facts for eternity.
The dharmic tradition declares : There is not an iota of diversity, not even the least trace, in the ultimate substratum of all being. And, equally, there is no truth without abundant and unending diversity in the manifest world.
We is free to be calm in truth, with peace deep in our heart, while dancing in step with the rapid transience about us or pacing to moves in an engaging combat with the enemy before us.
As a consequence, the Hindu is incomparable : there is no soldier like him, none more forebearing under occupation, more gracefully vigourous a dancer or a more completely immersed singer gliding over the scales with restrained speed for hours.
Each one of us are informally skilled at playing with raging waves while being anchored to the depths of the sea. That is the unacknowledged secret behind the unusual success of Indian managers and entrepreneurs globally. On the other extreme, it explains why the Indian remains unmoved despite the ugliness he has and has had to put up with.
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Asked what he thought of freedom, Camus said : “What freedom can there be in the fullest sense without assurance of eternity ?” Hence, Camus built up a sense of freedom that lies in an assumed one : as if it were; as if it were already there.
In contrast, the Hindu’s freedom is for real. The Indian dharmic tradition comes in the wake of infinite – existence, knowledge and bliss – and ushers an unending karmic journey.
It situates the individual in an entire tri-ply scheme : That (mental) is infinite. This (material) is infinite. The Infinite derived of Infinite leaves the Infinite (spiritual). It needs mere observation of the cosmos, and a discovery in oneself, to experience the reality of absolute freedom.
Of course, the karmic laws are incontrovertible in material space : we are free to act but not free to choose the immutable consequence it invites.
Our freedom in mental space is more liberal : we are free to know and outgrow the limitations that circumscribe our current station.
And, finally, we are free to shed this individuated awareness of our self and cease to be, as we were, for ever. There is nothing anymore, as we ever knew – not the material world of beings and things; not the mental world of sensation, will, meaning and knowledge; and no longer the ego-I-sense dilating through sleep, dream and wakeful being. There is nothing anymore animal, human or divine.
It’s truth itself, alone, without a second.
This spirit to outgrow is natural to the Indian dharmic tradition. It occurs along various generic attributes. First, in human goal over a lifetime : dharma, artha, kama and moksha … loosely translated as Right Knowledge, Thought and Conduct; Income and Wealth; Sensuous and Sexual Fulness; and, Supreme Yoga and Liberation Absolute … in that general order. The process allows for endless variations of the same theme, because the outgrowing process itself is not strictly compartmentalised in practice.
The stepping up is more obvious in relief when viewed against the age – axis and values system respective to each :
0 – 7 years, with parents in an atmosphere of love and tender care;
7 – 25 years, celibate life with the teacher, away from parents, in utter simplicity, given to study and service to others, without any priviledge or exceptional treatment over others;
25 – 50 years, leading a vigorous householder’s life, living by right knowledge, honing skills and applying effort to become a useful citizen in the community, with moderated but full-blooded sensuousness, marraige and raising a family in the light traditional morals and exemplary ethics, excelling at one’s chosen profession in accord with aptitude;
50 – 75 years, gradual withdrawal from worldly pursuits and possessions, handing over all to next generation, disengaging from sensuous calls or sexual acts and generally from householder’s duty, engaging in spiritual company, education and practice; and,
75 – 100 years, complete withdrawal from worldly and household affairs, given over entirely to reclusive life, engaged pointedly in prayer, thankfulness and at inviting spiritual fulness, in ever – prepared state of readiness to shed the body and depart for the next.
The sense of outgrowing pervades a Hindu’s lifetime, even in other ways. It is common for to hear of outgrowing the ways of physical animality and take to mindful human values and pursuits, and then to preparations for inviting the divinity upon one’s heart and mind.
It is common worldwide to see the eagerness to evolve through one’s age while we are young or our worldly stations in adult life. In India, however, sages are on record advising people to outgrow external signs of identity in favour of internal ones; from rituals or audible chant to their mental equivalent; from godhead with form to the truth formless; from religion itself to the a-religious perspective.
But to outgrow means to give and take anew; and for that to happen, we need to turn away from merely deepening our anchor in history and, rather, to rescue ourself from it and restore ourself to ethics arising from our morals, not merely from the law in our statute books.
That would place us precisely in the otherwise non-linear dharmic tradition, with which the Hindu has remained connected through the millennia after Ice Age,
the Bronze Revolution,
the Great Bharata War,
the end of urban Sarasvati Civilisation,
the rural Arya resurgence, the Iron Age,
Buddhism and Jainism religious reform movements,
transformation of democracies into monarchy,
the great Maurya and golden Gupta eras,
the reign of mighty Harshavardhan and his extreme generosity at Kumbha gathering at Prayag,
the brilliance of pure monism of Adi Shankara,
the centuries of Islamic onslaught and Muslim rule,
the Age of Devotion and poetics,
the British occupation and long period of Christian upmanship,
and the chaos of post-independent India.
The Indian has seen too much with a surfiet of extreme stupidity and barbarism, of utter beauty and complete harmony. He stands balanced with his wealth and secure in his poverty, patient with peace and hopeful of growth in chaos.
The cosmos is stil there… how wrong can things go ?