Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rejection of Rationality IV: Snippets

In my previous article, Rejection of Rationality III: Western constructs, I have made sweeping statements about the present mood of Hindus. Most of these observations come from my experiences from debating with various people on the topics concerning India. The moods I presented in that article are coming from various sources and you will hear them too if you poke some people and keep your ears open. In this article, I wanted to capture some of the moods coming from some of the forums. Please don’t miss out on the article from Times of India (TOI) which is linked in here.

An Indian lady from Britain would like to absolve Hindus of all discriminations by moving it onto British:

Lets not forget that the Schedule of Castes and Tribes that codified "caste" in India is a colonial British invention. Thanks to this wonderful document, certain people were not only allowed to hold certain jobs, but also prohibited from employment…

A paper on status of Indian women writes:

But in the later period the position of women went on deteriorating due to Muslim influence. During the Muslim period of history they were deprived of their rights of equality with men. They were compelled to keep themselves within the four walls of their houses with a long veil on their faces. This was definitely due to Islamic influence.

An article in recent TOI captures the mood completely (all emphasis mine).

If you read the Ramayana and Mahabharat as history, you will find lots of mythology. If you read them as mythology, you will find lots of history- A L Basham

Hindus do not like facts, we just like mythology.

Try telling any child — and that includes the inner child within all of us — facts and dates, and they will quickly lose interest. But narrate a mythological tale, and they're all ears. Parents know that. So do advertisers. After all, as Deepak Chopra once wrote in The Times of India, "A brand is an encapsulated mythology. A person will buy a product not because she is consuming the product but because she is consuming its mythology."

We do not need proofs, we already know Rama exists.

Which is why the whole debate about whether or not Lord Ram existed as a historical figure is redundant.

To millions of Indians, Ram and the other heroes of the epics are living entities; eternal role models who exist outside of time and space. To try and confine them within the boundaries of geography and chronology — as attempts to prove their historicity must necessarily do — is to do them a huge disservice.

We don’t need history, we are quite happy with fables.

In any case, the obsession with historical accuracy is a Western, rather than an Indian construct.

Historians have cited the traditional Indian habit of creating myths and fables rather than 'accurate' historical documents to lament that India has no sense of history. Absolutely true. But rather than getting defensive about this 'criticism', we should be proud of our ahistorical view of civilization.

Because our forefathers intuitively knew that mythology provides a far more authentic understanding of a civilisation than history does.

And here is the gem!

Indeed, as Indians, we believe in creating myths, and obliterating history.

Why is Ram human and at the same time a god? Here’s the answer:

“There was initially no ontological gulf between the world of the gods and the world of men and women," says Karen Armstrong in one of her books on mythology.

Did I already mention that we need a Westerner to validate our ridiculous claims?

Ironically, the statement that's possibly the wisest ever made on Indian mythology was by a westerner, one of the few who understood 'The Wonder That Was India' — the renowned historian A L Basham, who we've quoted at the beginning of this piece.

I rest my case! TOI comes up with so much idiocy I don’t need to prove much.


  1. I think both the rationalists and the right-wingers have got their arguments wrong. You have duly exposed the flaw in the argument of right-wingers. Let me now tell where the rationalists argument has gone wrong.

    Rationalists argument seems to be based on the line that only archeological value of a structure matters. Nothing could be far from truth. If you visit panchavati in Nasik, you can easily see that all the structures that as per legend are said to be related to Rama and Sita are hardly two to three centuries old. Similarly, the so called palaces and houses of Krishna in Gokul are obviously not more than a century old. What if tomorrow a development project comes in the way of these structures? Would we have a right to demolish them? Does only archeaological value makes a structures valuable? What essentially constitutes a sacrilege?

    In my view, what makes the difference between panchavati and gokul on one hand, and Rama Sethu on the other hand is the presence/ absence of a living tradition. In panchavati and gokul, there is a living tradition of devotees that has revered these places as sacred since centuries. In case of Rama Sethu, no such living tradition is available that has worshipped this structure ever. An attempt is being made to artificially create a tradition, which never existed. A sacrilege can be committed only against a live faith not against a non-existing one. I can be charged for inciting hatred if I insult Rama, but I cannot be charged for hatred if I insult Zeus.

    The rationalists' argument of basing their opposition on lack of archeological value of Rama Sethu misses this point and that's exactly why it fails to make an impact.

  2. Sujai -> TOI comes up with so much idiocy I don’t need to prove much.

    --- And you keep reading TOI just as we keep reading this Blog.

  3. Hi Sujai, I agree completely with what you say in the "Hindu's Reject Rationality" series. Great posts!!

    As I have elaborated in my own blog, low-caste movements in India take a very different view. Leaders like Mahatma Phule, Periyar, and especially Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar have strongly encouraged rationality and a scientific temper.

    Finally, regarding the Ram Sethu issue, I think Vivek has a point. In addition to archaeological evidence, living tradition is also important. The govt should have pointed out that not only is there no archaeological evidence, there also does not exist any living tradition with regards to Ram Sethu.

  4. Siddhartha Shome and Vivek Behal:
    Yes, I do agree that the GOI should have addressed the issue of 'places of worship and veneration'.

    Since they consistently and generously dole out exemptions to so many places of worship (without any historical significance) and spare them from demolition even if they are standing in the middle of road, they should have ensured this structure does not come into that class.

    However, I was not discussing that aspect here. I was only talking about the petition filed by those who were trying to make a case that it is indeed constructed by Rama.

    I think I would have ignored it if they put it in the class of 'places of worship and veneration'- though I find such cases equally ridiculous sometimes. But definitely it would not have raised so many people's objections as the contention that 'there is no evidence for existence of Rama'


  5. There is some truth in status of women deteriorating after islamic influence,especially in north india.
    sometimes you need to clear the eyeglasses.

    One women in britain Sueing one hair saloon owner, because she wasnt given the job as she wanted to wear a head scarf while performing the duty for religious reason.

    Visit to hair stylists costs £100 and up,and the british women change hair styles once a week or twice a week.The styles are silly and funky.

    Which idiot women want to have her hair styled by scarf wearing stylist.


  6. Tabloids promote these kind of stories in britain,there is an audience for these.
    May be they have planted the girl for these operations,to prove the point.just like in india.



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