Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ask Not What the Country Can Do For You. Ask What You Can Do For your Country

Another Republic Day has gone past - another grand Republic Day parade.
63 years of Independence and 61 years since India became a Republic...
Where are we today?

Definitely not where the architects of India imagined we would be.

The evil of our caste system and all the baggage that comes with it has now become a burden that is still weighing us down. The original varna system was created so work could be divided among people based on their intellectual capabilities.

A Brahmin - highly intellectual person - intellect or knowledge is not our idea of intellect today - knowledge those days meant, knowledge of the divine, respect for nature, humility, lack of greed - in short a Brahmin was a philosopher and teacher content with his lot -
He was a Satvika - pure hearted.

A Kshtriya -A commanding person, brave and also possessing the intellect of a Brahmin though not the pure hearted nature - also a bit of cunning - for to safeguard a country some cunning is required. Such a person was fit to lead a nation with advice from a Brahmin.
A Kshtriya is part Satvika and part Rajasika - or dim-witted (in the sense he lets emotions rule his actions) which is why he needed the Brahmin to restrain him.

A Vaishya - a bit bold and cunning, with a what is in it for me attitude - such people make good businessmen- for if you are to be successful in business you can't be totally pure- hearted or behave like a warrior. Diplomacy is the trait of a good businessman.
A Vaishya is part Rajasika and part Tamasika - a bit but not totally dim when it comes to the finer aspects of human nature.

A Shudra - is a person totally clueless as to the finer aspects human nature. He cannot be trusted to make his own sensible decisions - a Tamasika

If we look around in our own families, we'd see all these 4 catagories of people.

Over time, again due to baser side of- human nature, these basic principles were overlooked and people laid their own selfish interpretations over the Varna system. Sons of Brahmins called themselves Brahmins and so on.

We need to snap out of centuries of conditioning.

The great sage Veda Vysa is the son of a sage and a fisherwoman.
Would the caste system of today accept such a union? Does this not tell us that we have misinterpreted what the ancient philosophers meant by varna system?

The ancient philosophers did warn us that there would be total chaos if the varna system was violated.

Look at where we are headed.

We take what we want from the past and lay narrow interpretations to suit our selfish purposes.
We've been doing it for centuries and we are still doing it.
Look how we borrow all unwanted habits from the west - habits that have no justification - overlook the finer aspects like cleanliness, business integrity for instance...

We are busy chasing wealth, position, status...
When are we going to realise that in chasing these illusions, we are losing sight of the fact that we need to spend quality time with our children and inculcate the right values?

Isn't there satisfaction in giving an old hungry woman a 10 rupee note and seeing first her shock and then her smile?
Why argue with a vegetable vendor over Rs.1/- and pay exorbitant rates for a meal that would have tasted better and cost much much less prepared at home. Think about it.

I am not against eating out. I am against haggling with the poor when we are making the rich richer.

Again how many of us are willing to spend thousands to perform yagnas to cleanse past sins & doshas yet refuse to help the domestic help financially when her kids are ill - without adjusting the money we give her from her already meager salary?

Aren't we making the rich richer by not insisting on bills for payments for goods like gold?
The discount we get when we choose not to take a bill is only part of the tax the goldsmith has to pay the govt.

There is no depth in any of our day to day actions. Most of what we do is superficial and meaningless & self-serving.

We find fault with everything and everyone around us. What about ourselves?
Can we honestly say that we as the citizens of India are conscious of our civic duties?
How many of us care to clear the garbage we generate in tourists locations? Refrain from throwing out food packets on the roadside?
The govt. has banned use of plastic bags. How many of us carry our own bags when we go shopping? Don't we shamelessly demand carry bags knowing full well what it does to our environment?

How many of us vote?
How many of us care enough of to educate our domestic helpers regarding their rights and duties? Because we feel that we are better off if they are kept in the dark?
we need to-
introspect on our general attitude
deduct and negate unproductive elements
substitute them with changes that would make a difference to the environment, our families, ourselves...
Such drastic changes in attitude are not possible overnight.

But there is a difference between not even being conscious that we need to change and becoming conscious of the need the change.
Reminds me of a tongue twister I was fond of when I was a teenager.

He who knows not and knows not the he knows not is a fool; shun him
He who knows not and knows that he knows not is ignorant; teach him
He who knows and knows not that he knows is lazy, ignore him
He who knows and knows the he knows is a genius; follow him.

Our past was eventful - civilised, cultured, intellectual, then violent, subservient ...
We have now become woefully selfish and corrupt and are heading towards destructive.

Isn't it time to wake up and do our bit instead of blaming everything on corrupt politicians and waiting for the country to do something for us?
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