Saturday, August 29, 2015
Gandhi was trying to uphold Civil Society values
There is nothing more precious for us than Sri Aurobindo's works. However, I'm not very enthusiastic about compilations. Let's take the example of Letters on Yoga. Without historical context and the conversational setting, the reader misses much of the charm. Besides, Sri Aurobindo's own words may not be quite apposite for specific current issues.
The solution I have in mind is to secure articles on various problems from present disciples to create anthologies. Let people muster courage to speak out sans the compulsion of citing Sri Aurobindo and without resorting to verbosity. Let's say it clearly that the solutions The Mother & Sri Aurobindo have foreseen are far away, and so, we must come forward to think about the present issues, ourselves, like rest of the world is doing.
Thus, active participation of Sri Aurobindo's followers is necessary to supplement present discourse on sociopolitical issues. If you can get one article each from ten different writers, that would be a more interesting and relevant book. [TNM55]
Gandhi has come under attack recently through a series of articles in the Press for being unsympathetic towards the Revolutionaries resorting to violence during the freedom struggle. These well documented works seek to portray Gandhi as a tacit collaborator of the British and hence undeserving of reverence as Father of the Nation. The Revolutionaries, obviously, are treated with sympathy and awe. On the face of it, this reading seems genuine and close to patriotic sentiments, which is fair. But there are other aspects when examined in more detail.
The crux is the context. What the Revolutionaries were engaged in was perhaps justified because they were fighting against the Colonial rule, but Gandhi was trying to uphold Constitutionalism and Civil Society values that are valid even after independence. From this angle, Gandhi's statesmanship qualities seem to far surpass the patriotic heroism of the Revolutionaries. So any rigid stance on this matter violates basic ethical subtleties.
B. Rajiv Malhotra
Plagiarism charges against Rajiv Malhotra has attracted wide attention recently. Malhotra is known for his books on Indology where he disputes the Western viewpoints and supplies alternative readings sympathetic to native culture and history. In his latest book, he cited several passages from a Western author some of which are not properly attributed. Upon being charged with plagiarism, he, instead of apologising, preferred to justify it by saying that the Western authors too borrow ideas from Sanskrit texts without attributing. Thus, a person who is expounding on Dharma was found to be wanting in adhering to basic publishing ethics, egged on by supporters on religious lines.
Ramdev is a famous yoga-guru with followers all over the nation. Sometime in 2011, he started speaking political language and undertook fast against corruption along with his supporters in Delhi. Later on, he came out openly in favour of BJP and campaigned actively for its Prime Ministerial candidate. However, once the elections are over, he became silent about blackmoney and any wrongdoing by the Govt. Two objections here: 1) He used his influence upon people as a teacher for political purpose, and 2) He leveraged the whole episode for furthering his business interests. Thus, there was clear compromise on the ethical front. [TNM55]