Thursday, March 19, 2009

Us and Them...

Well for all of you Pink Floyd fans, this post is not really about their “Us and Them” classic which I so ardently love…this post is literally about “us” and “them”…the social stratifications created among humans by humans through prejudiced beliefs…

When educated, young politicians go on to make such inflammatory statements like Varun Gandhi did in Pilibhit (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/EC-files-criminal-case-against-Varun-Gandhi/articleshow/4275065.cms), it is depressing to realize that what all of us have been clamoring for so far i.e. to have educated, progressive thinking youngsters in the Indian parliament , with hopes that they will be able to guide India to become a world power by leveraging the secularity, the democratic ideals of the nation and the intelligence/ perserverance of the common Indian man, is perhaps just a utopian dream…

I have always been proud of coming from a country which nurtures as much diversity in terms of faith, language and culture as India does…a country where at a specific point of time in recent history, the two highest official positions in the country were held by two extremely talented individuals ...a Muslim president and a Sikh prime minister …both being from what are considered minority communities in a nation which is inhabited by the largest Hindu population in the world…

Wherever there is diversity, there is of course bound to be differences of opinion about matters big and small…and it’s all good that there exist different opinions or views about matters…but when these cultural differences take a turn for the worse to become prejudices and premises for judging people and actions, that’s a lethal step towards turning the moderates among common folks into extremists…and to be very frank it doesn’t take a genius or a scholar to realize that…

I personally believe that it’s all good to be proud of a faith by choice …after all each individual derives solace and strength from different sources…choice and belief in a faith is something personal but being prejudiced by a faith and demeaning others who do not concur with one’s beliefs is really not acceptable…

That brings me to another controversial topic about prejudices… “the caste system” in India…of course a lot has been written and discussed about the evils of this system and I need not delve into it further…just the other day, we were having a discussion among friends that transitorily dwelled on the caste system in India…that discussion, though short and of no specific significance, provoked me to go back and rummage my old diaries for tid bits of some of my teenage year conversations with my grandparents and parents about religion, faith and social stratification…

Born into a family which has never encouraged discrimination based on culture, religion or any such other societal divides, for the major part of my life I have been quite oblivious to the burden/superficialities that the belief in the caste system entails. Though no one I know endorses the system in black and white, over the years I have heard a lot of people say that the origin of the system lies in/is endorsed in the Vedas…

I have always been skeptical about this myth though, because my granddad always used to say that the Vedas do not endorse a specific religion or classification of humanity…they talk about a way of life …a culture…

So I did my bit of research and am I glad that my belief about the tolerance of the thoughts articulated in the Vedas and of Hinduism as a culture was proved correct!!!

The Vedas say and I quote, “‘Janma Jaat Shudra Sarve, Karmenu Brahman Bhavati”…this means, by birth all human beings are born inferior and it’s only ones deeds or “karma” that go on to determining how great or superior a human being grows up to be…


I wouldn’t claim to have read the Vedas or the Bhagavad Gita to completion…may be some day I will…but I am sure all scriptures of faith including the Quran, Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible and all others have the same thing to say about human kind….it’s just us lesser mortals, who have a way of reading between the lines in support of some of our prejudices…

I visit temples and love the feeling and the sense of inner strength that permeates me when the chanting of Sanskrit mantras reach a crescendo, I enjoy the serenity and peace that envelopes me when I pray in a Church, I am filled with an unsurpassed feeling of hope as I light candles in a dargah…and I am sure as and when I do visit a gurudwara and other sites of worship, I will be filled with similar thoughts and feelings…

All faiths, at the core, have the same things to say…to nurture respect and tolerance for others, to be humble, to appreciate the dignity of labor, to live and let live…

Life is, after all, far too short and beautiful to burden it with notions of “Us” and “Them”…

5 comments:

SBora said...

well written....it all boils down to education and exposure - the answers to managing ignorance and insensitivities.

Priyanka Rajkhowa said...

Couldn't agree with you more Rhimjhim ba...
But it's just that sometimes there is a sense of helplessness and disillusionment when even education and exposure don't seem to be enough to foster and nurture tolerance and sensitivity among people...

SBora said...

yes indeed and a lot of it depends on how and whether you apply what you learn. i know a few educated folks who have very narrow perspectives on life and it amazes how wasteful their education has been.
i guess thats why they say, its the experience and exposure that counts the most.

Priyanka Rajkhowa said...

Yup...absolutely

SBora said...

hey not tennis...badminton although i wished i played tennis or golf