If one were to believe the Delhi-centric “national” media, a 20-year-old college student has become a household name in the last few days. That’s another matter that the media which claims to be “national” is neither interested in much news about the ‘nation’ beyond a few blocks of New Delhi nor does it bother to understand how the rest of India beyond the national capital really views, thinks or understands a certain issue.
So of course, the name of that 20-year-old-college student isn’t really a household name in the majority of India. In fact, the majority of India doesn’t even care for many of the “issues” that a certain section of loud-mouth Indian media keeps shouting about or rather constructing via their chosen narratives. It may also be added that the majority of India actually has a much better and intuitive understanding of many things than the so-called experts and commentators speaking their lungs out in television studios and writing out their dissertations in newspaper columns.
A peculiar ‘intellectual’ elitism meets a certain deep-rooted prejudice in the kind of news, views, analysis, commentary we hear from our privileged and ‘educated’ journalists and intellectuals, who almost always choose to see only one side of the issue. They make this choice because only then they can defend their convoluted logic that isn’t based on facts but only on that peculiar prejudice against that India which they think of as ‘regressive’ or ‘traditional.’
Of course, all this labeling is based on these elitists’ own preferred notion of what it means to be progressive and modern! And whenever questions are asked about such preferred notions, more labels come out such as – ‘nationalist’, ‘saffron,’ or the one made popular in the last couple of years, ‘bhakt.’ (Never mind that these label-throwers don’t even know the first thing about the words bhakti or bhakt).
And as if that wasn’t enough, a certain filmy ‘poet’ has now added another choice phrase to ridicule and mock this India; his contribution to the prejudicial label pool is: “hardly literate.” Obviously, this person thinks of himself as much, much more than ‘hardly literate’; he perhaps thinks of himself as an ‘intellectual’ who knows better, way better, than the babita-viru-you-and-me type of Indians!
This filmy writer and others like him choose to support that 20-year-old-college student who has been caught lying on pretty much everything she said to become famous. They choose to ignore the fact that she has been propped up by certain political outfits with a sinister agenda to create an environment of instability in the polity. They choose to ignore the fact that the kind of propaganda for which this young woman was picked as a ‘face’ has but one goal – to demoralize the Indian armed forces, to create an atmosphere of falsely constructed rift between the national government and the armed forces.
They also choose to ignore that such situations only help to provide additional impetus to India’s enemies to keep pushing their anti-India agenda – either by openly supporting and sponsoring terrorist attacks or by other covert means such as propping up ‘breaking India’ forces such as creating societal unrest, funding anti-national propaganda, sponsoring nefarious missionary activities etc.
Most importantly, they choose to ignore that being more than ‘hardly literate’ doesn’t necessarily mean being wise or even logical!
Logic is the worst enemy of Truth, as self-righteousness is the worst enemy of virtue; for the one cannot see its own errors nor the other its own imperfections.
~ Sri Aurobindo, Aphorisms
More than a hundred years ago, in 1908, Sri Aurobindo wrote the following in Bande Mataram, a journal he edited during his active revolutionary days:
British education has denationalised the educated community, laid waste the fertile soil of the Indian intellect, suppressed originality and invention, created a gulf between the classes and the masses and done its best to kill that spirituality which is the soul of India. (March 26, 1908)
The sad part is that not much has changed since then. We don’t have ‘British education’ per se, but we also don’t have ‘Indian education’ shaping our young Indian minds and hearts. We are still, even after 70 years of independence from the British, filling the young and impressionable minds like that of our ‘now-famous’ 20-year-college student and her ‘supporters’ with the same colonial prejudice which looks at all things Indian with only a Western lens.
We have failed our younger generations because we have not given them an education which would teach them that an Indian psychological-spiritual view of nation and nationalism could be very different from the narrow and rigid ‘modern-materialistic-rationalistic’ view.
The country, the land is only the outward body of the nation, its annamaya kosh, or gross physical body; the mass of people, the life of millions who occupy and vivify the body of the nation with their presence, is the pranamaya kosh, the life-body of the nation. These two are the gross body, the physical manifestation of the Mother. Within the gross body is a subtler body, the thoughts, the literature, the philosophy, the mental and emotional activities, the sum of hopes, pleasures, aspirations, fulfilments, the civilisation and culture, which make up the sukshma sharir of the nation. This is as much a part of the Mother’s life as the outward existence which is visible to the physical eyes. This subtle life of the nation again springs from a deeper existence in the causal body of the nation, the peculiar temperament which it has developed out of its ages of experience and which makes it distinct from others. These three are the bodies of the Mother, but within them all is the Source of her life, immortal and unchanging, of which every nation is merely one manifestation, the universal Narayan, One in the Many of whom we are all the children.
When, therefore, we speak of a nation, we mean the separate life of the millions who people the country, but we mean also a separate culture and civilisation, a peculiar national temperament which has become too deeply rooted to be altered and in all these we discover a manifestation of God in national life which is living, sacred and adorable. It is this which we speak of as the Mother.
~ Sri Aurobindo, Bande Mataram
We have not taught them that in the land which gave to the world and humanity a yogic teaching like Bhagavad Gita real and sincere work for outer peace begins with oneself. We have given them no cultural or civilizational grounding because we don’t have it ourselves.
Instead we have allowed dangerous political ideologies to spread their tentacles around various colleges and university campuses and to almost brainwash a certain vulnerable but loud section of student population.
Maybe the filmy poet does have a point when he speaks of ‘hardly literate’ folks. But if he were more honest with himself, he would also include himself among these hardly literate people. Perhaps many of us, as products of a highly colonized education system and now as parents of students currently in the system, are ‘hardly literate’ about the real Indian-ness.
We have let this happen. Let that sink in.
But things can change. Let this too sink in. Deeper.
For what is a nation? What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha-Mardini sprang into being from the Shaktis of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of … [her] people; but she is inactive, imprisoned in the magic circle of tamas, the self-indulgent inertia and ignorance of her sons. To get rid of tamas we have but to wake the Brahma within.
~ Sri Aurobindo, Bhawani Mandir