Culture

My blog on ‘The story you never wanted to hear’ generated some powerful, passionate and animated discussion. It was interesting to see the divide, while everyone felt bad reading about Michaela Cross’s experiences, some also strongly felt that, when traveling to a different country, one has to be cognizant of the local country culture and constraints.

Very often, we refer to culture, and am not sure what one means by culture – it it dress code? is it not moving around the country without a male support? Is this culture? So, we agreed that:

1. We have systemic failures at multiple levels – central, state, local. There is no doubt about it.
2. We probably need some sweeping reforms in our election process in terms of who can stand for elections, etc..No doubt about it.
3. People have to develop their faith back in the system and come back into the electrol process. No doubt about it.

Hopefully we will have many more of such discussions, but it was important to bring the discussion to a logical closure, lest people left with their own interpretations and inhibitions.

I also wanted to make sure people had a balanced perspective, and were not brushing things aside under the name of culture. Reforms will probably take a few generations / may be not in our/my life time. As with every reform and transformation there is always a mix of good and bad, there is nothing to be disheartened about. India (at-least my view) is going through a phase. A time will come when this be past, may be 200-300 years from now.

To understand and appreciate this, we have to go back in history. Right from 900 AD (perhaps earlier too) till 1947, we have been under constant foreign invasion (that is about 1000 years), and compare that to the 60+ years of independence. In these last 60+ years, it is only last 15-20 years when we have seen increased incomes, greater circulation of money, power play, etc..With money comes greed, corruption, ego, clinging for life, higher levels of ignorance and hatred. You have to see in this relative perspective.

The point that I want us to reflect upon is, and this is the bit if each one of us can do, that in itself, is progress. We don’t have to worry about the rest. The totality will take care of itself. The part we have to do is – develop ourselves internally, develop internal renunciation. This applies to each one of us regardless of our age. This has nothing to do with age, gender, culture. Culture is what we define, often put to misuse:

What is that culture that advocated Sati?
What is that culture that advocated untouch-ability?
What is that culture that promoted caste system that is so deep rooted that we can’t get it out oof our system?
What is that culture that promotes honor killing?
What is that culture that advocates female infanticide?
What is that culture that under the name of religion, is always doing business with God?
What is that culture that under the name of God and religion is out to harm/kill someone from another community/caste/religion/faith?
What is that culture that advocates a dowry system?
What is that culture that treats a girl’s father / parents as piece of dirt, just because they have a daughter, whose marriage they would like to perform?

These are hard questions we have ask ourselves. In and through these questions, if we make an attempt to find answers, we will discover ourselves. Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I focus on today? What should I be actually focusing on? What is culture? What is religion? …When we develop the right understanding, we will then be able to pass it on to our children. What we lost centuries back, if we don’t make a beginning now, our grand children will say the same what we are saying today..i.e. ’our forefather’s did not follow/pass on..’…

Invest in our scriptures. Read the Bhagavad Gita. Read Bhaja Govindam. Make a beginning. Invest in yourself. Our scriptures say there are ONLY 2 reasons for our existence as human – 1. realizing the self and 2. serve the nation, serve for a higher cause.

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