Thursday, 17 August 2017

Chingam 1 Again 2 years on. M. E. 1193

Here I begin another blog, 2 years after my resolve to start writing again regularly. This year, Chingam 1 almost came in congruence with Krishna Janmashtami and the Indian Independance Day. A mere 70 years since the political independance and partition of India, 1193 years since the establishment of the modern Malayalam Calendar from Quilon and 5029 years after the death of Krishna of the Mahabharata fame. 

To talk of India's journey-

"My India, my own country, this country which was redeemed by giving our lives- when I think of her fate, I feel sorry. Today's India represents whatever we used to oppose in those days. Dishonesty, black-marketing, internal conflicts, power-mongering, all these are rampant."
                    - Lalithambika Antharjanam in her '60s novel Agni-sakshi (Transl. Fire: My Witness)

My thoughts aren't far off, with the only difference being that I wasn't one of those "who gave our lives". Most of my ancestors were for the status-quo. Their inborn conservatism made them defend their positions although a few in the old-guard were adventurous to adventure in the uncertain political climate for altruistic reasons. Perhaps they had tremendous foresight as many were renowned for their ability to look at the sky and make predictions.  In retrospect, there comes the tormenting thought that while they were blissfully unaware, men and women were fighting and dying for political freedom. Many were clearly disillusioned by the outcome, as Lalithambika Antharjanam laments. But life became equally difficult for those men and women who had chosen to resist the urge to join the fray and to the apathetic masses who were sprung to action by the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on the scene. The whole social system and what we may now identify as the distinct Civilisation of India and particularly Kerala was broken up. For those who are sympathetic to this gentle civilised period of time, the current scenario is a far worse and sadder state of affairs.

India--in my opinion-- seems from our time-frame of history to have stood for:  the attainment of the utmost limit of perfection possible for man combining this quest with the fulfilment of duties of the external life; more so than any one other particular land. Even pagan Hinduism which was the belief that the bulk of the population shared believed in "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's and rendering unto the Gods (sic) what is due to them". Rendering help to mankind was equally important as rendering sacrifices to the gods. The denizens were often preoccupied with the former that the latter just took a symbolic form except in the cases of a select few adepts like who devoted their lives to it first and foremost.

India was passing through one of the greatest transformations of history, casting aside, almost unperceived to herself and the world, the traditions that neither great reformers, such as the founders of the Buddhist and Jain schools of thought, nor great conquerors, from Alexander to Akbar the Great, had been able to destroy: the traditions of the Vedic Society , inherited from a past so remote that they still retain unmistakable traces of the last Ice Age that ended more than 10,000 years ago. India, for the first time was looking beyond her own lands, for the instruments with which to fashion a life. Nehru saw himself as a Pagan, of Ambedkar we don't know with any certainty other than that he was very modern in his outlook. These two were the architects of the framework of Modern India- no doubt about it. Political thought was dependant on these motivations. Native writers in the vernacular looked at European and Russian works for motivation- some are but rank translations of such original works. A few namely Tilak, Aurobindo and Vivekananda combined western instruments with the uncompromising assertion of India's spiritual independence. Demand for political independence was a step that was bound to come up from the former. Unemployment was very high, young men were angry. A war loomed and the demand was finally met with approval from the newly appointed politically inexperienced fabian socialist Labour Government in London.

It is in this paradox that we find ourselves and this quandary and the choices we have will be the primary subjects of the blog. Do we now evolve a system that is sustainable, or do we face the certain doom that materialism as a prime motivation and end in itself, awaits itself? We have been growing unsustainably, damaging the environment and the built environment of our nobler ancestors, and generally taking a very regressive path. Symptoms include a lack of order, the love of truth, beauty and goodness and an increasingly intolerance of even trivial differences. To remain true to our core and succeed in the world, we must reexamine and reaffirm our priorities. May this be the motivation for the youth of today.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Chingam 1 : Time for New Beginnings

This is the first step in the revival of my blog; a decision mainly prompted by friends and well-wishers in India who wish to hear more about what peters out of me during conversation. So strictly for my Indian readers, here it goes..

The trouble with me is that I seem to think it's very hard to get anything off the internet and regrettably so. So one has to be --this is from my training as a lawyer-- extra sure that one wants to commit matters to paper. In the old days, one could simply commit the scrolls to fire.. I have done it sommany times, in fact twice I have been tempted to press the delete button already! Alas! Not any more in the day of the all-powerful internet can one wipe it out entirely.

Of particular interest to my friends were my writings on the distinctive cultural history of Travancore, particularly it's diplomatic relations with various powers in control of greater India and particularly so- the British Empire and the British Raj in India. It sure is a perspective obfuscated by the politics of the current day. And it really is what produced me and continues to shape my opinions and reactions to every matter that comes up.

I decided to begin my various scribblings on the 1st day of Chingam which is now celebrated (erroneously)as the Malayalam New Year. In fact it is the beginning of harvest --that particularly lovely clime when rice is harvested-- and the most important festival of the Malayali races, Onam, is celebrated during in the month.

Until the late forties and early fifties when the State of Travancore joined India, we in the southernmost corner of the Indian sub-continent followed the Malayalam Era (a. k. a. the Kollam Era) with Malayalam months beginning in Medam (Mesha in Sanksrit / Aries in Latin) . When a new democracy dawned in India --a great achievement nonetheless-- the resulting standardization meant the states that joined the new nation had to forgo elements of its distinctive culture and take up the prevailing set European measures. Now, there's the first history lesson for you! Perhaps one ought to read Tagore's tirade against nationalism!

Now, I do not consider this 'blog'  to be a serious one. It's great for discussion, something India has been doing from its very past. Sorry for having to say this- All views expressed are my own and not of any parties that I represent or have done. I might seem to pour scorn on various personalities--dead & living. This is only a derivative of my quest for the goodness of India, churning the milky or rather murky, ocean for the very best of what India means to me.

Another warning: I'm going to --as always-- say things for my pleasure and not to please anybody in particular as I have always done.And if that doesn't stop you from reading on; I don't know what might?! Go ahead..

Saturday, 11 January 2014