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Rebel without a cause!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nothing is sanatana

Indian Philosophy lays a lot of emphasis on detachment and generally frowns upon materialism. The ascetic is held higher in regard than the businessman. The ability to supress your wants and to gradually kill them off is considered a great virtue. This is reflected in Indian (and to some extent other asian) culture.

The west on the other hand is unabashedly materialistic. It makes the pursuit of happiness as the life's ultimate goal and to make most use of our time on this earth. But there is a caveat, this attitude has only recently developed and more specifically it is originated from America and has been adopted widely in Europe. It is a result of education and the undermining of religion.

There are many in India who are concerned that the western influence would be bad for India. We would lose our culture and identity. And I think they are right that India's identity would be changed but it would not be lost. Modern India will fashion its own distinct identity taking into consideration the radical ideas of modernity coming from west.

Perhaps the old ideas were suited to that times. When the society was more or less equal and people's position in the society was decided at birth, there was no incentive for people who wanted something more to be a part of the society. They might have gone on their own tangent and developed the concept of renunciation and others followed developing on the theme. So if a modern Indian is materialistic, it is because there is reward now available in the society for people driven by materialism.

The concept of detachment and renunciation are part of our culture but I guess they are not everchanging and one needs to change with our milieu. Ofcourse it is called sanatana (everconstant) dharma but there is nothing permanent in this world.

4 comments:

Dew Drops said...

there was a time i used to think detachment is cowardice. that stems from your inability to face the challenges of life, the emotions in relationships and attachment to things dear to us.

now i wud choose a mid path. be involved and live ur life to the fullest. u get it only once and every single moment lost is lost forever. sit back and cry when you lose something, but move on and catch up with life.

i don't think the western way is bad or inferior. that is just another way of looking at it. different schools of thought. and i choose the lesser extreams of both.

if were to be so much detached, and take evthing for "maya" we wud have still lived in forests and wud have been the happiest.

it is all about "living in the moment" and being a constant learner. that doen't mean you shud be crooked or selfish. follow your heart and always make a choice that you feel you are least likely to regret later. and find happiness in others happiness too.

extract the maximum when you can ang give your best.

Sreekumar said...

For me, it was the opposite way. I thought that detachment was a great virtue. It wasnt something which was explicitly mentioned but it is a cultural trait that one picks up. As a kid ofcourse, it is not because of cowardice of dealing with human emotion.

But recently I came to the same conclusion that one of the reasons for this detachment might arise from a subconscious cowardice.

Renouncing this life is not the only sort of courage that exists. Taking what life has to offer in full measure is also courageous was a revolutionary idea to me. To live and lose and yet live another day with hope is certainly magnificent. And if you win some battles on the way, it certainly helps!

Anshuman Ghosh said...

lets put it this way - I would like to detach from those who are not worth being attached to. I know it sounds like one of those "practical" theories :-D

Sreekumar said...

"practical" theories are what we need to live, Ghosh and your theory is definitely the way to go about it. sometimes it is also attachment to causes, goals in life and all those intangible things which needs a bit of detachment. Perhaps...