People are wrong to think India is other worldly. Indians are not mantra wielding ascetics, but pragmatic who think the worst of sins is to miss an opportunity to get ahead. But they relish in the spiritual reputation,
Indians are not oblivious to the world, but rather oblivious to what is of no direct interest to them says Pavan Varma in his book Being Indian. They will droop if there is no prospect of upward progress. That is why the British wrongly thought Indians lazy. Britain gave opportunity to only a few – mostly Brahmins – so why should they bother? Yet, as British found out in the 1857 rebellion, they would risk their life for the high return of smuggling food to the British enemy.
Ritually obsessed by personal purity they ignore filth around him stray dogs sewerage stench does not distract them from prayers. Theologically, God may be the unrepresentable Brahmin, but gods and goddesses are shaped into beautiful women, or heroes seen as all to human patrons to his profession.
There is the giving of charity, but this is part of the barter with the gods. There is no special day of worship that offers community spirit. It is as if each has their own ‘special arrangement’ with god and the community excitement of regular lunar festivals.
I find my neighbours constantly taking the customer and personal parking. I returned to Bhopal to find water was being piped from my homes sump, and electricity diverted from my building.
Yet in a land known for corruption, I have witnessed remarkable honesty.
It seems strange that in business men routinely pay bribes, yet Gujarat diamond merchants can simply hand over millions of dollars in diamonds to Angadias, or door to door specialist couriers on trust. Their service offered in Surat, Ahmedabad and Mumbai has no receipts or records of transfer and yet it works.
The gambling during the 2003 cricket world cup, illegal at the time, totalled about 10 billion US but people paid their debts even though there was no way to legally enforce it.
Yes Indian life and religion seems like disorganised chaos, but then people are convinced anything can happen in the cosmic play of the gods.
To be honest, many foreigners have described the people of Bharat as callous, It is so pervasive it can infect a visitor over time.
But that should not discount the alchemy of personal gain personal salvation or deny Indians their spiritual nature.
Hinduism recognises the legitimacy of atha (economics progress), dharma (duty), and kama (pleasure). The order of importance varying according to each school of thought.
Each has its place in the four stages of Hindu life:
- Brahmacharya, the learning student
- Householder , with the pursuit of pleasure, livelihood, and experience
- Then begins the graceful withdrawal from active life
- Finally, one prepares for the next reincarnation
While there are rare ascetic or saints, youthful renunciation, is not the most robust choice.
It is commonly held that the three objectives of human endeavour are interdependent and should be pursued equally. The scholar Kautilya explains without pretension ”Excessive importance given to anyone of brings harm not only to that objective but artha (sound economics) is the most important , for dharma and kama are both dependant on it. “
Similarly, Vatsyayana, who wrote the Kamasutra included kama in the four purusharthas of a successful life. If a householder is meant to enjoy pleasure, or kama, then he should learn to be a successful lover. He is equally utilitarian: artha is placed first even over dharma. While together dharma more important than artha , atha is king because men’s livelihood and pleasure depends on it.
In reality, few Hindus care about the intricacies of religious philosophy or know the details of their scholars.But they refuse to be deflated.
Milega nuqaddar ,I will find my destiny, and in hope that by some chance if a god may be found, a gurus blessing works or ritual will be blessed, then he will seek it.
Na jane kis mein mil jaaye bhagawan, you never know what form you will run into God.
So why remain so optimistic in a hostile struggle of India?
The answer is in the two pervading doctrines of Maya and Karma.
Only Brahmin is real. Anything that cannot survive this life is an illusion. Maya is the power that makes the illusion of this universe that appears to us only because of our ignorance. Life is like a computer game, and we the characters in it, forget we are only the play of pieces of computer code. Like Neo in The Matrix, salvation comes when you can experience the hidden reality and short circuit the program.
Worry is seen as confusing a rope for a snake.
Karma suggests your misfortune or success is linked to your past life, carried over when the imperishable soul changed its clothes in a new birth.
While both ideas seem intended to promote self responsibility for the future and seeing beyond short term appearances, for many they offer an escape valve.
If you succeed you have played the game of maya well, if not its only an illusion so why worry, is at best a short set back. Maya in some contexts means wealth, but if you fail nothing of real value is lost. Besides, what is one bad life time in the time scale of eternity.
The Hindu scholar may not agree that karma omits our personal responsibility. However, it is easy to blame a past life, or if you have to cheat to get ahead, then you pass accountability to an impartial but future court of justice of your future karma.
As a Director General of Police once told me, Hinduism is a religion of survival.
Destiny may change by surprise blessing of the gods, a guru, or a future life.
Either way, the Indian never believes he s defeated.
A Delhi businessman, whose shop was beneath the painted women of GB Road’s bordellos, seemed oblivious reports Being Indian.
“My dhanda (business) is my dharma. It does not matter what is going on outside. Once I am in my shop, I do dhanda. So long as I make money I fulfil my dharma. Those outside must fulfil theirs.”