Friday, 11 November 2011

Cultural purity

         I never gave two Knuts about cultural purity. But something I found recently in a Pakistani cultural forum got me thinking. They were complaining about people dancing to hit Bollywood tunes for parties and how it erodes the purity of Pakistan Islamic culture.
        I thought of starting a debate in the topic dissecting so called 'Pakistani Islamic cultural purity'. But then had visions of my Gmail and FB account being hacked and so controlled myself with difficulty and logged off. The people in the forum were complaining about how outside influence is corrupting Islamic culture. For starters, Islam itself is foreign to Pakistan. It originated in Saudi Arabia and spread to rest of the world. Before Islam came into Pakistan, they more or less shared so called Indian/Hindu culture. So where the hell is cultural purity?

          Let us take the case of the Shiv sena fanatics cribbing about so called traditional Indian culture. To start with, are they sure Indian culture is pure? Thing is, Indian mythology is very similar to ancient Greek mythology. Swastika, our symbol of peace, became the symbol for Aryan supremacy. Thus, the obvious conclusion is, all these stuff must have originated in some common place and spread to other places. So at least some part of the so called Indian Culture is foreign to our soil.

         There is also the difficult issue of separating culture from religion. Culture of a particular place is a summation of the learning, experiences, and habits etc. of the people belonging to that area. That can be common to people of the region. And involves the best practices and survival tactics suited /customized for the local society (this ceases to be true if they refuse to change according to the times). Religion is just a way of praying to god (I used to wonder about this as a kid; What if the guy/gal we call as GOD is Satan in reality?) while introduction of a new religion invariably brings about some socio/behavioral changes in the new devotees, there is no need to totally reject the local culture. It does not make sense; the reality is, organized religions evolved to satisfy the needs and counter the issues of a particular society at a particular time. So when it spreads to a totally different region with different issues and different history/culture, it needs adapting. Point I am trying to make is there is nothing like religious purity as such. Though purity is a desirable when it comes to manufacturing/science, it is rather a dangerous element to introduce in socio/cultural scenario.
There have been some wonderful scenarios of cultural integration. The journey of the Parsi’s is one such amazing story. The Parsis migrated from Iran to India around 10th century A.D. Inspire of having a different ethnicity, they integrated themselves deeply with the Indian society. For so small a community, they made truly remarkable contributions to India.
Now if we are considering the spread of religion, I would say that Buddhism is truly remarkable for integrating with the local culture. As we all know, Buddhism originated in India. But when it spread to other regions, it only carried its essential ingredients. It discarded the unnecessary & local elements of India. Subsequently, today we don’t have Pan Buddhism (thank God!). But it integrated so well to the local culture that today we are lucky to have Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism (practiced in Sri Lanka and all) and many other branches. Each with a sweet local flavor of its own. I would say that Buddhism aimed at spiritual invasion rather than cultural invasion


      Cultural evolution is an ongoing process. People belonging to different cultures interact and in the process exchange their ideas and processes. There are dead cultures and stagnant cultures; but nothing like a pure culture unless you are part of some yet to be discovered obscure tribe.

P.S  Knut is the least valued coin in Harry Potter Lingo

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Heart's true desire -A talisman


Ever since I started Infy, I was toying around with the idea of an alternate career. Like all electronics graduates, initially I wanted to work in my core field. Then again, as I had not wasted any time in   college studying, I felt that I was not ready to be released in to unsuspecting public sector core companies. After all, I did not want to blow up a missile or satellite by accident. So i thought of increasing my knowledge as well as percentage by doing M-Tech.
       In the first year, I qualified Gate , went to Coimbatore and  strutted around the Amrita College Campus with characteristic arrogance. ( I had reason to strut, almost all of the applicants had come with their parents. I was the rare breed who had turned up alone! These are times I just love my parents!) When it was time to join, I could not bring myself to commit myself to two years of studying.  I called up my father , informed him that i was not ready yet and will join next year. He grumbled something noncommittal.
       The next year, I actually studied something instead of relying on lady  luck and improved my rank but managed to lose my Gate Score Card! To my credit, i discovered this only on the last day of submitting application. I was informed that i need to get an FIR filed to get a duplicate score card! Seriously, that was too much! Being the lazy git that i am, i laid the matter to rest.
         Anyway, by this time , i had discovered infy blogs and thought i would like to go for journalism. Started an external blog, announced my decision to parents and dreamed for a week about Sainath, Tehelka etc. By the end of the second week, i got bored with the idea. Journalism seemed too lame!

        "Follow ur heart" i have heard this advice too often. But if i had followed my heart every time it wanted something, i would be now homeless, jobless , friendless etc not to mention probably living on street. I sincerely envy those people who knows what they want out of life and stick to it.

          So one fine day, i set out to find out what i really wanted o/o life. I ended up creating a talisman. Here is this.
" Ask urself what would you like to do if there is no power, money, glamour , fame, prestige, etc.,, offered! What would u like to do just for the sake of doing it? Choose it!"

I asked myself this question and the answer i got was strange. I wanted to be green peace volunteer! As my parents were hardly likely to approve this , i took the test once again. I got answers like green entrepreneur either in the sector of renewable energy or e-waste management.Hope things will work out.