Ask any survivor of a war how many heinous crimes has he witnessed and the person will surely be able to tell you a million tales. And every tale will be a narrative of a harsh struggle. We, the offspring’s of a peaceful era, might not be able to relate to the ways of such folk, however we are not completely absolved from the struggle. Although the casualties of the conflict we face might not be so physical in nature, it has consequences that crop up from time to time but remain de-linked to a much vaster social phenomenon.
The conflicts that prevail today are rooted in multiple factors like a persistent change in the basic value system of the nation, identity crisis, adaptation to globalization etc. It is not something one can escape because it affects almost every dimension of our lives, be it Work/Job, be it relationships or be it lifestyle.
Here is a list of paradoxes that exist in our culture today:
- On one hand it is considered auspicious to gamble on Janmashtami while most states have banned gambling and casinos
- Rigid meat eaters turn vegetarian on certain days of the week
- We worship innumerable goddesses but girls are still killed at birth and women routinely abused at home and outside
- People claim being secular and cosmopolitan, then look for matrimonial alliances within their own caste
- Imparting of sexual education is considered a taboo, yet we have almost the largest population in the world (Particularly ironic for a culture that has produced ‘Kama sutra’ and ‘Khajuraho’)
- We worship God couples who never married but forbid children to have any relationship and even go to the extent of honour killings to prevent the same
- We also worship an ‘avtar’ of God who is half man and half woman still we are disgusted by the mere sight of a transgender
- Some of us pray to a virgin mother but we cannot accept a child that is not born out of a wedlock
- Many of us project ourselves as spiritual in spite of being steeped in consumerism, either out of fear of ridicule from society or due to a false sense of belief
We are told that we are drifting towards “westernism” leading to an inner struggle in some or apathy in the rest depending on one’s upbringing.
A closer scrutiny may unveil that it is actually a battle between the fundamentalists and the ‘intellectuals’. While the intelligentsia shun the totalitarian views which they believe have been adjusted to suit the comfort of a certain class, the fundamentalists consider the acts of opposition to be blasphemy. With the fundamentalists hell bent to prove their sanctity and ‘intellectuals’ trying to prove them wrong, the sparks are bound to occur. However, both approaches being extremist in nature fail to address the intricacies at play.
The correct way to approach any cultural belief system is not by accepting it as a holy writ without any challenge or demur or shunning it altogether but by realizing that its righteousness depends on the place of its host society in time. Moreover all belief systems evolve as the society advances technologically and it’s spatial mobility increases but that change is slow and may contain some broken links which result in rigidity of the subservient minds and pass as religious dogma by the educated class.
The best way to discover these broken links is by considering the belief system and rituals to be created by rational and far seeing individuals and open our minds to them. By not shunning them as stupidity or following them as commandments we begin to see the possible rationale behind them. The rationale behind a lot of what the intelligentsia might pass today as dogma, such as marriage at the age of 15-16, around puberty, or importance of a peepal tree due to its capacity to produce oxygen even at night, or the invention of a cast system to distribute work according to the inherent capacities of people and the intended eventual ascend of all by education (which went horribly wrong), etc.
Many of such rationale won’t be applicable today but it helps us in demolishing rigidity that has become an imposition leading to disturbances in the peaceful existence and progress of our society.