- WE AND OUR VILLAGE
- Village interventions.
- Village - a deeply cultured place
- The inner strength of the village
- The purpose of charity
- Village stories and philosophy
- Annapurna and Others
- Stories of my children
- Day by day in the village.
- Health in the Village
- Schooling and education
- Enounters with the modern
- Learnings from Narmada
- Learnings Down the Years
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Another Left- Right perspective
This was a post I am copying. Not exactly sure of the correctness, but the broad perspective is interesting.
"Many Hindu leaders refer to themselves as Rightwing in order to differentiate from the Left. The Left/Right categories need to be understood as an instance of Western Universalism not applicable to us.
After the French Revolution, in the new parliament it was possible for peasants also to get elected as MPs. Earlier the MPs were only feudal/landlords. However, the peasants and landlords elected did not like to sit together. For one thing, French people did not have the habit of bathing and hence their bodies would stink. The rich (landlords) had perfumes to cover up the bad odor. Perfume was expensive and used only by the rich. It was a sign of being rich. So the rich with perfume sat on one side, while the poor without perfume sat on the other side of the aisle in the parliament room.
They did not know each other by name and the atmosphere was not always friendly. People started referring to an opponent as "the person on the Right (of the aisle)", and conversely, the man on the right would refer to "the person on the Left". The journalists started reporting to the debates as positions from the Left or Right respectively. This is how the poor seeking economic equality became known as the voices on the Left, while the elitists representing wealth were the Right.
A foolish JNU student once asked me, "Sir I am confused whether you are Leftwing or Rightwing. Please clarify who you are."
I replied: My tradition is to bather my body daily. Hence no stink and no need for perfume to cover that up. So I cannot be classified either as some using perfume to cover up the odor, or as someone stinking because of the lack of perfume.
Jokes aside, the Left/Right categories are superficial, silly. In the West, Left/Right refer to two separate packages of values. But this simplification does not allow mixing and matching across these packages.
Right commonly means a religious (i.e. Judeo-Christian) person who supports pro-rich economic policy, and elitist social programs. The Leftist is for the poor, against religion, bigger government, etc.
Question: Was Mohandas Gandhi a Leftist or Rightist? He was championing the poor, making him a Leftist. But he was articulate about supporting his dharma, making him a Rightwing. Many Hindu organizations do a lot for the poor, contradicting this neat pair of categories. There are many "secular" elitists, billionaires, etc. - again not easy to put into a box.
Hindu economic thought reflected in itihas, dharmashastra, arthashastra, etc. cannot be classified as elitist. It just does not fit this strange classification system. The lifestyle mandated for a brahmin is very simple, hardky resembling the typical Rightwing American.
Hindus should not classify themselves as Rightwing. Many so-called champions of "the Hindu Right" have become sucked into WU and operate in this colonial framework.
However, I do refer to some of my opponents as Leftists, because THEY brand themselves proudly in this manner. I am simply calling them by the name they give themselves.
A White Hindu who attended my workshop yesterday in Washington did not understand why I criticized this Left/Right categorizing. I proposed that we abandon this way to classify ourselves, and classify behavior as dharmic/adharmic. Those ideas are better defined for us.
She falsely assumed that I meant: Right = dharma, and Left = adharma. Hence she felt my classification system of dharma/adharma was insulting. She has no clue what dharma/adharma means and yet she blogs as "White Hindu". Need for more education.
I am not merely changing words from English to Sanskrit. I am demolishing the framework in which Left/Right are ways of classifying all persons, my intention being to rescue Hindus from self-branding themselves as Rightwing.
As a Hindu I espouse many qualities of the American Left and yet many other qualities of the American Right. I am not limited by either. I disagree with many things on both sides. This grid does not capture who I am.