Thursday, 19 April 2018

Hinduism and the Mangala Principle

(via @Sunny Narang)

“Aane wal pal jaane wala hai ,Ho sake toh is mein zindagi bita do, pal jo yeh jaane wala hai “
Hindu is not a word in the Sanskrit dictionary , its just an outsider word in.
Those who need proof of God are not Sanatanis .
Meera did not need to know where Krishna was born to love him. We don’t need a history certificate for Shiv, Vishnu , Brahma, Durga or Ganesh.
We don’t care when they were born or re-born.
Those who belong to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths have a need to ground their faith in “body” – They need “proof” of “existence” to believe . Their love of God is dependent on a Son or Messenger who has been collectively seen, recognized and stamped upon by bureaucrats of Time .
We don’t and never will.
For we all are the sons and daughters, messengers and manifestations of Divinity. Not only humans but snakes, tortoise, wild boars , tigers , monkeys , trees and shrubs too . Dogs can accompany us to Heaven, while brothers and wife are left behind. We don’t need milestones for true faith, religions are busy storing time and space so no breath is left outside of them , they soon become the millstones around the neck of freedom.
They might occupy all the lands on earth and maybe the moon and Mars too, with their Churches and Mosques , the sanatani believes that the stars are the “diyas” of this cosmic temple.
They might want to convert all of us and our pagan rituals. They hate the infinite diversity of divinity through Nature and as Vivekananda remarked, they can destroy every temple in India and it will not make an iota of difference to our faith. We are “bhakts” of a million “strings” of emotion or “rasa” , dancing around the invisibility of all that truly matters – beauty , love , chemistry , meditative stillness and oceanic energy . These perpetually invisible strings connect the billions of parallel universes of our cosmos.
They might sell and buy everything, quantify , document and secularize life and nature. Make us all a random collective of forces and particles with no particular purpose and suicidal angst . They like Ravan have absolute and total arrogance of “Knowing” and “Doing” , but we will always win back our “Sita” and “Gita” – our deep engagement with faith and life . For our myths are not stories of fiction, they are the most sophisticated psychological , emotional , intellectual and spiritual pathways of me to me , of us to us.
We lost our confidence the moment we pettified our diversity of temperament and being from a free and open dance “maharasa” to a “varna-vyavastha”. We never stopped at the idol, that was our first step to our own universe , it is they who stop at holy books , time-bound ideals , swords and guns. Their blind-faith in the revolution of the machine and the printed word make them into the fingers that press buttons and minds transfixed by virtual brands.
Our brands are our communities of songs and conversations “sampradaya” along our emotional pathways “isht” . We take a “pagdandi” sometimes, a “kumbh” at other times, we oscillate like our seasons , sometimes “tapasvi” , sometimes “ megh”.
They want a constant thermal balance, either air-conditioned or heated . They manufacture humans or try to create a Talibanic Rock against the shifting sands of time.
We celebrate change every instant and know that everything of worth is not catchable or holdable, regardless of the terra-bytes of memory we create. We are not about memory and forgetting, we are a whiff of life – momentary and timeless simultaneously.
Let us not become like the developer-construction mafia, build for the sake of scale and power *. Despite all the pragmatists and think-tanks. We are Sanatan. From forever to forever. Not born, not dead. No Kingdom of God or Devil. No Final Judgement. Only our personal , mutual and collective celebration of life , living and transition to life again. We are not martyrs to any man made theory or construct . We are the flow that floods all that lies in our way.
Forget the courts of law, forget the constitutions , forget the ruins and pathetic histories of hate and victory , of defeat and destruction . Values are alive if humans believe in them, no institution can keep the faith , only humans can. Corporations are about replication, and today every religion and ideology is about market-share . Sanatanis, Sufis and other fellow-travelers just walk , don’t follow or want to be followed.
And invite everyone who is Human. INner, Directed. Unlimited. (H.IN.D.U.) to the Great Dance of Flavours as some of our seers imagined eons ago, as the only viable , harmonious , sustainable way to being and becoming.
* For the Sanatani , the tree is the shadow under which realization takes place , a small shapeless stone can be the form for any imagined love . Your body is the temple. All you need to do is grow sacred groves.
Hayley Williams Narang,I am an Indian Muslim. I would like to point out that conversions are neither necessary nor desirable. The word 'sanatani'means perpetual or evergreen,right? The concept of monotheism has been accepted by ancient Hindu texts. Think of 'Brahman' vs. Trinity. Please do not compare religions without studying behaviour patterns of their followers.

Claude Alvares Thanks Aparna for sharing this.
Aparna Krishnan Claude, the left-secular-liberal which creates deeper and deeper chasms between the simple and deep religiosity of the common Indian, and a certian western proud rationalisim gets very problematic. The latter looks down on the former as simple minded and superstitious, while the former is too large hearted to even judge the latter.
 The village is beyond the Left and the Right, and is deeply and truly religious. The sad thing is that the vast wisdom of the poor, anchored in a regligiousness, is not even understood by the modern indian activist  as he  rushes to 'save them from poverty'. First their richness has to be acknowleged, and then the poverty !

 Sunny Narang Shafipat I have clearly said that material structures are of no interest to me and Sanatani is based on the cycles of nature and there are thousands of sampradaya in which there is no interest in the debate between monotheism or atheism , idol-worship or universal-worship , everything co-exists . We can agree to disagree . That is why thousands of tribal faiths , the faiths in rivers co-exist with Upanishadic and Arya Samaj , the worship via sacred fire . We do not have to define how anyone find their way to the sacred . I have been to enough West Asian countries to see whether they can allow diversity of worship or not .
Sunny Narang Claude you have been an influence in many ways . Your "Mangala Principle" speech is a classic .
Ecological Traditions Of Goa- A Lovely Lecture By Claude Alvares On Local Knowledge And Development Mishaps " (Key note address for a seminar on the subject at Carmel College held in November 2008)
"In one of the many different versions of the Ramayan, Lord Ram finally comes to Sri Lanka and he has to cross the water, the sea, to get across. Of course, he can’t do anything because of all that water in front of him. So his advisers tell him, “What is your problem? You are Lord Rama, the King of the Universe. You can ask the god of the ocean to come up and get rid of all this water, enabling you to cross over on the dry sea bed.
Lord Ram thinks this is a very good idea, so he calls up the ocean god and tells him: “I want to go to the other side so will you please do something and remove all the water?”
“Yes, of course I can remove it,” says the ocean god. “After all, you are the master of the Universe. If you ask me to do something, I have to do it. But there are some consequences. Just remember that by removing this water, all the fish which are there in the water will perish and all the boatmen who are plying a trade in these waters will have no job and they will be without employment and they will be in misery and they will become poor and all other life dependent on the ocean will also perish. Now if you still want me to go ahead and do what you seek, I will still do it but these consequences will have to be on you because it is your decision and not mine.”
The story goes that Lord Rama opted out of that solution and the horde of monkeys then created an artificial bridge so that he could cross the sea.
But this is the beauty and toughness of the Mangala principle. It is a very very remarkable and beautiful principle and if any of us, any government department, any university, any college could have adopted this principle as their basic ecological principle, as the standard to judge their economic activity, we would stop a lot of human suffering. We would call a halt to much of the suffering we inflict on nature. We would prevent much damage to insects, animals, birds, forests, plants, lots of things. We would be forced to use our intelligence to do our economic activity in such a way that we not violate the Mangala principle. That is all the advice that I want to give you. In the next season when Ganesha – Goa’s greatest deity and best loved as well – comes, please go and worship. He is the only way to save us, to provide a route out of our present ecological crisis. Thank you. " https://paalaguttapalle.blogspot.com/2018/04/claudes-talk-mangala-principle.html
Hayley Williams just crossed my mind--Indian Muslims are rather different from other muslims. Many of our social customs are definitely Indian and strongly rooted in paganism. Thanks,your comment forced me to think over many topics. Please visit my wall.Today,I have posted some stuff that might possibly interest you.

Claudes talk - Mangala Principle

Ecological Traditions Of Goa- A Lovely Lecture By Claude Alvares On Local Knowledge And Development Mishaps .

(Key note address for a seminar on the subject at Carmel College held in November 2008)
When I was first invited to asked deliver this keynote address, I declined. I asked the organisers to contact Dr. Nandakumar Kamat instead who is a better authority on the ecological traditions of Goa. For some reason, he was unavailable as well. 
But something new happened in my life over the previous week. I was handed over a mountain of l,20,000 tonnes of garbage by the Goa government to manage and Carmel college happens to be on the way to the garbage site (Sonsoddo). So I said to myself, at least while taking care of that job, I might as well take care of this talk as well. That is why I am here. I have been running away from academia for the last 25 years,  I think I got my Ph.D when most of you were not even born. There are good reasons why I (and several million others) do not think highly of academia. May be in this little bit of talk time, you may be exposed to some.  
I came to Goa in 1977 after living half of my then life in Mumbai. The first thing that struck me about Goa at that time was that the idea of it could not be reduced to just a mental construct existing in people’s heads. Goa was like a work of art, a painting. When you look at a good painting, you can tell from it something of the quality of the painter. When you visit art exhibitions, you may in fact rarely encounter the painter herself. But you can deduce from the art work itself whether the painter is technically good, whether she is obsessed with animals or nature, whether she is a depressive or a joyous personality, and so on. From the painting you try and figure out what was it in the mind of that person that could produce this painting that communicated to you joy or pleasure or even anxiety. Our encounter with the painting and our enjoyment of it cannot be separated. 
One thing that has happened over the last ten years is the arrival of these thousands of people who have descended on Goa through tourism, charters and so on, simply because they all wanted to see this painting called Goa, a unique remarkable place that doesn’t exist anywhere else also on the earth. And this remarkable place is not just the plants, and the mountains, and the streams and so on. It includes the people, those responsible for the painting. People are a fundamental part of this place. You can’t separate Goan ecology from Goans. They are the ones who are responsible for creating, nurturing and protecting it. If you want to try and figure out how indeed they created this work of art, it takes a great deal of effort and a great deal of study and a great deal of assistance from people like Manoj Borkar and so on.  They have spent endless years in this type of enlightenment. 
May I add Rajendra Kerkar who has done enormous amount of work on sacred groves; Nandakumar Kamat, who has studied fungi to such an extent that he has even added to the list of fungi not there previously in the books. You have an amazing number of people who have studied various aspects of it. But the total picture is something that in the end you cannot understand intellectually. You have got to physically enjoy it and you can enjoy it by being in the midst of that particular painting that has been created by these thousands and millions of people who have lived here in succeeding generations over decades and centuries.  
Today you know we have lost this ability in many ways. We cannot produce any more these type of paintings. Forget about things like the Taj Mahal or the pyramids. We cannot create these structures at all. With all our science, technology, computers and all, we cannot create these type of wonders. Ecosystems like Goa is also not possible. What we can do today with all our science and technology and academia and all our studying is to see that how we can destroy these things.  
In the most recent piece that I wrote for a local paper, I alluded to the fact that the entire ecology and environment of Goa was fashioned without the assistance of a town and country planning department. There was no town and country planning department till 1980. But before that, Goa was there and every element of the beauty of Goa was there. 
After the town and planning department came into existence, we now have buildings in paddy fields. We have buildings on top of mountains and hills, in forest areas. We have entire areas flattened. We have the Konkan railway going right through the khazans – all sorts of perversities you never though permissible. It is all a part (and a result) of the modern way of thinking. The modern way of thinking is akin to a bull in a China shop. You can’t protect Goa with people like this in-charge. You have to put them in a mental asylum and lock them up. If you allow them to go amuck they will ruin everything. 
Dr. Shashi Kumar (Chief Conservator of Forests) is here and he will take what I will say now with good spirit because he has got a good sense of humour.  The first time the forest of Goa was systematically destroyed was at the hands of the forest department. If you go to to south Goa, Balli and other areas, you can see entire forests removed and eucalyptus trees planted in their place. These eucalyptus trees, they were planted by the forest department to provide material for the Dandeli Paper Mills in Karnataka. The department said they wanted trees that would grow quick.  Nature is too slow they said and nature is not growing trees fast enough. We need growth, so they cut down all the forest trees and put up the eucalyptus. And of course, as a consequence, we have neither forest nor eucalyptus.  
Today, of course, the forest department is a completely different type of animal altogether and they won’t allow you to cut down any tree unless you have a specific permission.  But I only want to draw your attention to mistakes that are done by what we call “the system”. The consequences are huge, never small. If somebody commits a mistake in a small village, it can never be a big problem. When the system does it, when the Government gets a chance, or the town planning department gets in, you have got to run. There is no way out, you have to run. Often, unfortunately, academia and universities are part of that exercise.  Because they don’t think differently.  
One way to study how a painting has emerged is to just look at the different elements of that painting. Now somebody referred to that book, Fish Curry and Rice. When I had a discussion with the person who was funding the work on the book at that time, he said no, no, how can we call it Fish Curry and Rice? People will not consider it as a scientific report. This is an environment report.  It will be read all over the world.  But he was from the University where creative sense is mostly lacking. I finally explained to him why the title Fish Curry and Rice.  
Because we are coastal people we eat fish obviously. Rice is there in all our fields and the curry is made always with coconut: these three elements describe Goans completely.  And you are saying that this is an inappropriate title for an environment book?  Finally he relented. He took a lot of time but he accepted.  
And today even though the book is well known, we still find  book sellers putting it in the section dealing with cookery books! So people would get very annoyed because they said we bought this book basically for fish curry rice and it deals with all sorts of things and there are no recipes inside.  
So, for the last edition, I went to Martin’s beach corner, a restaurant that produces the best fish curries in Goa and I got the owner to give me the recipe of a popular fish curry. I included the recipe quietly in the book, so that nobody goes to a consumer court tomorrow and says that he bought the book under the impression it was a recipe book and later he found no recipes inside. But actually, Fish Curry and Rice is a recipe book. It tells of how you deal with your environment; how people should look at it. It is a recipe book of the Goan way of life.  
You take for example, the sea.  The sea occupies a big part of Fish Curry and Rice. The sea and its resources are part and parcel of our way of life. Any of you goes to the market nowadays? I have been going every week from October, because I am the main fish purchaser in the house. And the mackerel are not less than fifty rupees now for three pieces, though sometimes you may get five or six. This means you are reaching a stage where you may no longer be able to taste mackerel and that bangdas are going out of our diet.  Some people may still afford to eat them but it is going out of the diet of most people.  When you go to the fish market, besides mackerel, you get issvon (kingfish), you get tarle (sardines) and you get bangdas. Since bangdas are also disappearing,  after sometime we will all be left with eating tarle.  May be that is a good thing because that way we will all experience the way we all travel by bus everyday (“packed like sardines”). 
Thirty years ago, we could get a variety of fish and every day you saw a different variety of fish on the table. But now weeks go by when you will have only one particular variety of fish on the table and nothing else and it is all gone. Where is it gone?  We have got double the number of fishing vessels or trawlers chasing fish in the sea. We are catching the same amount of fish. We are distributing it among twice the population. And we have reduced the diversity. Due to our export mania, we have harvested desirable species of fish and thrown out what is useless to us. But fish eat fish as well, so we have deprived the fish themselves of food by destroying fish which we consider economically useless. So we have destroyed the chain of life that exists within marine organisms in the sea by focussing only on fish that we want to send to Europeans; well-fed Europeans. 
I don’t know why countries with under-fed and hungry populations like ours continue to bother about feeding well-fed Europeans.  Every planner and every government official says Export or Perish. Let us send everything abroad. Cashew is exported from Goa, so Goans cannot afford to eat it though they grow it! 
To return to the fish, the diversity is gone. So is sustainable fishing. One international study (the Brun Report) has forecast very clearly – based on the extinction ratio in fish – that with present methods of intensive fishing, the entire world fisheries will collapse. Prof. Brun is so confident that he has given a precise year for the collapse: 2045 (by which time Dr.M.M. Maria and I will have safely departed from the scene).  
Just like now, the scientists can calculate what is the average increase in sea level rise every year. There is still some dispute about whether it is 2 mm or 4 mm or 1 mm but no one is disputing that it is rising every year. And there is no dispute that by the year 2020, all the famed Goa beaches will be under water.  There is no dispute about these things. There is no dispute that many of the Himalayan glaciers will melt completely in 25 years. Mount Kilimanjaro has already lost all its ice. There is no dispute about these things. Only dispute is about the rates here and there. The same thing for the oceans. 
To come back to the sea, let’s examine the activity of the fishermen we call “traditional”. They are called traditional because they are the part of the ecological traditions of Goa. They know that you don’t deal with fish like this. You don’t abuse a marine resource in such a manner. And so when the traditional fisherfolk fished, they had low intensity craft or they harbested the fish standing on the beach with rampons. They also used nets with particular mesh sizes so that the baby fish could not get trapped and could escape. 
Today you go and see the trawlers, they have got such tiny mesh size for their nets, they catch everything, leaving nothing. Most of the time, the fish that they don’t want, they just chuck back into the sea. This then is what you call modern traditions of fishing. They have no connection with ecology. You scoop out everything living under the name of economic activity or whatever it is. Forget about the next generation, they are leaving nothing for the present one as well! 
Let me introduce to you the khazans. Now Goa is unintelligible, the whole of Goa’s coastal area is unintelligible, without a knowledge of the khazans. And you can get many educated Goans who spend their entire lifetime without even knowing what a khazan is. What, for example, is a poim? People know what a poi is. You get poi in the morning for breakfast, that is also part of tradition. But Poim are artificial or man-made creeks. These creeks have been designed to take in the dynamic interaction between the sea, twice a day. This is something that you cannot see in any other part of the world. The only place you can see a similar system is probably in Holland, where they have created one fairly recently based on polders and so on. But Goa has the original system. It is based on the fact that the sea water must come in twice a day and we have several lands which are on sea level or below sea level.  
This society, without having an engineering degree and without having a single IIT, before even the Portugese arrived, created a system by which the water from the sea would interact with the land without damaging the land. It would come in and go out automatically without having a security guard or a computer controlled system. If you have time, go and look at the sluice-gates. In many areas, they continue to operate even till today. When the tide pushes in, the sluice gates automatically open with the pressure. When the pressure relents, the gates open and the water gushes out. This is an automatic system that has been working for more than five hundred years, without depending on electricity or manpower. The people who designed it and put it into operation just used their intelligence and their knowledge of wave dynamics in a creative way. We call it traditional.
Actually the khazan system is post traditional, post modern. Today if you ask the scientists to create such a system, they will say they cannot design anything without first having a five year engineering degree from IIT, without having a computer, without having a job giving them thirty thousand a month. Without all this support, they say they can’t design. However, even if they have all that, they would still be unable. but  even after that they will not be able to design such a system. But the khazan system is a designed system, an important feature of this work of art called Goa.  
So what did we do? When the time came to mark the alignment of the Konkan railway, there was a huge agitation to protest the alignment going through the khazans. The railway engineers told us that as engineers, they knew how to construct a railway track anywhere, any place. They said they were designing for a high speed railway for which a specific gradient must always be maintained. If for this purpose, the alignment had to destroy the khazans, that was no concern of theirs. They declared publicly that they did not care about paddy fields or for khazans. They said they did not care whether the water went this side or that. They were engineers.
Take a minute here to understand the nature of the problem. The water in the Goa region flows from west to east, and east to west. We have draining rivers, but we also have tidal rivers. The Konkan railway alignment was going from north to south. It thus cut hundreds of low level streams, nullahs, rivers, etc. from north to south. This was done by raising an embankment which sometimes would go up to 8 to 10 metres. Do you think what was done in the last 500 years would have a chance of survival at all? They destroyed the whole thing. More than 3000 hectares of good paddy fields all along the Konkan railway track you can see even today have been rendered into a marsh. There are so many different types of vegetation that have developed, that you can send your botany department students to go and see what new type of species have appeared. But paddy is not growing there anymore.  
You take land use. All the people from Mumbai who come here to purchase property, they have only two obsessions. They want to build on the sea coast or they want to build on a hill.  They all want a house “with a view”.  I don’t know what this “view” business means. First of all, they don’t intend to come and stay here more than a week.  But they want a house with a view or one on the sand. The Bible says, don’t build your houses on sand. But we are putting huge resources on development on the sands.  
Now note that over the centuries there is not a single Goan in the entire sandy stretch who has constructed there. You can go from Velsao right down to Poinguinim, you will find not a single person has built in front of the dunes or on the sand. Why is there this restriction on construction within 500 metres of the high tide line? As per solid Goan tradition, the local people have kept 500 metres as sacrosanct because the sand dunes occur within 500 metres and these dunes are there to protect the hinterland from getting devastated by tidal waves (and soon, by sea level rise). 
Today you have shack owners who are excavating the sand dunes to create artificial platforms so that they can put up their restaurants there, duly authorised by the Goa government.
You have the coastal zone authority but they try to manage the crisis sitting in their office. What happens on the beaches, is something else for all to see. Precisely in the year when the international scientific and international political community is saying, “Do not touch sand dunes because of the very real prospect of sea level rise in Goa,” we are damaging and extinguishing our sand dunes. We are mutilating them. 
On Candolim beach, if you go on a study tour, you will find the entire coastal dune has been spliced vertically be half, even the 6 to 7 metre high dune next to Taj Aguada. The Taj Holiday Village restaurant was invaded by sea water this year and half their lawn disappeared. Similarly with the illegal constructions of Kingfisher baron, Vijay Mallya, which also went under water.  So now you cannot access the beach directly. You could fall the full height and  break your leg. I go visit these areas and see them from time to time. This is the quality of our handling of these natural assets. But our people – for 500, 600 and 1000 years – never made these kind of mistakes.  
Nobody put a house on top of a hill: you will get 4 to 5 months of incessant rainfall and the rest of the year, extremely strong winds and heat. Nobody would like to live in such circumstances. Traditionally, Goans have built their houses in the nooks and corners under the hills. If you look at any Goan village, you will find different topo levels maintained as far as possible in their natural condition, from the lowest levels of paddy fields, one metre above that, the settlement area, and then you find the hills and you find forest. No town planning department can improve on that. If they try to tamper with it they will only damage it. 
These people did not go to school or college or university or write Ph.D. thesis, like you and I did. But they did not distrust their common sense. Today if you are a scientist you believe in uncommon sense or non-sense but no common sense.   Science today departs from common sense and that is why I have great difficulty in working with scientists any more. Because they have tunnel vision they remain within the tunnel and they don’t see anything else, what other people are saying, what other disciplines are saying. No, this is our job and nothing more, and they go on burrowing. If you go on burrowing, where will you end up? In a hole!  You shouldn’t land up in a hole. You should land up in the sky, so that you can have a bird’s eye view of the whole picture. Then you can perhaps plan better. You cannot achieve this by going into a hole. Whoever did anything good by landing up in a ditch?  
What are the principles around which these traditional insights were built? You can distinguish a good painting from a bad painting. Okay, this is a bad painting. Why? Because the artist doesn’t know how to use the colours well. He doesn’t have any sense or system behind him. He is not able to convey anything properly whatsoever. You can decide whether a good painting is good or a bad painting is bad.  
What were the principles behind which you had this exquisite painting of Goa created over the last 4 to 5 hundred years? I will discuss them briefly and then stop. 
The first is that ecology has to go together with economy.  When your economy develops, your ecology should also thrive and flourish. If you have reached a stage where you are saying that economy has to develop but we have to sacrifice the ecology, then you are going down the wrong road. You should stop straightaway. The entire government system has today uncritically and blandly accepted that economic development has to come at the price of environmental destruction and we must balance things. What balance? 
How can we ever do this balancing exercise in any sensisble manner? When you want to destroy an entire forest because of mining operations, what kind of balance can you have except only degeneration. All of us are fooling ourselves saying that we can balance the demands of ecology and the economy, simply because our present model doesn’t do it at all. What has it done? It has created problems of such magnitude that these now threaten all our civilizations on the planet. You take the whole issue of climate change and global warming: are the traditional ecologists responsible for it? All your internal combustion engines, modern transport systems, your thermal power plants, these are responsible for the carbon dioxide in the air. Who has done this? In forty to fifty years, you have created an economic valuation system which has completely demolished the ecology of a planet and you say it is a good thing? That it has got some rationality? If it itself does not have any sense of balance, can it balance anything? That is why I say look at common sense, common sense will invariably tell you this is not proper; that there is something seriously wrong with this proposition that one can develop only at the cost of the other.  In traditional systems, both have developed together. If one is developing at the expense of the other, there is something fundamentally wrong. 
The second principle is what we nowadays call an extremely low ecological footprint. With Manoj Borkar here on your staff, I am sure you are aware of the idea of the “ecological footprint”: what is the size of your foot print on the ecosystem considering your activities, what you consume. Does your footprint remain in your village or in your field or it extend  beyond the field to several villages; does it extend to the whole country or to the whole planet. There are some activities whose impact is on a planetary scale. All the demands of the activities associated with the ecological traditions of Goa, all the systems that I have described briefly to you – and I have given you only a few – are basically all with very, very small ecological footprints. 
The third principle: carrying capacity is not to be ever exceeded. We know that the moment carrying capacity of any ecosystem is exceeded, the system as a whole threatens to collapse. Several UN studies have come to the conclusion that economic growth today is based on consuming resources that are unable to regenerate at the pace they are being consumed. Our ecological or natural resources are not able to recuperate in time which means there is degeneration and there is decline and that decline itself will impede economic growth in the long term.  So you can’t exceed your carrying capacity.  
What is this entire agitation against mega housing taking place in Goa? It is based on a carrying capcity argument. The villagers are saying that our village has got only this many resources; it has got this much water; it is got only this much land to take all the pollutants coming out from all the houses. We don’t want these buildings with 600 flats because 600 flats means 40,000 litres of dirty sewage water going directly into the ground because there is no sewage system in Colva, in Benaulim, in Parra and various other villages. Today we have no system even to collect our ordinary garbage. Where do we put the garbage of another 600 flats? So they have said no to mega-housing projects. They understood carrying capacity. Neither the town planning department nor the university has. The university should be at the forefront saying that the carrying capacity of Goa has been exceeded. That it’s going to affect all of us. 
Instead it is ordinary housewives whom we find at the forefront of all this. They have understood what carrying capacity is.  We have understood it only as a book concept from a text book to write in an examination and then forget. They see it face to face. 
Fourth principle: whatever activities we are involved in, must  be sustainable. This means we don’t do it for our generation, we ensure we do not compromise the rights of our children to have their chance in the world, and their children as well. In my own village of Parra, we are preparing our own development plan with the next generation in mind: we are keeping space for additional schools, we are keeping place for primary health centres, we are keeping space for crematoriums, burial grounds, for play grounds, and for the living space requirements of the next generation. We have found that once we do such advance planning of all the land in the village, there is simply no space left for any developer to come with his 600 flats.  
The moment you bring the future into your present, a lot of the things will have to stop. They will stop automatically. 
I would like to conclude this brief introduction to the thinking behind Goa’s ecological traditions of this society. I am glad that Dr. Sudhakar and all have come here, for we have something unique really to offer on this. I am a Roman Catholic but for many years, I have been a devotee of Lord Ganesha.  Ganesha is much superior to St. Francis of Assissi, the patron saint for ecology in the Christian tradition. I have come to this conclusion after a lot of thinking and after a lot of reading. Lord Ganesha exemplifies the Mangala principle. The Mangala principle wishes you prosperity but asks you to ensure that this prosperity is not going to be at the cost of somebody else. If you can match your activity with the demands of the Mangala principle, you will be the only true ecologist there is.  Only the Jain monks today can meet that standard, nobody else can meet that and none of us can meet that. 
Now I would like to balance this Mangala principle with another principle, this one imported during our colonial past, which is the principle of utilitarianism. The founder of utilitarianism was a person known as Jeremy Bentham. You will be surprised to know that most of us, especially the government of India, are Benthamites. Let me explain. 
The utilitiarian principle says that any action is okay so long as it results in the happiness of the greatest possible number. That is how a number of dams have been constructed in this country. The construction of the dam will benefit 10 million people; it will render 3 million destitute. According to the principle of Bentham, the benefit cost ratio in this case is favourable to the project. The Planning Commission also relies upon such ratios. As I said earlier, this is not an ecological principle that came from this country. It cannot be the guiding principle of a nation that worships Ganesha. 
In one of the many different versions of the Ramayan, Lord Ram finally comes to Sri Lanka and he has to cross the water,  the sea, to get across. Of course, he can’t do anything because of all that water in front of him. So his advisers tell him, “What is your problem? You are Lord Rama, the King of the Universe. You can ask the god of the ocean to come up and get rid of all this water, enabling you to cross over on the dry sea bed. 
Lord Ram thinks this is a very good idea, so he calls up the ocean god and tells him: “I want to go to the other side so will you please do something and remove all the water?”  
“Yes, of course I can remove it,” says the ocean god. “After all, you are the master of the Universe. If you ask me to do something, I have to do it. But there are some consequences. Just remember that by removing this water, all the fish which are there in the water will perish and all the boatmen who are plying a trade in these waters will have no job and they will be without employment and they will be in misery and they will become poor and all other life dependent on the ocean will also perish. Now if you still want me to go ahead and do what you seek, I will still do it but these consequences will have to be on you because it is your decision and not mine.”
The story goes that Lord Rama opted out of that solution and the horde of monkeys then created an artificial bridge so that he could cross the sea.  
But this is the beauty and toughness of the Mangala principle. It is a very very remarkable and beautiful principle and if any of us, any government department, any university, any college could have adopted this principle as their basic ecological principle, as the standard to judge their economic activity, we would stop a lot of human suffering. We would call a halt to much of the suffering we inflict on nature. We would prevent much damage to insects, animals, birds, forests, plants, lots of things. We would be forced to use our intelligence to do our economic activity in such a way that we not violate the Mangala principle. That is all the advice that I want to give you.  In the next season when Ganesha – Goa’s greatest deity and best loved as well – comes, please go and worship. He is the only way to save us, to provide a route out of our present ecological crisis. Thank you.  


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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Puberty Rituals in Ayurveda, and in Villages

(via Jeevani - by Dr. PLT Girija)
"In Tamil Nadu when a girl first starts to menstruate, she is given a certain type of diet and a certain regimen is followed for 10 to 14 days. During this period the girl, menstruating for the first time, is fed sesame oil – about 150ml – along with a raw egg (of a country chicken) every day, early in the morning. The girl digests this food in about six hours and after that she is fed a preparation of urad dal and sesame oil, known as kali. During these days she is protected from household work, exercise, sun, rain, wind, cold, smoke, dust, anger, grief, walking long distances, travelling in vehicles, day sleep or loud speech. After four to seven days of this oil intake, she stays in a sheltered room for an equal number of days – as many days as she took the oil.
The ritual comes to an end with a grand ceremony known as punita (or manjal) neerattu vizha (sacred bath ceremony).
This is a perfect example of a traditional health practice of our people based on Ayurvedic concepts. Consuming large quantities of a fat, in this case oil, is called sneha pana. This is an important treatment procedure which is practised in Ayurvedic hospitals for treating various diseases. During this treatment the patients are protected in the manner described above. The reason behind this practice is to regulate the flow of Vayu (in this case Apana Vayu) which is responsible for menstrual flow.
Oil is the best substance for regulating Vayu. Consuming oil also gives strength and sturdiness to the body. Oil is hot in efficacy; and egg which gives strength and nourishment, is also hot in efficacy. Urad dal is hot in efficacy, fatty, good for improving the reproductive dhatu, increases strength, fat, controls Vayu, nourishes, and reduces pain in the abdomen. All these together ensure a proper and painfree menstrual cycle which lays the foundation for a healthy reproductive life.
This ritual is practised and preserved by the poor of this country who still hold on to our traditions.

Caste, Class, Historical realities.

https://www.facebook.com/aparna.krishnan.902/posts/1464895403569759

19 April 2015 at 05:59 ·

A Julaha (weaver) and a Chamar (leather-worker) take North India by storm in late 15th early 16th centuries Kabir (1440-1518) Ravidas (1450-1520) .
Mirabai a Rajput Princess from Jodhpur/Chittorgarh leaves her palace to roam around like a free mystic , makes Ravidas her Guru (1498-1546) .
Nanak meanwhile forms a commune in Kartarpur and gets people across jatis to cook and eat together saying there is no Hindu and no Muslim (1469-1538) .
They all overlapped each other . That was the beginning of our renaissance .
Babur (1483- 1530) came to Chenab in only 1519.
The reaction against the high and low jatis , the synthesis is pre-Mughal .
For me Mirabai , Guru Nanak and Sant Kabir are the triumvirate that define the beginning of an equitable , plural synthesis defined by incredible flowering of rebellious individual mysticism .
If an alternative to the western "atheistic" consensus and the "semitic-Hinduism" has to emerge , these three will be the fountainheads , that are symbols of the feminine , the syncretic , the creative and the liberative .
Also they symbolise the simpler life . The dignity of labour . The leaving of royalty for a higher love .
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Sethuraman Pasupathy Wonderful. Woh Subah kabi tho ayegi.
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Shyamala Sanyal Tukaram . Dnyaneswar . Gora Kumbhar
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Rahul Banerjee Chaitanya dev 1486 - 1543. All part of the Bhakti Movement. They didn't cut much ice in social terms though as savarna domination continued.
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Aparna Krishnan Thay cut more ice across space and time (to date) than most other social interventionists. And retained a hold on collective conscience. Yes, the entitled will play every trick with themselves to convince themselves that they can morally hold onto their privileges. Nanak's followers would, as would Marx's followers. As much as some would follow in spirit, as well as in word, reducing their possessions to the bereat. Dont you see passionate posts on poverty, with erudite analyses, in FB from those living in gated islands of privilege ? As well as the posistions of those genuinely, and hunbly engageing the the disprivileged.
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Aparna Krishnan Also, as sunny's comments below show, 'savarna' has hardly been a monolothic structure, and the interplay of jatis went on in myriad permul;ations and combinations.
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Prabha Ramanujan Aparna, I am not an expert. So with that disclaimer, we should also take note of the Bhakti movement in the South, the Alwars and Nayanmaars. They were beyond caste and the one thing that bound them was Bhakti.
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Sunny Narang Dhanna Bhagat (born 1415) was a mystic poet and a Vaishnav devotee whose three hymns are present in Adi Granth.
He was born in the village of dhuwa near tehsil Dooni, in the Tonk district of Rajasthan,India in Jat family. All the Sikh Gurus were Khatri
s or you would consider Upper-Caste , the main followers of the Sikh Gurus were peasants or Jats/Jatts . The Jats are now under OBC in many states but they were the ones who built the Sikh armies and fought the Mughals and set up their own Empire . The most powerful and famous ruler of Sikhs , Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a Jatt . The narrative of upper-caste being in power is highly simplistic , there have been many upward mobile middle castes or better word is Jatis throughout Indian history in every single space . They say Chandragupta Maurya was actually just an herder . The complex matrix that is Indian society with more than 4635 endogamous Jatis and Tribes still thriving , every single community has had its own unique history and elites within , and has been in coalition with some ruling clan or another . Just to understand the continuous dialogue and debate that happens in every single religious community in India is enlightening about who is more powerful, who is less , and how Hinduism permeates every single religious tradition in India regardless of origin . As this debate between Bhapas and Jatts within Sikhism shares " Educated Sikhs, bhapas and jats both, have regretted Ranjit Singh’s aberrations - such as his eve-of-death desire to donate the Koh-I-Noor to Jagannath Puri temple and donations to hundreds of ornament-bedecked cows to Brahmins. But no Sikh has harboured any sentiment excepting pride for his political achievement." http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/The_Jat_-_Bhapa_Syndrome
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Sunny Narang In the eighteenth century Sikhs were very successful in establishing twelve principalities or confederacies called Misals (Misal is a Arabic word means alike or equal . At least nine of these Misals were founded by the Jats. The history of each of the Misals founded in the eighteenth century by the Jats is briefly described below . http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/JattManage

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Sunny Narang And among so called scheduled tribes all over India there have been many Ruling Tribes in equal relationships with Rajputs , Mughals , Ahoms . "The Gonds, as a community, however, have a much more varied social profile. While a significant section of this community still lives a close-to-nature life involving hunting-gathering, some forms of agriculture and pastoral activity, some sections are no strangers to political and economic power since as early as 15th century. For almost four centuries, the Gonds ruled almost the entire hilly region of central India, including parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Vidarbha in Maharashtra. Give and take with the dominant culture of the Hindu and Muslim royal families of those times, including inter-marriage, was common, leading to the evolution of a ruling class culture heavily influenced by the Mughals in Delhi and the Rajput clans with whom the Gonds alternately fought and entered into alliances with. " http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/the-gond-kingdoms-46701Manage

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Sunny Narang Then Basava , and Lingayats , again in 12th century challenged Brahmin monopoly and are now a powerful OBC community in its own right . Lingayat (Veerashaiva) thinkers rejected the custodial hold of Brahmins over the Vedas and the shastras, but they did not outright reject the Vedic knowledge. They have their own priests who officiate at the various life-cycle rites, of which the prominent ones are those dealing with birth, marriage, and death. Priesthood among Lingayats is not ascriptive and is open to all irrespective of sex. Lingayats do not consider the world as maya, an illusion, and reject the Hindu notions of karma, rebirth, purity, and pollution. There is no dearth of sects within the tropical forest of faiths in India led by almost every Jati .

Lingayat scholars thrived in northern Karnataka during the centuries of rule by Vijayanagara Empire. The Lingayats likely were a part of the reason why Vijayanagara succeeded in territorial expansion and in withstanding the Deccan Sultanate wars. The Lingayat text Sunya sampadane grew out of the scholarly discussions in a Anubhava Mantap, and according to Bill Aitken, these were "compiled at the Vijayanagara court during the reign of Praudha Deva Raya". Similarly, the scripture of Lingayatism Basava Purana was completed in 1369 during the reign of Vijayanagara ruler Bukka Raya . Tipu Sultan, for example, found the practices of Lingayats offensive and ordered the mutilation of Lingayat women not meeting his dress code. Lingayats today are found predominantly in the state of Karnataka, especially in North and Central Karnataka with a sizeable population native to South Karnataka. Lingayats have been estimated to be about 20% of Karnataka's population.

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Sunny Narang The Ahom are the descendants of the ethnic Tai people that accompanied the Tai prince into the Brahmaputra valley in 1228 and ruled the area for six centuries. Sukaphaa and his followers established the Ahom kingdom (1228–1826) and the Ahom dynasty ruled and expanded the kingdom until the British gained control of the region through the Treaty of Yandabo upon winning the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. In medieval chronicles, the kings of this dynasty were called Asam Raja, whereas the subjects of the kingdom called them Chaopha (Chao-ruler, Pha-heaven), or as Swargadeo (the equivalent in Assamese) from the 16th century. Nowadays Ahoms form the largest mongoloid community of Assam and North East India. They are in majority in Upper Assam
The Tibeto-Burman locals near the Ahoms gave them the name "Ahom". Many Tai Ahoms practice Hinduism. The Ahom people also practice the ancient and distinct Indian religion Furalung. Given the non-dogmatic nature of Indian religious traditions, an adherent may identify with both Furalung and Hinduism. Similarly, many among the Ahom people practice Buddhism as well. The Tai Ahoms who came into Assam followed their traditional religion and spoke the Tai language. They were a very small group numerically and after the first generation, the group was a mixture of the Tai and the local population. Over time the Ahom state adopted the Assamese language. Except for some special offices (the king and the raj mantris), other positions are open to members of any race or religion. They kept good records, and are known for their chronicles, called Buranjis.
One of its greatest achievements was the stemming of Mughal expansionism. In the celebrated battle of Saraighat, the Ahom general Lachit Borphukan defeated the Mughal forces on the outskirts of present-day Guwahati in 1671. According to Anthony Van Nostrand Diller, possibly eight million speakers of Assamese can claim genetic descent from the Ahoms. However, historian Yasmin Saikia argues that in pre-colonial times, the Ahoms were not an ethnic community, but were a relatively open status group. Any community coming into the socio-economic fold of the Ahom state could claim the Ahom status with active consent of the king. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahom_dynasty
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Sunny Narang And what are considered as the main "Svarna" or the Rajputs of North India , which had the political and imperial power were themselves a great mix of local tribal and community leaders and Central Asian Huns , emerging only in 8th century . "The origin of the Rajputs is the subject of debate. Writers such as M. S. Naravane and V. P. Malik believe that the term was not used to designate a particular tribe or social group earlier than the 6th century AD, as there is no mention of the term in the historical record as pertaining to a social group prior to that time. One theory espouses that with the collapse of the Gupta empire from the late 6th century, the invading Hephthalites (White Huns) were probably integrated within Indian society. Leaders and nobles from among the invaders were assimilated into the Kshatriya ritual rank in the Hindu varna system, while others who followed and supported them – such as the Ahirs, Gurjars and Jats – were ranked as cultivators. At the same time, some indigenous tribes were ranked as Rajput, examples of which are the Bhatis, Bundelas, Chandelas and Rathors. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica notes that Rajputs "... actually vary greatly in status, from princely lineages, such as the Guhilot and Kachwaha, to simple cultivators." Aydogdy Kurbanov says that the assimilation was specifically between the Hephthalites, Gurjars, and people from northwestern India, forming the Rajput community. Pradeep Barua also believes that Rajputs have foreign origins, he says their practice of asserting Kshatriya status was followed by other Indian groups thereby establishing themselves as Rajputs. According to most authorities, successful claims to Rajput status frequently were made by groups that achieved secular power; probably that is how the invaders from Central Asia as well as patrician lines of indigenous tribal peoples were absorbed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RajputManage

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Sunny Narang Then the ONLY "Savarna" left that can claim "Purity" is the Brahmin , but then they have a huge hierarchy and roles among themselves according to their ritual professions . As the Brahmin looking after death is lower than that looking after birth and coronations https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Brahmin_communitiesManage

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Sunny Narang And most Brahmins were rarely landed zamindars except in few places , they held either advisory or religious power .
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Aparna Krishnan Yes, and stories have the 'poor brahmin' far more than the 'rich pot bellied brahmin'. To sit and make comfortable watertight categories in a land of extreme flux and cxomplexity seems simply intellectual laziness from the Left.
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Sunny Narang So I have never understood who actually is the "Savrana" being a Punjabi from what is now Pakistan , I in all my explorations all over India has never seen any permanent elite 
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Aparna Krishnan How many have in humility searched to understand India in its essence ? Dharampal did, but why is Dharampal far less read than Marx ? The educated are colonized so deep and completely that they will never even realize it. Their terms and notions will stay terms and notions borrowed from the west. The change can andwsill come only from the rooted section. The weaver, the cobbler. And the farmer - Jallikattu.
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Vidyasankar Sundaresan I dislike the very word savarNa the way it is used today. It just does not indicate a person born into a high varNa or medium varNa. It is not the opposite of a-varNa. It can only be used in a relational sense, e.g. you and I are either sa-varNa (belonging to the same varNa) or we are not, that's all.
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Aparna Krishnan All half baked words. None from the ground. The theories seem coined in some western universities given their alienation from the soil !
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Vidyasankar Sundaresan But words have power. The way contemporary India just makes up words and uses them willy-nilly is just unconscionable. And this from the land that gave the Ashtadhyayi and the Tolkappiyam. We are truly a civilization in the worst stages of decline.
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Aparna Krishnan This is in the english educated circles. Sadly the local medium education fares no better - with some half baked spoken-english being their dream. Yes, we are in very very bad shape. As a civilization.
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Sunny Narang Now lets look at the Kayastha , where does he come from ? "In eastern India, Bengali Kayasthas are believed to have evolved from a class of officials into a caste between the 5th/6th centuries and 11th/12th centuries, its component elements being putative Kshatriyas and mostly Brahmins, and likely obtained the aspect of a caste under the Sena dynasty. According to Tej Ram Sharma, an Indian historian, the Kayasthas of Bengal had not yet developed into a distinct caste during the reign of the Gupta Empire, although the office of the Kayasthas (scribes) had been instituted before the beginning of the period, as evidenced from the contemporary Smritis. Sharma further states:
"Noticing brahmanic names with a large number of modern Bengali Kayastha cognomens in several early epigraphs discovered in Bengal, some scholars have suggested that there is a considerable brahmana element in the present day Kayastha community of Bengal. Originally the professions of Kayastha (scribe) and Vaidya (physician) were not restricted and could be followed by people of different varnas including the brahmanas. So there is every probability that a number of brahmana families were mixed up with members of other varnas in forming the present Kayastha and Vaidya communities of Bengal." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kayastha
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Sunny Narang Throughout Indian history with its thousand immigrations and invasions , new sects and communities with different ethnic and belief systems have come up. Many came up with new needs and professions and old Jatis mixed up to create new Jatis .
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Sunny Narang Just as now after 1947 , there are new Jatis of the "Vaampanthis" or the various sects of left who marry and stay within the converted , and they are of underground, democratic and mixed lineages . Aparna Krishnan don't worry at all they will add to the 4635 Jatis and be soon another 10-12 new Jatis .
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Rahul Banerjee But the vampanthis are dominated by the upper castes and with the decay of vampanth and the onslaught from the Dalits, these vampanthis are reverting to their upper caste identity!!
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Aparna Krishnan So forget rooted understandings, even integrity is missing.
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Sunny Narang Just like "Brown Sahibs" will be another Jati and "Amrican Returneds"yet another .
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Sunny Narang If we can have 4635 communities , Modernity can add another few hundred , no problem at all. In India just laugh and say , more the merrier 
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Sunny Narang And Aparna each of us now needs self analysis to understand the Jatis we come from, their history and warts and all . have some fun with it . I found out much later in life that I was an "Arora" . Now what is an "Arora " ? The funny thing is that almost every Jati will trace themselves from a fallen Kshatriya or a Brahmin  And the purer Ksahtriya or Brahmin will deny it. Aroras are lower than Khatris but later , especially after 1947 Khatris were marrying Aroras !
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Sunny Narang Denzil Ibbetson, who wrote the Report for the Indian census of 1881, notes that "The Aroras are often called Roras in the east of the Panjab". However, he considers the community calling itself Ror to be distinct from the Punjabi Arora, stating that "I can hardly believe that the frank and stalwart Ror is of the same origin as the Arora" even though they shared a common account of their origin. The account was that in the past they had denied their original status in order to avoid persecution, and were in fact "Rajputs who escaped the fury of Paras Ram by stating that their caste was aur or 'another'", from which word their name came. According to Ibbetson, the belief of the Punjabi community is that in fleeing the persecution there was at some point a bifurcation, with some members moving north and others moving south. From this arose the two major endogamous divisions within the Arora, respectively known as Uttradhi and Dakhna, which in turn had subdivisions. H. A. Rose is more specific, considering this to be the belief of the Arora of Gujarat, who maintain that Paras Ram pushed the community towards Multan, where they founded the town of Arorkot,[b] probably near to the present day Rohri. That town was subsequently cursed and its inhabitants fled in different directions through its north, south and west gates. While Rose agrees with Ibbetson that the Dakhna division is sometimes thought to include a subdivision called Dahra, he states that the Dahra went westwards, rather than south, and that there is also another major division known as the Sindhi of Sindh.[3]
For the purposes of his report on the census, Ibbetson treats the Arora as a separate community from that of the Khatri, although similarly one of the "great mercantile castes". He notes that the Arora claimed to be of Khatri origin, evidenced by their claims to have denied their true origin to avoid persecution, but that the Khatri themselves rejected this. Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya, writing in 1896, goes further and states that only the Arora believe this connection to be true. However, a more recent commentator, Scott Cameron Levi, believes that they are a "sub-caste of the Khatris". The Amritsar Gazetteer claims Aroras are very energetic and intelligent. They are mostly engaged in trade and industry. They are superior in business acumen to their counterparts settled in the district. A good number of them have also joined public and private services. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arora
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Sunny Narang And look at the multiple division among the Khatris , who lived in Punjab would be considered the "Top Caste " , how history divides them " The word Khatri is derived from the Sanskrit word Kashatriya. Like Brahmins, they are also divided into various groups. The Baunjais (fifty-two) have fifty-two subcastes and contract marriages within these Khatri subcastes. It is said that the Baunjais form that group of Khatri subcastes of the West Punjab, particularly Multan, who submitted a memorandum to Ala-ud-Din Khilji against his order or widow remarriage. Another group of Khatris of the eastern Punjab, who refused to sign the said memorandum, were called ‘Shara-ain’ (law-abiding), which later became corrupted to be called Sarin. Sarins also contract marriages among the subcastes falling under the Sarin group. Another group, called Khokhrain, is said to consist of the descendants of certain families of Khatris who were believed to have joined Khokhars in a rebellion and the other Khatri families were loath to have matrimonial relations with them. Khokhrain khatris are Sethi, Kohli, Chadha, Bhasin, Suri, Sabharwal, Ghai, etc. The group bahri among Khatris does not mean twelve, but groups of those subcastes whose ancestors went to Delhi in attendance upon one of Akbar’s Rajput wives and who, separated from other Khatri subcastes, married only within the said groups of subcastes. The prominent subcastes among Bahris are Mehrota or Mehra, Khanna, Kapur and Seth. There is another group of subcastes, called Dhaigharas, who contract marriages within their own group.
Before the partition (1947), the Khatris residing in the Amritsar District were mainly Baunjais. The Khatris who had come here from the eastern Punjab were generally Sarin. The Khatris of Amritsar, engaged in business, are mainly those of Lahore and Multan. They had shifted to this place when Guru Ram Das founded the town and made it a great religious and commercial center. " http://punjabrevenue.nic.in/gaz_asr9.htm
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Sunny Narang Simply put the Westernised Left has no understanding of how India has actually lived, changed , reformed , reinvented a million times through thousands of years . They will say "India" is just an "Idea", but that is true for every single human collective based on human imagination . Humans only have stories which they may call theories. And a commonly believed story is a founding story of any people or nation . And anarchists will say we are all individuals , and should make self collaborative groups , which are what Jatis are anyway 
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Rahul Banerjee Jaatis were anarchist in nature at one time and still are at the village level to some extent but they have now solidified into institutions at the state and national levels!!
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Aparna Krishnan Jatis are actually essentially communities with their own practices and gods. They existed, and will continue to exist. 'Down with Caste' is a rather pointless slogan in reality.
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Rahul Banerjee It is indeed a complex situation. There is a joke in Bengal that says that the king Ballal of the Sen dynasty angered by the Brahmins who refused to do his bidding ordered them to be converted to shudras and shudras into brahmins. However, over the past few centuries the caste system has solidified and the accompanying oppression of the Dalits was and continues to be very much a reality.
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Sunny Narang Who is a Dalit Rahul ? Which Jati among the Scheduled Caste ? And what do Dalits think of Scheduled Tribes ?
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Sunny Narang And what do both Dalits and Tribes think of Muslims ?
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Sunny Narang And the other way around ?
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Rahul Banerjee Take the chamars, mahars, maangs and bhangis for instance. They have been at the bottom for quite some time. There is antagonism between dalits, adivasis, muslims etc and it is as I said a very complex situation but that doesn't mean that caste oppression doesn't exist!!
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Sunny Narang What about Class oppression ? And Chamars are among the most powerful businesspeople in Agra shoe business as Mahars are powerful in Maharashtra
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Rahul Banerjee Yes some of the chamars and mahars have become powerful and are capitalists, politicians or bureaucrats but most of their communities are still suffering oppression of both class and caste varieties.
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Aparna Krishnan The sweeping centralized globalized definitions (and 'Dalit' is one, as my own village people identify themselves as Malas, but not as Dalits) may make for heady theories, but that is not what we need when we choose to work with the people. They may serve some role as symbolisims, thats all. Its OK for urban academics.
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Aparna Krishnan In my village the SC community is Mala. They 'look down' on the Madigas, the leather worker SC community in the next hamlet. They 'look down' on the 'Mala washerman family' in their own community as socially inferior. They see the STs, Yanadis in a neighbouring hamlet, as 'inferior'. They feel quite at par with the potter community, equally poor (I think they are BCs). At th same time, these 'looking downs' are very fluid. The Mala washerman family is the hereditary priest for the Gangamma festival, a very respected position. Nagaraj from that family is a mantram vaid, and seeked by all communities near and far. There are a million Indias. and a million perspectives in each which change with time and space. Unless we embrace these realities, we live and engage with a non-existant textbook India.
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Rahul Banerjee The reality of caste oppression doesn't get obfuscated by this kind of looking down which only provides nuance to that reality.
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Aparna Krishnan Every society move towards a heirarchy - please check out the casteless corporate world, starting with the watchman and ending with the CEO. Humans seem to want to 'look down', and 'look up', and its only a deeper spiritual understanding that helps one outgrow that ! We need to operate within the historical reality, even as we try to level, and also try to work out processes of subversive and tangential addressing of this reality.
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Aparna Krishnan Anyway the point I was making was that 'Dalit' is not a bloc, as one sees the nuances of hierarchies on the ground. It is in the nuances one needs to act. Effectively.
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Rahul Banerjee A few swallows don't a summer make!!
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Aparna Krishnan Yes, these one-off stories, like a cobblers daughter getting into IIT are pointless. And they also make it seem as if with hard work the children can open closed rusted doors. Nothing can be farther from the truth, every affirmative action is needed to level the ground en enable these children who face the multiple crosses of poverty, malnutrition and also indignity of their SC parentage.
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Sunny Narang The point is "The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 lists 1,108 castes across 29 states in its First Schedule,and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 lists 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule." and not more than a few take all the benefits since generations , same is with OBC and same is with many poor so called Forward Castes . I have worked with dozens of artisan castes who have never got a job as the Yadavs and Jats take the jobs and artisan kids have to work extra hours with their families. Most artisan castes have no land either , but they are not "Dalits" or "Tribes' . I know enough about the complexity of Indian Jatis to simplify the large categories of Dalits or Tribes or OBC .
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Aparna Krishnan Yes, and yet among the poor, the SC child faces the double burden of poverty and 'untouchable caste'. I see my own village children face that when they go to college. And that we need to address in more and more focussed ways. That fundamental responsibility cannot be left unfaced.
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Aparna Krishnan Yes, widen the net. And also address the creamy layer.
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Rahul Banerjee There is inequality in every caste. Within Brahmins, within kayastha and so also within mahars and jats and there are many brahmins who are economically worse off than say mahars and in some rare cases may be oppressed by the latter. That doesn't mean that overall the caste and class oppression by the upper castes of the Dalits isn't a notable and much larger phenomenon. Even if class and caste have intermingled and modern india has become an indefinable hotchpotch it is possible to talk of social inequality in terms of a broad upper caste to dalit divide.
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Aparna Krishnan The social inequality and 'untouchability' today is positioned in the divide of modern versus traditional, in english versus vernacular. The kamma landlord and the mala labourer are disadvantaged as opposed to the modern educated tribe. The former are also part of a common world view and way of being, which is being rendered invalid. The earlier divisions need some revision ... with an open mind, and with a deeper understanding od the indian realities, beyond 'caste'.
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Sunny Narang Absolutely Aparna. I have seen in Rajasthan a Dalit being a Sarpanch invited to upper caste weddings , giving Maruti as dowry for his daughter's wedding while almost no one except a few Banias are richer than him in the village . Even two generations of Government Jobs makes a rural family much richer than most farmers who are small and marginal , even if they are of any caste . JNU had created a very interesting matrix for reservation with points .
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Sunny Narang Nowadays the poverty in a arid zone with no water , even with 20 acres of land is more than a marginal farmer in a good water zone.
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Sunny Narang Resource poverty will show how even upper castes in resource poor areas are now daily wage workers in dominant caste OBC areas with water .
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Sunny Narang My point is that what was there even a 100 years ago does'nt hold in the same way , in fact even last 30 years will have changed many local power situations.
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Sunny Narang In Nagaland , it is only Bihari and Nepalese labour that performs the dirtiest jobs .
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Sunny Narang In Delhi the so-called "Dalits" run all the waste bins as a business , they get their 50-60,000 state wage and the Bangladeshis are the new Dalits who work only for the right to separate the garbage .
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Sunny Narang I believe in no generic theory of Indian activists anymore . Each one is just taking simplistic positions for votes just like any mainstream politician .
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Rahul Banerjee This tendency to quote a few cases of Dalits or obcs oppressing upper castes doesn't falsify the larger picture of upper castes controlling indian society , economics and politics. The age of theory is decidedly over but that doesn't mean one resorts to missing the wood for the trees!!
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Sunny Narang No one anyways gets the tropical forest as all books are written by those who have studied only temperate forests 
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Rahul Banerjee Why this obsession with book reading. Academics is blinkered anyways. Like you I set more store by lived experience.
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Aparna Krishnan Sunny Narang And those in tropical forests also study writings of those who live in temperate forests ! Till Dharampal enters mainstream education, till ayurveda enters school textbooks, till 'activists' quote Dharampal and Kumarappa before they quote Marx and Weber, all of the the mainstreame schooled-colleges, and the 'activists' stay irrelevent for this land. But the real people of the tropical lands, both the Kammas and the Malas will come into their own, and that is when the country will come into its own. That is underway.
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Sunny Narang And all of us should read this book, that shows clearly the rise and rise of non upper caste capitalists . Business in India was traditionally the preserve of certain 'Bania' communities clubbed under the Vaishya order of the classical Hindu four-ordersocial hierarchy. The term 'Bania' even acquired a generic connotation referring to any village moneylender, grocer, wholesaler or large factory owner. But more recently, the picture has changed with the entry of businessmen from castes with predominantly scribal/administrative background (Brahmins, Khatris, Kayasthas) or with roots in farming and allied activities (Kammas, Patidars, Gounders, Nadars, etc). 
India's New Capitalists traces the modern-day evolution of business communities in India and captures the rise of new entrepreneurial groups with no established pedigree of trading of banking. The book also contains 15 individual case studies that embellish the general findings. http://www.amazon.in/Indias-New-Capitalists.../dp/0230205070
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Sunny Narang Even the so-called best minds cannot predict what will happen next while the standard left and activist mode is to keep stuck to one's inane theories . ""There are around 13 crore farms, and 6 crore business establishments employing between two and 10 people - they only deal in cash. The trucking business is entirely based on cash." In such a scenario, maintained Damodaran, "proprietorial" capitalism will be replaced by a pinstriped capitalism driven by corporates."How will India look a year on from now?" asked Damodaran. No one really knows the answer to that question, or how the forces unleashed by demonetisation will play out." http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/.../artic.../55638866.cmsManage

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Rahul Banerjee What kind of capitalism will hold sway is unpredictable but that it will be capitalism is quite certain!!
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Sunny Narang What else exists anywhere else ?
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Rahul Banerjee I thought the discussion was about the existence of caste oppression and not about the existence of capitalism!!
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Sunny Narang This discussion is about how traditional Indian social systems adapt to change across time and how various Jatis are socially upward or downward mobile and that there is no single understanding of permanent lower or upper castes . And every external influence whether its been Islamic invasions or British imperialism or Modern capitalism or Hyper Financial Capitalism or Socialism has affected the caste negotiation . For me all is linked and will always be.
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Rahul Banerjee True but nevertheless oppression of lower castes by upper castes curently is a reality too that can't be obfuscated by saying that the caste system is fluid.
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Aparna Krishnan Rahul, when you talk of the Caste System are you essentially speaking of the SC issue. Or that all castes need to go. In our area, the Reddys, the Kammas, the Balijas, the Doras, the Kumaravaalus are are not likely to surrender their community identity, and their community gods and practices for anyone. Their traditional skills and knowleges also are held in each community and protected through various practices. Certian medicines, for instance, are the domain of certian castes, and they offer that as their adhikaaram ( Adhikaaram means Duty, more than Right in our traditions.). Also each caste is busy making fun of the other castes, and claims its own superiority in a million ways. It is a very intricate picture. All this needs to be factored in before marching to the 'Down With Caste' drums. Thats OK fro the urban, upper class activists who are alienated in many many ways. But with your own decades of involvement with the people in the villages, living with them, your picture needs has to be nuanced.
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Rahul Banerjee I am saying that there is caste oppression and that needs to go.
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Aparna Krishnan i am asking if by that you mean oppression of the SC ? Or that all castes are oppressing each other ??
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Aparna Krishnan And if the 'strategy' is to wipe our castes - and if it even feasible. Desirability is a seperate topic.
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Rahul Banerjee The oppression by the upper and backward castes of the scheduled castes is what I am referring to. It still exists. Don't try to read things into what I am saying which is quite clear.
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Aparna Krishnan The SC issue is real. Untouchability, temple entry, well access etc. have been issues taken on by docial reformer across the spectrum. But otherwise jatis are part of the fabric of this land. Many caste activists question that itself. That is not a practical stand.
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Sunny Narang Aparna let me tell you that majority of Indian intellectuals have zilch idea on how actually India produces in crores of its home , small enterprises with family and some outside labour . In fact more foreign academics and researchers are onto it. The Indian intellectual is stuck in her categories of peasant , worker , Kulak ,bourgeois, capitalist , Landlord , Dalit, Tribal while the world has changed hugely . "This book charts the history of artisan production and marketing in the Bombay Presidency from 1870 to 1960. While the textile mills of western India's biggest cities have been the subject of many rich studies, the role of artisan producers located in the region's small towns have been virtually ignored. Based upon extensive archival research as well as numerous interviews with participants in the handloom and powerloom industries, this book explores the role of weavers, merchants, consumers and laborers in the making of what the author calls 'small-town capitalism'. By focusing on the politics of negotiation and resistance in local workshops, the book challenges conventional narratives of industrial change. The book provides the first in-depth work on the origins of powerloom manufacture in South Asia. It affords unique insights into the social and economic experience of small-town artisans as well as the informal economy of late colonial and early post-independence India." http://www.amazon.in/Small-Town-Capitalism.../dp/0521193338Manage

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Rahul Banerjee Micro, Small and medium enterprises have been the mainstay of the Indian economy and this is a well known fact.
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Sunny Narang And they are all led by Svarana castes 
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Rahul Banerjee Not all but one doesn't know the caste breakup because there is no such census!!
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Aparna Krishnan Eashwaramma, SC, Mala, iliterate, landless, poorer than poor, went to translpant paddy in the land of a Kamma lady. Food is part of the payment. When I went in the afternoon, the Kamma woman came with rice, chicken curry, some payasam, as it was a festival day and it was made at home. Eashwaramma, Nadupakka sat and she served them with traditional village hospitality, asking them to have more. Then they sat together and chatted for awhile, and then restarted work. That is normal behaviour in a village. Civilized behaviour. Yes, there is disparity, yes there is landlessness, and yet, there is a certian camaraderie. It is certianly not realtionships based on hatred. Though the Kammas discuss on how lazy the Malas are. And the Malas discuss on how stingy the Kammas are and how that is why rains fail in this land ! This is AP. I asked my friend Himakiranfrom a village in Avadi, and he said it was the same. That it was in intermarriages that caste violence was seen, and day to day there was sensible engagement.Manage