Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An argument against sena outfits

What is our culture? This is the question which is ringing in all the news mediums last 3 weeks. Unfortunately, so-called custodians of Hindu culture, the different Sena outfits, have not come out with an answer for this question. Instead of answering the question the Sena outfits have made statements like “Drinking alcohol in pubs is not our culture”, “Women wearing skimpy cloths is not our culture”, “Celebrating Valentines day is not our culture”.

Though the statements clearly state the expected result from the culture, the reasoning of how and why these expectations became part of our culture is not clear. It would be better for the all the Sena outfits to come out with the definition of our culture and reasoning behind it. The reasoning when it depicts the benefits offered by following of the culture, will have more takers. Who knows? This might lead to a cultural revolution of the world leading to never ending joy of human beings.

Anyways, we do not have the definitions and there is no point of rattling on wondering what might happen. What we have today is the statements made by the Sena outfits, and it wouldn’t be justice to disregard the statements as insane without an argument against it. The article will not delve into the good or bad certain things will cause to the society. In absence of scientifically proven proofs regarding good/bad of an object, every individual has his right to make his decision regarding the object (off-course within the premise of law).

If we view some of these statements in the light of history of last 100-200 years of culture, then some statements sound true. But to really understand our culture we need to refer to texts of our civilisation (Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc.) which provide us the perspective of way of life during those days. This will provide us a logical base and definition instead of generalising from examples which some individuals might have seen. Individuals might have seen 50-100 years of life, and am sure no one individual can see the various probabilities life has offered in such a short period of time.

In Vedas, there are instances of people drinking “Soma” for intoxication. Most commonly available knowledge of the historical way of life for everybody is Ramayana and Mahabharata. These poems/stories are worshipped as sacred text in Hindu way of life. There have been numerous examples of people drinking intoxicating drinks for entertainment in these texts. There also have been instances of mis-use and abuse of intoxicating drinks in the same texts. Drinking Baang (Processed marijuana mixed with milk) on Holi is still followed as a culture in lot of parts of North India. One common factor in all these texts, the taking of intoxicants has not been restricted to Men.

These are just examples to prove the use of intoxicants in our culture based on authentic material. It is also common knowledge that the people have been using the intoxicants in our culture in various forms. There is also a secondary argument to this by the Sena outfits that says, “Women in our culture did not drink”. This argument comes out of the near history (last 100-200 years), where our people have generally not seen women taking intoxicants. If this was really the case, then it is the decision made by the women of yester years not to take intoxicants. There is no restriction on women alone which can be found in history of our civilisation. General effects of intoxicants have been known and it is just that women tended to go by the decision of not drinking. But today, if some women tend to take intoxicants, there is nothing binding them culturally not to do it.

Indian civilisation has gone through drastic changes in the clothing aspects of the culture from its historic days. Going back to the vedic days (1000-2000 Century BC) till around 12th century AD, the clothing of the people within the Indian civilisation can be defined as “Skimpy” (In today’s terms). The proofs are available in the various “carvings” around the temples which can be seen even today. The carvings around the temples, consistent across different regions should be identified as an artist’s representation of the people of those days. After this period, Indian dressing habit was heavily influenced by Moghuls, and Europeans (mainly British) during the later period of time.

(I had read a research paper on the how the dressing habits of India have changed over a period of time. Unfortunately, I do not remember the source/name of this material. But I am sure research books/materials regarding history of India will throw light regarding this subject)

Sena outfits are seeing the general tradition and way of dressing over last 100-200 years to generalise our culture. Ideal representations would be the way the people dressed in various carvings in our temples, which was during the period of no external influence. Indian way of dressing was driven from the climatic conditions of the country rather than some godly thinking. Climatic conditions of our country have not changed and hence would be ideal to get back to our roots and culture instead of withering under external influence. Going by the rules of Sena outfits, which is bound by our culture, I guess Skimpy dressing by the people is after-all not a sin. In fact Sena outfits have to support the movement of going back to the dressing styles of earliest of our civilisations.

Valentines Day is not part of our civilisation (and hence culture probably?). It was part of western civilisation and Indians off-late are trying to adopt this as part of our culture. The basic premise of Valentines Day is expression of love by one individual to another. Expression and celebration of love have always been part of our culture right from the Vedic days again. The biggest example is the life of Krishna, his exploits of love have been part of out folklore from time immemorial. Krishna is worshipped today as God, with an appreciation of the fact that he showed and followed Love in his life. Life of Meera Bhai, who wrote poems and sung it in love of Krishna cannot be forgotten. She has been part of our culture and has been worshipped for her love towards Krishna.

If the argument against Valentines Day is regarding the physical show of Love in public, then one has to go back and check out the carvings on our various temples. That is a proof enough to show that, Physical love of 2 individuals was respected by our civilisation during the earlier days. One doesn’t have to visit Kajuraho for seeing this, visit any temple which was built before 12th – 13th century AD and there certainly will be carvings on the physical love of individuals. I think the respect of the civilisation for the physical art of love allowed them to carve them on the temples. This is enough proof that our culture holds love and celebration of love with respect, instead of rubbishing it as shameful affair.

This is probably the reason that younger generation of India is trying to adapt to Valentines Day very easily. This is the greatness of Hindu culture which doesn't restrict people from following something not their own.

Another perspective of people supporting the Sena outfits view of “Hindu Culture” which the article doesn’t delve into is, “Young Indian is blindly following the western tradition”. I do not know if this is really the case, as there is no effort put in to understand the minds of young generation. The argument is based on superficial understanding of what people have seen from outside. Neverthless, do these same people want the "Young Indian to follow the Hindu Culture blindly"? Following any culture/tradition blindly without understanding the consequences will lead to disaster. Think of any atrocity in any culture and root cause will lead to the blind following of the culture.

The article was intended to show the lack of depth in the understanding of our culture by the Sena outfits. I believe, Sena outfits and its followers need to put effort in understanding our culture and then educate the public with the reasoning to achieve there goals. The current process of making statements without depth of reasoning will reduce the value of our wonderful culture in the eyes of a non-believer.

-- Madhukar Hebbar


VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...




Madhukar Hebbar said...

Our culture is great. That doesn't mean that everybody in India follows the great culture. The greatness lies in the fact that despite of external influences (being ruled) for 7-8 centuries, despite of corrupted minds, the culture is still alive. Despite of this corruption our culture provides an opportunity for people like Vivekanada, Gandhi, arabindo, etc. etc. to tell there views. And you will see followers for there views.

Corruption is small thing compared to things like Sati, female infanticide followed in our civilisation. All those things were again because of the corrupted minds and blind followers. But the greatness of our culture is, it is identified as negatives.

The greatness of our culture is you can call India a SLUMDOG and call yourself a puppy. There is no problem culturally to identify yourself with anything. You have your freedom.

Atmaram said...

Good argument
I agree with you that Sena outfits or the saffron brigade now represents our culture, which is baseless.
Your research and references are strong.
BUT in your argument on the corruption you have talked about the freedom in India and not the culture.I think VSS's Comment still stands strong.
VSS, I will not agree with you about the slum dog and the puppy thing. If you wish you can be a cute puppy, we can make a difference

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Thanks Atma, I mean freedom of thought is our culture.

Our culture doesn't subscribe to Corruption. But people are corrupt because they have not understood and do not follow the culture. It certainly reduces the value of the culture, but doesn't make the culture Not Great or Bad.

There were bigger negatives in our culture which I had listed and we have/are still overcoming it. Corruption is one of them.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Thanks for all your thoughts guys. Appreciate it very much. Hoping for more thoughts as always :-)

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

culture is a set of morals, ethics, behavior and beliefs exited by group of people, if that group of people die so do the culture.

So great Indian culture is dead with our ancestor, so we should celebrate it? you wanna revive it?

Madhukar Hebbar said...

1) Can you prove to me that the "group of people" are dead?

2) Can you prove to me that you do not follow any part of our culture?

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

One person or few people living the culture does not any impact... Rules are not built on exceptions. Or exceptions does not make a rule

* By the way it is not "exited" in by previous post The word is exhibited, Its typo

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Mate, not sure what's the point you are making.

Culture definition I agree. The below are some good ones from dictionary.com

As I understand there are no rules in our culture. That is the beauty and that is freedom.


5. the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

6. Anthropology. the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

To clarify some base things which are very important,

1) Article doesn't talk about good or/ bad. As it is very subjective and generalizing is dangerous.

2) Article gives reasons for the statements of the Sena units. And proves it as baseless. It doesn't say what is good and what is bad.

Coming to the additional points of Negatives you see with the adaptation of western civilization. There are lot of positives we have got from western influence, some are, Education system, Sceince and technology, Women Empowerment, Identification of evil of caste system, sati, etc.

The fact of life is, when a culture meets another one, there are both positives and negatives influence. Negatives are negatives because of the blind following of the culture. Some individuals have chosen and the way to rectify by making people understand through reasons.

What Hindu Sena is saying is follow what I define Blindly. Unfortunately they are not even defining our culture correctly.

As you give a personal opinion on Hindu Sena having good morives.

My opinion is, they are no way related to Hindu culture. They are set of political guys, who would have gone un-noticed if Mangalore incident was not published... Unfortunately they have become famous and mis-using it now. They do not even have a conviction of there words. They have already taken back there Valentine day resolution. Where is conviction?

Gulmohar said...

I go with VSS on the idea that "culture is a set of morals, ethics, behavior and beliefs exhibited by group of people, if that group of people die so does the culture"; neverthelss, if this group of people die/no more exist, it is almost immediately followed by another culture formed by subsequet behavior/trends. So, in my opinion, Culture by itself has no end. It is an ever changing universal phenomena. Ideally, it should make the lives of a majority of people easier becasue it is in synch with the ever evolving world of ours.

In my opinion, first of all, if Sena or any other outfit exercise their idealogies over others - it is criminal. It is a simple abduction of our fundametal rights! In other words, the only debate is why do we as citizens of democratic India tolerate this? (Forget about the Government - they have no clue why they exist). so, let's wake up and beat these elements to death

Secondly, Sena/xyz is trying to keep the practices at a point in time as a static reference and trying to connect the present to past, trying to prove that they are diametrically opposite. Now,
1. if they are so, so be it. what the heck?
2. even if we compare them, Hebbav - You've proved that it is the same very old wine in a new bottle which in turn proves that these folks have no clue on what they are talkin about!

Madhukar Hebbar said...

Nice summary Gulmohar. Happy to have a supporter :-)