What India can learn from Vidya Balan

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How did Vidya Balan become  successful?

Which movie do you  associate actor Vidya Balan with, Kismet Connection or Kahani?

In Kismet Connection,  Vidya gave herself a western look while in Kahaani her role as  Mrs Bagchi capitalized on her Indian looks and showcased the  qualities one arguably associates with the “Bhartiya Nari”. The  audiences lapped up Mrs Bagchi and Vidya was accepted as a big star,  though her big break came with The Dirty Picture earlier.

What did Vidya do right?

In Kismet Connection,  Vidya enacted a role that was alien to her real self – she also cut  her hair and wore western clothes that did not suit her. In Kahaani it seemed like a real life story. Conclusion? When Vidya played roles  that were in tune with her mind, body and inner self, she excelled.

The point: when an  individual behaves in a way that is different from his or her true  nature, he/she is bound to fail because one is doing what one is not.  A person can achieve life-long success, fulfillment and joy by  understanding his own tendencies, innate philosophies and then  choosing an appropriate course of action. This is true in any  endeavor be it sports, profession or academics. Therefore, the Wise  always ask us to become aware of ourselves.

The same concept can be  extended to a nation as well. It needs to imbibe the same approach of  knowing itself and select its goals, systems of governance and  thought accordingly.

The article seeks to  provoke thought by giving examples of how modern day India is at odds  with its true nature.

Rights vs. Duties vs.  Dharma

During a recent  interactive session with students of Vivekanand Kendra School Jirdin,  at Aalo in Arunachal Pradesh one of the students asked why India’s  political system was in disarray and the country in such a bad state.

I quoted Sri Aurobindo.  “It has been said that democracy is based on the rights of man;  it has been replied that it should rather take its stand on the  duties of man; but both rights and duties are European ideas. Dharma  is the Indian conception in which rights and duties loose the  artificial antagonism created by a view of the world, which makes  selfishness the root of action, and regain their deep and eternal  unity. Dharma is the basis of democracy which Asia must recognize,  for in this lies the distinction between the soul of Asia and the  soul of Europe”.

When one demands  something from another as a matter of right the demand is associated  with ‘I’ and resultant ego. When demand is not met a person would  find fault, criticize, or get abusive.

Conversely the starting  point to Dharma or duty is your willingness to serve others. The  bhavna (feeling) is what can I do for you; the intent is to find  solutions and attitude is selfless work. This leads to value  addition, creation and contentment.

By not imbibing the  spirit of Dharma, Indians (esp. urban) have become a beehive of  negativity, unproductive debates and consumerism. It is all about ME!

Our country is called  by three names

The names are Bharat,  Hindustan and India. Most Indians use the words interchangeably, not  realizing that the word Hindustan (Urdu speaking areas of the Indian  sub-continent) excludes a substantial part of India.

The syllable ‘Bha’  means light and knowledge and ‘rata’ means devoted, thus Bharat  means devoted to light. As originally understood knowledge was about  the inner self and its relationship with the external world.

Can you think of a  country where the meaning of its names is not understood by the  people at large?

Change  is the Only Permanent thing

One of the reasons why  Sanatan Dharama has survived is because the Rishis realized that  change is the essence of life, and followed a decentralized approach  while retaining the core. That explains why India welcomed numerous  reformist movements starting with Buddhism.

Conversely, India  continues to be ruled by outdated laws like Transfer of Property Act  1882, Essential Commodities Act 1954, Industrial Disputes and  governance is over-centralized. Most Indians want to maintain  status-quo. Example: the recent refusal to even debate the benefits  of Article 370 50 years after it became part of statute.

Let Knowledge Come  from All Sides

We  get enamored when knowledge that exists in India is repackaged by  foreigners as their own.

Scholar  Rajiv Malhotra gave a talk at IIT B some time back: “Are Indians  buying back their own ideas from the West? He gave specific examples  of how westerners have borrowed Indian thoughts and we have started  believing this is a new idea.

Malhotra  said that “The Anthroposophical Society that was founded by Rudolf  Steiner and is based on Hindu thought. Two, is the Theory of Multiple  Intelligence by Dr Howard Gardner which is based on Sri Aurobindo’s ideas of Plays and Parts of  Being. Three, is Christian Yoga where Hindu symbols are substituted  with Christian ones for e.g. Surya Namaskar is Son Salutations where  Son is not Surya but Son of God”. To hear Malhotra talk  (Click Here).

The  moot point is whether those who have made money selling Indian  thought had the right to use this intellectual property without  paying royalty?

Debate  is for generation of more light and less heat

Were  we always argumentative? Here’s a counter-view: ‘In the  Harasacarita of Bana there occurs a passage relating to a royal visit  paid in the 7th century A.D. to a forest university. The King saw  Buddhists from various provinces, Jains in white robes, ascetics,  followers of Kapila, Lokayatikas (materialists), followers of Kanada  (of the atomic schools), followers of Upanishads, students of legal  institutions/Puranas, adepts in sacrifices/grammar and others, all  diligently following their own tenets, pondering, urging objections,  raising doubts, resolving them, disputing, discussing and explaining  moot points. Can there be a more thought-provoking and suggestive  description of a true university with no exclusions and many  preferences?’1

Such  open-mindedness and intermingling of thoughts was one of the reasons  for India’s pre-eminence then.

When we lack confidence  in our abilities and a discussion is driven by the desire to outsmart  another, we tend to speak too much which then befits the definition  of ‘An Argumentative Indian’.

Deeper intent in the  forest university was to find a personalized best way to  self-realization i.e. not driven by ego.

Look at India through  Indian eyes

I  recently visited Varanasi for the Dev Deepavali Festival which is  celebrated on Kartik Purnima.

It  is considered auspicious to bathe in the Holy Ganga on that day.  Women start bathing from 3 am while men come in after sun-rise.  Curiously, I asked a chaiwala why?

He  said that post bathing women change their clothes on the river bank  itself, and so the absence of men made them comfortable. Sahab, these  devotees have come from small towns and villages with purity in their  minds and hearts. Rather sarcastically, he added that men from big  cities thought only about sex in such situations.

I was chastened by this early morning  sermon from a 15-year-old.

Different parts of  India contributed to its religious life

During an interactive  session with students of Vivekanand Kendra School Itanagar, a student  asked me how school books in Maharashtra could exclude Arunachal  Pradesh from India’s map. To read report Click Here

Deeply embarrassed by the  State Government’s fau pa I told her that one of the reasons why  Indian culture has survived is because our ancient Rishis understood  the need to recognize the contributions made by different parts to  the whole.

“No particular part of  the country can claim monopoly in spiritual speculation. Thus to  Kashmir we owe the Trika philosophy in association with Saivism. The  Punjab (including the outermost north-western areas, of which  Afghanistan once formed a part), gave us the hymns of the Vedas, as  also the magnificent Gandhari school of sculpture in Buddhism. The  heart of Aryavarta gave us the ritualistic literature, the earlier  Upanishads, the epics and some of the older Puranas. Mithila is  famous for the spiritual fellowship of Janaka and Yajnavalkya. To  Magadha, we owe the inspiring messages of Mahavira and Buddha. Bengal  has given us the Caitanya movement as also the later Tantras. Assam  has similarly given us the pure Vaishnavism of Sankara Deva and, in  earlier times, the magico-religious cults of the Tantrikas.

When we reach the  Dravidian area, we enter a region that has given India not only the  foremost commentaries on the Brahma-Sutras, which provide a  philosophical basis of religious belief, but also the most lyrical of  singers, both Vaisnava and Saiva, whose devotional outpourings have  been justly praised.” 2

To read more Click Here

Our ancestors had a very  nice way of weaving cultural strands from various parts of India in  its tradition. Unfortunately, the government has failed to involve  Indians from every state and this is one reason for their alienation.

Synthetic Secularism  or Natural Dharma

Next  is the repeated and amusing parroting by politicians of the word  Secularism without knowing its meaning!

The  concept of Secularism originated in Europe where the Church  controlled education, property etc became so powerful that even the  King felt oppressed. So secularism meant separation of the Church and  State with intent to curb the influence and power of the Church.

Hinduism  never had the equivalent of a central religious body like the Church.  Thus the concept is alien to India. To read Why Secularism is not an  Indian concept? Click Here

So  also religion is the basis for many Constitutional provisions when it  is widely accepted by scholars and reiterated by various Supreme  Court judgments that the religion of the majority, Hinduism, is  actually a way of life not a religion. Ditto for Jainism, Buddhism  and Sikhism.

India must follow its  Svadharma

These  are just a few examples how India is being ruled and living in a way  that is alien to its True Self.

Verse  35 (ch3) of the Holy Gita says it well “One’s own duty  (svadharma), though deficient in quality, is superior to duty other  than one’s own (paradharma), though well accomplished. Better it is  to die in svadharma; paradharma is fraught with fear and danger’.  Swami Chinmayanandaji explained ‘to act according to one’s own  taste, inborn and natural, is the only known method of living in  peace and joy, in success and satisfaction. It is dangerous to  suppress his own personality-expression and copy the activities of  someone else, even he be living a nobler and diviner life’.

Until  governments and the Indian people imbibe Indian concepts we shall  fail to realize our potential and be at peace with ourselves.

The  author is national affairs analyst and founder www.esamskriti.com

1. Volume 2 of The Cultural Heritage of India published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.
2. Volume 4 of The Cultural Heritage of India published by The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.

First  published in www.firstpost.com

Also read
1. Pics of Parasuram Kund in Arunachal Pradesh
2. Pics of Malinatthan Temple in Arunachal Pradesh

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