I.6. The Crisis in the Psyche of India
The Crisis in the Psyche of India
������ A defeatist tendency exists in the psyche of modern Indians perhaps unparalleled in any other country today. An inner conflict bordering on a civil war rages in the minds of the country�s elite. The main effort of its cultural leaders appears to be to pull the country down or remake it in a foreign image, as if little Indian and certainly nothing Hindu was worthy of preserving or even reforming.
The elite of India suffers from a fundamental alienation from the traditions and culture of the land that would not be less poignant had they been born and raised in a hostile country. The ruling elite appears to be little more than a native incarnation of the old colonial rulers who haughtily lived in their separate cantonments, neither mingling with the people nor seeking to understand their customs. This new English-speaking aristocracy prides itself in being disconnected from the very soil and people that gave it birth.
������ There is probably no other country in the world where it has become a national pastime among its educated class to denigrate its own culture and history, however great that has been over the many millennia of its existence. When great archaeological discoveries of India�s past are found, for example, they are not a subject for national pride but are ridiculed as an exaggeration, if not an invention, as if they represent only the imagination of backward chauvinistic elements within the culture.
There is probably no other country where the majority religion, however enlightened, mystical or spiritual, is ridiculed, while minority religions, however fundamentalist or even militant, are doted upon. The majority religion and its institutions are taxed and regulated while minority religions receive tax benefits and have no regulation or even monitoring. While the majority religion is carefully monitored and limited as to what it can teach, minority religions can teach what they want, even if anti-national or backward in nature. Books are banned that offend minority religious sentiments but praised if they cast insults on majority beliefs.
There is probably no other country where regional, caste and family loyalties are more important than the national interest, even among those who claim to be democratic, socialist or caste reformers. Political parties exist not to promote a national agenda but to sustain one region or group of people in the country at the expense of the whole. Each group wants as big a piece of the national pie as it can get, not realizing that the advantages it gains mean deprivation for other groups. Yet when those who were previously deprived gain power, they too seek the same unequal advantages that causes further inequality and discontent.
India�s affirmative action code is by far the most extreme in the world, trying to raise up certain segments of the population regardless of merit, and prevent others from gaining positions however qualified they may be. In the guise of removing caste, a new castism has arisen where one�s caste is more important than one�s qualifications either in gaining entrance into a school or in finding a job when one graduates. Anti-Brahminism has often become the most virulent form of castist thinking. People view the government not as their own creation but as a welfare state from they should take the maximum personal benefit, regardless of the consequences for the country as a whole.
Outside people need not pull Indians down. Indians are already quite busy keeping any of their people and the country as a whole from rising up. They would rather see their neighbors or the nation fail if they are not given the top position. It is only outside of India that Indians succeed, often remarkably well, because their native talents are not stifled by the dominant cultural self-negativity and rabid divisiveness that exists in the country today.
������ Political parties in India see gaining power as a means of amassing personal wealth and robbing the nation. Political leaders include gangsters, charlatans and buffoons who would stop short at nothing to gain power for themselves and their coteries. Even so-called modern or liberal parties resemble more the courts of kings, where personal loyalty is more important than any democratic participation. Once they gain power politicians routinely do little but cheat the people for their own advantage. Even honest politicians find that they cannot function without some deference to the more numerous corrupt leaders who often have a stranglehold on the bureaucracy.
Politicians divide the country into warring vote banks and place one community against another. They offer favors to communities like bribes to make sure that they are elected or stay in power. They campaign on slogans that appeal to community fears and suspicions rather than create any national consensus or harmony. They hold power based upon blame and hatred rather than on any positive programs for social change. They inflame the uneducated masses with propaganda rather than work to make people aware of real social problems like overpopulation, poor infrastructure or lack of education.
Should a decent government come to power, the opposition pursues pulling it down as its main goal, so that they can gain power for themselves. The idea of a constructive or supportive opposition is hard to find. The goal is to gain power for oneself and to not allow anyone else to succeed.
To further their ambitions Indian politicians will manipulate the foreign press to denigrate their opponents, even if it means spreading lies and rumors and making the country an anathema in the eyes of the outside world. Petty conflicts in India are blown out of proportion in the foreign media, not by foreign journalists but by Indians seeking to use the media to score points against their own opponents in the country. The Indians who are responsible for the news of India in the foreign press spread venom and distortion about their own country, perhaps better than any foreigner who dislikes the culture ever could.
The killing of one Christian missionary becomes a national media event of anti-Christian attacks while the murder of hundreds of Hindus is taken casually as without any real importance, as if only the deaths of white-skinned people mattered, not the slaughter of the natives. Missionary aggression is extolled as social upliftment, while Hindu efforts at self-defense against the conversion onslaught are portrayed as rabid fundamentalism. One Indian journalist even lamented that western armies would not come to India to chastise the political groups he was opposed to, as if he was still looking for the colonial powers to save him!
������ Let us look at the type of leaders that India has had with its Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalita or Subrahmanya Swamy to mention but a few. Such individuals are little more than warlords who surround themselves with sycophants. Modern Indian politicians appear more like colonial rulers looting their own country, following a divide and rule policy, to keep the people so weak that their power cannot be challenged. Corruption exists almost everywhere and bribery is the main way to do business in nearly all fields. India has an entrenched bureaucracy that resists change and stifles development, just out of sheer obstinacy and not wanting to give up any control.
������ The Congress Party, the oldest in this predominantly Hindu nation, has given its leadership to an Italian Catholic woman simply because as the widow of the last Gandhi prime minister, she carries the family torch, as if family loyalty were still the main basis of political credibility in the country. And such a leader and a party are deemed progressive!
������ The strange thing is that India is not a banana republic of recent vintage but one of the oldest and most venerable civilizations in the world. Its culture is not trumpeting a militant and fundamentalist religion trying to conquer the world for the one true faith but represents a vaster and more cosmic vision. India has given birth to the main religions that have dominated East Asia historically, the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh, which are noted for tolerance and spirituality. It has produced Sanskrit, perhaps the world�s greatest language. It has given us the incredible spiritual systems of Yoga and its great traditions of meditation and Self-realization. As the world looks forward to a more universal model of spirituality and a world view defined by consciousness rather than by religious dogma these traditions are perhaps the most important legacy to draw upon for creating a future enlightened civilization.
Yet the irony is that rather than embracing its own great traditions, the modern Indian psyche prefers to slavishly imitate worn out trends in western intellectual thought like Marxism or even to write apologetics for Christian and Islamic missionary aggression. Though living in India, in proximity to temples, yogis and great festivals, most modern Indian intellectuals are oblivious to the soul of the land. They might as well be living in England or China for all they know of their own country. They are isolated in their own alien ideas as if in a tower of iron. If they choose to rediscover India it is more likely to occur by reading the books of western travelers visiting the country, than by their own direct experience of the people around them.
The dominant Indian intelligentsia cannot appreciate even the writings of the many great modern Indian sages, like Vivekananda or Aurobindo, who wrote in good English and understood the national psyche and how to revive. It is as if they were so successfully brainwashed against their own culture that they cannot even look at it, even if presented to them clearly in a modern light!
������ Given such a twisted and self-negative national psyche, can there be any hope for the country? At the surface the situation looks quite dismal. India appears like a nation without nationalism or at least without any national pride or any real connection to its own history. Self-negativity and even a cultural self-hatred abound. The elite that dominates the universities, the media, the government and the business arenas is the illegitimate child of foreign interests and is often still controlled by foreign ideas and foreign resources. It cannot resist a bribe and there is much money from overseas to draw upon. Indian politicians do not hesitate to sell their country down the river and it does not require a high price.
������ Fortunately signs of a new awakening can be found. There is a new interest in the older traditions of the country and many people now visit temples and tirthas. Many young people now want to follow the older heritage of the land and revive it in the modern age. The computer revolution and the new science are reconnecting with the great intelligence of the Indian psyche that produced the unfathomable mantras of the Vedas. Slowly but surely a new intelligentsia is arising and now several important journalists are writing and exposing the hypocrisy of the anti-Hindu Indian elite. Yet only if this trend grows rapidly can there be a real counter to the defeatist trend of the country. But it requires great effort, initiative and creativity, not simply lamenting over the past but envisioning a new future in harmony with the deeper aspirations of the region.
������ One must also not forget that the English-educated elite represents only about three percent of the country, however much power they wield. The remaining population is much more likely to preserve the older traditions of the land. Even illiterate villagers often know more of real Indian culture than do major Indian journalists and writers.
Meanwhile overseas Hindus have become successful, well educated and affluent, not by abandoning their culture but by holding to it. They see Hindu culture not as a weakness but as a strength. Free of the Indian nation and its fragmented psyche, they can draw upon their cultural resources in a way that people born in India seldom can. Perhaps they can return to the country and become its new leaders.
However, first this strange alienated elite has to be removed and they will not do so without a fight. The sad thing is that they would probably rather destroy their own country than have it function apart from their control. The future of India looks like a new Kurukshetra and it requires a similar miracle for victory. Such a war will be fought not on some outer battlefield but in the hearts and minds of people, in where they choose to draw their inspiration and find their connection with life.
Yet regardless of outer appearances, the inner soul of the land cannot be put down so easily. It has been nourished by many centuries of tapas by great yogis and sages. This soul of Bharat Mata will rise up again through Kali (destruction) to Durga (strength). The question is how long and difficult the process must be.