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CRISIS IN THE PSYCHE OF INDIA

Indian intellectuals live in a state of perpetual inferiority and are intolerant of others who do not share the same disability.

 David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

 

Defeatism born of alienation

            A defeatist tendency exists in the psyche of many modern Indians that is 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 many of its cultural leaders appears to be to pull the country and her culture down or at least to remake it in a foreign image. To this end they always support forces that are not only alien, but even hostile to India and her civilization.

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 and other invaders who sought to destroy the native civilization. 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. When great archaeological discoveries of India’s past are found, for example, they are not a subject for national pride but are ridiculed, 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, is ridiculed, while minority religions, however fundamentalist, are doted upon. The majority religion is taxed and regulated while minority religions receive tax benefits and have no regulation. 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. 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 a whole. Each group wants as big a piece of the national pie as it can get, not realizing that the advantages it gains means 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 casteism 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. People view the government not as their own creation but as a welfare state from which to 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 paralysis

            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. In short, opposition does not provide criticism or policy options, but plays a destructive role by destabilizing the government and obstructing its functioning. This was clear during the recent budget session of the Parliament when the principal opposition party did not even allow the Parliament to function.

 

Pandering to foreign interests

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 themselves 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. Even when it was exposed that several Christian organizations were engages in a child kidnapping and selling racket using ‘adoption as a cover, there was no outrage in the media, in striking contrast to its behavior during real and imagined attacks on Christians. 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 recently 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!

 

Quality of leadership

            Let us look at the type of leaders that India now has today with its Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalita or Subrahmanian Swamy to mention but a few. Such individuals are little more than warlords who surround themselves with sychophants. Modern Indian politicians appear more like colonial rulers and their agents 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.

            Now 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, she can carry on 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! And the support to this ‘leader’ is coming predominantly from the educated ‘elite’ rather than the common people.

 

Rejecting spirituality

            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, 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!

            If the enlightened thought of India is going to arise it cannot through the current educated elite of the country. Various spiritual groups in India may be able to promote it, including in foreign lands, but they are fast becoming a minority and denigrated in their own land.

 

Is there hope?

            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 bastard 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 feed it. Indian politicians do not hesitate to sell their country down the river and it does not require a high price.

 

Signs of revival

            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 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, no matter how much power they wield. The remaining population is much more likely to preserve the older traditions of the land. Supposedly 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 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. Let us hope that some at least will heed this call.

However, first this strange alienated elite has to be removed from their positions of power and influence, and they will not give up 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 as though a new Kurukshetra War is on the horizon that requires a similar miracle for victory, and enlightened leaders like Krishna and Yudhisthira. 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.