Monday, April 04, 2005

The greenhouse effect of Indian writing

Indians have learned nothing but Western science and philosophy from their reading and academics, the basis of which is mostly European christianity. We deluded ourselves imagining their issues as our own, debated their debates, fought their fights and created snooty socialite circles. The modern and post modern culture elites and well read intellectuals stayed clear of Indian realities and interpreted issues with their western peer's yardsticks. While I agree on the revolutionary aspect of western methodology and its use in Indian context to a great extent, I equally resent and condemn these folk's authoritarian attitude towards Indian ethos and the "traditional" wisdom. I also understand that the native culture fanatics do not make their job easier either. Indian thought which is based on texts from vedas, upanishads and other oral intelligence and written scripts are dismissed and ridiculed as religious artefacts.

The post-war europe taught us the absurdity of life and futility of man's destiny. I read a lot of these guys. Though I trusted the integrity and honesty of all these thinkers and writers, my parched self craved for a meaningful something that tells me that there is a reason, however ambiguos and obtrusive it may be. I needed to break the cycle of validating my ignorence and despondency. Then I read O.V.Vijayan (Legends of Khazak), Anand(How deserts originate), U.R. Anathamurthy (Samskara), Srikrishna Alanahally (Kadu), Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee (Pather Panchali, Aranyak), Tarashankar Bhandopadhyay (Arogya Niketan, Jalsaghar) and a few others. They wrote about their inspiration from Indian Philosophy that had its roots deep in nature. The same nature that was kind, generous and grand, that facilitates the cycles of life and death. The western books we read defeated this sense of union from nature.

You will not find this subtext from Thoreau or Wordsworth. They were still responding to their existential angst and that was nothing but naturalism. The western analysts trying to procrastinate and box Indian thoughts as polytheism and freakish religious ramblings never understood that it did not place the selfish man at the center of the universe, that it allowed for a benign symbiosis of man, nature and the universe in an unending cycle of karmic existence. The freaks in London and hippies in united states never assimilated this. Instead their dysfunctional subculture and those horny Gurus proved to be a bad advertisement for anything remotely related to Indian philosophy.

With this backdrop, to find genuine thinking and writing from India had been hard to come by. However if you look, you will find them. The Indian English writers generally sell the western concepts of India and you learn nothing from them in terms of Indian thought. I would like to quote an excerpt from the malayalam writer O.V.Vijayan from his autobiographical notes (on his book "Legends of Khazak) to give glimpse of real Indian writing.

He(Vijayan) spent his childhood in Police quarters where his father worked as an officer. He was not a healthy child and was bedridden for quite a long time. Here (in the excerpt) he is talking about his vision of nature and the complex interrelated life abound on a serene evening. He is trying to imbibe the grandeur of nature and exults in the vision of his existence as one of the cosmically countless forms of life: (I hope my translation did justice to Vijayan)

Nature yonder the meadow was nubile. Amid her nubility, our little houses leant over and hid without ever rejecting it; the trees, vegetation, birds, hemipterous insects and spiders that wove across trees; the tiny flowers of grass, microscopic sun buds, bluish hydrangeas. Neatly cut sedimentary rocks and the expanse of meadows spaced out the landscape where there were no plants. After the rains, ditches became reservoirs of clear water to turn into ponds. They might last for months unmuddied before they get dried up. The green frogs who migrated would swim about and lie underneath the crystal layers of those reservoirs. When they did, the bubbles on top of their skin would shine like emeralds. The hill was surrounded by valleys and extended to more hills. I could see the sanguine facade of Chekkunnu mountain from the patio of my house. Watching its breathtaking face I would daze back to my lethargy..."

That lethargy was a metaphor for the spectacular vision he had. I would re-enter into my life as an Indian reader when I read him and I'd say, truly I am one of those cosmic millions.

1 comment:

Ubermensch said...

This indeed was very compelling case, i agree with most of the points raised in the blog, now what i question is , the relevance of it all? say an average 21st century man working in newyork , london or bombay who has the education to spare athought towards such seemingly profound content would he worry about nature...? would he have the time even if he had the inclination? so that has been always the issue with hinduism -because it tries to encompass human life , but it cant but the beauty is it still does...
isnt that wonderful??
and i agree that london freaks and yankee hippies never got that...its the same with this desi indians, all flaunt as u say, ....but still people who really wanted followed and pursued, nietzsche and schopenhauer read upansihads everynight while schopenhauer's dog was called atma....human life was germany at its peak 19-20th is just noises abt bookers and miss worlds

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