in old world charm
Review by Deepika Gurudev
A New World
by Amit Chaudhuri. Picador, London. Pages 200. 2.99 pound stering.
I read "A Strange and Sublime Address" there was this
amazing experience that could possibly be dubbed enchantment. Then
there was the romance of the "Afternoon Raag", cannot say
much about the "Freedom Song" since I have not read it. But
the LA Times Book Award that it bagged in 1999 bears testimony to some
of Amit Chaudhuri’s magic in print.
If it is with
anticipation of the same magic being recreated in "A New
World" that sets you off on the Chaudhuri voyage, then beware.
This offering is in a whole new genre and as one progresses through
the slow opening of the novel, one cannot but help think — not quite
The strange cynicism,
the unquestioned marriage, the failing marriage, the dark flat, the
Calcutta summer, the painfully slowly unfolding holiday somehow does
not quite capture the essence of his earlier work.
Possibly the attempt
to do so is deliberate. This is the story of Jayojit, a semi-
successful writer settled in the USA. He has been recently divorced
from his wife who as the law and luck would have it has been granted
custody of their son. On a vacation to blank out parts of his rather
forgettable past, Jayojit comes expectedly in search of his parents
and attempts to find solace in the dark Calcutta flat that belongs to
his parents. a retired Admiral and his wife. The Admiral retains all
the qualities of a retired armed forces man. His wife who has had the
best years of her life travelling with the Admiral and the two
children, a good homemaker but not quite the best of cooks.
As the fierce summer
sun takes hold of Calcutta, Jayojit goes back and forth in time.
Between India and America, between his life with his wife and life
without his wife, between having his son now and knowing fully well
that he will have to be returned back to his mother as soon as they
land in America.
The unrelenting force
of the summer sun has a significant impact on Chaudhuri’s text as
well, the edges and the noon glares are stark, to say the least. There
are the unquestioning details in his parents married life, which just
seems to have lasted year after year promising it to be one of the
marriages in the "till death us apart" genre. Then there is
his brother somewhere in the distance, possibly happily married and
there is Jayojit’s own marriage severely severed into two. While
critics have dubbed all of this as sentimental, moving accounts…"reading
some of these passages, you can be reminded of reading Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’
for the first time, where every sentence can seem a small act of
beauty", I find it hard to agree with that.
It is quite logically
a difference in perspectives. Maybe growing up in India takes away the
magic of fine balances. The Admiral’s life hitting like the
recalcitrant tale told before. Do‘nt I remember that constant
fretting pre-retirement, oh we have not got a home. Now where is the
pension money going to go, NOIDA, Doon or closer home Chandigarh. Don’t
get me wrong, the travails Chaudhuri describes are real, possibly
because they are so uncannily real they seem to have missed out on the
magic of some of his earlier prose.
Then there is the
question of the marriage itself. It all seems to boil down to the fact
that there was a significant other who kind of just walked into his
wife’s life, their conversations ended abruptly and then he had his
huge house, his car and his lawn and his ex-wife had another man and
to make matters worse, their seven year old son.
While the author
attempts to grapple with the issue of dislocation, the book is not as
brave as it should be. Sure, marriages fail — globally. But is that
reason enough not to analyse why it happens. In this novel one just
gets the sneaky feeling it is all the womann’s fault – that of
course is purely a matter of perspective and depends on which side of
the fence one is viewing the issue from.
What troubles me most
is the whole issue of the infallibility of love that rings loud and
clear. "The womb is no longer the perfect place to be."
Then there are the
gleaming hints of alienation to come. Jayojit’s wants to be absorbed
by his parents’ present world but doing that is next to impossible,
even for the length of his brief stay. There are some moments of his
mother’s evocative tenderness, his father’s largely inarticulate
affection, and his son’s brittle peace threatened by the distant
image of his mother.
What lasts though are
the images of ghar ka khana or home food: "Home food was
safe and insipid and had a tranquility about it...It was an honest,
even joyful, effort by his mother, though it had not quite worked; but
it was not wholly tasteless either."
So if you’re in a
mood for roti daal mix sans murg masala go for this.
And don’t complain
you weren’t forewarned about it.
Of course, established critics tell
me that I should enthusiastically accept it as ""the
brilliance of ‘A New World’s’ words that lie couched in
simplicity and sheer implicity" – whatever that means.
total view of Asian reality
Review by P.K.Vasudeva
edited by J.K. Ray. Shipra Publication, New Delhi. Pages 253.
Internal" is a cross-disciplinary study,by the Maulana
Abdul Kalam Azad Institute of Asia Studies, Calcutta. It is a
centre for research and learning with its focus on social,
cultural, political, and economic development in Asia from the
middle of the 19th century onwards. It lays special emphasis
on the links with India and on the life and works of Maulana
Abdul Kalam Azad. This volume seeks to explore the complex
interconnection between cultural and socio-economic structures
of society and provide a critical dialogue on the question of
ethics, analysis and related themes. It includes a summary of
Asian events in 1999.
article "Maulana Azad: a great intellectual, scholar and
visionary" is by Froze Bakht Ahmed who says the Maulana
was a great intellectual, scholar and visionary. The author
points out that there is a necessity for re-examining the
relevance in the present context.
Gopal’s note on "Indians in Central Asia" in 19th
century explores the presence of Indian traders in the towns
and market places the between Aral and the Pamirs in the 19th
Century. While Indian trade with this region had a long
history, this article brings out the changes in the activities
of the Indian traders in the light of developing capitalism in
Europe and the expansion of European colonial powers in Asia
and Africa. The author explains that the entrepreneurial
skills of Indian traders allowed them to cope with the
technical, economic, political and administrative changes
which affected the course of commerce in the era of the
"Great Game" also provides the background to Indrani
Chatterji’s paper on "Mannu mission" and
"Colonialism design in Central Asia". It focuses on
the exploitation of Xinjiang and the British government of
sending Indian indentured labour in what was called Mannu
It points out
that the British efforts at securing, trading privileges,
lowering octroi and greater
sales of Indian goods, significantly influenced the Mannu
Mission policy in the region.
concludes that the British efforts at suppression of slavery
was part of the project of the
conquest and consolidation in the North and North-East of
India and not related to Xinjiang
Chatterji’s paper on "Shared identity: Iran and
Tajikistan" examines similar questions pertaining to
ethno-cultural links. It shows how linkage of the Tajikistan
identity with Persian identity is a stereotype and subsumes
other identities in Tajikistan.
also the central theme of Anita Gupta’s paper on
"Geopolitics or geoculture redefining pan-Turkism in
Central Asian context". While the previous papers had
examined the linkages in a historical context, this paper
re-examines the continuing significance of one such linkage in
the light of developments in the region. The paper moves away
from an examination of economic relationship between Turkey
and Turkish-speaking people of the region that is defined as
Roy in her paper "Afghan refugees: A case study of the
largest refugee population of the world", examines the
largescale cross border movement of people during 1979-99
across the borders of Afghanistan. Delineating the Afghan
civil war into a number of stages, this paper presents an
analytical and the tabular account of this transborder flow.
also focuses on the needs, perceptions, and management of
these refugees in their two largest host countries — Iran
and Pakistan. Jyoti Bhushan Das Gupta in his paper "The
rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan" chronologically
examines the rise of the Taliban and its growing influence and
power after Kabul fell into their hands in 1996. It also
focuses on the policies of other powers as a reflection of
foreign intervention at critical moments, shaping or
destroying indigenous political moments aimed at
reconciliation and peace.
Azhar‘s article on "India and Iran; trade in
nineties" examines the details of Indo-Iran trade and its
import and export structure. The paper also examines the
prospects of enhanced trade between the two countries in a
period of economic liberalisation.
the need for strengthening regional, economic cooperation
between India and China is examined by Wang Dehua in "Globalisation
and revitalisation of theSilk Route". The paper argues
that for the emergence of this sub-regional cooperation among
India, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh, the revitalisation of
the silk route is a historical necessity. This would also be
beneficial for good political involvement for economic
focuses on a range of issues pertaining to Asia in the year
1999 and provides a summary of events during that time. It is
a useful volume for all scholars who are interested in
political, economic and socio-cultural relations in Asian
* * *
& Cure) Volume I"
by S. Subramaniam. Manas Publication, New Delhi. Pages 455. Rs
espionage is gaining ground in the world to secure trade
secrets of competitive business houses through unethical means
and theft. This is now widely practised in almost all
countries but is seldom admitted. Industrial espionage is
against fair business competition and there is need for
competitive business intelligence. Liberalisation,
privatisation, modernszation and globalisation have brought in
its wake a sea change in the profile of Indian trade and
industrial giants and multinational corporations are coming to
India for joint ventures and strategic alliances in
manufacturing items for export to the Third World countries
and share their know-how and technical expertise. It is for
the first time that Indian entrepreneurs are sharing some of
the closely guarded and exclusive process formulae and trade
securities with the western and other advanced countries. Most
of these are exclusive proprietary items developed at a heavy
cost. These should require to be protected from unethical
competition within the country and from outside.
In the introductory chapter,
"The evolution of industrial espionage" the author
has illustrated a number of cases from USA, UK, Malaysia,
South Africa and so on. In intelligence gathering through
ages, it has been explained that the intelligence denotes
information that has been verified for its reliability,
assessed for its accuracy, processed for its veracity and
valued for its utility and is ready for use after a nod from
the decision maker.
An Indian scientist’s
odyssey to Antarctica
Review by Randeep Wadehra
the Ice in Antarctica
by Satya S. Sharma. New Age International, New Delhi. Pages:
x+323. Price: not mentioned.
Antarctica is one of the last frontiers on this planet that
man is straining to conquer. The author terms it as the
"most mysterious" of the seven continents. According
to geological studies, roughly 140 million years ago, East
Antarctica formed the Gondwanaland’s central block. The
other parts of Antarctica were South America, peninsular
India, Australia and New Zealand. Today the frozen continent
poses a strong challenge to man’s endurance and ingenuity.
begins as a scientific curiosity ultimately ends up becoming a
tool for the newly conquered territory’s exploitation – be
it the oceanic depths, the Himalayan heights or the vast
frozen stretches at the two poles. Antarctica covers 14.5
million sq km of frozen land on the South Pole. This area is
as big as the combined size of China and India. It experiences
the lowest temperature on the planet at –89 degrees Celsius,
is buffeted by wind velocities of over 300 km/ph, contains 90
per cent of the world’s fresh water in the form of ice, and
yet is the driest continent on earth.
Major-General, says that during the late 19th and early 20th
centuries, the area’s main attraction was commercial
exploitation of its marine life – especially, whales and
fish in the surrounding waters. Minerals are speculated to be
in immense quantities, but barring sedimentary iron, no proven
deposits have been mapped as yet. The southern ocean is full
of marine life like krill, seals and whales. And of course you
can watch penguins in their natural habitat.
This book, a
revised edition of Sharma’s earlier effort titled
"Citadel of Ice: Dakshin Gangotri", is a more
comprehensive account of various expeditions to the frozen
continent. It gives a graphic account of the first-hand
experience of setting up the first Indian Research Station in
1983-84 on a floating ice shelf along the Princess Astrid
Coast in East Antarctica. It also gives details of the author’s
stay for more than one year in the station till March, 1985.
It all began
in October, 1981, when Sharma was working as a snow scientist
in the Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) at Manali. Dr Raja
Ramanna, the then Scientific Advisor to the Minister of
Defence, visited the establishment and announced the plans to
send an expedition to the Antarctica. He also said that the
Government was interested in including a defense scientist
from SASE. Eventually Sharma was selected for the trip.
the various expeditions and the Indian camp at Dakshin
Gangotri, the author feels that a variety of scientific
experiments conducted there will enable the Indian polar
science to advance by leaps and bounds. The research done on
glaciology, meteorology, microbiology, engineering,
communication and related fields is expected to pay rich
He points out
that Antarctica expeditions have begun a new programme of
science that has a direct bearing on mankind’s existence.
The abundance of mineral wealth, availability of vast fresh
water resources in the form of icebergs, sea ice, etc, and the
fact that it is still a virgin landmass hold out vast economic
potential. Though India made a late entry into this area,
"the drive and seriousness with which the programme was
commenced and the results which have been achieved, have borne
fruit in various disciplines of science and related
exploration. Consequently, India has acquired the status of a
full-fledged member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic
Research and the Standing Committee on Antarctic Logistics,
and a party to the convention of Antarctic marine living
Here is a
book that offers lots of invaluable information. The
"I" factor does not overwhelm the main thesis of the
book. Worth keeping in your bookshelf for ready reference as
well as for an interesting read. And, it has some beautiful
photographs too! One wishes there were more of these though.
* * *
by I. Mohan. APH Publishing, New Delhi. Pages xv+177. 500.
Gorbachov once remarked, "And if the Russian word ‘perestroika’
has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to
more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet
Union. Now the whole world needs restructuring i.e.
progressive development, a fundamental change." Could parivartan
have gained similar currency if our leaders were
involves drastic change – something that is anathema to
Indian psyche. Yet the common man does realise that
transformation is as inevitable as any natural law. Change is
a vital input in an organism’s development process – be it
biological, social or any other. Thus if a town ceases to
evolve in consonance with the demands of time, it tends to
rot. This often happens in the case of what are generally
termed the walled cities. While new localities outside the
medieval wall proliferate and prosper, an unmistakable stench
of decay emanates from behind the wall.
In this book
Mohan has portrayed Shahjahanabad – one of the several
settlements that form part of the national capital. The book
"projects the galaxy of street patterns of Shajahanabad".
It takes a close look at social relations among the various
settlements there. "Each street has its own identity.
There are monuments, schools, shopping areas, residences,
mosques and temples everywhere."
studied the economy and social dynamics of Chandni Chowk, Lal
Kuan, Maliwara, Ballimaran (where Ghalib once lived), Matia
Mahal, Khan Baoli, etc. The list is rather long, but the
volume is readable, at least for those who would like to know
how the once isolated settlements have changed over the years
to cope with densely populated urban communities that surround
* * *
by H.N. Bali. Om Publications, Faridabad. Pages 218. Rs 300.
One of the
beauties, indeed the salient feature, of Hinduism is that it
is not a static concept bogged down in rigid dogmas. It has no
founder and owes nothing to any book or event for its
existence. It is like a primordial river; its mainstream
getting periodically rejuvenated by various
"feeders" or tributaries, and in return it branching
out into various streams that have their distinct identities
and yet borrowing crucial inputs from the mother source.
Sarvepalli Gopal describes Hinduism as a religion that is
"without circumference, an amalgamation, under the impact
of extraneous influences, of a large variety of religious
beliefs with similar structures…"
embraces the traditional caste based Brahaminical order with
the same facility as it does the Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj and
other protestant movements.
Thus it never
really faced any threat to its existence, as it was capable of
taking periodical reformist movements in its stride. Instead
it has been attracting admirers and followers from as far away
as Philadelphia – remember Satyanand Stokes – in the
recent past, and other civilisations for ages. Hinduism is a
dynamic concept that defies a definitive explanation. Whether
one worships Shiva, Vishnu or Kali, one is a Hindu, an animist
is a Hindu and so is an atheist. Again, the Hindu ethos tends
to celebrate the "humanizing" of divinity.
Rama is at once the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well as an
obedient son, a loving brother, a husband, father and king
with all the attendant human frailties. Similarly one can
choose Krishna the lover, Krishna the butter thief, Krishna
the supreme being or Krishna the param yogi. Such
catholicity is this religion’s major strength. This is
precisely why fanaticism has not been able to grow in the
Hindu society despite desperate efforts of some elements.
this vibrant organism is sought to be weakened by shackling it
with all sorts of regressive dogmas.
someone writes about India, Hinduism or a related topic he
somehow ends up or even begins with berating the western
"ills" as Bali has done in this book. No doubt the
West, like any other civilisation, has its downside. But it
also has its positive aspects like its work culture, its
dedication to bettering the quality of life, its social ethos
and ethics et al — the qualities that have taken it to the
pinnacle of material and cultural progress. We somehow feel
more comfortable while highlighting its drawbacks in the same
fashion as perhaps a hag feels after detecting a microscopic
wart on the face of attractive lass. Little do we realize that
accepting and assimilating the best from other cultures has
been a hoary and rejuvenating tradition of Hinduism..
Bali is right
when he asserts that self-renewal is the greatest strength of
Hinduism. He goes on to aver, "Every time it faced a grim
challenge there emerged an exponent who restated the
imperishable core of its thought with greater vigour. Adi
Shankara in his time revitalised Hinduism by retrieving from
obscurity the principal Upanishads and the Gita…" The
problem is that no one wants to acknowledge that the reforms
undertaken were without targeting other religions like
Buddhism, though he did enter into debates with their
followers. Adi Shankara was solely worried about the rot that
had set in the precepts and practices of the Hindu society.
Bali would have us believe that Hinduism is standing on the
crossroads today solely because of the influence of western
consumerism. He conveniently forgets that the sati and
other evil practices were abolished thanks to the substantial
influence of the western liberalism. Despite the fact that we
thump our chests to claim credit as the original home of
democracy – citing the gana rajyas of yore – we
know that the Westminster system has helped us shed many,
though not all, of our feudal propensities.
Though one might tend to
endorse Bali’s prescription for our contemporary ills, we
must have a homegrown system of governance, it should be
liberal enough to assimilate all dissent and be dynamic enough
to evolve constantly to meet the people’s aspirations. One
would not mind if the saffron brigade or any other nationalist
outfit takes the credit for developing such an edifice.
quirky tale, but interesting
Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain
by Michael Paterniti. Delta Trade Paperbacks, New York. Pages
April 18, 1955, as Albert Einstein lay dead in a Princeton
hospital, a 44-year-old pathologist with impeccable Ivy League
background, Dr Thomas Harvey was called to perform the
autopsy. He did so, and in the process also removed the brain
of the great physicist. Not only that, he decided not to hand
over the prized piece to anyone, including the hospital and
state agencies. A few years later, he was fired from his job
on apparently flimsy grounds.
the rest of his life hiding the brain in his house, moving
from one job to another, losing his medical licence along the
way and ending up working as an extruder operator in a
plastics factory, doing a measly eight-dollar-an-hour job. In
1995, the author accidentally realised his true identity as
the latter chatted with his landlord in New Mexico. It lead to
his developing a kind of friendship with the doctor, further
leading him to act as his chauffeur as Harvey expressed his
desire to visit, and ostensibly hand over the relic brain, to
Einstein’s granddaughter, Evelyn, living in Berkeley,
The book is
an outcome of the journey — part travelogue, part
autobiography and part a biography of Harvey. Einstein stands
mostly on the sidelines, as his brain resides in a Tupperware
container in the back of the Buick Skylark car — popping out
of its trunk abode once in a while to serve as an anchor to
the driver and the irascible Mr Harvey, sometimes providing a
beacon of enlightenment and sometimes as an introspective
voice. The result is an eclectic, sometimes funny but a
downright original and immensely readable travelogue.
On the road,
driving from New Jersey to California across the vast
mid-western states of Ohio, Indiana and further on in Idaho
and Arizona, the writer struggles to strike conversation with
his uncommunicatively eccentric passenger ("a man of
silence after silence") who drops in unannounced to see
one of his three former wives and a host of children and
grandchildren. Nearly half a century separates the driver and
the passenger, the author and the 84-year-old Harvey, just
about the time that separated Harvey from Einstein. Einstein,
the genius and eccentric, Harvey, the eccentric and a talented
This kind of
a journey can be expected in America where the weird and the
whacky can be your next door neighbours, existing as much in
flesh and blood as in fantasy. "Only occasionally can you
glimpse through the embrouses of an otherwise perfectly polite
person to see the cannons aimed out, only in a certain glint
do the eyeteeth become fangs. We are driven by desire and
fear. Only in our solitary hungers do we find ourselves
capable of the most magnificently unexpected sins," the
writer remarks somewhat out of place but piquantly as he
drives out of Ohio.
Lawrence city, he observes, "As will happen in this
single day, we will live through four seasons. Which can occur
when one drives long enough with Einstein’s brain in the
trunk. Time bends, accelerates, overlaps; it moves backward,
vertically, then loops; simultaneity rules." Such flights
of fancy to see America through the eyes of Einstein are not
unusual in the book — indeed it is not without its flaws.
Bathos dominates at places..
Paterniti brings alive a good humoured, skeptical look at
Einstein and his adopted country, often quoting Einstein or
picking up anecdotes from his life. "The last 30 years of
his life, he might as well have gone fishing," he remarks
referring to the relativity theorist’s unfruitful attempts
at formulating the unified field theory, on which he continued
to work hours before his death — as if the three decades of
hard labour may culminate in a triumphal breakthrough in his
initial success in theoretical physics, Paterniti observes,
Einstein was known more for his moral opinion than scientific
condemned war. "I appeal to all men and women to declare
that they will refuse to give any further assistance to war or
to preparation of war," he wrote in a 1931 statement to
the War Resisters International. Later, he wrote, "My
pacifism is an instinctive feeling, a feeling that possesses
me, because the murder of people is disgusting. My attitude is
not derived from any intellectual theory but is based on my
deepest antipathy to every kind of cruelty and hatred."
responding to questions about the atom bomb, he said:
"You are mistaken in regarding me as a kind of chieftain
of those scientists who abuse science for military purposes. I
have never worked in the field of applied science, let alone
for the military. I condemn the military mentality of our time
just as you do. Indeed, I have been a pacifist all of my life
and regard Gandhi as the only truly great figure of our
Left-leaning views made him an object of suspicion. His
closeness to Charlie Chaplin lead to at least one FBI agent
swearing that Einstein was at the centre of a communist plot
to take over Hollywood. Because of such suspicions, Einstein
was not associated with the Manhattan Project leading to the
making of the atomic bomb.
preservation of the physical brain of Einstein, doggedly
saving and hiding it from powers of all sorts, including the
government — at tremendous cost and suffering to him, makes
Thomas Harvey an anarchist hero of sorts. Who knows that the
brain which may have been otherwise lost forever, may still
lead to some discoveries. Maybe, one day, posterity may even
differ — and consider it at best undignified and at worst
unethical, to treat the mind of any man, let alone Einsteinn’s,
as if it were a floppy disk or a wax tablet (Plato likened the
human mind to a "wax tablet", even as Freud compared
it to a "mystic writing pad" made out of wax paper
and celluloid.) In other words, to dissociate it from the
flesh and blood of the living man.
However, as of now, like in
much of the journey described in the book, Einstein — the
great mind of science, reason and morality, is cast away in
the back of the car, at least metaphorically. It rides,
silently floating in formaldehyde, as a baseball aficionado
and a cantankerous octogenarian drive across America, trying
to find a home for something that is forever in danger from
predators of all sorts.
power of prayer for the soul
Review by Kuldip Kalia
A Book on
compiled by M.M. Walia. Sterling Publishers, New Delhi. Pages
63. Price not mentioned.
efforts, honest working and better performance are the
necessary ingredients for achieving success in life but do not
bother about the results. Without divine grace, a person can
achieve nothing. Anyway miracles do happen in life with the
power of prayer. So prayer is the starting point to the realm
of grace. An effort must be made to establish contact with the
sources of all power. In fact, for attaining strength, it
serves as "a means of communication between the self (atma)
and the higher self (parmatma)".
Josque Heschel rightly says, "A soul without prayer is a
soul without a home." That is why someone has emphasised
that "Some people say prayers, others pray". There
is always a desire somewhere in the core of the heart that
someone should teach the method of praying. However, there is
a Serbian proverb that "good deeds are the best
prayer". So there is no need to worry or to express anger
but always respect elders and live by honest means.
Above all, be
grateful to God. Neither one needs a specific place and time,
nor does one require a particular posture. The prayer can be
offered anywhere and everywhere, at any time and there is
"no prescribed posture". In the words of Gandhi,
"As food is indispensable to the body, so is prayer
indispensable for the soul ." The ability to serve others
is the highest strength to reckon with.
(asking for ourselves), intercession (asking for others),
adoration (worshipping God in the true form), and
contemplation (a condition of alert passivity) are different
types of prayer. At the same time increased physical buoyancy,
greater intellectual vigour, moral stamina and deeper
understanding of the realities underlying human relationship
are the terms used for measuring the influence of prayer on
the human mind.
praying in the morning but spending the day in a sinful manner
and resorting to prayers only when in trouble are meaningless
exercises One should make prayer "a way of life".
Rightly said, "Like cooking, eating, walking, working and
sleeping" — it should be a part and parcel of routine
activities. Moreover, prayer is considered to be
"indispensable for the fullest development of
personality". Also develops a sense of moral obligation
and intellectual humility. A leading physician in the USA,
Alexis Carrel, acknowledges the power of prayer. It is said to
be a "force as real as terrestrial gravity." So open
your heart to God. "Joy is within you, you just need to
introduction to Jaap Saheb, Baba Virsa Singh explains the way
the prayer acts. At the spiritual level, one starts feeling
closer to God’s grace, begins to realise the splendour of
God and thereby prepares for the divine experience of his
vision. At the material level, it helps to face the challenges
of life and thus one gets strength and fortitude to meet any
eventuality and difficulty. Not only this; prayer can
transcend the consequences of karma. It breaks the
"shackles of karma" when one seeks forgiveness and
compassion. Thus the man is free.
At this stage
the "sanskar" feels a wonderful transformation. Fear
and anxiety fade away, thereby giving a place to "courage
and tranquility". Similarly, falsehood and pride are
replaced by truth and humility. Furthermore, a feeling of
renunciation and detachment nourishes the soul with a
wonderful experience. Ultimately it is the grace of the
almighty that helps.
realise this fundamental truth. Collective prayers are said to
be more powerful. There is an old saying that, "A family
that prays together stays together". God understands our
silence better than our words. We do not need any special
language. Norman Vincent Peale proves the point when he says,
"Talk to God in your own language. He understands
it." Somehow, it is the recognition of "oneness with
the universal soul’ or what may be called the "union
with the supreme spirit".
At the same time, Swami
Visudha Chaitanya warns that "prayer should not be
degraded into a contract between you and God". One must
listen to the guru when he says, "Prayer does not
necessarily change things for you but it definitely changes
you for things". So close your eyes and shut out the
world. All the hurdles are over. You will certainly feel God’s
presence. Whether it is from the Gita, the Bible or the Quran,
prayer is universal. Remember Gandhi. According to him,
"without prayer, there is no inward peace".
The first corruption case
Review by V.N.
trial and impeachment of the first Governor-General of India,
Warren Hastings, appointed by the East India Company (EIC) to
regulate the affairs of India, was conducted in England for
about eight years. It had a decisive impact on the
administration of India. It served as a warning to all EIC men
that however high and mighty they might be, while governing
large territories and weilding wide influence, they were not
above law, and had no business to use arbitrary power by
infringing on the norms of customary rules of governance.It
had a salutary effect on company officers, set high standards
of conduct by civil servants and administered a warning to
them against violations of rules and regulations.
under review is by Jeremy Bernstein "Drawing of the Raj:
The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings" (Aurum, London,
pages 319, £ 199). Bernstein is the latest biographer of
Warren Hastings. A professional journalist of long standing,
he has mainly focused on India and Tibet. He has taken a
distant attitude to the predominantly British perspectives on
India. The dust jacket refers to Hastings’s role during the
period "when a small European island became the master of
a subcontinent spanning Indian Ocean and the Himalayas."
Moon, for some time a fellow of All Souls and a member of the
Indian Civil Services, had produced an elegantly written short
biography of Hastings in 1947. G.R. Gleig’s three-volume
biography of Hastings had exonerated Hastings of any blemish
in view of the dangers that threatened the British dominion in
India. According to Gleig, Hastings’s actions were
politically justified and there was no reason to condemn him
on moral grounds.
wrote a very influential essay on Hastings in 1841 and took
the view that Hastings, having failed to meet what his enemies
called "natural law", still had rendered great
services to the Raj in laying its foundation at the most
joined the East India Company in India as a writer in 1750 and
served at Moorshadabad from 1754 to 1766. He became a member
of the Supreme Council of Calcutta and the first
Governor-General of India in 1773.
gives a blow-by-blow account of the circumstances that led to
Hastings’s impeachment. He does not say anything startlingly
new in his interpretation but goes over the familiar ground
with a sure touch. In 1776 the directors of the East India
Company petitioned the government seeking Hastings’s removal
from service on account of his flagrant abuse of power and
acts of oppression. Hastings resigned.in 1777. Since one
member of the Council died, Hastings used casting vote to
withdraw his resignaiton, and return to office.
He went on to
strongly resist the dangerous moves of the Marathas, the Nizam
of Deccan and Hyderabad and Hyder Ali of Mysore. For meeting
this critical situation, he needed money. He took recourses to
seizng by force the wealth of the begums of Oudh. Such a
reckless act of extortion led to his recall to England by a
motion moved in the House of Commons. Fox’s East India Bill
in 1783 designed to curb corruption in India was thrown out,
but next year Pitt’s bill establishing a board of control
resigned and left India in 1785. He was impeached by Edmund
Burke in 1786 charged with acts of injustice, oppression,
gross maladministration and receiving huge bribes. On the
credit side, Hastings had founded a modern polity. He had run
the government and conducted wars better than the French
statesman Richelieu. He introduced widespread reforms. A
skilful diplomat, he had genuine interest in governing India
through the recently complex legal interest. His land reforms
and taxation policies despite inherent limitations were
A scholar of
Persian and Urdu he had promoted Oriental learning; overseeing
translation of works on Hindu and Muslim laws and Charles
Wilkin’s pioneering translation of the Bhagvad Gita. He was
the first president of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He was a
towering personality and would not give in and would meet
dangerous situations with firmness and confidence. A realist
in politics, he would not mistake shadow for substance.
Bernstein, the decision to impeach Hastings was taken largely
due to Prime Minister William Pitt’s attitude. Pitt had been
an admirer of Hastings, though he feared that he might become
his formidable rival in the Cabinet due to his popularity.
Prof R. Coupland maintains that Pitt was greatly influenced in
his attitude to Hastings by the evangelical William
Wilberforce’s strong reaction to the callousness shown by
Hastings towards the begums of Oudh. Wilberforce thought that
Hastings’s conduct called for utmost condemnation. He felt
outraged and spoke about it to his old friend Pitt behind the
Speaker. Thereafter the tide turned and Hastings had to appear
before the bar of the Lords to defend himself.
The Nawab of
Oudh was dependent on the British rulers because of a defence
alliance. The money was with the begums who were in charge of
the late Nawab’s treasure. Hastings extracted money by
imprisoning the begums, whose stewards, the eunuchs, were
starved and put in fetters. The EIC servants went on looting
and plundering and amassed a fortune.
outbreak of war with the French, Chait Singh, Raja of Banaras,
was asked to pay more than the fixed tribute of £ 2,25,000, a
special sum of £ 50,000 to meet war expenses within five
days. Chait Singh sought more time but was refused; instead a
fine of £ 2000 was imposed. He paid £ 2000 as entertainment
money which Hastings used in the Company’s service. The Raja
was asked to provide 1,000 horses. Because of his financial
difficulties, the raja had no means of meetings these demands.
He was humiliated and removed from his estate.
who opened the impeachment debate described his treatment of
Chait Singh as one of impoliteness, severity and inhumanity.
Warren Hastings was impeached by the greatest orators and the
finest brains of England, Edmand Burke, William Pilt, Charles
James Fox and the silver-tongued Sheridan. These celebrities
were assisted by Sir Philip Francis, a former member of Warren
Hastings Council at Calcutta, who provided massive material to
Burke for building his case against Hastings.
The trial of
Hastings began in the Westminster Hall on February 13, 1788,
and dragged on for eight years until April 23, 1795, when he
was acquitted of all charges, including the main charge of
corruption and those favouring conviction on other charges
ranged from two to six.
Burke, the legal and moral standards applied in England should
also apply in India. As the trial was to begin, Burke
declared, "I impeach him in the name of human nature
itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured and oppressed
in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation and condition of
life." There were dramatic scenes during the impeachment.
The House was packed when Sheridan delivered his brilliant
speech on the begums of Oudh. Sheridan was offered £ 1000 for
a copyright of his speech and 50 guineas were paid for a seat
in the gallery.
On the ladies
reaction to Sheridan’s speech, Macaulay wrote,
"Handkerchiefs were pulled out, smelling bottles were
handed round, hysterical sobs and screams were heard and Mrs
Sheridan was called out in a fit."
the eight years of impeachment Hastings stood before the bar
of peers and maintained his equanimity despite the odium
poured on him. It began to be felt strongly in Westminster
Hall that Hastings was already under mental and material
strain In the long-drawn battle waged against him and he had
been brought to the verge of ruin. The impeachment was a
severe punishment in itself. The length of the trial had
already made him an object of pity. He had been subjected to
the ordeal of prosecution suffered by any person occupying a
position of responsibility.
tirade against Hastings couched in strict moral tone did more
to gain public sympathy for Hastings than anything the
disgraced former Governor-General had to say for himself. And
the press, though initially sympathetic to the trial, rapidly
grew weary of Burke’s obssessive denunciatotry tone. When
Hastings was acquitted he said, "I gave you all and you
repaid me with impeachment."
was that all his actions were motivated by his concern for the
defence of the British dominion in India. It was the raison d’etre
that had governed his policy in India. In short, whatever
errors he had committed were of a statesman facing imminent
peril amidst a hostile people in a foreign country.
The Court of
Proprietors wanted to give a pension to Hastings but Pitt and
Henry Daudas, president of the Board of Control, vetoed it.
The Court of Directors gave an adequate allowance to Hastings
to maintain himself in his estate of 650 acres at Daylesford.
An annuity for life of £ 4000 was also settled.
The impeachment set out a
standard of conduct for British administrators that while
discharging public responsibility, they were required to
observe high norms of equity, justice and propriety. That is
not unfortunately the case at present in this country.
with a chaotic future
Review by Ashutosh Kumar
edited by Romila Thapar. Viking, New Delhi. Rs 395.
the new millennium the world is undergoing the processes of
liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. These
processes have been hailed as revolutionary expected to take
the world to an era characterised by "end of
history" and also "end of geography".
post-communist era the ideological concerns have given way to
the concerns of the empowerment of the individual and groups
living on the margin. They arise primarily due to the
withdrawal of the state from the social sector under the
influence of market forces. Post-materialist concerns are also
becoming significant as is manifested in new social movements
like Green Peace, human rights groups, etc.
nation state, sovereignty and nationalism are no longer
dicussed by the privileged. The process by which
multiculturalism is replacing the monoculturism of an
exclusionary nationalism can be attributed to the upsurge of
various identities in an increasingly liberalised and
democratised world with emphasis on equality, dignity and
democratic rights. The assertion of civil society has given a
new meaning to the democratic functioning of post-industrial
set-up, be it the issue of the autonomy of the media or the
ecological conservation or gender justice or the human rights.
the book under review argues, encompass a sense of progress
and hope for a better future for a democracy like India.
However, they also provide a new context to the age-old
problems like widening social and economic disparities
accompanied by violence — both caste- and class-based;
ethnicity-based autonomist and secessionist violence and
terrorism; empowerment of marginalised communities, etc.
threatening India today.
there are new concerns as diverse as saving the Indian
landscape, gradual withdrawal of the Indian state from social
sector under new economic policies and autonomy of the media
in the face of the IT revolution.
India’s leading social analysts have presented their views
on these and other related issues of great significance in
this edited work. Broadly speaking the essays take up
"issues relating to identity, social and economic
inequalities, democracy, the role of marginalised groups such
as dalits and minorities, the meaning of culture, education,
technology of communication, media and environmental
differing ideological predilections, the contributors make
efforts to explore the possibility of a better society for
"questioning the inevitability of given patterns".
observes in his essay that "no better proof of India’s
indifference to the future needs to be found than (in) the
neglect of children and their education throughout the
half-century of independence". Kumar argues that the
virtual exclusion of the two-thirds of the Indian population
living in villages from the benefits of higher education can
be explained in two ways. One is the colonial legacy of
education being treated as "an investment to enrich the
elites." The other is the fear of an educated electorate
of the traditionally downtrodden groups, which explains the
unconcern for educating the peoples.
In the years
to come, however, with the regionalisation and localisation of
politics the scenario is likely to change for the better.
However, the challenge to the state control over the education
system which disfavours independent and critical thinking and
also adds to the privileges the privileged would come in the
form of youth protest and student politics as the first
generation school entrants flood the system.
essay relating to the emerging education system, Dhruv Raina
argues that unlike Nehruvian India, universities have
increasingly ceased to remain the premier centres for research
even in the field of social sciences. "The freedom to
choose subjects for research often determines the preference
that scientists have for research institutes that are outside
universities." If the trends continue, it will mean a
change "in the directions the study of the sciences in
India is likely to take in the future". The parallel
strands of knowledge one represented by traditional
universities and the other represented by research centres
"may not cohere unless the social processes create a
relating to the expected change in the socio-political
processes follow with a paper by Bina Agarwal taking up the
issue of gender equality in the new millennium. She argues
that "to build an economically and socially equal
partnership between women and men, we will need to re-examine
our assumptions about key social institutions, in particular
the family, and about men’s and women’s roles within the
home and in society". Legal reform measures like granting
woman the right to property as equal heir are positive
development "enabling women to alter the norms of our
patriarchal society". But are they sufficient for the
emancipation and empowerment of women? Given the patriarchal
character of society, one hardly notices any recognition of
the contribution of women in the construction of Indian
culture. Such recognition would have helped understanding
"the largest spectrum of cultural diversities in the
Barucha’s paper attributes the lack of understanding of our
culture to the very attempt of the state "to retain the
authenticities of different cultures, and thereby keep them
apart". What has followed as a consequence is the
reduction of the concept of multiculturalism to a mere
"geographical contiguity of different cultures which
co-exist in mere spatiality without interpenetrating".
For counterpointing this statist projection of diversity which
breeds the culture of indifference what is needed is to launch
a movement towards plurality in the new millennium. Plurality,
Bharucha argues, would mean recognition of "the
interactivity of cultures across difference" and not
merely a "registration of variety".
tradition are closely linked to each other as a
"tradition is created through the selecting and
interpreting of cultural items". Generation after
generation tends to do this "filtering out".
Invariably in the process the culture of dominant groups
emerge as hegemonic in nature. The need is to protect culture
from such a negative development by promoting multiple
cultures in the above sense. The divergent cultural
expressions in India bring focus on the issue of modernity
relating the marginalised groups — women, OBCs, dalits and
The essays by
Dipankar Gupta, Sunil Khilnani, Gopal Guru, Javeed Alam and P.
Sainath take up related themes and concretise them in the
context of the emerging shape of Indian democracy in the new
millennium. Gupta in his study argues that "the more
privileged classes who seem best suited to usher in modernity
are not all that well equipped for this project". The
project of modernising India would be essentially carried out
by the underprivileged masses who would take over in a radical
manner within the unfolding of "the liberating
potentialities of the nation state, and the forces of
industrialisation and urbanisation" in the coming
argues that politics remains central to the post-colonial
Indian society despite the assertion of market forces in the
aftermath of "new" globalisation. India as "an
intensely political society" is revealed in the form of
the new social groups’ increased participation in the
democratic electoral politics. What does it hold for the
nascent democratic institutions of India? Khilnani holds that
greater electoral participation may be necessary but not a
sufficient condition for the success of democracy as
"elections can be reduced to providing patrons rather
than electing representatives". Indeed the greater
political participation has coincided with "the
dissipation of political institutions and procedures".
How to combat
this process and ensure accountability of the political class?
Non-elected agencies and institutions like the judiciary and
judicial agencies can play a larger role in this context.
Freedom of information in the present era of global
information revolution would also be of help. Khilnani opines
that "law and information are likely to be more important
to the future of democracy than resort to a sentimental
picture of civil society". It follows that relations
between citizens and the state in the "new" Indian
democracy would be of crucial importance, especially for the
marginalised groups such as dalits, adivasis, OBCs and also
for Muslims and Christians as they all are increasingly
involved in the "politics of struggle for equality,
security and democratic rights".
this sentiment by succinctly putting it: "For dalits, the
21st century would see a history full of contestation with
opponents of all varieties and mediation and negotiation with
the forces which have a genuine stake in transforming the
structures that renew and underline the condition of
in the context of the nature of Muslim socio-political
presence in India observes in his study that the struggle of
the vulnerable sections of society, including Muslims, around
the issues echoing human concern — dignity, empowerment and
emancipation — is going to become "more and more
central to Indian politics as the ruling classes drag the
country into subservience to international financial capital
with all the disastrous consequences for the everyday life of
expresses his apprehension that the processes of globalisation
are going to worsen the prospect of a meaningful democracy as
the economic inequality would increase with the growing
privatised control of resources, including common property
Is there any
role left for marxism as an ideology, philosophical position
or a way of life in the post-communist era marked by the
ongoing project of modernisation and globalisation? Prabhat
Patnaik while emphasising the need to transcend capitalism and
developing an alternative social arrangement, argues that
marxism with its central concern being realisation of human
freedom remains very much relevant "especially at a time
when the depredations of international finance capital are
inaugurating over much of the Third World yet another dark
chapter of human history". Patnaik expresses hope in
"a new upsurge of praxis for liberation" in the form
of reconstruction of marxism.
and N.R. Narayana Murthy in their essays foresee the prospect
of prosperity and growth of the Indian economy in the new
millennium. Basu refers to the factors like major economic
reform measures undertaken in the nineties, the IT revolution
sweeping the country thanks primarily to the institutes of
technology and higher education founded in Nehruvian India,
ever increasing saving rates, increased investment into
financial markets all of which augers well for Indian economy.
presents a rosy picture of India’s progress in the field of
information technology, a fact accepted by the whole world.
Basu, however, strikes a note of caution when he argues that
appropriate government policies would be required to curb
rising inequality and the resulting tensions by creating an
opportunity to improve the conditions of society’s most
deprived and downtrodden. Such policies would involve, among
others, a check on the fiscal deficit, promotion of literacy,
direct role of the government in the redistribution of income
to the poor, etc. Making and implementing policies should also
be concerned with the future of environment.
Third World countries, India increasingly becomes a site for
dumping toxic waste by the advanced industrialised countries.
Mahesh Rangarajan suggests "a new vision of society that
can live in peace with nature while providing equitably for
all peoples of this land".
Most of us
would find it really impossible to look at the full millennium
as such but it would seem easier to confine our attention to
the foothills of it — the first century.
This book with a brilliant
introduction by Thapar not only enables us in such an
endeavour but also "compels us to look at the hard
choices before India".
of Buddha philosophy
Review by G.V. Gupta
Political Philosopher: Buddha’s Challenge to Brahminism
by Kancha Ilaiah. Samya, New Delhi. Pages 244. Rs 400.
Ilaiah, a "dalit bahujan" activist and scholar, has
tried to retrieve the Buddha as a political philosopher in the
materialist tradition though softer than the Lokayat. He
thinks that both colonial and nationalist historiography has
treated the Buddha only as a religious thinker and has not
paid any attention to his political thought. This has been to
the disadvantage of the dalit bahujan as the space of ancient
Indian political thought has come to be occupied exclusively
by Kautilya and Manu.
James Mill as a representative colonial thinker who thought
that ancient Indian polity was totally hierarchical and
dictatorial with no rational or liberating thought. Altekar,
Bhandarkar, Jayaswal and Saletore have been taken as
representative nationalist scholars who took pains to show
democratic traditions in the thoughts of Kautilya and Manu
even by twisting the text and arguments. They have even
appropriated the thinking of the Buddha as part of Hindu
thought to buttres their argument.
rightly laments the almost total absence of Buddhist studies
in Indian universities and the dominance of Kautilya and Manu.
The present rise of Hindutva is the immediate provocation for
this book. Ilaiah takes the assistance of historians of
materialist dialectic tradition such as Kosambi, D.P.
Chattopadhyaya, Romila Thapar, R.S. Sharma and B.R. Ambedkar,
above all, to critique Manu and Kautilya and to establish the
validity of democratic republican thinking of the Buddha. He
relies on Pali texts and "Jataka" tales to
understand the social context of the rise of Buddhism and its
political philosophy. The Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata,
Manusmriti and Arthashastra are the Hindu texts he relies on.
the question of dating and later interpolations in these texts
as of no relevance for his purpose and does not want to fall
in the trap of creating confusion regarding the contribution
of the Buddha. Therefore, the Hindu polity is a varna ashrams
polity with the Brahmin at the top and the Shudra at the
bottom. He regards the Vaisya as slightly above the Shudra. He
treats varna as class which was in the process of becoming
caste. Caste is signified by endogamy.
three classes/castes are clearly identified by their
profession and hierarchy. But this system, Ilaiah thinks, has
divided the Shudras into various jatis by professions and this
subdivision of Shudras has made it impossible for them to come
on a single platform. The author also feels that Marxist
thought has to be modified in the Indian context and caste has
to take the place of class.
millennium BC was a period of great flux and change in India.
In the sixth/seventh century BC India had about 16 tribal
political units, of which the majority had become monarchical
though some were still republics. Of these Magadha was
emerging as the empire gobbling up these tribal entities.
Plough had been invented and the Vaisyas and Kshatriyas were
handicapped in the further development of agriculture because
of the Brahaminical sacrificial requirement of draft cattle
and their habit of beef eating.
to revive and defend the system of tribal democracies in the
structure and organisation of its sanghas and propounded the
thesis of ahimsa to protect the interests of the Vaisyas and
Kshatriyas in the growth of agriculture. While the Lokayat
stoutly and openly denied the existence of God, the soul and
transmigration in its materialism, the Buddha avoided the
controversy by saying that these did not concern him. The
Buddha was a rationalist believing that misery and pain have a
cause and there is a remedy. For that he propounded the
eight-fold middle path of righteous worldly conduct. This
concerned material conduct and was hierarchy neutral.
argues that the Buddha was the originator of the contract
theory of the state. Contrary to that, Hindu theory, as the
story of Prithu shows, believed in its divine origin. He also
criticises the dominance of danda (punishment, use of force)
as a sanction in Hindu theory and the neglect of compassion,
reform and consent. Hindu theory of punishment was also highly
discriminatory in favour of the Brahmin who was immune from
corporal harm. A charge of murder could at worst result in his
recommended all underhand means to destroy republics and to
facilitate the expansion of empires.The organisation of sangha
was, on the other hand, a model of republican/democratic
functioning. Every decision had to be taken after free
discussion in the sangha assembly and, if necessary, by a
majority decision. Minutes of the meetings were kept in full
and a complete record of voting was maintained. There was a
regular seating arrangement and a designated officer to ensure
proper record and other arrangements.
the sangha was non-discriminatory as regards caste or
professional background or criminal record. Every member of
the sangha was equal to the other. Vegetarianism was part of
ahimsa but there was no ban on meat eating. Therefore, this
had no relationship with Brahminical purity. Except for a
small bundle of personal clothes, all property belonged to the
sangha and was managed democratically. The Buddha, who
originally was not in favour of admitting women to the sangha
agreed to do so on democratic principle advocated by Ananda.
however, interesting to note that the Buddha did not admit
army deserters and debt defaulters to the sangha. This was a
concession by the Buddha to emperor Bimbisara and his own
Vaishya supporters whose goodwill he wanted to retain against
thus, been able to establish the democratic/republican aspects
of the Buddha in his political management. However, his
refusal to deal with the dating of Manusmriti and Arthashastra
as also Jataka tales is problematic. It is now well recognised
that these two documents were compiled around the first
century AD. There is no historical evidence to suggest that
there was any sort of Brahminical dominance during the reign
of Bimbisara or his son Ajatashatru whom both Buddhist and
Jain sources claim to be adherents of their religion.
Buddhist literature is more contemptuous of Brahminical
sacrificial rites and sorcery than critical of the caste
system. With the imperial Sisunaks firmly in control, it is
difficult to imagine any firm doctrine of varna being
his comparison of Buddhist and Brahminical doctrines is valid,
his dialectical argument that the growth of Buddhism was a
movement against the beef eating practice of the Brahmins is
not very convincing. Related to this is the question of the
disappearance of Buddhism from India. Ilaiah will have us
believe that later Brahminical violence against Buddhists and
the Hindu appropriation of the Buddha as the ninth
reincarnation of Vishnu were the prime reasons for this. There
is no doubt about later Buddhist literature blaming
Pushyamitra Sunga of massive violence against them; yet
Nalanda continued to flourish till much later and the last
Gupta emperor Kumar Gupta is believed to have generously
system was well established by the time of Pushyamitra when
the Gita was probably composed. The Gita is critical of the
Vedas and regards nishkama karma yoga; in a way, the core of
Buddhist philosophy, as a sure way of reaching and being one
with God. This philosophical appropriation could be more
relevant along with the probable large conversion of followers
of Buddhist practices among the higher segments of the Shudras
He is right
in complaining about the absence of Buddhist studies in India,
when such an important event of Indian history as that of the
vanishing of Buddhism remains totally unexplored. The rise of
Buddhism could be materially related to the agricultural
change of creating a tradable surplus, necessitating and
making possible the rise of empires. Ahimsa probably divided
the grahapati into two — the vegetarian trader and the not
so vegetarian cultivator. By refusing to admit deserters and
debt defaulters into the sangha the Buddha clearly aligned
himself with the rising trading and imperial interests.
and philosophy, it helped develop the doctrine of individual
salvation in place of communal sacrificial rituals. Caste is
definitely a post-imperial phenomenon. By validating Manu’s
doctrine of varna as practising Hindu political philosophy,
the author is differentiating between the status of the
Brahmin and the power of the king and placing the status above
power. This seems to be non-materialism. As argued by Quigley,
king is in the centre of caste interrelationship, the jajmani
relationship of accepting dan, the ritual payment. Only the
trader does not accept dan and the king periodically performs
dan to achieve ritual purity.
eliminates the duality of power and status by making the king
supreme and makes Manu a partisan propagandist rather than a
law giver. No political structure delinking power and status
and putting the later above the former could survive two
understands the political philosophy of the Buddha through the
structure of the sangha. This being a non-productive
organisation sets obvious limits on its application to
relations of production. Placing Manu at the core of Indian
political thought is a colonial construct. It is colonialist
understanding of Hindu hierachy which was enforced through
census and legal interpretations of Hindu law. Hindu
nationalists simply adopted it. Of course, with karmic
interpretation. It is here that Manu requires to be attacked.
It is false consciousness.
deserves thanks for bringing back the Buddha as a political
thinker in materialist tradition. As an activist, he has a
constituency to serve. This will arm his constituents well.