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The collective Consiousness of Bharata

I watch a man ,with a child on his shoulder, singing him to sleep, crooning a Tamil bhajan. The bhajan sings about qualities of Rama and for a moment, I was lost in admiration. It goes thus:
He and Rama are verily one
He who wipes the tears of the weeping
He and Rama are verily one
The son who gladdens the heart of his parents
He and Rama are verily one.
The one who shows others the right path
He and Rama are verily one
The leader who offers his life to protect Dharma
He and Rama are verily one
The brave one who stakes himself to protect others
He and Rama are verily one
What an Ideal He is, what ideals have been placed before the people of our land as cultural symbols, handed over from time immemorial, coursing through the veins of this nation, infusing the songs of children, the conduct of men and even the rule of a nation. What power Rama has had over the collective consciousness of Bharata. Even the Mahatma, when asked to explain his ideal form of government, used the term Rama Rajya. And he went on to describe the rule of justice that should prevail in an ideal government. What power the Rama Nama has had, that the Mahatma’s conception of an ideal nation is inspired by the idea of Ram Raja.
What a place, it has in the minds of our people, His life painstakingly told and retold through generations by our Rishis, our gurus, our wandering Parivrajakas, our mothers and grandmothers, our family and village elders, embellished with a gem of a detail, a local legend here and there till it became living reality for millions in this land for thousands of years.
For a minute, when I heard him sing, I got a glimpse of what Rama meant to the millions in this land, me who had become disrooted and disconnected from my own, through the lenses and frameworks I’ve learnt. Our ideals, symbols and forms, which have been painstakingly handed over through centuries, which have influenced the course of this land in ways that we cannot even begin to fathom, are being lost to us, the rightful inheritors of these priceless treasures, in an unprecedented, rapid manner. Our sons and daughters will scarce understand what Rama meant to the people of this land. Instead, they would learn of the great novelist (not Rishi) Valmiki and his protagonist( and what strawman characterisation!) and dissect his writing as they would the writing of a novel from a postmodern lens or whatever lens is in vogue then. And they may perhaps, know more details than our forefathers knew, perhaps, though I see that to be unlikely, but what they would have truly lost, and I can’t imagine a bigger tragedy from a cultural point of view, from a dharmic point of view, is this cultural inheritance, this bhava, this emotional connect to an endless fountain of meaning and inspiration, this ideal that pushes every man to rise a little higher than where he is every day.
And so will it be for all our cultural symbols and forms. Bharatanatyam will be a mere aesthetic experience, carnatic music would be just about a filter coffee and a connoisseur’s knowledge of ragas, our samskaras like marriage would be mere anthropological curiosities and play acting (‘lets have a vedic themed wedding!’) , our tales, our ways of life and our languages would be of mere academic interest. We may know more about them than ever, but only the forms would remain. And if there is a prayer I have for my people, for my land, it is that these never perish from our collective consciousness, but live on, in ever new forms, providing strength, vigour, solace, inspiration and longing for a higher ideal for our people.



This post first appeared on STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART, please read the originial post: here

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The collective Consiousness of Bharata

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