Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s not the dilemma everywhere, are they?

I had an opportunity to attend and listen to Mr Gurcharan Das’s lecture which he gave before the launch of his new book “The Difficult of Being Good On the Subtle Art of Dharma”

Mr Das read his lecture (with a link to two Rajus: one he encountered in a village in Tamil Nadu in the 1990s and another one is in jail now and almost everybody knows) which he later posted in his blog as Adam Smith's Dharma"

Some excrepts from his book published in the today’s The Hindu:

“I had studied the great books of the West during college but I had never read the Indian classics. The closest I had come was to take Daniel Ingalls’ Sanskrit classes at Harvard as an undergraduate. Now, 40 years later, I yearned to go back and read the texts of classical India, if not in the original, at least with a scholar of Sanskrit nearby.

What blacken our days are the insistent reminders of governance failure, hanging over us like Delhi’s smog. I am not only thinking of corruption in its usual sense — of a politician who is caught taking a bribe. My anguish comes from something else—from a recent national survey that found that one out of four teachers in a government primary school is absent and one out of four is not teaching. Another study found that two out of five doctors do not show up at state primary health centers and that 69 per cent of the medicines are stolen. A cycle rickshaw driver in Kanpur routinely pays a sixth of his daily earnings in bribes to the police. A farmer in an Indian village cannot hope to get a clear title to his land without the humiliation of bribing a revenue official. One out of five members of the Indian parliament elected in 2004 had criminal charges against him; one in eighteen had been accused of murder or rape.

It was a stray remark of the poet, A.K. Ramanujan, which finally pushed me to Chicago. “If you don’t experience eternity at Benares,” he said, “you will at Regenstein.” He was referring to the Regenstein Library with its fabulous collection of South Asian texts and its array of great Sanskrit scholars.

…moral blindness an intractable human condition, or can we change it? Some of our misery is the result of the way the state also treats us, and can we re-design our institutions to have a more accountable government? I have sought answers to these questions in the epic’s elusive concept of dharma, and my own search for how we ought to live has been this book’s motivating force.

If you have not read poet, A.K. Ramanujan’s works at least you should read one of his great and famous essay on “Is there an Indian way of Thinking? An Informal Essay”.

He thunders the reader’s throat to ponder the way in which he had described which is marvelous.

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