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Riots- An analysis of human nature in a Democratic Polity
 Suparna Banerjee  
 3 April 2018  

The Beginning:In the wake of recent riots following the Ram Navami procession in Asansol-Ranigunj in West Bengal, this article is interested to analyse human nature and how does it function in a democratic political culture. The name of Adolf Eichmann is probably known only to a limited circle of people- those affected by his actions and those who studied him later. He was the second in command of the Nazi SS who was part of the team which formulated the policy of Final Solution of the Jews, fled to Argentina after the Second World War,captured by Mossad in May, 1960 , and hanged to death after a trial in Tel Aviv. What is important to know in this chronology of events is that his trial was televised throughout the world to present the extent of atrocities committed by the Nazis (it is however, not to suggest that Israel did not have any hidden agenda of not only gaining sympathy worldwide against the holocaust deniers but also prove its righteousness in putting a man responsible for the death of millions from their own community to trial despite being a nascent nation state which would help them bring their legal authority to the limelight) and that German born American political theorist Hannah Arendt wrote a book based on this trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil to analyse the extent of evil nature of human beings which prompted these people to adopt such horrific methods that led to the extermination of millions of a race from Europe. Putting in perspective- The curious case of West Bengal:Although what is happening in West Bengal following the Ram Navami incident is simply nothing compared to the above-mentioned incident, what is necessary to point out is an analysis of human nature. Bengal has been witness to comparatively lesser riots than northern and central regions of the country, except during the period of the country’s Freedom Movement where riots broke out for example in Noakhali which Mahatma Gandhi himself came to quell. Bengal’s experience of dealing with riots is very less- the last one (post the assassination of Indira Gandhi where the Sikhs were targeted) being successfully quelled by strong hand of Jyoti Basu, the long standing Chief Minister (CM) of Communist Party led West Bengal, preventing any reactions against the Sikh population. The Bengali Bhadrolok class has always taken pride in the fact that they are way above the rest of India class wise, where class does not represent any economy but signify a combination of factors like culture, politics, and social cohesion. This kind of feeling has taken its roots since the time of Bengal renaissance when the society led by some of the well-known Bengali intellectuals and social reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy and Debendranath Tagore ignited a rational thinking among the people (although there are existing views which proclaim that their efforts to modify conservative elements within Hinduism is a step towards making it more acceptable among the populace). We have traversed a long path in History, but we have always loved to bask in the glory of these past achievements and held it very close to our heart. In this long journey we have compromised on our ideals and ideas for petty gains and hence stands no chance of claiming to be on a higher pedestal of moral consciousness. The narratives coming up in the recent communal clashes in Asansol-Raniganj is the same that come up as mud-slinging and blame game following any such similar incidents. The ruling party blames the other, specially the one which has a history of using riot as an instrument to enter the political arena of a geographical space (we have not forgotten Muzaffarnagar yet!), the other accuses the ruling party of allowing the incident to flare up to such an extent by preventing the administration to perform its taskHuman Nature- an analysis:The nature of human as an animal appears to have remain unchanged. The three actors in this case are- BJP’s popular face in Bengal is a Central Minister and earlier voice to many a hit song in Bollywood, Babul Supriyo. CM Mamata Banerjee who has a history of resorting to disruption and chaos in the political culture throughout her rise in the political ladder as an opposition candidate. And finally, the common people who form the significant tool of the implementation of riots as political instruments. All the three actors have their roots in the same society which claims to have nurtured secularism as its core value- so much so that at least the 34 years of communist rule should have been able to nourish a religion-less political thinking. But unfortunately, it failed. It appears everything has gone in vain. Instead of moving towards a more civilised state of nature (at least that’s what Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau would have dreamt of!) we are moving towards a state of animalistic carnal nature of killing one of our own. And here the study of human nature like the one by Arendt attains significance. Human nature is basically animalistic. War, battles, human atrocities, rapes is not something new. It has been going on for generations and has filled the pages of history far too much. What therefore changed were two things- the reasons for the behaviour and the modus operandi of the actions. The basic instinct of performing such acts never left human essence. What Arendt argued was a lack of “thinking” in performing such acts. It always waited for the trigger to manifest its worst nature. With sophistication in our reasoning and societal structure we began our quest for myriad ways of being increasingly animalistic with the sole reason of being powerful over the others. Being powerful allows us to make happen whatever may not otherwise have been within our reach. For our convenience we have given names to these power – some are democratic, some dictatorship while some others are monarchy. But behind all these terminology lies the ever-burning instinct of more power. Democracy is considered to be the best among the worst because it also has its own share of pitfalls and disadvantages like the others but its packaging and marketing by the liberals have been way better than the propagators of the others. What makes such incidents like riots in a democratic polity interesting is, it is the sovereign which was handed the power to rule on behalf of its citizens takes a step backward towards chaos and disorder from where it was duty bound to save the people. Carl Schmitt, the crown jurist of the Nazi era provided an adequate justification in this regard. He claimed it is the sovereign which has the power to decide the cases of ‘exception’ in which it is entitled by the very constitution which binds its action, to take steps to address such scenario. Those exceptional circumstances would facilitate the process of labelling an ‘enemy’ and then follow it up with justification of waging a war against them. Such a logicality was used during the Nazi era to legitimise its actions against the Jews who were made to look responsible for the plight of the Germans post the First World War. The rhetoric in riot like situation is not very different. There is an enemy and there is a saviour. The saviour (Hindus) can legitimise its rule only at the cost of the enemy (the other social groups mainly minorities like Muslims). At the same time, it does not absolve the rulers from its actions or rather (in)action. Following Schmitt, the rulers have misused the legitimacy for its trivial political bargain at the cost of the sovereign who has handed them the power to rule on their behalf.Last but not the least:It is important to think why such incidents happen and how are human beings capable of such atrocities despite claiming it to have travelled the civilisational ladder. The political classification only gives us a convenient way out to explain our deeds- a dictator would directly kill people and in a democracy the ruler would instigate or sit back while people are killing each other. Rather it becomes convenient to perform such acts within a democratic scenario (because accountability comes later) in the absence of the baggage of pre-conceived public opinion against the system. Therefore Democracy, funnily, provides that space where leaders are capable of doing anything until it becomes too little too late. #smblogcontest

Bhagavad Gita Verse 11.13
 Dhwani Shah  
 5 July 2020  

Practice Meditation - In Gita Verse 11.13 At that time Arjuna could see in the universal form of the Lord the unlimited expansions of the universe situated in one place although divided into many, many thousands.When Krishna revealed his mystic opulence Arjuna can see the whole universe is in Krishna. In my Bhagavad Gita Verse 11.10-11, Blog I wrote even now science has proved in a scientific way that the whole universe is an organic unity.Pythagoras’s contribution to western philosophy is immense. For the first time he introduced vegetarianism to the West. The idea of vegetarianism is of immense value; it is based on great reverence for life. The modem mind can understand it far better now we know that all forms of life are interrelated, interdependent. Man is not an island: man exists in an infinite web of millions of forms of life and existence. We exist in a chain, we are not separate. And to destroy other animals is not only ugly, unaesthetic, inhuman, it is also unscientific. We are destroying our own foundation.Pythagoras was not only a mathematician but an enlightened master with his own mystery school. Life exists as one organic unity. Man can exist only as part of this orchestra, just think of man without birds and without animals and without fish, that life will be very very boring; it will lose all complexity, variety, richness, color. The forests will be utterly empty, the cuckoo will not call, and the birds will not fly, and the water will look very sad without the fish. Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity.We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God, avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.And it has something very scientific behind it. It was not an accident that all the religions that were born in India are basically vegetarian, and all the religions that were born outside India are non-vegetarian. But the highest peaks of religious consciousness were known in India and nowhere else. Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky. Your food is not just food: it is you.What you eat, you become. If you eat something which is fundamentally based on violence, you cannot rise above the law of necessity. You will remain more or less an animal. The human is born when you start moving above the animals, when you start doing something to yourself which no animal can do. Vegetarianism is a conscious effort, a deliberate effort, to get out of the heaviness that keeps you tethered to the earth so that you can fly, so that the flight from the alone to the alone becomes possible. The lighter the food, the deeper goes the meditation. The grosser the food, then meditation becomes more and more difficult. Pythagoras was the first to introduce vegetarianism to the West. It is of profound depth for man to learn how to live in friendship with creatures. That becomes the foundation. And only on that foundation can you base your prayer, your meditativeness. You can watch it in yourself: when you eat meat, meditation will be found to be more and more difficult. Buddha was born in a non-vegetarian family. He was a kshatriya, belonged to the warrior race, but the experience of meditation, slowly slowly transformed him into a vegetarian. It was his inner understanding: whenever he ate meat, meditation was more difficult; whenever he avoided meat, meditation was easier. It was just a simple observation. Vegetarianism has nothing to do with religion: it is something basically scientific. It has nothing to do with morality, but it has much to do with aesthetics.It is unbelievable that a man of sensitivity, awareness, understanding, love, can eat meat. And if he can eat meat then something is missing, he is still unconscious somewhere of what he is doing, unconscious of the implications of his acts. But Pythagoras was not heard, not believed, on the contrary, he was ridiculed, persecuted. And he had brought one of the greatest treasures from the East to the West. He had brought great experiment, if he had been heard, the West would have been a totally different world. The problem that has arisen today, that we have destroyed nature, would never have arisen. If Pythagoras had become the foundation for the western consciousness, there would not have been these great world wars. He would have changed the whole course of history. He tried hard, he did whatsoever he could, it is not his fault. But people are blind, people are deaf; they can’t hear a thing, they can’t understand a thing. And they are not ready to change their habits. People live in their habits, mechanically they live. And he had brought a message of becoming aware. Great meditative energy would have been released in the West. It would have become impossible to produce Adolf Hitlers and Mussolinis and Stalins. It would have been a totally different world. But still the same old habit persists. We cannot change human consciousness unless we start by changing the human body. When you eat meat you are absorbing the animal in you, and the animal has to be transcended. Avoid it if you really want to go higher and higher, if you really want to go to the sunlit peaks of your consciousness, if you want to know God, then you will have to change in every possible way. You will have to look all around your life, you will have to observe each small habit in detail because sometimes a very small thing can change your whole life. Sometimes it may be a very simple thing, and it can change your life so totally that it looks almost unbelievable.Try vegetarianism and you will be surprised: meditation becomes far easier. Love becomes more subtle, loses its grossness, becomes more sensitive but less sensuous, becomes more prayerful and less sexual. And your body also starts taking on a different vibe. You become more graceful, softer, more feminine, less aggressive, more receptive.Vegetarianism is an alchemical change in you. It creates the space in which the baser metal can be transformed into gold.When Buddha became enlightened he left non-vegetarian and became vegetarian - why? Meditation gives you capacity to look inside of you. When you go inside you will find that even though everything looks separate in this objective world they all are part of me. Definitely no-one will like to kill themselves. Most of the animals also kill other animals only if they are hungry. They will not kill other animals if they are not hungry or they need to protect themselves from someone. If we want to see what Arjuna had seen then we need to practice meditation.