So a few days back I decided to come back to my motherland Bharat. Like any social media enthusiast, I thought the best (& frankly easiest) way to break the news to the world would be to pour my heart out on facebook…And so I did.
A couple of days later, one my friends messaged me: ‘I read your status.. Made me happy #lemonjuicetoourcolonialhangover’. For those of you who are as ignorant as I was, lemon juice is the best cure for a nasty hangover, apparently.
The next day I watched a movie where the International boxer has an evil smile and complete lack of sportsmanship as she disrespects the Indian boxer in open media.
And that got me thinking..(And before I say anything I would like to clarify that I have taken no offense at all and merely reflecting out loud to learn more about myself and the world around me.) Why do we assume that people living abroad have a colonial hangover? Why do we have to show that the others are so bad, so we are good? Why do we assume that the western world lacks the culture that we in the east own? Who fed that to us?
Assuming I have a colonial hangover because I have lived in London most of my adult life, is like me assuming you are a chauvinist, if you have a man’s body. Is that always true? I guess that is a whole different can of worms, probably for another day.
I am in no denial of the glorification that the west gets in today’s eastern society. I am aware of the inbuilt obsession of fair skin, of wanting to live abroad, of extreme anglophobia/philia.. I am in no denial that every youngster wants to live a ‘foreign’ life and agreed it can be a great one. I am in no denial of the existence of the colonial hangover. And I would hugely blame media and our movie makers for the continued dreams they sell in spite of the British colonisation ending years back..clearly it was only on paper. Like my Guru said ‘India is free, not Indians.’ And even the fact that India was free, when it was declared to be so, can be debated, as I recently learned because only 1 of the many companies (East India Company) left but many others were left behind (Britania, Cadbury,…).
But having said that, at the same time on the other hand, those of us who consider ourselves patriots, why do we (almost blindly) assume that we are better than others, when we don’t live our own culture to the fullest? I know more non-Indians who live the philosophy of being happy no matter what life throws at them, of knowing that the ultimate purpose of life is happiness, of the value of family and many other cliches we claim to be our own as Bharatiyas, but see it being lived less and less. One can blame that it is thanks to colonisation that that is the case that we don’t live our own culture. True but how long will we blame our past? When will we take charge that it is a choice we make everyday that will help us get out of the so-called colonial hangover. A life of complete alertness where these subtle notions can be broken down and our true culture and nature is revealed to us. Thanks to great monks that walked this earth to revive our culture, the Bharatiya culture has traveled many oceans today, reached several homes who don’t have easy access to it like we do in India, and taught us to live them no matter what, where, how we live.
We forget what Bharat even means. Bharata = Bha (Light = Knowledge) + Rata (Carry/devoted/maintained). Now if that is the case, one could be a Bharatiya even if we don’t live in Bharat, and one could be far from being one even if we live in Bharat. So what determines who is a Bharatiya? Geolocation? Why is my geolocation determinant of what kind of a patriot am I? One can live our culture, our values in the midst of all pairs of opposites, in the midst of all attractions and aversions of the world of desires and glamour. We are a culture of Rishis and Himalayas, but we are also a culture of living that same Geeta in the midst of the battlefield. Living that knowledge, attempting to practice it, training & mastering the mind to reach our highest potential, being the examplary householder, warrior, employer, employee, father, mother, monk..& optimising whatever path we pick – That is us living our culture. And that is the human culture. The very culture of ‘Being’. So because someone chooses to live somewhere, does not determine what kind of a patriot they are or the culture they live.
Now, living our culture or being a patriot doesn’t either mean that others are on the dark side. Emotional patriotism is more detrimental to our nation than not having any patriotism. Why? Because it doesn’t let us grow. It makes us stagnant in assuming that we have an upper hand, no matter what, and brings a false sense of confidence. We are not perfect, yet. We do have the potential to, no doubt. But today we do also have a lot to learn from the west and vice versa. Why not be more graceful and show more sportsmanship and live our culture of Vasudeva Kutumbakam (The whole world is my family)? We see more discrimination in our own country between the South Indian and North Indian, a Delhite and a Bombayite, an Indian man and an Indian woman, a villager and a city-ite, a rich man and a poor man – than we see any form of racism between Indians and non-Indians abroad. I am not saying racial discrimination doesn’t exist. But truth is, till the time we see duality, we will have fear – dvetat bhayam jayate (the other/duality gives birth to fear). Where there is fear, there is an act of defense. That defense manifests in all discrimination. Where there is empathy and oneness, where is the room for fear? There is only room for compassion and love, no matter what. So why do we take this false pride that we are good because others are evil?
Let us rise to our own best. Our country, our ancestors, our lineage has given it all to us, let us focus on living that culture than focusing on the differences and let it manifest through assumptions and discriminations. Let us not assume the colonial hangover or otherwise. Let us down the lemon juice..of alertness and awareness and of conscious reflections using the wealth of knowledge in our scriptures and carry that with us, regardless of where we are, who we are…and think what is the real hangover? Think! Let us be true Bharatiyas.