Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Man Make-up

The simplest solution to all our problems is a constant and sincere pursuit for an answer to the question ‘Who Am I”. It was the self-realised Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) who gave this simple solution. He was the living embodiment of the Indian tradition of Advaita Vedanta, which focuses on the oneness of God with the human soul and everything else in this universe. For those who are interested in this simple pursuit, it may be equally important to enquire about ‘What Am I’. What is the Self made up of? An equally simple and logical answer is necessary for us to be rationally satisfied. Man Make-up has great significance and it can even ease our spiritual pursuit of striving to understand about ‘Who Am I’. All great sages (and in fact all of us know) very well that we are not this body of ours alone. Neither are we the life energy inside or the mind or the knowledge. In reality we are a combination of minimum four components – body (physical form), soul (life energy), knowledge (intelligence) and mind (consciousness). Perhaps all living beings are of the same make-up and the non-living without the soul part alone. Let us deliberate further on the four parts that constitute Man Make-up.

Physical Form (Body)

Human body is one of the most complicated machines that can be thought of and our knowledge is yet to uncover most of its complexity. Like everything else in this universe our understanding is diminishing as we try to understand more about the secrets of human body. A simple fact like the variety of looks that a human face can take as a permutation and combination of the seven organs (eyes, ears, lips, teeth, nose, eyebrows and hair) is unbelievable. The same marvel holds good for each and every part of the human body. The complexities are much more astounding when we learn about the various systems that keep the body alive. Yet in the final analysis it is only a few grams of a few elements and a huge proportion of water that makeup any human body. And in the ultimate analysis it is again a loose collection of atomic and subatomic particles that forms a human body. All of us are alike in many ways and different in every aspect. All of us are insignificant and unique at the same time.

Life Energy (Soul)

Soul is that which differentiates between a Man in deep sleep and his dead body. Both are motionless and unaware of the surroundings, but still there is a difference. Science and religion acknowledge the phenomenon of soul in different forms. Science is still in the dark about the secret of soul because of its obvious failure in creating one artificially. But all religions are clear about the involvement of God in it. For the top two organized religions, soul is a proprietary item under God’s command and control; for them it is created by God and it returns to God after death for judgment. The one and only religious thought that considers soul as a flash of God itself is Hindu Sanatana Dharma (PTBH – Proud To Be Hindu) and voluminous documentations are available to substantiate such a claim. Since God is eternally present everywhere there is no question of souls coming or returning to God at any time. It is born and born again until it dissolves permanently into God. And our lives are nothing but a series of dramatic effects (including visuals) enacted on the arena of unchanging God.

Intelligence (Knowledge)

Intelligence is closely associated with the spark of life found in all living beings and just like human body our knowledge also grows with us. It is very interesting to note that there is an element of built-in knowledge (like ROM in a computer) that is readily available for all living beings which takes them through the initial period of survival. This is perhaps lowest in the case of humans, but we make it up with the next phase of acquired knowledge (like RAM in a computer). The extent of knowledge accumulation that is possible for humans is truly amazing and needs no explanation when we think of people like Sankaracharya, Albert Einstein etc., and our own Vedic literature. All successful beings (including Man) are those who realize the skills (vasanas) in their ROM and accumulate more of it in their RAM. Evolution is taking us much forward and the days of super human beings, as envisaged by Swami Aurobindo, are just few millenniums away.

Consciousness (Mind)

Consciousness is perhaps the most intriguing part of our make-up. It is definitely a part of us and yet we have not yet identified its exact location. It is truly amazing to note that there is only one instrument that can ‘see’ the entire universe at a time – just close your eyes and imagine. According to me the basis of Big Bang theory lies in here. The entire universe has originated from the explosion of a speck of consciousness that now encompasses everything in this universe. This is exactly what we loosely call as God, which is omnipresent and omnipotent. The capacity and capability of our minds are infinite and its realization is possible only through dedicated efforts, unless it occurs ‘automatically’ like in the case of Sri Ramana Maharshi or Sri Ramakrishna. And those with realized consciousness can definitely guide us (and not show or give us) towards the direction of realization.

Make-up of man is as fundamental as the question of Who Am I, which Sri Ramana Maharshi ( wanted everyone to seek. Realisation of Self is complete only when we have clearly understood our make-up and recognized the true nature of our consciousness. We need to understand the shape and other features of the bottle before we can fully realize the nature of its contents. The three intangibles of Soul, Knowledge and Mind that reside in our tangible body can bloom into their full potential if we make conscious efforts to understand them. And that is what we identify as Self-Actualisation in the hierarchy of human needs in modern management and we Indians know as Self-Realisation in Hindu Sanatana Dharma (PTBH).

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Career Politicians

Democracy is no doubt one of the best form of governance available for civilized mankind, but a natural breed of mature and talented politicians is a must for making it deliver. For democracy to succeed there should be an established channel for successful people from all walks of life to graduate into political roles. This is not happening in many major democracies and unfortunately India is one among them. Instead, a new breed of politicians is infesting the political arena and vitiating the process of democracy in almost all the developed and developing countries where democratic values have taken strong roots and people are happy with democratic ways of tackling national issues. Politicians are indispensable for the working of any democracy and true democracy can flourish only when politicians are free to operate without any fear and favour. But the new breed of politicians viz. Career Politicians are spoiling the whole concept of democracy. The situation is worsening day by day in all democracies with the advent of a mix of career and hereditary politicians. Both are equally bad and a combination is even more damaging to the best form of human governance.

The success or failure of democracy in a country is solely dependent of the quality of politicians that operate in it. If there are politicians with good intent, there is every possibility of having a good government which will represent majority aspirations. But that alone will not take the country forward. There should be talented visionary politicians to run the government and guide the nation. They will know what is good for the people even when the people themselves may not be appreciative of it. This quality of formulating policies which are for the well being of the society comes out of education and talent. It is not something which is inborn but can only be developed by education and experience. Professionals who are good in one field always find it easy to understand others’ work and efforts. Politics should not become a profession but professionals are needed in politics if development and deliverance are the purpose of governance.

Political Purpose

When we are analyzing politicians it is important to understand what essentially is politics? What is expected of politicians in a democracy? Whatever be its dictionary meaning, in democratic India it has deteriorated to the level of merely taking part in elections and always trying to be part of the government that rules. If one is successful one becomes part of the government and if not, part of the opposition ranks criticizing the government and waiting for the next opportunity to seize power. Most politicians carry out these ‘responsibilities’ well and many of them excel as rulers. The attraction of power is an ever lasting fascination for ordinary politicians and the more they taste it more hungry they become. Nothing succeeds like success and successful Indian politicians are always those who get into the right political party at the right time. It was much easier during the pre-anti defection era. But now also they achieve the same by right mergers and forming new election fronts, before or after the elections to make up the numbers without any rhyme, reason or shame.

Is this all that is expected of politicians in a democracy? Not at all. Ideal politicians must be proficient in so many other aspects apart from elections and governance. I would consider representation and thinking for the well-being of the majority of utmost importance. A good politician must have proper social transducers to pick up the opinion of the majority in his political constituency (not only geographical) on all major issues. Then he (or she) should be capable of articulating this majority opinion in the proper forums including the assembly or parliament or party avenues. But the most critical action that is expected from a politician involves thinking for the majority. It is impossible to get a single opinion from a mob and that is why we have representatives speaking on our behalf. But the representative’s opinion must be in the best interest of the majority even if many of the constituency may not agree. For that to happen the elected political representative must be not only be educated but experienced and capable of taking independent decisions. Only a good professional who can win bread for him and his family can become a good politician in any democracy.

Personal Purpose

There in no doubt that politics is dirty and it is truly difficult to live up to the expectations of others. But it is not at all difficult if one can live up to one’s own expectations. Those who have no self respect cannot expect others to respect you. Most of the politicians fail in this aspect. Many of them are without any formal education and very few are professionals. Most of them do not know any job other than that of the so called public (dis)service. Even professionally qualified politicians like lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants etc., do not take the trouble of practicing their own trained profession even for a day. In the Indian political scene, most of the politicians are lawyers but I am cent percent sure that 90% of them cannot argue properly in any court of law. Quite in contrast we are fully aware of the contributions made by professional lawyers like Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar, Santhibushan, Jethmalani, Nariman, Sibal, Jaitley etc., to the realm of politics. These lawyer politicians were (are) capable of feeding their own families by practicing law. Society and nation are just extensions for them.

Politics as a profession for a career is the worst that can happen in a democracy and that is what is happening in a functioning democracy like India. Degeneration of our democratic framework can be traced back to this dangerous reality. There is no minimum qualification to enter this profession and there are no minimum standards to be maintained for climbing the career ladder. The most unqualified and unscrupulous are proving to be most successful in politics. Those who are more visible inside and outside the parliament are those who do not participate in the law making process and debates about India’s development and future. Most of them are blissfully ignorant of the requirements of a struggling population and the options available in terms of technology, infrastructure and resources for taking India forward. Many are sitting in the law making bodies only by virtue of their heredity or seniority in career politics. Once out of power, many of them will be like fish out of water that will die without oxygen (money). What more justification is required for rampant corruption while in power?

Monthly remuneration of members of Indian parliament has been recommended to be increased three or four fold to more than Rs. 80,000/- per month. The interesting argument is that it should be at least one rupee more than the maximum emoluments of a professional in government because of protocol and hierarchy. This is in addition to so many other perks and an average monthly expenditure on each lawmaker will be definitely more than Rs. 200,000/- of public money. Do all of them deserve so much for their worth and work? Definitely not. Only those who can earn that much money by their own professional merit deserve that much remuneration for being in politics. It is time for democratic India to think seriously about minimum qualifications for being in politics and state funding for elections to encourage successful professionals to venture into politics. Left to career and hereditary politicians, Indian democracy will be in shambles in not so distant future.