India is a beautiful and rich land full of ancient wisdom, culture and brilliance. It is perhaps one of the oldest cultures on the planet that still has well-preserved records and writings from its ancient past as well as a civilization that still practices this ancient culture.
Sanskrit is older than even Latin, and can arguably be seen as the actual root of Latin and the entire Indo-European civilization that accompanies it. The Sanskrit texts talk of four great ages, starting with Satya Yuga- a golden age, followed by Treta Yuga – the silver age, then Dvapara Yuga, the bronze age, and finally Kali Yuga, our current Iron age of degradation which began around 5000 years ago. A living tradition as old and wise as India’s is hard to match anywhere in the world today. Yet along with this ancient preserve goes the modern interest in reform and technology, where much of the world’s IT or digital work is outsourced to India – the new Silicon Valley of the East. Just last year the relatively new Prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his government launched an initiative called “Digital India” aimed at boosting the use of technology in rural India in order to link the remaining 1 billion people still without internet access.
Opening up her trade and economic activity to the rest of the world’s capitalist system in recent decades has indeed brought prosperity to this humble third world country. It has inevitably also brought the difficulties of the western lifestyle along with it too. Rape and alcohol abuse are on the increase, greatly impacting on the once pure and pristine lifestyle of the Indian people. Just this week, in the very home state of the Prime Minster – Gujarat, members of the village council in little known Suraj in Mehsana , the home district of Modi himself, met to discuss ways to counter the growing influence of modern problems in their village of 2000 inhabitants. There they openly acknowledged the rise of alcohol abuse as a primary concern. But in a most ironic turn of events, they also decided that just as problematic was the use of mobile phones by young unmarried females. And so they decided to ban the use of mobiles for any and all young unmarried and school-going females in the village. The use of mobiles was seen to be – like the use of liquor – “a nuisance to society” because it distracted them from their studies and carrying out their household chores. If caught owning or speaking on a mobile, the girls could be fined $30. The council even offered rewards for tip offs from informers. If that‘s not ironic then I don’t know what is. This may also come across as sexist, but the village elders are soon to extend the ban of cell phone ownership to young boys too, so it’s not just the females that are being discriminated against. In other words here you have a classic example of the inevitable clash of cultures, where the Prime Minister launches a nationwide campaign to connect everyone via mobile technology, and yet in his own home district, village elders can simultaneously see that very same technological revolution as a nuisance to village life. And can we really find fault with these village elders? Not really.
Many a parent throughout the world has seen the need to restrict their children from mobile phone infatuation, despite the fact that is connects every one of us to the entire world’s information and knowledge. Even this article is researched, written and uploaded onto the WWW with the use of a mobile phone. And yet the zombie generation is indeed a global phenomenon – kids (and sometimes parents) of all ages zoned out of their immediate surroundings and company, and zoned in to their hand held device, whether walking, dining, socializing or anything else. Dwindling are the days when one would zone out of the present company or activity in order to go within and still the mind via meditation on the divine, on the meaning of life, the nature of the self, the absolute, and thereby find peace and become a better person. Now we zone out of talking or socializing with the people closest to us in order to zone into the web, wherein lie any and all imaginable attractions and distractions. And this is just the beginning of the digital era. In years to come built-in or built on devices will outgrow the use of a hand held device altogether, as we become a blend of cyber and organic transhumans or neo humans, with Google glasses or microchip implants to keep us permanently connected, directly jacked into the WWW from our neural networks to the global network in one seamless interface. How will we ever get our chores done then?
Of course this is not the only paradoxical expression of contrasting culture clashes in India. This week also sees the ongoing riots and arson in North India – actually not far from the capital New Delhi in the state of Harayana. The age old concept of caste consciousness has become so distorted with time that it has turned to racism at its worst. The Jat, a rural class or agriculturalists, are protesting to demand a fair share in the job opportunities in government (with all its perks) as well as the right to much coveted university access. Who would have thought that in this most civilized land of Bharat, or greater India, as it was once known in previous centuries, even before partition, that one native would so discriminate against another, when any and all born in the land of Bharat are to be considered worthy of respect. Even the ruling party run by Narendra Modi has had to get involved. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had to concede and reserve by law some posts for this most discriminated against sector of society.
Unfortunately other castes now feel imposed upon, as if another’s gain is their loss. That it had to come to torching shops, burning down 10 train stations and multiple trains in order to get your voice heard and needs met, is testament to a civilization at odds with itself and disconnected from its “civilized” roots. This is of course the inevitable manifestation of Kali Yuga, the iron age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Kali Yuga is the last of the four great ages in the history of the world. Previous ages of gold and silver have come and gone, where civilization was pure and perfect. We, however, are at the tail end of a great history and so it is predicted and to be expected that humans will have short lives, be easily disturbed and manifest just such behavior, even in the glorious land of Bharat. It is but a sign of the times, so don’t lament the inevitable or curse the world or its creator, for you were warned, millennia ago.
Thousands of troops have been helicoptered in with “shoot to kill” orders, and already 10 are dead and 150 injured at the bullet of a soldier. Even the capital, New Delhi, has had its water lines saboutaged and is in a water crisis. Just picture an angry mob storming the streets brandishing swords and sickles, gutting police posts, schools and shops. What mayhem, all due to a misinterpretation of the caste system, a misinterpretation of the sacred texts and the definition of what it means to be a fellow human. What a distortion Kali Yuga has invoked. If we can’t get it right in the very land of the Vedas, then what hope is there for the rest of us in the land of the “mleccha” the savage outposts of the meat eater, who lives by the blood of other slaughtered victims? Here in South Africa we are very familiar with mob riots, looting and “shoot to kill” police orders, but TIA – this is Africa – as they say. It seems very foreign to see the same behavior in Bharat.
Still in old Bharat, though now called Pakistan, militants of the Taliban are busy blowing up more and more girls’ schools, to this day, in their abhorrence for equal education. Such gender discrimination clearly shows the tragedy of what is left of that once noble and divine culture. Hundreds of girls’ schools have already been destroyed in recent years due to the ideology of female discrimination and subjugation. Keep them dumb and they will be easier to control and exploit. That is the Taliban for you, a tribe that thinks it is using religious piety to maintain a distortion in their society. Anyone who can massacre 150 school children, as they did in Peshawar in 2014, is clearly deluded in their interpretation of life, the universe and everything, including their attempt at religion, piety or self-realization. Just last month they stormed a university and killed 21 people. Bharat, how we miss you and your golden years. Fortunately even this current “Iron Age” of Kali Yuga will also come to an end in a few millennia, and after the total annihilation of civilization on the planet a new golden age will start the cycle once again.