Category: Philosophy

Have you given your Children the Freedom of Free Thought?

Have you given your Children the Freedom of Free Thought?

Have you given your Children the Freedom of Free Thought?

 

Gomathi’s small-town upbringing had made her view with disgust the whole concept of western clothing. Until recently, she even detested the women who preferred them. Her notions change in a few months of her migration to a big city. However, her mother’s lewd remarks ring loud and clear every time she sees a girl in shorts or revealing outfits.

Ambika’s typical day starts with an early morning prayer, prior to which she dusts the patio in her house and decorates it with colourful rangoli. She always snarls at the neighbours who sleep late. In her school of thought, ignoring the rituals is equated to atrocity and criminality.

Gomathi’s and Ambika’s acclaimed decorum makes them powerless in atypical situations. Their reputation will be ripped if they stand-up for anything out of the ordinary; even if their minds dictate otherwise.  They will, therefore, ignore a transgender in need; flee from a suspected queer, will suppress their urge to assert even when circumstances demand. They are prisoners of dictatorial belief enforced on them in their homes.

There are in our midst men and women who find it difficult to break the shackles of the dogma that was central to their upbringing. The perceptions are woven deep and strong into the core of their thoughts, and non-adherence is often considered sacrilege.

What is the Liberty of Free Thought?

Freedom of thought is only a derivative concept, and it relies heavily on three other aspects:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of free expression
  • Freedom of religion

This is not about the constitutional rights you are accorded in a democracy. In modern societies across the world, the freedom of thought is a primary constituent of living. It is integral to the development and progression of a community.

The liberty of thought is giving an individual the power to hold a view or a fact that does not resonate with the popular ideals or belief. Have you received that power as a child? Most importantly, did you entrust your child with the same?

Orwellian Parenting?

Did you let your grown-up child choose his/her dress this morning? Do your order for them in a restaurant? Do you let them voice their opinions? Do you listen to them speak on a topic that does not appeal to you or do you cut short even before they begin? Do you constantly dictate what is ‘good’ for them and what is ‘bad’?

These are just mild forms of Orwellian conditioning, where a child is controlled by a parent’s constant surveillance. The adjective ‘Orwellian’ also connotes subjecting to misinformation and denial of truth in a political sense.

Channelising your child’s thoughts to reflect that of yours is camouflaging Orwellian disillusionment as parenting. Similar genetic makeup does not necessarily mean similar ideation and thinking.

What does your child need?

The new-age parenting adage, ‘You are only a guide’ is such an advanced thought. The more you follow the principles of dictatorship at home, the more you kill the child’s chances of holding independent thoughts.

Let your children search for their own vision of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Give them room to explore the depths of individual reasoning. Let them make the wrong decisions. They will gradually learn to weigh the outcomes.

Give your children the control over every aspect of their lives. Guide their decisions without being too overbearing. Grant them the benefit of intellectual liberty and watch them blossom into enlightened beings.

Promoting intellectual liberty will lead to the rise of an all-inclusive society, which is a dire need for the progression of our nation.

Also published here – https://www.womensweb.in/2018/10/have-you-given-your-children-gift-of-free-thought-oct18wk4sr/?fbclid=IwAR0aUnuLCvBQv90lpnCsRn0EZEplykJnQd1EWmM8t753Gfj0eiVLiiVN3CY

A Reverie and Memories of Her

A Reverie and Memories of Her

Eighty years is a long time to live. As he sat on the cane chair reminiscing his achievements in the last two decades and the turmoil he faced in the recent past, all he wanted was to enter the dark tunnel and find that bright light. At least, that is how those who had near death experiences described the journey.

Memoir

Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It can evoke the kind of feelings that are hard to construe. He felt her presence in the thick, frosty air he breathed. With the density of her memories and the oxygen almost choking him, how he wished they succeeded.

Like earlier times, it was difficult to bury her vision and thoughts deep within and focus on the task at hand. There was no task, no errands to run and nothing to supervise. He tried to take a walk and reached for his shawl. The paleness of the soft fabric reminded him of her touch.

When the mind’s eye refuses to shut

It was only a vague memory, yet it has haunted him all his life. He remembers the sound of hooves that night and the way he and his siblings were whisked away to her father’s house. He recalls every moment of that fateful sundown hour- her partly opened eyes, the mild curve of her lips and the way she held his hand.

He was carried away shortly, and he never saw her again. Or, did he?

He always dwelled upon her thoughts and sometimes found solace in conjuring up those visions buried deep within the subconscious spirit.

Her dark brown eyes and the way they lit up every time she laughed- which was too often. Her pale pink, Caucasian- like complexion, her soft curls, the tenderness of her touch, her chiseled chin and broad jawline- he was surprised by the mind’s ability to recapture every single detail.

While he looked at the hill eastwards, images of her fetching water in the mud pot conjure up. The whole house was alive in her presence. She would tell him and the siblings endless tales of the woods, spirits, and Gods. Those tales were not fixed in his mind, but the vivid movement of her eyes and her spirited talk were.

In all these years as a father, entrepreneur, and grandfather, every time he felt he was falling into an abyss, it was the feel of her warm embrace that cheered him up. His favorite memory was the walks to the nearby stream, her firm grasp and the way her arm tightened around his wrist every time they stepped into the ankle-deep water.  The vision of both their feet beneath the crystal clear bubbles was still lucid.

Pie in the sky

It was almost near, he could feel it. But all he longed for was those piggy-back rides, the herbal scent of her hair, a place on her lap, the feel of her strong grasp, to rest on her shoulders and to call her Amma (Mother) one last time. Just One Last Time.

A Tot Gives a Lesson in Perseverance

A Tot Gives a Lesson in Perseverance

It was a warm and sultry monsoon morning in Chennai. A sleepy suburban locality abundant in precious flora was bustling with vehicles, the numbers far too many for a Sunday morning. A Sports event attracted the sudden hustle.

This event was not a regular one. The oldest participant in the event was not more than five years old, and the youngest was barely three. After the regular inauguration and performances, it was time for the races. The competitions were carefully crafted so that they are appropriate for the tiny feet and do not harm the developing muscle.

This contest was one with a difference. There was no podium wins, and the winners were not announced. Every child went home a winner. It was just another regular event until little Miss.N stepped on the track for her race.

Like every other child, the four-year old N couldn’t contain her excitement when she was made to stand at the start of the 30-meter track. With dark hair curling close to her jawbone, a cherubic face and a radiant smile, she was a sight to behold.

Once they were motioned to start, N and her friends hurriedly dragged a coconut with the help of a hula hoop across the track. They had to walk backward, pulling the coconut all the way to the finish line. There was anxiety in the air, but these tots were determined.

It was not a simple task considering the undulating terrain, the muddy track, and the penetrating heat. Some kids finished the race in a few minutes, and some took longer. When all of the others had completed, N had barely moved ten meters from the start.

What followed next is something all those who witnessed it would remember for a lifetime. N entirely focused on the coconut and the hoop, dragged the nut very carefully so as to not let it slip away.

As the cheers grew louder, N was more determined. Not once did she lift her head to look how far she has come nor did she look around to assess the distance left. Slowly and steadily, ignorant of the blaring music and the resounding cries of encouragement, she moved towards the finish line, her valor rising with every step.

It took her close to 11 minutes to reach the other end of the 30-meter track. As she halted at the end, (carefully watched over by her teachers), the 400 odd spectators gathered at the venue rose to their feet.

With her head held high and flushed cheeks, clinging on to her mentor, N walked back to the rest area. As she walked, the thundering applause grew louder and so did the whistles creating a melodious cacophony. While some eyes turned moist, others stared in awe.

Every onlooker assembled there witnessed a tale of diligence and persistence in that short span of time. A four-year-old taught the others well ahead of her in The Race of Life what it means to stay focused, resolute, and tenacious. In the end what matters the most is that you have a purpose and finish the race with dignity.

“The Child’s way of doing things has been for us an inexhaustible fountain of revelations” – Maria Montessori

Also published here (https://www.womensweb.in/2018/12/that-heart-warning-race-where-a-tiny-tot-gave-us-all-a-lesson-in-perseverance/)

If I were a Pious Hindu

If I were a Pious Hindu

                              If I were a Pious and a Passionate Hindu….

   Devotion is an often misconceived notion. This misinterpretation is more complex when one is religiously passionate. If I were one of those extremely zealous Hindus, this is what I would identify with.

If I were a devout Hindu:

  • I would exhibit tolerance, for that is the very essence of my religion.

Hinduism is an age old religion that has survived the destruction of the ages and the ravages of the centuries. Like every other ancient religion, it inculcates truth as the ultimate goal of this journey on earth. How does one share this journey with numerous other living souls? It is through the practice of tolerance/ resilience.

It means that as a constantly evolving species, humans have the willingness to accept the meaningful existence of other religions, opinions, disagreements, and behavior-which also includes food choices.

  • I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear.

                                                                                             Bhagavad Gita 9.29

If I were a zealot flaunting my religion with utmost pride, I would remember the above words from the holy text and understand that in the presence of the Supreme light, every living organism is one. I would bear in mind that as per the teachings, the soul travels from one living form to another and my time in this physical form is but limited.

I would also remember that among my fellow humans there is none superior and there is no person who is of less importance whatever caste, creed or race he may be.

  • I would believe in the Freedom of Expression

I would comprehend the two forms of expression namely: Swatantrata (freedom of expression) and Swachandata (the freedom of unruly expression) and embrace the former. I would believe that every individual has the rights to express- through music, dance and through the various forms of art. I will not let my ego get offended when my thoughts are not in unison with the views and opinions of others (artists).

  • Yatra naaryasto poojyantay, ramantay tatra devata

(Where women are honored, there the Gods are pleased)

Manusmriti 3/56

If I had the ardent love for my religion, I would summon into my mind, time and again; that women are the opposite sex and in no way inferior. I would also bear in mind that a collective vibration of disdain can devastate a thousand low vibrations and I would refrain from adding to the contributing force to bring about that disdain.

 

In conclusion, one of my favorite Vachanaas ( a form of poetry) by Basavanna, a poet, a sincere reformer and an honorable statesman:

“What is the use of your learning and erudition?

Where is the proof of your claim to be high born?

You are a blacksmith if you heat,

You are a washerman if you beat,

A weaver if you lay the warp,

A brahmin if you read the scriptures.

Is anyone in this world born through the ear?

Therefore, whoever realizes the divine nature is high born.”

-Basavanna, Vacana 589