You lookin at me???
May 27, 2007 7:12 AM   Subscribe

The Wagah border, that separates the countries of Pakistan and India, is the scene of some very eccentric pomp and ceremony during the lowering of the flags on either side, and the opening and closing of the gates of the opposing forces.
posted by hadjiboy (57 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
What’s to be kept in mind here is that both the flags have to be lowered at the same time, lest one becomes lower than the other, and what a great insult that would mean for the offended country’s pride.


It’s a shame they didn’t show it from both sides; it’s a real spectacle to see.
Don’t know what the girl at the end’s doing there though.

posted by hadjiboy at 7:13 AM on May 27, 2007


I love the preemptive introductory disclaimer for the common strain of commentatora moronicae Youtuborum.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:40 AM on May 27, 2007


That was truly fascinating!

Maybe it was the coxcomb headdresses that they were wearing, but I kept picturing some sort of bird ritual where the males display their plumage and plump up their feathers at each other.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:49 AM on May 27, 2007


How in the name of God does something like this develop?

"Well, that one guy used to stamp his right foot only 195 times, but then in June 1962, a guard remembered only as Walid famously added the extra 38 foot-stamps, completing the ceremony as we know it today."

Thanks for this post. Fascinating.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2007


The entire performance no doubt choreographed by the Ministry of Silly Walks.
posted by BlueMetal at 8:06 AM on May 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I watched the ceremony just a few months ago, on the Indian side. It was a very surreal experience. I sat high on the bleachers in the women's area (the India side has one too, but it's not mandatory for women to sit there), surrounded by grey-haired grannies and young mothers bouncing babies on their knees. The kids were all eating popcorn and peanuts and everybody was waving flags around; it felt a lot like the state fair, except, instead of putting our hands on our hearts and singing the national anthem we all pumped our fists in the air and yelled "Hindustan zindabad!"

You don't get to see the pre-show buildup in the video, but it's pretty wild too. On the India side they blare Indian pop music from the loud speakers, while on the Pakistan side they blare Pakistani pop music, and skinny-hipped teenage boys do Bollywood dancing in the road on either side of the open gate.

One thing that struck me as very odd was how perfectly choreographed the ceremony was-- the Pakistan soldiers doing a precise mirror image of the Indian soldiers' routine. For all the aggresive posturing, something like that has to take an extraordinary amount of cooperation between the armies of the two countries. I like to picture them practicing in a gymnasium in some neutral territory, with the border gate represented by a masking-tape line on the floor, giving each other pointers about mustache grooming...
posted by bookish at 8:25 AM on May 27, 2007


Bookish: Well, they were one army once
posted by infini at 8:45 AM on May 27, 2007


Fascinating, hadjiboy, thanks! I wanted a better look at those awesome uniforms so found this nifty good Wagah photo gallery, mostly from the Pakistan side and another nice flickr gallery.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:06 AM on May 27, 2007


Nice post hadjiboy -- for another view of this, Michael Palin's "Himalaya" covered the ritual.
posted by acro at 9:32 AM on May 27, 2007


Some photo's
posted by acro at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2007


That was great.
posted by chunking express at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2007


That was really interesting - thanks!
posted by djgh at 9:53 AM on May 27, 2007


One thing that struck me as very odd was how perfectly choreographed the ceremony was-- the Pakistan soldiers doing a precise mirror image of the Indian soldiers' routine.

Careful there. It's the Indian soldiers mirroring the Pakistanis!

Seems to me they should be playing "Ebony and Ivory" or somesuch during the ceremony..
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 AM on May 27, 2007


In other news: Thousands of tribal and Dalit Hindus in India have gathered in Mumbai to convert en masse to Buddhism.
posted by homunculus at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2007


After watching that, I think we Canucks need a border ceremony. Maybe not *quite* that elaborate, but with plenty of Mountie and Military Pomp. Remind ourselves that we are our own country.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2007


However, I'll take our ceremony with less silly walking and more breakdancing.

Also, my wife notes the Pakistanis are wearing spats.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2007


I think it makes them look so cute with hte salwar kameez.
posted by infini at 11:27 AM on May 27, 2007


This was pretty cool.

Metafilter: giving each other pointers about mustache grooming...
posted by Mitheral at 11:37 AM on May 27, 2007


Having been in the US military and done quite a bit of drill, I can't help noticing that there isn't much focus on military bearing. I noticed soldiers at attention scratching, shifting on their feet, and so on. So it struck me more as showmanship than lockstep military precision. But of course there's no reason a country can't do parade their own way. In fact I kind of like the brusque "screw this shit" attitude with the gate flying shut and so forth... it has a certain zest.
posted by hodyoaten at 11:39 AM on May 27, 2007


The crowd was getting pretty excited there, like it was a soccer match or something. It might be a good idea to introduce a more sedate sport to the subcontinent. Something like cricket, perhaps.
posted by dhartung at 12:41 PM on May 27, 2007


Loved your post hadjiboy.

It has all the drama of a Balinese cock fight (cool essay with couple of non-bloody pics). One minute video of a cockfight with chicken for dinner results.

On one of the last days of September 1975 I crossed that border from Pakistan into my first day in India. It was a wonderful, life-changing day, the day I fell in love with India. The border was then called by its Indian name, Attari Road, as stamped in my passport (not that Atari).

There was a gentle, friendly giant there, one of the customs officers, must have been between 7 1/2 to 8 feet. Used to have a photograph of him standing next to me, his hand was around my waist. One hand covered almost my entire waist. Can't remember if he were Pakistani or Indian that's how relaxed and friendly the border was then between both countries and this was not too long after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Wonder when this fancy mutual, military posturing thing started? Ironic it seems so British Colonial and, yes, so Ministry of Silly Walks. Very much Robert De Niro in Taxi, staring himself silly in the mirror, saying "You looking at me?"

Since the people on both sides of that border are of one blood, many with relatives in the other country and shared history going back thousands of years, it's appropriate the dance they do is a mirror image. I'm glad that now there is mutual handshaking at the end of that dance.

This contemporary India-Pakistan border pageant thing has 2000 daily spectators approx on the Indian side, 1000 approx on the Pakistani side.

A little history about that part of the Indian-Pakistani border. It saw incredible bloodshed during the Partition in 1947.

A brilliant, superbly researched, well-written and very readable book about what led to that border and the whole, sad partition, is Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins.

Another group of photographs from pbase on the ceremony at Wagah.

Enjoyed this blog entry from Bikkupedia about being an Indian tourist, seeing the border show.

acro, Thanks for the Michael Palin link, pity the video clip isn't on the site, it was taken down from YouTube. Drat.

homunculus, It says in the article you linked, "The converts hope to escape the rigid caste system in which their status is the lowest." The conversions from the Untouchable Caste used to be to Christianity, now to Buddhism. Also wondering if they converted for political reasons as there is a lot of corruption in the Indian voting system, particularly around Bombay, getting blocks of voters from various groups, bullying them and paying them off to vote for this or that person or not vote.
posted by nickyskye at 12:54 PM on May 27, 2007


homunculus, It says in the article you linked, "The converts hope to escape the rigid caste system in which their status is the lowest." The conversions from the Untouchable Caste used to be to Christianity, now to Buddhism. Also wondering if they converted for political reasons as there is a lot of corruption in the Indian voting system, particularly around Bombay, getting blocks of voters from various groups, bullying them and paying them off to vote for this or that person or not vote.

Nah, In fact I think its just as simple as its a closer spiritual match to much of hte beliefs and traditions in INdia, as exemplified in her idioms, language and festivals. As hindu philosophy states that every scrap of life is but a part of the Infinite, i.e. let the energy be known as 'god' and thus you are part of 'god' and vice versa, similarly, Buddha extrapolated that concept into Karma, the give and take of energies that takes place to achieve a balance in the chi of the world. However, Christianity begins with the basic concept that goes against the grain of all teaching, that there is an external god, and one who is jealous and angry, and that one is tainted with sin. Why on earth would you give up being told you are a child of the eternal bliss to accept willingly the belief that you are full of sin and must spend your entire life atoning for it?

duh.
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on May 27, 2007


pardon the duh, that was most illbehaved of me. I apologize sincerely.
posted by infini at 1:25 PM on May 27, 2007


infini, Buddhists are non-theistic. No God, no Gods.

Siddhartha Gautama did not "extrapolate "the energy be known as 'god' and thus you are part of 'god' and vice versa" into the concept known as karma.

Buddha extrapolated that concept into Karma

The concept of karma existed in Hinduism 300 years before the birth in 563 BC of Shakyamuni, later known as Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Karma, the give and take of energies that takes place to achieve a balance in the chi of the world

That is not the definition of karma in Buddhism, where it means the law of cause and effect.

Christianity begins with the basic concept that goes against the grain of all teaching, that there is an external god

In the Hindu tradition, God is external and internal, depending.

and one who is jealous and angry, and that one is tainted with sin.

There are jealous and angry avatars of God in the Hindu tradition.

Why on earth would you give up being told you are a child of the eternal bliss to accept willingly the belief that you are full of sin and must spend your entire life atoning for it?

Becoming Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Sikh for many Dalits (another name for the Untouchable Caste) was/is to avoid the denigration of their position and social paralysis in the Hindu caste system, as stated in the article I linked.

Sadly, prejudice and contempt for others exists in all the orthodox traditions, including Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh.
posted by nickyskye at 2:14 PM on May 27, 2007


thanks nickyskye, they never teach us anything at home properly anyway ;p
posted by infini at 2:35 PM on May 27, 2007


ps, suggestion: before you say duh, rtfa.
posted by nickyskye at 2:38 PM on May 27, 2007


pps, you're welcome :)
posted by nickyskye at 2:39 PM on May 27, 2007


ah, I do belive I've figured things out. Imagine, if you had not put me straight, I wouldn't have known enough to go back to my father and tell him that our sages interpretation of Hindu Philosophy and the Gita, was wrong, and in fact, an American lady had to correct my beliefs and my thinking for me. Muchas Gracias, nickyskye.
posted by infini at 2:41 PM on May 27, 2007


my 'duh' was my apology for arrogantly calling you stupid.
posted by infini at 2:44 PM on May 27, 2007


infini, Accepting your apology, however, did you call me stupid too? lol

Offering you my good wishes and curious also about why you communicated the way you did.

I don't know what's up with your comments, which seem disrespectful, the duh and now the snide "I wouldn't have known enough to go back to my father and tell him that our sages interpretation of Hindu Philosophy and the Gita, was wrong, and in fact, an American lady had to correct my beliefs and my thinking for me".

Did I irritate you by offering information? Is it unacceptable to you that a female and an American might know something about Hinduism, India or Buddhism? I don't understand and am interested in your point of view on this. In the spirit of this post, may we continue to dialogue peacefully and in a civil, mutually respectful way?
posted by nickyskye at 3:07 PM on May 27, 2007


I read in some interpretation where it says that karma was a budhdhist concept that was brought back into Hinduism, thus is could not have existed 300 years before the birth of Buddha. I will dig up that link asap.

secondly, in the spirit of this post, I realize that the root of my ire, and thus sarcasm in the comment kindly thanking you for your corrections of my interpretation of hindu scriptures as a hindu born into a hindu family tracing its lineage back to the mid 16th century, whereas you were probably unaware of this. My apologies. I have an abhorrence against being told how to interpret my relationship between myself and my spirituality. words in one language can rarely hold the nuances of meaning in another language without the contextual interpretation that being a member of the social culture brings from birth. I make no excuses here. Simply explaining.
posted by infini at 3:21 PM on May 27, 2007


The whole India/Pakistan thing is fascinating. I don't get it at all. A border is drawn sixty years ago through what has been one people for 5,000 years and half-a-million people die and twelve million become homeless trying to get to their newly-assigned side of the border. Now they have nuclear weapons pointed at each other. To me, as an American, it is hard to imagine that religion and nationalism could trump such a vast shared cultural heritage -- but then, to me, as an American, it is hard to imagine having such a vast cultural heritage.

I used to work at a Hindi movie theater. Here's an exchange that happened around Indo-Pak independence day last year.

My canteen coworker, Tess (she is Indian): ...mango and pista kulfi...
Customer: You have kulfi? Made in India?
Tess: No, made here.
Customer: Oh, made here in America, really?
Tess: In fact it is made here itself, in the theater.
Customer: Oh! Made by Indians.
Tess: Well, by Pakistanis.
Customer: (jokingly shoves it away) Oh, well I don't want it then!
Tess and Methy and Customer: (laugh)
Methy: Where is kulfi from anyway -- it's Punjabi, isn't it?
Tess and Customer: I don't know... maybe... Bengal?... no...
Methy: Because maybe it is more Pakistani than Indian?
Customer: (joking) No! It’s good!
We become aware that a customer is standing there, listening to everything we are saying.

Methy: Do you know what part of India kulfi comes from?
Other Customer: No, I do not.
Methy:
Methy: You wouldn't be Pakistani, would you?
Other Customer: Yes, I am.
Customer and Tess: !
Customer and Tess: (stricken) I was only joking, of course I wouldn't...
Other Customer: (a good sport) It's fine, it's fine.
Five or Ten Other Customers: (joining in) We are the children of one mother, it is only the governments...
Handshaking all around, and this group discussion of Indo-Pak unity develops in front of the canteen.

Then again, this is a Hindi movie theater. In Pakistan, Hindi movies are banned. Not to mention that this is a Hindi movie theater in Los Angeles.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:39 PM on May 27, 2007


Mrs. gompa and I crossed from India into Pakistan at Wagah back in 2000. It was late morning and dead quiet - we were the only foreigners to make the crossing thus far that day, and the border was closed to Indians and Pakistanis at the time. Multiple offices, forms in triplicate, full baggage search, etc.

The absurd solemnity of it all was underscored by the unofficial ceremony of the Passing of the White People's Bags. If you come by taxi out of Amritsar, you have to walk yourself across the border and pick up another taxi on the far side to make the half-hour run into Lahore. We'd hired porters, and they followed us out across the tarmac and then stopped cold at the exact midway point between the two gates, waiting at semi-attention with our backpacks on their heads for their Pakistani colleagues to jog out from the other side. A sort of pregnant pause of fierce staring, and then a stone-faced but professionally courteous baggage hand off. Wish we'd had a video camera. It was a weirdly powerful moment.

Then you get to Lahore, and aside from the availability of beef kebabs and the profusion of headscarfs on the ladies, it could pass for Delhi in a heartbeat. We'd learned some Hindi, and Lahori Urdu was easier to understand because it wasn't all mixed with Punjabi slang like Delhi's Hindi.
posted by gompa at 3:56 PM on May 27, 2007


Methylviolet, Great story! So cool! I mean kulfi, nyuck nyuck, (mmmm, one of my total favorite things on the planet!).

See, the thing is that the Big Boys messed with India. The Brits chopped India up into pieces, instead of one country, made West and East Pakistan, then watched the slaughter in 1947 at the time of The Partition. Bastards! They couldn't own India, so they mutilated it as they left after 250 years of colonial rule.

Now the corrupt American and Russian governments have their greedy paws itching for access to the Persian Gulf, using Pakistan to get at Afghanistan. It's disgusting.

But then again, India has been mostly Hindu for over 3500 years. The Muslim Moghuls conquered India in the 1100's, stayed for 500 years and demanded conversion to Islam. The Muslim tradition is very different from the Hindu tradition. Really different in many ways, not least the meat eating thing, the caste system, clothes, relationship with sex, views of the universe. A lot of differences. So there is enmity between mostly Hindu India and the two Muslim Pakistans (West Pakistan now called plain Pakistan and East Pakistan now independent, renamed Bangladesh).

gompa, So cool you went on that trip! In fact many Muslims, who lived in Delhi at the time of The Partition, then settled in Lahore. Though I found Delhi and Lahore to have many differences. I loved living in New Delhi for 4 years.

infini, I have an abhorrence against being told how to interpret my relationship between myself and my spirituality

When you make incorrect or uninformed statements about how "Buddha extrapolated karma" or why Dalits might choose to become Christian, it may be uncomfortable to be corrected or informed. Nobody is telling you "how to interpret [your] relationship between [yourself] and [your] spirituality"

As far as being entitled to know something, I think we're all in this learning process democratically. Being aware of your 16th Century anything doesn't necessarily make you more entitled to know about something.

In any case, it seems likely that genetically all us humans are related and arose out of the African gene pool. We all go back tens of thousands of years ago, or more. As Mohammed Rafi said, "Although we hail from different, lands, we share one Earth, one sky, one sun, remember friends, the world is one."

Karma in Hinduism has a number of interpretations in the Vedas and Vedanta.

There is a link between prana and chi but not chi and karma in the Buddhist tradition.

Like Hinduism, Buddhism has a number of interpretations and schools: In the Theravadin tradition karma is one thing in the Mahayana tradition, as taught by the Tibetans, it's another.

The karma ran over your dogma.
posted by nickyskye at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2007


Tum bhenchod hai, hadjiboy! You stole my idea for an FPP!

Here was my comment (with links to pics) in a recent India-Pak related thread, which put the idea into my procrastinating head.

I had the privilege of seeing the ceremony live, late last December. For some reason, the Pakistani crowd numbered in the dozens, whereas there must have been ten to twenty thousand of us on the Indian side, chanting Hindustan zindabad! & Vande Mataram! Good times.

Not so good: the complete lack of public transport back from the border to Amritsar. Everybody seemed to have arrived in private or chartered vehicles. It took something like an hour & a half for us to drive back to town in an autorickshaw packed with about 12 people, after dark, in the middle of the North Indian winter.

It was interesting also that the grandstand designed for so many people seemed to have only one staircase for the exit, which was about 2-3 people wide. How people are not regularly trampled to death or pushed over the railing is completely beyond me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:30 PM on May 27, 2007


Imagine, if you had not put me straight, I wouldn't have known enough to go back to my father and tell him that our sages interpretation of Hindu Philosophy and the Gita, was wrong, and in fact, an American lady had to correct my beliefs and my thinking for me.
[...]
words in one language can rarely hold the nuances of meaning in another language without the contextual interpretation that being a member of the social culture brings from birth.


Anecdotally, in all my reading in various religions to date (very dilettantish, but I'm guessing at least a couple of hundred books so far), I've noticed that Hindus, far more than any other religion, have a tendency towards making the strangest & most outrageous claims about what other religions & philosophies believe, normally through selective out-of-context quotations that are then put through some kind of ingenuous theological wringer, until they resemble pretty much nothing like what they originally did or should. Normally, this seems to happen in an attempt to demonstrate that every thinker & religion in the world somehow conforms with & supports Hinduism. Just saying.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 PM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


(It's a kind of confirmation bias, I think, since that's such a popular concept around here. You'll be reading this scriptural interpretation, and constantly coming across these quotes pulled from all over the place: "even Mark Twain perceived the truth of the Vedas when he wrote...", followed by "the distinguished philosopher Schopenhauer confirmed the teachings in the Gita with his concept of..." As you would expect, they probably also wrote heaps of things that contradict essential parts of the beliefs, but yeh, there really seems to be this strong desire towards selective support from decontextualised arguments-from-authority)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:55 PM on May 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


UbuRoivas, omg, cannot believe you used the b word *covering my eyes*.

in an autorickshaw packed with about 12 people, after dark, in the middle of the North Indian winter

*Gales of commiserating laughter* Done that kind of thing myself. Not fun, except in the remembering. :)

this seems to happen in an attempt to demonstrate that every thinker & religion in the world somehow conforms with & supports Hinduism.

Yaar, all is one, after all. Actually, I always enjoyed when Hindus most sincerely explained the world through lotus tinted glasses. It seems endearing and typically all-embracing of Hinduism.

Although I've never been drawn to Hindu philosophy (except for Shankara) I much prefer Hindus to most religious people of the planet and way more than the uptight judgmentalism of any Buddhist community (and I say that as a Buddhist). There seems to be a real enjoyment of life among Hindus somehow, that whole delightful "It's all a play of the universe".

One of my favorite Hindu-centric stories is when devoutly Hindu Bimalababu, a renowned voice teacher in Calcutta, said this: "Why was Christ called a king, King of the Jews, when he rode like a begger on a lowly donkey?

He was king of his mind!"

Loved that.
posted by nickyskye at 6:37 PM on May 27, 2007


in an autorickshaw packed with about 12 people, after dark, in the middle of the North Indian winter

*Gales of commiserating laughter* Done that kind of thing myself. Not fun, except in the remembering. :)


Naturally, being an overladen 'Indian helicopter' on the Wagah highway, we were constantly being overtaken by maniac bus drivers taking the other Zindabad-chanters back to Amritsar. On the bright side, the autorickshawallah had one very worn cassette to play over & over on the tinny, flashing-LED stereo: my favourite, Raja Hindustani! Pardesi Pardesi just seemed so appropriate for the freezing, smoky-misty twilight...

I much prefer Hindus to most religious people of the planet and way more than the uptight judgmentalism of any Buddhist community

Yes, probably here too, although I was a bit surprised by your claim that "Sadly, prejudice and contempt for others exists in all the orthodox traditions, including [...] Sikh."
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:23 PM on May 27, 2007


omg, who calls an auto-rickshaw an "'Indian helicopter"? Funny.

including [...] Sikh

ah, lived through the Punjab crisis in '84/'85 and the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Punjab Crisis, Sikh perspective, Hindu perspective.
posted by nickyskye at 8:36 PM on May 27, 2007


:) this is going to be fun.
posted by infini at 12:13 AM on May 28, 2007


A Pakistani friend who was visiting India came via the Samjhauta Express. He was telling me that for the stretch through no-man's land, they were accompanied by cavalrymen on both sides of the train, both times they crossed the border.

This, to me, sounded like the ultimate tourist experience possible; your enemy country is welcoming you into its own land with an official cavalcade from your ultimate enemy army. And here's the best part:- all this pomp and military pageantry and much much more for the low low price of PKR 15/- only!

(On a serious note, I'm sure the cavalry tradition had something to do with those 1947 riots, and how the Frontier Police was trying to protect refugees streaming across both sides of the border.)

I suppose 'bizarre' is a degree of exposure to these things, but you know, they're just goose-stepping soldiers :-) ; army and NCC cantonments across India have similar exercises at sun-down, when they usually de-hoist the flag, as it were. Perhaps a tad less dramatic, I suppose, but military pomp was always popular with sarkari India.

nickyskye & infini: An interesting exchange. :-) Just thought I'd also point out that, theology apart, Hindu Buddha != Buddhist Buddha. That is, Siddharta most likely _isn't_ an avatar of Vishnu; he's merely the most successful guru ever to emerge from India's heartlands.

In short, Hinduism eventually co-opted Buddhism in a way Sanatana Dharma never could.

BIZARRELY though - this being something that I found out only in the last ten minutes, my head has just asploded - you can be a Hindu while still being an atheist. Even more bizarrely, and this is where my just asploded brain reassembled itself and asploded again, this time into a million more pieces, you can be violently far-right Hindu and still be atheist.

Yup, that's right. Veer Savarkar, the promulgator of the Hindu Mahasabha, among other things, was an atheist.

And so is Bal Thackeray.
posted by the cydonian at 1:47 AM on May 28, 2007


cydonian, time has come for you to read The ARgumentative Indian by Amartya Sen if you have not already done so. Just take the mrt to kinokuniya in ngee ann city [orchard or somerset stop] and buy it.
posted by infini at 2:56 AM on May 28, 2007


you can be a Hindu while still being an atheist.

That makes perfect sense in a subcontinental context. After all, you can eat pork & drink alcohol, and yet push for - and lead - the Land of the Pure.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:06 AM on May 28, 2007


(actually, i wouldn't be all that surprised to hear that Hinduism has a God of Atheists)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:22 AM on May 28, 2007


infini: Haha, was planning to get that, but after finishing this copy of The Last Mughal that I've been thumbing through for ages now. But yeah, The Argumentative Indian has been on my reading-list for quite some time.

Any particular reasons for recommending the book now? :-)
posted by the cydonian at 3:39 AM on May 28, 2007


yes, I'd say you should read it now just seeing your comments and the tenor and flow of this discussion. Sen states that 'argument' , to and for any idea or statement, that is, debate, has long been a tradition in India. hence you get the atheist/hindu, the traditional hindu, hte translated by Richard Burton hindu and then you get peeps like Swami Vivekananda who just distill the hwole message down to its essence. To understand that dichotomy of India, is almost as asked "Do I contradict myself? I do, I contain multitudes"
posted by infini at 4:37 AM on May 28, 2007


Can anyone please recut the video and insert some chicken sounds and mooing elks?
posted by homodigitalis at 6:30 AM on May 28, 2007


Loved that infini and I both favorited UbuRoivas' comment. *high five*

Ubu, worried when infini seemed pleased with his naughty happy face emoticon that I said anything negative about Sikhs. As if I'd stepped into a hornets' nest and trod on your religion preference toes and he was waiting for us to argue. Am happy to hear any point of view or difference of opinion about anything, as long as it's mutually respectful.

Just wanted to say that I actually felt very much on the Sikh side of the Punjab Crisis in terms of the water allocation, which was, I think, one of the main points of that civil strife. Khalistan seems unlikely as it would be adjacent to their historical enemy, Muslim Pakistan, but who knows, these days countries have broken up and survived in their parts, like for example the USSR and former Yugoslavia. There is so much anger in that neck of the woods, the Kashmir separatists, the Khalistanis, the Pakistanis, Afghanistan. It's not a happy corner of the planet at the moment and I suspect it's being stirred up deliberately to keep it unstable. It's very volatile and, with the kinds of weapons really angry people can or might use, quite scary.

In a way I think the pomp of the Wagah ceremony with its quivering crests and high kicking stomps -especially followed by a mutual handshake- may be a sort of healthy blowing off of steam.

the cydonian, after being dazzled by your comment in the supposedly-Vedic math thread, I was hoping you might pay this thread a visit. :)

Your head must have asploded a year ago too in this MeFite Gyan thread we both commented in titled "Atheism in Hinduism".

Hinduism eventually co-opted Buddhism in a way Sanatana Dharma never could.

The most marvelous co-optings on the planet, that I've ever known, have been India-the-culture, America-the-culture and the internet. Imo, those three have spectacularly enhanced their existence through complex acceptance and incorporation/assimilation.

From the essay you linked: "To win back the supremacy of the gods, Vishnu incarnates on earth as the Buddha and preaches a doctrine that there is no soul, fire sacrifices and other sacred rituals are useless, the Vedas just priestly scribbling, the caste system a useless contrivance, while the body is supreme and should be indulged as there is no life after death. Convinced by these pleasurable doctrines, the demons sin often and mightily, fall from grace."

Say wha?! An incorrect interpretation of any form of Buddhism I've ever heard about. Must be referring to the atheist/hedonist Indian philosophy, Carvaka.

Fascinating reading about Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and that readable Atheism in Hinduism Wikipedia link.

Core philosophical difference between Hinduism and Buddhism according to what I was taught: Hinduism reifies the Ultimate Truth as eternal and all pervasive in the form of Atman (Soul) and Brahman ("the all-pervading soul of the universe"), according to Shankara. The Buddhist Ultimate Truth, according to the Madhyamaka Avatara states all phenomena, self, other including Ultimate Truth, are void of inherent existence.
posted by nickyskye at 11:32 AM on May 28, 2007


the cydonian, I've been meaning to pick up The Last Mogul since I heard a great interview with the author on CBC...
posted by acro at 2:40 PM on May 28, 2007


India: Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.


Ubu, worried when infini seemed pleased with his naughty happy face emoticon that I said anything negative about Sikhs. As if I'd stepped into a hornets' nest and trod on your religion preference toes and he was waiting for us to argue.

No, not a particular preference. Just that in my experience, Sikhs seem to go out of their way to be as accommodating & welcoming of other religions than most. As far as I know, the idea of a Sikh-only or men-only or upper-caste-only Gurudwara is totally anathema.

I was also reminded of a (Hindu) desi here telling me about how when he was working on an engineering project in UP when Indira was assassinated, having to watch powerless as Hindu mobs chased down & hacked up fellow Sikh engineers. I was hoping that you hadn't incided infiniji into some of that spontaneous Hindustani ultraviolence.

It's not a happy corner of the planet at the moment and I suspect it's being stirred up deliberately to keep it unstable.

Well, India can hardly afford to set a precedent of allowing secession of one particular ethno-linguistic group, as there are so many others pushing similar causes: Ghurkaland & the NE hill states, in particular.

acro: you would do well to read anything that William Dalrymple has written. He has a flair for combining accessible scholarly history with travel writing, and shows a deep & genuine love for his topics of interest (India, mostly).
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on May 28, 2007


(inciding = encouraging people to kill their own)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on May 28, 2007


ultraviolence

Clockwork Orange was so brilliant.

Ubu, You're right about Sikhs being like that in general. oooh, Thanks for the book suggestion Ubu, William Dalrymple sounds excellent.
posted by nickyskye at 11:23 PM on May 28, 2007


*you* might like to start with City of Djinns.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:42 PM on May 28, 2007


Here's a CBC podcast with Dalrymple
posted by acro at 11:42 PM on May 28, 2007


As usual, I'm late to the party, but heck, better late than never!

Nickyskye: Haha, oh yes, I remember that thread now, but clearly didn't when I posted earlier. :-D

(Rather, I remembered elements from the thread, the astika - naastika difference, for example, but didn't remember the thread or its title as it were).

Here's why my head didn't asplode then as much as it has asploded here. While I can reconcile the notion that there might have been atheist schools of thought in Indian philosophy as a whole, I found it difficult to comprehend the notion that atheists would readily take on a pan-Hindu identity.

'Hinduism', as an identity, you would perhaps agree, had taken a politico-cultural nuance that wasn't there in, say, Carvakas' time; Carvakas wouldn't, for instance, bother about exactly where Lord Rama might have been born.

(Then again, that'll bring up this whole canard of Rama worship; there's some argument that Rama was worshipped as a god only in recent times, and not, say, 5th century CE.)

Incidentally, the apparent latent atheism in Maharashtra's right-wing politics might partially explain one of their more shameful episodes in recent past; clearly, if you're only fighting for relative positions, as opposed to absolute icons, you wouldn't really bother about which books you shred.

Acro: Thoroughly recommend The Last Mughal. It's Dalrymple's best book so far; you can sense his ouevre maturing and taking on this clear distinct form.

Infini: More confirmatory bias, then, that I should read the Argumentative Indian soon, eh. ;-)
posted by the cydonian at 9:02 AM on May 29, 2007


wow Ubu, hopping up and down in my chair, am going to get the City of Djinns. Excited! Thanks. :)

acro, Yet again, you've come up with another cool link. Great. :)

the cydonian, Yaar, it isn't a party without you, especially with all that head asploding thing going on.

atheist schools of thought in Indian philosophy as a whole, I found it difficult to comprehend the notion that atheists would readily take on a pan-Hindu identity

Can wholly agree and, to be honest, did my fair share of head asploding reading gyan's Atheism in Hinduism post.

Thanks infini, Ubu, acro, the cydonian for a stimulating and informative dialogue.

What an interesting thread this turned out to be. *waves to hadjiboy*
posted by nickyskye at 9:43 AM on May 29, 2007


« Older Bjarne Riis, current coach of premier cycling squa...  |  On May 26, 1907, a 13 pound ba... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments