Happy Independence Day

Wishing all readers a very Happy Independence Day. Beyond just an anniversary, a call for independence from the slavery of the mind and imposed belief systems. It applies to the individual, and the nation.

The Grammar of Anarchy – Pragati: “The Politics of Pedestals:
The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not ‘to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions.’ There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

(Via Pragati – The Indian National Interest Review.)

On a Pedestal

An excerpt of the concluding speech Dr. B. R. Ambedkar delivered as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee on the floor of the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949.

Being Free

Happy Independence Day, all you proud Indians, slightly belated, but it is still Independence Day as I write this.

Freedom has come to mean a lot more than just the notion of being self-governed. It has started gnawing the innards of the self. A mere declaration of independence does little in achieving it. And Tagore’s words resonate:

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.

Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.

I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.

The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.

My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

– Rabindranath Tagore

This is, surprisingly, the same person who wrote, “Where the mind is without fear…”. I say surprising because, while I am not quite familiar with the chronology of Tagore’s poetry, he has obviously experienced the clutch as as well as the release.

Tagore is not, or has evolved from being, the patient that Sheldon Kopp refers to when he says:

He prefers the security of known misery to the misery of unfamiliar insecurity.

So, apart from the notional freedom that we all experience on this day, there is an arduous journey we all will have to undertake before we can be truly free. Free from what? That “what” is a personal trammel that we will need to identify and cut through each layer before we can swim free to the surface and gulp in fresh air.

Chinese Fishing Nets - 4

We are often blind to that obstacle that holds us back. We think we are free, yet somewhere our heart does not accept it. That mildly nagging feeling of slavery never leaves us alone. We walk with our heads held high, yet the thud is our heart is nervous. It is almost Matrix-ically Neo-tic where you do not know if you are dreaming or awake. And we cover ourselves with more tinsel, that perhaps may blunt the unwavering call of freedom that keeps softly beckoning.

And we get weighed down by the tinsel that promises false safety.

Yet, we want to be free.