Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Knowledge about the east is generated not through actual facts but through imagined constructs

Much has been said of the cultural clashes between Australia and India. Aussies by nature are aggressive, however it should be remembered that just because Indians are accommodating, soft spoken, peace loving and have patience, it does not imply that Indians are cowards. Let the spirit of India be fair, alive and vibrant. home > World > Clash of cultures Tumpa Mukherjee, 25 February 2008, Monday

Non-resident Asians often vent their feelings as to how they suffer injustices on foreign lands. In the busy streets of London often a person from the Asian subcontinent is referred as ‘Pakis’. But the silent suffering of individual remain hidden, only when it hits the headlines and becomes international news we become conscious of our location within the gamut of the international arena.

The underlying assumption is very clear – if you are Asian by origin, an oriental, your integrity in every sphere of life will be doubted by the self-proclaimed rulers of the world - the occident. A few years back Edward Said in his magnum opus Orientalism had pointed out the Orient-Occident relation - a relationship of sub-ordination and super-ordination. Orient is shown weaker than the Occident. The West (occident) possesses a stereotype, prejudiced idea about the East.

The central idea was that knowledge about the east is generated not through actual facts but through imagined constructs that imagines all the eastern culture to be similar, all sharing crucial characteristics that are not possessed by the west and the Western world is there to dominate, restructure and have authority over the East (the orient). The West is projected, as a superior culture compared to the East. It is a relationship of self-proclaimed cultural supremacy of the West over the East, which leads to establishment of cultural hegemony of the west over the east.

Not so long ago a premier from the western world remarked as an aftermath of 9/11 that either you are with us or with them. The dichotomy of us/them has led to the polarisation of the world into the ‘modern rational west’ and the ‘irrational east’. In this particular incident Ricky Ponting representing the occident, dictates the world of cricket. If he asserts while fielding that the opponent should be declared out, the umpires have to oblige him. Off the field the match referee has to oblige him by passing a verdict banning cricketers from the oriental world. Then `fair` cricket is played in true spirit. However if Sachin Tendulkar bears testimony of the fact that Bhajji had not expressed any racial views, his statement is ignored.

In the world of politics the President of United States of America dictates terms to the international community. He felt Saddam Hussein should be punished and irrespective of worldwide criticism Hussein had to be sent to the gallows. If he feels like waging war against Iraq, Afghanistan, the others countries have to dance to his tune. All these wild actions are justified to restore security, safety in the world and protect human rights of the present and next generation.

In the early twentieth century Sir John Woodroffe, a scholar and a writer on Indian philosophy, published a book titled ‘Is India Civilised?’ He wrote this in an answer to the negative criticism of Indian culture by the English drama critic William Archer. Indian philosopher and yogi Sri Aurobindo was in harmony with Woodroffe and used that book as the starting point to express his idea on Indian culture, which have been published under the title The Foundations of Indian Culture.

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