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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sitaram Yechuri's epic plagiarism brings in the rather unkind image of a monkey borrowing his master’s razor

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Yechuri’s ploy to demolish Ram Sethu and Ram Avatar By P. Parameswaran
It was a pleasant surprise to read comrade Sitaram Yechuri’s article “Misusing faith” in the People’s Democracy dated 23rd September. It was a very smart ploy by the Marxist ideologue to demolish the faith of the Hindu people, not only in Ram Sethu, but also in Sri Ram Avatar.
It was smart in the sense that Comrade Sitaram exploited the ancient Dasavatar concept widely believed by the Hindus in order to refute the historicity of Sri Ram himself. He writes, “The Dasavatars can thus be seen as a remarkable recording of the evolution of human life and its civilisational advance till the Aryan mastered the horse and majestically moved across lands.”
What a rich tribute to the Hindu genius! The write up creates the impression that the Marxist leader accepts that the ancient sages of India were well familiar with the theory of evolution millennia before the Western scientist Charles Darwin propounded it. Moreover, Yechury also pretends to admit that ancient Indian seers were endowed with great scientific acumen, because, otherwise, they could never have understood the complex process of evolution so correctly and recorded it in such lucid terms.
But, his real intention, in this case, is not to show appreciation of the wisdom of ancient India. He is applying his logic in a backhanded way to prove that avatars are only symbolic and none of them ever lived in flesh and blood. He also wants to establish that the concept of avatars is just a symbolic anticipation of the ‘historical materialism’ of Karl Marx. He is trying to provide a materialistic interpretation of the concept of Dasavatara and thereby take away any spiritual foundation in the hoary Marxian traditions of ‘logical positivism’. Look at what the Marxist ideologue writes:-
“In this very spirit, consider the following interpretation of the mythological Dasavataras. We are told in the Mahabharata that in every yuga (epoch), God descends on earth to uphold dharma and to cleanse it. At the end of the present yuga, God is supposed to appear in the form of the tenth avatar, Kalki avatar.
“The first avatar is in the form of fish. Science has now confirmed that the first life forms evolved underwater. The second is the tortoise, amphibious capable of living both on land and in water. The third is the boar, able to live only on land. The transition of life from underwater to land marks this state. The next is the Narasimha avatar reflecting the transition from the animal to the human form. This is followed by the Vaman avatar representing the evolution of the human form in its dwarf size. This is followed by Parasuram who wields the axe as his weapon. This represents the stage of the clearing of forests for human settlement. Ram who follows wields the bow and arrow as his weapon, ie., a weapon that can protect the human settlements by attacking the enemy from a distance. Balaram who comes next wields the plough. This is the stage of evolution of human civilizations to the levels of an agrarian economy. Krishna represents the further advance of human civilization in the stage of domestication of the cow and the development of the diary economy. Kalki who is yet to arrive is portrayed as riding a horse representing the state of the domestication of the horse.” (Sitaram Yechuri—People’s Democracy dated 23rd September)
But, then, there is an interesting side view that cannot be ignored. The whole postulate Comrade Sitaram provides is but a reproduction of what Mahayogi Aurobindo had written about 80 years ago. Yechuri has quoted Sri Aurobindo with minor verbal changes without acknowledging the original source. Borrowing of such a brilliant and luminous concept word by word, without even remotely referring to the original text, is called ‘plagiarism’.
Of course, communists do not attach much importance to bourgeois values like honesty and may not bother about such ‘niceties’. Yechury might even claim that it was his original discovery. If Sri Aurobindo had written it earlier, it could be explained as great minds thinking alike! It is for the readers to come to their own conclusions. But no one dare deny that the similarity between the two is too striking to be explained away as accidental.
But what does Sitaram Yechury do in his borrowed plumes, with his swiped sagacity? To put the situation in context one has to bring in the rather unkind image of a monkey borrowing his master’s razor. Because, the significance of Sri Aurobindo’s concept of Dasavatar is that it rises from a foundation of India’s spiritual vision and understanding of history. Not only that. He also convincingly concluded that the theory of evolution so strikingly advanced by our rishis makes Sri Ram as historical personality, logically inevitable and rationally unassailable. Quoting Sri Aurobindo on the concept of Dasavatars and the historicity of Sri Ram will be in order in this context:
“Avatarhood would have little meaning if it were not connected with the evolution. The Hindu procession of the ten avatars is itself, as it were, a parable of evolution. First the fish avatar, then the amphibious animal between land and water, then the land animal, then the man-lion avatar, bridging man and animal, then man as dwarf, small and undeveloped and physical but containing in himself the godhead and taking possession of existence, then the rajasic, sattwic, nirgun avatars, leading the human development from the vital rajasic to the sattwic mental man and again the overmental superman. Krishna, Buddha and Kalki depict the last three stages, the stages of the spiritual development - Krishna opens the possibility of overmind, Buddha tries to shoot beyond to the supreme liberation but that liberation is still negative, not returning upon earth to complete positively the evolution; Kalki is to correct this by bringing the Kingdom of the Divine upon earth, destroying the opposing asura forces. The progression is striking and unmistakable.” (Sri Aurobindo Volume 22, page 401, 402)
“As for the Avatarhood, I accept it for Ram because he fills a place in the scheme—and seems to me to fill it rightly—and because when I read the Ramayana I feel a great afflatus which I recognise and which makes of its story—mere fairy-tale though it seems—a parable of great critical transitional event that happened in the terrestrial evolution and gives to the main character’s personality and action a significance of the large typical cosmic kind which these actions would not have had if they had been done by another man in another scheme of events. The avatar is not bound to do extraordinary actions, but he is bound to give his acts or his work or what he is - any of these or all - a significance and an effective power that are part of something essential to be done in the history of the earth and its races. All the same, if anybody does not see as I do and wants to eject Ram from his place, I have no objection - I have no particular partiality for Ram - provided somebody is put in who can worthily fill up the gap his absence leaves. There was somebody there, Valmiki’s Ram or another Ram or somebody not Ram.” (Sri Aurobindo Vol. 22 page 414, 415)
Thus it will be seen that Sitaram Yechury refers to avatara concept to faith of Sri Rama, whereas Sri Aurobindo puts him on his historical pedestal. A classic case of devil quoting the scriptures. Previous Page (1/38) - Next Page (3/38)

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