Make India Great Again (The Right Way)
We see a lot of posts and memes claiming that various modern inventions and discoveries were actually made originally in India in the ancient times. Most of these are fake and even hilarious many times! But when we dismiss them, we are actually missing out on something very important:
People are desperate for something that will make them feel proud of themselves.
Unfortunately, it’s always the bad actors in society who discover such needs first and take advantage of them purely for their own benefit. But instead of being upset at such people, maybe we should actually thank them for having discovered this need that the rest of us missed! And now we can actually focus in meeting this need in a far better way.
(By the way, while I am talking about India here, this phenomenon appears to be universal. Even in the US, the whole MAGA movement has, as its basis, the same desperate need of some Americans to feel proud of themselves. And of course, bad actors in the American society discovered this need long ago and came up with various cons to meet it cheaply and effectively. Maybe we could actually call the Indian counterpart of this phenomenon MIGA? 🙂 )
Anyway, let me come back to the topic at hand.
There’s actually no dearth of things that Indians can legitimately feel proud about! Why resort to bogus made up stuff?
We all know about Yoga, various meditation practices such as Vipassana, ancient Indian philosophies such as Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism etc., some aspects of natural medicine and the natural way of living in general, Satyagraha, and so on. I would even put Indian cuisine and Bollywood into this list.
But what I want to talk about here is Indian thought, poetry, and music.
Adi Shankaracharya (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adi_Shankara), the 8th century Indian philosopher credited for consolidating and formalizing Hindu philosophy including Advaita Vedanta, himself wrote the literary work called Saundarya Lahari (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saundarya_Lahari). It is a collection of 100 hymns describing and praising Shiva and Parvati (Shakti).
Here is a rendition of the same, entitled “Shakti Prayer” by Anuradha Paudwal and Craig Pruess. Powerful verse, beautifully sung. Extremely calming. I’d highly recommend it for any sort of meditation or even in the background while working or doing chores around the house. Great lockdown music. 🙂
As it happens with anything so beautiful, it manages to spread around the world. Thus, a musician in Europe named Andreas Pfeiffer (aka “Sangeet”) created a remix out of it:
And then, a DJ named Johnny M threaded that remix it into his live performance. Perfect for your evening relaxation in your own lounge.
(By the way, the Johnny M composition is actually a much longer composition including other pieces of music, so the link above points directly to the part that corresponds to the relevant section. But you can also listen to the whole thing and it’s beautiful throughout. In fact, further down in this composition, there’s a piece that uses Alan Watt’s speech on Buddhism as the background. It is also very good. And I suppose it’s another example the same phenomenon I’m talking about here.)
What’s funny here is that I actually discovered the Johnny M (DJ) version first! He is one of my most favorite DJs at present. You should check out his other tracks also. He records every week.
Luckily digging deeper from the DJ version back all the way to Shankaracharya was pretty easy thanks to the internet.
It’s amazing to realize that this poem Saundarya Lahari, which originated a millennia ago in India, evolved through many steps, traveling all over the world, until it reached a modern day DJ. And through him, it reached me. And then, through the power of the internet, I was able to trace its path all the way back to its origin. (All, while being under lockdown. 🙂 )
It’s like seeing how human thought and expression have evolved over millennia – in a short few minutes.
Anyway, coming back to the original point, add this to things we should feel proud about. Not just the original poetry and thought, but how it has been able to to evolve and spread all the way around the world, while maintaining its beauty and depth. No need to believe in fake stories that claim that airplanes and test tube babies and spaceships and what not were all invented by our ancestors in ancient times.