Sunday, July 8, 2007

#054, Replies to comments--Half baked knowledge


One friend used a term 'half-baked knowledge' in his comments, referring to my criticism.

Unfortunately, there is no definition of 'half-baked knowledge' or 'full-baked knowledge'. There are millions of Sanskrit verses in Sanskrit Literature. In Mahabharata itself, there are 115,000 verses and Ramayana has 24,000 verses. There are books like Bruhadaaranyakoopanishad, Yooga Vaasisht`am, Mahaa Bhaagavata which have thousands of verses. I do not think that there is any person with full-baked knowledge of Indian philosophy who has read and digested millions of these verses. I do not make any claim that I have read. I humbly say that I am not even half baked for which I have to digest at least 2.5 million verses. I read only a few thousand verses.

Incidentally, I am unable to resist a temptation to discuss the enlarged image of Vivekananda's capability to grasp the meaning of all the contents of a book just by touching it or by reading a few lines/pages. This story of a librarian who gave a book to Vivekananda getting astonished about his photographic intellect is quite often repeated in class books of schools, magazines, not to speak of biographies of Vivekananda. In spite of this photographic intellectual knowledge and memory of books, he simply ignored all our four scriptures (Ramayana, Mahabharata -- and Bhagavad Gita, Mahabhagavata) deliberately tried to perpetuate the caste system, confine the s`uudras (fourth caste) and the fifth caste (panchamas) to servitude and drudgery. He took them granted for their sacredness, whereas every epic/scripture is an admixture of both good and bad.

Not only in case of Indian philosophy or Sanskrit literature, there is this problem of half-baking. The knowledge is expanding at a terrific speed and specialisation is becoming an order of the day. Whatever a person learns today is getting outdated tomorrow. For example, a software engineer who specialises in ASP technology and becomes full-baked, may next day become unemployable because some .NET technology or some PHP package enters the arena. Of course, for the ancient Hindu philosophy of Path of Knowledge (Gnaana Yooga), Path of Devotion (Bhakti Yooga), Path of Action (Karma Yooga) there is not much changes. But different preachers started interpreting the philosophy in their own ways, and overenthusiastic people starting considering that other interpretations are half-baked. For example, Lok Manya Tilak wrote Gita Rahasya while in prison at Mandalay, Myanmar. It is a great master piece. Same way, Vinoba Bhave gave lectures on Gita to his prison mates and they have been published in the form of a book. At many points they contain great analyses and they practised what they preached. At the same time, they ignored some important short-comings of Gita. For that reason we cannot consider anybody as half baked because they saw whatever was extremely important for their work. Vinoba cannot discuss the warts of Caste system i.e. Sudras and Panchamas being pushed down because in prison he cannot raise the caste evils to his inmates.

It will be pertinent to discuss another example. Bruhadaaranyakoopanishad and Atharvan`a Veda contain several mantras and rituals to fulfil specific desires, such as to prevent a wife running away with her lover or attract somebody's wife to walk to us. Many Veda and Upanishad preachers and writers do not discuss these, because they are uncomfortable warts of the scriptures. If some exploring reader searches them and discusses them, does he become half-baked? Characters of books, Lives, and the scriptures are to be discussed on both sides i.e. positive and negative. Negative may sometimes be discussed more, because positive contents are covered to the extent of extreme flattery, divinity and making people believe that now there is an unquestionability. There is no such unquestionability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well said yb, go on with your half-baked knowledge. I am really glad that someone dares to bring out the aspects of the scriptures which are not very flattering.