Sunday, May 01, 2005

When Will We be Truly Secular?


The other day at the Art Mantram Exhibition, we had put up our pictures from the Gujarat trip. Basically a Travel documentary. Only a few of the whole collection were exhibited, some 13, and it just happened that half of them were of Muslim subjects.

The journalist walked upto me and asked me with a wry smile on her face, "Why have you all pictures of Vohrajis only in a Gujarat Documentary?"
What does one answer to that sort of a question?
I recollected my experiences and said, "Well it wasnt concious. We weren't particularly looking for Hindus or Muslims in our pictures, we were basically shooting what we thougth represented Gujarat. Most of these subjects dont speak any other language but Gujarati."

I dont know if i put my point across...but why is it that a Muslim is not a Gujarati or a Tamilian for that matter?
Why is it that we have this immediate bias for a person from an Islamic religion (not that we dont have a bias otherwise, but this is strongly strong)? India is supposed to be a secular country, and that's actually the beauty of it. Isnt it?

I loved those faces i clicked... they have beautifully expressive faces and eyes...
To my understanding they are as important a part of Gujarat as are the Hindus in that land. They dress differently. But then again we have these "cliche'" ideas of what a Gujarati is, why cant we open our mind to breaking away from those?

The journalist who spoke to me is a Parsee.. i wouldnt call her any less a Guajarati if she was one...
Its a political thing, this bias... dont we realize its been created in our minds over a long period? Cant we do away with this judgement that we form immediately?

Yes each culture is different and therefore the person has an influence of that particular culture and religion, but why such a strong bias for a Muslim? Dont we realize that its been imbibed in our mentalities today? And that we should start making a change in that way of thinking?

When i say "WE" i mean those who judge so easily. These individuals we judge do feel at home in these places, feel this place and people are theirs.... the only thing we do on judging them is by making them feel less at home...
Can we have a discussion on this? As this is something that has disturbed me for really long...




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21 Comments:

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Karthik L G said...

its been imbibed in our minds almost naturally ... to treat a person who belongs to the islamic community as an outsider n not as a kannadiga,malyali or a gujrathi even though he is a part of that particular culture..

our previous generations are to be blamed for this

anyway the girl in the bottom right...that photo is nice...the blue eyes n her smile...wonderful expression

 
At 1:31 PM, Blogger sophie said...

the pic is damn good...oursystem is totally bad...very difficult to bring secularism...it was never here...

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Echo/Lavanya said...

The question that you raise has bothered me for long. When will we be truly secular? Why should we categorize and discriminate based on religion or any other differentiating factor?

I do not know the answers to these questions. But thinking aloud, it seems to me that the human mind looks for either similarities or differences when given a group of items. And such identification and categorization is influenced by familial/racial conditioning. A fairly common categorization is that of calling any dark skinned Southerner a Madrasi.

Maybe this woman who came up to you revealed the way her mind worked when she picked up the common thread of religion among your pictures. Maybe it was just a grouping and not an unsecular categorization. Maybe it was not.

Funnily, many among us choose to be nice to people when speaking one on one (no matter what religion the other person may belong to) but when we are part of a clan, we do not hesitate to condemn, isolate and ostracize.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger injinuity said...

aha... hey atleast I am an equal opportunity offender.. I offend one and all irrespective of caste, creed or species for that matter ;-)

and kudos to you madam.. I am impressed by your photographic skills, the little girl on the bottom right could be the next 'afghan girl'.. you might never know..

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger perspective said...

That's not a little girl my dear, she's a young mother... (was about 7 months pregant when i shot her)...

I am curious now, coz i've had enough of it. earlier it was a compliment but now its reached a level of irritation...
why is this picture like the Afghan Girl's? there is no similarity let me markedly tell you.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Baejaar said...

Half of the secular unrest and dismal, profane sadness of modern society comes from the vain ideas that every man is bound to be a critic for life.
- Henry Van Dyke

Stumbled across this blog pretty late. I would have loved to visit the art gallery to check out the rest of the photographs. Each one is captivating....

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger P-H-A-N-T-O-M said...

Why arent we secular? - well, I gues we never have been. Just that w had some visionaries who saw secularism in their dreams and a whole bunch of people hypnotized by them and it came in our constitution...Yes, if they werent there, we probably would have been yet another country with communal wars and wldnt have progressed anywhere? (well, we havent progressed much though)....yet the successors to these people never knew what they followed even....I wonder if they even knew why they were supporting those visionaries....and thats where it all got screwed up.....and when we will see...??? when every family starts teaching their kids whats abt secularism....and thats where the education plays a role....The ecucated youth of this generation need to make no such mistakes that their parents did. !!!

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

wouldn't it be a beautiful world if we could learn to see each other for what we really are rather than be seen for what we appear to be?
great pictures and even better and thought provoking text.
thanks.

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this generation probably is more secular or more tolerant because of -
1. Education
2. Exposure in terms of media, work, interactions with people from different parts of the country and the world and general awareness of things because of the vast resources available to us.
3. Disassociation from the partition.

The generation before us had a lack of the above 3 in some respects. That is the reason I think there is a strong feeling of "subconscious dislike" towards a particular religion coz they dint know better and sometimes bad personal experiences can leave indelible scars.

I am not justifying anyone's reactions but saying that the previous generation had reasons of why they reacted a certain way. It wasnt completely baseless. We should be aware that we dont carry the same feeling over to the next generation and should be responsible enough to engage in healthy discussions/debates that would get our generation thinking and make a more informed decision of what our secular preferences are.

 
At 10:19 PM, Blogger Rahul Dekate said...

nice topic to discuss. I have a differnt meaning of word secularity in my mind. It is not just related to religion though. Check out my blog and feel free to comment. I am looking forward to your comments..

 
At 12:10 AM, Anonymous Indu said...

Very good post and nice pics....

our previous generation has been growing up with this bias imbibed in them...this bias doesnt come in to picture if the person is a christian/buddhist ...I wonder why..! did u guys realise that it was a journo who asked tis question that provoked u to write this one???

But it is not that big a bias! it is certain sect of people who use this bias for their own prosperity..it is just that we have to be sure that we dont carry such hatred to our next generation...

 
At 2:02 AM, Blogger Santosh S Kumar said...

(I am talking about indians) It is the History which is making you think that a muslim does't belong to this country... Just think what used to be the thinking of a hindu about a muslim before partition.. We have to learn to introduce new values to our consciousness through the ills of history...

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger ammasmon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger ammasmon said...

Sanatana Dharma ( Hinduism)is the only secular religion in the world.. that every one will agree. and Sanatana Dharma is the religion of Bharat ( India ) and that also every one will agree.

Sadly after these so called christian and Muslim invasion into its culture hinduism has lost its real nature in the most of its functioning. but the core idea of Universal love and co existance still is very strong in it. and that made this country secular.

it was not any political party that made this country secular. it is its culture. But for years this so called secular Politicians ( most of the congres ) has manipulated the word secularism for their votes. and that made and imbalance in the system of India. and that we have to reverse. other wise its going to be some bad days ahead.

and look at what these christians and muslims are doing to this country. christians have only one aim, to christianise India. ( the late pope declared this last time when he was here )and Muslims are still trying ( they are doing this for years ) to spread its ugly poison of terrorism, in all parts of this land... and this so called secular govts always supports them.... and these politicians are sadly hindus,, so every one is trying to distroy its culture...

But only hope is if Sanatana Dharma does not exists then this world will become a hell. because there should be some force to balance the evil, right?. so Sanatana Dharma will be there till the End of Humanity. Other wise if Santana Dharma does not exists Humans will nto exist. only Devils,,,

Bhagavan has said in the Divine Song...

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge

Bhagavan has taken Birth for the Upliftment of Santana Dharma...

so ....
i dont intent to hurt anyone, i have Muslim and christian friends who are good people, i was speaking about the majority of them.
we should apreciate Truth... :)

Vande mataram

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger perspective said...

Wow those were some strong view points Ammasmon...
But its this exact feeling of my religion is better and yours is not... this exact attitude of judgement that has brought about these state of affairs. Our politicians thrive on it. Every religious leader thrives on it...
Its important that we remember the good things within the person we meet and not bias towards an entire cult because some one particular leader is attempting to convert.
Why are we so open to conversion in that case?
This is a completely different line of discussion though. But i would agree that there wasnt such a strong bias before the partition and it exists today.

Feel sad.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger injinuity said...

its sobs like the poster above you who are the poster boys of hypocricy.. who will say one thing about secularism in India and will then go abroad leaving their motherland and crib about racism in the states.. sigh!!... and oh 'amma' drives in an S-class and I hear they have booked a Maybach too... so there goes your spiritualism down the drains you self righteous sob

as for the afghan girl resemblance.. well madam... the pic of the female you have at the bottom right does have a few things in common.. the piercing eyes that can see through you behind a very forlorn form,

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger ammasmon said...

@ perspective . i am sorry if i hurt anyone. i love my country and its culture very much. I feel bad when some one delibrately do something to destroy it...i feel very bad...

its like ethnic cleansing of a culture.. which always stood for the upliftment of the whole human race...

@ injinuity. "Dhoshaika drikk..."
one who see only faults in what ever he sees...

why dont you look at news papers and see what Amma has done for the victims of recent Tsunami. that is enough to open up your eyes. why dont you guys see that.....

and you dont have right to comment on my personal life. I never wrote any thing about Amma in any of the comments i have written in any of the blogs i visit. if you have something to write about the comment i have written that is what i expected from decent readers.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger nirantara said...

lavannya. i am seeing your blog for some days. so i started a blog myself... have not yet started posting...

karthik. there is no point in blamming our ancistors for what they have done. why cant we try to change the system, if you think there is something wrong in it

Ammasmon. dont beleive anything which you havent experienced yourself. like the christian conversion and muslim terrorism. It is there in India but only a minority do so. do nt you agree that there are hindu extremists also.. why cant you see that...

injinuity . i dont agree with you.
if a guru travells in an s class benz what is wrong in it. only thing that counts is what he\she is doing for the humanity.

late John paul traveled in his famous papamobile with no. of body gaurds around and that doesnt make him not a spiritual leader..

Mohammed travelled in a horse ( for ragging war ) isnt it. at that time there was no cars. other wise he would have travelled in a may bach. and even in an airplane..

and that doesnt makes him a normal human being.

and what i know a little about Amritanandamayi devi ( AMMA) is she is one of the world renouned spiritual leader and Humanitarian.
United nation had many times invited her for talks . most of them for the world peace.

i am noone to comment on her.
we should develop a mind to appreciate good deeds.

hey guys break the shell yaar..

 
At 5:08 PM, Blogger Rahul Dekate said...

With due respect to everybody's views, I would like to mention that rather than cursing others what we can do is to start at ourselves. I personally think that we can certainly change the world but we have to start working at ourselves first.
Please don't quantify the good work in terms of money spend on it.It is attitude and desire to help which counts. I used to personally hate all these spiritual leaders but now I am neither a follower nor against them. I do agree that they have power to influence people and if they can use that power for good of people, that would be the best for the society. But at the same there are so many frauds in the society who take advantage of innocent people that we can't even trust the good one.At the same time they are under continuous public scrutiny. Most of the time, the decisions regarding money are taken by their aids by just using their names. And one bad person make the whole organisation bad. It's really hurts when somebody get fooled by such people but there are so many people who also belive these people. If people feel that these spiritual leaders can change their lives for good then its good for them and let them follow. Who are we to generalize them?

 
At 7:06 PM, Blogger Prabz said...

When people come out of their fundamental religious beliefs and look out for the real truth.. guess its possible!
And hey there is no real secularism in any part of this world. Not even in a free world like America. I dont expect it to happen anytime soon!!

 
At 2:07 AM, Blogger StaticCompost said...

that young girl on the bottom right, her eyes are stunning. I dont wish to sound like an ignorant american but are those amazing gray eyes common amongst the gujarati peoples?

 

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