How are we to live in India?

How are we live in India? Perhaps this question haunts the minoritized other of the majoritarian right-wing driven politics.  It is a difficult question and frightening too!  It reminds us of the crises that is afflicting our society. The rightwing seem to have already decided how every Indian has to live in India.   The result is a conflict over the values of loyalty and freedom. Those that do not adhere to the idea of India of the rightwing are construed as anti-nationalists. This means none of us have freedom to stray away from what is deemed as good life by the rightwing forces.  Loyalty seems to come at the cost of freedom.  But the loss of freedom paradoxically goes against the civilizational ethos of our country.  The theory of Justice of John Rawls or the idea of justice of Amartya Sen might  assist us to diagnose , understand and even respond to the crises facing us in our country. The marga offered by the right wing appears to be unreasonable. It seems to be promoting the interest of the upper caste. Plato’s Republic tried to contest such a notion of Justice that sees it blossoming in the promotion of the interest of the strong and in its place Plato proposed a rational approach to justice. Hence, the question what are the possibilities of being Indian in our country plagued by identity crises and politics of identity becomes urgent, relevant and necessary.

The humble epistemology of the Jains, all inclusive theology of the advaita and no self and permanency of change of the Buddhist, the inter-dwelling of the tribals etc., does align with a plural India yet we seem to be facing a homogenization of our culture championed by the rightwing.  Such a monoculturing of our culture  threatens to kill that very spirit  of our  country.  Here I intend to engage  Gilles Deleuze a French thinker to discern multiple possibilities of being Indians when the banality of the rightwing is considered a virtue and creative freedom a disease.   Faced with this crippling plight, I find that  the thought of Deleuze profoundly enabling as he opens ways of thinking that unlock new regions of living.    The question how should one live as Indians become limiting as it frames boundaries for being Indians and can be answered in a closed manner as done by the right wing. It offers only narrow possibilities of being                 Indians and defines and fixes the course of our life. We have to only conform to restricted ways of being Indian imagined by  the rightwing  otherwise face the prospect of being excommunicated as an anti-national.  Hence, the question how shall we live as Indians becomes more expansive and offers wider room and resources to creative imagination to find alternate emancipative ways of enlarging our lives and being Indians.

Several people among us will find metaphysics or ontology as a place to look for new ways of being Indians.  Zikek’s   parallax view already exhibits how an ontology that imagines a human body as essentially one with no hands may end up cutting the hand of real humans as they deem them as unnecessary for being humans.  Hindudtva  ontology is certainly haunted by such a parallax view and  is producing ethics that can celebrates ‘cutting the limbs’ as it is then viewed as act of purification.  Hence, we are to join thinkers like Derrida and Foucault who  unravel pretensions of ontology and open it to become more expansive.  It is surprising that  we can find Deleuzean  ontology a route that one has to travel to trace alternate ways of being Indians.  His thought has indeed potentials to cut against the grain of those who limit the possibilities of being Indian. Hence, in the power of Deleuzean thinking , we might ask: how one might be an Indian without being forced to conform to the rigid and narrow ways of being prescribed by the rightwing.

Deleuze finds the roots of this conformist ontology in the vision of ontology as discovery. When ontology is viewed as a discovery, it becomes a representation or copy of how things are. Ontology as seen as performing a function of discovery produces a gap between how things are and how we are.  We can see this gap between the majority and it’s minoritized other. The way of the being Indian as envisioned by the rightwing can come to look as the normal and natural way of being Indian. It impoverishes our ways of being Indian.  In place of ontology as discovery, Deleuze offers  ontology  of creative potentials. Thus, ontology does not just describe what there is but imagines the possibilities what it could be. It is in the embrace of these ontologies of the creative potentialities that we can imagine who can pose the question: how one might be an Indian?  Such ontology of creative potentials that we can trace opens new and emancipative ways of being Indians. When we reduce the sole purpose of ontology to discovery, we constrain our possibilities of being Indian. This is exactly what haunts the ontology of the rightwing.  It seems to be locked in constructed idea of a golden past. Hence, Deleuzian proposal ontology of creative might open new emancipative modes of being Indian.  We have no solution in the death of ontologies  but what we need is a new ontologies that give prominence to creative potentials.

We might take transpositions in music as an instance of ontology of creative potentials. We transpose from one key to another key to seek comfortable pitch to sing a song. Like music Indian civilizational ethos provides us multiple transpositions to become Indians.  This means our civilization is constituted of ontologies of creative potentials. This is why it does not just offer us different ways of being an Indians but also exposes how the narrow, homogenised modes of being Indians or based on an ontology of discovery diminishes our civilization and in a parallax view that ‘cuts the limbs’ of plurality of our Indian civilization and limits our ways of being Indians. Indeed, the rightwing hindutva  ontology distorts and destroys Hinduism itself. Hence, opening of  different and plural transpositions to be Indians is truly authentic way of being Indians. Siguralzation of  Indians to form a Hindu singularity will lead  internal implosion of our society. Thus, following Nietzsche who declared the death of God and Foucault who declared the funeral man, we may have to declare the death of Hindutva. We  will not be  first to declare the death of Hindutva. Kancha Illaiah has already declared the death of  Caste laden Hinduism in his book Post-Hinduism.

We are our self-denial. We are not just what we allow. We define ourselves by not what we might create but by what we might hold back from creating. Paradoxically, in the quest of re-enactment of the idealised golden era of the past, the rightwing is holding back its creation by not allowing the open-ness and inclusiveness that characterised that golden period in that past.  The rightwing fails to respond to the imperative of the present by forcing a conformist retreat into a past. In a very real way the rightwing is destroying the very civilization it purports to defend. It is cutting the very branch of the tree on which it is sitting. This is why the question ‘how are we to live in India?’ gains importance and becomes radical and urgent. There are other ways of being Indians and these have to be explored great openness and love for our country. It is at this juncture freedom and loyalty merges.  We can be loyal to Indian and its civilizational ethos only by freely opening our hearts and minds to other ways of being Indians.  Into this freedom we all have an imperative to rise. This is an imperative of being Indian today. It challenges to respond ethically and remain free and loyal Indians in a dynamic and open ways.

This search of modes of being Indian is a quest for good life.  This means ethics becomes the foundation of being Indians today.  It looks for an emancipative sphere of living our life in India. We have to find this sphere of emancipative life in the quest for recognition that each of us is looking for in our society. The cognitive awareness of this quest for recognition might open us to understand how several of the problems that face our country are issues of recognitions. Unfortunately, our quest for recognition has produced rivalry and has become the cause of violence, hate and intolerance that is plaguing our society. Most issues that afflict us are struggles for recognition. These struggles for recognition is metamorphosed into communalism and fuels the politics of the rightwing.


Between Extensive and Intensive Thinking


Most people view otherness and difference from the position of sameness. Sameness is directly linked to the self. It is narcissist in character. But such a view is inadequate and impoverishing. Reality is complex and dynamic and resists the attempts of the monarchical self to assimilate it into its conceptual frame. The Cartesian and Kantian Self transcendental self is dead. The world ordered by the self does not represent the reality of the world. The world is a continuous flux and no one can stand in the same water twice. Difference and otherness appears to be the way of the world. Unfortunately, we equalize otherness and organise it in the horizon of sameness. Kant seems to escape into a world of phenomena on wings of human faculties of knowledge and admits that numena cannot be known at all. Sameness is constructed on the rubble of dynamic otherness. Sameness then construes difference by way ascribing more and more determination to the concepts. In the study of Aristotlean Logic we have the notions of connotation / comprehension and detonation / extension. More we add content/characteristics/ determination to the connotation, the denotation / extension decreases and by consequence, we generate more conceptual difference / otherness. This conceptual/ epistemological otherness is given an ontological status and in several ways has come to define how are we to live in India and the world. The logic that produces conceptual otherness and pretends to be an ontology maybe called extensive thinking.

Extensive thinking afflicts us in our country in various ways. Every Indian is diverse and other. We try to bring every individual Indian to a general category of being that say Indian but mean Hindu in culture and character. This sameness/Indianness is construed to put all of us on equal footing so that we can belong to the promise of the nation together. Each individual Indian is extended into a collectivity which then becomes a basis to manufacture and spin difference and otherness . This spinning of difference and otherness is infinite in extension. Once we invent this factory that manufacture difference, we than order difference on the scale of hierarchy and produce discriminatory order of things. Extensive thinking is moved into the order of hierarchy though a relation that places difference beyond the conceptual apparatus. Kant puts the dynamic otherness into the realm that is beyond experience and thought. Thus, the real chaotic world of things in themselves become unknowable and this world of maya becomes subjected to the orderings of monarchical subject of knowledge and ethics. It is by placing difference into the other world, we invent hierarchical order of things. By placing difference in the other world, we invent our sameness as a higher other. Like heaven and earth are binary opposites and heaven by virtue of its otherworldliness acquires an irreversible hierarchy. Extensive thinking, thus invents hierarchy by placing difference in the other world. It means by extending difference to a world outside experience , we produce hierarchy by producing imcomensurable gabs. Caste hierarchy works by inventing and maintaining the otherness/ difference into an unbridgeable gap. Today, binaries like nationalist / anti-nationalist, Hindu / non-hindu other , satvic food / tamasic food, sanskari / wild (uncivilized) etc., find their fire in placing themselves as the other into a privileged other realm. This is why the question how are we to live in Indian boils down to a question that asks what are we doing with otherness and difference?

We cannot be indifferent to this managing of difference. Extensive thinking is spatial as well as quantitative. This leads to privileged spatial view of all beings. Most spatial views privilege representative thinking which formulates difference as relational and oppositional. This thinking is based on equivocal conception of being. We can find it in Plato. It seems to hold that X differs from Y because X is not Y. The being of Y is defined on the bases of its relation of being opposite of Y. Why should Y be thought as an absence of X? Why there is no positive beinghood to Y? By positioning the being of Y as a lack of being of X, we remain open to the annihilation of Y. This is why equivocal conception of being is not free from fascist moorings. Our thought in Indian is afflicted by this syndrome. There is also paronymy relation to the conception of being. One can find this way of thinking in Aristotle. One central concept of being relates to all other beings. This way of thinking dilutes difference and hence, it is also fragmenting difference. The notion of paronymy becomes analogy in the hands of the scholastics. Analogy is developed mainly in relation to the understanding of God. Analogy is fragmentary because it is based on partly same and partly different mode of consideration of something common to things we compare. It is based on a focal common being but allows difference in mode of being. We seem to be satisfied with what we deem as essence of being while other aspects of being remain unthought. Hence, we may ask: Can we think being in univocal terms? We can find this way of thinking being in thought of John Dun Scotus. This brings us to the shores of intensive thinking. It is in the context of thinking God that notion of univocality is developed by Scotus. Scotus arrives at intensive thinking by thinking infinity and God. God is superior to creatures not in quantitative extensive sense (made of infinite parts) but is qualitative intensive sense. Now if we thinking our Indian-ness mainly in extensive sense something profound and deep dies. Intensive thinking adds something beautiful to the world. It lets us think univocally so that infinite and finite become different modes of being and not different species all togather. Socutus introduces intensity of degree between finite and infinite. Thus, infinity is not defined in terms of lack of limitations but in its own positivity in terms of it own intensity.

Intensive thinking seems to be the need of the hour. We are all Indians. Indian-ness is a mode of being. We are challenged to think of Indian-ness in univocal terms not in quantitative and extensive terms. We all have the same attribute of Indian-ness but is actualised in different modes in each of us. Following Spinoza, we can say that Indian-ness can be known expressively. It expresses in different modes in each of us. Modes are modifications of the same Indianness (substance). Just like for Spinoza the world is an expression of the essence of God, Indianess is expressed in each of us. Intensive thinking rejects the monopoly claim of some over Indian-ness. Hence, ‘the question how are we to live in India?’ has to be primarily answered through intensive thinking. All of us are differently and positively Indian. There is no one who is lacking Indian-ness. We can view this view of plenitude through advaita Vedanta which may be said to be one good instance of intensive thinking. This turn to expressive and positive consideration of Indian-ness is the need of the hour. Indeed, intensive thinking might help us to address several issues that plague our society.




Our Indian-ness and Indianizing



Extensive thinking leads us to thinking with limitation as an important axis. By defining the other as evil, it constructs its goodness. This derived sense of goodness is limited and cannot be thought to be positive. Often we are faced with those who deem themselves as good/true Indian in opposition to those that are construed as anti-India. This way of ordering the way of being Indians is hierarchical and is grounded on delimitation of who is an Indian on the basis of oppositional determinations of who is considered anti-India. Intensive thinking on the other hand is based on unlimited horizon and opens non-oppositional determinations of being Indian. It is based on Scotus who thinks being in positive terms and not in oppositional mode. Deleuze teaches that intensive thinking is nomadic . it does not separate being from its becoming. This means Indians cannot be separated from Indianizing. There is no static point from where being is becoming but what is there is just becoming. Similarly, intensive thinking is not distinguishing between being and becoming but leads us to thinking dynamically. Strictly speaking there are no Indians, what we have are different modes of Indianizing. This way of thinking opens us to the plural ways of being Indians. Indian-ness then becomes a ground for the different modes of Indianizing or being Indian. We can ride these waves and choose different ways of being Indian. Indian-ness returns in different ways in these plural modes of being. The Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal return can assist us to understand how the ground or the unground of all the metamorphosing modes of Indianizing is playfield of difference that we cannot totalize but call it for want of term Indian-ness. This Indian-ness offers us different possibilities of being Indians.

Intensive thinking that we have stepped into reveres extensive thinking. Extensive thinking thinks of world as composed solid entities with properties. Intensive thinking thinks like quantum physics that that world is not made of solid entities but the so-called solid entities are made of ghostly clouds of waves that then collapse into particles. Taking our cue from this thinking, we can say that Indian-ness offers us different modes of being Indians. It offers us everything that makes us truly what we are. This affirmative mode of thinking makes it impossible for anyone to think that mother India has illegitimate children. In fact the classification of Indians into anti-India (impure) and pure Indians is the highest insult that we can give to mother India. Generation of different modes of being Indians manifests the rich fertility of mother India. Therefore, we do not have to be copies of any other Indians like the Brahamins or Hindutvadins but are original and true children of mother India. This is why sanskritization or mimicking of the Brahminic culture is a loss of face and rejection of our true self. But we are not insular islands. Somehow each Indian is in the other as each carries differently the same Indian-ness. Maybe the monad of Leibniz/ notion of transposition in music might assist us to understand how we carry Indian-ness differently and uniquely. But we all cannot be bunched into a singularity as some would like to have us think of a Hindu singularity in our country. Each of us is unique and singular. We have several singularities and not one singularity as envisaged by the restricted vision of a Hindu Rastra.

We have the ethical imperative today to overturn such Platonism and open emancipative and plural ways of being Indians. In fact the demand to be a copy of something that is presented as pure essence of being Indian is crude Platonism. A profound analysis of that which is deep as pure essence of being Indian has its roots in the trauma of colonial cauldron. Repressed colonial pain and trauma is acted out by these proponents of Hindu singularity. We too do it in different ways. Colonization is not reproduced as a memory but as an action. We are repeating modes of colonial ways of being in India without being conscious of it. This reliving of the past trauma of colonization is pleasure driven as Freud would teach us. Thus, if the colonizer had a culture, had a language, had a religion and had a civilizing mission, the proponents of Hindu Singularity also have a Hindu culture, Sanskrit language , Hindu religion and a civilizing mission. It is not difficult to see how colonial trauma is seeking healing by acting out. In doing so these brethren are not really healed but are riding a death drive. It is only therapeutic awareness of these chains that can set us free. Our true freedom lies in the way we beak the chains of afterlife of colonization. We are living the karma of colonization. Our indianizing today cannot be delinked from our colonial past. Each of us are differently afflicted by colonization. The desire for a Hindu Singularity is a one mode of a death drive arising from the acting out of the repressed colonial trauma.

Trauma maybe viewed as a trapped unbound energy. All desire for a Hindu Singularity maybe viewed as attempts to gain mastery of the lost control/ mastery under colonization. This desire to recover a lost golden past is complex. Zizek tells us that the past need not be golden. Basing on the notion of Hegelian wound, he teaches us that pain of the loss felt in the present pushes us to imagine and romanticise a past and deem it golden. We might find this imagination of a past golden era among the proponents of Hindu Singularity which then pushes the acting out of trauma as enactment or recovery of the lost golden past. This process is deeply narcissistic and cannot be easily brought to a halt. Being narcissistic, it hates other ways of being Indian. This maybe the reason why we have several narrow minded fundamentalists among the proponents of Hindu Singularity . India being a stream of singular singularties/ multiplicities cannot be singularized and will not be lead to such a disaster though we can feel the rise of the tide of a Hindu Singularity in our days. Such a monadic singularity is unsustainable and can result only into a civilizational suicide. Arnold Toynbee teaches that civilizations do not die due to extraneous factors but are killed by internal factors. Civilizations commit suicide. We cannot allow Indian civilization to die from our inner contradictions.



How  are we to be Christians in India?

The question, ‘how are we to live?’ had become ‘how are we to act?’ in the hands of the late eighteen century philosophers like Kant and Bentham. We live through our acts and hence we may find little or no difference and might regard that these are not two different questions but two ways of asking the same thing.  But there is a subtle difference. In the first case, the issue becomes one of conformism. There is already a good life that is defined to which we are challenged to conform while in the second case is about living our life on its own merits. I turn to this second question because it assists us to understand the possibilities of living as Christians in Hindutva driven order of life.  Hence, the question, ‘how are we to live?’ becomes ‘how are we to act as Christians in our country?’ How we are as Christians to face the hierarchies and dominance that is laden in the Hindutva order of life.  We cannot easily offer allegiance to intolerant and hate ridden Ideology of Hindutva. Our response cannot be simply pragmatic nor can it be merely political. This is why the ethical question, ‘how should one act?’ becomes a question of faith.  The reining condition in our society is calling us to generate an appropriate Christian response. Such a Christian response cannot be one of fear. It cannot be of withdrawal into our insulated cocoons. We are challenged to face our issues and act with Christian faith, love and hope. We need to discus new cartographies/maps of being Indian Christians in a fast changing India.  This is why the question, ‘how are we to act as Indian Christians?’ cannot be left unthought.

The Western Christian might have to ask how they have to act in the wake of death of God, rising secularism and heartless capitalism. In India, the question of death of God is irrelevant and we are faced with the death of secularism which has consequently led to the rise of communalism. We have to face the question of capitalism and the poor as well as undying question of caste as we seek answers to the question, ‘how are we to act as Christians?’ We have not lost the transcendent other (God) but have lost the horizontal other (Humans) and are in need of Compassion and love that we can find in the tradition of karuna.  Hence, in the light of Christian tradition, we will have to seek possibilities of being Indians from within our Indian resources and traditions. There is an added advantage in this strategy. Besides, tracing the seeds of the gospel in our culture, it has the power to demonstrate how the proponents of Hindu singularity become villains who crush theage old values of  our civilization. This means we may have to manifest how hindutva is leading to the death of Hinduism. Hinduism is literally born again or has become twice born (dwija) because of the injection of poisonous ideology of hindutva. We also have the challenge draw insight from non-sanskritic traditions which exceeds brahamism by bounds. We have the challenger therefore to dialogue with Buddhists, Jains , followers of Islam,  tribals, women and the dalits.  Besides, this dynamic dialogue with the jnana marga, we will have to dialogue with karma marga and show how our society has quickly fallen into a  rat race for artha and kama without dharma/ dhama. All mindless pursuit of artha and kama  is both unIndian and unchristian. It has put us on the road to self destruction.  Hence, for the love of India and our brethren, we have the responsibility to seek emancipative possibilities of being Indians today. This is a great service that Indian Christians   can render to India. The recognition of this imperative is reading of the signs of the time.  We have the resources both within in Christianity and larger Indian traditions of wisdom to channelize our energies to shape an India that becomes an emancipative home for all of Indians.

While we consider our options to act as Christians, we have to beware of the natural inclination of mimetic desire.  Rene Girard teaches that mimesis is at the root of all violence.  The process of mimesis has set in the process of sanskritisation. It is deceptive. In a caste driven society, it falsely appears to be liberative as it gives one a feeling of being twice born (dwija)  only to be pushed into deep echelons of   caste oppression. We can also think with Luce Irigaray and attempt to understand the reproduction of brahminism by the subaltern groups as resistance through mimesis.  Through this mimesis one becomes other of the same and tries to defeat his/her rivalled other by the rules of his/her own game. Unfortunately, this resistance to mimesis is nothing but self destructive and castrating in a caste laden society like India. Caste rates and castrates us. It assigns a place for us in our society and makes it impossible for us to be our true self as we have to mirror or become images of the upper castes. Hence, resistance through mimesis meets it waterloo at the altar of Oedipus Complex.  Besides the demonstration of the folly of resistance through mimesis, we have to also need to resist the temptation of becoming the other of the same in the context of our response to Hindutva.  We cannot follow what Luce Irigaray calls the logic of the same. If we do so we shall become fractural/ inverted images of Hindutva. We shall have the same form fleshed into the matter of Christianity leaving nothing to choose between them and us. Such a response would impoverish both Christianity and India as we will reproduce reigning braminocetrism of another shade.

We will have to choose the anti-Oedipal mode of life that challenges the brahmino-centric law of the father as   way of being Indian.  We may discover Christian anti-Oedipal modes of being Indians through Sizcho-analysis taught by Deleuze and Gauttari.  It will certainly give us new coordinates to think  through emancipative possibilities of being Indian Christians.   In this context, we have to analyse how we connect thoughts, ideas, feelings, sensations, memories, symbols, traditions,  institutions, rituals etc., to form an assemblage that produces our social reality.  Deleuze and Gautarri call these assemblages desiring production. We do undergo fixations to different alignments of desiring productions. Think of means of productions of Karl Marx. Desiring productions are means of production of our social life. The desiring productions of the present alignment of thoughts, ideas, feelings, memories, sensation, symbols, traditions, institutions, rituals etc., are oppressive and we urgently require  their new alignment  to unleash emancipative possibilities.  This alignment is possible because desire is thought to be productive and not lacking as is the case of Lacan.  Lacan’s view of desire as a lack is only one way of aligning though, ideas, sensation, memories etc., in our society. Deleuze and Gauttari attempt to set desire free from this fixation to lack.  This dismantling of this point of fixation opens desire to become positively productive. It is a return to the bare and raw desire which then opens us to look for multiple points/ coordinates that can operate as points of envision enabling us to trace different ways of being Indians. Here our Christian tradition is to become a guiding light that assists us choose the points of envision. Thus, our Christian preferential option for the poor  and our social teachings on love , truth and justice can become the axis that would guide our choice of other points of envision that would enable us to emancipative ways of being.  Thus, we have several anchors to anchor our ways of living in India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao