Thinking India

How do we Indians think? Are we thinking through avidya or ignorance? Are we thinking with the grain of our reality? Are we thinking against it? Are we entangled in the worlds of maya? It appears so. Nothing seems to perturb us. Plato thought thinking was anamnesis /unforgetting. Thinking to Plato was remembering our life in the perfect world. We seem to have embraced Plato. We seem to remember our perfect world, the Hindu Rashtriya. This thinking as remembering has disturbed our ways of being Indians. We often remember the Mughal era more than anything else. We remember what superstars of Bollywood said regarding the tastes of food, particularly beef and take offence try to punish him or her at the box office. We certainly need to get out of the Platonic cave and stand out of maya and face the bright sun and arrive at the paramartika satya. But this cannot be done like Plato’s escapee who gets immersed in reductive ‘a now’ as Michel Serres reminds us. Sun is the transcendental signifier for the escapee. It is set apart. Thinking India like the escapee renders the sun as the substance, the eidos of being Indian. Here we have to note that Instead of India becoming the transcendental signifier, Hindutva places its Hinduism in that place. . This mode of thinking converts Hinduism of Hindutva as the fulcrum of our thinking and thus pulverizes other ways of being Indians. Hence, for the love of India, we have the challenge to dump Plato’s cave as well as his escape route illuminated by the sun.

What are our other options? Do we get trapped in the semantics of Hindutva? Semantic meaning being declarative trivialises other meanings. The semantic sun of Plato only allows us to copy the names and forms ( nama rupas) of Hindutva. It cancels off the universal openness of the Upanisads that let’s all good thoughts come from all directions. We are trapped by the declarative semantics of Plato and lost the osmotic semantics of the Upanisads. Our all-welcoming mind is shut by the narrow parochialism of Hindutva. Therefore, We need productive thinking. Thinking has to be done. Hence, we have the challenge to step out of conformist thinking influenced by the declarative semantics of Plato. We have the challenge to think relationally. We do not have to imitate the signs of relations of Hindutva but have to participate and produce a happy and all-welcoming India. Perhaps to think of India in this mode we have to embrace figures of thought of Mischel Serres.

Thinking through figures already challenges us to desemantify our concepts. Figures of thought are not declarative content-oriented but are operative. They are natural and present in our natural world. They introduce something new. They are inventive and creative. They are sustained borderly. They are upstream of concepts. They are not illustrations of concepts but are more fundamental than concepts. Concepts are derived from figures of thought. They are in congruence with the way we experience the world. Hence, the challenge is to think of India and Indians are not organized around concepts but through what Serres calls figures of thought. This effort will free us from the Platonic cave of Hindutva that seems to have taken hold of our thinking. To come to thinking through figures of thought, we will also have to give up linear thinking, thinking in terms of lines of Rene Descartes. One rationally link around which everything hangs around This form of thinking opposes and discredits everything that is not falling in line with the rational force that one brings into one’s thinking. We can see how Descartes figures in the thinking of Hindutva. Hindutva being linear opposes everything that is not falling in line with it. India under such a linear figure of thought begins to look to be on March towards a destination (Hindu Raj) which is possible only through the rejection of every shade of the other. This umbilical thinking has to be rejected as it is reductive and misses real India.

Maybe we have to think with Serres who embraces the figure of the web or the wave of Godfried Leibniz. The web is not the opposite of a line. A web is a combination of several interconnected lines. when we think of India and Indians through the figure of the web, we have to reject the linear figure of thought of Hindutva that is animating our society. It is a paradox that in the very rejection of this singular linearized India, we reach complete and real India on a scale of its diversity and plurality through the dynamism of the web. This figure of thinking India opens us to the many Indias that live in India. This method of opposing by generalization distinctive to Serres can truly lead us to open to India which has its ways of being in the world. We don’t have to force India into our names and forms but have to be with the ways that India brings to be in the world.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao