Thinking Indian (II)

All social contract theories are intertwined with what we call the state of nature. Despite introducing evolution into his notion of the state of nature, Jean Jacque Russeau still singularizes homogenizes and renders good the state of nature. We seem to be all children of Russeau and submit to his notion of the state of nature in several ways. It becomes a lens to see our dislocated and disruptive present condition as a degeneration from some glorified past. The glorified past is a state of nature where we were born free but now unfortunately we find ourselves in chains. This form of thinking reminds us of the Hegelian wound which makes us think that time before the wound is perfect while the present condition as the time after the wound is degeneration. We can see how this form of thinking is afflicting us as Indians at several levels. Colonization, Mughal rule, and conversions are viewed as terrible wounds. Therefore, time before them is thought to time of glory. We are afflicted by this form of temporality.

The singularized state of nature homogenizes it. There is no complexity of multiple states of nature. This allows us to render smooth the hard edges of different communities that populated and inhabited what is thought of as the state of nature. We can see this way of thinking every day on our television debates where the Indian state of nature is thought to be a happy ancient period which has to recovered in order to heal the present disordered condition. This recovery may involve the demolition of the Mosque and even be stretched far to embrace ethnic cleansing sanitized as a recovery of a glorious past. This is why we have to critically understand how a state of nature is selectively curated by whitewashing or levelling down other diverse communities. This means there is a clearing away of diversities and differences in order to create a homogenous state of nature. Perhaps, the semantic evolution of the term Hindu manifests to us how an ancient diverse past is smoothened and is named Hindu and we uncritically think with these assumed natural states as singularized Hindu community.

Michel Serres calls this universal self-established foundation of everything that exists in our present condition as the pathology of Modernity. This assumption that there is a universal solvent that dissolves everything is certainly afflicting our thinking as Indians. We can see how a flattening of difference occurs with the term Hinduism being accepted to describe a faith that we knew as Sanatana Dharma. We have to understand how modernity creates a blank abstract regularity/ state of nature and sets it up or binarise it against hierarchy. We see this in the Hindu /Muslim binary that marks all other binaries like the mandir/masjid or majority/ minority. This binaries are born out of modernity and we have the challenge to interrogate them. To disentangle these binaries we have to interrogate the manner in which modernity creates states of nature.

Maybe we have to follow Serres to question our mode of thinking. Serres interrogates modernity by adding noise to the homogenized state of nature. In the context of India, we have the challenge of finding what the term Hindu does. We may have to show how we tend to forget the Buddhist past as well as the casteism of the past. This is unflattening of the ground ( state of nature). Serres adds a parasitic element to his notion of the state of nature. Noise for Serre is the excluded included middle. We cannot burn down our house like Descartes who burns the house of knowledge just to expel the rats. Noise, there is a condition of innovation, invention and branching. We cannot majoritize nor minoritize Indians. If we do so, we kill the soul of India. India cannot be a flat Cartesian space. It never was. We cannot wish away its diversity.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao