Dharmic traditions and the Society of Banality of Evil

Dharmic traditions cannot be viewed through either/ or prism. Maybe the best way to view Dharmic traditions is to look at them through the lens of logic of ‘ and -and’. It is a pluralism of parallels. It posits A B, C …. can be together. It is a unity in diversity. It is not just Chinese ‘and-both’ Ing/Eng logic , but it embraces and lets all things bloom side by side. From the Vedantic traditions to Buddhist and the Jaina traditions, we can see less and less dialectics, the life breathe of either/ or modes of thinking. This is why there is no room for one local to pose as universal and therefore, we have the challenge to embrace the pluriversal. But the present condition of our society has given up the dharmic mode of thinking and have thus given up its authority and have taken up the indexality of the colonial either/or logic of the West to look at all shades of thinking and being as Indians. This crowing of either/ or dialectics is our indic logocentric thinking that we have to overcome.

Indic logocentric thinking puts everything on the line and orders it hierarchically. Everything on the linear scale aspires to be first . The second is the other. This other belongs to the dialectical pole that is oppositional to the self. This submission to diaclecticism has let lose self/ and the other conflicts. The major conflict that affects the present condition of our society is between the Hindu and its other. The self has become atomized and has been divested of its rhizomatic living on the horizontal scale. One therefore, is put on competitive race with one’s other , where one is challenged to come up thrumps. We have, therefore, become Manichaeistic looking for the final victory of what is deemed as good. It is not the transcendent good that is viewed as mokx . It is good that is deemed to come after the end of the dialectical spiral.

It is because of this captivity to dialectical thinking, dharmic traditions seem to have lost dharma in the post-colonial society in our country. There is no space for ‘and-and’ modes of thinking perhaps best articulated by the shayad vada logic of the Jaina traditions. It is because of the forgetting of ‘and-and’ modes of thinking that have led us to construct the other, the enemy as a result of our growing submission to ‘ either/or’ modes of thinking. This prison house of ‘ either/or’ modes of thinking appears to have given rise of a society of banality of evil.

The loss of dharma in our post-colonial society has become de-dharmafied. The de-dharmafication of our society has inaugurated a society of Banality of Evil. De-dharmafied society is congruent with the neo-liberal economy. We are all set on a competitive race of emerging victors. The aspirational Indian is then made also a political competitor. Hindutva politics has taken hold over our society and transformed us into a society of hate that is always on the boil. Our Indianess is measured by our Hinduness. This is why Muslims and Christians are minoritized, demonized and deIndianized. This stripping of Indian-ness makes violence acted on the minoritized Indian justified and look banal. This is the reason a society of banality of evil is growing among us where the minoritized, deIndianized and othered Indians are given bare life and are thus rendered disposable.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao