Tuesday, February 26, 2019

ആദി ശങ്കരൻ

ഷിനോജ്, ഇതൊരു മാർക്സിസ്റ്റ് വായനയിലൂടെയുള്ള പുനർവായന തന്നെയാണ് .  ചരിത്രം  യാഥാർഥ്യത്തിന്റെ  പശ്ചാത്തല പുനർ വായനയാണെന്ന തത്വത്തിലൂടെ നോക്കുകയാണെങ്കിൽ, ഈ രാജ്യങ്ങളും സാമ്രാജ്യങ്ങളും ഭരിച്ചത് ഹിന്ദു രാജാക്കന്മാർ ആയിരുന്നു.  അവരുടെ ആശയ സംഹിതകളും, രാജ്യത്തിന്റെ നിയമ വ്യവസ്ഥകളും ഹിന്ദു നിയമാവലിക്കനുശ്രുതമായിരുന്നു. വർണത്തിലധിഷ്ഠിതമായ ജാതി വ്യവസ്ഥയിലുള്ള സമൂഹവും ആയിരുന്നു. ഇതിനെല്ലാം നിലവിലുള്ള ചരിത്രപഠനങ്ങൾ തന്നെ മതിയായ തെളിവുകൾ നൽകുന്നുണ്ട്.  ഇതിനർത്ഥം മറ്റു സമുദായങ്ങളുണ്ടായിരുന്നിള്ള എന്നല്ല എന്ന് കൂടി ഓർക്കണം. 

ആദി ശങ്കരൻ ബ്രാഹ്മണ ഐഡിയോളോജിയെ സ്ഥാപനവത്ക്കരിച്ചു എന്നത് ഓരു ചരിത്രപരമായ പരിമിത വായനയാണ്.  ആദി ശങ്കരന്റെ നടപടികളെല്ലാം തന്നെ യാഥാസ്ഥിതിക ബ്രാഹ്മണണ്യത്തെ ചോദ്യം ചെയ്യുന്നതായിരുന്നു.  അദ്ദേഹം ബുദ്ധമതത്തിലെ പലകാര്യങ്ങളും തന്റെ ആശയങ്ങളിലേക്കും ജീവിതത്തിലേക്കും പകർന്നെടുക്കുകയാണുണ്ടായിരുന്നത് . ചെറുപ്പത്തിൽ ബുദ്ധമത രീതിയിലുള്ള സന്യാസം, സംഘ രീതിയിലുള്ള തത്വ പ്രചാരണ യാത്രാരീതിയും,  മഠസ്ഥാപനവും,  യഗ്ന ആചാരാനുഷ്ഠാനങ്ങളോടുള്ള എതിർപ്പ് , ബുദ്ധമത സിദ്ധാന്തത്തിലെ  ശൂന്യതാ വാദത്തിനനുശ്രുതമായ നിർഗുണ പരബ്രഹ്മത്തിന്റെ അവതരണം എന്നിങ്ങനെ, അന്ന് നില നിന്നിരുന്ന മീമാംസ ബ്രഹ്‌മണ്യത്തെ പൂർണമായും നിരാകരിക്കുകയാണുണ്ടായിരുന്നത്.  ഹിന്ദുമതത്തിലെ ദൈവ വാദത്തെ അദ്വൈതത്തിലെ മായ വാദത്തിലൂടെ ബുദ്ധിസത്തിലെ ശൂന്യതാ വാദവുമായി (നിർഗുണ പരബ്രഹ്മൻ)  യോചിപ്പിക്കാൻ കഴിഞ്ഞു എന്നതായിരുന്നു അദ്ദേഹത്തിനെ  ഏറ്റവും  നേട്ടം. ഇത് ബുദ്ധമതത്തേക്കാൾ അനേക ദൈവ വാദത്തിലൂന്നി നിന്നിരുന്ന ബ്രാഹ്മണ മതത്തെയാണ്  കൂടുതൽ പ്രശ്നത്തിലാക്കിയിരുന്നത് എന്ന് , തുടർന്ന് അതിലുണ്ടായ അദ്വൈതത്തിലെ മായാ സിദ്ധാന്തത്തോടും ഏക ദൈവ വാദത്തിനോടും ഉണ്ടായിരുന്ന  എതിർപ്പിൽ നിന്നും തിരിച്ചറിയാവുന്നതാണ്. അദ്വൈതത്തെ  പ്രതിരോധിക്കാനായും  മായ വാദത്തെയും ഏകദൈവ വാദത്തെ മറികടക്കാനായും അതിനുശേഷം യാഥാസ്ഥിക ബ്രാഹ്മണ്യം
 വിശിഷ്ടാദ്വൈത, ദ്വൈത വേദാന്ത, ബേദ ബേദ, അചിന്ത്യബേദാബേദ, ദ്വൈതവാദ, ശുദ്ധാദ്വൈത തുടങ്ങിയ അനേകം തത്വ ചിന്താശ്രേണികൾ തുടങ്ങുകയുണ്ടായി എന്നത് ആദി ശങ്കരൻ ബ്രാഹ്മണമതത്തിനുയർത്തിയ വെല്ലു വിളിയെ സാക്ഷ്യപ്പെടുത്തുന്നു. അദ്വൈത സിദ്ധാന്തം ബുദ്ധമതത്തിൽ ഇത്തരമൊരു ചലമുണ്ടാക്കിയതിനു   തെളിവുമില്ലതാനും.

ആദിശങ്കരൻ അന്ന് നിലവിലിരുന്ന ബ്രാഹ്മണ സമൂഹത്തിൽ ജനിച്ച തത്വ ചിന്തകൻ  മാത്രമായിരുന്നു.  അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അദ്വൈതത്തിലെവിടെയും വേദിക് ദൈവങ്ങളെ കാണാനാകുന്നതല്ല. കൂടാതെ ദൈവത്തിനു ബുദ്ധിസത്തിലെ ശൂന്യതാ വാദത്തിനു സമാന്തരമായ പര ബ്രഹ്മത്തേക്കാൾ  താഴെയുള്ള ഒരു സ്ഥാനം മാത്രമാണ് നൽകുന്നതുതാനും.  ബുദ്ധമത രീതിയിൽ മഠങ്ങൾ സ്ഥാപിച്ചതും, സംഘ രീതിയിൽ അഘാടകൾ സ്ഥാപിച്ചതും ഇന്ന്  ഹിന്ദുത്വ വാദികൾ പ്രചരിപ്പിക്കുന്നതുപോലെ ബ്രാഹ്മണാമതത്തെ  സംരക്ഷിക്കാനും പ്രചരിപ്പിക്കാനുമാണെന്നു വിശ്വസിക്കാൻ യാതൊരു തെളിവുകളുമില്ല. ഈ മഠങ്ങളൊന്നും അന്നും ഇന്നും  അദ്വൈത സിദ്ധാന്തമല്ലാതെ മറ്റൊന്നും ഒരിക്കലും പ്രചരിപ്പിക്കുന്നില്ല. ആദി ശങ്കരന്റെ ഒരു കൃതിയിലും മനുസ്മ്രിതി പരാമര്ശിക്കപെടുന്നില്ല എന്നതും വളരെ പ്രാധാന്യമർഹിക്കുന്നതാണ്. ആദി ശങ്കരൻ തന്റെ ഉപദേശ സഹശ്രിയിൽ വർണ വ്യവസ്ഥയെ തള്ളി പറയുന്നുമുണ്ട് .  വർണ വ്യവസ്ഥയെ ശരിയായ ജ്ഞാനത്തിന്റെ തിരസ്കാരമായാണ് അവതരിപ്പിക്കുന്നത് .  ജഗതാനന്ദയുടെ ഉപദേശ സഹശ്രിയുടെ വിവർത്തനം താഴെ കൊടുത്തിരിക്കുന്നു .

One, who is eager to realize this right knowledge spoken of in the Sruti, should rise above the desire for a son, for wealth, for this world and the next, which are described in a five-fold manner, and are the outcome of a false reference to the Self of Varna (castes, colors, classes) and orders of life. These references are contradictory to right knowledge, and reasons are given by the Srutis regarding the prohibition of the acceptance of difference. For when the knowledge that the one non-dual Atman (Self) is beyond phenomenal existence is generated by the scriptures and reasoning, there cannot exist a knowledge side by side that is contradictory or contrary to it.
— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.44

ഇതൊക്കെയാണെങ്കിലും ആദി ശങ്കരനെ ഒരു സാമൂഹിക പരിഷ്കർത്താവായി കാണാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്നത് വലിയ തെറ്റായിരിക്കും. അദ്ദേഹം തന്റെ ചെറിയ ജീവിതത്തിലൊരിക്കലും  തന്റെ അദ്വൈത സിദ്ധാന്ത പ്രചാരണത്തിനായുള്ള വൈജ്ഞാനിക മണ്ഡലത്തിനപ്പുറത്തു സമൂഹത്തിൽ എന്തെങ്കിലും ഇടപെടലുകൾ നടത്തിയിരുന്നതായി ഒരു തെളിവുമില്ല.  ഇതിൽ ഷിനോജ് ആരോപിക്കുന്ന ബ്രഹ്മണ്യ ഐഡിയോളോജിയും (വർണ വ്യവസ്ഥ) വരും.  അതിനുള്ള പ്രത്യക്ഷ തെളിവാണ്  ആദി ശങ്കരന്റെ അദ്വൈത സിദ്ധാന്തത്തെ പൂർണമായും തിരസ്കരിക്കുന്നതും, ആചാരാനുഷ്ഠാനത്തിലധിഷ്ഠിതമായ നിലവിലുണ്ടായിരുന്ന ബ്രാഹ്മണ വ്യവസ്ഥയുടെ പുനരാഖ്യാനമായ ഭജഗോവിന്ദം എന്ന കൃതി ആദി  ശങ്കരന്റെ തലയിൽ, ബ്രാഹ്മണയാഥാസ്ഥിതികന്മാർ കെട്ടിയേല്പിക്കുന്നത്.

"For when the knowledge that the one non-dual Atman (Self) is beyond phenomenal existence is generated by the scriptures and reasoning, there cannot exist a knowledge side by side that is contradictory or contrary to it" എന്നെഴുതിയ വ്യക്തി  ഒരു സങ്കുചിത ബ്രഹ്മണ്യ ഐഡിയോളജി എന്ന്  ഷിനോജ് പറയുന്ന വർണ വ്യവസ്ഥ സ്ഥാപനവത്ക്കരിച്ചു എന്ന് യാതൊരു തെളിവുമില്ലാതെ കരുതുന്നത് ആദി ശങ്കരനെപ്പറ്റിയുള്ള വളരെ പരിമിത വായനയാണ്.

ആദി ശങ്കരൻ ഒരുആദി ശങ്കരൻ ഒരു   താത്വീകാചാര്യൻ മാത്രമായിരുന്നു. നാരായണ ഗുരുവേപോലുള്ള ഒരു മഹാനായ സാമൂഹ്യ പരിഷ്‌കർത്താവ് അതുകൊണ്ടു കൂടി തന്നെയാണ് ആദി ശങ്കരന്റെ അദ്വൈത സിദ്ധാന്തം തന്നെ വർണ വ്യവസ്ഥക്കെതിരായി ഉപയോഗിക്കാൻ തിരഞ്ഞെടുത്തതും.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ten years challenge in social media and the painting of Edvard Munch- "Scream"


Leaving alone the fact that many of these body challenges in social media are only machine learning exercises that are meant to understand the postural and gestural changes in the human body, one also needs to look at these acts from the human interest in their body images and it's deeper psychological needs.
Initially when these games started in social media where one can turn oneself into famous people, man to a woman, women into a man, changing hairstyles, growing old, growing a beard or so on and so forth, I looked at them only from a machine language perspective or with a sociological perspective. But as the days went by it started giving me many newer perspectives on the human psychological need to identify oneself with achievements to fulfil their inner desire. In normal circumstances, It can be considered as a simple act of an innocent mind but when one start dissecting the dark belly of the social construct of success in human life, these acts will tell us another story. These acts then start becoming the tragic notions of self-doubt, discovery and the surrender of a hapless individual among social reality where one start giving up and mocks at oneself to have a hearty laugh (of contempt) by the world. (An image of a desperate soul desperately shouting comes to our mind.
Those who feel anything otherwise, kindly recall the pain that everyone takes to get their perfect selfie where they are assumed to be looking great or at least the best against those funny images these social network games demands. Also, remember the period of time in social network sites when the people started using their childhood photos as their social network "DP"s( that they believe they looked "cute" or "charming"). These acts of grownups seeking the societal approval or acceptance of their "loveable" or "charming" existence, an inner desire many of them carried in their life or are desperate for complete the entire story.
But still, there were many who although carried their inner desire for a societal approval for their interesting existence but were embarrassed to associate with those childhood images or other comical images as their social presence. In their idea of growing, these are the people who believed in "gracefully greying" as dignified (?) social identity, a definition only they can explain and understand.
When I spoke to many of these people among my friends, I found out that they always have a fond memory about their childhood images that they also cherish talking about it. But associating their present existence to those childhood "cuteness" somehow interestingly makes them embarrassed!. The success of 10 years challenge in the social network is the outcome of these embarrassed lots. They were able to present their charming youth or childhood images with their present-day images. They shouted to the world, "see I am also charming"!. They reassured themselves that they are not like those who share their charming or cute childhood photos or comical photos to seek public attention. Interestingly they forget that this sense of achievement in their ego of "I am not like others" is not any way different from the sense of achievement others derive in their cute and charming images!. They also shout "look I am different and charming"!
In my enquiry as an artist led me to select a few best body images in the art world over centuries to understand this 10 years challenge. As the deep learning parameters in machine language method teach us, to remove 10 years from those iconic beauties all that I had to do was - broadening the eyes a little with a little twist, lower the forehead, shorten the nose, thin the upper lip, bulge a little lower lip, lift the mouth edges, lift the chin and shrink the cheeks from sides and they became young!. In other words, with some plastic surgeries to these artworks, they became their past self.
Suddenly few millimetres here and there on those iconic representations of human desire or body became very big in front of me. They became the idea of achievement, identity, sense of purpose, ego, celebration and embarrassment for an entire human society in front of me. In other words, the world became the extension of those millimetres that defined the idea of ageing and our inner desire for its denial (?).
Or is it so?
Where does then the idea of societal approval exist in this body game of millimetres of lift or sagging in its image?
(Here I also leave the ontological enquiries about the question of meaning associations with the past self and future self differently with the present)
The answer perhaps lies in the famous painting popularly known as "Scream" by Munch. The painting depicts a shouting soul in its skeletal remains and the figure is without any facial features than a shouting expression. The hapless person has almost crossed the river on a bridge and is standing at its edge near the banks. One can see the faint images of two people who are yet to cross the river and walking (?) a little behind the shouting soul. One is not sure whether those people are crossing the river, accompanying the person, competing with the person or are actually shadowing the person. They can be some rich men in grey suits or covet intelligence officials or some strangers on a walk as well. The river beneath and the sky above are violently chaotic. We are not sure of anything in this image than about the person with a featureless face. He/she is shouting with his/her ears closed with both hands in pain and agony for sure. Most importantly the person is not shouting at the chaotic nature behind, the people behind or the situation behind. He or she is shouting at us- the world, where the world itself becomes the backdrop.
Like I said in the beginning, for me these games of bodily negotiations on social networks does not become part of any machine language studies, they become the manifestations of deep human anguish and insecurities associated with human existence. Social networks and its studies are only a few market responses to it.
To me, the entire saga of social network suddenly became the most complex abstract expressionist painting of Munch- the scream, where the world behind us becomes the world we shout at and our body is only an expression of our deep agony where the aesthetics of body defining features are immaterial.


Girl with a pearl earring 10 years challenge 1655- 1665 (Vermeer)


The girl at Folies-Bergère Bar 10 years challenge-1872 & 1882, (Manet)


Monalisa 10 year challenge year 1507 & year 1517


 the girl under moonlight, 10 years challenge 1890& 1900 (Raja ravi varma)


American Gothic 10 years challenge - 1920 & 1930


Rembrandt 10 years challenge (1649 &1659)


final 10 years challenge: scream 10 years challenge 1883-1893

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The misconceived notions of spirituality among our academic and political intelligentsia


One of the biggest blunders of the 20th and 21st-century academic and political intelligentsia is their misconception on spirituality. They gave away spirituality to the monopoly of religion and its ritualistic practices. They believed or rather forced to believe that spirituality is an act of irrational human behaviour owing to the training in the critical interrogation of socio-political agendas. They overlooked the large body of knowledge and engagements that human civilisations have produced in their spiritual quest in our world where the human activity in which associating oneself with eternal social values defined as the objective of living. In this spiritual order, one can only become one among the rest than one above the rest.
Kindly recall that all our political, social and economic theories and practices are only our enquiries on the role of the individual in social collective or humanity. What else is a spiritual quest than this act of understanding values that define an individual among collective?
Considering the entire left philosophy is built around the notions of restraint on individual advancement above collective progress, one start wondering where did the entire left intelligentsia miss the point of this subtle truth of spirituality in their institutional criticism.
Perhaps it is time that we revisit our notions of knowledge engagements in our post-truth society of statistical reality, (where every human activities and engagement are understood as the statistical average of the total - both in science and humanity) to understand that most of our conflicts today arise from this dichotomy of ignorance on spirituality. ( where one engages with larger values of collective above individual desire, greed and limitation. )
Let us accept, there is a political spirituality, social spirituality, business spirituality, scientific spirituality, democratic spirituality, artistic spirituality and among many other, there is also a Marxist spirituality.
If we continue to leave this most important human value adherence to the monopoly of religion, we are committing one of the biggest blunders in our evolution.

Friday, November 16, 2018

In the era of trans-disciplinary and Interdisciplinary art and design practice :A prelude to art and design confusion



In our new age trans-disciplinary and interdisciplinary art and design practices, it wouldn’t be of much difficulty to find those who are confused with the issue of how to  differentiate art from design and design from art. Interestingly this issue is not about the practical difficulty exist in conceptual understanding in design, rather one can put this as an issue of theoretical clarity in postmodern academic thinking. Many times in my career I have heard parents of prospective students ask me this question about difference between art and design, so that they can decide the future career of their children. Every time without a direct answer, I skirt my answer in an ambiguous explanation on creative practice.
Design :
Instead of trying to define what is design, let me try to find out design through its location in our contemporary art and design world. Perhaps this will help us to frame a context on which we can derive a better perspective.
In simple terms, design as profession try to set an existing system, idea, object or a policy to make it resilient by offering solutions, corrections, modifications or finding substitutes. In other words it tries to make things functional or its operation sustainable within a given situation, condition or context.
Art:
Where as the post 20th century art on the contrary has becomes an act of adventure, where a system, idea, object or a practice can be subverted, denied or stretched beyond the definitions of any laid down parameters and the act of creation can be independent of context, situation or condition. As Marcel du champ puts it in absolute clarity about twentieth century art “ I have no problem and I have no solution”, art unlike design need not be a practice of resilience to address an existing system, object or a policy framework. Art as a process, approach and method can find its own procedures that are independent of a preexisting narrative. In other words when design tries to make a system resilient, art on the contrary liberates itself from need for dependancy by being adventurous. Today this difference between resilience and adventure is far too complicated that no one can confuse them as one , similar or one that are complimentary in nature. Resilience and adventure or conformity and rebellion are poles apart in their existence. So do the Design and art.
Craft:
The confusion of art and design as one as the same or one for the same has often emerged from our confusion about craft. Craft is practice or subject that is systemic, procedural and cultural or traditional in nature. In that sense craft like design is a resilient practice that uses skill sets to achieve traditional or cultural conformity. But on the other side, craft practice is also an aesthetic outcome where artistic skill sets are applied and where materiality is often experimented with adventure. In that sense, definitions of art are also applicable on craft. Elaborately speaking craft as a form derive its merit from both ‘resilience’ nature of design and ‘adventurous’ nature of art. This complicated formulation of craft creates lots of confusion in the minds of art and design students and practitioners. One important factor that we shouldn’t overlook about craft is, may be it is practice of resilience on one end of its spectrum and adventurous on the other end but it also has a predominant traditional and ritualistic phase to it. In that sense craft has a completely different ecological identity from design and art. Unfortunately in our contemporary art design vocabulary, craft is many times used as a metaphor for creativity or skill set in human endeavours owing to its historical moorings in western guilds and art and craft movement. To understand it better one only has look at the twentieth century art’s craving to escape the knuckles of craft and the eagerness of Design for industrial finish in craft .
In totality if one has to define the art, design and craft on a creative practice bandwidth, it would most probably be as under
Design as the resilience of human beings to sustain their functional fundamentals within their socio/cultural-political and economic constraints, art as the eternal need for adventure , liberation and rebellion from those resilient functional constraints and craft as the bridge between these extreme positions, a middle path of synthesising human adventure with its roots. One should never confuse any of them as the same or try to supplement one with the other. In history, Art and Design always remained contrary to each other in their approach, method and process and they will remain it that way. If anyone one wants to marry them both in their practice, they will have to remain in craft. Kindly remember craft is neither a complete design practice or a complete art practice.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Charaka festival

Charaka festival in Bengal, thookkam festival in Tamil nadu and Kerala, Sidi in Karnatak are all same. The ritualistic performance where people are suspended from a height on a moving tree trunk by piercing their body and its myth associated with Kali, Devi, Murugan and also its association with child birth is an interesting connection. How did this tantrik practice that became a ritual associated with hinduism spread from Bengal, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala (excluding Orrissa and Andhra Belt) is an interesting story.

Ganga

On the way back from Belur mutt, the monumental reminder of Indian Hindu renaissance under Swami Vivekananda who along with Rajaram mohan rai's Brahmo samaj and Theosophical society has turned the table of Hinduism from Kolkata, we took a small boat to cross Ganga to Dakshineshwar temple famous for the stories of Sri Rama Krishna Paramahamsa. Ganga was near still and the boat was slow. Finally when it took the turn from left side to right side suddenly the boatman stopped the boat. We all were wondering what had happend. On enquiry, he said 'johro" and I could not understand what does that mean until I saw the tide violently hitting the Dakshineshwar side of the river. millions of tons of water started gushing in and hitting the banks. Unless and until one witness the sight, one wouldn't believe the violence Ganga unleashes on banks. The old ladies in our boat were praying to "Maa Ganga".Within few minutes Ganga became a chaotic place shaking our boat left and right. After ten minutes of chaos, when the river became manageable the boatman safely took us to Dakshineshwar. This is an experience one will seldom forget in one's life time. Between these two temples, its two men: Vivekananda & Sri ramakrishna paramahamsa and the Ganga, one point of time Kolkata got a new Identity, the symbols one will find everywhere you go in the city - in cars, houses, hotels, public spaces, restaurants, under the bridges and in food carts.

tsomgo lake

Every river and every lake in this country has a legend to talk about and often it will be mired in myth. Tsomgo Lake in east Sikkim is no different. One night the old lady from village where the lake situated today had premonition. She had a dream. In that dream a beautiful lady came to tell her that her village will get submerged in water. No one believed her and she went away alone sad with her yak. The next day the village got submerged in water and everyone in the village lost their life. There after this lake of dead people became a place of worship for local people.
The lake changes its colour from morning to evening and season to season with the change of sun light. Earlier it seems Buddhists used to predict future looking at the colour of the lake. At thirteen and half feet above sea level this lake and the surrounding mountains becomes a memorable story. Within an hour or so we spent time there in chilling cold and ice, we saw it changing colour from black to green and dark blue.