Saturday, 6 July 2013

Analysis of The Uncolonised Mind by Ashish Nandy Part 2

                  In the second section of the essay, Nandy presents the case of Aurobindu who was a counterpoint to Kipling. He was born to Indian parents and was sent to England for higher education. Like Kipling Aurobindu also felt cultural alienation as he was brought up in strict westernized cultural background. He was denied of any contact with anything that was Indian-language, culture etc...Culturally Aurobindu was a European child and he wanted to have a cultural self-affirmation through Indian spiritualism. He developed spiritualism as a language of defense. Unlike Kipling, Aurobindu wanted to own up Indianness in him to become his version of authentic Indian. When Kipling tried to identify with imperialism by disowning his Indianness, Aurobindu wanted to rejoin the indianess buried deep in him and to become an Indian. The important thing is Kipling’s new ‘self' is formed when he disown India ad accept the values of imperialism, but for Aurobindu, there is no need of disowning the west in him to become an Indian as Indian cosmology includes all, the material and spiritual. Nandy stresses on the idea that Aurobindu used 'English' as the vehicle of his self-expression throughout his life. Nandy's concept of an inclusive India is elaborated here. Though anglicized scholars consider India as a realm of spirituality, Indian philosophy includes the spiritual and material. So, the orientalist attitude towards India as an anti-thesis to materialist west is invalid. On the other hand, Indian cosmology can share diversity of the universe and Aurobindu succeeded in placing western elements in him within the fold of Indian civilization. Kipling had to give up his Indian self as colonialism constructed India as the ‘other’.

                    Disenchanted with the west and its values Aurobindu returned home; became a part of Indian freedom struggle, and played a key role in moulding the nationalist front in India. During this period he was arrested for his assumed role in creating violence against British imperialism. He took this opportunity to learn Indian languages and philosophy.  After this tenure at prison, Aurobindu came out and evolved a system of freedom and beliefs. As he was a scholar in Indian as well as Western discourses, he believed in introducing a system of beliefs which will include all-both East and west within its frame. He was aware that east is imperfect without west. Using the vision he had, Aurobindu realised that the colonial concept of a opposing India v/s west is not true; it, on the other hand, is complimentary. Later in his life, Aurobindu built an ashram in Pondichery and it was systematized by Mira Paul Richard, a French woman. His spiritualism enabled Aurobindu to see beyond the binary opposition of male v/s female, and east and west. When writers like Kipling and Naipaul considered Indian past as a glorious one and projected India as an anti-thesis to material west, Aurobindu placed India as a synthesis in which both Indian and western elements have to negotiate. Instead of projecting east in term of west, Nandy attempts a deep-rooted analysis of Indian system which will provide a comprehensive cosmology within which all discourses reposition themselves. In other words, the disenchantment found in writers like Kipling and Naipaul rises from their acceptance of ‘self-definition, provided by colonialism to its subjects. Colonial discourses have succeeded in defining itself and othering all other discourses. As a result, writers of the last two century often borrowed colonial view point of India and argued for India's reawakening in western terms. When it failed, they hated it and glorified the material past of India. We can see a similar tone in the writings of the first Indian English poet, Henry Derozio. Aurobindu has come in term with Indian elements and suggested an Indian spiritual vision which includes all other systems in the world. India, as Aurobindu finds it, is a system that doesn't form the anti-thesis of the west. It negates the inherent binaries of colonial thought and suggests a synthesis. Like the binaries, masculine and feminine is irrelevant in the concept of androgyny, or present and past is irrelevant in timelessness. British colonial constructions are irreverent in the breadth of Indian cosmology; hence it doesn't provide any warrior hero to confront the empire. Its strategy is different

                        Presenting the cases of Kipling, who internalized colonial construction of self, accepted the values of the empire and submitted himself by serving imperialism, and Aurobindu, who rejected the self definition provided by west and affirmed himself through Indian spirituality and prepared the ground for great understanding of the universe, Nandy takes up the example of Gandhi, who practiced this visionary consciousness in politics. The right response to colonialism is not to meet colonialism in its own terms, but to develop a system of beliefs that defines the position of the colonized in their terms. Kipling demanded the victim to meet the savagery of oppressor with their own savagery. He hated Indians who submitted themselves to colonialism for material benefits and found them repulsive. According to Nandy, the success of Gandhi lies in establishing a theory of imperialism without losers and winners. Since imperialism defined itself as superior, winner and the agent of civilization, Gandhi preferred to consider the hegemony of colonial powers without any losers or winners. Writer like Kipling liked to see colonialism as a moral statement on the superiority of some cultures as the inferiority of others. For this reason, they were even willing to accept that some had the right to speak of the superiority of Indian culture over the western culture. This moral superiority of imperialism was questioned by Gandhi. Many of the modernists of Indian freedom struggle found colonialism as an agent of progress and believed in its right to exist as a superior power. They considered colonialism as a menace and India’s liberation through modernizing India. Gandhi treated imperialism as an immoral agent and used Christian values to bring out the evil in it. Gandhi also pointed out that, the process of colonialism cannot help to create a civilized living as it is illegitimate. By refusing to separate facts from values, he interrogated the internal value system of colonialism that disqualified itself in making a valued state of beings. Gandhi’s non-modern readings of colonialism made all agents irrelevant and gave limited access to the technology associated with it. The cultural position of Gandhi is remarkable as he kept away from radical critique of the west and an aggressive affirmation of his Indianess.

                    Citing the transformation happens to the word ‘Hindu’, Nandy explains how a self definition to the word limited its scope. Up to 19th century the word refers to the way of living of the people of India; now it means an ideological standpoint, In other words acceptance of any self definition in internalization of an ideological view point.

                  Focusing on the non-modern reading of western discourses, Nandy emphasizes how the passive, effeminate, reluctance often becomes a success. So, counter narratives do not always mean to meet enemy on his own terms. The lazy, passive and effeminate subject may defend his cultural traits by pretending to be so. It goes on to say that Indian culture preserves itself by employing different strategies. The uniqueness of Indian culture lies in the society’s traditional ability to live with cultural ambiguities and to meet them to build psychological and even meta-physical defenses against cultural invasion. Indian culture has succeeded to live with so many alien cultures and has not lost its features. During the colonial period, Indians had renegotiated its values within the colonial discourses. Differing from other cultures, it positioned itself in a highly ambiguous cultural process. This flexibility of Indian culture enable it to renegotiate itself with any align culture as Indian cosmology is inclusive in its reach. As a result, there is hardly any space for aggressive confrontation and the culturekeep the ambiguity so that the survivals of its members are ensured.

By employing a passive, cowardly and easily negotiable role for himself, the victim keep the stage occupied and when opportunity turns up, he strikes. It is better to be dead in somebody else’s eyes, so as to be alive for one’s own self, So Indian response to colonialism was often described as opportunistic, cowardly and effeminate. This is not a submission of the subject to the hegemonic orders, but a survival strategy that escape the victim to collate his self and evolve a theory out of his suffering.

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Analysis of The Uncolonised Mind by Ashish Nandy Part 1

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