Saturday, 30 July 2016

Spivak's Mahashweta & bengollywogshite

Bhadralok Bengal- the Hindu bildungsburgertum of Bengal- has a long and proud tradition of mass political stupidity and worthless verbiage going hand in hand with  pitiless self-promotion and parodic scholarship.

In earlier Centuries, this immigrant class had prospered purely through comprador cunning and opportunistic venality. However, during the course of the Nineteenth Century, they found themselves attacked for their mendacity and lack of manliness by the very people they most despised- viz. the leaders of their own community- who hoped to earn a pat on the back from their Masters in this way.

The result was that the ambitious young Bengali felt compelled not just to lie and cheat and run away when threatened, he- or, increasingly, she- felt obliged to lie and cheat and then run away from his or her own class after fucking them over in an irreparable manner.

Thus, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Young Bengal rallied against the partition of their Golden Motherland, thus ensuring that the Muslim majority would ethnically cleanse them from a large portion of it once they got the chance with the result that Bengal, and Calcutta, would decline continually thereafter.

The post Independence generation, many now penniless refugees, faced a truly grim existential dilemma. How could they exceed the deeds of those forebears who had so thoroughly undone their own life-chances? What mischief of their own devising could exceed that of Partition?

Niradh Chaudhri hit upon one method. He wrote a long book explaining why Bengalis were utterly shite and ended by appealing to America and Europe or any other coalition of proper White people to come back and save the Hindu from himself. Later he ran away to England.

Ranajit Guha, founder of the Subaltern School of shite historiography, actually preceded him by a few years in bolting for Britain. Guha's way of fucking up his own people was by pretending that tribal immigrants into India from the North East were actually autochthones who alone could make a genuine revolutionary history which however was better, or at least more safely, studied from abroad.

Charu Mazumdar and Kanu Sanyal- low I.Q Trade Unionists in the Tea Gardens- gave color to this fantasy by completely failing to extort money from the wealthy Marwari Estate owners- who would simply have shelled out a couple of bucks to get them bumped off- thus proving their Bengali lack of manliness- choosing instead to get some Santal immigrants to kill one or two Rajbhanshi autochthones under the pretense that this was a peasant uprising in Naxalbari. Other Bengalis, keen to jump on a bandwagon so destructive of their own class and country, naturally piled mendacity on mendacity, and- more particularly because of their lovable habit of running away- created a full fledged moral panic about some supposed revolutionary insurrection among the agricultural classes.
Naturally, this meant that the police had to to keep arresting and killing people because the funds for that sort of thing had already been allotted and it would be a shame to have to hand that money back.
This is not to say that nobody was getting killed in the rural areas. Of course they were. There have always been frictions between autochthones and immigrants and, thanks to Partition, there would always be more and more immigrants. Still, this sort of ethnic strife can be handled by democratic subsidiarity. What can't is an imaginary 'structural' conflict affecting the entire agricultural sector.

Still, as a matter of practical politics, it was clear to the administration that Naxalbari was quite peaceful. The Santhals turned against the immigrant Bengali agitators and made a separate peace with the Rajbhansis- in the process turning their backs on Jangal Santhal who lost the elections and died a forgotten and penniless alcoholic.
 Some of the agitators were killed by the Police- though this would have happened anyway because of the factionalist nature of Leftist politics in a segmentary society- others were rehabilitated so as to split the anti-incumbency vote in particular Assembly seats- most took to petty crime or the NGO racket or else turned respectable wife-beaters or blackmailing journalists and so on.

It appeared that the post-independence generation hadn't succeeded in fucking over Bengal as thoroughly as their predecessors. At least in Calcutta, by the mid Seventies, this was the writing on the wall for Mahasweta Devi. Unlike Gayatri Spivak, whose English was good, Devi couldn't borrow money to study in America and become a Professor by playing the Red Indian card. Her lack of talent prevented her from commodifying herself for a Global market. She was stuck teaching English in India to people who had no great interest in it anyway. By contrast, Spivak was able to fuck up Eng Lit for everybody- which was no big loss to anyone except the Bengali bildungsburgertum whose collective rationality has pretty closely tracked that of Literary English's own Enlightenment project, which is why Bengali literature is now worse shite than even Hindi or Tamil shite.

Spivak, of course, was Mahasweta's biggest promoter on the Global Comp Lit Ponzi scheme. In her meaningless introduction to Devi's 'Draupati', Spivak says- 'In the spring of 1967, there was a successful peasant rebellion in the Naxalbari area of the northern part of West Bengal.'
It was so successful that no land changed hands at all. Fifty percent remained utterly uncontested in the vice like grip of the Tea Estates and the Government. Some Santals and Bengali refugees- migrants to the area- may have gained or lost a little land from Scheduled Caste autochthones but there was no 'class character' to the conflict. What did obtain, was the killing of a police officer which was massively avenged.

Spivak was Bengali, but in 1981, not yet a native informant. She wrote- 'According to Marcus Franda, "unlike most other areas of West Bengal, where peasant movements are led almost solely by middle-class leadership from Calcutta, Naxalbari has spawned an indigenous agrarian reform leadership led by the lower classes" including tribal cultivators.'
This was nonsense but Spivak had been holed up in America and there was no internet so she can't be blamed for naively believing Franda whose book was topical and had a nice dust-jacket but was little better than jobbing hack-work.
However, Spivak must have known she was indulging in pure fantasy when she depicted elderly Indian police officers of the period as being readers of Sartre and Marcuse. She had left India in the early Sixties. She came from a middle class family. She knew that this quotation from Franda was hilarious - "in much the same manner as many American college presidents have described the protest of American students, Indian political and social leaders have explained the Naxalites (supporters of Naxalbari) by referring to their sense of alienation and to the influence of writers like Marcuse and Sartre which has seemingly dominated the minds of young people throughout the world in the 1960s."
Spivak knew that Bengalis don't actually read Sartre or Marcuse anymore than she herself really reads anything at all and, moreover, they don't actually have minds- just an instinct for mendacious self-promotion.
Nevertheless she writes- 'It is against such recuperations that I would submit what I have called the theme of class deconstruction with reference to the young gentlemen revolutionaries in "Draupadi." Senanayak remains fixed within his class origins, which are similar to those of the gentlemen revolutionaries. Correspondingly, he is contained and judged fully within Mahasveta's story; by contrast, the gentlemen revolutionaries remain latent, underground. Even their leader's voice is only heard formulaically within Draupadi's solitude. I should like to think that it is because they are so persistently engaged in undoing class containment and the opposition between reading (book learning) and doing- rather than keeping the two aesthetically forever separate- that they inhabit a world whose authority and outline no text-including Mahasveta's- can encompass.'

Wow! You can take the gushing Convent School girl out of Calcutta but you can't shake her belief in dreamy 'gentlemen revolutionaries' who 'undo class containment' as easily as a brassiere.

Spivak's Mahashweta is actually a Barbara Cartland celebrating a new type of Bhadralok hero- one who has reconciled Bhratrhari and Bolshevism in an erotic but unheard paraavaak.

Interestingly, this hero is also capable of reversing the big Bhadralok blunder with respect to Partition.
Spivak writes- 'In 1971, at a crucial moment in the (Bangladeshi) struggle, the armed forces of the government of India were deployed, seemingly because there were alliances between the Naxalites of West Bengal and the freedom fighters of East Bengal (now Bangladesh).
Spivak writes 'seemingly' because so it seemed to some stupid Leftist who wrote-
"If a guerrilla style insurgency had persisted, these forces would undoubtedly have come to dominate the politics of the movement. It was this trend that the Indian authorities were determined to preempt by intervention."
Did Spivak really believe this nonsense? Suppose it was 'undoubted' that the Mukhti Bahini would turn Maoist, the Indian and Pakistani military would have collaborated to crush it. After all, they worked together to crush the Maoist nutters in Sri Lanka.
The fact is, our diplomats did feed stories of that sort to placate our Arab friends and the Washington hawks. Come to think of it the louche Shasti Brata actually got paid a few bucks to write a book making that sort of claim.
Perhaps, Spivak in advancing this absurd argument, was showing her true colors as a closet Hindutvadi.

'Taking advantage of the general atmosphere of jubilation at the defeat of West Pakistan, India's "principal national rival in South Asia" (this was also the first time India had "won a war" in its millennial history), the Indian prime minister was able to crack down with exceptional severity on the Naxalites, destroying the rebellious sections of the rural population, most significantly the tribals, as well.'
Ah! There you see the Hindutvadi cloven hoof! India had won plenty of wars in the previous thousand years- but under Muslim Kings.
Muslims aren't real Indians though- are they?
Furthermore, real Indians are Aryan invaders- not Turks- thus once they beat some Muslims they get the courage to crack down on the autochthones who aren't 'real' Indians because they aren't Aryan.
No doubt, the occulted 'gentleman revolutionaries' who have achieved paraavaak, could unleash an upashruti such that 'the rebellious section of the rural population'- i.e. the Shudras and Tribals- aren't mercilessly suppressed.
But they have chosen not to which is just as well because otherwise Spivak couldn't gush on about Mahashweta as the Barbara Cartland of those great Bengali heroes.

' The year 1971 is thus a point of reference in Senanayak's career. This is the setting of "Draupadi." The story is a moment caught between two deconstructive formulas: on the one hand, a law that is fabricated with a view to its own transgression, on the other, the undoing of the binary opposition between the intellectual and the rural struggles. In order to grasp the minutiae of their relationship and involvement, one must enter a historical micrology that no foreword can provide.'

So let's not enter that micrology shall we? It sounds a bit like an urethra rather than a vagina in any case.
What should we do instead?
I know!
Let's look at a contemporary academic eulogizing Spivak's Mahashweta. If what follows is good 'Lit Crit' then Spivak has failed in her Bengali Bhadralok World Historical Mission to fuck up its own foundational Bildung irreparably. If, on the other hand, what follows is decently written then Spivak is a fraud and probably actually Nepali or Gujerati or something.

'I believe in anger, in justified violence, and so peel the mask off the face of India which is projected by the government, to expose its naked brutality.. (Devi, x)'

 The much acclaimed works of Bengali writer cum activist, Mahasweta Devi, are the sites of dissent, resistance and protest by the gendered subalterns against the hegemonic dominations of patriarchy and the establishment. Her writings at once both debunk and contravene the gender and cultural norms of the society. Fuelling political activism at the grass-root level, she foregrounds the exploitative social system by highlighting the injustices done to the tribals like Santhals, Lodhas, Mundas and Shabars, who are called upon to work for the country and the state but who are in turn never taken care off. Her women characters like Draupadi, Shanichari, Jashoda and Dhouli are rebels who refuse to be dis-possessed, dis-empowered and displaced despite of their endless sufferings at the hands of the social and political masters. Devi, the crusader of the rights of Dalit, evocatively presents ‘politics of domination, caste oppression, material violence, inhuman torture, repressive disclosure, overarching hegemony, historical marginalization and engineered exclusion; and liberates conventional epistemological blind’.(Nair 480) The present paper attempts to analyze Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi as a meta-narrative that subverts hegemonic patriarchal discourses by presenting counter-narrative that challenges official stand of silence and exclusion of tribals and more so the gendered subaltern. 

 Draupadi, published in Mahasweta Devi’s collection of short stories titled Agnigarbh (1978) and translated by Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak in her collection titled Breast Stories (2010), is an extraordinary and rare document of violence on and resistance by a poor, illiterate tribal woman who, in her ultimate denial to clothe herself, not only exposes the ugly and horrifying face of political repressive forces including government, bureaucrats, feudal masters and the state sponsored delinquents, but also challenges the might of callous post-colonial state embodied in the figure of Senanayak. The play documents the economic, political, social and sexual oppression of the dalit women in tribal areas who suffer from triple marginalization in terms of caste, class and gender. It is about the 1967 peasant rebellion in the naxalbari area of West Bengal by the landless peasants and the itinerant farm workers against the unofficial state-feudal nexus. The rage of the suffering tribals is provoked by SurjaSahu, the feudal kingpin, who refuses to share with the tribals – the proverbial others – the ‘unlimited’ water of the two tube wells which have been dug up in connivance with and approval of the state forces. Anguished tribals, disillusioned with twenty years’ fake independence and frustrated with feudal-state nexus, join the naxalite group being headed by Arijit and perpetrate revenge killing on SurjaSahu and his sons. In order to crack down the rebellion and respond to the naxalite revenge killing the government forces launch ‘Operation Jharkhani’, initially under the charge of Arjan Singh and later under Senanayak. The mission is meant to destroy the rebellious sections, majorly tribals. During one of the operations, three villages are cordoned off and the innocent villagers are gunned down. During the infamous crack-down, Dopdi and her husband, Dulna, lie flat on the ground, faking dead. They later flee the village to lead the life of fugitives. The couple maneuvers to escape the brutal forces by using the guerilla warfare – considered as the most detestable and abhorring style of fighting with primitive weapons such as hatchets and scythes, bows and arrows. Dedicating themselves absolutely to the cause of the naxalite movement the couple works in different guises at different villages in the Jharkhani belt foregoing their dreams of a family and stable life for the larger goal of the movement which is to achieve social utopia and economic freedom. Proudly announcing themselves as soldiers, the couple –Dulna and Dopdi Majhen – effectively describes all details about their targets and also informs their comrades about the movement of the army. The victimization of such a couple thus highlights the predicament of the tribals who are entangled between the pulls of ‘..subsistence living and the appropriatory logic of feudalistic modernist patriarchal state and its allied system’.(Dwivedi 243) Operation Jharkhani gains momentum under ...
Nuff said.
You get the gist.
Spivak's Mahashweta does too rank with Niradh & Guha & Sen & every other bengollywogshite.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mahashweta Devi & the Marichjhapi massacre

Mahashweta Devi's, whose death India is celebrating today, was an outspoken critic of Bengali Hindus raping and killing Santal women. However, she kept silent- one of the few poets and writers to do so- about the Marichjhapi massacre in which Bengalis Hindu refugees, previously exiled to an arid wilderness outside the State, were starved, beaten, raped, murdered and forcibly deported from the State by the very Leftist Govt. which had previously invited them to return to their motherland.

Why did she do so? Her story- 'Draupadi'- exults in the spectacle of non-Bengali speaking Santals being raped and butchered by slightly less dark skinned Bengali Hindus in 1971- a year when a very much larger number of Bengali speakers were being raped and butchered and ethnically cleansed.

Why did she not write a story gloating over the rape and butchery of lower caste Namasudra agriculturalists who had peacefully settled in Marichjhapi? After all, it was higher caste 'educated' Leftists, like her own kin, who gave the orders- though, no doubt, local Tribals and Muslims might have been paid to do the actual raping and killing.
Indeed, quite apart from its commendably Secular nature, the Marichjhapi atrocity was also much more technically sophisticated- it being an amphibious operation- than the supposed anti-Naxal sweep Devi was then busily commemorating.

The answer, I suppose, is that Mahasweta Devi had better things to do with her time than to ponder the feelings of the 250, mainly Hindu Bengali, police-women who participated in the illegal operation.
 I believe she taught English in a College for girls who might hope to join the Police Force. Perhaps, they were literate enough in Bengali to read her books- but then those books hardly brought in any money.
The writers and artists who took up the Marichjhapi issue, on the other hand, were successful and influential and, in one or two cases, not utterly shite. Yet they failed miserably in bringing anyone to book or ameliorating the lot of the victims who, in any case, had probably been duped by some other bunch of upper caste Bengali Leftist fantasists. In any case, someone or other did turn a profit on illegally felled trees and some land did get redistributed on the basis of factionalist politics. Still, as Mahasweta would later point out, the affair didn't really matter much- unlike Nandigram & Singur- because elite musical chairs was not then facing a climacteric.

I suppose we all know deep in our bones that because Literary 'Activism' is not Alethic but strategic, simply, it is useless for any purpose other than gratifying the particularly obscene schandenfreude of the impotent. It will be what Mahashweta is remembered for- which is why she is now falsely credited with protesting Marichjhapi- but I think a truer tribute to her genius would begin by acknowledging that none of the English translations of her books were written by people she had herself taught English. Whatever else she may be guilty of, there is no evidence that she actively harmed her students though, no doubt, once they got into the Police force, they did their share of harming student activists and the innocents they imperil.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Theology's Tiebout Sorting

What does it mean to say "Love thy neighbour as thyself?'
Not some Prosopoi's cosmetic of Kairotic Pelf
Nor kshana sampatti
Or Credentialist epiphany
But the fact that neighbours are
 what each other bar
That incest without de-fects
Affects without e-ffects
 bosonic bonds in which to invest your own excess of affection
for the next-door cat or kid or chatty Kathy or druggie Doug 
Upon whom Judgment is suspended
Till up-ended
By the Darwinian demon of infection
Of every up-your-arse bug
Such that, as through a glass darkly, you come plainly to see
Your neighbour is you but neighbourhood madly me.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Deepak Lal and the Hindu Crusoe

Why is Prof. Deepak Lal neglected by the Hindu Right?
I suppose the answer is that he subscribes to a pretty extreme version of the Aryan Invasion Theory according to which white Brahmins and Kshatriyas enslaved dark skinned 'Dasyus' who, naturally, had no incentive to increase productivity till they were brainwashed into becoming servile 'Shudras'.

South India, apparently, was spared White Kshatriyas but not White Brahmins who helped local darkies enslave their brethren thus proving that White people- even if they don't have any military power- just naturally end up top of the heap coz darkies like being slaves provided slavery is called being a 'Shudra'.

The great Professor Ernst Gellner discovered a way to keep those naughty Brahmins in their place. I'll let Prof. Lal tell you the story-



Lal is a Hindu. He was a member of the I.F.S and so received some basic instruction on Indian Cultures and Religions. He is not illiterate and has access to Libraries which have all the main ritual texts of the Hindus in translation.
Even if this were not the case, common sense should have told him that no ritualistic religion can survive unless a ritualistic means of purging pollution exists. For Brahmins, this consists of taking a bath- no great hardship in a hot country- and chanting a couple of mantras.

All the great Brahmin Rishis spent a portion of their time as 'Robinson Chatterjees'- i.e. they remained alone in forest wilderness performing all the prescribed rituals. Radhakrishnan, as Spalding Professor at Oxford, has no difficulty discharging all his ritual duties. He was not dependent on a dhobi or nai or ojha or any one else.
As a Hindu, there is literally not a single ceremony- including my own obsequies!- which I can't perform by myself. There is no sacrament for which I have to depend on some one else. Why? The answer is because the excuse of 'Apadh Dharma'- i.e. exigent circumstances- is sound Law.
Now, it may be that I am required to undertake some further purification or expiation to perform a particular office but that is a matter for a purely local 'Smarta Vicharam' which has no binding or universal force.
Why is Prof. Lal quoting the risible Gellner if not to make fun of his esteemed colleague? The answer is Lal has some stupid theory of his own-





So there you have it. The 'Great Divergence' between those parts of Western Europe whose ships girdled the globe and stay-at-home Indians whose maritime horizons had receded opened up because Indian Brahmins weren't as crazy and power hungry as European priests.

There is no Sacrament essential to salvation which any Hindu can't procure for himself. By contrast, the Catholic has to get baptism and confirmation and regularly confess his sins and receive 'the blood and flesh' of Jesus Christ in his mouth from a priest or else face eternal damnation.

Oddly, the 'Great Divergence' didn't end when Goa became Catholic. As its trade dried up, it became a backwater. No doubt, some evil Brahmins were responsible.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Ajay Skaria's Ambedkar- aprois moi le Deleuze Part 2

In Greek, the word 'kairos' means the opportune moment. In Buddhism, 'upaya kausalya' means that 'skill in means' which strikes when the iron is hot- i.e. seizes the right 'kairos'- and thus helps others achieve Enlightenment.

The Bodhisattva is one who can achieve Enlightenment, like the Pratyeka Buddha, but who may postpone this so as to bring other sentient beings in the vicinity to an equal state of 'Nirvana'. Clearly, some times are more propitious than others for this to happen. (Buddhist 'kshana sampatti' or 'Kairos' is distinct from Kala or 'Chronos' though nothing exists for more than a second- Time is momentary simply- because it is itself the lightning flash of pure, unmediated, intentionality.)

The same is true of Marxist eschatology such that its final Revolution's Paraclete can't be discerned by any epistemic protocol or ergodic process but depends on some occult 'Kairotic' interessement which however, the delusional, or Deleuzian, pedagogue can ascribe to anybody he likes such that they 'seize' and are 'seized by' by its underlying problematic, though nothing observable changes,- indeed, nothing happens at all- still writing worthless shite is a proof that the pedagogue has achieved a Pratyeka Buddha like status precisely because nobody is Liberated by his schizophrenic word-salad.

Consider this essay by Prof. Ajay Skaria which, he tells us, seeks 'to frame one question'- viz. 'Why does Ambedkar convert to Navayana Buddhism?'
Indians know that Ambedkar, perhaps the most universally respected of the 'Founding Fathers',  is now considered a Boddhisattva. Clearly there was some 'upaya kausalya' in his dramatic conversion. He had 'seized' the kairotic moment with a vengeance. Had it not been for his stipulation that no follower of his Navayana School could grant cognizance to 'Hindu' deities traditionally incorporated into Buddhist worship- e.g. Ganapati as worshiped in Japan and Thailand- Mayawati (at one time a possible Prime Minister) and her henchmen would have converted to Buddhism long ago. In other words, the most populous state in the Union could have had a Buddhist at its head thus greatly facilitating the spread of Ambedkar's neo-Buddhism.
Something like this might yet happen. Ambedkar might well go down in History as the rival of Emperor Ashoka in terms of spreading Buddhism to hundreds of millions of Indian people.

In this context, Skaria is asking an interesting question. Why was Ambedkar's timing of his conversion so efficacious?
Off the top of my head, I might answer
1) Ambedkar chose to follow the footsteps of Iyothee Thass, himself a protege of Col. Olcott. Thus, Ambedkar was linking his native Maharashtra to the South in a manner which put the noses of the high caste Bengali Buddhist's out of joint- a good thing given the ignominious fate of his comrade Jogendra Nath Mandal. He was also putting clear blue water between himself and High Caste, Leftist Buddhists like Acharya Kausambi (a fellow Maharashtrian) and Rahul Sankrityayan- both of whom had stayed in the USSR.
Moreover, the Arya Samaji anti-casteists- whom he knew well- had inherited a feud between the founder of their sect and Olcott and Blavatsky in which Shyamji Krishna Varma had won his spurs denouncing the frauds of the Theosophists.
Interestingly, Acharya Medharthi of Kanpur, initiated into Buddhism by foreign converts, returned to the Hindu fold via the Arya Samaj a short while after Ambedkar's death.
Ambedkar was acting with a fine political instinct in breaking with 'Aryanist' Buddhism and giving his own community a vanguard rather than subaltern role in Buddhism's revival in its birthplace.
Ambedkar saw that Maharashtra and the South could throw off Brahmin domination- or, indeed, influence- much more rapidly than the Hindi heartland- and, it is instructive to recall, it was in the Fifties that the Brahmins sowed the seeds of their own downfall in the South. Ambedkar was ahead of the curve- no question- but that's precisely why the full 'kairotic' potential of his conversion- dismissed at that time as the act of an embittered, un-electable, politician in failing health- could unfold so dramatically.
2) It was in the Fifties that the notion took hold that the Buddhist bhikku, owning no property and 'Atheistic' in theology, had a natural affinity with 'Scientific Socialism'. In subsequent years, the US took fright at the specter of a Radicalized Sangha toppling over a string of Buddhist majority 'dominoes' stretching from Sri Lanka, Burma, (but not Thailand thanks to King Mongkut's timely reforms), to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
It may be mentioned that Stalin's philosophy of language as well as his personal experience of the utter internecine bloody mindedness and intellectual shiteness of Indian Communists militated for Soviet support for a vernacular Buddhist Dalit party as opposed to worthless ideological shitheads of the sort who destroyed Burma.
I do not say that Ambedkar was making a political calculation from which he could personally benefit. Far from it. But, without question, there was a certain 'kairotic' logic or 'upaya kausalya' in his choice of date for his Conversion.
3) Ambedkar's picking Buddhism was 'over-determined'. Sikhism was out of the question because of its own problem with 'Mazhabi' Untouchables, not to mention the sheer craziness of its internal politics. Jainism was never on the table and was too arduous in any case. Islam or Christianity meant loss of reserved seats in Parliament and affirmative action in the Civil Service.
In any case, all Indian intellectuals at that time were attracted to Buddhism- including Nehru himself.
Incidentally, Tan Yun Shan- later an unrivaled servant of Buddhism in India- had successfully served as a go-between for both Chiang Kai Shek and Chou En Lai in their dealings with India. Thus, during that period of 'Panchseel' and 'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai', Ambedkar's embrace of Buddhism was something very positive for our diplomats.
Of course, Ambedkar was concerned with the uplift of his own people by the time honored methods of abstinence from alcohol, avoidance of immorality, increased scrupulousness and trust in in-group transactions, embrace of rational education and free enterprise etc.
Conversion to Buddhism improved life-chances for the emerging Dalit middle class by ridding them of onerous or infra dig reciprocal customary obligations and, since the Buddha had spoken in favor of private enterprise, stopping up their ears against the Siren Song of Gandhian mendicancy or Marxist murderousness- all of which was highly congenial to the Dalit millionaires of Kanpur, who refused to inter-dine with the more uncouth of their caste fellows, as Ambedkar well knew- while simultaneously giving the educated Dalit a soteriological incentive to raise up his brethren, rather than simply suck their blood as other entrants to the bureaucratic or political class were accustomed to do.

If Ambedkar's opting for Buddhism was a foregone conclusion- nevertheless, the type of Buddhism he chose at precisely that time- when (Ambedkar's old Professor) John Dewey's 'A Common Faith' had been enshrined in the U.N Universal Declaration of Human Rights- has all the hallmarks of a kairotic miracle and deserves further elucidation.

Sadly, no such elucidation can be found in Ajay Skaria's essay.
Why?
He asks a good question but has no interest at all in answering it. He says-
 'I say ‘frame’ because I will not be able to answer the question. But perhaps framing, reframing and even unframing the question is itself a most necessary task.'
For many Indians like me, understanding why Ambedkar converted precisely when he did is necessary because Ambedkar is our hero. He was smarter than us, had studied Econ and Law and Anthropology etc more deeply than us, spoke sense more often than us, and spent his life in the service of a vital section of the Indian productive class. Thus he has kairotic salience as our Buddhist Paraclete.
Thus most Indians, whether 'Rightists' or 'Leftists' share my belief that Ambedkar is worthy of study and veneration.
However, study proceeds by asking pertinent questions and then uncovering relevant facts.

Skaria, on the evidence of his essay, thinks otherwise. He is monstrously wrong.
Judge for yourself.
He begins thus- (my comments are in bold)
'We could start by reminding ourselves how and why this question becomes a question. As Talal Asad has suggested, ‘religious conversion needs explaining in a way that secular conversion to modern ways of being does not’. '
Talal Asad is the son of a Jewish convert to Islam who once held a high position in Pakistan. He is not important. He has no influence in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or America. 
By contrast, Dr. Ambedkar is important. India is important. And everybody in India understands why Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism increased that importance.

Sakaria quotes Asad as saying something silly- viz. 'religious conversion needs explaining' even though the latter was born in Saudi Arabia and knows full well that no such explanation is required or desirable if the alternative is having your head chopped off. By contrast, converting from being a Religious nutjob to an ordinary Secular bloke would involve a long explanation about how it was actually all part of a cunning plan to wage true jihad and please for fuck's sake don't chop my head off.
Asad may have salience for American academics concerned with the Middle East. He has none for those concerned with India.
Sakaria, on the other hand, thinks that if Talal Asad says something silly it is obligatory to take it as Holy Writ even if one is writing about an Indian Buddhist.
'That need and even demand for explanation becomes all the more powerful in the case of Ambedkar, whose radical secularism is exemplified both in his efforts in earlier years to institutionalise a liberal civil society and public sphere through the Indian Constitution, and in the fact that he converts without disavowing his secularism.'
Utterly mad! Ambedkar dismissed his own contribution to the Constitution as 'hack work'. He was a well educated barrister and- though making a couple of crazy suggestions, as did some of the others involved- did a good job.
His avowal of Buddhism and eventual apotheosis as Boddhisattva involved no sacrifice of Secular comforts- he remained married to a Brahman lady. 
Moreover, from the Philosophical point of view, Ambedkar's conversion to a creed which denies the metaphysical possibility of any complex entity- the 'skandha, or aggregate, is delusional and only gives rise to suffering- militates for the 'common sense' view that no dialectical problematic elucidates his trajectory; on the contrary, it is univocal simply.
Sakaria is writing as though Ambedkar suddenly threw up a glittering Secular career, plucked his own hair out by the roots and went off into the Mountains to meditate. Nothing of the sort happened. Ambedkar didn't even proselytize among non Dalits- he was solely concerned that his people improve their life-chances by adopting a strict moral code and a prestigious form of worship. This suggests that no 'skandha' driven 'klesha', deriving from his earlier 'strains of commitment', subsisted to color and render his message complex or deconstructable.
'Moreover the demand (and here I might find myself in disagreement with Asad) is not an ethnocentrism or Eurocentrism; it is not the privileging of some exclusively European considerations of secularity.'
Of course it is! Skaria, in what follows, isn't quoting a single Indian or Asian or African. He refuses to engage with Buddhist metaphysics. Instead he pictures Ambedkar as a sort of sleep-walker. Some contingent circumstance 'compels' him to convert to Buddhism but it is a heteronomous act. He is 'seized' by Buddhism even as he attempts, as a drowning man might clutch at a straw, to 'seize' it. His is a kairos without intentionality only illuminable by a second rate Professor sitting in Minnesota or Minnehaha or somewhere equally shite.
This is a particularly stupid Professor. With the exception of John Dewey, Skaria doesn't mention even a single Anglophone intellectual. No English speaking politician- more particularly a Barrister with Doctorates from Columbia and the LSE- was influenced by adolescent Teutonic sehnsucht because England and America were way ahead of Germany which, in any case, shat itself in so spectacular fashion that all its vaunted political theologies proved to be Satanic in inspiration and the German linguistic habitus itself- as in Eichmann invoking Kant- came to be recognized as the mother tongue of Hell.
But our Professor, posing as the Angela Davis of the Indic hijrat, is unfazed. He confines his references to texts Ambedkar can't have known because they, for good reason, had no currency in the inter-war period.
 'As a young Marx says right at the beginning of the ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right’, ‘the critique of religion is the prerequisite of all critique’. Except, it isn't at all. Marx was only speaking of Germany and, in any case, soon saw he had been barking madly up the wrong tree. And such criticism of religion has often been especially empowering for marginalised groups. Criticism is not critique. Marginalised groups may benefit by throwing off superstitious practices and 'mind forged manacles' of an obviously discriminatory sort, however no one, including Marx himself, ever benefited by indulging in a verbose Hegelian critique of anything. For example, it is precisely by drawing on secular categories that the very category Dalit has been constituted; that upper castes have been held responsible for their violence against Dalits; and that Dalits have simultaneously assumed and universalised the responsibility of struggling against that violence. So when somebody—especially an already secular being—converts to a public religion, this can seem an abdication of the responsibility to question injustice.
What worthless shite! Ambedkar has a theory that the 'Dalit' was constituted NOT by 'Secular categories' but by a wholly spiritual dichotomy viz. that between the Brahman and the Shraman. According to him, the Dalits were the Buddhist ruling class who were a bit tardy in giving up meat eating which is why the Brahmans- who took their Tardean imitation of the Buddhist ban on beef too far- were later able to turn them into pariahs. 

Perhaps, Sakaria thinks Ambedkar was a worthless shithead. But Sakaria is too cowardly to say so in plain terms. That's why he tells us he can't answer the question he says is so important and has to content himself with framing, unframing and reframing it.

The fact of the matter is that Ambedkar, like other Dalit leaders, understood very well that such 'secular categories' as obtained in Indian electoral politics weren't Kantian and involved no problematic.
 No Metaphysics was involved because there was never any 'universalization'- if Dalits get reserved seats this does not mean every oppressed community gets, or ought to get, reserved seats.
Rights were linked to Burkean heritable remedies.
Indian electoral Politics, unlike English or American or German politics, involves the instrumentalization of denumerable and Statutorily designated Castes. Ambedkar, as a Dalit leader, did not throw away a single concession his Caste had been conceded by insisting it be shared with others equally oppressed.  No subsequent Dalit leader, Buddhist or otherwise, has made such a proposal.
If Skaria has evidence to the contrary, why does he not produce it?

'And yet, that demand for explanation is turned upon itself here, for Ambedkar converts to Navayana Buddhism precisely as an act of the greatest responsibility. Here, there is not only a criticism of religion (most of all, Hinduism, but also prior traditions of Buddhism), but also of secularism, and that criticism is articulated moreover as a religion.
Ambedkar converts for his caste and on behalf of it precisely because that caste had no 'secular definition'. It had a legal definition based on a wholly religious, or 'spiritual', historicism which coincided at no point with the secular temporal order. 
A Dalit was only a Dalit because some Pundit or Lama or other religious authority had said so on the basis of some occult supposed 'karmic aashrav' or event in 'antarabhava' which occurred outside anything determinable within Hegemonic succession or seriality.

One might say that Nazi oppression of Jews and Gypsies and so on had a 'secular component' because there was an official 'Race Science' which measured the cranium and proboscis and so on- i.e. there was supposed to be some objective way to tell the 'Aryan' from the lesser breeds.

Nothing of the sort obtained in India.

'So, a first framing: when we ask ‘why does Ambedkar convert to Navayana Buddhism’, we are asking how does his conversion involve a responsibility greater than that which he already exercises s a secular being?
Ambedkar is taking on a greater responsibility- one towards his caste fellows- and this responsibility is not of a 'secular' type but is a moral and spiritual obligation arising from kin selective, 'inclusive fitness' type, esprit de corps.
 As that reframing suggests, I ask the question ‘why’ only on a very limited register.
What sort of 'limited register?' Clearly it is one in which Ambedkar can be depicted as an ignorant fool. Thus-
 I am not for example concerned here with Ambedkar's conscious or unconscious intentions, with the social context of the conversion, or with the Dalit and lower-caste religions and conversions that precede his conversion and provide its genealogy. 
In other words, the fact that Ambedkar was exercising a caste based 'responsibility' in a shrewd and efficacious manner- which is why every Indian political party is scrambling for a portion of his mantle- is the one thing that Sakaria can't concern himself with.
While attention to all these matters is absolutely essential, here I limit myself to the re-figuring of secularism involved in his conversion. This re-figuring, I would suggest, is at least as crucial to Ambedkar's Buddhism as the critique of Hinduism that precedes and suffuses this Buddhism.
It is only crucial if, against all the evidence, you want to stick with the notion that Ambedkar was a stupid ignorant darkie from a worthless shithole of a country who was incapable of gauging the significance of his own symbolic actions.
It is symptomatic of this greater responsibility that Ambedkar converts not only as an abstract individual, nor even as an individual Dalit, but also as a Dalit leader (or, in his early formulations, a Mahar leader), as one whose actions form a collective Dalit or Mahar identity. Thus in his May 1936 speech to the Bombay Presidency Mahar Conference, he says: ‘[J]ust as the boatman does not collect luggage unless he gets an idea of the number of passengers boarding the boat, so also is the case with me. Unless I get an idea as to how many persons are willing to leave the Hindu fold, I cannot start preparation for conversion’. He also insists there: ‘If at all you decide in favour of conversion, then you will have to promise me organized and en-masse conversion. If the decision is taken in favour of conversion, and the people start embracing any religion they like individually, I will not dabble in your conversion’.
Ambedkar's religion itself is social—this is why dhamma is both a religion and not quite a religion. The Buddha and His Dhamma notes that while dhamma is ‘analogous’ to ‘what European theologians call religion’, the latter is personal and ‘one must keep it to oneself. One must not let it play its part in public life’. In contrast to religion, he goes on, ‘Dhamma is social. It is fundamentally and essentially so…. [O]ne man, if he is alone, does not need Dhamma. But when there are two men living in relation to each other, they must find a place for Dhamma whether they like it or not. Neither can escape it’.
And if I began by noting a distinctive concatenation of events in 1956, this was in order to indicate the two co-ordinates that frame the question here. First, The Buddha and His Dhamma, published posthumously in 1957. As we know, Ambedkar worked feverishly and obsessively to complete the book. This intense textual engagement suggests, as Simona Sawhney has recently pointed out, that while Ambedkar's conversion is nothing if not deeply political, politicalness cannot here consist of the ‘rational decision to achieve an external or prior end’.
Okay. Ambedkar was not a well man- that's why he married a Brahmin Doctor. He converted to Buddhism and wrote a book to help his own people rise up. The knowledge that one is not long for this world, as Rousseau and Samuel Johnson well knew, concentrates the mind and spurs one to pick up the pen. But why should 'intense textual engagement', more particularly that of a 'deeply political' kind, defeat rational decision making in achieving an 'external or prior end'?
It may be argued that Ambedkar was a stupid wog from a shithole of a country. Thus 'intense textual engagement' was bound to disorder his wits completely. 
Suppose Ambedkar wanted to order a last meal for himself at his favorite restaurant. If he doesn't look at the menu, he can order nice dishes and have a splendid meal. His 'rational decision' to go to the restaurant helps him achieve an 'external or prior end'.
If, however, the waiter gave Ambedkar a Menu before taking his order and if Ambedkar, stupid wog that he was, tried to read the Menu then his 'intense textual engagement' with the Menu would not permit him to order a nice meal. Why?
We don't know. Skaria won't tell us. Instead he points us to an unpublished work or chance remark of some lady called Simona Sawhney- not a smart lady by the look of her writings- which militates to the conclusion that there is something called 'politicalness' which concerns itself not with who gets to eat what (i.e. the essential political question) but with stuff that can't be eaten because it is so wholly immaterial, incompossible and ineffable, that 'rational decisions', in this context, can't achieve an external or prior end- which is why it would be utterly irrational to make them.
'Ambedkar is of course aware of the ‘material aspect’ and even instrumental dimension of conversion.'
Very good of you to say so, I'm sure.
 'His May 1936 speech to the Bombay Presidency Mahar Conference describes this aspect as ‘class struggle’ and suggests that those who ignore it are ‘stupid’; conversion will make Mahars part of the larger community and provide them with outside strength in case of a struggle. But this material or calculable aspect is for him itself framed by an incalculable aspect (and the incalculable cannot strictly speaking be an aspect)—the compulsion to respond in a consistent way (which is also to say rationally) to the challenges he faces as he questions the disempowerment and marginality of Dalits.
Nonsense. No one was saying to Ambedkar- 'listen buddy, you've got your people certain rights with Burkean remedies. Now you need to give a Kantian, or Hegelian, justification for these rights.' Such psilosophical notions had no salience in India, or indeed Europe, at the time.
The 'incalculable' aspect of Ambedkar's 'compulsion to respond in a consistent way' was his adherence to the Ayothi Dasan theory of Dalits as ostracized Buddhists. This had no pragmatic pay-off but, as I pointed out at the beginning of this blog post, it had a certain semiological 'dhvani' which was 'kairotic' in the Indian context.

Skaria, however, thinks some 'compulsion' arising out of 'textual engagement' (such as that by which he himself writes nonsense) affected Ambedkar.
This compulsion forces him to convert to Buddhism. Moreover, he does not convert to a pre-existing Buddhism, but to a Buddhism that he receives in the process of writing The Buddha and His Dhamma. If we are to get a sense of the late Ambedkar's politics, we must get a sense of his religion, this Buddhism that seizes him.
So that's how Sakaria is going to work his sleight of hand! Ambedkar may have been responsible and smart and so on, but that doesn't matter. What actually happened was that he was feverishly writing a book and then, because he forgot to chant the write mantra or because a witch put a curse on him, that dastardly Buddhism seized him and his head started spinning and he started vomiting pea-soup and saying 'Fuck me!' to Max von Sydow and shit like that.

Second, to get a sense of this religion, we must attend to his engagement with Marx and Marxism. 
Yes. That's true. The backstory is Ambedkar had got engaged to Marxism but was like saving himself for the Wedding Night and then, like you know how Vampires are into Virgins right?, well, some fucking Vajrayan Vetala seized Ambedkar but, thanks to a protective locket Marxism had given Ambedkar, he was 'turned' not into an evil Vajrayana Vampire but a new Navayana type of Super-hero- like Wesley Snipes in the 'Blade' movies.

Ambedkar's most extended formulations on Marx occur in one very brief essay, ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’, which discerns a ‘residue of fire’ in Marx, and suggests that Buddha and Marx share a great deal. The essay reveals the stakes of this engagement for Ambedkar:
Worthless shite. Marxism was the name of a new type of Slavery which Ambedkar knew about. It wasn't something to get engaged to coz it had shat the bed too many times. There was a 'residue of fire' in Marxism coz of people like Henry Pollit, Harry Browder and Rajni Palme Dutt. But this residue of fire was nothing more than a joss stick to be transferred to the altar of the new Boddhisattva. 
Actually, Ambedkar built better than he knew. His Religion is a viable Tardean vehicle to class power and has been appropriated as such by a hereditary caste. Nothing wrong in that. Lots of other contemporaries of Ambedkar, if they couldn't hold Ministerial office and thus sustain a patronage network, took a Spiritual route. 

''Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation [which] was summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasized that in producing equality society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.'
Both Marxism and his Buddhism work, in other words, towards the promise of a world organised by equality, liberty, and fraternity, with equality as the key term.
So does every other current Political Ideology and Religion. Which Pope or Party Boss says 'we want less liberty, less fraternity and a more unequal Society?'
And Marxism is a particularly intense moment of the striving to keep that promise, even the most intense moment he is familiar with.
Marxism was stupid. Ambedkar knew that it starved peasants and turned the proletariat into either Stakhnovite serfs or canon fodder. However, under Stalin, 'proletarian millionaires' were permitted.
But Ambedkar's most sustained engagements with Marx do not occur when he explicitly reads the latter. They occur rather where Marx's and his responsibilities traverse the same terrain.
Marx had no responsibilities. He wasn't the leader of a caste group. He knew shite from Economics. 
Such a traversal marks especially Ambedkar's thinking of the minor—the figure who is less than equal, but claims equality.
Ambedkar never thought about Deleuze's 'minor' because he never read Deleuze. Had he done so, he'd have recoiled in horror because it was mystical shite analogous to Gandhi's notion that he himself was a Bhangi and thus the proper leader of Ambedkar's caste fellows.
Ambedkar's thinking of the minor re-orients Marx's simultaneous critique, articulated most forcefully in ‘On the Jewish Question’, of religion and secularism.
Ambedkar has a Tardean, that is mimetic, theory of the Dalit. The young Marx had a Left Hegelian theory which he later repudiated after he got to England and discovered how rational people order things. There is no connection at all between these two theories because the one appeals to a Materialistic, empirically testable, transmission mechanism while the other is entirely Idealistic.
That re-orientation occurs in two ways, which are not so much different paths as the flip side of each other.
But only because that 're-orientation' doesn't occur at all.
Gyanendra Pandey and Anupama Rao amongst others have eloquently explored one of these ways. Rao writes how ‘a new political collectivity was constituted by resignifying the Dalit's negative identity within the caste structure into positive political value’.
Nothing has ever been 'constituted' by 're-signifying' a negative value into a positive value. That's also why Magic doesn't work. 
As her writing suggests, the concept of minority that organises the figure of the Dalit is quite different from that which Marx develops, since for the Dalit ‘individual freedom was contingent on the emancipation of the community, rather than separation from it’, or the dissolution of the minor that Marx envisioned.
Whites had their 'European Associations', Muslims had the Muslim League, Brahmans had Brahman Sabhas, Kayasthas had Kayastha Sabhas and so on. Each pointed to their minority status as requiring special consideration and protection. Whites said 'we are a minority. We can't possibly let ourselves be tried by a Judge from the majority population because we will be found guilty'- thus White's got the Ilbert Bill struck down. This sort of politics has been continually practiced for over a 150 years in India. It is based on the Burkean interpretation of the Common Law tradition of which Marx was ignorant at the relevant time. That's why he was stuck in Hegelian darkness.
Here, the Dalit as minority is constituted by a claim to equality that proceeds by secularising religion, or more precisely, by secularising and exploding caste. Both through the Constitution and through political struggles to demand that the state enforce Dalit rights, Ambedkar seeks to shore up the rights of this Dalit minority.
Quite false. Ambedkar's Dalit, as minority, is constituted by a Cokean fiction re. descent from Buddhists. Ambedkar's efforts granted this minority a hereditary entitlement contingent upon their not converting to Christianity or Islam.
Ambedkar was not demanding that Dalit Hindus and Buddhists be brought down to a level of equality with 'Untouchables' from Muslim or Christian communities. Nor was he saying that work that is essentially degrading shouldn't be done by anybody. He just didn't want his own people to do it and one way to stop them doing it was by getting them to sign up to a new and prestigious type of Buddhism. Ambedkar had no objection to Brahmins or Thakurs or Kayasthas doing manual scavenging.
My concern in this essay is with the closely-related concept that Ambedkar intensifies by converting to Navayana Buddhism—that of the minor.
So, you asked a particular question not because you were interested in the answer but because you are concerned with the concept of the 'minor' as in Deleuze. But that concept is best explored in his own work or in a milieu relevant to it. Ambedkar's India has no salience here. You might as well substitute 'Kenyatta' for 'Ambedkar' and 'Properly Cliterodectomised Kikuyu Presybterian' for Dalit- you'd still get the same endless 'framing' and 'reframing' and 'unframing' which can only result in the scribbling of more outright nonsense.
Like this-
 If the minority is conceived in terms of measure, then the minor is conceived in terms of immeasure.
Only one variety of Deleuzian 'minor' is conceived in such terms. This is because Deleuze was aware that Measure theory itself can have a 'minor' in terms of negative probabilities.
Deleuze was a bright guy. He didn't write shite about Gandhi and Ambedkar. There is always an interpretation of his ideas which isn't worthless shite but relates directly to an Open Problem for Mathematics.
The relationship between these two concepts—minority and minor—is excessive, rather than oppositional. To put it in Udaya Kumar's terms, even as the vocabulary of minority invokes measure and quantity, it ‘exceeds them and turns them into signs of an intensive relationship. At the same time, the vocabulary of intensities has a relationship to what it rubs against, the world of measures and units’. Not only is ‘the language of measure…challenged and affected by that of immeasure, but…immeasure nurses in its core a deep relationship to the impulse to measure’.
Oh dear! Is immeasure nursing an impulse in its core? If so, it hasn't a core at all. It's just a Deleuzian 'fog' or 'glare' the more reprehensible by reason of its haecceity as a mrga-trishna.
One might add that what makes the pair ‘minority-minor’ so charged and destabilising, so unlike the pair ‘majority-major’ to which it could be opposed, is that the former is concerned constitutively with claiming equality as a minor.
To claim equality qua inequality, is charged and destabilising because it involves the logical fallacy known as the Principle of Explosion. From Nonsense any and all Nonsense logically follows. 
And since equality is not a transparent term, this claim involves not only thinking about what equality ‘is’, but also nurturing the life of both self and ‘other’ (whereas the pair ‘majority-major’ seeks to extinguish or subordinate the life of the other).
You have made the claim. You provide no evidence that you have thought about what equality 'is' nor that you have nurtured the life, at least the intellectual life, of both yourself and some or any 'other'. There is no evidence that anyone who made a similar claim did so or has done so. Guatarri was a psychiatrist. He cured nobody. He has contributed nothing to the understanding of either Capitalism or Schizophrenia or anything else that actually exists and whose travails can be ameliorated.


II


One way then of reframing the question could be: why in Ambedkar's writing must the minority of that radically secular figure, the Dalit, be supplemented by this radical religion of the minor, Navayana Buddhism? What is the universal equality that this religion offers, which the French and Russian revolutions have failed to offer?
None. Ambedkar wasn't proselytising converts from other Faiths. He wanted his own people to follow a more prestigious Religion as part of a wider process of upward mobility.
Ambedkar's famous, never-delivered 1936 speech to the Jat Pat Todak Mandal, where he announces his desire to abandon Hinduism, already intimates what he sees as crucial to religion. There, condemning Hinduism as a ‘religion of rules’, he distinguishes between principles and rules:
Rules are practical; they are habitual ways of doing things according to prescription. But principles are intellectual; they are useful methods of judging things. Rules seek to tell an agent just what course of action to pursue. Principles do not prescribe a specific course of action. Rules, like cooking recipes, do tell just what to do and how to do it. A principle, such as that of justice, supplies a main head[ing] by reference to which he is to consider the bearings of his desires and purposes, it guides him in his thinking by suggesting to him the important consideration which he should bear in mind. This difference between rules and principles makes the acts done in pursuit of them different in quality and in content. Doing what is said to be good by virtue of a rule and doing good in the light of a principle are two different things. The principle may be wrong but the act is conscious and responsible. The rule may be right but the act is mechanical. A religious act may not be a correct act but must at least be a responsible act. To permit of this responsibility, Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules it ceases to be Religion, as it kills responsibility which is the essence of a truly religious act'.

By insisting on responsibility as ‘the essence of a truly religious act’, this passage politicises religion in a very distinctive way. As the greatest responsibility, religion must now attend to questions of justice—of how best to accomplish ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’. Now religion becomes a profoundly public matter, rather than something limited to the private sphere.
Ambedkar wants his own people to adopt a superior morality in dealing with each other. If they do so, their community gains a reputational benefit. Economic theory suggests that more and more outsiders will want to interact with this community and will abide by their mores and modes of adjudication. Consequently, they will prosper as more and more positive sum transactions are intermediated by them.
This is Anglo-Saxon 'Law and Economics' not Kantian crap or Hegelian shite.
Such responsibility requires moreover that religion be organised around the principle. Ambedkar's Buddha tells his followers that they ‘were free to modify or even to abandon any of his teachings if it was found that at a given time and in given circumstances they do not apply. He wished His religion not to be encumbered with the dead wood of the past. He wanted that it should remain evergreen and serviceable at all times’. Even ahimsa is a matter of principle: the Buddha ‘did not make Ahimsa a matter of Rule. He enunciated it as a matter of Principle or way of life’. ‘A principle leaves you freedom to act. A rule does not. Rule either breaks you, or you break the rule’.
In insisting on a religion of the principle, Ambedkar makes a distinctive departure from modern conceptions of religion, and indeed of the principle. At least since Kant's insistence on autonomy, the principle has been a cardinal mark of the Enlightenment: to be principled is to retain the sovereign power of reason, and therefore to be able to modify one's convictions, and act in keeping with new circumstances. As such, the principle both institutes a distinction between the secular and the religious, and works primarily within the realm of the secular—religion, it is presumed, cannot be principled or a matter of public reason; it must be private.
And in the relationship between the secular and the religious, we could say at the risk of some simplification, the principle has worked in one of two ways. First, in its most institutionally influential form, often at work in liberal or republican democracies, the distinction and relationship between the secular and the religious has been organised as one between the immanent and the transcendent. Here, the implicit criterion is the degree to which religion can support the principle. For example, in Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant, after insisting that ‘for its own sake, morality does not need religion at all’ and can be based on ‘pure practical reason’, goes on to suggest that the ends of religion ‘cannot possibly be matters of indifference for reason’. And so, ‘morality leads ineluctably to religion’. This moral religion moreover has a proper name: ‘[O]f all the public religions which have ever existed, the Christian alone is moral’. Indeed, at this long inaugural moment of the modern concept of religion, as of secularism, for both Kant and Hegel in different ways, Christianity is the highest and most universal religion both because it gives birth to and institutes secularism and the principle in the public sphere, and because it recognises its own realm as that of the transcendent and therefore relegates itself to the private sphere. Here, religion is not opposed to the principle; each operates in its own realm and is complementary to the other.
Second, the more radical secularisms—such as those associated with Rousseau, Feuerbach and Marx—question the distinction between the immanent and the transcendent. They treat religion as always immanent, and consequently regard the immanent–transcendent distinction as itself an ideological mystification. Ambedkar makes this spirit his inheritance.
How can Ambedkar make into his inheritance the spirit of a mischievous availability cascade he, like all sensible 'Law & Econ' mavens, rejected as high falutin horseshit even before he took up a pragmatic political role?
  Thus he insists in the late 1930s: ‘In life and preservation of life therefore consists the religion of the savage. What is true of the religion of the savage is true of all religions wherever they are found for the simple reason that…life and the preservation of life constitute the essence of religion’. Religion is now the realm of ‘rules’. Relatedly, not all religions are equal—they are rather evaluated by the degree of divergence between these rules and those principles that autonomous beings might give themselves.
Skaria provides no quotation to back up this claim. Ambedkar, like other Indian politicians, sometimes said foolish things. But he was a smart guy. He would have understood that, by definition, autonomous beings give themselves rules. Heteronomous beings don't. Assuming entropy prevails or inerrancy is a pipe-dream, it must be the case that where a Religion's rule set coincides with that autonomous beings blessed with logical omniscience would devise for themselves, it must be a canonical solution and dominate others absent Knightian uncertainty.
(In this spirit, Ambedkar also attacks the ‘science of comparative religion’: ‘The science of comparative religion has broken down the arrogant claims of all revealed religions that they alone are true and all others which are not the results of revelation are false…. But it must be said to the discredit of that science that it has created the general impression that all religions are good and there is no use and purpose in discriminating [between] them’. Comparative religion is here anti-colonial in that it refuses the claims of every revealed religion. And yet, anti-colonial relativism is not adequate for Ambedkar; his search for another universalism requires him to abandon not only Eurocentrism but also relativism.)
Ambedkar wasn't so stupid as to 'search for another universalism' like some shithead Professor. He well knew that Woodrow Wilson type pi-jaw had gone hand in hand with chucking Blacks out of Federal jobs. The kariotic aspect of his Conversion was that- as a pragmatist, as a 'Law & Econ' maven, as a Dalit leader solely concerned with his flock and determined to get the best possible deal for them- a Caste based conversion to a new type of Buddhism was tactically and strategically optimal. The 'kerygmatic kernel' here concerns Coasian 'internalization' and Tiebout 'sorting' because Ambedkar was an Economist/Lawyer serving a particular community. He considered Kantian shite and Hegelian Shite and Radhakrishnan shite and Gandhian shite as shite, shite, shite and shite.
But as he makes radical secularism his inheritance, he also infuses it with a distinctive religion—a religion of the principle, or in other words a secular and immanent religion. This religion is difficult to think. It strives after all for the impossible: on the one hand to secure autonomy and sovereignty; and on the other hand to surrender precisely autonomy and sovereignty.
Ambedkar didn't surrender autonomy and sovereignty because it is stupid to do so.
So perhaps our question could also be framed this way: what is the religion of the principle that Ambedkar converts to?
That would be a good question. The answer would illuminate Buddhist texts by means of developments in Anglo Saxon Law & Econ and vice versa. However, Skaria is too ignorant to do any such thing.
What such a religion of the principle involves at its most elemental is indicated in Ambedkar's 1950 essay, ‘Buddha and the Future of His Religion’. The new world needs a religion because ‘[i]n all societies, law plays a very small part. It is intended to keep the minority within the range of social discipline. The majority is left and has to be left to sustain its social life by the postulates and sanction of morality. Religion in the sense of morality, must therefore, remain the governing principle in every society’. Such a religion, he suggests, must be ‘in accord with science’; ‘its moral code must recognize the fundamental tenets of liberty, equality and fraternity’; and finally, it ‘must not sanctify or ennoble poverty’.
Yup. That's Law & Econ right there. The Majority just get on with Coasian internalization of externalities and Mechanism Design in line with Myerson General Feasibility. At the margin, the Law Courts come into play.
This religion of the principle, moreover, has a proper name: ‘If the new world—which be it realized is very different from the old—must have a religion—and the new world needs religion far more than the old world did—then it can only be religion of the Buddha’.
Coz that was the only option on the Menu facing his own people and there is a free market version of Buddhism which valorizes Merchants accumulating Wealth and using it for reputational purposes.
I don't know if Ambedkar read Ninomiya, but those ideas were certainly around at the time.
The impossible bringing together of the principle and religion is signalled again in the closing sentences of the speech that Ambedkar gives in May 1936 to the Bombay Presidency Mahar Conference. Trying to convince them ‘to leave the Hindu religion’, and yet not wanting them to do so ‘only because I say so’, wanting them to consent ‘only if it appeals to your reason’, Ambedkar wonders: ‘What message should I give you on this occasion?’ And then he recounts the message given by the Buddha to the Bhikku Sangha:
‘What does the Sangh expect from me? Ananda, I have preached the Dhamma with an open heart, without concealing anything. The Tathagata has not kept anything concealed, as some other teachers do. So Ananda, what more can I tell to the Bhikkhu Sangh? So Ananda, be self-illuminating like the lamp. Don't be dependent for light, like the Earth. Don't be a satellite. Be a light unto thyself….’
I also take your leave in the words of the Buddha. ‘Be your own guide. Take refuge in reason’.

But of course, this begs the question: if one is a light to oneself, then what need does the principle have for religion? The answer is that Economic activity faces a coordination problem. Religion is a Schelling focal Solution for reasons that David Lewis elucidated in his book on Conventions'.
Why does the principle take refuge in reason? Answer- Defeasibility. See H.L.A Hart. Ambedkar was a Barrister not a Professor of worthless Continental garbage. What is involved in making reason into a religion? Nothing. It doesn't happen. That's just Hegelian shite is all. In that transaction, what happens to reason's autonomy and to religion's surrender? Okay, okay, you win Skaria Sahib! What happens to reason's autonomy is that it gets sodomized by religion's surrender till Deleuze turns up and instructs some miner in how to give it a reach-around. Is that what you wanted to hear? Happy now?

III
Ambedkar is scarcely the first to strive for a religion of the principle—secular traditions have long fantasised about such a religion.
Very true. I remember meeting the Iraqi secular tradition in 1968. I said, 'Hi there Iraqi secular tradition. Would you like to play cops and robbers with me?'
'Sorry,' Iraqi secular tradition replied, 'I have long fantasised about a religion of the principle. That is why I have gone blind and also why hair is growing out of the palm of my hand. Thus I can't play cops and robbers with you'.
Kant, for example, after insisting that morality does not need religion, also adds: ‘[M]orality finds in the holiness of its laws an object of the greatest respect’. And in the traditions of radical secularism, the famous penultimate chapter of Rousseau's Social Contract describes a ‘civil religion’.
Our question then could also be framed thus: is Ambedkar's religion of the principle a civil or civic religion?
Ambedkar was the leader of a caste. Thus his religion was a caste religion not a 'civil' (i.e. national) or 'civic'(i.e. constitutive of civil society) one. 
The compulsions that produce the conceptual space for civil religion are indicated by the paradoxical relationship between the rights of man and the rights of the citizen. Hannah Arendt suggests in The Origins of Totalitarianism that the Declaration of the Rights of Man ‘meant nothing more nor less than that from then on Man, and not God's command or the customs of history, should be the source of Law’. But even though the rights of the citizen might seem derived from those of man, Arendt notes that the ‘“inalienable rights of man” must nevertheless find their guarantee and become an inalienable part of the right of the people to sovereign self-government’:
In other words, man had hardly appeared as a completely emancipated, completely isolated being who carried his dignity within himself without reference to some larger encompassing order, when he disappeared again into a member of a people. From the beginning the paradox involved in the declaration of inalienable human rights was that it reckoned with an ‘abstract’ human being who seemed to exist nowhere, for even savages lived in some kind of a social order.
Because of this paradox, the ‘Rights of Man, supposedly inalienable, proved to be unenforceable even in countries whose constitutions were based upon them whenever people appeared who were no longer citizens of any sovereign state’. Indeed, ‘we become aware of the existence of a right to have rights’—what she describes as ‘the right of every individual to belong to humanity, [which] should be guaranteed by humanity itself’—‘only when millions of people emerged who had lost and could not regain these rights because of the new global political situation’. All of this is ‘an ironical, bitter and belated confirmation’ of Burke's assertion that ‘human rights were an “abstraction”, that it was much wiser to rely on an “entailed inheritance” of rights which one transmits to one's children like life itself, and to claim one's rights to be the “rights of an Englishman” rather than the inalienable rights of man’. ‘The pragmatic soundness of Burke's concept seems to be beyond doubt in the light of our manifold experiences’.
Responding to the force of that Burkean critique, Arendt in her later work—especially in On Revolution in 1963—emphasises a certain constitutionalism. Here, like Burke, Arendt is more sympathetic to the American Revolution than the French Revolution. But unlike Burke, she recognises that both revolutions are organised around the rights of man, that their divergence lies more in their constitutional histories, and the way these modulate the rights of man. Arendt, it might be said, seeks to conserve the abstract rights of man by making the constitution into an entailed inheritance, which through its publicness and gradualism, will clothe the nakedness of natural man. (As this distinction suggests, Arendt's public sphere, even if transparent, is anything but naked.)
This anxiety over the fragility of the rights of man (which leads to Arendt's emphasis first on the right to have rights, and later on constitutions)—is it not the same anxiety at work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, striving to institutionalise civil religions? Is not the striving for a civil religion an anxious recognition—analogous to the right to have rights—of the inadequacy by themselves of constitutional rights (those rights that are simultaneously human rights and political rights, but that depend on the political to defend the human)? Civil religion does for its exponents the work of concretising the abstractness of rights of man in a way that still avoids the descent into the particularity of nationalism, that still retains the universality of man. Very briefly, consider John Dewey, one of the two proponents of civil religion who have had considerable influence in twentieth-century India. Dewey (who in Ambedkar's words ‘was my teacher and to whom I owe so much’ ) writes A Common Faith in the 1930s in his effort to articulate a democratic faith. As Robert Westbrook notes, Dewey, unlike his associate William James, is not satisfied with a ‘neutral public sphere, naked of all faith’. Dewey was ‘a democrat and religiously so. And because Dewey believed that supernatural overbeliefs often threaten the democratic beliefs in which he vested his own faith, he tied the fate of democracy to the defeat of supernaturalism, and the growth of a catholic natural piety. His was a fighting faith’.
Through civil religion, Dewey seeks to rescue the rights of man from fragility and abstract nakedness, to enshrine these rights themselves as religious. He works with a distinctive understanding of religion: ‘Faith in the continued disclosing of truth through directed cooperative human endeavor is more religious in quality than is any faith in a completed revelation with democracy’. He also says of his later writings that they ‘are devoted to making explicit the religious values implicit in the spirit of science as undogmatic reverence for truth in whatever form it present[s] itself, and the religious values implicit in our common life, especially in the moral significance of democracy as a way of living together’. By these criteria, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the ‘religion of religions’, as one admirer of Dewey enthusiastically declares in 1950.
There is certainly enough textual warrant to treat Navayana Buddhism as one more moment in this tradition of civil religion. Like Dewey and Arendt, Ambedkar is acutely aware of the potentiality of the rights of man—the Indian Constitution is an extended testament to this. But perhaps even more than them, he emphasises the challenges of working it. Thus, in his Constituent Assembly speech on 25 November 1949, he stresses that ‘however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution’. Given this emphasis on the need to bring into being a society that can give force to the Constitution, one cannot rule out the possibility that Navayana Buddhism strives to create, in a spirit similar to and influenced by Dewey's, a civil religion that is also a ‘fighting faith’.
Ambedkar never tried to convert the great mass of High Caste Hindus to his brand of Buddhism. He did not want any type of Buddhism to become the 'civil religion' of India because then his own people would face a Tardean pressure to permit 'Hindu' gods- like Ganapati- a place in their own worship.

IV
(I've omitted some ghastly verbiage )

If we are to briefly indicate how Navayana Buddhism is such a religion of reason, or how reason works when it is not a civil religion but a refuge, perhaps we should attend to Ambedkar's rendering in The Buddha and His Dhamma of the moment when Siddhartha Gautama takes the oath of parivraja or wandering mendicancy and starts on the path that makes him the Buddha. Siddhartha is a member of the Sakya kingdom, which seems marked by at least some of the traits of political emancipation: ‘[T]he Sakyas had their Sangh (association). Every Sakya youth above twenty had to be initiated into the Sangh and be a member of the Sangh’. The sangh moreover privileges fearless speech and truth-telling.
The senapati or warrior head of the Sakyas, the kingdom to which Siddhartha Gautama belongs, calls a meeting of the Sakyasangh to ‘consider the question of declaring war on the Koliyas’, a neighbouring kingdom whose inhabitants had been involved in clashes with the Sakyas over the waters of the river Rohini. Siddhartha opposes this, suggesting that both are at fault, and that the dispute should be settled. The senapati responds (and the spectre of Krishna is evident here) that ‘the Kshatriyas cannot make a distinction between warriors and strangers. They must fight even against brothers for the sake of their kingdom’. Siddhartha replies: ‘Dharma, as I understand it, consists in recognizing that enmity does not disappear by enmity. It can be conquered by love only’. The senapati’s resolution carries the day. At the next day's meeting, the senapati proposes that ‘he be permitted to proclaim calling to arms’ every Sakya between the ages of twenty and fifty. Now ‘the minority who had voted against it had a problem to face. Their problem was—to submit or not to the decision of the majority. The minority was determined not to submit to the majority’.
In this moment, The Buddha and His Dhamma shears away dizzyingly from the problematic of political emancipation. By not submitting to the majority, the minority abandons the protocols of political society and civil society, for these require that the minority must—even if it protests against or criticises the law—also do what the law or political society enjoins. By not submitting, the minority refuses its part in political society, becomes no longer a minority.
But this refusal to submit to the majority carries its own entailments. The sangh can impose a social boycott on Siddhartha's family and confiscate his family lands. Wishing to avoid this, Siddhartha speaks to the sangh: ‘Please do not punish my family…. They are innocent. I am the guilty person. Let me alone suffer for my wrong. Sentence me to death or exile, whichever you like. I will willingly accept it, and I promise I shall not appeal to the king of the Kosalas’. The senapati says that the sangh may face reprisals from the king even if Siddhartha voluntarily undergoes the sentence of death or exile. Siddhartha then suggests: ‘I can become a Parivrajaka and leave this country. It is a kind of exile’.
One must add: but only a kind of exile. Voluntary acceptance of death or exile: this would be to submit to the political community. Because that submission is not possible, Siddhartha becomes instead a parivrajaka, leaves the country. But as aparivrajaka, he submits not to the political community, but to the call to parivraja. If this is an exile, it is so only in the sense that it converges with the exile the sangh as a political community wants. Later in the narrative, moreover, his exile becomes only parivraja—the dispute is resolved, many in the Sakyan kingdom would like to have him come back, but now parivraja has seized him.
Ambedkar's originality here is that he shows his own people that they way they can come up is through a 'Sangha'- like the R.S.S- a 'Union' which permits freedom of conscience because people internalize the strategic dilemmas facing the totality and so don't compromise its effectiveness. In other words, 'principled people' don't need to fuck over the country the way Mahatma Gandhi kept doing because they can use their brains and find a way of exercising their freedom of conscience without betraying the cause and playing into the hands of the enemy.
The Buddha is like the RSS Guru who gives up both family life and outright monastic withdrawal so as to continue to play a useful role which must necessarily remain modest for kairotic reasons.
Ambedkar's own followers can quickly dismiss Deleuzian or Derridan sehnsucht because, as Buddhists, they know 'skandhas' don't exist- there can be no deconstruction because there is nothing to deconstruct; no 'major-minor' exists, there is only a delusion to which one can stop paying attention to because there is nothing which attends.

One must also add: Siddhartha can choose to appeal to the king of Kosala. If he successfully did so, he would re-make the political community, and become the majority. This option becomes even more forcefully available later in the narrative, when the king, Bimbisara, offers Siddhartha his army if necessary to fight foes. But Siddhartha again refuses. His defiance of the majority is in other words accompanied by a refusal to become the majority, or to overcome the existing majority.
In both these senses, Siddhartha Gautama seeks a curious role with the political society he questions. He does not destroy it; he does not have or want a part in it; he participates without a part. This participation without a part, without sovereignty—this is the first statement of the Buddha's religion.
Nope. That's Gandhian mummery, not Buddhist kairos at all.
That first statement must encounter and re-work itself through several questions. For now, in lieu of a conclusion, I wish only to note two. First, Ambedkar is acutely aware of his homelessness, his exile from India. The book is written after all by the man who famously tells Gandhi, ‘Mahatmaji, I have no country’.
Neither did 'Kaiser-i-Hind' medal holder Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Bar-at-Law. Both he and Ambedkar were subjects. They didn't own their own country. Gandhi may have pretended that true 'Swaraj' was to be found by spinning cotton. Ambedkar didn't go in for worthless gesture politics because he genuinely had a caste which he wished to see happier and more prosperous by dint of its own efforts at implementing a better 'rule-set' and thus becoming the focal point for more and more economic activity thus benefiting from 'Tiebout sorting'.

What is the relationship between this exile and the Buddha's parivraja? Second, as one of the authors of the Indian Constitution, Ambedkar writes the protocols of what Marx would call political society, and makes sure the minority has a part in it. What is the relationship between the part which the minority has, and its being minor, or its partless participation in parivraja?

Ambedkar's Buddha was a loyal member of his own Caste Association. Like Arjuna, he experienced 'Vishada', depression or cognitive dissonance, when battle was imminent. He found a way to satisfy his conscience while keeping faith with his clan-fellows in a manner which was optimal for both thanks to a kairotic sensitivity which Ambedkar, as a Dalit leader, has proven to the whole of India (except some die hard Congis)  to have himself possessed.

No fucking Deluezian intoxicated 'seizing' and being 'seized' occurred in this kairos. Buddhism wasn't some beast lurking in the wilderness that suddenly grabbed the Buddha. Nor was he some cunning trapper who captured it. The Sakya Muni was loyal to his Sakya clan and thus had an anchor. We might say that this anchor was in the 'antarabhava'- whose other side is the Tibetan bardo, or Sufi barzakh (from the Zoroastrian burz-axw)- and this 'limit which unites what it otherwise divides' or Platonic 'metaxu'- resolves the underlying sorites problem, yielding ataraxia and kairotic oikonomia.

By contrast, pedagogues teaching worthless subjects, like psychiatrists who are madder than their patients, are alone unable to understand kairos precisely because it is the mood of the Masses that it answers to. Thus, in writing of Ambedkar, Skaria turns himself, and those of his colleagues whom he so brutally quotes, into those very pariahs who are forbidden to slake their thirst even from the dirty dew drops trapped in their own backward footsteps from the dazzling Dawn of Truth's Gangetic strand.







Monday, 18 July 2016

This Shuka & that Turk Shirazi

The Turk has small white fists- soft like the wings of a swan
Her kisses peck like a parrot- tho' her eyes dim the Morn
Vyasa's tear ripened fruit- yours from the start
Break my Hindu rib cage- rage, black, in my heart.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Logic & Dialogic



Eliezer,  univocity in the Sanhedrin's ratio grants it a Skolem normal form
Why not just ask the Shekinah for fellatio, at the Golem's formal prom?
How prefer bat kol to that which stirs the hosed to a son's conception?

Envoi-
Prince! In re. the case of Solomon v. Asmodeus
 Ecclesiastes alone claims a debt truly odious.