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Gandhi, Ghalib & the Gita
What have these 3 in common?
Gandhi was killed in Delhi, Ghalib suffered torments in Delhi, and Delhi owes its foundation and first elevation to the status of Imperial Capital to Arjuna's salutary reception of the sublime Gita, but for which he wouldn't have got busy killing off his cousins and his Great Uncle and his Guru and ultimately even his eldest brother, that last exultingly and while in the grip of manyu (dark fury).
I don't live in Delhi anymore. You perhaps never did.
Dilli door ast- Delhi is far away.
Or is it? Sahir Ludhianvi said we who claim to be the worshippers of Ghalib and Gandhi are, verily, their assassins. So there's that. And Gandhi said his translation of the Gita was better than anybody else's- because, though he didn't actually know the language in which it was written, nor had it inspired him in any particular, yet, he alone had lived it for well nigh forty years.
Thus, in a sense, if we really have managed to kill Ghalib and Gandhi, as Sahir assures us we have, perhaps we've also inflicted a wound, more or less mortal, on the Gita, since Gandhi told us he alone was truly living it and Gandhi, we know, was an honest man.
In this sense, Delhi isn't far away at all, but, rather, the heart's squalidly intimate chawl or basti and to the extent that the fabrication of an 'Indian' identity instrumentalizes Gandhi, Ghalib and the Gita for a purpose legitimating and hegemonic rather than coercive, cohesive or genuinely to establish dominance, we are all, albeit unwittingly, involved in a Dilli chalo insurgency which can only end with our echoing the words of Dagh- 'Javaab kahe ko ta, lajavaab thi Dilli/ Jo aankh kol ke dekha to khvab ti Dilli.'.
Ask what it was and it was all we could ask- it seemed
Till, eyes opening, we saw- Delhi we had but dreamed.
Of course, you may object, Sahir- whose oneiric hegira, in 1949, from the new country of Pakistan to a yet newer New Delhi, or say rather its blue-print, only served to precipitate him, with hilarious irony, into filmi Bombay's pulchritudinous lap- was just employing a metaphor. We haven't really killed anybody and should cancel that appointment for tear drop tattoos. But- if you'll kindly hold off on making that phone call for half a mo'- here's a thought- Sahir said he was a worshipper of Ghalib and Prof. S.R. Faruqi tells us that Ghalib's ma'ni afrini (meaning creation) was based on taking metaphors for facts and deriving other metaphors from them, often by purely verbal conceits, such that ultimately 'the Metaphor outweighed the Reality for which it stood'. This is the opposite of Bergsonian, or barzakh based, metaphoricity as critiquing the brute nature of concepts & privileging Process over Presence or Parousia.
Such 'meta-metaphoricity' is also the hallmark of Gandhi's thinking. True Manliness is non-violence. But non-violence in the face of a stronger foe- or one weaker but able to inflict some measure of pain- might in fact be cowardice and thus not True Manliness at all. Thus, to agree to Lord Reading's granting full provincial autonomy before the Viceroy himself had renounced the threat of force was to risk having been surreptitiously emasculated and thus rendered something less than a true man. Hence Reading's overture must be rejected by all True Men because maybe Lord Reading has stolen one or both of our testicles and replaced it with a pigeon's egg or something equally non vegan.
The conventional view is that Gandhi's reasoning was an 'epiphenomenon' merely and had no intrinsic meaning; he was guided entirely by instinct and a sort of somnambulistic rapport with the awakening masses- but guided to an end dictated by his paymasters, the Indian Capitalists, who needed British technical assistance and corrupt oligarchic praxis more even than Protective tariffs and thus were content to put off Provincial Autonomy for 15 years, by which time the Mody-Lees agreement- essentially sacrificing the consumer and the cotton farmer to the greed of a handful of oligarchic plutocrats- was in place.
Among those to make this point, it is noteworthy, was the first Parsi to become a Communist, Shapurji Saklatvala, later the M.P for 'Red' Battersea- a relative of Sir Dorabji Tata, whom that magnanimous magnate had squeezed out of the family business. Similarly, the first Parsi to become a Trade Union leader was an engineer with an American degree who found that the White employees at the Tata plant were paid a lot more and permitted to treat the Indians workers like shit. Since, Gandhi had lost his luster by then, especially with the educated Bengalis, the Tatas brought in Subhas Chandra Bose to break the strike by persuading him of their own 'Nationalist' credentials. As a quid pro quo, Saklatvala and that Parsi Trade Union leader were- of course- airbrushed from History.
In this context, Sir Ratan Tata's munificent donation to Gandhi in South Africa, in 1909, acquires strategic significance. It was this sudden access of funds which enabled Gandhi to gain a second lease of life as a 'leader' despite his disasterous claim, the previous year, that the new 'Pass Law'- i.e. the Asiatic Registration Act- and the '3 Pound head tax' and so on were actually very good and delightful things which all right thinking Indians would naturally clamour to subscribe to.
Gandhi used the analogy of the restriction on the sale of alcohol to African laborers. As the Zulu elders would later themselves affirm to the authorities, young Black workers mustn't be allowed to drink because drinking leads to thinking. Split a keg of beer amongst a group of young working people and they naturally get round to reading newspapers, discussing politics, setting up Educational, Trade and Political Associations, with the horrendous consequence that they don't send their whole pay packet back home to daddy dearest so he can buy himself yet another teenage bride to warm his chilblained carcass.
Clearly, beer is very very bad. Look at the Welsh miners and their support for that Lloyd George fellow! If workers have a beer and one of them reads out from the newspaper and another says- 'you know, the bosses really should stop these cavity searches on the pretext of cracking down on the theft of coal- it's painful and humiliating and serves no good purpose!'- well, I mean to say, that way lies Anarchy! Cavity searches for coal miners- even if it is isn't really true that diamonds are discovered by the process- are absolutely essential for a Civilized Democracy to function because otherwise them miners get uppity and vote for Lloyd George and clamor for things like Old Age Pensions and Unemployment Insurance and other such Godlessness which totally undermines Liberty and Fraternity and True Equality and turns Society into a sort of ant-farm and and and..urm.. is like totally Satanic, y'know?
Gandhi's greatness was to see that Jan Smuts was trying to help the Indians by getting them to give their finger prints or toe prints or rectal cavity imprints or anything else that it occurred to him to demand. True, it took Gandhi all of two or three weeks in prison to see the light, but his was a Damascene conversion. True Manliness lay in generously agreeing to everything because sulking in a Jail cell is just plain silly. Unfortunately, on his release from prison, Gandhi received a terrible beating from some Pathan foolish enough to believe Gandhi had shown True Manliness in prison- in which case the only reason he was out, free as the air, was because Smuts had paid him 15,000 pounds as a bribe. Now, if Gandhi had offered the Pathan some money- not a lot of money, the guy wasn’t a barrister- while uttering veiled and silken threats then, of course, there was no need for violence. That’s how truly manly men arrange things between themselves and thank you God for making me a big sissy. But, Gandhi hadn’t actually been bribed. Still, the beating and its repeated threat did permit one new fact, vital to the practice of Satyagraha, to dawn on Gandhi. Actually, a spell in prison isn’t so bad if your continual harping on your own true manliness and virtue- in contrast to everybody else's fallen status as eunuch prostitiutes- has painted you into a corner and there are people outside will give you your head to play with if they spot you up and about your usual walk of mischief. It's like what happens when you go into a pub and tell everybody there they don't got no balls and how you are like a highly trained Commando and they'd better go home and tool up before taking you on and suddenly the bar-maid is calling last orders and you realize that if you go outside you are going to get the shit kicked out of you so you make a grab for her titties and she slaps you down and you just make another grab for her titties till the cops are called and, coz it looks like they are going to let you off with a warning, you make a grab for their titties till they hand-cuff you and, then, as you are being dragged off to the police van, you suddenly get all tough and shout Semper Fi! or Attica! or something and, guess what, it suddenly dawns on you- you do too have True Manliness, the rest of them guys got no cojones. I mean, they aint spending the night in the lock up- no, they were too chicken. You and you alone are in the frame. And for what? It's not like you did anything wrong. You're a martyr is what you are. Stand tall, bruv! You is like Mandela Gandhi innit?
As for this business of giving your finger-prints, think about it for a sec., Smuts was right- fact is all dem darkies do look so goddam alike besides having just the same half dozen surnames between them. Suppose yourself Indian. How would you know which Indian you were if the Government hadn't taken your finger-prints and toe-prints and rectal cavity imprints? For all you know, you, not I, might be the author of this foul screed! Indeed, Gandhi's only complaint against Smuts was that by making these things compulsory, an insult was being offered to the Indians- like dem darkies be too stupid to see what a privilege, rather than obligation, such impositions actually are- especially now the thing has been made plain to them by their Gita-incarnating, God appointed, leader- M.K Gandhi bar-at-law.
Knowledge is merely something one earns a living by. Understanding is metaphorical. And thus Meta-Metaphoricity, not Knowledge, is the instrument to rule men's Understandings.
If Smuts first mistake was to try to force an obnoxious measure upon the Indians when they could be made to understand that the measure wasn't obnoxious at all but helpful and salutary, his second error was to declare Indian marriages- except between Christians- as no sacrament but concubinage under another name. Once again, he should have left Gandhi to proclaim this new Gospel because Gandhi had gone one step further. No Indians should marry at all. All marriage is concubinage. Don't do it. Just say no. As for sex- that sort of thing could lead to concubinage. But concubinage is a sort of marriage. Thus sex is as bad, nay worse!, than marriage.
Ask yourself- what would J.C do?
Just say no, already.
What are you Meshugganah?
As for the Jews- don't get me started, okay? I mean, first they don't get how Alexander and Augustus are too totally worthy of worship but, instead, mutter mutinously into their beards & go getting their phylacteries all in a twist and then just out-right rebel!- which is against Pax Romana and the Stoic conception of ataraxia- and didn't Jesus forbid 'antithistemi' as in 'resist not evil'?- yet even after its Centurions crucified Him and Rome announced its Millenial monopoly on the blood and flesh of its new Man-God, the Jews still don't bend the knee or kiss the ring even though, like the Emperor Heliogabablus, this Man-God was a Semite like themselves!
Gandhi, of course, uttering his Gospel of Hind Swaraj, proves himself more truly manly than even that Man-God, because he devises upon his people, even to the farthest shore of their diaspora, a Cross more militant in malice and Crown, the thornier if laurels.
As for the Muslims, well, their Religion looks manly so if they are getting heated about something called Khilafat well, Gandhi has a duty to place himself at their head because he alone has True Manliness.
Among the Hindus, the 'Kshatriya' warrior class looks kind of manly. So, it follows they don't understand their key text- the Gita- because only Gandhi is Truly Manly and he hasn't yet got round to explaining it to them yet.
Strangely, Gandhi is genuinely important when it comes to the Gita.
Why? Well, Swami Vivekananda and the Jugantar revolutionaries had decided that the real meaning of the Gita was- 'Be a man! Sack up! (Pssst- kill Whitey)'- while everybody esle thought it meant- do your Casteist duty unless you prefer to be a beggar or a thief or a pimp or a murderer or anything you like in which case, if you get hold some money and aren't hanged for it, gimme a coupla bucks and I'll lie about your birth or get some priest to declare you high caste, or a God, or a mermaid or whatever so get busy already.
Compared to this, Gita as teaching absolute non-violence aint so bad.
Of course, Gandhian Ahimsa was pretty twisted- I recall reading something in Kathryn Tidrick to the effect that Gandhi, avatar of true manliness that he was, considered the highest ahimsa to involve killing your own daughter to save her from rape provided, of course, you then joyously offered your own back-side for a punitive belabouring by the indignant...whoops, it wasn't a rapist at all, just the Post Man. Still maybe the Police could give you a jolly good rogering on the way to prison. Anyway, at least your daughter is now dead and like maybe young men will start noticing your derriere for a change.
Still, even this sort of shite is better than most modern interpretations of the Gita and so, uniquely, Gandhi was in a position to actually do something good for a change.
Whether he succeeded, I think, is still an open question. For the moment, let me introduce the passage in the Gita crucial to an understanding of its meta-metaphoricity
yajnarthat karano ’nyatra
loko ’yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
Work done as a Ritualistic Sacrifice has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for God's satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage.
The Gita teaches that the karma kanda of Yagnya- i.e. the ritualistic portion of the Vedic Sacrifice- is merely a metaphor for the true, pietistic, Sacrifice of surrendering oneself utterly to the Lord by giving up all worldly desire.
However, notice, karma kanda is itself based on metaphors rather than positive truths or metaphysical dogmas. Unlike the Sacrifice of the Mass in Christianity, where wine and bread are mysteriously transubstantiated into the blood and flesh of Lord Jesus Christ, the Vedic Yagnya is invocatory and says, not 'this has been transformed into that', but 'this now is viewable as that'. Metaphors remain metaphors. What has changed is perceptions, attitudes and intentionalities, nothing material has changed nor has any transmutation, of what philosophers call Substance, actually occurred.
There is another crucial point which must immediately be made about the translation of ‘karma kanda’ as ‘work’. By Mimamsa (Vedic hermeneutic) karma kanda must be something wholly gratuitious, free of any common sense explanation, utilitarian value or consequentialist consideration- even sociological (as in Mauss’s theory of Yagnya as a potlatch. If it is used to redistribute goods, it is no longer a Yagnya, save to save the face of the needy, and we are free to change the acts which compose its ‘karma kanda’) or ideological (if its purpose is to legitimate Caste or Wealth based authority, we can change it because it is no longer truly ‘karma kanda’) or Utilitarian (if a yagnya is for the purpose of producing rain, we can tinker with the formulae till we get a result- the ‘karma kanda’ is shown not to be Shruti by reason of having a visible, consequentialist, end) or ‘gesture political’(if the purpose of the Yagnya is to restore Caste status or ‘purity’ or something of that sort, by all means, change and amend what you like. The ‘karma kanda’ aspect no longer has ‘aparusheya’ (immutable or uncreated) status.
All this is Brahminism 101.
Everybody knows this but pretends they don’t so as to write shite books.
Adopting a yet cruder, even more brutally common-sense, mimamsa or viewpoint, everyone can see that if one wishes to vanquish one's enemies, the way to do it is by hitting them on the head with a club or shooting arrows into their bodies or slicing chunks off them. Chanting stuff and pouring butter into a fire don't really cut it.
However, spending a lot of money on a Vedic ritual where you have priests droning on about how some guy in the sky- who has a thunder-bolt for a weapon- is like gonna be totally on side when it comes to vanquishing your enemies does send a powerful signal to potential adversaries or even actual ill-wishers. Clearly, a guy who literally has money to burn is not one to be trifled with. Fuck with him and he'll quit spending money on priests and hire him some deadly Ninja assassins or- if that's simpler- bribe your Mom to poison your porridge.
The same thing goes for Vedic rituals for getting wealth, offspring, marital bliss and so on. Essentially advertising you have money to burn is great for your Credit rating and highly attractive to fecund women who, why not?, are likely to make you happy because they can have babies- always nice to have around provided you have money- and, what's more, their mothers have an incentive to pretend the kids are yours.
Apart from showing you have money to burn, the Vedic sacrifice- essentially a big barbecue- also indicates you have a certain amount of self-discipline and social poise, can get smart people to work for you and, at a pinch, can muster up a respectable number of guests on your big day- so, at the very least, you aren't a social leper.
In other words, the Vedic Sacrifice is a 'costly signal'
True, there were some fuckwits who convinced themselves this sort of shit was also good for doing impossible things like ascending bodily into Heaven or getting a blow job from a Mermaid or whatever. However, the important point to note is that karma kanda- as opposed to Black Magicians and 'Quantum Conscious' Yogi-bogey Babas and Charlatan Alchemists and so on- didn't claim to change anything on the ground except at the level of metaphorical understanding. A King who conducts an Ashvamedha ritual hasn't actually conquered all other Kings but may still be called an Emperor because people understand that his status is superior to his nearest rivals. Chances are, if anyone fucks with him it's them guys get seriously fucked.
Thus, metaphorically, the dude is now an Alexander or Ashoka or whatever. This is quite different from the Christian notion that a King consecrated by a Bishop has Divine authority so long as the Arch-Bishop says so. Why? It's because in Hinduism, or Jainism, or Buddhism, no magical transubstantiations occur or, if the possibility is admitted, nothing political or practical derives from that contingency.
The fact is, everybody knows there were, are, and always will be guys who will chant any shit and perform any absurd ritual if you pay them enough or, at least, quit beating them or give them a bottle or syringe or piece of tail or something else they very badly want.
Given that the karma kanda of the Vedic sacrifice- if considered as a ritualism rather than a psycho-social, metabletic, work of art- has this ordinary meaning, Lord Krishna's dismissal of it is entirely salutary. However, stuff he appears to approve of- like being a Samkhya Sophist, or bed-of-nails Yogi or forest dwelling Muni- as well as stuff he specifically commends, like never chowing down on a burger just coz you are hungry or coz sheeeet it smells good but only doing so coz God commands you to praise and exalt His Holy Name by eating the thing or having a bowel motion after eating the thing- Krishna can’t be propounding such notions because they are already part of revelation. But, by Vedic Mimamsa, anything already known before Lord Krishna begins to speak in the Gita can't be His meaning because there is no apoorvata, no novelty, no radical departure from conventional wisdom or ad captum vulgi understanding, in what He is saying.
It's just 'cheap talk' is all.
Does this mean that Lord Krishna's real message in the Gita is that though ritualism is a fraud and self-delusion, it is merely a metaphor for the true fraud and self-delusion of Samkhya and Yoga and Devotional Theism and endless pi-jaw about being good and pure and virtuous and so on?
Yes, if nothing else is going on in the Gita.
Let us suppose there is a scene in a novel or a play where the hero consults a doctor who says 'you are suffering from x. The cure is y'. If this were not already widely known then the purpose of the scene, its meaning, would be 'the cure for x is y'.
Suppose there is a scene in 'Sex & the City' where a Doctor says to Carrie- 'The reason you are experiencing discomfort is because you have a large Apartment building in your twat. The cure for having a large Apartment building in your twat is to not permit Manhattan property developers, especially those named Mr. Big, access to your genitalia.' In this case, clearly, the real meaning of the scene has nothing to do with a widely known Medical fact. Rather, it provides a cue for some highly insightful comments by voice-over Carrie linking the Sub-prime catastrophe to the Media led, Affirmative Action, proliferation of anal G spots for middle aged heterosexual males gripped by prostate cancer panic.
Similarly, in the Gita, something else is going on when Lord Krishna says certain actions- like shooting arrows at your Guru here and now upon this Holy Ground of Kurukshetra- are entirely ritualistic in nature and omitting them doesn't change anything on the ground but, for that very reason, are nonetheless bad form, bad faith and, in that sense, bad karma kanda.
But, what precisely is that something else which is going on in the Gita?
Krishna tells us to cut down two trees- the upside down one of the Vedas as well as the World's right side up tree. As I will explain later on, He metaphorically fells himself by his own 'Visvarupa'- itself serving the purpose of cutting down the tree of Karma- but, notice, this 'costly signal' only arises because he appears in the Gita as an Agent not a Principal.
One result is that Vedic karma kanda gets a new lease of life- indeed it is greatly ennobled and preserves the ethos of its upholders. Another is that the 'common sense' view- Religion as fraud and pi-jaw malfeasance- is forced to bite down on the stone pillow of its occluded Concurrency problem whereby it works itself out as a Dijkstra deadlock for constructive Social Choice and remains adaptive only for that reason.
To see why- consider the following question.
Under what circumstances would meta-metaphoricity be a permissible basis for decision making?
Well, if you are your own master, you may chose to take a metaphor for a fact and act on that basis. Suppose I am offered £10 for not publishing this revolting book. By accepting, I, in fact, experience an increase in my Net Worth which is almost infinite in percentage terms. If I were not my own Master- if, for example, I were financially bankrupt, mentally incompetent or happily married- I would be obliged to accept the £10. Being my own master, however, I am entitled to say- 'My books are the uttermost public nuisance it is within my power to cause and thus my one true and abiding wealth. I would feel myself immeasurably impoverished and, verily, as one of the wretched of the earth if I did not indulge my vanity and malice to the hilt by sending this foul screed off to the printers.'
Here, though meta-metaphoricity has had a bad result- viz. the publication of this worthless book- the principle behind it can not be impugned, because we can easily imagine some circumstance where a Social good not otherwise available becomes so for the stated reason.
Furthermore, in a Concurrency deadlock- endless buffering, envenomed ambiguity- meta-metaphoric thinking can un-freeze things, create novelty and rescue Society from stasis.
Ghalib and Gandhi as Principals not Agents
Both Ghalib, in his Urdu Ghazals, and Gandhi, in his dealings with the Government of India, were, by their wilful meta-metaphoricity, their own Masters. They were Principals, not Agents.
Thus to say of Ghalib that it is the deliberate ugliness and unintelligibility of his own poetastering that jaundices his view of his fellow Indians - the speck in his eye, in this instance really being, as he says, a vast Sahara because the 'dastanbu' posey of his Persian style cultivated pensées as self-pollinating pansies of arid and arrant nonsense- this criticism can be easily countered by pointing out that Ghalib was not the Agent of a Muse but the Principal of a Momus, he did not serve Literature anymore than he served Drinking or Gambling or Sycophancy or Savouring Mangoes. If his poems are shite, it is because poetry- by and large- is shite. It is only in the divinely inspired Saints that we expect to find beauty. Everywhere else, unless one has a weakness for Hallmark cards- philosophy- always hilarious in context- is the most we can hope for.
Similarly, Gandhi made it clear that he held his own conception of God and the code of Ahimsa far dearer than any merely political objective- such as attaining Self Government. Thus, though he did not deliver 'Swaraj' on the time-table he had promised, since he was not the Agent of the politically conscious class but a Principal in his own right, he had nothing to reproach himself with.
Gita as Agent
In contrast, the Gita is wholly concerned with not Masters but Servants, not Principals but their Agents. God himself has bound himself to the duty of a charioteer. Arjuna's 'svadharma', his authentic nature, is that of an affectionate younger brother eager to carry out the will of the man he thinks his eldest sibling. Krishna, his closest friend, knows this and helps him to fulfil his fondest wish in a manner which makes the Gita itself an Agent not a Principal- in other words, it is wholly subordinated to the broader narrative drive, within the Mahabharata, regarding the education in Game theory of the Just King.
But to properly teach something is also to show its limitations, aporias and likely misprisions as availability cascades. The purely poetic, as opposed to dramatic, greatness of the Gita arises from its being constrained to this task and fulfilling it with tragic scrupulousness. Thus the meta-metaphoricity of the Gita, far from eclipsing the Reality to which it points, displays instead, with infinite virtuosity, nothing but its own tragic virtuality.
That is why the Gita is great poetry. But great poetry has to be read holistically, with reference to its own decision tree, rather than according to a principle of compositionality. There is an inferior type of didactic doggerel which yields Kantian maxims to guide behaviour and govern the passions. Things like, 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be/ a self-sucked cock is sucked for free', can be mutilated and quoted out of context as, indeed, foolish Polonius does in Hamlet.
This brings me to the most important feature that Gandhi, Ghalib and the Geeta share in common. Intelligent people become really really stupid when faced with them.
Smart people feel they are smart because the World makes sense to them, they are at home in it and require no further horizon. Non-smart people, on the other hand, experience ontological dysphoria- it's like being a man in a woman's body, except you are in the wrong Universe and though the wind blows as it lists and for a moment the weed may feel it can be translated back to its natal flower bed as seed, yet this is as a but brief laving or purification. The ontologically dysphoric non-smart may live in Love as fish in water yet identify with the shore stranded Sankara for whom salvation can only come from that crocodile able to drag him down to his own true depths.
Ghalib, Gandhi & the Gita, for smart-smart people, are like that King who gained the boon that whoever faced him in battle lost half his strength to him. In other words, this warrior was always guaranteed to be more powerful than the one who faced him. I suppose the same is true of the jiu jitsu master who becomes more lethal in proportion to how much heavier, more powerful and aggressive his adversary is.
Valmiki tells us of the vanquishing of this King- Vali of the Vanars. Rama does not confront him head on, but slays him from behind a tree. This is a grave violation of the warrior's code. When the dying Vanar berates Rama, the latter appears to have lost half his moral strength to his adversary because "he winds up his reasons for killing Vali by coolly saying: 'Besides you are only a monkey, you know, after all, and as such I have every right to kill you how, when, and where I like.' '"
It seems intelligent people- Professors and Chief Justices and the like- consider Poetry fair game and, at least, with respect to India's more humbly born bards- that is the merely Hindu- more than perennial Open Season, there is an actual State subsidized bounty on their pelts.
Rama has a perfectly good defense, but doesn't make it- 'You are an elder brother who has mistreated his younger brother thus setting a precedent. I too am an elder brother and what rankles most in my mind is that my own co-Mother was swayed by the canard that elder brothers believe themselves entitled to bully and oppress their younger siblings. Furthermore, you have taken another man's wife and thus acted like the ogre who took my wife. I have slain you the only way you could be slain. To be frank, a duel is no duel if only one party wears armor. It is an elementary principle of our Warrior training, that in a combat with heterogeneous weapons, each party is obliged to apply forethought and exercise vigilance against the adversaries 'counter measures'.
'My dear Vali, you have claimed exemption from the incest-prohibition rule by saying you are merely an animal. Moreover, you say you have neither a valuable pelt nor is your flesh savory. It is quite true that hunters see no profit in killing animals of this description, just as Judges entertain no law suits against beasts for things like alimony, child support, or behaving like Tiger Woods.
'There is a reason we warriors scorn to attack an enemy other than head on. This is because the base and envious consider the fact that a man received an arrow in his back to be proof that he had turned tail and fled the battle-field. Amongst the Tamil people, there is a story of an aged woman who received news that her son had been slain in this manner. She went to the battlefield and searched amongst the piled corpses for her son. When she saw that his injury had been received in the chest, not the back, she set up such a cry, not of lamentation but rejoicing, that milk spurted from her wrinkled dugs and the Gods in Heaven showered down rose petals.
'Examine yourself, Vali. Though I shot from the side, the arrow has entered your chest as if shot by one whom you confronted head on. '
In this context, I found this anonymous comment on the Internet- 'One may say that arrow of the Lord, that is Illumination, is like the ray of that other, the black, Sun whose dark light shines on the back of all things and, the meaning is, it gets its power even from the strength of tamsic, dark, inertial, properties of our heart. Considered in this way, we see also Valmiki is not attacking from in front but using our own tamas and nescience to get power for our personal Illumination.'
As a Saivite, by birth, I naturally associate the Rama-Valin episode with Pasupati- the Lord of the Bound- but hesitate to develop this theme for fear of giving offence to Vaishnavites. Indeed, if at any time I appear to be engaging in sectarian polemics, do please let me know or, in any case, immediately attribute this oversight of mine merely to my own diligent cultivation of stupidity and irremediable offensiveness rather than some defect inherent in a Teaching of which I am utterly, albeit fondly, ignorant and unaware.
The Ramayana, a Vaishnavite text, is of course, everybody's favorite whipping boy because Bhagwan Valmiki is considered 'lowly' according to some modern caste system which, myself a stupid, Saivite, Hindu, I don't personally understand.
With Ghalib- generally considered a proper Aristo- though there are good books about him, every volume of translation into English of his ghazals creates the impression that he was a witless, worthless, cry-baby who never espoused an original theme and who remained entirely ignorant of that branch of Islamic philosophy which gives meta-metaphoricity a locus- viz Barzakh- and soteriological purpose- viz Tajaali or theophany.
To add insult to injury, simple minded people, like former Chief Justice Katju, say things like
'Eemaan mujhe roke hai, kheeche hai mujhe kufra
Kaaba mere peeche hai, kalisa mere aage'
'i.e.- 'Faith is stopping me, while atheism is pulling me forward. Kaaba is behind me, the Church is in front.' Here the word 'Kaleesa' only ostensibly means 'Church', but its real meaning is modern civilization. Thus Ghalib, like many Urdu writers, is opposed to feudal civilization and commends modernism.'
Fatwa time, anybody?
In the case of Gandhi, who is considered a 'barristocrat', the books Professors write about him make the opposite mistake and ascribe to him a philosophical prowess which, to do him justice, he neither claimed nor coveted. This is because they ignore the essential meta-metaphoricity of his thinking and its supervenience on, not states of the world, but moments subtracted from states of the world- i.e. occulted or sublated intentionalities. This, together with his compulsion to run around like a headless chicken decrying the lack of True Manliness of every single human being on the planet, meant he was always before hand in 'interessement'- that is sticking his oar in- with respect to any supposedly 'manly' activity. Take the Chauri Chaura incident. A bunch of 'volunteers'- who had paid a tiny fee and filled out a form as part of a Ponzi scheme to gain a pension from what would soon be the new 'Swaraj' Raj- created mayhem under the pretext of demanding a fair price for meat and then burned and roasted a bunch of policemen to death- though, inexplicably, failing to eat them. Gandhi, of course, both claimed credit for it (he told Mahadev Desai that Chauri Chaura had brought Swaraj miles nearer) and repudiated it by going on a fast- like he didn't think fasting was good for his health and the secret of Prophet Muhammad's power and also, let's face it, if he didn't display contrition the British might just send him off to the Andamans on a one way ticket and the aborigines of those islands mightn't take kindly to being incessantly told they lacked true manliness so fuck else Gandhi was supposed to do? Since the British took the opportunity to boost their own revenues and beat their own manly chests by staging a ferocious crack down, suddenly every other 'volunteer' who had paid his dues under the Congress Ponzi scheme was in danger. If Gandhi hadn't turned tail, he wouldn't have been its leader because it was never anything but a Ponzi scheme. These 'volunteers' didn't really want to risk their lives. They could have done that anyway without putting their names down anywhere or paying a fee for the privilege. They were like 'cyber-squatters' who spend a little money to buy a domain name, not with the intention of developing it, but so as to get a pay-off in the future. In practise, no doubt, this was a good investment, a succesful piece of speculation, for some of them. Gandhi continued as the undisputed leader of an army of free riders who pretended to abhor violence, so as to shirk military service, but who very emphatically did want to draw a Freedom Fighter's pension once victory had been achieved. Prison was a different story. Under the British, thanks to the ban on the slitting of noses, and the relative paucity of anal rape, it acquired definite attractions and conferred a certain prestige. Under Gandhi, it became a ticket to upward mobility more secure than a Credentialist Higher Education system not yet completely worthless. Indeed, once this had become evident, Gandhi changed his tune and said- oh well you know I could have got you guys Swaraj like I promised but you see Chauri Chaura happened and that showed India wasn't ready, indeed it never will be, till it is, so just pile up some more pension credits and wait it out for Swaraj.
This aspect of Gandhian 'interessement' has great utility for Historicist narratives because it solves a Concurrency problem which only arises because the Truth is too obvious. So if, as (the historian, not the restauranteur) Shahid Amin has discovered, Chauri Chaura remains vivid as a metaphor- rather than as vacuous as a cataphor- this was only true because our truly manly Mahatma's meta-metaphoricity meant non-existent shades of scruple and nuances of tactics could be attributed to what Actor-Network theory terms Gandhian 'translation'.
In less open and shut cases- for example the Moplah uprising- or more generally, if you're trying to model Gandhian saltation as deriving from underlying deadlock or live-lock & if Symmetry breaking is required to avoid state space explosion under Bellman's equation- it may be that such an approach has some merit which, however, I can't personally see.
In any case, by itself, this meta-meatphoric feature of Gandhi's thinking, together with his 'true manliness' obession, explains why he was a natural- or Schelling focal point- leader. Firstly, he was unpredictable- so having him as a leader guarantees that there is going to be a stochastic element in your strategy- i.e. it is 'mixed'- so it can't be dominated in a simple way. Secondly, he has the capacity to make decisions- quite radical ones- quickly. Third, his bizarre thought processes looked like a solution to the Kavka's toxin problem of negotiation with the British.
An eccentric billionaire places before you a vial of toxin that, if you drink it, will make you painfully ill for a day, but will not threaten your life or have any lasting effects. The billionaire will pay you one million dollars tomorrow morning if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink the toxin tomorrow afternoon. He emphasizes that you need not drink the toxin to receive the money; in fact, the money will already be in your bank account hours before the time for drinking it arrives, if you succeed. All you have to do is intend, at midnight tonight, to drink the stuff tomorrow afternoon. You are perfectly free to change your mind after receiving the money and not drink the toxin.
Essentially, for an agreement to be reached and prove binding both sides need to feel that the other intends to fulfill the agreement. If intentions are governed solely by one's selfish interest, this cashes out as both sides being sure the other gains more than it loses by sticking to the contract. Thus, the British could negotiate with the Indians, if the Indians showed that they all really wanted something which the Brits could give them. But, any negotiator with the British stood to lose influence within his own constituency- and thus his claim to post-Swaraj power-because he would be denounced as a 'sell-out' by the Die Hard element. This drama was being played out in Ireland at precisely this time. Thus, negotiating with the British meant being prepared to drink poison for the greater good.
If the Indians have leaders of this sort, the Brits can make a good faith agreement and have confidence the Indians will stick to it- like their deal with Jan Smuts- because it is manifestly in their interest. But, Smuts could only make a deal because he and his people had already fought to the uttermost extent of their power and had been given a taste of the sheer, systematic, ruthlessness (Concentration Camps, yet!) the British were prepared to use to secure their commercial interests. Moreover, Smut's Die Hard opponents could not rebel against him because if he took the field against them, his superior courage and tactics would make the result a foregone conclusion. The Indians however had not yet exerted their full power against the British- indeed, it was a puzzle as to how they could do this without destroying their own social cohesion in the process.
Furthermore, for some mysterious reason I don't understand, the Indians did not even try to agree on what they genuinely wanted but agreed to pretend to want things they didn't really want at all- why would Shias or Hindus or even Barelvi Sunni Muslims, at a later stage, want to support 'Khilafat'- the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate of a different theological stripe?
Since the Indians knew this full well, Gandhi could appear to them to be saying 'Yo, Mr. British Man. Me, Holy Mahatma dude. I happen to genuinely believe that this poison of intending to keep faith with you turns into elixir at precisely midnight. Though all other Indians know no such magic exists, I can nevertheless get them to clamor bitterly for the right to drink that poison from midnight onwards. So, (notice this isn't quite the same thing as 'good faith' negotiation, giving rise to Rawlsian 'strains of commitment'; rather, it is 'zombie' good faith and yields only an observationally equivalent outcome) get your ass down to the Round Table- tukhes oyfn tisch, Viceroy Reading, you big jewy Jew you- let's cut a deal already!'
In this context, the cult of Gandhi makes sense. True, there is a superior rationality to wholehearted repudiation of Gandhi- something which dogged him throughout his career- because his Kavka toxin strategy is catastrophic when the pay-off is neither non-rival nor uncontested.
To see why, consider Djikstra's 'dining philosophers problem'
Five silent philosophers sit at a table around an infinite bowl of spaghetti. A fork is placed between each pair of adjacent philosophers.
Each philosopher must alternately think and eat. However, a philosopher can only eat while holding both the fork to the left and the fork to the right. Each philosopher can pick up an adjacent fork, when available, and put it down, when holding it. These are separate actions: forks must be picked up and put down one by one.
The problem is how to design a rule such that each philosopher won't starve, i.e. can forever continue to alternate between eating and thinking.
The easiest solution is to employ a waiter- in the Gita, Krishna is the waiter who adds concurrency as an internal symmetry of the Mahabharata and thus lets karma function in a thought provoking, i.e dharmic, manner.
The British Umpire posed as such a waiter but millions who weren't philosophers nevertheless starved to death.
A second solution is to have a philosopher at the table, Dijkstra himself, who thinks about how to ensure other philosophers get both enough food and thinking time and establishes canonical rules which the other philosophers accept as 'naturally' or 'obviously' fair and optimal without any need for discussion.
This cashes out as a Resource-Hierarchy approach. Emaciated Gandhi, with his deontic 'universalist' ethics and caring-sharing hunger strikes, posed as such a philosopher but not only did his interessement cause thinking to catastrophically decrease but millions of non-philosophers nevertheless starved to death precisely because the Gandhian claim to be putting issues like Untouchability or the plight of the handloom weavers above Swaraj was, if not fradulent simply, then merely a case of sour grapes.
Morevover, Gandhi's failure in such respects really doesn't speak to the power or cohesiveness of 'the forces of reaction' but to the fact that Gandhian interessement needed to maintain or aggravate the status quo with respect to the worst-off so as to keep its vaunted concern for the downtrodden around as a viable excuse for not pursuing Political Swaraj in a rational rather than meta-metaphoric way.
But, Gandhi wasn't alone in taking this tack. Everybody was creating some fantasy world to retreat into where they were scoring great and imaginary triumphs.
Indeed, this is what the 'Evo Devo' mathematics of the situation would predict- at any given moment, ontologically dysphoric worlds predominate- I, personally, live in a Jurrasic Age ruled by Lesbian, Thatcherite, pterodactyls- though only those flukes with good concurrency contribute to the Evolutionary family tree.
A third solution (Chandy & Misra) to Dijkstra's problem is to permit communication and put in a rule like 'after x number of shovellings of Spag-bol into your mouth, a fork becomes dirty and can only become clean after y number of others have used it.' But, I'm guessing, for high enough arity, any given x,y isn't robustly acyclic (i.e. no deadlock) such that a minute corruption can't crash the system. The same would be true of uncertain or fluctuating arity. I suppose evolutionary heuristic solutions will cash out as Caste Systems with fractal clumpings under Power Law distributed connectivity- so, dunno if anyone is trying to squeeze deontics out of Concurrency, but don't even go there is my thinking
Philosophically, arity is related to Piercian 'hypostatic abstraction'- i.e. changing an adjective into a predicate- so every time a philosopher creates a new distincition, arity as a whole goes up not by a unit but some factorial based on how many Philosophers have become freshly distinguishable from each other- Philosophy's job, of course, being to make distinctions without any otherwise real world differences. But one can think of State Space inflation as being like abiotic phenotypal plasticity and the consequent need for symmetry breaking as being like biotic Evolutionary pressure towards genetic canalisation. Equate the former with 'cheap talk' and the latter with 'costly signalling' and one begins to understand why Deontology tries to take over History every time someone gets a dirty fork at High Table.
This is the Kavka's toxin at Dijkstra's table. No philosopher- or Research Program or Policy Agent- would sit down at it unless there is a huge exogenous pay-off for being diachronously inconsistent- i.e. unless there is a predictable phase shift- like the jump to hyper-space in Star Wars- in its own trajectory arising only in that dynamic environment.
Since Gandhism is radically meta-intentional, it initially appears to have some appeal in a Kavka toxin context. But, if Kavka's prize is contested, then we have Dijkstra's Round Table which means, as Indian history shows, lots of people starving or senselessly slaying each other and very little, very very little, thinking of any sort actually occurring.
Still, as part of a mixed strategy- i.e. to retain a stochastic element- it made tactical sense to keep Gandhi as an 'obligatory passage point' in the Leadership problematization because
1) if he can't deadlock a Round Table, he can at least 'livelock' its deliberations
2) if the other side can systematically fool him, his own side- equally surely- can manipulate him by 'preference falsification'- i.e. pretending to want the opposite of what they really want.
Policy Actor Hazard cuts both ways.
Thus, the stochastically consequentialist element in Gandhi's leadership, rather than its deontic predictability of pi-jaw, made his political longevity an evolutionarily stable solution.
Unfortunately, a vitalist Lamarckism bedevilled the thinking of the first part of the twentieth Century and thus it is only recently that the Game theoretic nature of the Gita's meta-ethics has become the natural way of reading it. Thus the sublime irony-as-theodicy that Gandhi's translation of the Gita truly was, not his living it, but its living him has escaped the attention of Academia.
One final point- when I was growing up in the 70’s, many Indians- at least of my sort of background- hadn’t cottoned to the utter bankruptcy of the Liberal Arts. Since then, people who read books about Ghalib, Gandhi and the Geeta are no longer pi-jaw merchants by trade, but gainfully employed in some sort of technical, or applied math driven, profession. There was a young man a couple of years back who thought he had solved the P=NP problem. He hadn’t, but what’s interesting is that he was from an Engineering background- not a pure academic. My belief is that people of this sort can rescue Ghalib and the Geeta from stupid pi-jaw merchants, but only if they understand that Gandhi was shite because all pi-jaw is shite.
I’m not saying this book of mine isn’t shit. It is. But only coz I’m stupid. Take this Concurrency business. There’s an essay on the internet, by the quite lovely sounding Brazilian super-brain, Christine Cordula Dantas- recall the gorgeous Giselli Monteiro who plays the shy Punjabi soni kudi in Love Aaj kal is actually Brazilian- which seeks to make Concurrency a fundamental property of physical systems and thus revive a Bergsonian notion of Time.
'If concurrency is some deeply inherent property of the world, then it would not be a consequence of dynamics, but the fundamental cause of it. If this hypothesis stands correct, then an insight should be gained on the nature of time, by making our theories explicilty concurrent.
'Concurrency should be elevated as a new internal symmetry of the world, in which the probabilistic framework of quantum mechanics would be just an emergent and incomplete facet of a more heterogeneous underlying substrate. And the reversible or irreversible behavior of a given system must somehow be attributable to the underlying heterogeneous concurrent correlations.'
The said gorgeous pouting Brazilian, probably while dancing the salsa, makes an equation between Time and inertia- 'Inertial mobility, hence Time, emerges because the Universe avoids deadlock conditions.'
I take it, this is an Anthropic type argument and further suppose 'concurrency as internal symmetry' means her proposed model doesn't throw away information and conserves something more fundamental which might knit extant theories together. However, by appealing to a ditopology (so there is local partial order), the essential question of non-metric, or ontologically dysphoric, Bergsonian Time is not addressed. Perhaps, the only way that could be done is by operationalizing Ibn Arabi's concept of barzakh or opening the gate to reverse mereology or her recreating the 'Satrangi Re' dance sequence from Mani Ratnam's 'Dil Se' - while I lip sync Ishq pe zor nahin, hai ye woh aatish Ghalib...
Christine, of whom I dream, ends her essay thus- 'In any case, this essay was written presuming that Time exists in some fundamental sense, fully acknowledging, however, the possibility that it may not. If this turns out to be the case, what are we severely missing? Would we be just a surface of imposed irrelevancies- the irrelevancies of Time below which the realm of “nature against nature", the summit of relativism, would forever lie, devoid of its own existence?’
I appeal to my younger readers- kindly solve this problem and Email me the solution.
If Time does not exist, or the Universe gets deadlocked, how I can ask her for a date?
Not that I am a Romeo or Don Juan or Dr. Manmohan Singh or anything
It’s just that, as Ghalib said, ‘Love is that fire, which cold-shoulders Iyer’ and as Gandhiji added ‘no fat chicks!’ and Gita explained ‘Bhargava not Bhagvad is my surname. Gita Bhargava, not Bhagvad Gita. Could you please quit phoning me?’
Thus my case is critical.
I need your help- not lit crit help- but help for the other thing- mathematizing the solution you will find in this book to the Concurrency problem. You see, the only possible reason for women looking askance at my importuning for a date is because, in their heart of hearts, they believe Time does not exist. Christine won’t have that excuse, thanks to the proof you will send me.
Normally, I wouldn’t impose like this, but something terrible has happened.
You see the one parlous hope I have pitiably lived upon since the dawning of this dire Millenium was that South Park would finally get round to doing a 'Gandhi, Ghalib & the Gita' episode in which Mr.Hankey, the Christmas poo, would explain everything in time for the credits to roll.
But, apparently, the program is going irrevocably off the air.
My horrible book, if nothing else, is a protest against this final dimming of the lights of civilization.
In our yet dawning darkness, stay strong sisters & brothers! & murli Manohar Joshi.