Sunday, June 17, 2012

The importance of winning the social service narrative

Hindu volunteering organizations worldwide that focus tremendously on social service at the cost of their acceptability to the MSM or the intelligentsia of the day often receive a lot of flak from their supporters for neglecting these aspects. I myself have been guilty of giving them flak at times. Image issues are of course very important in our information age, the harder you blow your trumpet the better it is heard and it helps in keeping the flock numbers high and spirited. However, volunteer organizations have tremendous load on their hands to finish their social assignments, and if some of them believe that these assignments constitute all that they have to do, they shouldn't be harmed by constant harping about their shortcomings. My suggestion would be that they should be joined by their well wishers and changed internally by penetrating their leadership ranks. Another option is to rigorously convince organization chieftains of the good their well wishers could do and see how much they could bend their rules. 

To make my case more convincing, we will look at a less noticed feature of Monotheism's rise among Pagan cultures. It would be absurd to say that Monotheism as an ideology could have won in a straight battle of ideas with pre-existing cultures that had generated spectacular scientific and military achievements and long standing world superpowers. Right from the rise of monotheism to the fall of the Roman empire, there must have been several intellectual discourses between monotheism and paganism. Some monumental works of these types belong to people like the last pagan emperor Julian along with Celsus, Libanius, Porphyry. To know about whatever exists of their works, I will suggest this book: click. Most of it are fragments of the quotes from their works in which they had intellectually challenged both Christianity and Judaism. The fact that these quotes had to be resurrected from the books written by Christians to refute them and that large bodies of these works are lost seem to suggest more than what meets the eye. But something else was happening in the background of these intellectual showdowns that were happening all across the pagan world. Long before Pagans lost the spine to  participate in armed rebellion when their cherished temples and institutions were being plundered and ravaged (refer Libanius's oration to Theodosius in the appendix of the book), it appears to me that another important aspect of the pagan counter offensive against monotheist forces was missing, as we can see from the quotes below:

"Goatherds and shepherds among the Jews following Moses as their leader, and being allured by rustic deceptions, conceived that there is one God." Celsus

"Jesus having collected as his associates 10 or 11 infamous men, consisting of the most wicked publicans and sailors fled into different places, obtaining food with difficulty and in a disgraceful manner." Celsus

"We may see in the forum infamous characters and jugglers collected together who dare not show their tricks to intelligent men but when they perceive a lad and a crowd of slaves and stupid men, they endeavour to ingratiate themselves with such characters as these." Celsus

"We also may see in their own houses, wool weavers, shoemakers, fullers and the most illiterate and rustic men, who dare not say anything in the presence of more elderly and wiser fathers and families; but when they meet with children apart from their parents, and certain stupid women with them, then they discuss something of a wonderful nature; such as that it is not proper to pay attention to parents and preceptors, but that they should be persuaded by them...." Celsus

"The Christians now wonder that the city has been for so many years attacked by disease, the advent of Esculapius and the other gods no longer existing. For Jesus being now reverenced and worshiped, no one any longer derives any public benefit from the gods." Porphyry

"..They likewise suggested to him that the ancestors of the Jews were driven out of Egypt as impious and hateful to the Gods. For their bodies being overspread and infected with the itch and leprosy, they brought them together into one place by way of expiation, and as profane and wicked wretches expelled them from their costs..." Diodorus Sicilus

"After this, Amenophis returned from Ethiopia with a great force, and Rammeses also his son with other forces and encountering the shepherds and defiled people, they defeated and slew multitudes of them, and pursued them to the bounds of Syria." Manethos

"... The scum and refuse of other nations, renouncing the religion of their country, flocked in crowds to Jerusalem, enriching the place with gifts and offerings..." Tacitus

From these quotes, something seems to come out, that the social outreach apparatus of the Pagan empires of the past was either not present, had failed miserably or was not sufficient at the time these new religions arose. A schism seemed to have happened in the socio economic structure of the day and from that schism arose the monster of vengeance that took down mighty empires and civilizations in its wake. No amount of good posturing among the new members of Monotheism was able to stop Paganism from being taken over.   The final death blow was of course provided by Monotheism corrupting the ruling class, infiltrating the army and outright banning of the Pagan religious practices (for that, read this book). This is not to suggest that there should be no attempt at a battle of ideas, or an intellectual posturing but that  is only an accessory to the battle gear that a faith should wear, with its true armaments being social outreach to the poor and needy.

The above should be a lesson to all standing cultures, that whatever be their state of development, their existence is dependent upon the state of existence of the underclass and without taking them forward, their future is under peril as well. If the volunteering organizations are aiding the underclass, uniting the society and trying to prevent subversion, they should thus be at the least left alone at their task and at the most be assisted at it. In my view, if Hindu culture is standing today, it is because of a long standing tradition of service (ref Ch. 17, 18 of the BG and the four debts of life). But this tradition is under tremendous strain from big pockets across the globe. Time is short and to keep the society united under Hinduism, it must be known that the elite in Hinduism cares for its underclass. I call this struggle the struggle for the social service narrative and looking at the outcome of Pagans losing their narrative of social service, it must be won at any cost. 


strat said...

The inner context is what makes it a valuable read.


Amit said...

Yes, the intellectual narrative for the social work done by Hindu organization should be done aggressively.

Dirt Digger said...

Real progress in social and economic front can be made when there is a separation between religion and state and tolerance is established.
A good example is the European Renaissance. Prior to that Europe was largely a group of war mongering nations with little contributions to the world since the Roman empire collapsed around 500AD.
The Desert religions are in built on absolutist principles. so any nation which follows those principles is headed on a path of fundamentalism and long term backwardness irrespective of who rules the nation.
I'm not sure if you see the movie - 'I am Legend', replace the vampires with any of the desert religions and thats the world 50 years from now.
It will be interesting to watch the battle between the Rational scientists and Church on the origin of the Universe.
If the scientists can conclusively prove the origins of the universe as older than 5000 years as told by the Bible, then it will start the end of the line...

Dirt Digger said...

Also I'm wondering if in a society where there is significant wealth and social disparity the only logical choice is a monotheistic religion.

Karmasura said...

DD I have seen 'I am legend', the outcome in the future is not going to be that literally, but closer to george orwell's 1984.

To your 2nd comment, I'd say that the logic won't be apparent immediately, it comes only with the lure of monotheistic welfare and penetration in the education system.

Bopanna said...

I cannot access the latest article "The story of Shambooka". When I click on that link from Indian Nationalistic Post site - It says - Page not found.

Do let me know.


Karmasura said...


The article posted on Shambooka was an accident, I was drafting it and it got posted somehow. I deleted the draft on it too.

I couldn't get Kuvempu's reconstruction of Valmiki's tale in which Lord Ram simply kills Shambooka for doing tapasya as a dalit. Clearly the story in the original would have sent a bad message on its own. Kuvempu had done a restructuring of it to display Lord Ram as a thoughtful character and I need it to complete the post.