Monday, July 29, 2013

James Burke's Connections, Laxmibai smoking a hookah offends and the Story of Ekalavya

Watching James Burke's Connections, I was rattled by my lack of exposure to a critical analysis of India's history so that we have a better understanding of why our society stagnated.

The following comment in "Textbook image of Laxmibai smoking hookah sparks row" perhaps indicates why our education is so poor:
The publisher has issued an apology for hurting sentiments of students, teachers, parents, educational institutions and others concerned.
I recall only a minimal description of the period between the "Golden Age of India" and the invasions which followed centuries later. We were taught more about kings and kingdoms and very little about the society  in general. Even if there were no great empires and small kingdoms were fighting each other, why was there so little change in society? What kept India a static society? If the society was rich so that it was attractive for invaders, what did we do with the surplus?

Are some of the reasons for our society's status quo still present?

For example, is Drona really the villain in the story of Ekalavya? We admired Eklavaya and I do not think I have ever come across a criticism of his actions.

Drona seems to act consistently  with the rulers protecting their own position. It is Eklavaya's cutting off his thumb which implies conforming to the society and status quo rather than trying to change it. And we are brought up on Ekalavya being heroic.

I have often felt that in our modern Indian society as well, desire for respect is confused with insistence on obedience.

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