Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wisdom in Non-Violence

> 1) Mohd Ghori & Ghazni attacked India(and F***ed Indians) more than
30 times.
> 2) Mughals Ruled(Ruined) india more than 2 centuries.
> 3) French, Dutch, British conquered and ruled us.
> 4) China attacked us.
> 5) And at present bloody Pakis are terrorising us( Its a fact that
our Communist Intellectuals respect these terrorists arguing they are

6) Why does this country full of one billion cowards refuse to die?
Why, in spite of all atrocities hailed on it, it continues to be the
most ancient civilisation of the world? Why, though we keep loathing
ourselves, the world keeps getting terrified by the power of this meek
race of Indians while Pakistanis are nowhere in sight?

Just now came back from a talk by Gurucharan Das. And the whole talk was
all about the fact that in spite of all these you have told, and many
more such reasons, India has steadily grown richer, not just the
software crowd but the literacy rates, the poverty
statistics...everything are growing better. According to those analyses,
India shows a far more sustained (though more moderate) growth trend
than China. If you believe him, we all will live to see India growing
into a stronger economy than Japan.

Well, to quote another example from yet another topic of hot discussion:
We men have subjugated and trampled upon the rights of women for much
longer than any imperialist has ever trampled any nation. Yet, we must
accept that women are coming up very strong. Not by becoming like men
and taking up arms, but just continuing being what they are. And the
best thing is: men and women are now friends (hopefully).

Tigers, strong, beautiful, agile, ferocious...are a species at the verge
of extinction. Elephants are not.

In short, perhaps the wisdom in non-violence and non-retaliation is
beyond our comprehension. But over a long run it has shown its toughness
in many ways. A race which makes itself useful for the rest of the
population creates much better chances of its survival than the one
amassing huge arsenal.

Vyagrataa tyaago vats. Aur socho, samjho. Stop having ultra-strong views
and opinions. They skew intellect. Be peaceful and calm and aware.
That's the only essence of our culture which we need to protect.
Everything else is secondary and transient.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Our Discriminating Strength

Harshit is a little cute boy. He's not two yet, I think. He plays around in the yard of our S-block with his tri-cycle. Or some stick. Or just like that. Every passing person always spends a minute or two having a chat with Harshit. Harshit, I think, is too young to speak articulately. And I think, if he makes anything out of what grown-ups tell him, those are too imaginative and sophisticated for us grownups to understand. But, of course, all these people would still like to have a conference with little Harshit. The big surprised eyes with which he would look at you while you speak are a better treat than a standing ovation.

And all this while, looking over his activities is Harshit's granny. She's old and stooping, and is in no way less cute than Harshit. She only speaks Telugu. But talking to her has similar benifits as talking to Harshit. She won't try to understand what you're saying. And she'll nevertheless have something to say in reply. Of course, there's not much hope to making out that, unless you can pick up telugu. She never tries to be gentle to Harshit. In fact, I have found her giving him a hit or two when Harshit tends to be too naughty. Yet, Harshit runs back to her each time one of us tries to be overpaly with him. She is his great protector from all evils. I, with my moustache and serious face, really have no hope of being taken well by kids. But, sometimes, when that chap looks irresistible, I try to go close to him and say something clumsy which I suppose then to be friendly and appropriate for a man of his size. Of course, Harshit runs back to his granny's lap, whenever I try to do all that. Harshit doesn't seem to like me much.

Yesterday morning, when I was leaving S-block for lab, I saw Harshit's granny carrying him on her lap going somewhere. Harshit seemed comfortable looking puzzledly here and there. A big stream of snot oozing out of his right nostril. Well, he is the loveliest thing that's ever been in the history of mankind. I stopped for a while, and asked Harshit why he was troubling his Granma by burdening her like this. Somehow GranMa got what I was asking and started complaining that they had been out for a walk and then in the middle Harshit just started insisting that he should now be carried. Perhaps he'd seen some dog or something. It seems she told him to walk by himself but he wouldn't listen. And hence this.

All that complaint was quite false. GranMa looked perfectly comfortable carrying her grandson like that. That complaint itself was a way to express the joy she felt perhaps.

Harshit is nearly two and a fairly healthy child. He must be weighing a good 10-15 kg. If that weight had been of a bag or books, it would be a difficult one for even a young man to carry for long. A beautiful, lovely grandson is pleasure to carry on yourself, even if you are bending down with age.

We can be arbitrarily strong...but our strength chooses by itself when to show itself. :)

Funny, it is! :) :)

Researchers and Film-makers

The other day, standing in front of the DDLJ poster in front of the mess, Karthik and I were chatting. I remarked that after DDLG it became Shahrukh's professional commitment to swoop away with the heroine just when she's going to get married to someone else. Kucch Kucch Hota Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai, Veer Zaaraa and I think some more of them. Perhaps it makes him look very heroic and manly to be able to pull the heroine out of her worldly commitments by his charms. Whatever!

Then we thought that it's always shown in movies that guy loves girl, girl loves guy, they get separated, they go against the world, and they get married. If you see movies assuming that they are an honest representation of the society, then you would tend to think that the biggest and the most prevalent tragedy in the romantic world is the separation of the hero and heroine tied through a bond of mutual love. And hence, it's the onus of all the film-makers to get together and show this evil and the ways to fight it. Just as they show other social evils (like corruption, violence etc), and methods the hero employs to tackle these.

Even if we don't consider the unrealisticness of the ways and means a hero employs (either going and spraying bullets at ten gundaas, or gatecrashing into the heroines marriage) to solve his problems, there is a big snag.

The fact is: this problem of love happening and the zamaanaa coming in its way is a negligible problem compared to things which happen before the love happens. I think the biggest problem of the love matters is its one-sidedness in most cases. I think thousands of hearts break everyday due to the emotion residing in one heart never communicating to the other. Then, even if it's communicated, it doesn't contract. The number of people suffering from this evil is far more numerous than the one film-makers show happening in every story and getting solved in the end.

I feel, in this regard, film-makers are like researchers. Researchers know of a plenty of problems which are far more serious than the ones they solve. But they stick to solving a very small class of problems which are dwarved both in terms of their importance and in terms of their difficulty in comparison to a lot many more other problems. A quick example from my field: Regular languages form a very small subset of all the languages in Chomsky hierarchy. Of all languages, regular ones are the only decideable class. That is, a question posed in the form of a regular expression can be answered in finite time in general. As a result, we keep talking about finite state systems, simply because we just don't know how to handle the other cases! Similar case exists in the field of electrical and mechanical engineering where most real problems are inherently non-linear. But since, it's usually computationally infeasible to tackle non-linearities per se, they keep solving problems in the linear domain, which actually is a very small subset of all existing problems.

People very well know that there're bigger and more difficult problems to solve, but they keep talking of the easier ones, and try to convince themselves and others that those are the most important problems. It's not like that though.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Exposure of Female Anatomy - A Biological Perspective

It's rather cliched now to lament that dresses of ladies are getting shorter and shorter. It's now become a form of art to cleverly expose some extra bit of flesh on the woman's body without showing 'those' parts fully, yet making it scandalising enough to attract attention.

There's nothing right or wrong about all this. So, let's not lament. Let's try to look at it from as many angles as possible.

A female is an attractive thing biologically. The male of a species (especially in mammals) is biologically programmed to feel sexually attracted to the female of his species. A female is biologically programmed to show off her charms to attract male attention. Exposing flesh, which is nothing but an exhibition of sexual health, is a natural thing for a female of a mammal species to do. Biologically speaking, again, the sexual equations of male and female are that man dominates, and female submits. It gets well betrayed right from the manner a courtship starts to the way a copulation happens (of course, I am talking about the natural ways; not the creative ones invented by us!) In that manner, when a chappie feels like pouncing on a girl showing off her assets, it's not really his sex-starvedness or his narrow upbringing. It's his biology. If he does that he will do the most natural thing for him to do: sexual domination.

As exposure is increasing in films and on streets, we are going closer and closer to our original biology. The female is showing off her sexual beauty. The only deep rooted biological reason for that is to attract sexual attention. A natural consequence of it would lead to mating with a male, which would substantiate the sexual domination of the male ape on his female counterpart.

In animal kingdom, there's no concept of molestation or rape. It happens with humans because they create a condition of tremendous biological stress through a society driven by intellect, and not biology. However, choosing a level of submission and conflict with their biological propensities depends not on any clear logic but as per fads and fashions. In turn, fads and fashions are dictated by deep-rooted biological characteristics. Intellect just serves as a protector of rights: the right to violate or submit to those biological instincts. There was a time when ladies wouldn't even wear a blouse. There are times and places when there would be no part of her anatomy visible. These days, often things are fairly functional, in the sense that convenience and comfort, and not sexual exposure, dictate the taste. But many very attractive dresses worn by girls even today seem so tight as to be cutting through their bodies, or so flimsy as to be ready to fly away any moment. Of course, it's neither comfort nor convenience that gives birth to such tastes. It's pure biology. I have moved in circles where shaking hands with a member of the opposite sex used to be a taboo. I have been witness to cultures where bodily contact is a de facto part of male-female interaction. Humans really don't have a clear concept as to what is the safe and right amount of closeness. Nor do conditions of today allow the development of such an idea. When somebody learns to be at ease with some given norms – notwithstanding the biology – circumstances take a sharp turn around him; and he is faced with an entirely different culture! Most of us are smart enough to handle these unnatural changes. But we should accept that we are blessed with a biological make of a fairly primitive tribal ape. While our intellect fights hard to adapt to the ever changing cultural conditions, our biology has fallen far behind. Acts of sexual crime are calls of distress from our biology.

All this may make it all appear as an advocacy for conservative dressing. It's not the case though. I am advocating an acceptance of the presence of dominance of our biological instincts upon us. The exposure that we see these days has a lot to do with the women empowerment and also with money. But a point to note is that after getting the freedom to do what she wants, a female ape will have a biological tendency to choose submission and sexual exhibitionism in many ways. She will pierce herself at several parts, she will wear clothes and footwear that will restrict her movements and make her uncomfortable. She will go to strange limits to create illusions of the hairlessness of her body. All this is loud evidence of the fact that women are liberated. But they are also loudly declaring that a female mammal would always choose male sexual dominance, going biologically. In case of humans, that happens in an extraordinarily sophisticated manner: self-inflicted trauma by females to look attractive, for instance. It is done by choice, hence can't be condemned as an atrocity; at least not while these acts of female beautification are in fashion.

On the other hand, one of human-being's nature is to go against his nature. Our intellect is as much a part of our biology as our genetic code. Our intellect exposes us to many other ways of looking at things than our mere biology. Take again the case of female dressing trends. We have come a long way from the time when a woman was supposed to kill herself if her husband died. We now think of it as some kind of atrocity done to women by a male-dominated society. The atrocity was there; but it didn't have more to do with men than with women. Here again, biology seems to have a part to play. Male dominance is always a fashion. Then it was crude. A women mounting her departed husband's pyre would be an epitome of female submission. In her age, she would be hailed as a heroine. Today, those ways of female submission to male dominance are rapidly going out of question. But new ways – more subtle and less blatant – have to been invented to make that same thing happen. Inconvenient methods of dressing, expensive ways of looking good, be it through expensive (and very temporary) hairdo, outragiously priced jewellary and dresses, painful piercing and hair removal ... they are more sophisticated methods by which a women takes the liberty of submitting to the male need of sexual dominance. The story of perfectly willing sacrifice of Madri by burning herself up with Pandu seems ridiculous and barbaric to us today. In a more sophisticated society tomorrow, when they come across methods by which females of today subject themselves to painful experiences – be it by wearing inconvenient and uncomfortable drapery, by going through the tedium of hair removal just so that they have the liberty to show off that extra square inch of their anatomy -- those people of tomorrow will proclaim the society of today as barbaric and male chauvinistic.

The money aspect in the movies etc. also has a mapping to the same cause. There's nothing inherently noble about a lovely face, and nothing inherently ignoble about a sexy figure. The exposure of physical beauty, be it in the form of eyeliners and lipsticks accentuating an artificial pout, or skimpy outfits accentuating curves, are all directed towards the same end: enticing the male, a perfectly natural thing for a female to do. In all ages, such acts have always been done by the most aggressive and outgoing of the females of that age. Madri and Rani Padmini displayed their loyalty (which in this case is a display of the strength of sexual pair-bond and hence sexual strength itself, in some sense) by walking out of the crowd and taking the liberty of ending their lives. Today, a film heroine takes the same liberty by wearing the skimpiest of all dresses and walking proudly and gracefully in front of a crowd of thousands. Both these classes of women are aggressive and powerful; both are heroines of their own respective ages; both are doing the same act of sexual submission in their own ways fashionable in their respective era. And since the acts of most aggressive sexual submission are done by the most empowered of all females of an age, they are rewarded, not just by sexual attention, but everything else: money, fame, power etc. Exposure in films and in the most fashionable circles are not the consequence of a lot of money. The money is a consequence of exposure, which only the most aggressive and empowered of all women dare do in our present age.

I realise that saying all this may subject me to a lot of brickbats from the female audience, but I entreat for a scientific view to what I am saying. It will be a very emotional thing to do if I am interpreted as an advocate of female subjugation. As I mentioned above, we are intellectuals – and that fact is as fine-engrained in us as our biologically being mere beasts who are susceptible to strong biological tendencies beyond reason and control. We have a fair degree of control in deciding what's right and what's not through volitional thought. We are blessed with some degree of freedom to even go against our biology. But we must also understand that we are still strongly held back by our genetic make: the make of a primitive tribal ape where male sexual dominance and female sexual enticement and subsequent submission comes very naturally to us. If our intellect wages war with that make, there's going to be tremendous tension. That tension again is a part of the game we are in the middle of. Man always adventures; he always takes risks; he always walks on a knife's edge. He falls and bleeds. But he gets up and keeps on walking. Our rebellion against our biology is also a very natural thing for us to do.

We intellectuals would definitely like to have a society that treats men and women equally.But the biological part of us will reject such a society as very dry and uninteresting. The more we try equating the two sexes, the newer and more ingenious methods will we devise to again create distinctions. But the justification for the inherent differences between men and women, which linger in the form of poetic verses or allusions of mystical thoughts, are not very effective. Men and women are different by their biology. If that's accepted, we don't need to knock at the doors of mystics of poets to look for an explanation as to why we are not what we think we are or should be.

To close, I will assert that exposure of female anatomy, whether in movies or in real life, has definitely to do a lot with women's liberation. The money factor is involved but it is not so much an antecedent, as it is a consequent of the exposure. The exposure happens mostly by the most aggressive and powerful females of the human species – film stars and attractive and popular ladies – and is an act of display of sexual powers of a (sexually) powerful and confident female. This act itself is nothing new of this age. Sexual exhibitionism is very typical thing for a female of our species to do to attract male mates. This same biological event sometimes goes awry and takes the form of sexual crimes, whorehouses and nude bars. But that's a combination of a largely unnatural social intellect and a personal intellect defeated in the hands of very strong biological instincts.

And to reduce all this to one line, there are various aspects – sociological, philosophical, moral, economic – to this issue of exposure of female body catching up in fashion, but all that is clearly pervaded by the biological aspect, which always keeps men and women of our aggressive species at war – with competitors,with each other, and even with oneself -- to win each other's attention, in the course of which, both sexes not only show tremendous ingenuity, but –partly owing to our massive intellect – go to unnatural extents in inflicting even pain and death unto oneself.

I repeat, there's nothing right or wrong in this. But surely, there's a lot of material to wonder and feel awe at the complex way we have been designed by that clever and crazy chap: God!

Postscriptum: I owe a lot to Desmond Morris and his book 'The Human Zoo' for the above treatment. The central idea – that of female exhibitionism and male dominance – is a scientific fact according to him. In his book, he gives far more numerous and naked examples of this thesis. I have just instantiated this idea to explain the point of the above discussion.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rang De Basanti

I saw it the day before yesterday. I liked it. But not so much for a second time watch. Found the message potentially unhealthy. Of course, it's all upon how one takes it. I also felt that the director has trying a little too hard to make the whole thing appear very masti-masti, while trying to give good messages. I found Soha Ali Khan a disaster!
But there were some really good things I liked: Dialogues, Amir's acting, cimenatography...the British girl's enthu and passion, the transformation of the Hindu fundamentalist...and of course, the message of social awareness the passion to do something about it beyond just cribbing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

On The Malicious Cartoons

Terrorism in any form is bad. What's being done all over is another more sophisticated form of terrorism. Anti-Islam sentiments show clearly in the cartoons released in the last couple of months. Some of the cartoons are in a deplorable sense of humour. Freedom of press can't be given away to any people claiming to be houses of journalism. The cartoons published show a negative sentiment to a major religion of the world. And the depiction is so vulgar! If it's being taken sentimentally, there's no wonder.

I definitely am not justifying the ensuing violence. But, now it's quite clear that powerful nations and powerful agencies nurturing anti-islam sentiments are publicly acting on them. It's very worrying.

Things happening are not right. But given the history of human-beings, such things can't be ruled out from the list of expected. It's quite evident that there's a growing body of world population that's got directly affected by terror attacks. Their family and friends have been lost. Innocent people have been killed. If the above irrationalities are rooted amongst such a population, things are already beyond right and wrong.

Extreme attrocities done on many muslim communities, clubbed with an unrealistic ambition of a purely Islamic world by many of them has resulted in many of them losing their mind and taking the path of terror. We can't sympathise with them; nor can we downright blame them as terrorists.
But the so called terrorists -- if they have chosen their way with a hope of killing evil -- can see their whiteskin images on the opposite camp. Terror is giving birth to more terror.

The excesses in the form of malicious humour is no different. They are another form of terror. All parties should learn from this. All should understand that both parties are behaving in the same way. They are already at war with each other. It's no more a question of right and wrong. Now's the question 'who'll win?'

It's pathetic! We sane people are helpless.

Creativity - The Basic Instinct

Two days ago, I saw our lab's cleaner Boy, Manju's exploits with MS-Paint and was amazed at his creativity. How a good talent is getting wasted here! He had built a painting with a house, a Shiva Linga and a snake twined around the Linga. There was another snake twined on one of the branches of a nearby tree.

The house, the shiva linga the tree and the snakes were geometrically correct. He had used some very unnatural colours. But the overall effect was good. The Painting was looking anything but bad.

The creativity that we get to see is not just creativity. It's creativity plus opportunity plus training. It's quite clear that inherent creativity is a much more prevalent virtue in a far more numerous people than we can comprehend. And neither is creativity a trait of only the rich and well-fed. Even those who are starving have live creativity within them. Creativity is so inherent in us that it breathes and speaks strongly even when the so-called more basic requirements are not sufficiently fulfilled.

I feel greatly hopeful that this inherent creativity will free this miserable species of its woes. One day it will.

Related blog :
Addendum on Curiosity
Mystery and Curiosity

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bright Forces - Dark Forces

In the Star Wars series, this concept finds mention multiple times. Jedii warriors are people with special powers, and they defend the good people. Siths on the other hand are equally powerful people, but are dark and bad.

Darth Vader, the most powerful Jedi, turns into a sith in 'The Revenge of The Sith.' Before his becoming a sith, he used be a Jedi named Anakin Skywalker. He remains equally powerful -- infact grows in his power. But he no more remains a Jedi.

What differentiates a Jedi and a Sith? It's the concept of dark forces. Sith's give themselves up to the dark forces. Jedis don't. That's the difference.

On the face, the concept looks absolutely simple. Quite on the contrary, it most probably is based upon a very profound philosophical thought. I also sense that it's been deeply inspired by Hindu philosophical concepts.

When Anakin is introduced to the Jedi council as a prospective Jedi, Jedi Master Yoda has something quite insightful to say. Although Anakin is full of the powers needed to be a good Jedi, Yoda senses a deep sense of fear in him. 'Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; and hatred leads to war.' He says, and reconsiders inclusion of Anakin as an apprentice inspite of his being a prodigy. Anakin is, however, eventually accepted into the Jedi council. He proceeds to become the most powerful Jedi that had ever been. But his fear, one of the dark forces, is constantly at work within him. And finally, in the moment of test, he loses his integrity and passes into the dark side. The Sith Lord rechristens him as the 'Darth Vader.' And while he's luring Anakin to turn into a sith, he says: 'Learn to use the dark side of The Force.'

I would direct you to learn more about these things to this place.

There is a mention of 'The Force.' And the dark forces are as much a part of this Force as bright forces are. Dark side of the Force are fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, greed. Bright side of the forces are love, serenity, self-control. Both are sources of enormous powers. In a beautiful shot scene, the Darth Sidious is trapped by Jedi Master Mace Windu, and a severe fight ensues. The sith powers, arising from the dark side of the Force, are a good match for the Jedi Master's powers. But there is one difference. While the good and evil forces meet with each other, moment by moment, the Sith Lord suffers a severe decay. Within seconds of combat, Darth Sidious turns from a powerful figure into a crumpled, wrinkled invalid. Master Windu, however, remains unscathed. I could sense a very clear indication of the fact that dark forces are powerful, but they cause a decay from the inside. While dark forces might add to the immediate power and results, they invariably eat away the inner health.

This is the point where the discussion could be seamlessly transformed into Hindu philosophy.
(Much of the material below are more my interpretation; not verbatim translation of the scriptures. So, it would be a good idea to take things with a pince of salt. But the better thing about the following matter is that I am ready to be believed or disbelieved; to defend refutation modestly on an intellectual level)
In that, it's said that three kinds of forces reside in us: Saatwik, Raajsik and Taamsik. Instances of Saatwik forces are love, intelligence, alertness, love, peace, etc. Instances of Raajsik forces are aggression, determination, courage, eroticism etc. Instance of Taamsik forces are fear, hatred, jealousy, laziness, selfishness, greed etc.

Saatwik forces are outright good; Raajsik ones are neutral; and Taamsik ones are outright bad. The ancient caste system of India was partly based on this. Brahmins (researchers, doctors, priests) were supposed to be pure saatwik characters. They would pursue knowledge and spread it among able disciples, would lead a simple and ascetic life, would never accumulate wealth, and would generally be agents of connecting the rest of the humanity with the higher world. Khrathriyas (rulers, judiciaries, warriors) came next. They are mostly saatwik, but would have raajsik elements in them. Their saatvik character would give them the ability to think and the love for their people. Their raajsik character would give them the power to defend their state if need arose. Vaishyas (traders) came next. They had an equal mix of all forces. They would handle their business with intelligence and energy, which are saatvik forces. The aggressiveness required to defend their wealth emenated from raajsik sources. The greed, which is inherent in all trade adds that dash of taamsik force into the vaishya. Shudras(slaves, labourers, butchers, janitors,...) are predominantly taamsik. They aren't intelligent. They are not courageous. They don't feel for others. They don't have the self-respect to stand up against oppressive forces. They are lazy, unalert and uninnovative. Their only motivation towards working is greed, fear (of punishment and starvation).

The caste system was abused for centuries. Caste was never an inherited wealth in its original form. It had to be earned through conduct and good living. Its running in the lineage might have been authentic many centuries back. But, bloods mixed and matched beyond all account. There's no more any purely Brahmin blood, Kshatriya blood, Vaishya or Shudra blood. We are all born to an unknown lineage of virtues and vices. Today, each man has to prove for himself what he is. We can't borrow any discount from our lineage, since it doesn't exist. Moreover, considering the economic system of today, we all are part Brahmin, part Kshatriya, part Vaishya, and part Shudras.

These forces have also been said to have connection with our lifestyle. For instance, vegetarianism is said to enhance saatvik elements in our being, while non-veg, alcohol and other addictions are supposed to enhance raajsik and taamsik elements. One of the reasons why brahmins have mostly been forbidden from eating non-vegetarian food. The varying levels of ascetism they are supposed to observe also has a similar reason : simplicity enhances satwa; materialism subdues it giving place to tamas.

In parting, the beauty of the idea must be noticed and appreciated. Could it be an experiment worth carrying to keep a probe as to which tendencies are at work at various points of our day-to-day life when we are working, sleeping, talking, eating etc.? Are there such supermen present who lead an active and productive life without ever borrowing energy from the taamsic elements (the dark side of the force). Are there people who can be active, courageous, productive, creative just because they have discovered and opened up the vast reserves of saatwik forces (Bright side of the Force) inside them? Are there true Jedi warriors found these days?

And more interestingly, whether they exist or not, the question is: Can we live a life driven completely by saatwik elements? Can we purify ourselves to become true Brahmins?

I think, it's worth giving a shot!