HISTORIANS' PITFALL - CULTURAL MISEDUCATION
Antiquity Of Cultural Miseducation
11 February, 2007 03:13:00
Abstract: The recent articles by Subhash Kak and N.S. Rajaram in Sulekha and many other media will raise some fundamental questions related to the psychology of human race and the limitations of the human mind to undertake objective investigation of historical and anthropological phenomena. This article will take a superficial overview of areas of miseducation that have plagued human race and the human world-view for several centuries. The article will examine the root cause of such confusion in the liberal arts or Humanities mainly, but also in the scientific literature, from ancient Indian philosophical viewpoint. Some psychoanalytic and neurobiological concepts may also be relevant. These concepts may be parallel to the ancient Indian concepts.
The recent work of Stephen Oppenheimer based on human genetics has presented evidence that the origin of mankind (Homo sapien) was in the African continent 150,000 years ago and the human race or the species of Homo sapiens migrated over the millennia 90,000 years ago from the African continent till 40,000 years ago, when the European continent or the geographic areas with temperate climate became populated by the human race. The reader is referred to the articles by Subhash Kak and N. S. Rajaram for further details via "Google" (www.google.com).
The Indian subcontinent or the "Bharatvarsha" as known to us Indians is held to be the cradle of civilization from where all the migrations of non-African human race to all other parts of the world took place from 74,000 years ago till 40,000 years ago and later. The word "Arya" means nothing more than "honorable" or "noble" and indicates the refined or civilized human being (as is referred to only 40 times in the Vedas and also later in the ancient Sanskrit literature) with no other connotations. The concept of race is uniquely missing in the meanings and nuances attached to the word "Arya" in the Sanskrit literature. There is no "Mister race" in the Western world and there need not have been an "Aryan race" for the East.
There are many political, sociological, and methodological explanations for why this myth of "Aryan invasion" of India was created and perpetuated. Also, there are many explanations for why this myth is swallowed lock, stock, and barrel by not only the educated as well as the uneducated Western people, but also sadly by the educated Indians for the last three centuries. Curiously, it is even most vigorously defended by some of our Indian brothers and sisters. Without going into the polemics, I would like the readers to become aware of the process of inquiry that goes awry and how the objectivity is derailed in the normal human educational endeavors.
The famous aphorism, "Satyam Eva Jayate" is commonly translated as "Only Truth will prevail." Jayate refers to victory (literally "becomes vitorious"). It is interesting as well as intriguing that mostly the victorious people write and propagate the history of the people they have conquered. The definition of "fact" in modern Law is "that which the fact-finders believe to be true is a fact." Such translations and paradigms describing what "facts" mean ignore the spirit of the aphorism and leads to polemics about the definition of the "Truth" or "Fact," and the paradigm leads to fallacies that are difficult to detect.
"Sat," in my opinion, stands for that which exists or that which truly existed, meaning that which really happened. The opposite of it is "Asat," meaning, "that which does not exist or did not exist and did not really happen or not in that way." Anything that is derived from Sat is Satya and anything that is derived from Asat is Asatya. "Jayate" is victory of Satya over Asatya. Simply speaking, the dictum emphasizes that rational human mind will eventually accept only satya and discard asatya. That is also the spirit of science and needs to be the spirit of the Humanities and Liberal education also.
Human intelligence is endowed with the ability to distinguish between Satya and Asatya. This faculty (or an ego function)is called "reality testing" which develops in the very early childhood and continues to sharpen with maturation, education, experience, and training in critical, logical, rational and scientific thinking. One would legitimately question the nature of the factors that interfere with this discriminating faculty even when present in the thinking human being. The "Sara- Asara Viveka Buddhi" and "Sad-Asad Viveka Buddhi" refer to similar faculties or ego functions of the mind like "reality testing." "Viveka" refers to discriminating intellect. "Sara-Asara" refers to essential and nonessential or relevant and irrelevant and "Sad-Asad" refers to real and unreal. How does this faculty of reality testing become clouded with "Avidya" while conducting historical research and arriving at conclusions?
"Vidya" is commonly translated as "knowledge." The more apt definition of Vidya is "that which leads to Vid or Knowing. (vid + ya)" Interestingly this Vidya is indeed a faculty of the mind or intelligence just like other faculties of the human intelligence, "Prajna" and "Pratibha." "Avidya" (a+vidya)is translated commonly as ignorance or lack of insight. Insight then logically stands for Vidya! Or, is it the other way around? Vidya leads to insight. Avidya is usually viewed as absence of vidya, but in the context in which it is used here, it mostly refers to an "aberration of the mind" or "a derailed faculty," namely "that which leads to Avid." "Avid" can mean absence or lack of knowledge or erroneous knowledge. Clearly this is an interesting and an alternative way of looking at the word "Avidya.(avid+ya)" Avidya leads to erroneous knowledge. An investigator of facts has to discipline himself in exercising Vidya, and develop abilities to discern the psychological factors that propel Avidya. There is no parallel for these concepts in the Western psychology or cognitive science to the best of my knowledge. The closest parallel in English language for Avidya is the psychological "blind spot" that the psychoanalysts talk about.
There may be a very valid neurobiological basis or underpinning for Avidya. The perceptions and memories are continually categorized and "filed", if you may, in the hippocampus. Hippocampus does what the search engines do for the Internet surfer. The other organ of the brain that has immediate access to memories of survival value is amygdala. From neurobiological viewpoint, the culture is a store-house of accumulated memories of the previous generations. Once ingrained in the hippocampus and amygdala these memories are of survival value. The victorious population has a psychological need to create stories to boost its pride, justify its conduct, and maintain its political power over the vanquished so its future generations will continue to wield the same power over the vanquished populations and enjoy the benefits of doing so perpetually. Once these memories are stored they become the reference points for the future perceptions. Such locking in of the circuits of the brain in discoloring perceptions to suit the previously ingrained memories leads to spinning of the wheels of familiar paradigms. That is the reason why human beings adhere so steadfastly to previously held paradigms and resist acceptance of new paradigms. This may be viewed as an unfortunate side-effect of a function that has survival value from the biological view-point. This resistance of the human mind to change is not to be interpreted as an excuse for perpetuating antiquated attitudes such as racism, racial superiority, slavery, colonialism, exploitation of the weak, child labor, or proselytization, even male dominance in the society that reap the benefits to the once aggressive and conquering imperialistic civilization but a partial explanation as to why these die hard. However, it is only one neurobiological explanation for the conscious and unconscious biases and prejudices human beings carry. In psychoanalytic parlance these old reverberating neural circuits lead to a quick "transference." "Transference" can have positive and negative features. That is a different subject; but the negative transference towards the investigators from other cultures can also impede acceptance of their world-view although it might be more rational and scientifically more correct. Sometimes these views have to await general acceptance in the world-view until they are plagiarized and reworded in the culturally compatible language of the dominant culture and peddled as original and invented or dicovered by a respectable memmber of that dominant culture.
The "Chittavrittis" or "mentation" that lead to cognition are defined to be "Klishta and Aklishta." "Klish" stands "goading" and therefore contrary to usual hackneyed translation of the word "Klesha" as "suffering," the word "Klesha" really means "instinct." A scientist or investigator is to exercise every caution to avoid "Klishta vritties," drives, or his instictually driven motivations from infiltrating his/her rational reasoning or afflict his/her Viveka buddhi. He is to develop an intellectual discipline or rigor to adhere to "aklishta vritties." These are the rational thoughts (mentations) uncontaminated by the instintual influences and not driven by "kleshas." The major driving instincts or kleshas are "Raga" and "Dvesha." "Raga" is attachment or over-attachment and "dvesha" is aversion or hatred. In basic terms these refer to approach-withdrawal tendencies. Freud coined the term "wishful thinking." The ancient Indian concepts are clearer and caution the fact finders that the klishta vritties could lead to Avidya. So also wishful thinking leads to interference with reality testing and relation with reality as is well known to psychoanalysts.
This brings us to the recently popularized concept of "Cultural Mis-education." Why does Ciltural Miseducation creep into the texbooks of history and even in the general world view? When cultural memories are transmitted from one generation to the next the deeper psychological needs, or klishta vritties, of the transmitter discolor the memories and even their perceptions. Even the "pramana" (objective observations) and "aumaana" (objectively and logically derived inferences), meaning obviously valid assertions and inferences, have to be thoroughly examined for their "Satya" quality. Even pramana (direct and valid perception of reality) and anumaan (inferences) can be distorted by the "Avidya" which springs from klishta vritties. The other derivatives of raga and dvesha are greed, jealousy and envy, etc. that drive the political motives of the victorious population at the conscious and unconscious level. Both the herd instinct or the "racial instinct" and even the recently most lauded virtue, the "killer instinct," in the Western civilization have a great political survival value for the "race." Unfortunately, both are valued as "virtues" of considerable importance, consciously and unconsciously, in the Western psyche. These instincts as well as raga and dvesha, as well as "ambivalence" drive the faculties of the mind to cloud the investigators' spirit of inquiry and he/she can fall prey to his own or his group's "wishful thinking." The investigators are subconsciously aware of this interference but the killer instinct is quite over-powering and intoxicating. It leads to the tenacious adherence to the self-serving academic theories of the victorious (at least temporarily victorious as in the case of Hitler and his followers) populations.
The Aryan Invasion (whether called migration and immigration or not) Myth illustrated here is just one of the theories that can be exposed as an example of the subconsciously and consciously exploited psychological political tool of the Western culture of recent centuries still holding its roots in the Western academia even long after the fall of Hitler (examples of such are the likes of the Witzels of Harvard) feeding the superiority complex of their race under the distinguished status of Harvard, Harvard surrecptitiously condoning and supporting such ventures. This has understandably happened for more than hundred years at Oxford also. Let us not forget that such endeavours feed the cultural pride of millions of people and also has been used as a political tool for justifying mass murder and inflicting genocide of "other races" supposedly viewed as inferior (Jewish people in particular) in the 20th century. This type of mentality leads to viweing "others" as slightly less than human and to be studied like the animals in the zoo either by sociologists, cultural anthropologists, psychologists, journalists, and worse still the politians, many of whom are secretly or covertly motivated by the indoctrinations of their imperialistic proselytizing Churches and evangelists.
So Avidya at the cultural level or cultural mis-education is not a benign academic subject of inquiry for the nerds to undertake. It has serious adverse wide-spread political, social, and cultural consequences for very large sections of world populations that can be malignant or of an epidemic level of magnitude. The women scholars of "Women's Studies" also recognize this fact. The very people who bash the "Hindus" from the "secular" view-point accusing them for their pride in "Hindutva" as springing from a racial superiority intriguingly adhere to this racially motivated myth of Aryan invasion espoused by Hitler that has fed the pride of many Eurocentric academicians and racists. These so-called secular "Indians" prefer to identify with Hitler, the mass murderer. The Indian academicians like Romila Thapar have a blind spot for their own psychological need to identify with the "Aryans" as defined by the West (namely the Nordic race) with whom Hitler identified himself and his people. This is an example of how unconscious klishta vritties will make them defend themselves viciously in the face of overwhelming refuting facts. They forget that the Indian nationals and particularly large sections of Hindu population have been the victims of this myth that has glorified the "Whites" as their "superior" (superior biologically and culturally and in all other ways)ancestors to whom they obsequiously need to genuflex, though some of them have intriguingly welcomed this myth as a boon in disguise to boost their own mythical "Aryan" identity and pride.
This analysis of psychological factors described in the ancient Indian psychology will allow students of history identify many areas of cultural miseducation besides the Aryan Invasion myth illustrated above. Such psychological factors might have prevailed in promulgating many Asatyas and there are innumerable examples of such cultural miseducation in the history of the human race. One could trace such asatyas and also the efforts of the reformers to correct them, right from the very antiquities. No culture is exempt from it. Even modern Christianity may be a gross distortion of the true message of Jesus Christ. ( See: www.mahatmarandy.com caution: this web-site may have a misleading appearance unless you persist to find the correct references listed therein that expose the myths in Christianity ). Another example, one can view Shri Krishna as attempting to dispel the myth of the importance of "Karmakanda" in a politically correct manner to suit his contemporaries. However, the majority of Hindus have continued to emphasize "karmakanda" and ritualism to an absurd degree as even Krishna's efforts to correct this "Vedic" mis-education has failed. One more example: The history of the United States as written has very little room for the views of the Native Americans and enslaved African Americans.
It is only the liberated populations that have the luxury to correct the historically perpetutated cultural mis-education. The people of slavish mentality and those who identify with their aggressors or colonial masters' views will not take this step. Once the psychological factors are thus analyzed, one can understand the resistance to acceptance of the myth of Aryan invasion in the Western world. It is, however, a sad commentary indeed on the "sepoy" Indian intellectuals and academicians that even after 60 years of independence their avidya resulting from the servile "identification with the aggressor" (a psychoanalytic concept) continues to prevail and pervades the Indian psyche and they steer away from the very motto that the official Seal of the Government of India proclaims to be its guiding principle: "Satyam Eva Jayate." This statement, of course, gives them the benefit of the doubt by looking at their unconscious motivations and does not view them as making a conscious choice to accept a role as the stooges of the Indian communists, who are like termites in India along with the missionaries, whom some of the "sepoys" admire and join in addition to adoring their colonial masters, with the only difference between the missionaries and the communists being that the communists do not say the grace before they try to devour their object of infestation. The communists and missionaries, fundamental Muslims and Christian Missionaries, and Indian communists and Indian fundamental Muslims are three kinds of strange pairs of bedfellows that can be found only on the Indian political scene. They are not allies in any other countries. The "secularists" and the other three groups (missionaries, communists, and the fundamental Muslims) have their own agendas to perpetuate their own cultural mis-education as all four of these groups are carrying the psychology of the "conquerors" who have wielded political domination over large populations of the world with violent means (the "secularists" have been an exception only in regard to the degree of violent means used in maintaining power in this instance) which they have viewed as justifying the end. All four groups are, therefore, unconsciously motivated to perpetuate cultural mis-education motivated by their drive for power and wealth, drive to dominate over large populations, and empire building instincts. Cultural mis-education can be thus traced from antiquity to the modern times and be recognized as ubiquitously present in the history of the human race.