It is shocking to realize that I have all along been totally oblivious of what is happening around me. Worse still, I have been living in a fool's paradise assuming things to be exactly the opposite of how they really are. It is such a shameful thing that I have been so ignorant about what is happening with such an important thing as my own culture.
That is the problem with taking things for granted. You see, when I was young, my culture was assumed to be so strong. It had lasted a few millenniums and emerged relatively unscathed from long years of colonial rule. True, we had changed the way we dress and had taken to considering speaking in English as somehow more sophisticated than speaking in our own lingo, but those were but cosmetic changes compared to how little had been affected in all the rest.
I stop paying attention to it, assuming that what had been strong enough to last all the cataclysms of the ages would be strong enough for my lifetime, and find that suddenly it has become so weak, so fragile that it gets threatened by some ill-informed book, some pieces of art, the depictions of some fictional characters and even, horror of horrors, cartoons! How incredibly naive I was, how uncaring of my roots that I thought that, even if they did defame my culture, they could hardly make a dent on the strength of my ethos, and the best thing to do was to laugh them away. AND, in case there was any truth in the negatives stated, my culture had the resilience to change and become stronger - as it has in the past, when it stopped animal sacrifices and sati.
This convenient assumption - that, if the portrayal is wrong, it is ridiculous to give it any importance and, if it is right, it is ridiculous to muzzle it - is, I now realize, quite likely to bring on the end of my culture. It has now become so fragile that even the mild breeze, that these things are likely to be, is enough to blow it away and needs safeguarding with utmost vigilance.
I need to make up for my past lapses. How then do I ensure that I work in such a manner as to strengthen my culture? Do I take up the cudgels against the people who urinate all around my temples and scratch immortal love stories like "Rocky luvs Pinky" on centuries old sculptures? Nope - no-one considers that as threatening to our culture. Do I work towards the cause of rejuvenating Classical Music and dance? I do not think so. I have heard bhajans set to the tune of 'Ek, do, teen....' (And, who knows, "Chikni Chameli.." or whatever, now), so it looks like giving up Indian classical music/dance is not a big deal.
Do I proselytize about the strong family system here - that the intrusiveness may be a by-product but the support in times of need is reliable? Yeah Right - just as everyone and his uncle is ensuring that about the only thing that remains of the family system is the intrusiveness. Do I speak of the 'Athithi satkar' and the need to sustain the openhearted and open-minded way in which we treat guests and accept their different way of life? But that, too, is not necessary to strengthen our culture. What is important is to make the other guys accept ours. Just as the more important thing to strengthen my culture is for me to ensure that the women in my vicinity are completely covered, and the not too important and, maybe, even irrelevant thing is to avoid molesting women myself.
Do I propagate the Indian philosophical thought of a life of detachment from the material world? Nonsense - not when a sizable proportion of even the spiritual gurus are queuing up for their BMWs. Do I try to spread the idea of "God is in Everyone"? Don't be ridiculous - we all know that he cannot be in those guys praying to a different God OR these women who dress in a manner quite against our culture (There is this problem for me. With this sprawling country with so many different dress codes, exactly WHAT fits our culture and what does not?) Anyway, all this thing about 'Advaita' is a relatively modern construct and, if we had been around in those days, we would have eliminated all such threats to our culture right then.
I am all atwitter to do something to safeguard my culture but, unfortunately, cannot think of anything right away. And, meanwhile, my inaction is probably causing my culture to be blown away by these vagrant breezes.
Wait! Where is my cudgel? I can go around bashing young couples in my neighborhood on Valentine's day.
Oh! Shucks! Valentine's day is already gone. I will have to wait for a year before I can do something to safeguard my culture.
I sure hope and pray that it can survive till then!