Inspiration for my world-view
Many great personalities have inspired and shaped my world-view. Sixteen years of formal education taught me zilch about Indian way-of-thinking; and I’m saying this as a topper. It was all about STEM, finding a decent job, etc. Being liberal, progessive, secular and English-speaking was “cool”. Listening to pop and rap music and heavy metal earned peer reputation. Being religious and Hindu was seen as “conservative” and anti-progress. Listening to Carnatic music was considered outdated. But it didn’t matter to me much at all. As Prof. Dr. S.N.Balagangadhara says: We, Indians, are the products of two colonialisms: a religion (Islam) and a people (the British) . Therefore, I favour de-colonisation and reinvigoration of native and indigenous thought systems of our country.
A first ray of light came in the form of the Kannada edition of Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada. I’m eternally grateful to my mother for prodding me to the Gita. I was probably about 13 or so and it opened the doors for my journey of life. It sustained me through my teenage and early twenties.
My biggest inspiration in de-colonising the mind has been Prof. Dr. K.S.Narayanacharya (1933 - 2021); I wish I had come across him earlier in my life. As a Vedantic philosopher par excellence with a doctoral degree in English literature, he dissects Western ideologies with great precision. He in turn was influenced by stalwarts such as Sri Aurobindo and Da. Ra. Bendre and greatly admired T.S.Eliot and Wordsworth.
Sri Sri Sri Tridandi Chinnajeeyar Swamiji, whom I consider my first spiritual guru, introduced me to path of Bhagavad Ramanuja through his Statue of Equality project. Its because of him that I could see how theory and practice play out in real life. His U.S.A lectures on Thiruppavai “opened my eyes”. He’s not just a religious leader but also a leading social reformer of 21 st century. His Vikasa Tarangini, a social service organisation, works in the areas of education and healthcare.
Sri Aurobindo is a forgotten gem of Indian thinkers, a yogi and rishi nonetheless. His commentaries on the Vedic literature (Rig Veda, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, etc.) are the best in recent centuries. Manana – deep contemplation – on myriad streams such as evolution and consciousness, nationalism and politics, religion and culture, have left an indelible impression on my mind. In the same line, Kireet Joshi, and R. L. Kashyap have greatly expanded upon his ideas, in turn inspiring me.