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Brahmin Naivete

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Bertrand Russell wrote an interesting article in 1928 called "How to become a Man of Genius". The full short article is here:


I propose that we use this thread to discuss incidents of Brahmin naivete and find reasons for ineffectiveness when such exists. Brahmins have a tradition of learning and scholarship. Are there times when such learning and scholarship may not be useful? Are there times when wisdom is prefered to knowledge? Are there times when being refined and having a refined opinion is disadvantageous? Are patience, forgiveness and such traits which are otherwise universally useful for learning and for teaching, complete let downs in other situations?

Read Earl Russell's piece closely - you will find notable observations on popular culture, populism, denunciation, etc.

What are instances and examples of such naivete from our culture? And is such an self-examination and subsequent lessons learnt from such examination critical to success in today's world for people from our community? Is there a lesson in this for us, who are known for our legacy and also for how elaborately and rapidly we are losing it?
One can point to a million instances of this naivete.

Blind belief in history is one of them. Gullible Brahmins believing in the oft-repeated 'Brahmins invented the evil caste system and oppressed low castes for centuries' is a classic case, taking into account brahmins have always been too tiny a community to exert any sort of influence.

Other examples include constant self-laceration, popularly known as retrospection or sometimes introspection,

Vague ghandian ideals such as 'let me change first, then I'll try to change the world' (ghandi himself didn't practice that!). On account of this, Brahmins tend to blame themselves for the wrongs committed by others. "Let's not complain or evade the issue. We must have done something wrong, or why else would dravidians hate us?" is something one must've heard million times. Wow, how naive these brahmins are! Going by this logic, oh yes, Hitler must've been right, the holocaust justified, and the millions of Jews wrong!:madgrin:

Lack of Realpolitik....

....And much, much more. I am too tired to type it all out.

The concept of "blind belief" seems apt to associate with the phenomenon of brahmin naivete. I think the reason in part is the need to fit in. This is a new found need, which is a result of homogenization and the consequentially increasing desire for "community".

Self laceration, in the name of ethical correctness, is another one. One of the prime examples of using such self-laceration (or laceration of one's otherwise popular image) is Kamal Hassan. He calls himself an atheist and has atheist ideologies, despite being born a brahmin. The intention seems to be to generate hype and hoopla in the media about it, and by confronting and challenging existing norms about what an actor should be like and what a brahmin should be like, gain popularity.

Vague Gandhian ideals are another popular notion amongst the idealists, as you have mentioned.

There are others - claims to greater intelligence, when one is not much more knowledgeable or intelligent, in reality, than a capable non-brahmin person. Such claims are made more and more by people from the brahmin community, without justification.

As a brahmin, this makes me very sad. I will tell you why - it means that we have are proud of the knowledge and intelligence which our forefathers have codified into the scriptures and philosophy and music and literature. This is a good thing. But what is unacceptable is - we do not try to improve on what they did, most times- and we become unjustifiably proud in what little we understand from these achievements. And, this is not a self-laceration - what I mean is that we should be justifiably proud of what we are doing... and do it well.

It is futile to apply the methods of one age much older than our own, to our age. It is prudent to apply that which is effective, that which is sensible, to our time. The strength of the brahmin of yore is not the false claims to superiority or a higher culture that so many brahmins make, but it is the wisdom that comes from knowing how to add real value to one's own life and to the lives of others. And this value should come from the harnessing of knowledge, by getting people to live well and harmoniously, in peace. This is only a vision for most people, but it has been the duty of the brahmins from the days of old.

If our faculties are not directed at improving the condition of our own lives and others, and is instead directed at social gainsay and the mindless accumulation of wealth, we should stop taking refuge in our superiority.
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