What Is "Indian" Supposed To Mean


If it is not defined by the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or where you live, as suggested by political correctness and some of the writers for Little India, then what is it defined by? And who are the ones determining the definition?

It cannot be a power of the government, can it? Certainly there are people holding citizenship papers to countries all over the world who still consider themselves in some way to be “Indian.” And, conversely, is holding Indian citizenship enough to make someone an Indian?

In our experience, after I (Brook) had been married and lived for four years in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, I know that it doesn’t make any difference: to strangers, neighbors or even many friends, I will probably never be considered really “Indian,” no matter how good my Hindi is, how well I wear a sari or how perfect my chapatis are. Holding a PIO card or getting citizenship may define me as Indian to the government, but even the official stamping my passport will squint his eyes, see my blonde hair and consider me a technicality.

And, now that we are living in the United States, on the other side of the world, I (Gaurav), know well enough that the same is true for me here. No amount of conditioning or “culturalization” can make someone, anyone who is not white, a “real American” in the eyes of many, as second- and third-generation American immigrants can tell you. Laws and papers only prevent, or rather persecute, the most obvious and heinous cases of discrimination. Otherwise, why am I and thousands of other highly educated and qualified people working in service-class jobs? Like me, their names or appearances didn’t look “American” enough, and their resumes are quietly set aside by scores of “Equal Opportunity Employers.”

Is it in the blood then, in the DNA? Seems like dangerous ground — the stuff of Hitler and slave traders. And, of course, what about the mixes? How many Indians, or people anywhere, even know their full ancestry, whatever that means? India’s history, like almost every other country, is full of invaders and imperialists who stayed, married and had children.

If we want to be purists, we will have to go back to the dawn of humankind; if evolution started in one place and spread, where do we draw the lines?

The boundaries of nations are manmade. Existence doesn’t have any set boundary for existential beings.

Culture, nationality and even the concept of different countries is fake, an idiotic, destructive idea imposed on the Earth and on human beings. Like all illusions, it takes a lot of thinking and a lot of work to make it stick. It works because it appeals to the ego — a way of making differences, which always seems to lead to ideas of superiority and inferiority. Animals and small children cannot understand the attraction to this obsession because they have no egos.

As the world becomes ever more mobile and technologically advanced, the illusion becomes difficult to enforce, and more and more people fall through the cracks. Culture is a ghost, a killing ghost, and the sooner people can evolve beyond it, the better. A real culture will be no culture at all, devoid of the richness of all the cultures ever evolved, a garden full of all kinds of flowers without any boundaries.

Any kind of nationalism or “patriotism,” as it is affectionately called, is ugly and unhealthy; ignorant at best and murderous at worst. It is an attachment to, arguably, the most destructive concept the world has ever seen. Think of a child, a baby, so ripe with possibilities; now make it an “Indian baby,” a “Black baby,” an “American baby,” an “African child.” How much smaller, how much cruder does he or she become? Why not just leave the child alone? Any label is an insult to the inherent dignity of human beings.

For those who might argue for the innocence of these divisive concepts of the Earth and of humanity, think for a minute about the grace and beauty of rising above them: like Kalpana Chawla’s beautiful statement, “I am a citizen of the Milky Way.”

All enlightened beings have known that these distinctions are false, even if they also knew they could not be easily removed from peoples’ minds.

Nationality and culture are on the out-and-out, and that is why there is space for magazines like this: we are attached to an illusion that is falling apart, and that leaves a thousand and one things to think and talk about. As they say, old habits die hard. The best thing anyone can do about it is just let it go.

Finally, in the words of Osho, “There are differences [between the races] … but it is not a difference that makes a difference… Indian man and Western woman cannot be together, there will always be problems… but a man and a woman can be together.”

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