Archive

Posts Tagged ‘buddhism’

Powerful China Afraid of 11 Buddhist Monks?

December 7, 2011 18 comments

Why does the death of 11 Buddhist preachers in Tibet by self-immolation make the Chinese quake in their jack-boots!

Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation that set of the Vietnam War and end of colonialism in Vietnam.  |  Image by Malcolm Browne; source and courtesy - iconicphotos.files.wordpress.com|  Click for larger source image.

Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation that set off the Vietnam War and end of colonialism in Vietnam. | Image by Malcolm Browne; source and courtesy - iconicphotos.files.wordpress.com| Click for larger source image.

Quaking in their jack-boots

The Chinese regime, which so easily managed Tienanmen Square protests; engaged in stare-wrestling with the world’s super-power, USA, is afraid of 11 dead monks from Tibet.

What power do these monks have – after being out of power for 50 years now?

The Chinese who have made pious noises about wanting to resolve border issues with India, cancelled talks with India because of an out-of-power monks.

Like the Dalai Lama.

one of the most senior Tibetan religious figures—a young man who is likely to step into the shoes of the Dalai Lama as de facto religious leader of the Tibetan people—this week called on Tibetans to end a string of spectacular acts of self-immolation in protest against Chinese rule.

In the statement he issued in India, where he’s lived in exile ever since his dramatic escape from Tibet a dozen years ago, the youthful 17th Karmapa praised the “pure motivation” of the Buddhist devotees who set themselves on fire, saying “these desperate acts… are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live.” However, in the first such statement from a senior Tibetan religious figure, the Karmapa went on to request that Tibetans “preserve their lives and find other, constructive ways to work for the cause of Tibet… We Tibetans are few in number, so every Tibetan life is of value to the cause of Tibet.”

The fact that the 17th Karmapa is recognized by both Tibetan exiles and by Beijing makes him a powerful figure. When the Dalai Lama dies, the Karmapa is likely to take the Dalai Lama’s place as the most influential adult spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

So far this year, 11 Tibetan Buddhist monks, former monks, and nuns have set themselves on fire in Tibetan communities of China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, in acts of protest against official Chinese repression. In a 12th case, a man dressed in monk’s robes and draped in a Tibetan flag reportedly chanted “Long live Tibet” before setting himself on fire Thursday in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, which shares a long border with Tibet.

while suicides are rare among Tibetans, the recent self-immolations evoke a similar phenomenon during the 1960s, triggered by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who set himself on fire and burned to death in a Saigon intersection to protest the anti-Buddhist policies of South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem administration—a fiery act that was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph. (via Tibetan Leaders Struggle to Cope With Spate of Self-Immolations – The Daily Beast).

Chants and Idols?

What made Buddhism so powerful in these lands?

Buddha could not have gained so may followers with trite messages like follow-the-path-of-ahimsa, life-is-full-of-misery, respect-life. Obscure ideas (at least now) like Nirvana, dukkha, et al, could not have been the reason.

People don’t change so much for so little! Or resist change so much when confronted by the sword!

This was obviously not because Buddha’s statues were prettier than the statues of previous deities. If that, anyway, was the reason, the statues of previous divinities could have been prettified.

Or because Buddhist chants sounded better.

Threats and Fears

The real story!

Back then, Buddhism ended Confucian governance – and brought भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra to these oppressed lands.

Will history repeat itself? Is that the fear of the Chinese leaders?


The enigma of Buddhism

July 25, 2010 24 comments

2000 years later, other religions have not been able to match the Buddhist spread! And remember all this without the sword!

Confucius, Lao tzu and Buddhist Arhat by Ding Yunpeng (ca. 1547-1628) a Ming dynasty painter, painting at the Palace Museum, Beijing

Confucius, Lao tzu and Buddhist Arhat by Ding Yunpeng (ca. 1547-1628) a Ming dynasty painter, painting at the Palace Museum, Beijing

Power Play By Buddhism Monks

In a 1000 years. By 500 AD Buddhism had spread to Britain, China, Central Asia. We can look at a popular medium like cinema to gauge the power of Buddhism.

For instance in Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee undertakes the mission given to him by the Government Intelligence Department after it meets the approval of the Buddhist monk. In Tom Yum Goong, only after seeking advice from the Buddhist teacher does Kham (essayed  by Tony Jaa) go on a rampage in Australia. The Buddhist teacher cautions Kham about playing with ‘fire’.

Chants and Idols?

Trite messages like follow-the-path-of-ahimsa, life-is-full-of-misery, respect-life, could not have gained Buddha so may followers. Esoteric ideas like Nirvana, dukkha, et al, could not have been the reason. People don’t change so much for so little! Or resist change so much when confronted by the sword!

This was obviously not because Buddha’s statues were prettier than the statues of previous deities. Or because Buddhist chants sounded better. If that, anyway, was the reason, the statues of previous divinities could have been prettified.

In the meantime, in India

Viktoria Lyssenko, a Russian Indologist, makes an interesting linkage – a linkage that is lost to India, forgotten and dismissed as ‘ancient’ and irrelevant (interview extracted below).

Buddhism for long disappeared from the Indian scene, but the fundamentals of its philosophy were formulated as part of Indian philosophical thought with its traditional polemics and constant exchange of ideas between different schools. This deep familial link of Buddhism with the Indian philosophical soil that engendered it is being missed by both Buddhist and Hindu philosophy studies. Buddhists study six Hindu darshans, but in a rather formal way as if these were dogmatic systems. Specialists on darshanas also formally study Buddhism. In my opinion, the important aspect missing is the mutual enrichment of both traditions, their constructive impact on each other. (via ‘Branches of Indology like religion flourishing in Russia’ – The Times of India).

So, what made Buddhism so attractive?

The axis of Confucian-Platonic authoritarian, ‘wise’ rulers, who were not accountable, was (and remains) the overwhelming model for the world. Property rights remained with less than o.1% of the people. Under the CRER principle, (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) even the most personal religious beliefs of the individual were subject to State approval, as per law.

Analects of Confucius - book written by Confucius (551 - 473 BC) before Socrates and Plato with Zhu Xi's commentary. A pre-Meiji Restoration Japanese edition. (Picture courtesy - iastate.edu).

Analects of Confucius - book written by Confucius (551 - 473 BC) before Socrates and Plato with Zhu Xi's commentary. A pre-Meiji Restoration Japanese edition. (Picture courtesy - iastate.edu).

The only exception to this was the Indic system of polity – where property rights were vested with the user, justice was decentralized (did any Indic king dispense justice?), religion was maya and dharma was supreme. The modern Indian State has acquired the Desert-Bloc-Platonic-Confucian authoritarian principles of the State as parens patriae. So, the power of the Indic ideas is something that India seems to have forgotten, missed and lost!

Compare and Contrast

Contrast the faith that the Chinese have in Buddhist teachers with the negative representation of Church and priests in Hollywood. One set has been able to maintain trust and faith for more than 2000 years – and the other set seems to have lost it in less than a 1000 years.

Is it any surprise that the common Chinese loves and venerates the Buddha – and the Chinese Government lays so much emphasis on Confucianism?

How Buddhism became a religion?

Indian religion and culture shapes half the world even today. China (Buddhism), Indonesia (considering that Mahabharata is their national epic and their use of Sanskritic names), entire South East Asia (except Philippines) and of course, India. What makes the Indian success remarkable is that this status has been acquired without significant military cost or economic expenditure.

After the destruction of Takshashila, in 499 AD(?), without access to the ‘Indian thought factory’, Buddhism soon became a religion outside India. Buddha in India, was another, in a long line of teachers. Not so in the rest of the world. Cut off from Indian philosophy, Buddhism soon stopped growing.

Remember all this without the sword! 2000 years later, other religions have not been able to match this spread!

China and U.S. soften tone on yuan

The poor will pay a price ... as usual.

The poor will pay a price ... as usual.

Amid harsh rhetoric, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sounded some conciliatory notes on Wednesday.Mr. Zhong, making a 30-hour visit to the U.S. to try to ease bilateral tensions, expressed confidence that politicians from the two countries “have the wisdom and ability to resolve existing problems.“Mr. Geithner said he be- lieved China would allow its currency to appreciate over time, according to a CNN interview transcript. While the U.S. “can’t force them to make that change…I think we can work through the tough things we have together,“ Mr. Geithner said.The stakes are high for both sides. The U.S. and China are among each other’s biggest trading partners, and numerous U.S. companies have investments in China. The U.S. is increasingly looking to China to cooperate on international strategic issues, such as nuclear nonproliferation and the fight against terrorism. (via WSJ ON YUAN – China and U.S. soften tone on yuan).

Let the games begin!

Rousing 'macho' WASP voters!

Rousing 'macho' WASP voters!

The Dragon and the Eagle are squaring off! An experienced US stalks China, waiting behind high walls of US$2500 billion foreign exchange reserves.

The US-China game has started in earnest. US, egged on by ‘macho’ voters and a cheering media, will:-

  1. Act tough
  2. Behave in a morally outraged and indignant manner
  3. Commentators will prescribe a trade war and sanctions

In parallel, analysts, academics, think-tanks, journalists will talk-up China. Like Greenspan talking-up the US dollar or Dow Jones. They will: –

  1. Hold up China an nation-exemplar
  2. Write books analysing on China. Such books will start pour out of our ears
  3. Make movies and novels about the ‘dominant’ Chinese in the US
  4. Study, extol Chinese culture /tradition /history, and hold forth as a shining example.

And China will be ‘uncompromising’! Act as though, they have a choice.

A certainty

The change in dollar-yuan exchange ratio will happen. Peacefully, or with violent side shows. Assuming that the dollar-yuan revaluation will happen smoothly, is fraught with risk. That it will happen, without any significant disruption, is one, big, huge, slippery assumption. What will follow the Chinese moment in the sun?

Economic mayhem?

What remains to be seen

What could set off economic mayhem in China? Crime in China (a simmering threat), terrorism in Xinjiang (remote possibility), real estate bubble (a real scenario)?

Will the Chinese Government be able to ride this storm? Without a war with India? Which side of the fence will China fall? Answers to these questions will be worth waiting for! And prepared with!

Last time …

It would do well to remember that last time when China had a problem, it resulted in the India China War of 1962. Just after the disastrous Great Leap Forward and before the equally disastrous Cultural Revolution.

The Great Leap Forward began in 1957-58, saw famine and hunger across China. After the Communist takeover of China, land seized from land owners, was given to peasants in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the Chinese State took away the same land from the same peasant. Food shortages, starvation followed. Western (questionable) estimates are that 30 million people died during this period. War with India followed in 1962 – a diversion from the domestic Chinese catastrophe.

What will it be this time?

‘Pagans’ blamed for blasphemy killings!

December 28, 2009 1 comment
David Horsey's cartoon inverts the religious equation!

David Horsey's cartoon inverts the religious equation!

You got this one wrong

David, you are tracing blasphemy to people (like me) who worship rocks, trees, birds, animals, air, water, rivers, seas, mountains, fruits, sunrise, sunset, the waxing and waning of the moon, the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, tools and weapons, water and milk – in fact (and in short) everything. And we are the subject of your cartoon.

Pagans, we are called by ‘others’. Probably, you too. And no, we don’t have the concept of blasphemy. So, David you got this one wrong!! Completely wrong. We, (who are mostly called Pagans) don’t and didn’t do the killings over blasphemy! Because,

We don’t worship The One!

History of blasphemy

If you are looking at a ‘modern’ phenomenon, like blasphemy, it is the history of Desert Bloc that you must look at. Over the last nearly 2500 years. During this period, the cornerstones of ‘modern’ societies, from the Desert Bloc like One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festivals, et al were popularized.

From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic  – fallacious syllogisms, all. This quest of ‘Oneness’ is the root of most problems in the world – including blasphemy.

Birth of religions

David Horsey corrects himself. The Desert Bloc is where blasphemy, persecution, conversion, ethnic cleansing come from. (Cartoon by David Horsey; courtesy - sfgate.com). Click for larger image.

David Horsey corrects himself. The Desert Bloc is where blasphemy, persecution, conversion, ethnic cleansing come from. (Cartoon by David Horsey; courtesy - sfgate.com). Click for larger image.

Modern religions are a construct of the West Asia-Middle East – and the birth place of the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Indic system, belief structure centres around dharma धर्म.

In the last 1000 years, India has also become ‘religious’. Indic people have started describing themselves as ‘Hindus’ – a geographical appellation, apart from /Buddhists /Jains /Sikhs. ‘Modern’ blasphemy laws in India  are also derived from colonial roots of Desert Bloc origin.

The difference between धर्म dharma and religion? Major!

For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day, etc.), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.

Indic worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable – for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. धर्म Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. धर्म Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. धर्म Dharma is more than moral and ethics.

Many more … and more on the way

The really big difference between religion and धर्म dharma is the holy books. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian धर्म dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count. And some more on the way.

David, your two Pulitzers notwithstanding, you must do better than this. You cannot let your beliefs, prejudices, ‘received’ wisdom come in the way of ‘truth’.

Or your lack of knowledge!

The future of the Past

December 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Paris got a makeover in the time of President Mitterrand with the creation of La Defense and the revitalisation of the Louvre. And yet, its most visited tourist spots are the Eiffel Tower and historic district of Champs Elysees.

New York too embarked on an ambitious journey from inner city decay to Soho chic, reviving its rundown districts into fashionable areas; romanticised living in a historic brownstone became the ultimate New York real estate dream. Closer home, New Delhi is investing in its renaissance through infrastructure improvement and restoration of its medieval monuments in time for the Commonwealth Games.

And yet, whenever Mumbai’s makeover is discussed, we forget that the city need not be packaged as a business destination alone, with two World Heritage Sites in the city (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Elephanta Caves) and two more in the state (Ajanta and Ellora), making Maharashtra a state with the maximum number of World Heritage Sites. (via The future of the Past).

Neglect of 2000 years of history

The most remarkable feature of Mumbai’s history are Buddhist caves from 1st century to 11 th century. In her article of more than 1800 words, how many times does the author, Abha Narain Lambah, mention Mumbai’s Buddhist caves?

Nil. Yes. That is right. Zero. Zilch. 零. Nul. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. cero.

Magathane Caves
Magathane Caves

The other aspect is the totally foreign (read Western) idiom that Lambah uses. Assuming she wanted to use international benchmarks, could she not find any conservation models from Turkey (Boghaz Koi for example), Egypt (the Cairo Museum?), Japan, China (The Forbidden City), Thailand (Ayuthya) – which comes to my mind at least. This ‘narrow-casting’ makes me shudder at the shallowness.

Motivations

Abha Narain Lambah, is a practising conservation architect in Mumbai. A recipient of the Eisenhower Fellowship (USA) 2002, Sanskriti Award 2003 and the Charles Wallace Fellowship (UK) 1998, her projects have won five UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Heritage Conservation.

Now how much of a chance does she have of winning commissions from Western multinationals and Western clubs (like UNESCO, et al) or from the ‘Westernized’ South Mumbai types – if starts off on Buddhist and Hindu shrines. For that matter, I doubt if she will win the Rs.28 crore contract /grant /sanction /approval it even from the Maharashtra Government?

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

Then there are others

To the lengthening line of non-specialists, who are re-writing Indian history, like Amaresh Misra (War of 1857), Anant Darwatkar (on Sambhaji Maharaj), Parag Tope (on Tatiya Tope’s role in 1857), Savitri Sawhney (on the Ghadar Party’s contribution to Indian Freedom Movement), Benoy K Behl (photography of Indian history), it may be early to now add the name of Anita Rane-Kothare. Her work on Buddhist caves of Mumbai is yet to make an impact.

Benoy Behl’s work is particularly very attractive.

Awesome Work

Capturing Indian history across more than 20 countries, Benoy K Behl has spent,

almost two decades now, … to document the spread of Buddhism; his work evident in over 30,000 unique photographs that he has taken all over the world.

He has found that

“At many of these places people may not have seen present-day Indians but they still hold Indian culture in great regard”.

In Mumbai …

Two years ago, a historian, while researching traditional Indian methods of water harvesting, stumbled upon a series of ancient Buddhist caves in Borivli, which its custodians scarcely knew or cared about.

Initially, she was scared that the historical caves would crumble under the weight of the slum colonies that encroached upon them, but now she fears that the construction works being conducted on an adjacent plot might bring the structures down. (via Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – The Times of India).

Old Mumbai mills are valuable - but not the Buddhist caves
Old Mumbai mills are valuable – but not the Buddhist caves

While India has managed to obtain funding for ‘saving’ the gargoyle-infested colonial railway structures from UNESCO, breast beating activists have managed to increase awareness of structures funded by colonial loot and drug trade (of opium).

In all this, two things are forgotten.

One – Colonial versions show the start of Mumbai’s history when the Portuguese gave Mumbai as dowry to the British in 1661 – including a Government of Maharashtra website.

If there was no Mumbai before the British, where did these Buddhist caves (at Magathane, Kanheri, etc.) come from? Or did I miss the ‘fact’ that British first came to India in the 2nd century, made these Buddhist caves – and came back again to India in the 17th century, built these Gothic Victorian structures, and went away – which we ‘uncultured’ Indians are trying to save?

Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?
Did the British come in the 1st century and make these caves?

Two – The liberal establishment in India is worried about all the colonial ‘heritage’ and structures. Old Mumbai mills are included – but not the even more ancient Buddhist structures.

The Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, while decrying the attempts by the Indian neo-Colonial Rulers, to ‘save’ Mumbai’s colonial past, makes no mention of these Buddhist caves. While Kipling’s bungalow is a ‘hallowed’ institution, these Buddhist caves are dying of ‘active neglect’.

<img title=”As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)” src=”http://www.thehindu.com/fline/fl2425/images/20080104242506605.jpg&#8221; alt=”As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)” width=”218″ height=”340″ />

As Ganga descends from the heavens, it starts teeming with Nagas (fertility symbol)

Awesome Work
Capturing Indian history across more than 20 countries, Benoy K Behl has spent,

almost two decades now, … to document the spread of Buddhism; his work evident in over 30,000 unique photographs that he has taken all over the world.</p>
He has found that
“At many of these places people may not have seen present-day Indians but they still hold Indian culture in great regard”

The Dragon vs. the Eagle

December 10, 2009 1 comment
Such a loving couple ...

Such a loving couple ...

At the same time he seriously plays down the horrors of Mao’s tyrannical rule, writing that “he remains, even today, a venerated figure in the eyes of many Chinese, even more than Deng Xiaoping” and that the Communist Party “succeeded in restoring its legitimacy amongst the people” and fostered “extremely rapid economic growth,” “despite the calamities of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.” In addition he diminishes the importance of the pro-democracy Tiananmen demonstrations and dissident sympathies, arguing that there is an “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” (via Books of The Times – The Dragon vs. the Eagle in Martin Jacques’ ‘When China Rules The World’ – Review – NYTimes.com).

For this one insight …

The Dragon versus the Eagle analogy is just hot air! A lot of hot air. China is too busy playing footsie with the USA to challenge! But the bit about China being ‘apolitical’ is a gem.

This bit about, China’s “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” This one observation by Martin Jacques’ explains so much about world history – and modern Asian history.

Platonic-Confucian axis

The axis of Confucian-Platonic authoritarian, ‘wise’ rulers, who were not accountable, was (and remains) the overwhelming model for the world. Property rights remained with less than o.1% of the people. Under the CRER principle, (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) even the most personal religious beliefs of the individual were subject to State approval, as per law.

Pareto’s principle … Ha!

Yes – Pareto was wrong.

Rarely (do they at all?) do 20% of the people get to own 80% the national wealth. It is usually about o.1%. Look at America. Less than 300,000 people (from the Forbes /Fortune lists, the Government and the academia, media) who control the US  – a population of more than 300 million.

The West scorns the Chinese one-party rule. But how does one more, collusive party in the national polity, in a ‘democratic set-up, become the paragon of political virtue. Did it ever occur to its defendants, that a two-party polity just an illusion of choice and change. But, it was the same lack of accountability – in a more invisible manner?

The only exception to this was the Indic system of polity – where property rights were vested with the user, justice was decentralized (did any Indic king dispense justice?), religion was maya and dharma was supreme. The modern Indian State has acquired the Desert-Bloc-Platonic-Confucian authoritarian principles of the State as parens patriae. So, the power of the Indic ideas is something that India seems to have forgotten, missed and lost!!

What's the difference?

What's the difference? One more collusive political party!

In Greater China

In Hong Kong Chinese movies, till the 1990’s, a recurring theme was the Buddhist monk. Until the modernist Jackie Chan goes to America versions started coming out, it was always the wise Buddhist teacher who taught the Brave ‘Chinaman’ to fight against feudal oppression. It was always the Wise Buddhist Teacher who showed the way.

Lee Kuan Yew – a Confucius bhakt

Now this explains why Lee Kuan Yew extols Confucian virtues of Greater Chinese. Is it surprising that the ‘modern’ Chinese Government is so afraid of Buddhist revival that they have put restrictions on the Falun Gong followers from doing breathing exercises in the open. Falun Gong which attracted nearly 10 crore followers in the last 15 years, seems to have made the Chinese Government nervous.

Contrast the faith that the Chinese have in Buddhist teachers with the representation of Church and priests in Hollywood and you will see the contrast. One set has been able to maintain trust and faith for more than 2000 years – and the other set seems to have lost it in less than a 1000 years.

Is it any surprise that the common Chinese loves and venerates the Buddha – and the Chinese Government lays so much emphasis on Confucianism?

Lee Kuan Yew resents India’s Peaceful Rise- Almost

October 11, 2008 Leave a comment

Lee Kuan Yew has been rather dismissive about India always. Reason-India does not have ‘Confucian ethic’ that China has.

One party dictatorship or two-party democracy. What's the difference? One more collusive political party! (Cartoonist - Matt Bors; Posted on August 4, 2008; Cartoon Source and Courtesy - cagle.com). Click for larger image.

The speed of China’s change and the thoroughness, energy and drive with which the Chinese have built up their infrastructure and pursued their goals spring from their culture, one that is shared by the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese, who adopted the Chinese written script and absorbed Confucian culture. The Chinese are determined to catch up with the U.S., the EU and Japan. Fast-forward 20 to 30 years and the world will have to accommodate a more technologically advanced and economically more sophisticated China, whether under a single- or multiparty system.

India does not pose such a challenge–and won’t until it gets its social infrastructure up to First World standards and further liberalizes its economy. Indeed, the U.S., the EU and Japan root for India because they want a better-balanced world, in which India approximates China’s weight. (via India’s Peaceful Rise – Forbes.com).

Patronising Lee

Lee Kuan Lee has always been rather dismissive about India. Lee thinks that India biggest disadvantage is that it does does not have the ‘Confucian ethic’ – which China shares with Korea, Vietnam and Japan. The other disadvantage that India has, is its democracy. India is getting some mileage because it is not a threat.

Of course, India also does not have the advantage of a family with such ‘Confucian ethic’ running the entire country!

Of course, possibly, it never occured to Lee-san that running a nation with 15 major languages, 3 major religions, 4 racial stocks – and a democracy has never been attempted in world history. That we live to tell the tale,  is in itself an achievement. Lee-san notwithstanding.

In Greater China

Understanding Lee-san’s Confucianism.

In Hong Kong Chinese movies, till the 1990’s, a recurring theme was the Buddhist monk. Until the modernist Jackie Chan goes to America versions started coming out, it was always the wise Buddhist teacher who taught the Brave ‘Chinaman’ to fight against feudal oppression. It was always the Wise Buddhist Teacher who showed the way.

Unlike the Platonic-Confucian polity, Indic systems represented freedom and equity. And that is the reason for the success of Buddhism.

Lee Kuan Yew – a Confucius bhakt

This also explains why Lee Kuan Yew extols Confucian virtues of Greater Chinese. Is it surprising that the ‘modern’ Chinese Government is so afraid of Buddhist revival that they have put restrictions on the Falun Gong followers from doing breathing exercises in the open. Falun Gong which attracted nearly 10 crore followers in the last 15 years, seems to have made the Chinese Government nervous.

Contrast the faith that the Chinese have in Buddhist teachers with the representation of Church and priests in Hollywood and you will see the contrast. One set has been able to maintain trust and faith for more than 2000 years – and the other set seems to have lost it in less than a 1000 years.

Is it any surprise that the common Chinese loves and venerates the Buddha – and the Chinese Government (and Lee-san) lays so much emphasis on Confucianism?

%d bloggers like this: