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By Gaurav Sharma
Smriti or “that which is remembered”, is a vast corpus of diverse Vedic literature which is authored by an individual and is not considered divine per se.
The Smritis comprise of a genre of Sanskrit texts referred to as Dharma-Shastra. These texts form an integral part of the Indic branch of learning and pertain to right conduct (Dharma), religion, and legal duty.
In the modern age, a lot of criticism is levied on the Dharma-Shastras, mainly due to the flawed way in which they are interpreted.
Most of the scholarly analysis of the Dharma-Shastras undertaken by the western researchers focuses on the literal interpretation of words, rather than their stated intent. It is no surprise, then, that under such a narrow purview, the Dharma-Shastras are castigated as ‘backward, illiberal and oppressive’.
For understanding any system propounded by an ancient text, it is essential that one focuses on the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
The Shastras are not a set of rigid blanket injunctions meant to be applied and followed at all times and in all places. They talk about Sat or truth while defining rules that are applicable for a particular time period and a defined region.
In contrast, the Constitution which is an amalgamation of Euro-centric views, espouses the idea that the state or religious authority should define rules for all times to come. One can argue for the flexibility of the Constitution by pointing towards the provision for amendments. However, such provisions carry with them a written down presumption that changing or for that matter, tweaking the legal sections will be anything but a walk in the park.
Dharma or right conduct, as laid by the Shastras implicitly entails the application of one’s own mind, according to the situation at a particular point of time. For example, the activities of Ram which were considered as right action in Tretayuga, might be viewed as anything but sacrosanct in the post-modern world.
The doctrine that the application of laws should be based on the character (right conduct) of an individual, as put forth by the Shastras, is a very liberal concept.
Fast forward to the present age and the world is still struggling hard to define the notions of liberalism and pluralism. In fact, the ideas of freedom have become so abstract so as to say that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. In other words, what may be morally right for one person may be wrong for someone else.
Such a concept of liberty inherently advocates moral relativism as the only practical way to live. Values are denounced and their existential basis becomes philosophically questionable.
The Dharma-Shastras, on the other hand, are clear in the declaration that no liberalism can amount to unfettered behavior. Even while being bound to the law, there is freedom to formulate a new legislation.
Another factor that makes the ancient ideology of life as superior to the present society is the emphasis on non-consumerism and non-individualism.
The classical vision, as expounded by the epic of Mahabharata is: Tasyeta Ekam Kulasyarthe, which means giving up self-interest for a higher interest.
This maxim forms a ladder with a series of progressive rungs; Giving up interest of the self for the interest of the family, ceding the interest of the family for the welfare of the village, rejecting the interest of the village for the betterment of the nation and ultimately sacrificing the attachment to the nation for the benefit of the Atma or soul.
Such a hierarchical system of working ensured that every unit of society, from the microcosm of the individual soul to the macrocosm of the nation was happy and peaceful.
In the here and now, such a method of functioning will be completely against the fundamental right to freedom. Most of the educated people in India have been ingrained with such a heavy dosage of romantic individualism by the Western education system, that such a practical way of living is visualized as untenable and highly illogical.
A deeper scrutiny of the Westernized-individualism will reveal to us that such an indoctrination is a shrewd strategy to run the wheels of the global capitalist economy.
In the consumerist model, a mechanism called ‘branding’ is put to efficient use to enslave people. The brands are utilized as tools to create a virtual relationship with consumers that is pure fiction.
This relation engenders a trust relationship between the consumers and the brand that necessarily bypasses the company.
Such a master-plan is premised upon inventing and selling the myth that the consumer makes his economic decisions purely out of his own self-interest, that everyone engages in such a behavior and that society is better off as a result.
A direct consequence of the popularization of such a world-view is the crass consumerism under whose lashing waves we are deluging not just ourselves, but also the environment which sustains us.
The sacrifice of self-interest for the sake of something higher is an ideal that much more practical sense, than the warped logic of individual freedom as extolled by the west.
Another reason why the Shastras are looked down upon and derided as relics of a bygone era is because of the fundamental proposition of the Varna-Ashram Dharma.
Such criticism again arises out of fuzzy and faulty understanding of the both orders of social organization.
While the Varna system segregates the social population into four castes: Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra, the Ashram apparatus divides life into four stages: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa.
The Ashrama Dharma is a very practical way of defining living. The initial years are spent in accumulating knowledge and education. After reaching adulthood, marriage and generation of wealth assume importance. Then, after a certain time, one hands over all his wealth and retreats into the forest in search of spiritual knowledge. Finally, one embraces the renounced order of life fin order to establish his/her relationship with higher self.
In the modern age, the youth is only subjected to knowledge which is beneficial in churning out wealth. Consequently, there is hardly an impetus on discovering the spiritual aspect of life.
Retirement life, as it is viewed by the Vedic civilization, has also undergone a sea change. As one progresses towards retirement age, he becomes more consumerist than ever before, courtesy the accumulation of retirement benefits, fund stockings etc.
This is primarily a Euro-centric idea, which India has happily adopted even as it isolates itself from the values enshrined in its own spiritual books. Life, whose goal previously was self-realization, has morphed into an incessant money-generating machine.
While, such a system does create a kind of material evolution, it inevitably transmutes into a spiritual devolution.
Another means of social organization, the Varna or caste system has also been abolished now. The reason cited for quashing such a successful model of social harmony is the oppression of Shudras or men engaged in menial jobs by the higher class or the Brahmanas.
Again, such arguments against the Vedic mode of functioning are based on a narrow understanding of the system.
First of all, the caste system was never entirely based on birth. Factors such qualities and the profession of a person assumed paramount importance in defining ones caste. Birth was never the final judgment in defining the life of an individual.
Secondly, such a hierarchical social order was not a special feature of only the Indic civilization. Greek philosopher Plato, for example, prescribes a system which is completely oppressive in its nature. In Europe, the entire population was divided into masters and slaves. In China and in Japan, the situation was no better.
It was only in India, that a flourishing and prosperous middle class existed. Prima-facie, this was due to the strength and the flexibility of the Varna system.
Thirdly, the perception that all Shudras were untouchables and were lived outside the town is wrong. Most of them were involved in the daily economic activities. Some of them even became kings when they acquired power. For example, the Shudras enjoyed their own kingdom, a fact mentioned in the Mahabharata.
In hindsight, the guilt that is endowed upon the Varna-ashram system is a needless and thoughtless guilt. It was a system which worked(and works) much better than other models of social organization, both in the pre-technological as well as the post-modern age.
It would be pertinent and at same time, ironical to know that the sophistication and practicality of the Shastras was a quality much appreciated by the European scholars themselves.
Freidrich Neitzsche, a philosopher who stood against organized religion of any kind, while reading Louis Jaclliot’s translation of Laws of Manu is known to have said: “Close the Bible and open the Manu Smriti. It has an affirmation of life, a triumphing agreeable sensation in life and that to draw up a lawbook such as Manu means to permit oneself to get the upper hand, to become perfection, to be ambitious of the highest art of living.”
Perhaps it is time that our misdirected civilization takes note and acts on the prescription of their philosophical idol.
The sporting industry thrives on the success of the patron teams, or at least, teams that the people love. It is common knowledge how much time and energy people are willing to spend watching matches between their favourite team and its rival. Matches that take place across the world, in different time zones, do not matter much when it comes to expressing patronage for a star player or team. Late nights, crowded sitting rooms, and rain-checked appointments are absolutely welcome during match season.
Cricket has gained the world's love when it comes to making them stop everything and stare at a screen, awaiting the next run, boundary, or wicket. No other sport across the world receives as much love and undying allegiance. In this scenario, it is only natural to have an entire system in place that makes use of this immense love for the sport. Creating leagues that run annually, and pit one team against another, to measure prowess, skill, and popularity does not seem odd at all. In fact, it pumps the adrenaline more than ever, and receives an incredible amount of support. People will do anything to watch their team in action one more time.
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Like in every other cricket-loving nation, Australia's Big Bash League reigns supreme among the predictors, who weigh the statistics of each team, player, and season. They go by the name of KFC Big Bash League, more popularly, BBL, and were established in 2011. Their franchise Twenty20 matches are held during the summer season, between the months of December and February. Currently, there are six local teams, Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers, and so on, the former being the latest champion. Apart from the Indian Premier League, BBL has the most attendance.
A batsman swinging the ball Image credit: Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash
Since the world's eyes are on Australia anyway during this season, BBL also predicts its winners and losers, hosting events and putting up charts of the same. Experts that work under them regularly update the ravenous public about the latest developments based on experience, how often team members change hands, leadership developments, and even predict the success of each player in turn. The BBL points table sees a raving amount of reviews each year from the publicity of the franchise itself. People from all over world want to be able to know the outcome of the match beforehand, to increase the excitement of watching it.
Over the years, newer features have been introduced to make the franchise more enticing. Awards, both real and imaginary, are handed out to winners, and to exceptional players. Online betting also takes place to see who wins and who loses, based on personal opinions coupled with the experts' predictions. The BBL chart is extremely useful in this context. They even have a Women's Big Bash League that is gaining momentum.
Also read: The Ultimate Cricket Stay
The odds offered by BBL takes into account all the minute factors that most predictors do not pay attention to, such as weather conditions, and a list of probable players, including match details. What makes BBL reliable is that the experts who give out suggestions do their best field work, and have sound knowledge of the game and players. On Crictips, BBL has truly made a name for itself as an all-round cricket guide to all kinds of sporting audiences.
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Keywords: Australia, BBL, Crictips, Cricket, Betting
Cinema and movie making is constantly changing, and the result is in front of us we've come a long way from silent black and white short movies to high definition, colour, 5-D movies. It has evolved for the last 108 years and continues to grow. India's first auteur-filmmaker Dhundiraj Govind Phalke popularly known as Dadasahen Phalke directed and produced India's first feature film Raja Harishchandra which was a hundred per cent made by the Indian crew. The movie was released in Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theatre on the 3rd of May 1913 under the label of being India's first home production, full-length film.
Raja Harishchandra was the first to be 'acted, directed and produced by an all-Indian team. Phalke's inspiration to make a "Swadeshi" movie comes from when he viewed the silent movie, "The Life of Christ" in 1911. He wrote in Navayug, November 1917 that While the Life of Christ was rolling fast before my physical eyes, I was mentally visualizing the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Ramachandra, their Gokul and Ayodhya… He wanted to feel the connection with the movies but that connection failed to form as the context of the movie was foreign.
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Phalke went to London the very next year to learn about filmmaking techniques. He even imported the hardware required for filmmaking to India from England, France, Germany, and the United States of America. Upon his return to India, he founded Phalke Films Company. Phalke published classified in various newspapers for the cast and crew to apply, what's unique about the film was that even the female roles were played by male actors this happened as no women were available for the role.
Phalke was a one-man crew for the production, he was in charge of writing script, direction, production design, make-up, film editing along with film processing. The filming of the whole movie took six months and 27 days.
The female roles were played by male actors in the movieWikimedia Commons
As the name itself suggests the film closely follows the story of Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra from the Vedas who is known to be the epitome of truth as maharishi Vishvamitra makes him go through numerous torturous tests to prove himself.
The story goes as Raja (King) Harishchandra was teaching his son, Rohitashva how to shoot with a bow and arrow as Queen Taramati watches over her son and husband. Later the people of the Kingdom request the king to go on a hunting expedition as the animals have been creating havoc. While on the hunt, Harishchandra hears the cries of some women. Upon following the voice Harishchnadra discovers the sage Vishwamitra was performing a yajna to get help from Triguna Shakti (three powers) against their will. After witnessing the sight Harishchandra revolts and interrupts the sage, which infuriates the egoistic sage. To calm his wrath Harishchandra offers to sacrifice his kingdom to the sage. He informs his queen of the events and the family is exiled from the kingdom by Vishvamitra. The sage asks the poor king for Dakshina within the time period of 48 days. While in exile Rohitashva meets his demise, the king asks his wife to visit Dom king in the hope of free cremation only to face more difficulties on the path Vishvamitra frames her for the murder of the prince of Kashi. Taramati faces trial, pleads guilty and is ordered to be beheaded by Harishchandra. With a torn heart but as he could not turn away from his duty, the king raises his sword to behead his wife, Lord Shiva appears, and it is revealed that all the difficulties they have been going throw were the tests laid down by Vishvamitra to test the integrity of the king, Harishchandra gets back his kingdom, his son is brought back to life and the movie ends.
A legacy of the century
Only a handful of "firsts/indigenous" movies made in India have survived the century. Raja Harishchandra being one of them still holds the same meaning and inspiration for its audience as it did a century ago. Film historian Firoze Rangoonwalla describes the film's impact on the public as "a wide impression and appealed to a large audience in different places" and its box office success provided "the seal of acceptance and laid the foundation of the film industry" in the country.
The debate over whether Raja Harishchandra is truly the first full-length Indian feature film has been argued over for decades. Some film historians claim that Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne was released in the same theatre a year before Raja Harishchandra was the maiden Indian Film. However, other historians differ they argue that Shree Pundalik is a simple cinematographic recording filmed by a British cameraman on a single fixed camera, and later processed in London. On the other hand, Raja Harishchandra was completely made in India, from cameraman to final editing of the movie. Thus, it has recognition from the government of India as the first Indian feature film.
Keywords: Filmmaking, India's first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, Dadasaheb Phalke, filmmakers in India
As fall nesting is upon us, opt for tasteful wallpapers if you're looking to dramatically overhaul your interiors. Besides being more durable and cost-effective in the long run, wallpapers can add texture and dimension to a space, transforming an ordinary room into something special. Take your pick from muted backdrops to geometric prints from a splash of vibrant hues to intricate patterns.
Artisan Furnishings curates a few trends to dress your walls up for the season:
If yours is a minimalistic home with clean simple designs and home accessories, covering your wall with a muted color and simple floral motifs will work like a charm. An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings.
An interplay of the yesteryear's cottage core vibe with a contemporary design aesthetic, your walls will play muse to the season of new beginnings. | Photo by Unsplash
Cover Me in Sunshine
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home along with adding a statement to your wall. Paint your home in this subdued backdrop to give it a fresh makeover.
Vibrant hues of sunshine orange and yellow with intricately lined patterns in white bring out a certain allure and warmth to your home. | IANSlife
Go Rustic with Earthy Tones
Invoking the aura of the charming English countryside, the rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy colour palette of beige, brown, and blue. Infusing a sense of tradition and craftsmanship, these wallpapers are designed with ingenuity and love for our diverse roots.
The rustic trend blends the neutral backdrops and an earthy color palette of beige, brown, and blue. I Photo by Unsplash
Bold Hues on Muted Backdrops
Give your home a festive spirit and feel with wallpapers created on a simple color palette of cream with gold accents. Reminiscent of palaces and their vintage and regal vibe, this wall-covering trend goes perfectly for every kind of space.
Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. | IANSlife
A melange of Pattern and Prints
Uniquely designed patterns on a plethora of backdrops colored white, cream, beige, and bold hues of violet, this trend is perfect for all seasons. Floral motifs and structural designs create a bespoke line of wall arts to bring out the essence of fall in your home. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Wall trends, Minimalistic Decor, Floral motifs, and structural designs, home accessories, Contemporary design aesthetic.