Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Backpackers - lone travellers

Do you know about this species?You must have seen them if you have ever visited any of the tourist spots nestled in western himalayan vallies...You must have noticed them if you have ever gone to any of the sacred places of worship on the banks of the great Ganges...Surely you won't miss them if you ever happen to visit places like pushkar(Rajasthan), or Bodhgaya (Bihar) or Varanasi...
Meet this new breed of travellers..The Backpackers....The name explains all.. They carry everthing they possess on their backpack and go on travelling places..They set out from their from one place to another,from this region to that..from this country to that...and this could be months or years long...
So what makes them do this? Many of these are in their late twenties.They have passion to see the world and experience it closely.They dont want to be bound by time..They dont believe in usual 15-days,20-days tour organised by tourist companies,which just show a drop of a gigantic sea of experiences visiting a place can give you..They plan their own tour,they decide destinations,dates,mode of transport,duration and almost everything....
Many of them do this for so long that they may sometimes have to take a break,meaning that they have to stop midway at some place,earn some money somehow doing some job ,and then continue the journey.Many of them travel with their spouses,others are single.They are almost cut off from rest of their acquaintances for this period.They experience their excursion almost completely,in the sense that that they sometimes travel by air ,train,bus,sometimes cycling,even hiking,living in a 5-star hotel sometimes and on other occasions camping in a tent.
I recently met a chap from Australia in Himalayas,who was away from his house,country for around 5 months ,travelling all of South-east Asia , and then India.He was further planning to travel whole of Europe ,UK ,and then North and South America.It gives a totally new aspect of looking at the world.It's like this--you are alone,making new acquaintances every instant ,visiting new places, experiencing a whole new set-up each day,seeing newer and newer terrain,new climate,experienceing a new face of nature and people.
According to me ,its these people who truly accomplish what "knowing" about a country means.They actually "know" it.They actually live there , wander as they wish,see not only what appears from overt observation,but also that which can only be experienced with proximity.
Generally ,these backpackers earn money for a period of yearsin their homeland,earn enough money,and then set out to their destination.Its not even such a planned an excursion.Usually these people plan for only about next month..thats it! They dont even know where will they be,after that!
Each of such new experience enriches your thought process,and broadens your mind.It gives you new horizons to think of,expanding your knowledge about the world,about the people.You are ,by far,much much much better person after such an experience.You confront the world directly,with no strings attached.The reason why some people still dont prefer it is because of the insecurity involved,the instablity involved which,for some reason ,is unbearble for some.
But ,surely, still even meeting one of such backpackers is a life-enriching experience in itself....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Religion and its problems

These days,we often hear communalization,communal riots,communal tension etc.etc. Our newspapers are often filled
with all kinds of news regarding these problems.Inter-religional problems are not even limited to problems within
a country only.They often manifest themselves the main reasons of tension between the countries.Often,there are
wars based on the differences different communities/countries have.
In essence ,these problems have an alarmingly large percentage among all problems faced by humanity.And this fact
forces me to take a look at our current structure and foundations of religion ,as there definitely ought to be a
problem here.
Let us delve into the origin of the concept of religion in order to understand it.In the early stages of spiritual
development of humans ,a normal human always had a system regarding how she/he spends her/his life.There were certain
rules that were adhered to,regarding leading everyday-life.These rules were formed by common agreement among the
people who lived together.People started calling this "Way of life" as religion.Mind you ,at this point of time ,
this set of rules was not at all very rigid,In fact the rules were just some guidelines regarding everyday life.
Then ,slowly different concepts of spirituality started sinking in each religion.Many beliefs started attaching
themselves to each religion.Slowly the structure beacme rigid (may be unknowingly). And now,they stand as they are
today,with all religions being as diverse in their nature as they possibly could be.
And the single-most important transition that came about ,was "communization" of religion.That is, the social
platform ,each religion got.Each religion formed a "commune" of its people.
Having understood and analysed the origin and development of religion,we now delve into what exactly is the
cause of all these problems we see around us,regarding religion.
After formation of these "communes" ,it was natural ,that these communes would have an "opinion" of their own,
regarding certain issues ,in fact almost all issues.And this "opinion" got much importance,as it was supposedly,
the opinion of ALL people in that community.The problem arose here.When a perticular person doesn't like a
perticular rule or guideline set by this commune,a conflict was indispensable...Further ,as the "commune" gets
too much of an importance ,there are always clashes between different communes.This makes the situation completely
problematic.Further,due to psychological reasons,people change their mind about a perticular problem just beacuse
the commune thinks otherwise.This discourages independent thought and right actions.

According to me,religion ,is a very private affair for a person.As said earlier ,as this is a set of guidelines
a person sets for himself/herself ,it is purely personal.This sets a definite boundary between ,the private life
of a person and that of a commune.As each person,in principle ,can have very different set of assumptions regarding,
the way he/she wants to lead his/her life ,including his understanding of spirituality and his view on
theism/atheism.I think,if we understand that ,then most of our confusion melts away.
In such a case,then,the definite boundary ,which I talked about, works perfectly and nobody has any confusions about
exactly what part of a person's life is decided by a commune.Only those parts which cross the boundary of the
individuality of a person ,and affect the commune in a prominent way (for eg. a person cannot,in principle go on
committing murders,arguing that its his/her part of religion) ,should be checked by the commune.
I have broadly commented on what I felt was the problem with current structure of religion.And though I do not
claim that the solutions I suggested are completely feasible/plausible in current circumstances,even the basic
understanding of the problem,is ,I think,very benificial.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Concept Of "Reason"

In this article I wish to explore the idea of "Reason" of an event ,what do people mean by it and its interpretations.We first delve into the origin of "reason".

The concept of reason arises ,as the people search for a question "Why?". Its like this :- The stone man observed a set of events happening regularly in front of him.These events were the ones which we now call ,"normal","regular" or "day-to-day" events, - like falling of a tree, flowing of a river, flowing of wind, light coming from fire etc.

As the humans progressed ,they became more and more watchful.So they observed more complex events.Each time they faced such an event, they were puzzled and it was natural for human nature to break-down these events into some simpler events which they had experienced in past.This helped them to connect simpler events to get an idea of the complex event.Here lied the birth of the concept - "Reason".

Let us take a simple example.Suppose somebody has a flask containing some water in it ,which has a small fish.He keeps this flask under hot sun.After some time he observes that the water inside has dried and the fish has died.He is puzzled,and in his thoughts he tries to connect this experience to the events he has seen happening a million times.He connects this to his past experiences that,
1.a fish dies without water , and
2.the water dries out in hot conditions.
So he says ,"ohh ,ok,as the water dried "due" to heat ,there was no water,and "hence",the fish died..." Thus ,the "reason" is nothing but just a connection between the events that are commonly observed by all and never questioned by anyone.Another example - I release a stone from a height.It falls. WHY ? What is the REASON ? Then people say its because of gravity.But "gravity " is just a name given to collective experiences of all bodies being pulled towards each other.So,in real sense ,its just a connection with events that are taken for granted.
So,in a way,this whole analysis of ours banks upon our assumption that nature behaves "normally".By this , I mean ,there are no abrupt changes in the way things work in nature.(For eg. we neglect the cases like: getting up one fine morning and seeing all things floating in the air without so-called "gravity" -we ASSUME its not possible.)

But ,this assumption of ours is practically very important.The whole field of science and technology has this assumption as its starting point.So ,this assumption should not be looked down upon,in real sense.But ,we should ofcourse be aware of such an assumption being existent.And I am stressing this point as I see many people around me ,having this confusion.This creates many problems and wrong ideas.Thus,it was not the purpose of this article to criticise this assumption in any way,but ,as I said ,make people aware about this truth. This reduces confusion in our mind about the concept of reason.And thats what was the whole point of this article.