Art Doesn’t Change Anything

Overdoing anything often results in several consequences. Among other things, the grand dignity of Brutus will suddenly resemble the character of the idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. The latest exhibit: Mallika Sarabhai’s on-stage antics in the recently-concluded TED India event hosted at Mysore.

I admire the work TED is doing. It has hosted some excellent thinkers like Alain De Botton and others whose names I can’t recall but was impressed. Like many attendees who shared their feedback, the TED session at Mysore kind of marked its ebb but this is not the place—and neither do I know enough to make an informed assessment.

However, it does hint at something if of all people, Mallika Sarabhai was given a platform to do what she did. As a backgrounder it helps to remember these general observations, all my own:

  • of all the TED videos I’ve watched, not one has a marked political or racial bias.
  • most if not all speakers have a sense of humour.
  • almost every speaker has something to give as a takeaway to the audience—in terms of food for thought, a new idea, an alternative way of thinking about something, and so on.
  • most if not all speakers have distinguished themselves in terms of their contribution in their respective fields.

If you rate Mallika Sarabhai’s talk on just these parameters, she still fails miserably.

Mallika Sarabhai’s CV says she’s an accomplished Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam danseuse. However, I’m not sure just how firmly her fame she rests on these two classical dance forms. Even a cursory reading of the Wikipedia entry on her shows that she has “accomplished” far more in other areas than classical dance. In reality, she has distinguished herself as an aggressive feminist, a social worker, and a tireless champion against violence in society. And she has proclaimed—through Darpana, her art/theatre institute—she has chosen theatre and/or dance forms to push her message. Her TED talk is woven around the same theme—art as an enabler and/or medium of bringing about social change.

Her TED speech is characterized with a certain kind of crude loudness that instantly repulses you. Perhaps for effect. Sure. But it would’ve been effective had her talk contained substance. But it was, in two words: empty hollering.

She begins with an incredible story about a Brahmin’s wife, a female ascetic who is meditating under a tree. That sets the stage for her to begin bashing the Brahmin and the God Indra, who rapes her. For enhanced effect, she even demonstrates the rape by briefly fornicating the floor of the podium. And then embarks on a mini-discourse about justice for the woman.

The rest of her talk is about how art forms can be effectively employed to bring about social change. But mostly, it’s self-glorification: how her Mother impressed Nehru with one of such “social-change” performances, how her own plays/performances have made a positive impact, and similar self-back-patting antics. She yells at the audience instead of engaging it.

Like most artists (and writers) of her ilk, she is afflicted with the same malaise of ill-understood feminism. But that’s mildly forgivable compared to the generous amount of India-bashing she does. Needless, conditions apply*: third world country, rapes every second, unreported rapes, no justice for women, dowry harassment, unsafe drinking water, communal violence, MNCs are evil…  For good measure, she also says that the oppressed in all countries across the world are routinely put in jail. To quote,

“…if you are in Australia, it is mostly the Aborigines [who’re put in jail], if you’re in India, it’s the Muslims and the Adivasis, the tribals/Naxalites, and if you are in America, it’s mostly the blacks.” 

Doesn’t this immediately light up a passionate blaze of righteous anger in your heart? And what’s the solution? Spreading awareness and changing this dreary situation by staging plays and dance performances across India. Or in her words, through the “power of art.”

Mallika Sarabhai epitomizes the phenomenon of taking proverbs and sayings literally. In reality, the pen is not mightier than the sword. And the only aim of all art is to merely entertain not to preach or cause revolutions and sweeping social changes. Nobody in the Eastern or Western classical tradition ever proclaimed that social change is the goal of art. At best, a common refrain as to the goal of art even in the time of Dryden was to “entertain and provide moral instruction.” This changed when political science and sociology was injected into literature. A measure of the prevalence of this virus is available in our universities where literature department is full of folks who try to detect anthropology, sociology, and politics instead of the actual literary worth of a work. Does the White Tiger sound familiar?  This virus has also spread to mainstream cinema: Black Friday, Parzania, Mumbai Meri Jaan, etc. I don’t argue that works of art should be devoid of “social messages (sic)” but these messages should merely be incidental and essentially subservient to the overall story/theme.

But no, a tireless social activist is compelled to shove grotesque perversity into time-honoured epics like the Ramayana just so she can advertise her own brand of depraved feminism. A couple of years ago, this selfsame Mallika Sarabhai, the TED Fellow choreographed a vile dance-drama entitled, Surpanakha’s daughters. As this superb dissection puts it, Sarabhai wants Indian women to discard their traditional role models of women of exemplary character in favour of a woman “who relentlessly pursued a married man who showed no interest whatsoever in her!” Can we conclude that this is the change she wants to bring about in the society through her “art? “

In reality, our intellectually-vacuous thinkers imported the worst of Western feminism into India and superimposed it on to the Indian society. Western feminism arose out of a genuine need in those societies—for example, women were denied voting rights till the 1960s, about 50 years ere now. Also, oppression of women in those societies was also one of the outcomes of the industrial revolution, which in its early days, spawned a ruthless form of exploitative capitalism. However, India was a victim of the industrial revolution. Indian women suffered no such oppression. Besides, the status of Indian women as worship-worthy was still secure, and was handed down over a few thousand years. Indian women had such models as Gargi, Maitreyi, Arundhati, and Draupadi to look up to while their Western sisters had none. A poor Joan of Arc or a Hypatia who were put to death. Today, a Mata Amritanandamayi is worshipped by men and women with equal devotion. When I last heard, she didn’t go about preaching Mallika Sarabhai-brand of female equality.

Mallika Sarabhai’s opening lines, which launch a frontal attack on Brahmins is without doubt, racist. On the one hand, her caring heart weeps tears of blood for the oppressed, who she defines in terms of colour (black) and ethnic/racial origins (aborigines, adivasis) and on the other, she gleefully ridicules people of a specific caste. The indirect import is inescapable: Brahmins are always and at all times unjust and evil oppressors and they invent their Gods to justify their evil deeds.

Mallika Sarabhai’s mission of changing the society through art is but a mere sham notwithstanding whatever she says because we’re yet to see her record in social service and such other good stuff. As a classical danseuse, the least she could’ve spoken about was aesthetics, and/or the Rasa theory and her contribution to it.

The crucial question is: what message does Mallika’s antics send out to the global audience present at the TED event? What did the audience really take away from her session? These are questions that the wise people at TED need to dwell more deeply upon.

31 comments for “Art Doesn’t Change Anything

  1. cricfan
    September 18, 2011 at 9:16 PM
  2. AP Keshari
    December 24, 2009 at 12:51 AM

    Kishkindhaa’s post got it right. People like Mallika Sarabhai are products of a warped upbringing (where deriding anything Indian/Hindu is alright, although the dance thing is ok because the Americans & Europeans find it so “interesting”. And that big dot – bindi is also ok bcoz Westerners find that also so “ethnic”).

    Fed with the biased crap churned out by colonial/Leftist historians and Marxist ideologues, Mallika has turned on her own culture & country a la Arundhati Roy. No wonder they both are getting sidelined to the extreme-left fringes of today’s socio-political discourse.

    There is an Australian aboriginal saying that Mallika may do well to internalize: Those who lose their history, lose their soul.

  3. Akshay
    December 23, 2009 at 7:04 PM

    Hmm .. interesting points … though I didn’t really get your overall point, I’m afraid.
    I think that might be because the title was far more interesting and looked like you would critique Sarabhai’s approach and show that Art doesn’t change anything (which is pretty much true of course). But then you descend into saying ‘Sarabhai is an unsuitable person and shouldn’t have been allowed up on that stage at all’ and there are no arguments to support the title of the post other than your belief that ‘the only aim of all art is to merely entertain not to preach or cause revolutions and sweeping social changes.’
    My point is, you may well believe that, and Sarabhai believes the opposite – that Art does effect social change. What you never show is WHY she shouldn’t believe that. Which is what I hoped this post would be about. You just say ‘I don’t argue that works of art should be devoid of “social messages (sic)” but these messages should merely be incidental and essentially subservient to the overall story/theme.’ But you never explain the WHY, which I hoped you would. And then the rest gets lost in Sarabhai-bashing which is neither here nor there. Just a mismatch in expectations I guess.
    Or did I miss something, and this article wasn’t about what I thought it was?

  4. December 7, 2009 at 7:35 AM

    Palahalli->>>”Hindusthan did not see it so formally but traditionally, it has been the men in politics to an overwhelming extent

    That perception, whatever its validity, does not justify the conclusion that “olde’ society” in india considered women less capable, implied in the statement “I think the olde’ society was correct in restricting this precious and important right.

    >>>”The answer is to recognize that women are ill suited to handle such assignments.

    Is there sufficient reason to conclude so, apart from the apparent influence of insecure misogynistic western thought that constantly seek to shore up faltering self-esteem by derogating the ‘other’ ( counterpart of this behaviour is seen in the insecure western feminist tendency to demonize males as aggressive insensitive brutes) ?

    >>>“I don’t understand the “equal” part of it.

    “equal capability for wisdom as well as for idiocy.”

    Meaning being that for a Karunanithi, there is a Jayalalithaaaaaaaa. For a Mulayam there is a Mayawati. For a Nitish Kumar, there is a Sheila Dixit. For a Mangal Pandey, there is a Laxmibai. For Sri Rama there is Sita devi. For a Ravana there is Surpanakha.

    Now, don’t start on how Jayalalithaaaa is far worse than Karunanithi, or how Mayawati is more corrupt than Mulayam.
    Examples are for illustrative purposes.

    Is Shiva bhagavan anyway less when worshipped in ardhanareeshwara form ?

    Isn’t Saraswati devi worshipped more than Brahma deva.

    Isn’t Durga devi revered as much as, in some places even more than, Vishnu bhagavan ?

    Did the realized rishi say- “aham brahmasmi minus the feminine part” ?

    >>>“We must recognize what is real.

    Recognizing fact is the statement- “Yep. no chance for any revolution that has selfish motive as its base to be any way humane“.

    _>>“Not wish for the unreal.

    Is there any ‘wish’ at all in that statement ?

    >>>“The Industrial Revolution occured and along with it’s bad came immense good.

    immense good ?

    increase in material acquisitions is all that has happened

    The cost has been objectification of human being. De-humanisation. Turning people into objects. A commodity that can be traded with. As seen in advertisements.
    Apart from that cost to humanity, cost to Nature has been incalculable.

    The so-called ‘industrial revolution’ was wrought by the misappropriation of Indian small scale technology and employing it in large scale in Britain using people as robots. It’s root cause was unbridled greed for material acquisition, instigated by the self-aggrandizing drive that characterises western mindset.

    This mindset now tries to justify that monsterous drive as ‘inevitable harbringer of modernity’. The same mindset caused the brutal genocide of Native Americans, Africans, Native Australians, Asians and Gypsy population of Europe and now tries to justify it as ‘civilizing’.

    Indians call the ‘gullibility that falls for such blatant duplicity’ as the effect of maya.

    dhanyavaad

  5. Sid
    December 7, 2009 at 4:24 AM

    On a side note,
    Sandeep,
    Art actually does facilitate change, it is just that Mallika’s art (which now-a-days means screaming….”look at me, I am so artistic…”) that does not help anyone but her. What a father. What a daughter. Tragedy of epic proportions.

  6. Sid
    December 7, 2009 at 4:17 AM

    @Anwar Shaikh,
    “…..hat as a true Muslim I am not supposed to listen anything except sufi music.”
    Interesting. The music that did not praise your lord is supposed to be”haraam” to you. Here is a link that gives that supporting details:

    http://www.islam-qa.com/en/ref/5000/music

    So based on that explanation, if you are a devout follower of your faith, you are committing a sin by listening to and finding “spiritual transformation” in so-called “Kaphir”‘s song, are not you? What sort of transformation did your spirit go through any way? That Arabic manual of cultural imperialism does not talk of any spiritual transformation through music.

    You know why was there a mention of “Gargi, Maitryei” etc? Because they were part of OUR dharma, OUR history and OUR culture, a cultural tradition that was destroyed by an onslaught of primitive and tribal intruders taking advantage of internal power struggles. This intrusion and related social catastrophes (conversion, kidnapping of women etc) are the direct result of women becoming more dependent on men’s power. We, Hindus, the ones who know what it means to be a Hindu, has always respected women (think of Shivaji and then compare him to Alauddin Khilji). The role of women, falling from social high places during the holocaust never stopped after that. The bad indigestion of western feminism did not help at all. Every time status of women in Indian society is talked about, the contradiction between past and present is too high to ignore. The explanation of the fall lies in the imported Arabic culture, that is why Arab world is brought in to make the comparison easier. Never mind, it is easy to see where the odor of the burning comes from. :)

  7. December 4, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    Incognito –

    This is obvious but I was referring to the modern Hindu movement. I should have been more clear.

    Olde’ society – Before Universal Franchise. Hindusthan did not see it so formally but traditionally, it has been the men in politics to an overwhelming extent.

    ***Women, like men, have demonstrated equal capability for wisdom as well as for idiocy.

    Rather than thinking of imposing restrictions, more prudent may be to increase the avenues for developing wisdom in society across the board.***

    I don’t understand the “equal” part of it. Why is that there? In fact I believe that women in positions of power tend toward greater ruthlessness than men only because they feel they are constantly under a male seige. Just as true in the corp world. The answer is not more articifial “empowerment” which places them in conflicts. The answer is to recognize that women are ill suited to handle such assignments.

    The latter part of your response indicates bolting the stable after the horse has fled.

    ***Yep. no chance for any revolution that has selfish motive as its base to be any way humane.***

    We must recognize what is real. Not wish for the unreal. The Industrial Revolution occured and along with it’s bad came immense good. No way could anybody have stopped it short of stopping one’s breath.

  8. yadbhavishya
    December 4, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    @Shaikh

    A question.
    If Mallika Sarabhai had shown 54-year old Muhammad fornicating with his 9-year old wife Ayesha, do you think your spiritual experience would have equalled the one you are having now after listening to ‘hindustani’ music.

  9. December 4, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    gajanan-“This belief later expanded to include artificial objects, so that
    spirits are thought to exist in all the articles and utensils of
    daily use, and it is believed that these sprits of daily-use tools
    are in harmony with human beings.

    This relates to the way tools are kept for puja in Bharat during vijaya dashami

    Palahalli- ” I tend to agree with the commenter who said Hindus had neglected art as a medium to propagate their views.

    Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran’s video linked in previous comment provides a glimpse to the extensive way in which art has been used in bharatiya samskriti to disseminate thought, particularly the spiritual experience.

    >>“I’m not so sure if women should have been given the right to vote…….I think the olde’ society was correct in restricting this precious and important right.

    Which olde’ society ?

    Women, like men, have demonstrated equal capability for wisdom as well as for idiocy.

    Rather than thinking of imposing restrictions, more prudent may be to increase the avenues for developing wisdom in society across the board.

    >>>”“Demonization of the Industrial Revolution” – …………..I don’t see how this phase could have seen a more humane passage than it did.

    Yep. no chance for any revolution that has selfish motive as its base to be any way humane.

    Ot->>>“We see eye to eye on Sandeep’s claim about art’s purpose merely being entertainment.

    Many people consider life’s purpose to be entertainment. Many others consider life’s purpose to be aggrandizement- expansion of a limited concept of self in a material way.
    Many others consider life’s purpose to be the knowing of oneself.
    For some others, life’s purpose is exaltation of some entity or a value or principle.

    As per these diverse motivations, art is created, and understood, like life itself.

    namaste

  10. 2bornot2b
    December 4, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    Anwar – you have used this article as a stick to beat India with women’s plight in villages. Well, there are 1 billion plus living in India. Reforms reach villages late. all social evils cannot be blamed on religion.. it is the people that bring about unwelcome situations. Transgressions are bound to happen. We are trying and we will try harder. but, remember, conditions in India are far better than in most other countries and we are proud of that. We dont want to enter the comparison game here.

    Music is a catalyst for spiritual experience. But, in itself does not provide spiritual transformation. the receiver has to help himself to undergo transformation. Though i am with you on good experiences music brings to an individual, i can bet my last rupee that sarabhai’s act was self-indulgent and it would not have done obsoultely anything to my spiritual growth. When an act is put on to push someone agenda, rather that expressing art for art itself, it becomes political. It may repulse some people that view art for art’s sake. But that does not mean it woudl repulse everyone. The support group behind the self-indulgent show would be pleased by it and they have the right to do be pleased. People that feel repulsive also have a right to do so.

  11. Vasuki H A
    December 4, 2009 at 12:51 AM

    @Anwar Shaikh,

    Nowhere have i said a “true Muslim” is not supposed to hear anything other than Sufi music. Dont put words into my mouth. I only wanted to know if it fits your definition of Art since you found the Ramlila too dumb to qualify. And dont feign victimhood if i bring up Sufi music or Saudi Arabia. It is you who is getting sentimental here. Not me as you allege later on.

    Also, You can do whatever you want with your Kishori Amonkar stuff. That is not my botheration. But try to define “spiritual transformation” instead of telling me to go and listen to some track. Personal experiences are not things that serve as proof in an objective debate.

    And you are unrivalled in your own logical fallacies. In your first comment, you say “Cow is also considered worship-worthy in Hinduism, but not equal”. To which I replied “please let me know how we can make a cow equal to a man/woman ?” And now you come back with this fantabulous line – “To be specific, I can worship anything I wish, but granting cows voting rights would be ridiculous”. Where have i asked for providing cows with voting rights? Do you even read comments properly? You are also yet to answer the folowing questions –
    “Dont you think worship is a level higher than considering equal? Dont you think worship implicitly means equal? In any event, what is to be made for a woman to be an equal to a man according to you? And where can it be seen? And also, please let me know how we can make a cow equal to a man/woman ?”

    Coming to woman suffrage, you miss my point entirely. I must say it was a “poor try”. Dont you see Western democracies denying voting rights to sections of its population included the women in those groups too? I had specifically mentioned this. Again, you dont read before commenting.

    And the Arab world doesnt “come in somehow”. And I am not surprised or amused when you say “Why I should think of Arab world and compare India with Arab world is not known to me”. The abyss in human rights violation and woman rights violation is the Arab world. So, when you compare cultures, it is imperative to show up what exists around the world. Between, you are yet to answer this question too – “From Draupadi, Gargi, Maitreyi, etc to Meera, Akkamahadevi, to Amritanandamayi, India has consistently been producing these. Can the West/Arab world show such a continuous link? Show me if you can.”

    Also, I dont contest this statement of yours – “What I see around me is suffice to conclude that those who talk of woman being worship-worthy and equal are far away from ground reality and living in fools paradise”. It might indeed be the case around “you”. I in fact beleive it “is” the case around “you”.

    It is a whole lot different around “us” though. And it has been for centuries.

  12. Ot
    December 3, 2009 at 9:36 PM

    Anwar,

    We see eye to eye on Sandeep’s claim about art’s purpose merely being entertainment.

    >>Democracy and voting rights in modern India are western constructs, and the only credit we can claim is our ready acceptance and adapting these ideas in Indian context.

    Since Indians were a colonized people for a 1000 years up until 1947, most anything good they picked up post-Independence can be conveniently credited to the West. I’d apply a different yardstick. If a newly independent India could declare universal suffrage almost immediately, why did it take the US — the gold standard for democracy — almost 150 years to do so? Especially since its founding fathers were no less enlightened than independent India’s elite: just how much more a revolutionary leap is it from “all men are born equal” to “all human beings are born equal”? It seems to me that your expectations from India are very high, while the bar for the West is pretty low.

    The “only credit” you are so generously giving to India is no a small matter. It is a BIG deal. The ideas one gets influenced by speak a lot about one’s intrinsic nature. Indians didn’t get inspired by the Saudis to put their women also in the veil you see (which is where Saudi women remain despite decades of Arabia’s oil wealth and interaction with the West). They knew to choose between the good and the evil.

  13. Anwar Shaikh
    December 3, 2009 at 3:36 PM

    Vasuki,
    I knew that the moment my name appears in the comments list, somebody or the other would get into “Hindu v/s Muslim” combative zone and bring in things like sufi music and Saudi Arabia. I did not know that as a true Muslim I am not supposed to listen anything except sufi music. I will try to throw away whatever Kishori Amonkar and Rachmaninoff I have. (By the way, listen to Kishori Amonkars Hansadhwani randering of “Ganapat Vhighna Harana”. You would know what I meant by spiritual transformation.)

    Your bringing up the point of Western countries not giving voting rights to aborigines as late as 1965 was, to use Sandeep’s words a “nice try”. The post was specifically about feminism and woman suffrage. By the way, the personalities in the helm of affairs about granting voting rights to all in India were all Western educated and inspired by West. Democracy and voting rights in modern India are western constructs, and the only credit we can claim is our ready acceptance and adapting these ideas in Indian context.

    You then bring up the point of being worship-worthy v/s equal, and ask me to be specific. To be specific, I can worship anything I wish, but granting cows voting rights would be ridiculous.

    After that there is a long sentimental dialog about how India has produced great women and somehow Arab world comes in. Why I should think of Arab world and compare India with Arab world is not known to me. Nevertheless I never said that India did not produced great women. But greatness of few historic figures can not be taken to the effect that everyday reality is pleasant for women in India. I do not need to go very far. What I see around me is suffice to conclude that those who talk of woman being worship-worthy and equal are far away from ground reality and living in fools paradise.

  14. December 3, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    I have my issues with Ms Sarabhai – She’s a good natured dimwit liberal who can be taken for a ride by anybody who can convince her of their under-dog status. It doesn’t take much to convince her.

    Some observations –

    “Doesn’t this immediately light up a passionate blaze of righteous anger in your heart?” – Why should it? Unless we assume that the jailed are unworthy of the punishment?

    “entertain and provide moral instruction.” – The common refrain from groups that do use art to propagate their beliefs is that they have been denied access to mass media and now have to create their own through forms they can more easily and freely access. The Hindu movement itself has this complaint and I tend to agree with the commenter who said Hindus had neglected art as a medium to propagate their views.

    “Women and voting rights” – I’m not so sure if women should have been given the right to vote. I’m not so sure if we should have even had Universal Adult Franchise. Most if not all of our problems are rooted in the UAF. I think the olde’ society was correct in restricting this precious and important right.

    “Demonization of the Industrial Revolution” – I think let’s get a grip on perpective. This revolution also brought about mass production. It introduced new tools that could be had by anybody with the capital. Society had folks who wanted to work in these industries due to their own small businesses disappearing and/or because they found these factories paid better. There was also arm-twisting that was propelled by greater consumer demand and hopeful labor. I don’t see how this phase could have seen a more humane passage than it did.

    “Attack on Brahmins” – Confusion. How can one attack a Brahmana unless one expressly disagrees with the ideal itself? Of course folks who belong to Castes that profess Brahmanical ideals can be attacked per their individual or group conduct. So I must disagree with Sandeep when he says this lady attacked a specific Caste only because the Brahmana is not a specific Caste. It is a Varna.

    Cows and animal sacrifice – There are Hindus who eat beef and there are Hindus who sacrifice animals to their Gods and Goddesses.

  15. gajanan
    December 3, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    “It seems that the author does not understand the difference between being worship-worthy and being equal. Cow is also considered worship-worthy in Hinduism, but not equal”

    http://www.roboethics.org/icra2007/contributions/KITANO%20Animism%20Rinri%20Modernization%20the%20Base%20of%20Japanese%20Robo.pdf

    Extracts from
    In Japan, there is a traditional belief of the existence of
    spiritual life in objects or natural phenomena called mi (the
    god) and tama (the spirit). From the prehistoric era, the belief
    in the existence of sprit has been associated with Japanese
    mythological traditions related to Shinto. The sun, the moon,
    mountains and trees each have their own spirits, or gods. Each
    god is given a name, has characteristics, and is believed to
    have control over natural and human phenomena. This
    thought has continued to be believed and influences the
    Japanese relationship with nature and spiritual existence. This
    belief later expanded to include artificial objects, so that
    spirits are thought to exist in all the articles and utensils of
    daily use, and it is believed that these sprits of daily-use tools
    are in harmony with human beings. Even after the
    high-automatization and systematization of society, Japanese
    people practice the belief of the existence of sprits in their
    everyday lives, in an unvocal manner.

    Contin extracts

    First, artificial tools made out of
    natural materials are believed to possess anima. However, he
    states “these anima come alive from the first time as tools or
    implements that function along with man. And since they are
    companions of man in life and work, they are often given
    names. Objects can have names just as humans do. [2]” In fact,
    many tools used in pre-modern Japan were often affixed the
    name of the owner and the date of first use, which was the date
    that the tool took its own spiritual existence with the
    identification of its owner.
    Contin
    “Unlike the image of robots of Capek or Asimov, the typical
    Japan imagination of robot contains an affinitive rapport
    between robots and humans. This positive acceptance of
    robots in the present Japan is founded on Japanese Animism,
    the idea of Rinri, and its rapid modernization”

    Please read this entire paper and then draw your conclusions.

    One thing is sure we, do not kill cows and eat them as [traditional belief of the existence of spiritual life in objects or natural phenomena called mi (the
    god) and tama (the spirit)] . Cited from the above web site. Great lines to quote. You may say that this citation is not relevant. It has profound meaning

    We treat cows more than equal as we worship them.

  16. Vasuki H A
    December 3, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    @Anwar Shaikh,

    As i see it, you havent really been able to refute the “crudeness” of Mallika Sarabhai. But i suspect her antics were catering to some of your own views. So, you get pricked and take it upon yourself to expose the “crudeness” in Sandeep’s views.

    You somehow begin to think that “your long association with art”, whatever it is or however long it might be, is somehow infinitely superior to Ramlila at a Nukkad. So, does a Sufi Music concert live up to your billing? In any event, can you help me understand what “spiritual transformation” is? If it leads to sorrow, then it is a transformation for the worse. If it leads to bliss, then I dont see what problem you can find with Sandeep’s view on art. Instead of harping on your “long association with art”, talk specifics.

    UN making a law in 1948 didnt solve the problems in the Western World. The USA still had to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to allow even the African-Americans to vote. Australia allowed voting rights to aborigines in 1967. This was not about women alone; even men of the concerned groups. And at this moment, please realize that Indians, men and women, in “any Indian village” have been voting since 1951. So, while you ask others to be right with their facts, dont forget it yourself.

    OK. Let me accept your “worship-worthy is NOT equal” thing for the sake of argument. Dont you think worship is a level higher than considering equal? Dont you think worship implicitly means equal? In any event, what is to be made for a woman to be an equal to a man according to you? And where can it be seen? And also, please let me know how we can make a cow equal to a man/woman ? Please be specific. And also, please let me know how many cultures consider a cow worship-worthy? Or for that matter any animal? Or for that matter a woman?

    Since you concede it that Gargi, Maitreyi, etc were from thousands of years ago, dont you think a culture which had realized these values thousands of years ago is indeed superior? Even today, the whole Arab world doesnt consider a woman as another normal human being who can have the same rights as a man, let alone be an equal. From Draupadi, Gargi, Maitreyi, etc to Meera, Akkamahadevi, to Amritanandamayi, India has consistently been producing these. Can the West/Arab world show such a continuous link? Show me if you can.

    And, in conclusion, the “rights” that a woman in any Indian village possesses is infinitely more than the “rights” a woman would possess in any city of Saudi Arabia. If possible, engage me with the questions I have asked. Dont write an altogether new comment bypassing my questions.

  17. weizmann
    December 3, 2009 at 12:19 AM

    She is only fooling herself that her hard earned reputation in the field of classical dance can be used to change crowd mentality to suit her own personal fantasies. But, the crowd is surely more intelligent than her. Nobody gives a damn about what she thinks about society.

    I would be curious to see such performances as it marks the end of the career of a personality.

    Remember Arundhathi Roy, does anybody take her seriously anymore ?

  18. sager
    December 2, 2009 at 10:23 PM

    are you suggesting
    caste = race
    casteism = racism

  19. Sandeep
    December 2, 2009 at 6:55 PM

    Anwar Shaikh,

    Nice try.

  20. Anwar Shaikh
    December 2, 2009 at 6:42 PM

    If Mallika Sarabhais “crude loudness” repulses you, this article is equally full of “crude loudness”. I am really enlightened to know that “And the only aim of all art is to merely entertain…”. All the while, with my long association with art, I believed that art has a genuine capacity to bring spiritual transformation. I suspect the authors experience with art does not go beyond Ramlila played at a Nukkad.

    We are further informed “Western feminism arose out of a genuine need in those societies—for example, women were denied voting rights till the 1960s…”. A cursory look at recent history of Europe and US will show that in most of the western countries women got their voting rights by 1925. Voting rights were made an international law by UN since its inception in 1948. Those who write about others crudeness should at least get their facts correct.

    The author further writes “Besides, the status of Indian women as worship-worthy was still secure…”. It seems that the author does not understand the difference between being worship-worthy and being equal. Cow is also considered worship-worthy in Hinduism, but not equal.

    The author then sinks into “my-culture-is-greater-than-western-culture” by dropping the names like Gargi, Maitreyi etc. Well, these ladies existed thousands of years ago. Today India is considerably different. Walk into any Indian village and see for yourself what “rights” an Indian woman possesses.

  21. 2bornot2b
    December 2, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    It is debatable whether art could change anythign or not. While you can argue ‘street plays’ in pre-tv days were of great effect, taking freedom struggle to all parts of india and bringing awareness of child hood marriages, you can argue against modern day art (especially movies) have made little or no impact on the masses. For Ex- Rang De Basanti was a great hit, with the moving endign with protoganist preaching ‘there are two types of people, one that watches and one that does something’ and urging the youth to ‘do something’ . Movie was a great hit. But, percentage of vote polled in general elections of Mumbai after the 26/11 was a mere 47.50%. The message of the movie virtually had no impact. Movie Roja proclaimed Terrorists have a heart and asked us to seem them with compassion. In real life, we have not seen this happen. We can also argue plight of spastic children (Anjali) and children with learning difficulties (tare zameen par) receivd positive attention due to the movies. M Sarabhai seems to be doing it just to get attention to herself. Surely, praising brahmins is not going to get her any attention.

  22. S B
    December 2, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Agree with Gujjubhai here. Art must be reclaimed back from the falsehood people like her are spreading. We need to encourage and highlight those artists who are committed to the truth.

    Art doesn’t change anything ? Not so sure. Communists were afraid of art for precisely it’s power during the Soviet era. Why were so many writers jailed ? Solzhenitsyn’s (spelling right?) writings shook even the elite in the Communist party. So art isn’t exactly impotent.

    One more thing, Mallika Sarabhai may not be as diabolical as you think. I think she’s a genuinely deluded person. If you’ve followed the news on her, some months ago, moved by the plight of the Indian laborers in Dubai (who work in very harsh conditions and oppressive Arab management), she decided that the best thing for these workers would be a dance show ! Needless to say, this irked many people who thought she had no idea about what’s happening and what needs to be done.

  23. December 2, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran on art-

  24. Gujjubhai
    December 2, 2009 at 6:40 AM

    While I normally find myself on the same side of argument on most issues, I must respectfully disagree with you on this one, Sandeep. Yes, Mallika’s presentation was tainted by her leftist ideology and Hinduphobia. However, her core message is indeed right – art can and does influence masses. In fact, it is at the core of cultural soft power. Nationalists have made a huge mistake in leaving such an influential field to the Indophobic left. Good writers, poets, film-makers, singers, and yes, dancers can make a huge impact on impressionable minds. Just as we nationalists need to re-take education and the media, we must also focus on the arts to ensure that the Indophobic leftist narrative is soundly defeated.

  25. K
    December 1, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    Well the entire talk was an act of childish attention seeking. There was very little substance or even a point. Definitely the worst talk in TED India.

  26. Vivek
    December 1, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    And I am sure her wikipedia entry is self made.

  27. Vivek
    December 1, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Well said. Every spearker at TED Mysore had something positive to say about India or something positive to offer to India or saw something positive in India’s future except this lady. Starting from Dedutt Patnaik to Hans Rosling, every one saw something different and good about India. This lady shamelessly starts with Ahalya’s story and tries to prove that Gautama Maharshi was egotic brahmin. Whuurrrrrssssshhhtttu!!

  28. Kishkindhaa
    December 1, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Her statement is a typical secularist juxtaposition. Aborigines and Blacks were dispossessed and deculturated victims of the monotheist colonizer. “Adivasis” and Hindus are similar targets of monotheist colonizer ( Christians, Muslims, and their secular carbon copies ). And it is the Muslims who were the oppressive rulers in India who managed to destroy every ancient Temple in N India except the lost ones ( eg Khajuraho ) while pursuing their one true god “utopia”.

    In India, it is the Shankaracharya who is placed in jail while the Bukharis and christist murderers of Swami Lakshmananda roam free, abetted by the seculars. The aim of these Communists is to hijack the narrative of those dispossessed and deculturated by the Abrahamist while blaming the native target as the real oppressor.

    Why doesn’t this “artist” educate Indians on the abrahamic colonial “project” of last 2000 years around the world and last 1000 years in India.

  29. Ot
    December 1, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    >>if you are in Australia, it is mostly the Aborigines [who’re put in jail], if you’re in India, it’s the Muslims and the Adivasis, the tribals/Naxalites

    Let’s set aside PC categories like Muslims, but exactly is her beef with putting those kill innocent people — like Naxalites — behind the bars? She seems to be suggesting that violence and homicide are ok. That makes her either insane or dangerous.

  30. Mahesh R
    December 1, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    One look at her family background and there is no surprise about her behavior. Her aunt Lakshmi Sehgal , Grandpa Swaminadhan , cousin Subhashini Ali all have shown leftist sympathies.

  31. AA
    December 1, 2009 at 8:24 AM

    One of the points that Sarabhai makes in her narrative is that Nehru first came to know about dowry deaths through some random dance piece. I would loved to be proved wrong; but if this is indeed true, then it says quite a lot about the state of affairs during the reign of our dear first PM!!!!

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