Lost In A Sea Of Identities

Published: 24.12.2009
Updated: 28.12.2009

Deccan Herald

To understand society, we must first understand the individual. He who knows one, knows all; and he who knows all, alone knows one, Mahavira would say.

Complete knowledge of an atom is not possible without understanding it in the context of other things. That is why, when analyzing an atom, one comes to know the countless laws of the universe.

The individual faces three types of problems: physical, social and spiritual. To cater to ones physical needs, economic power is required. To regulate these matters of commerce, trade, money and distribution the state is required. Administrative machinery run by the state becomes necessary when the needs of the people have to be taken care of. Hence multiple identities evolve out of various functions and responsibilities.

However, the power centres created for solving individual problems have often themselves turned into problems.

There is a story in the puranas of a mouse that performed penance to earn the blessings of Lord Shiva and the mouse turned into a cat. As a cat, the mouse no longer feared other cats. But still the fear of dogs continued. Through successive courses of penance he kept changing from cat to dog to leopard to tiger and finally to man. One day Shiva asked him, Are you now free from all fears? He replied, Even by becoming man my problems are not over, for I am suffering from fear of death. I may, therefore, be favoured and turned into a mouse again. Lord Shiva once again blessed him and he returned to the original form of a mouse.

Money was invented to enable us to sharegoods and services in an equitable manner. Today, however, it poses major problems. There is the rich-poor divide. From being created as a means to fulfill needs, money has come to be flaunted as a status symbol. Money, because of its purchasing power, is a much sought-after commodity. Its scarcity among some gives rise to theft and corruption. Enforcing law and order is also therefore a duty of the state.

So-called religious wars were caused not by religion but by its form and name. The soul of religion is unity. No war can be fought without destroying the spirit of religion. Vedanta propounds the principle that all sentient beings originate fromthe same source. Jain philosophy also asserts that all sentient beings are alike. Feeling unity and harmony with everyone is the spirit of religion. The greater the identity one feels with others, the more the religiosity one imbibes.

Deccan Herarld - by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg
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  1. Deccan Herald
  2. Fear
  3. Jain Philosophy
  4. Lalit Garg
  5. Puranas
  6. Soul
  7. Vedanta
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