If I have put on weight blame it to compulsive religiosity on the campus. You must be wondering what religiosity has to do with putting on weight? Oh! for that we’ll have to go deep into some discussion .And now don’t ask me that India is a secular country and religiosity can never be made compulsory and more so in any Educational Institute. It can be dear if you have the ways and means to manipulate…oops! please don’t get me wrong once again, if you have the brilliance of how to make things work within the parameters of Rules!
If I remember exactly, though my memory fails me these days, blame it to old age, it was Vikram Dalal who, once upon a time, wrote in the Views Letter the advent of a new culture on the campus. It started with Art of Living organization’s introductory lecture by one of their “Gurus”! Vikram credited the presence of large number of students on the fateful day to the presence of almost all the girls in the hall. According to him it was because of the presence of girls in the hall that made almost all the boys to come to listen to a “drab” lecture. But whatever may be the reason, the Art of Living became a permanent feature of the campus life. Every year this course would be organized and students and teachers would attend this course to shed “stress” which had become a permanent feature, like the Wedding Guest of Coleridge’s famous poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, in the lives of the people at the institute. The course, perhaps, acted as a stress buster or perhaps it was once again, the presence of the much sought after company of the “friends” at the course that attracted more number of devotees than it actually deserved. I won’t comment as having not attended any such course I am ill-qualified to say anything either for or against the course. All that I write is based on the feedback that I get in abundance reading chats on Orkut groups among the warring sections of students!
In a nutshell I would say that the life on campus became pretty cool as the students would be enrolling for the Art of Living course. As fresh students are added every year to the Institute, the Art of Living people would have a steady supply of fresh clients and it had a valid reason to have a yearly introductory course for the newly initiated chelas and chelis! The pressure that the newly enrolled students face in a professional college needs not to be elaborated. Our students were provided with an outlet in the form of this course where they would learn ways and methods to de-stress themselves. And then there were Advanced courses for the ones who had a deeper urge to learn more of spirituality than others. None was being discriminated against. All were happy getting what they wanted. It was a mutually benefitting situation for all!
What I question is not efficacy of Art of Living courses but a more basic question about the role of Educational Institutes in acting as a Big Brother promoting such activities on campus. If these courses are held in the town, well and good but being held on campus and under the active tutelage of some teaching faculty makes the operation questionable. The space, infrastructure and the clients and above all the motivation to attend such a course, all were being supplied by one organization and another organization provided the learned “Guru” to fill the minds and lives of the clients with happiness—pure and blissful!
My point is whether religiosity can be made compulsive in a secular country? But as I have said in the beginning of my argument that everything in our country works under the rigid parameters of the Rules which govern the fools and the wise ones work within them to find a loophole.
I don’t know why all this is so very disturbing to me. Perhaps it is because as a proud citizen of India, I have unfailing faith in Indian constitution and whenever or wherever I find the constitutional directions being flouted, even remotely, I am painfully disturbed. If you have forgotten about what our Constitution says about our country, I may quote from the preamble of our Constitution:
‘WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political.
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
EQUALITY of status and opportunity, and to promote among all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation”
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26/11/1949, do HEREBY ADOPT,
ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION’.
And if you are still wondering in what way my putting on weight is related to compulsive religiosity, if any, on campus, you’ll have to wait for my next post.
The Roving Eye