[Advaita-l] A problem of personal identity

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 08:10:56 CST 2008

Pranams! Hi! Halo! Bonjour!...

Which of the above salutations would make me 'Indian'? Is that even a valid
question today?

Is Indra Nooyi Indian becuase she spent her childhood in Chennai? Or is she
American since she lives there? Or are both these false since she heads a
global organization?
Is Jaldhar Vyas Indian because he has a passion for Vedanta? Or American
since he lives there? Or neither since he supports the Open Source movement
which is a global phenomenon.

This train of thought started because in a past vitriolic thread, someone
claimed that rituals are 'very Indian'. While Indianness might have been
valid in the interim past (i.e. not when dinosaurs roamed the earth), is it
valid today? Hasn't globalization changed the rules of the game?

Let me illustrate. Just a few years ago, a friend I made while doing a
project in Barcelona, Spain visited me in India. While showing her around
Mumbai, she happened to remark that she saw no foriengers on the street. I
appreciated her point becuase wherever she has travelled (mainly Europe &
Russia) she has seen white people. Naturally the incident was forgotten till
a few weeks ago. These days every time I step out to go to somewhere
outside, I see at least one white person. And not near some tourist spot. I
saw one couple at an Udipi restaurant, the woman in salwar-kameez, the guy
in a t-shirt. Then a young boy in shorts & tees standing to catch a bus.
Still another couple travelling by local train. And on & on...r these
persons Indian or foreign?

If globalization is creating one mix bag of people, does personal identity
in the form of a country hold any water? Will our children (or at latest
theirs) harbour such distinctions? Shouldn't we shed this artificial skin
and just say we r 'Citizens of the World'?

In this regard, the beauty of Vedanta is that there is nothing Indian about
it, per se. It is based on pure reason. So is Buddhism. And Jainism. The
tri-ratnas of...do I say it...'Indian' origin? But saying that last bit just
dilutes their universal message.

The whole point of this post being that the world is changing. Rapidly. We
are coming closer to each other faster than ever before. We are becoming a
people of planet Earth.

And isn't it about time?

Salutations! Mahesh

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list