India is witnessing a conflict of medievalism and modernity. The elite class claims to belong to modernity, professes secularism, democracy, human rights, equality, justice and everything else that goes by the markings of modernity. As against it, a large number of people practice medieval way of life, rejecting everything that resembles ever distantly as modern. Women’s rights or their education is one area which depicts the contrast. There are many political influences that also stoke medievalism. Illiberalism marks their visage. They promote actively what should have been changed by now. Religion is used by all such activists across social groupings as a shield. Religion has ruled the minds of the people for Ages. Monarchy has used their bodies for the same purpose.
Modernity challenges the subjugation of human mind and body by religion or monarchy or its variants such as dictatorship. Science has proved most myths propagated by religion as empty. Philosophy and spirituality are on a different footing. Societies that moved early towards democracy succeeded in improving the lives of their members. Modernity has freed the human mind of the bondage of religion- people can raise questions without fear of excommunication or extermination under the ill-conceived notions of heresy or blasphemy. Man has not only landed on the moon but has set up a space center too. Man-made space crafts have travelled beyond the Jupiter and galaxy. Hasn’t it hit the concepts of hell & heaven? Without these two levers, religion can hardly control the human mind. Scientific and technological developments have empowered the enslaved human species to such an extent that it has created artificial intelligence successfully, produced off-springs out of the womb and is near about creating artificial life- something heretic even to think only a few centuries ago. The medieval mind is against these developments, which pose a challenge to all that they stand for.
This conflict, which started as lone wolf attempts to eliminate the advocates of modernity has now culminated into ISIS. The western countries, led by America today, represent the face of modernity and the ISIS that of medievalism. Medievalism under the ISIS has taken to arms in an organized way. The strength of this organization of medievalism lies in adopting modernity to the limited extent of mis-deployment of the fruits of science & technology. After slitting throats of innocent civilians, children, women and raping girls or destroying prominent leaders or buildings, they are desperately looking for the opportunity to mount the atomic attack. That will lead to the third world war. It will be the last holocaust before a new beginning.
A bird’s eye view of the markers of history appears essential before we proceed further. The epic, Mahabharat, describes a fatal war some 5000 years ago. It brought about untold destruction of life and property. It seems a whole river, the mighty Saraswati river, was choked by corpses to such an extent that it simply disappeared from the land it flowed on, and merged into the majestic river Ganga at Sangam at Prayag (renamed Allahabad), where also it is not visible. Hydrologists say the Sangam at Prayag is the confluence of the three rivers: Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati. The climate of violence continued even after the Mahabharat had ended, till the Kalinga war during the reign of Emperor Ashok, The Great. It must have been some 2400 to 2500 years ago. The Kalinga war led to rivers of blood of innocent people to such an extent that the emperor was filled with so much disgust that he vowed never to take to the arms again. His name Ashok, means the one who never grieves. But the Kalinga war made Emperor Ashok grieve. He adopted Buddhism – the religion of peace! Emperor Ashok encouraged his children also to take to Buddhism, sent them to distant lands in Asia to take the message of Buddhism and peace and love. He set up more than 1200 vihars (meditation centers) and got the sermons of Buddha inscribed in stone and set them up throughout his kingdom. These are the famous Ashoka edicts. The national emblem of India has been taken from one of the Ashokan pillars. The Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan, destroyed by the Taliban, symbolizes the end of the era of peace after almost the same period of more than two millennia. Is it not surprising that Christianity and Islam both are no older than 2100 years or so. The striking similarities as also the dissimilarities are revealing. The earlier wars were about extension of territorial boundaries, wealth or women. They inspired love for peace and peaceful co-existence. May be even peace can’t endure longer than that. Today, the world is afflicted by unprecedented violence everywhere. Clouds of war are gathering. This war is again for extension of territorial limits. It has a more potent incentive to fight: the Islam of the ISIS denomination & Christianity. This war, whenever it takes place, will prove to be the most devastating one. The freedom of the human mind is likely to emerge victorious thereafter. But will it? Or the process of further human bondage has already begun? Peace & war proceed at the same time as do birth & death (leaves falling because new ones are sprouting).
Our body has already become a slave. Can we live without technology even for a day? Just imagine a day without electricity, internet, mobile, television, automobiles, newspapers etc.? People in all likelihood are going to fall sick. The body, as also the mind, has become a slave of technology and its products. We can’t lift heavy objects, construct buildings or even cook in the same way human society was doing some 500 years ago. We are addicts of technology; our body is addict of technology; our mind is addict of technology. What little has been spared will be covered by AI or artificial intelligence. All that human beings do, can be done by robots. Robots can fight wars, perform every function be it police, administration or management, flying planes, steering cars, guarding homes, patrolling borders. They may even write books. Once artificial life is created, organ harvesting becomes routine, hunger is controlled bio-medically and procreation ends – the cycle gets completed. The hovering dark clouds may hasten our journey. The era of peace ends soon as the era of war advances. Emperor Ashok signaled the end of the era of war. Medievalism of the Al Qaida & ISIS brand signals the end of the era of peace. It is worth noting that India has seen all of them: Mahabharat, Emperor Ashok, Gautam Buddha, Mahavir, Mahatma Gandhi. It needs emphasis that peace in India had been disturbed in the past ending in the subjugation of the country. Citizens see in sham secularism of the most unholy kind serious threats of repeat of the past. There is need to take a holistic view of the national and international scenario and fix objectively security policies on a war footing. There is hardly any time left for us as the forces of medievalism have advanced from all sides in the country. Today they ridicule expressions of nationalism as communalism, calling them divisive or communal forces even while practicing the worst kind of communalism themselves. They don’t say how will they react to the arrival of ISIS in India, but seem to be ready to welcome them as forces of secularism. They are instigating medievalism among sections of society which have not experienced the freedom of the mind so far, in spite of 68 years of Independence.
Fears of high tech, artificial intelligence, artificial life and robotics have already begun to exercise the human mind. The thinkers of the world have come to the platform to oppose the growth of robotics. They have read the dangers that the robot army is going to pose soon. They fear the destruction of the human race itself. The war caused by the ISIS is going to provide the necessary fillip to the growth of the robo armies, as the WW-II provided the impetus for the atom bomb. Already the weaponry in the hands of the armed forces is devastating as has been proved by the ISIS and others in dozens of conflict zones around the globe. There is need to be alert and avert the ultimate world war.
Let the human mind not slip into another era of bondage!