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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ethnography With Aritra Dutta Part One

It was a long and challenging road to actually speak with my willing participant as his sister, two days prior, fell off in the elevator shaft at a construction site in India and died. My interview was with Aritra Dutta, born in Kolkata, India. Aritra comes from a middle class family. His father is a chief serviceman, working in a government organization and a dedicated union leader and involved in active politics and his mother is the “house maker”. He speaks the Bengali language, his prayers in Sanskrit, which is the Official State Language. The language is centuries old, dating to about 1000AD and wasn’t documented until about three hundred years ago. Bengali, which is a form of ancient Sanskrit, is derived from Magadhi Prakrit and Pali, the earliest recorded spoken languages in the region and the language of the Buddha.

Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest the divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. We can do this either by work or by philosophical practice – by one or all of these and to me this is the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or forms or sects are but secondary details. They count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality. We can show by your life that religion does not mean words or names or sects, but that it means spiritual realization.

The embodiment of freedom, the master of nature is what I call God. Everything beautiful, everything truthful, everything free and everything being and becoming is what I call God. The religion can only be attained by the Union of all existence and we have to hold on to that. The debt, which the world owes to our motherland, is immense. Taking country with country there is not one race on this earth to which the world owes so much as to the patient Hindu, the mild Hindu. To many Indian thought, Indian manners, Indian Customs, Indian philosophy, Indian literature are repulsive at the first sight; but let them persevere, let them read, let them become familiar with the great principles underlying those ideas and their charm will come over them and fascination will be the result.

I am truly moved by that charm and fascination that’s why I never fear to lose my cultural identity. But the older I grow, the better I seem to think of these time-honored institutions of India, as each tradition is the embodiment of centuries. We have yet something to teach to give to the world; this is the very reason, which this nation has lived on, in spite of hundreds of years of persecutions and nearly a thousand years of foreign oppression. The nation still lives; the reason is that, it still holds to god.

Stay tuned for the Monday Ground Up: Nonverbal Ethnography With Aritra Dutta From Kolkata, India


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