Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hindu Studies Post 6 - Hindus, no soup for you!

To give you just one more example of what the "End of History" theory implies for Hinduism, consider this next poem. This poem is also one that was featured on the Wondering Minstrels website. (Wondering Minstrels, FYI, is a collection of poems on the Internet and was run by two guys Martin DeMello and Abraham Thomas, both of whom I happen to know.) The particular poem I would like to draw your attention to goes as follows:


Then there was neither Aught nor Nought, no air nor sky beyond.
 What covered all? Where rested all? In watery gulf profound?
 Nor death was then, nor deathlessness, nor change of night and day.
 That One breathed calmly, self-sustained; nought else beyond it lay.


What is this really? It is, of course, a poem from the Rig Veda. It consists of a series of speculations about the origin of the Universe. The only trouble is that it is a poem written by a bunch of people.who had absolutely no idea how to even go about finding the answer to that question.

Here is the comment on the poem.


The Creation Hymn is better known through Prof Friedrich Max Mueller's translation of it ([broken link] but I chose this version because I thought Muir had done a commendable job of metrification.

The hymn itself is a favourite of mine, ever since I first heard the Hindi translation sung as the opening tune to Shyam Benegal's televised version of Jawahar Lal Nehru's Discovery of India. The climactic note of perplexity, voiced after all the esoteric speculations made on no less a subject than the origin of the Universe itself, has always fascinated me. To me, it conjures up the image of a sage looking defiantly into the skies, thumbing his nose up at the powers above and challenging them, with all their
omniscience and omnipotence, to unravel this, the most mystifying secret of existence.

Too, the hymn, and subsequent commentary, evoke the academic intensity and diversity of theological debates in Vedic and classical Hindu traditions. This presents a marked contrast to the ritualism and orthodoxy that suffuse the religion today.

What is notable in this comment to me is that the contrast between 'old' Hinduism and 'new' Hinduism is more or less taken from granted by the writer Sameer Siruguri (he is also somebody I happen to know). You don't find him trying to find answers to questions on the origin of the Universe, on Creation versus Evolution, et cetera, by carefully reading and re-reading this one little poem. Now, it is a different thing that he does not provide any evidence to show that the people who wrote this poem were themselves not as ritualistic and/or as orthodox as any Hindu you would find today (note the stuff underlined). The chances are that they probably were. In fact, they were probably quite ritualistic and quite orthodox precisely because most of them very likely did not know of any other way of living. Indeed, they may not have been open to ideas on other ways to live. It may be taken for granted that these guys did not have the sort of essential insights that modern anthropology provides. Assuming that the ancient Hindus were somehow masters of open inquiry is a mistake.

The main point of this post bears emphasis. Sameer does not try to read this poem to find answers to questions that have already been addressed by the efforts of physicists. The idea is obvious to him that finding the answer to what to believe about the origin of the universe, et cetera, is best addressed by going through books on physics and not books on Hinduism.

In 21st century Hinduism, the distinction between Faith-based answers and Reason-based answers does not really exist. And it is really as simple as that.

Update: moved the post forward to Sunday, July 7.