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Archive for February 2nd, 2013

To: AM-GLOBAL
Subject: Why Baba Gives So Much Importance to Cultural Artifacts
From: Shankar@passport4….com
Date: Fri, 01 Feb 2013 22:58:33

Baba

== WHY BABA GIVES SO MUCH IMPORTANCE TO CULTURAL ARTIFACTS ==

Namaskar,
Every Ananda Margii knows that Baba has taken great interest in artifacts and archeology. We should understand why, what our role should be, and how this relates to a recurring issue taken up around the globe.

To begin, here is Baba’s first-hand account.

“I went there to do archaeological research on Angadesh, in the Lachmiipur jungle area by the eastern border of the Khirkhiriya (Kśiirakśiriká) Hills. I found there many cave paintings from the Buddhist era. I even came across some artifacts that dated back to the beginning of humankind’s history in old Angadesh. In these hills humankind depicted its existence through many different varieties of drawings. From these it can be understood just how far back Angadesh’s history goes. If Karna is accepted as Anga’s first king, then Anga’s political history is over 3500 years old, but these cave paintings are signs of the first stage of prehistoric humans’ ascension through the annals of history. They are approximately twelve thousand to fifteen thousand years old. No writings are found with them because at that time humankind had not yet invented script.” (1)

The key point here is that Baba uses artifacts and archaeology as a means to create a proper history of that area. Thus far, around the world, what is often accepted as “history” presents a poor portrayal of what really happened. Through archaeology and the study of artifacts, Baba presents the proper historical record. And that is what He wants that we should do as well. Ananda Margiis and local archaeologists should unearth the truth about their area and tell the real story of those indigenous peoples. Their greatness and glory should be told, not forgotten.

“It heartens me to see young men like you,” I told the young man. “Go ahead and rescue Rarh’s archaeological artifacts from the ground and reconstruct the history of Bengal. Remove the defects from India’s historical record. Make the history of humankind resonate with the great message of humanity.” (2)

Indeed, the whole of human history needs to be retold based on the evidence gotten from archaeological findings. Because, tragically, up until today, the right and correct history has not been told.

““I am a child of Magadha. History has never done full justice to this land of Magadha. Every dust particle of its villages and markets is mixed with the gold-dust of its heritage but no one has properly recognized it or recorded it. The little that has been written about it has been written by foreign historians – some out of sport, some out of merriment.” (3)

Outside agents – primarily from imperialistic, western nations during the people of colonization – have created a skewed historical account and in so doing vastly undermined and exploited the feelings and sentiments of those native peoples and communities. Thus a double loss occurred: The right factual history was not presented and an inferiority complex was imposed on native populations.

Baba wants archaeology and artifacts used for telling the true history and boosting the morale of local peoples.

ARTIFACTS UTILIZED TO DISTORT HISTORY

To date, western powers have essentially scoured this earth for resources, power, wealth and more. Cultural artifacts were pillaged from lands around the world in order to heighten the economic dominance of those imperialistic nations and rob the local people of their self-worth, dignity, and self-esteem. Instead of using those artifacts as a means of recounting the real history and contributions of those native populations, foreign invaders stripped the land and the people of their wealth and integrity. In prior eras, various Mughal rulers exploited from inside the country (India), whereas western agents came from outside and returned back with their treasures.

Today, we see that the gems and jewels from Lord Krsna era embedded within the British crown, and the massive gold peacock throne (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peacock_Throne) unearthed from Indian soil by Mughal kings. This is the story of so many lands, not just India.

Yet now, various nations exploited in the past are demanding that their cultural artifacts be returned and their legacy restored. From South America to Greece and Turkey, and from the far east to Africa, those nations exploited and colonized by imperialists are demanding their cultural wealth be returned. This has been a recurring dialog, but is often met without much success.

CONTEMPORARY DEMANDS:

RETURN THEIR PRECIOUS ARTIFACTS

More and more countries now want their precious, cultural artifacts returned to their respective homelands.

The Greeks, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Filipinos, the Africans, the Peruvians, and so many others are now demanding that museums in places like New York, London, and Paris etc return their precious artifacts.

This stands as one recurring theme these last few years in newspapers, dailies, magazines, blogs, and discussion forum across the globe. Some of the important questions include:

(1) Why were those artifacts stolen / taken in the first place?

(2) Who now is the rightful owner of those pieces?

As the issue comes more and more to the fore, it is needed that we discuss, understand, and know the Proutistic position.

WHAT ARE THESE ARTIFACTS

&

BABA’S ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOURS

By the term ‘artifacts’, we are talking about statues, engravings, idols, sculptures, carvings, paintings, books, manuscripts, cave drawings, and pottery etc that are thousands of years old – all of which are priceless and provide a unique window into the cultural heritage of a people.

So these artifacts are of great importance, and we should also remember that Baba Himself places a huge emphasis on this as He has spent countless days and tours unearthing and examining artifacts of old.

Baba says, “Each day I would go to one or two different spots in the Suvarnarekha River valley in search of archaeological artifacts of ancient Rarh. One day, while searching in a spot near Muri in the Silli area, I came across a fossilized fragment of a mammoth jaw with part of the tusk still attached. I knew I had found something important. There was no doubt that it would add lustre to the cultural heritage of Rarh.” (4)

And indeed, so many of the documented accounts in Shabda Cayanika are about Baba’s various archaeological explorations, plus in 1984 He did an entire DMC tour of north India which focused exclusively on the ancestry and archeology of so many regions & places.

Hence, the overall importance of such artifacts cannot be denied.

Certainly, today, all these artifacts have become priceless – whether they be from ancient Greece and Rome or from the hillsides of Nepal or Chile. Even then, money was not always the main aim behind the capturing of those artifacts ages ago. There was something else at stake.

INFUSE AN INFERIORITY COMPLEX

Wherever imperialists made colonies they stole and / or destroyed artifacts and treasures and enslaved the local people by injecting an inferiority complex. By this way they became easy targets for further exploitation by those imperialistic powers.

The history of those colonies was written by European scholars. They painted the picture as if before they arrived, those indigenous people had nothing. This left a deep inferiority complex upon that populace for future generations. Those local people felt they were the descendants of forefathers that had no greatness or glory. When that is not at all correct. Yet by this way, those local communities were pushed down and exploited by imperialists year after year, generation after generation etc.

Here is more of that dark history.

ROBBING A PEOPLE OF THEIR HERITAGE & CULTURAL HISTORY:

USE MISUSE ABUSE AND THEFT OF CULTURAL ARTIFACTS

When the various colonial powers scoured the earth in the 15th, 16th, & 17th centuries and beyond, then their chief aim was power and control. In brief, they wanted to rob & pillage various peoples and communities of everything they had. In order to do that, they needed to break the cultural backbone of those people. So they stripped those people of their very own cultural history and legacy.

Baba says, “Whenever the sentimental legacy of a group of people is undermined, they become easy prey to the economic, political and psycho-economic exploitation of vested interests. Such a strategy of cultural suppression was adopted by the English, French, Dutch, Spanish, American and other colonial powers.” (5)

Thus, the taking of those artifacts – like Parthenon / Elgin Marbles or the pottery and artwork of the Incas – was not only done because those colonial powers thought that one day those artifacts would become priceless, but because they wanted to deny those cultures of any self-worth. Then those subjugated peoples would be prime targets of exploitation.

Baba says, “It is proper for human beings to struggle for political freedom, for social emancipation; but if their cultural backbone is broken, then all their struggles will end in nothing…If one’s spine is shattered, it is impossible to hold one’s head erect.” (6)

So that was the essence behind the thievery. Those colonial powers wanted to annihilate the life-force of those peoples in order to steal everything they had and dominate them. And the fastest method of doing so was denying them of their cultural heritage.

That was the chief reason why those colonial powers stole those artifacts. Yes, they wanted to display those precious items in their museums. Yes, they thought those artifacts were priceless. But the main factor was to smother the spirit of the people and thus perpetuate their cycle of exploitation..

REMOVE ALL PSYCHIC INFERIORITY COMPLEXES

Here below, Baba points out that in order for a people to restore themselves and stand up again, then they must become in tune with the immense value of their cultural heritage. Once they develop respect and pride by understanding their own cultural heritage, then they can no longer be suppressed or exploited.

To this end, Baba traveled all around to correct the history and make it proper using archaeology as His chosen tool. By this way He is teaching us that archaeologists and margiis should do the same in their country and provide the correct history to the people. Local communities should not be subjected to exploitation by outside forces. Those native populations should be fortified with their own self-worth. Otherwise they easily fall prey to the prevailing dominant culture.

During his travels, wherever Baba went, He documents the ways and specialties of the common people. He documented their history and highlighted their contributions and efforts such as their crafts and art. This was His regular manner wherever He went.

Plus in Lake Gardens, He had His own museum to safely store artifacts and fossils found in Ananda Nagar and other local areas. Those items included dinosaur eggs, bones, stones, rocks etc.

Thus, whether while traveling or in Ananda Nagar, Baba did not collect fancy stones or jewels per se, but rather those common items that told the story of those peoples and lands.

This was Baba’s way of showing us how to document and preserve the talents and dignity of those peoples.

IGNORANCE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE BRINGS INFERIORITY COMPLEXES

Baba says, “If local people develop a sublime awareness of their cultural heritage they can readily throw off all psychic inferiority complexes which prevent them from attaining socio-economic self-reliance.” (7)

So one’s cultural heritage is a key facet of being able to stand up in this world. And here below Baba emphasizes how cultural heritage – such as the preservation of artifacts – is a significant aspect of our samaj theory.

Baba says, “Those who share a similar cultural legacy and uniform socio-economic potential will then be well-established in each region.” (8)

PROUTISTIC VIEW:

THE STOLEN ITEMS MUST BE RETURNED

According to Ananda Marga and Prout, the various museums in England, New York, France, and Boston etc must return those cultural artifacts to their respective communities.

Thus today when the Greeks are asking for the return of the Parthenon / Elgin Marbles, and when museums in the western powers are filled with artifacts made by the ancient peoples of faraway lands, then there is no option but to return the cultural legacy to those respective communities. That is what must be done.

HOW COLONIAL POWERS SUBJUGATED FORMER COLONIES

In order to exert continued dominance over their former colonies, western imperial powers created museums featuring all the artifacts and cultural legacies from those land which they had ruled. Now in this present era, they continue to justify why they should be the curators of those artifacts.

“Museums furnished by colonial looting have largely shaped the way a nation imagines its dominion, the nature of the human beings under its power, the geography of the land, and the legitimacy of its ancestors, working to suggest a process of political inheriting. It is necessary to understand the paradoxical way in which the objects on display at museums are tangible reminders of the power held by those who gaze at them. Eliot Colla describes the structure of the Egyptian sculpture room in the British Museum as an assemblage that “form[s] an abstract image of the globe with London at the center”. The British Museum, as Colla describes, presents a lesson of human development and progress: “the forward march of human civilization from its classical origins in Greece and Rome, through Renaissance Italy, to modern-day London”.”
“The restoration of monuments was often made in colonial states to make natives feel as if in their current state, they were no longer capable of greatness. Furthermore, sometimes colonial rulers argued that the ancestors of the colonized people did not make the artifacts. Some scholars also argue that European colonialists used monumental archaeology and tourism to appear as the guardian of the colonized, reinforcing unconscious and undetectable ownership. Colonial rulers used peoples, religions, languages, artifacts, and monuments as source for reinforcing European nationalism, which was adopted and easily inherited from the colonial states.” (from Wikipedia; reference below)

Arguments for repatriation
* Encyclopedic museums such as the British Museum, Musée du Louvre and Metropolitan Museum of Art were established as repositories for looted art during imperial and colonial rule, and thus are located in metropolitan cities out of view and reach of the cultures they were appropriated from.
* Precedence of repatriated art has already have been set in many cases but the artworks that museums currently refuse to repatriate are the most valuable and famous artworks.
* Foreign-led excavations have justified colonial rule; in the pursuit of obtaining knowledge about the artifacts, there was a need to establish control over the artifacts and the countries where they were located.
* The argument that art is a part of a universal human history is a derivative of colonial discourse that appropriated ancient art of other cultures into the Western historical narrative.
* The encyclopedic museums that house much of the world’s artworks and artifacts are located in Western cities and privilege European scholars, professionals and people.
* The argument that artwork will not be protected outside of the Western world is hypocritical as much of the artwork transported out of colonized countries was crudely removed and damaged and sometimes lost in transportation. The Elgin marbles for example, were also damaged during the cleaning and “preservation” process.
* Art is best appreciated and understood in its original historical and cultural context.
* Art taken out of the country as a spoil of war, looting, imperialism, and colonialism is unethical, even if it isn’t reflected in legislation. The possession of artwork taken under these conditions is a form of continued colonialism.
* The lack of existing legal recourse for claiming the return of illicitly appropriated cultural property is a result of colonization.
* Cultural property is a symbol of cultural heritage and identity and the appropriation of historical artworks is an affront to a nation’s pride. (from Wikipedia; reference below)

On the positive side, there are some few cases where imperialistic nations are returning the artifacts to their country of origin – such as France’s return of artifacts to Korea.

http://www.balanceofculture.com/2011/05/france-returns-cultural-artifacts-they-stole-from-korea-in-1866.html

But such instances are not the norm – still tremendous numbers of cultural artifacts critical to a country’s cultural legacy remain in the halls and showrooms of imperialistic nations.

THE STAND OF PROUT

By Baba’s grace, rationality will prevail and the cultural legacy of the people will be restored, thus helping to undo some of the countless harms done during the Colonial Era. As Proutists, we must encourage all the peoples of the world to stand up and have a voice – and to do that they must be aware of the greatness of their own cultural heritage.

Baba says, “PROUT always stands for the cause of exploited people, irrespective of race, nation, religion etc., and always opposes all types of exploitation.” (9)

BABA’S RELATED TEACHINGS

(A) This below account from Baba demonstrates how He puts history together from archaeological findings.

“The first step forward in human civilization was the discovery of fire. The second step forward was the discovery of iron. The third step forward was the invention of the wheel. That human clan of the prehistoric era which first discovered fire was considered the most civilized and advanced clan of its time. Gradually the use of fire became prevalent in all human communities. Thereafter, that community which first learned the use of iron leapt over the boundary of the stone age, bone age and bronze age, and was considered to have the most advanced civilization. The use of iron brought a new unfolding to the movement of human history, a new radiance. At that time the wheel had not yet been invented, and thus there were no vehicles. Later, with the help of iron, human beings produced the wheel. They learned to wage war seated in vehicles mounted on wheels. By sharpening the edge of the wheel they invented a weapon called the discus. The boomerang is also a type of discus used by the Maoris of Australia. In India and Central Asia people learned the use of the wheel in very ancient times, but no matter how long ago they learned it, they learned it after they learned the use of iron. That is, first they invented the chariot wheel, then afterwards turned the wheel into a weapon.”
“At one time, the ancient Mayan civilization of America was more advanced than many other civilizations, but because they lagged behind in the invention of the wheel, they were forced in subsequent times to acknowledge their defeat at the hands of other civilizations. The oldest existing artifacts of the Mayan civilization give evidence to advanced ways of life but no wheel. One should keep in mind that the Sanskrit name for America, Máyádviipa, came from the name of the Mayan civilization. During the Chola, Páńd́ya, and Pahlava dynasties of the Indian Middle Ages there was contact between America and India – this was before Columbus’s discovery of America.” (10)

(B) Next Baba recounts how in the past thieves stole artifacts thereby denying people fo their cultural legacy.

“During the Buddhist and Puranic eras, indeed, even during the Pathan era as well, the Dákrás used to gather gold particles from the sand of this river which they would then melt down to remove the base metals and extract the pure gold. During that time many of the archaeological artifacts made in this Suvarnarekha valley were fashioned of pure gold, but they fell into the hands of thieves so they are no longer found today.” (11)

(C) Here Baba explains how those early artisans used to work.

“At the beginning of civilization, the desire to create arts and crafts arose in the human mind. At that time artisans used to work at home, and arts and crafts were produced in cottage industries. Men, women, boys and girls – all participated in the creation of arts and crafts. Later people realized that some arts and crafts could not be produced in every village, so certain artifacts were produced by a few combined villages. If artisans had not combined together, they would have suffered losses in the market place, and their numbers would have been significantly reduced. So gradually human beings started to go and work in places where production was done collectively, or the first factories. At that time the few industries that existed were decentralized.” (12)

(D) This following excerpt is a description of one outing Baba made.

“I had gone at the time to a village in Nawada subdivision of Gaya district in search of archaeological artifacts from Magadha. This place was more or less in the Kśuri river basin. At the southwest it bordered the historically renowned Grdhrakút́ mountain where the Buddha performed spiritual austerities and later gave his spiritual teaching.” (13)

(E) This next teaching show how asian nations came under exploitation by outside powers.

“The Asian countries, in spite of their long heritage of morality and spirituality, have been subject to great humiliation during periods of foreign invasion. While the higher knowledge of philosophy propagated by the oriental sages and saints has been accepted as a unique contribution to the store house of human culture and civilization, the people of these lands could not resist the foreign invaders. The history of all the Asian countries, a region of so many religions, has been dominated by foreign powers for centuries together. This imbalance brought about their material deprivation and political subjugation.” (14)

(F) This is a formula for how people get trapped under a heap of inferiority complexes and become subject to exploitation.

“The use of non-local languages as the medium of instruction only results in the suppression and subjugation of the local language and inevitably means the suppression of the local culture. This in turn leads to psychic demoralization, inferiority complexes and a defeatist mentality. Whenever the sentimental legacy of a group of people is undermined, they become easy prey to the economic, political and psycho-economic exploitation of vested interests. Such a strategy of cultural suppression was adopted by the English, French, Dutch, Spanish, American and other colonial powers. If local people develop a sublime awareness of their cultural heritage they can readily throw off all psychic inferiority complexes which prevent them from attaining socio-economic self-reliance.” (15)

(G) Next Baba highlights how museums should faithfully and aptly preserve all cultural artifacts.

“Deities should be preserved in museums, and temples should be restored to maintain the cultural and historical heritage of the country.” (16)

(H) Here is Baba’s call to all peoples in all lands.

“We have to save our cultural life, we have to save our heritage, by linking the bright past to the brighter future with the golden cord of universalism.” (17)

Namaskar,
In Him,
Shankar

REFERENCES:
1. Shabda Cayanika – 2, Discourse: 9
2. Shabda Cayanika – 2, Discourse: 8
3. Shabda Cayanika – 1
4. Shabda Cayanika – 2 (Disc: 8)
5. A Few Problems Solved – 9
6. Liberation of Intellect: Neo-Humanism, Disc: 7
7. A Few Problems Solve – 9
8. Proutist Economics
9. Prout in Nutshell – 13
10. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Áṋka to Ád́hya (Discourse 4)
11. Shabda Cayanika – 2 (Disc: 8)
12. Decentralized Economy -2
13. Shabda Cayanika – 1, Discourse: 6
14. Prout in a Nutshell – 18
15. A Few Problems Solved – 9
16. Prout Nutshell – 16
17. Prout Nutshell – 17, The Significance of Language

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